Saturday, November 29, 2008

Oaxaca de Juarez, again

Hi Everyone, I´m back in Oaxaca. It´s good to be back. The weather is really nice, hot in the sun and just right in the shade and in the evenings.
I arrived yesterday morning and spent the day looking for an apt. for the month of December, and also I visited the language school I´ll be going to. The lady at the language school was extremely nice, she helped me out by giving me some phone numbers to call about apt.s.
This morning I went to look at two apartments; one was promising, the other not. I´m giving myself the weekend to find one, then I will settle in for a month!
The picture above is of the courtyard of the hostel I´m staying at, Hostel Luz de Luna. It was suggested to me by my friend Kierstin and it´s great because they have 4 dogs and 2 cats wandering around the premises. Having pets around makes it feel a little more like home.
It is low season in Oaxaca and there are hardly any tourists around. Very different from the last time I was here, for Día de los Muertos. Last night there were only 3 people including myself staying at the hostel.

Well, I must continue the apt. search for now. I am posting some stencil grafitti I found around town yesterday for the infamous Pinky Royale and anyone else who likes it. The bottom one is the most amazing, I think. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Villa Hermosa

Pagoda! Where´s my havelina?

Turtles and crocodiles living in harmony.

I´m in between long bus rides. I didn´t sleep much last night on the bus from Playa to Villa but I got a sencillo hotel room this morning, first thing, and I was able to shower and take a nap.
I thought I was being so clever getting closer to Cancún, shaving hours off the bus ride but it turns out that I had to go south to Chetumal on the bus anyway. I had two seats to myself for almost the whole trip, and I have mastered the art of scrunching up on the two seats in such a way that I can almost sleep. Like a cat in a sink, only much less graceful.
With my 12 hours or so in Villa Hermosa, I went to the Parque-Museo La Venta. There is a zoo there (see above pictures) and a big, jungle-like park with Olmec findings found throughout the state of Tabasco. I took pictures of some cool Olmec heads, but something happened to my camera and it won´t recognize them. So you only get pictures of animals today.
My short stint in Tabasco is drawing to a close. I leave in one hour for the bus station, and I will be in Oaxaca by tomorrow morning.
Hey! I just realized that today is Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving everyone...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Playa del Carmen

Hello from Playa del Carmen. We arrived here yesterday afternoon and checked into our hostel for one night. Tonight at 6:25 I board a 12 hour bus to Villa Hermosa, in the state of Tabasco. I will stay there just for the day, and then board another 12 hour bus bound for Oaxaca. I am not looking forward to the long overnight bus rides, but it will be nice to return to beautiful Oaxaca.
My plan is to stay there for the rest of my time on Mexico (a little over one month) and enroll in language school for two weeks, and use Oaxaca as a base for exploring the surrounding areas.
My family and Joon are coming out the last couple weeks in December and I`m really looking forward to seeing them again.

Today I am biding my time in Playa del Carmen, awaiting the departure of my bus. Cassie and Rocio are on a snorkeling tour (see them practicing in the above picture) and I am taking the opportunity to catch up on the internet.

Playa is a weird place. It`s quite resort-y and there are a ton of American people here. Last night at dinner Rocio ordered a daiquiri and it turned out to be a giant, heaping mushy thing. It was wayyyyyy too big for one person, but I guess if you`re here to PARTAY it`s a good thing. Oh my goodness, this thing was ridiculous, I wish I took a picture of it.

The beaches are still really beautiful, though, and there is supposed to be some great snorkeling and diving here because of all the off-shore reefs. I guess I`ll find out from the girls when they get back.

Well, that is all for today. I will probably get to blog again in Oaxaca. I hope everyone is doing great. Until next time....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sian Ka`an Biosphere Reserve

Yesterday we went on a tour to the Sian Ka`an Biosphere reserve. It`s down the coast from Tulum, about 1 hour by van. The biosphere includes beach, several lagoons, and jungle.
We arrived to the Sian Ka`an Center (where we also stayed the night) and after a short walk through some mosquito-infested jungle, we hopped on a boat for birdwatching.

Here is a photo of an osprey. It`s nest was to the left of it (you can`t see it in this picture because I zoomed) and it was made of mostly natural stuff but there were bits of tarp and other assorted trash in it too.

Here`s a view of the beach from the Sian Ka`an Center. There was hardly anyone on the beach- I think us and two other people. About 100 meters off the shore there is a huge reef, and there are tons of pieces of reef and big conch shells that wash up on shore.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

even more Tulum!

Yes, I am still here in Tulum, after a one-night hiatus in Playa del Carmen. I rendevoused with Rocio and Cassie there, and we came back to Tulum via bus yesterday. Today we rented bicycles for $5 and biked to the Tulum ruins (my 2nd time- I`m an expert on them now) and to the beach and back. We were ambitious in the morning, and thought we were going to make it to the cenotes (which as I understand it, are swimming holes in caves. They are big here in the Yùcatan) but after swimming in the turquoise waters, it started to get cold and we realized we weren`t going to make it to the cenotes today.
A shot of the beach from the top of the ruins.

Last night Cassie, Rocio and I wandered over to a soccer game that was going on in our neighborhood. It was great fun watching how serious Mexican kids get about their fùtbol. They were all energy in the first half, then in the second half everyone was falling down with `injuries`, then popping back up again after a few minutes on the sidelines. My theory is that they were tired.
This is a picture of the well dressed, elusive cotton candy man. (This one`s for Mary and Simone)

There are a lot of iguanas around these parts. They are all over the ruins, basking in the sun and posing for pictures for their adoring tourist fans.

Here`s a shot of me, Cassie and Rocio at las ruinas today.

The señoritas about to eat lunch.
Tomorrow we signed up for a tour to go through the Sian Ka`an Biosphere reserve. The guidebook says that there is a core area where human entry is avoided if possible, a research and education area where scientists can conduct research, and a transition area which connects to the outside world.
Our tour is going to take us to a cenote and then on a boat tour through the lagoons to look at the unique birds in the Biosphere. Then, we are staying in the ecological tent cabins for the night and coming back to Tulum on Tuesday morning.
I will be sure to take some fantastic bird and cenote pictures for everyone to see.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

more Tulum

Mary and Simone, my current travel buddies, are leaving Tulum tomorrow and I am heading north for Playa del Carmen to meet Rocio and Cassie, friends from home. I am excited to see them, and do more laying on the beach.
This photo`s of the girls at the Tulum ruins, which are amazing because they are on a cliff overlooking the beach.
Here is a photo from my cabaña. It is nice and sunny today but also pretty windy.

There are a bunch of boats all over the beach, and here is a cool picture of La Gaviota. I don`t see the beached boats going anywhere, but there`s a dive school not far from where I`m staying, and I see people coming and going with scuba gear to the boats that are anchored a little ways offshore.
Here`s a picture of me with foreboding clouds in the back.
I don`t have much to report. I have been mostly lounging around in the sun and reading... a lot.
Things are wonderful here and I can`t complain. Okay, one thing. I counted the mosquito bites last night, and there were 24 on each leg! I am doing my best not to scratch them...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

el mar Caribe

Here is the road to our cabaña on the beach...
An art installation in Mèrida.

The cabaña where I will be sleeping tonight.

A view of the beach here in Tulum, 20 steps away from the cabaña.

Some really cute baby chickens that I saw in Palenque. Unfortunately, they`ll probably grow up to be chick fillets one day....

I am now in Tulum. Let me tell you the story of how I got here. Simone and I were in Mèrida for 3 nights. We just hung out and Simone had a friend who is going to school there so we hung around with him. Yesterday we took a 7am bus to Cancùn, then got a shuttle to the airport, to pick up Mary, another friend of Simone. Then the three of us came to Tulùm by bus, which is a few hours south of Cancùn.
We stayed in a nice place last night, but it was a little expensive for our budgets, so we moved again this morning. I put a photo of our cabaña above, so you can see it. It is right on the beach, and the water is crystal clear and the waves are really calm. This is my first time to the Carribean and I must say, I am impressed. I`m excited to spend a lot of time laying around on the beach and swimming.
Today is pretty cloudy so it doesn`t look so fantastic in the pictures I took, but I will take more when it is sunny so you can all be properly jealous.
Mèrida was extremely hot and I`m sure it is here too, normally. Today is not bad because of the aforementioned clouds, but it is still tank top weather.
I guess that`s all I have to say right now... I will blog again sometime this week, as I will be here in Tulum awaiting Cassie and Rocio`s arrival.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

from the highlands to the jungle!

Hello! After San Cristòbal de las Casas, Simone and I headed to Palenque... there are some ruins there and it is particularly beautiful because it is set in the jungle. The guidebook says that the ruins are at the exact point where the plains rise into the mountains. It was very beautiful and I took wayyyyyy too many pictures. This is a shot of El Templo de las Inscripciones.... I think.
Here`s a photo of a vendor`s stuff in front of the Palace section of the ruins. The ruins are huge- there is something like 15 square km of stuff. We were there for several hours wandering around. It is pretty cool because you are allowed to climb on top and inside of the ruins, unlike at Monte Alban in Oaxaca.

We stayed at a place up the road from the ruins, and here is the bridge that leads to our palapa (fancy word for hut covered with a straw roof). There is a little creek running through the property with incredibly clean water. There were some hammocks strung up which we took advantage of, and at night you could hear howler monkeys roaring. It was a pretty intimidating sound. The only bad things about staying here were: flying cockroaches (which for some reason only lived on my side of the room), mosquitoes, and freezing cold showers.... but that is the price of paradise.

Here is the tower of the Palace section of the ruins.

Yesterday we took a bus from Palenque to Mèrida, and we arrived here around 10:30 last night. The weather is still really nice- warm and a little humid. Today we have a few different missions, do laundry, buy soap and toothpaste. We will be here for a couple days and then we will make our way to the dreaded town of Cancun, to pick up Simone`s friend from the airport and make a quick getaway to Tulum. My friends Rocìo and Cassie are also coming in a few days and I am due to meet them in Tulum. It will be great to have some time in the Carribean sun with old friends.
I will send more pictures tomorrow or the next day. I hope everyone at home is doing great.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

still in San Cristòbal

Me, Jake, and Simone.
You know this guy.

Hello! I am still in San Cristòbal de las Casas, and yesterday i took some interesting photos of stencil graffiti which i am posting here.
It is really cold here at night but yesterday i bought a scarf and i stole an extra blanket from an empty bed in my dorm.
During the day it is really hot in the sun. Mountain weather, i guess.
This morning at 7 o`clock we lost Jake to language school in Guatamala, but Simone and i are going to keep traveling to the Yùcatan together. She has a friend coming to Cancun on the 15th and my friends Cassie and Rocìo are coming shortly thereafter.
For now we are staying here for at least one more night, then are next move is to go to Palenque to see the ruins.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

San Cristòbal de las Casas

so, i haven`t taken many pictures recently. After Oaxaca I took a van to San Augustinillo, a town on the coast, and stayed there for three nights with some new travel friends, Simone and Jake. The bus ride was a little bit awful. The road was really windy and it seemed like the driver was trying to make people throw up. Also, one of the people in the van forgot something in the bathroom and although he had only driven 2 min. away, he at first refused to drive her back, then agreed to do it but made her pay for 5 liters of gas.
The beach was really nice, though. There was a lot of laying around and napping, and making delicious food to eat.
Two nights ago we took a night bus for 12 hours to get to San Cristòbal, where I am now. It is in the mountains so the weather is: really hot in the sun, really cold not in the sun, freezing cold at night. One of my missions today is to buy a scarf.
So far the town is really beautiful. It is in Chiapas and there are a lot of indigenous people here. There are supposed to be some interesting artesanìa markets and today I am going to go to a museum of traditional Mayan medicine.
The first picture above is a church here in San Cristòbal. I thought it looked interesting with the flags. The second picture is of me with yet another cute cat, per Joon`s request of more cat pictures.
I will take more pictures today and hopefully get them up in the next few days.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Día de los Muertos

Hello! Today was Día de los Muertos and it was a lot quieter than I thought it was going to be. A lot of the shops in town were closed up (not sure if it was for the holiday or because it´s Sunday). Last night I went out to the cemetery and there were a lot of altars set up, I posted some pictures of some of them. There was a parade and a lot of festivities around town all weekend.
Tomorrow I head out with two new friends (EstadoUnidenses) to the coast. Maybe Mazunte? Maybe Zipolite? The plan is to relax on the beach with a good book.
Tonight a bunch of people from our hostel went to a town called Xoxocotlan where there was some music and a costume contest. On the way there, we caught a ride on the back of a flatbed truck which was really funny and fun.
I don´t have much else to say right now... I´ll try to write from the coast, if there are computers there.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween

Here`s a photo of the ceiling of a church just off the Zòcalo. I can`t remember the name of the church, but it is extremely ornate inside. I was especially fascinated by this tree of kings carving.
Here`s a mix of hostellers I`ve been hanging out with... we all got dressed up for Halloween, most of us made our costumes. Obviously first prize goes to the breast.

These are some giant sculptures. The guy in the picture was getting them ready for the parade on Day of the Dead.

This one`s just a pretty picture of the light and colors of Oaxaca...

There were a bunch of these art pieces on the streets in honor of Dìa de los Muertos. This was my favorite one.
I will try to post more pictures within the next couple of days, after Dìa de los Muertos. Hasta luego....

Cities I've Visited