Anyway…

I’m back….

 

…in the United States anyway… for better or worse… I apologize for the lack of updates over the past 10 days… but I’ve been traveling heavily… spending about half of the past 10 nights sleeping while on either a bus or a train…

But let’s begin chronologically…

So let’s go back to the wonderful town of Puerto Vallarta… where I was scheduled to leave early in the morning on Monday the 2nd… I woke up and got to the bus station later than expected and so ended up in getting into Guadalajara after the last bus left for my next destination… I pulled out my cell phone and sent a text message to my friends Cristian and Carlos Ernesto who I had met my first time in Guadalajara… They came and got me at the bus station. After checking out my schedule for my dwindling time in Mexico, I decided to spend the rest of my time in Guadalajara… because I enjoy it there so much and I have friends and everything… so why spend the rest of my time bussing around?

Cristian and Carlos and their families and friends made me feel right at home and I got to see real Mexico… Eat real Mexican food… and get a taste of the heart of Mexico… which was really an awesome experience…

After a few days in Guadalajara I really had to leave… and I said goodbye to my friends and boarded a 15 hour bus to the border at Nuevo Laredo… I spent one night on the Mexico side before walking across the international bridge, crossing a pseudo-finishline of my trip… though I still had many thousands of miles to go…

My second night on a bus was spent on the way from Laredo, TX to Houston… where I arrived at 3am on Sunday the 8th… then I had to wait around the sketchy-as-hell Greyhound station until after 4am when the Amtrak station opened… Then I had 2 1/2 more hours before the train came… When I finally boarded the train, I had approximately 39 hours of travel time before reaching Orlando, FL.

About halfway through the trip we had a 6 hour layover in New Orleans.. which I used to walk down to Bourbon St. to drink beer in the streets and relive my glory days (aka last June) with Polly… all the feather boa and pastie-plastered craziness that was our time in New Orleans…

Sufficiently buzzed, I made my way back to the train and passed out for the night… waking up for the full day of train-sitting fun.

A note about trains: They take FOREVER… but if you’re not in a rush they’re kinda fun…

Arriving in Orlando, I rented a car and shot the 4 hours down to Naples where I had my first real bed and real (non lumpy-styrofoamesque) pillows… Definitely close to heaven…

Kate informed me yesterday that she booked her flight for the wrong day so I need to be in Savannah tomorrow night… I checked the auto driveaway website and it turns out that I’m going to be able to drive someone’s car up north… all gas paid… I’ll either be in a Taurus to Raleigh, NC with a $50 bus bonus to get me the rest of the way to NY, or in a Jeep to Connecticut… I’ll find out tomorrow… Either way is fine with me though…

Phew… so that’s my last 10 days in a nutshell… Tomorrow I’ll be on the road again… but this time behind the wheel… WOOHOO!

Not sure how I feel about returning to “normalcy”… I think I’d rather still be in Guadalajara… but I’m kinda ambivalent about it all at the moment… I’m not home yet… That’ll be the true test…

Puerto Vallarta

 

Me and the sun are at odds again… I spent like 5 hours out in the midday Mexican sun without sunscreen of any kind… and I don’t know what I was expecting but I’m a little crispy… Not terrible… but definitely a little burnt…

I’ve just been maxin’ and relaxin’ in Puerto Vallarta… a very cool place, indeed… the beach is beautiful and the perfect temperature… not so warm that it’s not refreshing and not so cold that it’s torture to get in… it’s just right…

I’m paying $29 (Yeeps!) for my hotel room but I’m like 10 steps from the beach and have air conditioning and a seaview balcony (pictures below)… Not much of anything exciting going on… just me getting sunburned and not wanting to leave… which I was supposed to do today… but I cut out another town I was going to visit… it was kinda out of the way and I’d rather spend more time enjoying Mexico than sitting on a bus watching Anacondas for the 4th time… (Yes.. I really have seen it 3 times… and it doesn’t get any better with age…)

I’m gonna throw a bunch of pictures up… all sorts of stuff… descriptions at the top of the popup windows.

Only 5 more days in Mexico… AHHHH!!!!

Guadalajara

Ok… so to update from the other day…

I missed 2 buses… The one up into the mountains, and then one to Mexico City… Losing a total of $30 in the process…

Missing the first bus I decided to skip the mountain town because the next bus there wouldn’t get me there until late at night, so instead I decided to just go straight to Guadalajara… Then I missed the bus I had a ticket for and had to take the next one… Luckily the woman at the ticket counter took pity on me and only charged me half price for the second ticket…

Once in Mexico City, I had to take a taxi from one bus terminal to another… which I was kinda nervous about… It’s VERY common in Mexico City for taxi drivers to take you somewhere, beat you, rob you, and dump you on the street… Luckily the bus terminal had an authorized taxi booth where they mark down the driver’s information and everything before sending you off…

I arrived at the other terminal and bought a ticket for the midnight bus to Guadalajara so I wouldn’t arrive too early (it’s a 7 hour ride)… I killed 2 hours exploring the huge terminal and getting a quesillo torta, a sandwich of this really good stringy cheese with jalepeño’s and other stuff… before boarding the comfortable bus and falling asleep…

I woke up in Guadalajara and navigated the local bus system to get downtown, avoiding the $7 cab fare in the process… and then went out exploring… I noticed the pollution right away… and people were walking around with surgical masks on… It kinda freaked me out… But later while watching the local news I saw that it’s not a normal thing and it’s just because there’s a huge wildfire burning just outside the city…

Guadalajara is a beautiful city, though… with lots of beautiful colonial architecture… It’s also a very modern cosmopolitan city… the 2nd largest in Mexico after Mexico City (the largest in the world)…

Tomorrow I head down to the coast to spend a few days relaxing on the beach in Puerto Vallarta before beginning the last stretch of travel toward the US border…

Sorry for the boring entry… not too much exciting going on… Gonna go find something to do right now so maybe later 🙂

A few more pics…

Here are some pics.. Beginning with a shot of the roof deck in my Mérida hotel… and a pic of the (very newborn) kittens that were at the hotel as well… Then there’s a few pics from Palenque… including an ancient toilet!!

I’m now in Oaxaca (pronounced “wah-ha-ka”) where I’m just spending one night before heading up into the mountains to try check out remote mountain life for a couple days… I probably won’t have internet up there but I should be in Guadalajara on Tuesday… though I’ll probably be getting in really late so don’t expect an entry ’til about Wednesday or so… assuming all my transportation stuff works out…

Anyway… off to enjoy my day here in Oaxaca!

¡Zapata Vive!

Picture it… San Cristobal de las Casas… a picturesque colonial mountain town in the highlands of the turbulent Mexican state of Chiapas, home of the largest population of Maya descendent indigenous people… and also the heart of the Zapatistas… an armed movement of poor indigenous people against the Mexican government’s policies which threaten to destroy their culture.

There have been many bloody conflicts in the surrounding mountains in the past 10 years or so… though it’s been relatively quiet for the past couple. Overall, this town at least, remains calm and pleasant… with many foreigners getting “stuck” here because of the beauty of it…

I, unfortunately, am strapped for time in Mexico so I’ve only had about a day and a half to explore a bit… but what I’ve found is quite nice… pretty little hotels, tons of nice, cheap, little restaurants… lots of handicrafts… it’s very nice indeed…

Now to bring you up to date:

Before I got to San Cris yesterday, I spent 2 nights at Palenque, yet another ancient Mayan ruin. It probably seems pretty repetitive from the pictures… “yeah, yeah… another big pile of rocks…” you might be thinking… but when you’re there on the ground they each have their own very different feel… my Lonely Planet describes Palenque as “the most romantic of the Mayan cities” and I would have to agree… there’s just something about it… the jungle setting… the subtle differences in architecture from the other ruins I’ve been to…

I met a couple from Seattle in the shuttle van on the way to the ruins proper and then we met up with a couple Kiwis (New Zealanders) and we chipped in to get a guide… which proved to be very informative…

While waiting out by the entrance for the rest of the group to finish exploring on their own, I had a funny experience… Two Mexican women approached smiling… the older one said “queremos sacar unas fotos contigo” (We want pictures with you) and then I picked out other phrases such as “muy guapo” (very handsome)… After getting photographed with the daughter and then the mother (as I found out they were), the mother thanked me and said “tus ojos son muy bonito” (you have beautiful eyes)…

It was really funny… At first I thought they were trying to rob me… which I feel really bad about now ’cause they totally weren’t… and I hate having to assume things like that when traveling… but that’s how you don’t get robbed…

I have a bunch of pictures from the past few days which I will post as soon as I get my pictures dumped to a CD… ’cause I have no space left… I’ve taken over a gigabyte worth of photos… and something like 350mb of video clips… and that’s only been since I got the new camera in Honduras…

Voy a almuerzar… hasta mas tarde!

¡Arte Yucateño!

I was supposed to leave Mérida today… but I couldn’t get a ticket yesterday for the bus I wanted… so I decided to peruse more of Mérida’s offerings… I ended up spening a few hours in the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Ateneo de Yucatan… a modern art museum showing work of Yucatecan artists… There was some really cool stuff there.. I really liked Miguel A. Cime’s paintings… I’ll post pictures below…

There was another exhibit with sculptures from a woman named Naomi Siegmann. This was really cool… the exhibit was called Plantae II and was composed of different sculptures mimicking nature and plants with materials like bronze and old tires as well as real wood and leaves… very cool..

There’s also a night picture of one of the courtyard areas in the hotel as well… and a picture of a church built by conquistadors on the location of a Mayan temple, using the stone from that temple… insulting as hell, eh?

The rest of the day I’m gonna spend on the roof deck at the hotel in a lounge chair or in the jacuzzi 🙂

Then early bed for an early bus tomorrow… 8:30am for an 8hr bus trip.. WOOHOO!

Mérida RAWKS!

I spent like.. all of today walking around the entire city… enjoying the beauty of it most of the time… then becoming frustrated when trying to find an intersection that didn’t exist… or… more accurately… exists in more than one place…

I started heading up Pasaje Montejo… which is Mexico’s answer to the Champs Elysee… It’s a nice boulevard with beautiful old mansions and nice trees lining it and there’s sculptures every few yards in the middle of the wide sidewalk… very nice indeed… until I stumbled upon a (disguised, thankfully) Walmart…

I went in just to look around… and it was weird… being bombarded with thousands and thousands of products… I haven’t had that experience in months… everywhere I’ve been since Panama City, you have the choice of 4 or 5 shampoos… not 30… It’s overwhelming… I (disgracefully) plopped down some money on hair gel stuff… ’cause I couldn’t get anything decent anywhere else… and if I ever want to go out in Mexico I’m not going to be able to wear my grubby, sweat stained and faded hat… though my hair is so overgrown that it’s almost as bad… Some pics below…

J is for Jacuzzi

Another day.. another ancient city and another modern one… I’m now in Mérida… an old colonial town which seems to have kept up activity over time… so it’s a mixture of the old and the new… it’s both quiet and bustling at the same time… The place I’m staying is an old colonial mansion converted into a hotel by a Mexican artist… and there’s a couple rooms with dorm beds… where I’m staying… for $6… and the place is beautiful… with quirky decorations (quirky artist owner) and a rooftop sundeck with jacuzzi, stereo, and minifridge.. woohoo! I spent like 45 minutes soaking as the sun set just before I came to use the internet… que rico…

On my way here I stopped at Chichèn Itzà… which was beautiful… if crowded… some pictures of that, along with a couple more from Playa del Carmen follow…

C is for Chichén Itzá

There was sun today… I woke up at 7am to check… then got up a few hours later and walked down to the beach to discover that there were insane winds… I decided to stick it out anyway… and spent a few hours trying to devise a way to deflect the relentless sand blasting I was receiving… being that all I had to work with was sand, I didn’t do very well… I did manage to enjoy it very slightly, however…

Tomorrow morning I have to be on a bus at 7:40am to head inland to the (huge) ancient Mayan city of Chichén-Itzá… one of the biggest sites… and also (probably) the most visited… and being that I’m going to arrive around 11, I think I’m gonna be swamped with annoying guys in Hawaiian shirts and cheap sunglasses shuffling their whiny families around on their day trip from Cancun… I’ll just try to imagine that they’re not there… and hopefully find some quiet places for contemplation…

In the early afternoon I’m going to head out again if I can find a bus to the city of Merida… a modern city which supposedly has some nice museums and colonial architecture… as well as some cool places to stay…

On a different note: progress.

I’ve been away 87 days today… woohoo! I’ve traveled a total of (only) 3,564 miles so far (as near as I can calculate)… for an average of 40.9 mi/day… which is nice and leisurely… nothing like what I’m going to be doing the next 4 weeks or so… My 3 remaining weeks in Mexico are going to be pretty grueling… and then I’ll be covering quite a few thousand miles on the way home from Texas over the following week… So yeah… I’m bracing myself for some long-mileage days… Though the roads from here on out will be pretty much paved… well paved even… and the buses are all air-conditioned and comfy… and they can travel much much faster… and that will help..