Friday, June 17, 2005

Oh, for a good night's sleep

Last night in Mexico, and last night of this first 3-month leg of my trip. I have been suffering with a cold for the last few days so I have been laying low, which means I will have to skip the pyramids in Teotihuacan and a visit to Taxco. I have to say that my lasting impression of Mexico is one of incessant noise. It's true that between 2am and 6am things are relatively calm, but otherwise it's generally pandemonium, wherever you are.

In California I will be sorting out neglected paperwork and loose ends and rummaging through my storage unit to shuffle the contents of my backpack. Then I'll be in Boston for 3 weeks with Katie, where I will try and get a doctor to check up on my arms and go see a dentist while I think about whether I can squeeze in a trip to Alaska for some sea-kayaking and a chance to get my sea-plane rating and do some mountain flying. It really is a heck of a long way away though.

I also have to confront the planning for South America and start thinking about Asia.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Mexican Pipeline

After a week in the country I finally learned how to spell Guatemala correctly. But by then it was time to chicken-bus back up to Mexico.

I stopped one night in Xela on the way, where the whole town was engrossed in watching the Guatemala vs. Mexico World Cup match. In the town square there was a projected screening of the game in front of a huge crowd (that sang along to the national anthem before the game) and as I walked down every dark street I could hear the same television commentary blaring from every window. Mexico won 2-0, so there were a lot of glum faces later in the evening.

At the border I tried to get a night bus to Puerto Escondido but it was already full, so I ended up going to Oaxaca instead. Not quite as picturesque as San Cristobal, but charming nonetheless. In my enfeebled state I opted for a full day mini-van tour and dutifully took pictures of the world's widest tree in Tule, and sweated around the ruins at Mitla, sampled too many of the offerings at the fabrica de Mezcal and got a stomach ache, and talked myself into buying a nice handmade rug in Teotitlán del Valle. At the end of the day I was enjoying the panorama from a rock pool at about 8000' looking out over a vast valley next to the mineral-formation 'waterfall' of Hierve el Agua.

Today I am in Puerto Escondido, home of the famous pipeline surf break, sweating in the humid shade (33'C/95'F). I had hoped to be able to try a little surfing again here, but I can barely swim right now with my arm injuries. But I have a good book and when there's a nice sea breeze I am quite content under an umbrella sipping una limonada or perhaps one or two cervezas later in the afternoon.

Friday, June 03, 2005


Antigua reminds me a bit of San Cristobal. Every third shopfront is either a hostel, a language school or a hairdresser. There appears to be a ton of tourist money pouring in but next to air-conditioned boutique jewelry stores there are still plenty of dusty, dark and slightly decrepit looking establishments that serve the local clientele.

I heard stories of people getting mugged in Antigua, but I never felt uncomfortable at all. I was also told a story of some poor girl who's bus from Antigua to Panajachel was held up and robbed twice at gunpoint on the same trip (they had a hard time persuading the second lot that they had no money left because they had already been robbed). I leave tomorrow in the same direction.

Another missed volcano-climbing opportunity.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Lake Atitlan

My arms are just functional enough again to manage my backpack so long as I put it on slowly. Considering my delicate condition, I allowed myself the luxury of a shuttle van from San Cristobal to Panajachel, Guatamala instead of the several buses that would otherwise be required. We arrived in a downpour and low clouds, but this morning the boat ride across the lake to San Pedro was spectacular under blue, sunny skies (photos to come).

I dont think I'm quite ready for a hike up a volcano right now (and besides I sent my hiking shoes back with Katie), so I'll have a quiet day here and then head towards Antigua tomorow.