Sunday, March 8, 2009

Failing Miserably

I have all but abandoned my blog for this trip. Partly, I have been sick, and haven't felt like sitting down for long periods of time to journal, and partly because Chris is completely showing me up in the blog department. So, if you want to keep track of our wanderings (at least for this trip), check out his blog at He updates his very regularily, and posts far more pictures than I do. Love you all!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Flamingos, Flexibility, and Finally, Palenque

On one of our last days in Mèrida (Chris' birthday), we decided to do a tour to Celestùn, an eco-reserve about 2 hours away from the city on the Gulf of Mexico. We caught a bus only to wait nearly 30 minutes at the Hyatt for three people who decided that it was okay to make a bus full of people wait for them. After all, they were staying at the Hyatt, and not some $10 a night hostel! Not a great start to the tour, but it did get better. In Celestùn we got in a boat and toured the mangrove swamp, eventually coming upon thousands on thousands of bright pink flamingos. Did you know flamingos are pink because they eat so much shrimp? Would I turn florescent if I ate all that shrimp? Good thing I don't even like shrimp. No chance of that happening. Although I do eat a lot of avacado here...maybe I'll cut back...I don't think that colour green really suites me.

The following day was my birthday, and we decided to take it easy and just relax, catching up on emails and wandering around. That evening was another Carnaval parade, this one more traditional, with dancing and Mexican costumes (but still a lot of semi-naked girls on beer floats!). We walked to where the parade started, and had a delicious birthday dinner of salbutes and sopa de lima. A salbute is the Yucatan version of a taco. It's this small fried tortilla covered with onion, tomato, lettuce and pulled turkey, topped with avocados. It's divine. Lime soup is another Mexican favorite. It kind of tastes like savory Froot Loops, especially with the tortillas in it. Yummy!! My very favorite thing is guacamole. I eat it nearly everyday. The avocados are so fresh and flavourful (not like the ones you get at Safeway...), and they mix it with chilis and lime and salt, and serve it with freshly fried tortilla pieces. Gorgeous.

Yesterday was a bit of an adventure. Chris and I got up and made our way to the bus station to catch a bus to Palenque, an ancient Mayan civilization approximately 10 hours from Mèrida. It was not a day we were looking forward to (a long, hot bus ride is never a good time), but we had been mentally preparing ourselves for days. We got there to find that the morning bus left an hour before, but there was another bus at midnight! Oh good news!! I could have cried. I was more than tired of Mèrida, and wanted to get this show on the road, and see another part of Mexico. We sat in the corner of the bus station and deliberated our options. We could put our bags in storage and bum around Mèrida until midnight, and take a night bus to Palenque. We could find somewhere else to go instead. We could find a hostel and catch tomorrow morning`s bus, wasting another day. I was disappointed, I didn't want to stay in Mèrida, and I wanted to visit the ruins of Palenque the following day. But the main thing was to get the heck out of Merida. We`d been there for days! So, we looked at the bus times, looked in our Lonely Planet book, and decided to head to Campeche, a coastal city a little less than halfway between the two. What a great decision!! Campeche is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is famous for their pirates! It was also practically deserted. Seriously, we arrived at around 1pm, and immediately headed for the historical center. The only people we saw on the streets were policemen. It was bizarre. However, we wandered around, hitting a few churches, a few parks, and the malecon (boardwalk). Each building was painted a different colour, making each street into a rainbow. And, as mentioned before, we had the city to ourselves! Later that night, we were able to catch a bus to Palenque, arriving at around 4am. A very good day indeed.

Monday, February 23, 2009


It has been an eventful week.

Day Three in Mexico, I woke up with a terrible chest cough, but no other symptoms of illness otherwise. I decided to ignore it, and Chris and I rented a scooter and scooted around Isla Mujeres. It's a small island, so we went around twice. It was an amazing way to spend the day, speeding along the tropical coastline, the calm turquoise waters of the Caribbean on one side in direct contrast to the blue crashing waves from the Gulf of Mexico on the other. We zipped down to the southern tip of the island, where there was a "playground memorial" dedicated to the Mayan Goddess Ixchel (very touristy, not worth the $3 to get in). Instead, we climbed the lighthouse, which gave us an enchanting view of the whole island. Later that day, we snuck onto a private resort on the Caribbean side to try snorkling. However, the water was cloudy and kind of gross, so we left, priding ourselves on not getting duped into paying hundreds more dollars for a "beachfront resort." Our hostel, at less than $25 a night, was right on it's own beach, and only 2 blocks away from the best beach in town!

Day Four, we went back to Cancún to catch a bus to Mérida, a city "4 to 6 hours from Cancún." I put that in quotation marks, because in actuality, the trip took us more than 7 long and painful hours. And that nasty cough from the morning before? It got worse. My chest hurt, my eyes felt like they were going to pop out of my head everytime I coughed (and I coughed...a lot!), and my skin was painful to touch. I'm sure I was a delightful companion for Chris, who was incredibly patient and understanding.

Day Five, Chris MADE me go to the doctor. It hadn't even crossed my mind, having been sick so many times while traveling, I usually just ride it out. However, it's a good thing I went; I had a fever and a bad bronchial infection in my chest that required antibiotics. I spent all of that day in bed. The one time I ventured out on my own, I got disoriented and lost after walking only a few blocks. Chris went out exploring on his own, and had a few adventures himself! Ah, I remember the flustery, blustery feeling of not knowing how to communicate! He did, however, weed out the city, and discovered a few cool things to do.
Day Six, we came across hordes of people lined up in the streets. Thousands upon thousands. As I've mentioned before, some of my greatest experiences while traveling have been had when I just followed a crowd, with no idea of what was going on. This was no exception. We had discovered the biggest Carnaval parade this country offers! HUGE floats paraded by designed by Coca-Cola and Corona, with coloured lights and scantily clad women gyrating their hips. Feathered headpieces with matching feathered dresses danced and twirled. Bands played, men sang, children shook their...bon-bons?? Yeah, that was a little disturbing. But all in the spirit of Carnaval, I guess. Afterwards, the crowds moved to a different area of town, where there were three main stages, all within a few blocks of each other. One was blasting regaeton and featured a dance competition, another had a Mexican cowboy singing his heart out, and the third headlined a salsa band with a complete horn section. It was pretty amazing.
I am on the mend now. It's a little frustrating to be coughing so much, but I feel tons better, thanks to the miracle of antibiotics. Tomorrow we are heading to the Mayan ruins of Palenque, in the south of Mexico. A nine hour bus ride. Can't wait.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Island of Women

Hey All,

We have arrived!! After leaving Cranbrook at 10am yesterday (overnight in Calgary and their -20 weather), we are safe and sound in Mexico. Turns out Chris and I are a super team of awesomeness. I don't know if it was blind luck or Jesus or our own wits, but we seemed to make each connection exactly on time (arriving just as the plane/bus/boat was just about to leave). We left Cancun as soon as we arrived...if you're not staying at an all-inclusive, it kind of sucks...and jumped a boat to Isla Mujeres (Island of Women), where we will be soaking up the Caribbean sun for the next three or four days. Anyway, I will make this short, since people are waiting for the computer. Will post any adventures we have in the coming days!



Saturday, February 7, 2009

One week!

I'm so excited I think I'm gonna barf!

I packed my bag a few days ago, then realized how nerdy that was, so I unpacked it again and shoved my backpack under my bed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Adventure

Well, it's been months since I have even thought about this blog, but today I decided to take it out and dust it off in time for my newest adventure. This trip is the result of a little spontaneity, a lot of stress, and a few birthdays on the horizon. Initially, I was planning to head to Korea, to teach English for a year. However, it just didn't feel right (at least, not right now), and after a lot of soul searching and some sleepless nights, I figured out what a lot of my loved ones had realized ages ago...I wasn't going to go to Korea. Then, my boyfriend asked me what I thought about traveling in Mexico for a few months, and an alternative adventure was born!

This journey is more of a tourist trip, with more lazing on the beach and R&R than I'm used to. I'm revisiting a much loved part of my past, Central America! Tickets are bought and paid for, and this time, I will get a chance to travel in Mexico (which TECHNICALLY isn't part of CA, but should be, for heavens sake!). I will also get a chance to see mi Familia Guatemalteco in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, which I am immensely excited about.

We arrive in Cancun on February 16th, and as far as I know, we don't have any particular plan of what to do after that. I do know we plan to be back in Mexico by March 20th, for the Spring Equinox. In between, who knows!? It's Chris' birthday on the 22nd, and mine on the 23rd (don't forget!!), so I'm hoping we get to someplace warm and tropical with yummy drinks by then.

I'm not really a "foodie," but I'm looking forward to eating Mexican everyday. Maybe it's because the few places I've already traveled have...lacked...a little in the culinary department. Maybe it's because I love tacos and tamales and enchiladas and quesadillas. But everytime I think about going, I also think about eating. And then my mouth waters.

This is the least thought out trip I've ever been on, which is both fun and scary! I know I'm a stressful traveler (love to travel, but it sometimes scares the crap outta me!), but it's a lot easier to let things slide when you've got someone with you. I have realized that when things go wrong and you're alone, your first instinct is to sit down and have a little cry, or maybe a temper tantrum. But when there's someone else to share in your distress, you can't help but laugh about it. Like they say, misery loves company! And I guess it's nice to have company for the good times, too...Especially company as enjoyable as Chris'!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Top Threes of Ecuador

Things I ate
1. Fresh fruits and fruit juice EVERYDAY
2. spinach ravioli with carbonara from Clasico
3. Cuy (roasted guinea pig)

Things that bothered me
1. They put cilantro in everything!
2. Machismo
3. Pollution and "The Cuenca Cough"

Thoughts about my students
1. Everyone had a cell phone
2. The nice boys are going to grow up to become disgusting men
3. Good looking kids

Interesting people I met
1. Big Renee - May have been a lesbian, may have been a man, scary laugh...such a character!
2. Martin - has been all over the world, was left for dead in the Australian outback and had to survive on his own urine.
3. Sunny - the only American I met who knew where Cranbrook was!

Places I went
1. Vilcabamba, the Valley of Longevity, nestled in the Andean range
2. Canoa, a surf town with water as warm as a bath
3. Banos, the adventure capital of Ecuador

Things I want to remember
1. The look on Dad's face when the horse spooked
2. The taste of fresh maracuyas
3. The giant turtles on the Galapagos

Things I want to forget
1. Food poisoning
2. The rage I feel whenever a man is inappropriate
3. The hell of my first semester

People I'll miss
1. The Canadians
2. My roommate, Kristi
3. The guy at Clasico

Things I'll miss
1. The fruit and veggie market
2. The shy smiles of children
3. Rio Tomebamba

Cultural quirks
1. There's chauvinism without chivalry
2. Everyone litters and doesn't think it contributes to pollution
3. It's okay to call someone fat, or ask them embarrassing questions about their love life, but it's not okay to want to have personal space

Reasons it's good to be back
1. Hot water, hot water, hot scalding water
2. You can put TP in the toilet!
3. Hanging out with family and friends again