Saturday, September 20, 2008

This is not Cuba.

This is not Cuba. I am not in Cuba. I did not arrive safe and sound. I am not having a grand time. Havana is not a city unlike I have ever experienced in my whole life. I am not obsessed with trying to figuer out how it "works." Last night I did not see a Cuban drag show hidden away from the meddling police officers in a far away park. I will not write lots of blogs and posts hundreds of photos once I arrive in Buenos Aires Oct 7th.

I am not sending much love and many kisses


Friday, September 12, 2008

My name is not Moguely. Get me the hell out of the jungle.

In Tziscao the roosters have formed a chorus. One rooster crows "I´m a big bad rooster," and another rooster across the way responds, "I´m a bigger and badder rooster." Then a rooster down the road interjects, "well I'm the biggest and baddest rooster there ever was." It continues like this. If you are under the impression that roosters crow only at sunrise, let us remedy that now--they crow all day...and all night...even when I plead with them to shut up at 3 am. In Tziscao camping at on the lake with access to bathrooms and showers at the ecotourist lodge cost 80 pesos (USD 8). Camping down the road in someone´s back yard with the same services cost 30 pesos. In Tziscao vegetarian food at the comedor with the sign that reads: Hay Comida Vegetariana--Vegetariant Foods" means they serve cheese quesadillas.

In Frontera Corozal my hatred for perspiration is reaffirmed. I sleep with a sweat band around my wrist to more easily catch the drip, drop, drip of sweat from my nose in the middle of the night. I normally don´t use bug spray--its bad for the body and for the environment and it smells bad and makes you sticky--but in Corozal the mosquito bites (for which I normally have great tolerance) leave welts. I reapply the OFF every two hours. As I fall asleep in my tent I listen to the squeaks of animals that resemble rats but live in the trees above. I hope that the hundreds of wolf spiders I saw while pitching my tent don´t find their way inside. I tell myself that I was made for the mountains.

In Yaxchilán I can see Guatemala across the River. I feel like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. I´m alone on remote jungle paths to Mayan ruins deep in the Lacandona Jungle. Above me are family groups of howler monkeys lazily strewn about branches of tall and sacred Ceiba trees. The males are screaming at each other. My Angelina Jolie fantasy continues until I get a face full of spider web and see the biggest spiders I´ve ever had the misfortune of seeing. I continue, but walk cautiously, waving a stick in circular motions in front of me in order to avoid attempted spider attacks. Now I just feel nelly.

In Palenque the ruins are spectacular (if considerably more crowded with tourists than Yaxchlán), but it is so stifling that I worry about heat stroke. I decide not to take the tour to the waterfalls of Agua Azul and the swimming hole of Misol-Ha--there are waterfalls in Argentina (big ones) and a swimming pool at the campgrounds, I tell myself. The US$15 I save by not taking the tour allows me to splurge on a large lunch at the restaurant rather than the cookies and tortillas I would have eaten otherwise. I suck on a fudgesicle for desert, and I am happy. I lounge at the pool for as long as I can tolerate the heat. I liberally apply sun-block but worry it doesn´t soak in, because I´m sweating profusely. It´s useless anyways as the sun is so strong it doesn´t tan before it burns, it just jumps directly to the latter.

After I skip Agua Azul and Misol-Ha, I skip Ocosingo and Toniná. I also skip Bonampak, in my hurry to get to Cancún (what are a few skipped ruins? I ask myself. They´ve survived 1,000 years. They´ll survive until my next visit (assuming I survive for my next visit)). I tell myself that my willingless to leave Chiapas early and thus decrease my chances of running into Subcomandante Marcos, my beloved Zapatista rebel leader, is evidence of travelling for too long of a stretch.

I sit in the bus station waiting, reading Cuba In Mind. I think to myself that it´s possibly the most appropriately titled book of all time. In Cancún I will rest. I will prepare. I will buy a skimpy bathing suit with the money I saved by skipping the waterfalls, the sinkhole, the ruins, and the other ruins. I´m excited to arrive in Buenos Aires on October 7th. But I have one small stop--one giant stop-- before I get there. When I get to Cancún, I´ll visit the bookstore and buy another book about Cuba, because it´s still on my mind. It´s all I can think about.

As Marcos says, vale and salud. As I say, much love and many besos.


p.s. I am sad that my low tolerance for jungle heat and jungle sweat and jungle bugs means that I can not live happily ever after with Subcomandante Marcos. Perhaps he will consider a vacation home some place more agreeable to my sensibilities and keep me as his mistress there.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My ass hurts!

Saludos Boludos!

My butt is so sore that I can`t sit right (don`t be dirty--it`s not that kind of blog). Today I went mountain biking in the hills around San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas (Mexico), and that bike seat was so hard I swear to god I bruised my butt bones.

In addition to sore cheeks, I have a few scrapes and bruises and a bump on the head that proves I underestimated the technical difficulty of mountain biking. Yup, I was that one. Somebody had to go flying off their bike, and it was me. It happened while my dumb ass was speeding down a rocky, muddy hill and the woman in front of me skidded to a stop. I swerved to avoid her, bounced over a big rock then flew over the handle-bars. By instinct my arms flew out in front of me to break my fall, but by second instinct I pulled them back in to protect my shoulders. As a result, I fell on my face (thankfully I was wearing a helmet) and then tumbled over belly-up. For a split second I was happy that my shoulders were well situated in their sockets (just how I like them incidentally), and ten the bike crashed down on my head (again, thankfully I was wearing a helmet).

After a few choice words I said, "Fuck it! I quit!" I struggled to throw the bike off and sit up, but the guide rushed over and shoved me back down. He ordered the second guide, his German wife (surprisingly there are a good number of German ex-pats living in San Cristóbal) to elevate my feet. I meekly try to wiggle out of their grips, still grumbling for them to leave me be--"I`ll hitchhike back dammit!" The guide tells me to shut up and keep breathing. He keeps me there until my racing pulse returns to semi-normal and then makes me eat some candy to raise my blood sugar.

Once I had calmed down and sucked on the Carmelo a bit, I realized I wasn`t much worse for the wear. There was more mud than blood, my shoulders were still intact, and a few aspirins would cure that dull throbbing in my head. Slightly embarrassed about threatening to desert, I tried to smile (which I`m sure was more of a grimace) and said, "Vamos!"

And so my search for an outdoor adventure sport continues. I thought maybe that falling off the bike was like falling off a horse or wiping out while skiing--you can`t get better until you eat it a few times. But I don`t think I want to eat any more. We can cross mountain biking off the list. It will join scuba diving and surfing, due to my irrational fear of sharks and limited ability to swim. White water rafting and kayaking, while fun, are not my jam, so they are nixed too. I`m holding my breath for rock climbing. I`m not a fan of heights, but I think its high time that I conquer that fear. Not only would climbing make me feel like a bad ass, but I bet it will give me great shoulder definition and won`t hurt my ass!

amor y besos


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I turned 23 on a bus

So as many of you know, I had planned on spending my 23rd birthday in San José del Paífico, walking through tranquil pine forrests and chilling in the mountains. I instead found myself staring at my watch at 12 am September 1st and wishing myself a happy birthday on an overnight bus from the town of Pochutla to San Cristóbal de las Casas.

San José is a small town nestled in the high mountains of Oxaca. I found the legendary house named La Casa de Doña Catalina, an aging spiritualist from Spain who now lives in Oaxaca. I had heard stories about this house from friends and travellers who I have met along the way. The Inside feels like a cozy cave with trippy 3-D art painted and nailed to the wall that jumps out at the observer no matter what state of mind. After doing the few "tourist" activities the town boasts, I spent an adventurous afternoon with a couple 20-something year old Mexican drifters. In the end, however, I decided that San José wasn`t the place I wanted to be and that I would rather spend my birthday spoiling myself in San Cristóbal.
San Cristóbal de las Casas is a small colonial city in the heart of Chiapas, the southern-most state in Mexico most well known for its poverty, coffee, and Zapatistas. I had been looking forward to visiting Chiapas ever since deciding to travel in Mexico, both because of this recent revolutionary history, and also because I got to know a bit about a coffee collective in Chiapas while volunteering at a migrant resource center in Douglas, AZ last winter.

The tourist industry has left a sizeable footprint in San Cristóbal. Most notably in the hundreds of cheap hostels and the plethora of hip restaurants with internationally inspired menues. I fully disclose that my hiking boots immedieately walked through those tourists footprints by indulging in pancakes for breakfast, a four-cheese bangle sandwich that I ate with sinful pleasure for lunch, and a brick-oven pizza for dinner (no judging--it was my birthday!). I also ate two ice cream cones (and I feel good about it!).

After dinner, I sat around the hostel with the other travellers drinking and joking. We all went to bed early, none of us having slept well on the bus the night before. It wasn`t the crazy weekend-long celebration that took place last September first. There were no surprise parties at Adina`s or delicious ice-cream cakes made by Mika, and unfortunately I wasn`t surrounded by my friends and family. BUT, I think there are worse ways to spend one`s birthday than exploring southern Mexico, and you won`t hear any complaints from me.

much love, many besos, and thanks to everyone who sent happy birthday wishes!