Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Rain

So, it's the rainy season here in Puerto Vallarta but that sentence doesn't really convey what's happening on a daily basis.

We've got an exciting new sport in white water rafting except there's no raft and it takes place in all the downtown roads which flood up to and over the sidwalks. Catching a bus is a level 5 on the danger scale but the taxi drivers are willing to take anyone who washes up on the banks.

All of the lovely white buildings now have a new shade of moss do all my clothes and any food that gets left out for more than a couple of hours.

Melissa and I just spent an hour mopping our floor because there are with walls and their solidity.

On the plus side, I don't have do laundry anymore and I'm considering giving up showers. Plus, the pool is always full.

Friday, July 16, 2010

San Christobal and Oaxaca

Well, I'm back in Puerto Vallarta for my last week in Mexico. I had a great last few days on the road. Took a couple of night buses which was interesting. It was easy to sleep except that they had numerous police checks...I even had to produce my passport. This was in the region of the Zapatista rebels so the police presence is supposed to stop their activities but it just seemed like a movie to me. I would be sleeping and then a man would be asking me for identification.

The home of the Zapatistas, San Christobal. They seemed to be more interested in selling Che Gueuvera t-shirts and as you can see, Buddhism has come to the area.

Oaxaca is the cultural center of the country, or so I'm told. It was a pretty place with lots of wide open spaces and churches. Everytime I went around a corner, there were musicians, markets, sidewalk felt relaxed and cozy with the possibility of excitement.

Took a tour to see some Zapatec weavers which was really cool. Learned how they get the colors and weave the rugs. Of course, all the work is done by women while the men herd the sheep.

I spent a lot of time in the main square, watching people and drinking delicious Oaxacan chocolate. Every two minutes, another person would come up and ask if I wanted to buy something but they went away with a polite 'no, gracias'.

It's good to be out of hotels now so I'm going to relax for a few days and hit the beach.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I spent the day in Campeche waiting for a night bus to San Cristobel. It's a pretty UNESCO world heritage town on the carribean with high fortress walls that protected them from pirates back in the day. It took being sacked several times before getting around to building the huge stone walls.

I was able to spend Saturday night on the square and got to watch some...interesting performances as well as their own brand of bingo being played at large tables. I found out the next day that the 'bingo' was started by a cigarette company and was so popular that it has become a weekly obsession.

I ate tamales, Mayan style, wrapped in leaves and then for dessert, I had a frozen coconut drink/shake/sundae that I have no idea what to call...I just asked for what the woman in front of me had and got it...delicious.

The 'bingo' cards with bottle caps to mark the called squares

The Saturday night bingo game on the square

A look inside a 17th century Spanish merchant home

What a pretty town with blocks and blocks of these colourful buildings...a peak behind the facades reveals a tired and worn place that looks its 400 year old age

Friday, July 9, 2010

Chichen Itza

Got on an early local bus to beat the tour buses and made it out to Chichen Itza this morning. It was hot and humid but the site was like walking in a park with trees conveniently lining all the paths. I have to say that I was impressed. It was better than Egyptian pyramids but not quite as good as Angkor Wat. It would have been a bit better if there hadn't been ropes around almost every ruin but I had gotten my fill of climbing the day before so I was content to sneak around listening to other group's guides and take pictures.

Got lucky with the weather in the morning but just before I was leaving the thunder and lightening started up. Thought I would be clever and video a bit of it and got caught in a downpour that turn the whole place into a lake. My clothes were soaked through in less than two minutes and the $3 raincoat I bought was 'too little too late' to save me. It was kind of funny standing under the trees, watching the lighting strike and the tourists scamper behind their guides.

Jaguar Temple

Temple of a thousand pillars...for real

The big honking deal

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ek Bakam

So, Cancun was flooded and gross so I got out of there as fast as I could get on a bus. I'm in Valladolid, which is a cute little town near Chichen Itza. My hotel has a pool so I'm pretty happy.

You can see that they like color here in town. The wide streets are nice and breezy which is absolutely necessary in the humidity. I'm not sure why but there is a cop on every single corner...I walked back out of the tourist area to see if they would be there too and they were...I practiced my Spanish by asking a bunch of them for directions.

I had a interesting desert in the town square. A crispy crepe with melted cheese and caramel sauce. You could get it with chocolate/cheese and nutella/cheese too.

I hit a lesser known set of ruins called Ek Balam this morning. Very cool with almost no people and the jungle encroaching from all sides. The walk up the big temple was tough but the walk down almost killed me...way too high and steep.

In the afternoon I cooled off by swimming at this cool cenote...the water was so clear that you could see the rock formation way below your feet and the cute little fishes swimming around.

Monday, July 5, 2010


I've spent the last two days looking for those yappy chihuahuas in Chihuahua but couldn't find a single one until I went in for a manicure and they had a puppy mascot in the I can believe that I'm in Chihuahua.

This place is full of parks, tree-lined streets and statues...statues of angels, of statesmen, of rebels and of animals or half people half animals. It's cooler than the pacific coast and the air is dry and clean so I could walk forever and take pictures of all the statues.

This is also the home of Pancho Villa and you can see the bullet riddled car he died in at his actual home. He was a real bad guy that history seems to have turned into a revolutionary. At the time of his death, 25 of his wives claimed ownership of his house but the guy has bronze statues and paintings from one end of town to the other.

People are very friendly. I've had some really nice english/spanish conversations with people.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Creel is my favorite place so far. It's high up in the mountains and the air is cool and pine-scented. The whole place feels fresh and looks like a park. I stayed in a log cabin guest house and rented a scooter to get around. I could easily see myself living there (except for the lack of jobs and shopping).

The local indios are called Raramuri and the women still wear their colorful traditional clothing for everyday life. Almost all the men look like cowboys with hats and boots. They are primarily farmers but a lot of the women and children sell handmade crafts to the tourists. It was a bit sad to see the runny nosed little kids hawking their necklaces but everyone looks very healthy and I think their lives aren't too bad.

The whole area is filled with bizzare rock formations and incredible vistas...I couldn't stop smiling the whole time I was riding around. I actually wanted to go on a horseback riding tour but they needed a minimum number and I would have had to wait for a day or two. In the end, it didn't matter how I got around because the views were just so incredible.

For those of you in the know about my 'phalic' photo wall, you'll see that I really hit paydirt here.

Copper Canyon

Up at 4:30am and on the train before 6:00 to roll into Copper Canyon for a 10 hour ride to Creel up high in the mountains. Interesting fact, there isn't actually any copper in the canyon. The Spanards saw the green moss on the rocks and thought it was copper so it got misnamed....those Spaniards with their killing the indios, stealing their land and misnaming everything really have a bad rep historically speaking.

The canyon was pretty cool but not as spectactular as advertized. Passengers could stand in the fresh air in between cars and take photos and the conductor (complete with little cap and vest) came through the cars to tell us when something photo worthy was coming. Unfortunatly, it started raining half way through so things kind of disappeared into the fog.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


The scenery has started to flatten out and there are more cacti as I go north. It was kind of scary at the military check point when we all had to get of while they searched the bus and all of our bags...lots of machine guns and tough looking men. After the realative harmlessness of Korean police, the battle hardened soldiers and police I'm seeing here are a real shocker.

I hit Mazatlan and was pleasantly surprised by it's wide open streets and multitudes of beaches. Walked from one end of town to the other and then took a ferry to an island for a beer on the beach below.

Squid fishermen diving off the rocks and climbing back up with innertubes filled with their catches

Great surf! I got the crap pounded out me and had a blast.

Mexicans eat five or six meals a day so there is food is good :)

Mazatlan style taxis..a total rip off but a nice way to see town

Town square was a great place for breakfast

On the road again

So, I'm on the road again, this time in Mexico with my brand spanking new Spanish skills...I'm really hoping I don't get myself dead or in jail.

I started the trip off in the sleepy little fishing village of San Blas. It's main claim to fame is the eco tours in the swamp/river. I did the tour and it was pretty cool. Lots of bizzare birds, crocodiles and the relaxed feeling of being out of the city with the wind in my hair as we cruised.