October 21- Jet Lag

I’ve arrived safely in Beijing.

My forever-hour plane ride wasn’t as painful as I expected. I just one short layover in Vancouver. Enough time for an egg salad Subway, a quick change into my airplane-ride lounge wear (aka pyjamas. It wasn’t an overnight flight but, well, f it) and then to realize they had started boarding ten minutes early and I still hadn’t done my 5-6 last minute emergency pees. Everything went fine anyway. I was texting with Mum this whole time too, in leiu of a calm phone call from the gate. I ofter have a three or four hour layover and this one was about 1.5 hours so there was no resting. One the bright side, there was also no excessive waiting around either.

When I got to my hotel last night it was about 7:30 and it was definitely time for bed for me. I had an admittedly half- hearted plan to go exploring and find some food and water and such but I was too tired. Also, it was pretty dark. Also, I was (and still am) still on BC time so I was falling asleep. One thing: the beds are really hard here. I slept anyway.

Now it’s 4:06 am and I’m awake and ready to go. I slept pretty good from 9pm to 2:30. I tried going back to sleep, but couldn’t stop wondering if maybe I should organize my suitcase a little better? So I’ve organized I that into a more bearable state. Now all i want to do it sleep a little more.

Images of China so far: big busy highways! I didn’t study the lane changing and merging ettiequte to close because it was stressing me out, but I’ll be happy not to drive here. I had a car and driver team waiting for me a the airport so I didn’t have to stress about anything. They kept good care of me in the transition between airport and hotel and even spelled my name right on the sign they held up at arrivals. So extra points.

October 17 – Two more sleeps

I left myself many chores to do tonight after work. It is my only free evening this week, so I wanted to dedicate it to my final pack and to finish up tidying my house. I predicted I would get frantic with nervousness doing this, finding the last things to do before my trip. I leave early on Saturday so there won’t be much time for last minute dishes, etc, while I wait to go; but, thusly, I am anxious to be ready to go. I get fussy before a trip, making sure my house will be left clean: recycling out, kitchen counters wiped, bed made. These are things that I don’t care about on a day-to-day basis. But when I’m leaving for a big trip, I like to look around before I leave and know I’ve left things in order. Extra especially, I love coming home to a clean apartment.

Secret: I could have left that sentence as “I love coming home.”

This week my excitement for my trip has turned into anxiousness and a sort of pre-homesickness. It started last Friday when Susan and I were deciding where to meet for dinner. I had suggested something new, but then realized I was craving a familiar location, in anticipation of all the new places I’ll soon be visiting. And all of the situations I would have no such control over.

I wrote in my last post about how much I enjoyed spending Thanksgiving with my family, and that was part of this need for the familiar, or in this case, the hyper-familiar, the very foundation of familiarity. It was hard to leave.

I’m not sure why I’m so pre-homesick this time. I keep reminding myself that three weeks, while a longer trip than I’ve been on for a while, isn’t that long. I wrote as I was leaving for Mexico last year how homesick I felt – so it’s part of the trip, and I know it goes away. I have some ideas of why it hit me early this time:

  1. I’ve been on three airplane trips this year! So fun! But I haven’t had enough time to forget how much waiting and impatience there is to airplane travel. I usually plan trips with more of a gap in between to fully recover. (And to save up money again…. but I’m not thinking about that part right now.)
  2. Travelling somewhere completely foreign all by myself! Scary!
  3. It’s October and I should be getting ready for cold-weather hibernation – I’m leaving a bit later in the month than I usually do. I’m looking around my tidy and cozy house and thinking I would be a better choice to just stay here for three weeks.
  4. The anticipation of not having control over things while being on a tour: most days are planned with sightseeing, accommodation is pre-planned and assigned, restaurants are usually chosen by the guide. These are all things that I am happy to have organized for me, and is why I like to pay to go on a tour! But I live alone and is pretty much do as I like in normal life, so following along takes a little adjustment, even if it does make complete sense and I’m so glad to be traveling this way.
  5. I think too much about things.

I planned to fret and pack and clean tonight, Thursday, because still have one more sleep after this before I go. My plan for Friday night is to relax and be calm.

Truth: I am only ever nervous for a trip until I get on my first form of transportation. Then a little bit just before I meet with the rest of the tour group. Then I’m fine.

***

My List of Thursday Evening Chores

  • Clean bathroom sink and toilet
  • Do dishes
  • Pack few remaining items
  • Water bottle in suitcase or carry-on?
  • Long or short phone charger cord?
  • Have a bath
  • Bump elbow against corner of towel bar
  • Weird arm-wriggly cry-dance of pain
  • Is lower arm paralysis a thing?
  • Cut nails
  • Study peeling blisters on the bottoms of my big toes
  • Bandage new blister on back of right heel
  • Have maccachee for dinner
  • Finish yogurt
  • Write for Puddlelillies.com
  • “Chores”

October 15 – Thanksgiving

I was very happy to spend Thanksgiving with my family this year. Two things:

  1. I wanted to see everyone before I head off to China on Saturday. I’ve tried to see all of my important people before I go. I was in Duncan from Saturday to Monday and got a good visit with Mum and Dad, and Bonnie and Jordan were there for dinner on Sunday. I also visited with Susan on Friday night, and I had a chat with Noralee at lunchtime today. (Important people that may want to wish me well on my trip, and pretend to be super interested as I detail my packing scheme, but also help to calm my worries about going.)
  2. For the past 2 years, I was travelling out of the country over Thanksgiving weekend. Last year I was on my way to Mexico. In 2017, Susan and I went to England. I like travelling in October.

October 9, 2019 – China in Ten Days

I’m going to China in 10 days. Here are some things.

A) I have to remember how to do blog posts because I haven’t written any for a year. I’ve noticed that if I want the date to show at the top of my post, I have to enter it in the section marked “title” in my template here. I have always resisted using “titles” for my blog posts due to being lazy: e.g. it’s hard to summarize a post into a few words. Also: labels, schmabels. I seem to have done it today with little to no fuss on my part. We’ll see what happens in editing.

B) I am remembering how to blog, and setting it up for people to read even though I may not be able to post anything from China due to their unique internet strategy. I may end up writing some things and then posting later.

*** Note that blog posts, however, are separate from being able to contact Mum to assure her I am safe. I have several methods to to ensure this happens.***

C) I learned today that I can ask to refill my prescriptions early so I have enough for my whole trip. It’s not that I wouldn’t be allowed at all, but the question was whether my insurance would pay. All it took was for my pharmacist to enter a code in their computer, and me signing a wee disclosure and now I am fully stocked and will be able to breathe for the duration of my trip. Speaking of breathing, I forgot to ask about getting a mask in case the pollution in Beijing is a hindrance. I’ll go in and ask about it tomorrow or the next day– I’ve been in around 6 times now asking about travel things. One thing at a time, as I think of them or remember. I know I should have made a list, and made one spectacular visit, but the pharmacy is right across the street from my workplace, and I need things to do on my breaks.

I'm not taking the basket. Also I think you can see my underpants.

Familiar, well-travelled suitcase.

D) I’ve been packed since Saturday. Partly this is because I’ll be in Duncan over Thanksgiving weekend and I wasn’t sure I’d have time to pack next week… but more I love packing and I’m impressed I could even wait that long.

P.S. If you keep reading down my blog you’ll find my Mexico trip from a year ago. I know this isn’t made clear or obvious, but I wasn’t into using descriptive titles as much last year as I am now.

I’m wandering around Antigua today on my last day in Guatemala. I will fly back to Canada tomorrow.

You might think that since I’m walking around an old, beautiful, colonial city like Antigua I might take some photos, but I am bored of photos. I am even bored of looking at the photos I’ve already taken. Instead I am wandering around with my eyes alone, not looking for perfect shots or interesting scenes. Many of these would be similar to the photos I have taken elsewhere on the trip: brightly coloured woven textiles; trees; old buildings. I often take a lot of photos while I’m travelling only to never look at them again, or there will be so many of the same thing (ruins) that I can’t tell them apart. I try to put a small selection here and on Facebook but after that, i just hoard them on my computer.

One difference today is that I am wandering around on my own. My tour is technically over as of today. I could have joined the rest of mu group for cooking or chocolate making classes, bit I chose to wander around a bit instead. This means I got lost! But I learned from my trip to England last year with Susan that google maps is very helpful. I am not lost anymore.

Guacamole and toasties for an early lunch, accompanied by a perfectly adequate soy latte

I fly out of Guatemala City tomorrow at 6:05pm, to Mexico City and then overnight to Vancouver. One of my tour friends is on the same flight to Mexico City, so I anticipate a pleasant time.

Panajachel

This would be a really good time to update my blog. I don’t really want to.

Yesterday was a 11 hour bus trip from Mexico to Guatemala. That’s all there really is to say about that. Above is the bus for the Guatemala portion of the ride.

**post interrupted when I went to have the best soy latte I’ve ever had**

It’s a rest day today. There were a couple of optional tours to choose from, and a few of us opted to not go. We had a lovely sit down breakfast at an establishment that had soy lattes, so I am a happy traveller. Some activities:

1) visit to a church

2) some shopping

3) now playing with phone at hotel

4) possibly going for drinks/lunch. Still a bit full from breakfast.

Note: we’re in the mountains now so it’s a bit cooler. It’s warm now, but not humid like it’s been so far on the trip, and definitely cardigan cool at night. But, I was wrong to think I didn’t need sunscreen.

A Bus Ride

I am in San Cristobal de las Casas this afternoon. We had to get up at 5 this morning to leave by 6ish. This was to ensure we were on the road early to hopefully avoid any road blocks, and to make our total trip time 6 hours instead of 12. Thusly, we arrived around noon. We had a quick tour of the immediate area around our hotel, looks and some handicrafts, went for lunch, and then I had a long nap. I’m not quite awake from that just yet.

San Cristobal is full of cars and people. The streets are really tiny, but the city was founded in the 1500s so not surprising, or unfamiliar, as they are similar to those in Jerez. Where Jerez is a warren of tangled streets, however they seem to be in a grid here. There are some right angles for sure. I have only been out with a group, which means I haven’t had a chance to get lost yet.

The hotel is basic but lovely, and wifi is only available in the downstairs courtyards, which is where I sit now. The bathroom in my room is fully contained, with a full-sized door, which is a nice change from our last room: no more will be said on that subject, but I can go into that hotel in general.

Palenque, revisited

It was in the middle of the jungle. The rooms were set up like a resort, in rows spread out from the main building. There were lots of bugs in our room; the humidity made all of our fabric possessions damp all the time; towels never dried. Our room was about a two-minute walk away from the main building, along a cement walk way that passed bu a field with trees and plants, then around the pool. It seemed to be the farthest building from everyone on the property. There was mesh on the windows, no glass, so when the downpour started on the first night I was woken up by the roar. Very loud. The best part of the place was the main building, which contained the restaurant and bar. The bar served amazing strawberry margaritas. I sat at the bar and drank one on each of the two evenings we were there and played on my phone, as wifi was only available in the main building. The group would then order dinner and eat together at a big table.

I didn’t go into the pool while I was there, but I did walk down some nearby waterfalls. I shall explain. The group visited some waterfalls. About half went with a guide to do jumps off high places into. The rest of us slithered into the first pool to watch those jumping do their first jump. We then followed after them to see what was up. Another guide found us and gestured something that looks like we could walk around to the next pool without having to jump into it. I thought we’d be just slithering into another pool or two and swimming around, but this wasn’t the case. We ender up traversing through and down the falls, sometimes through strong, but shallow, rushing currents; sometimes having to crabwalk down a bit; once having to half-slither, half jump. It was a bit more of an adventure than I expected but it was fun. I got caught in the currents a couple of times but recovered and didn’t drown or anything, so don’t worry. Also, it was off/on raining through the afternoon, but still really warm, which has always been a favourite swimming condition of mine.

(Not proofread- sorry – tired)

Palenque

I took a nature walk in the jungle this morning. It wasn’t labelled a nature walk or anything, and a lot of it had to do with Mayan ruins that are hidden in the jungle, but as my sandals filled with mud and we were shown baby tarantulas and offered a sniff of a citronella leaf it dawned on me that it was a nature walk in which I was participating. Too late! Too late.

Things i learned: don’t touch anything spiky or brightly coloured. Or anything. Really it’s a bit of a game of The Floor is Lava and everything is lava. Not really. Sortof. Be careful. I also noted how if you don’t look to close the jungle looks a lot like the forests in BC- drippy and with lush green underbrush. Maybe more things that might kill me?

We were given a chance to eat some termites from this termite dwelling. Note: they taste nutty.

Ruins hidden in the jungle.

Pretty morning sun.

The rest of the day proceeded as follows: more Mayan ruins (that have beed cleared of jungle – below) followed by swimming in the rain at the Roberto Barrios waterfalls.

Here’s the wikipedia entry for the Zapatista Communities. We learned about them on the bus ride to the waterfalls, which are located in their territory.

Tomorrow! Another bus ride.

Palenque

The bus ride from Merida to Palenque took 9 hours today. We were up for 7am breakfast of papaya, toast and jam and tea to catch the 8:30 bus. The bus included Spanish-dubbed movies, which I ignored with several podcasts and Radiohead and many many naps. Naps! The activity of queens!

Presently soaking in my first margarita of the evening. I would have taken a photo but itsh gone. It was strawberry and magnificent.

Note: the conversation at the bar has devolved to World or Warcraft characters so I am quite free to write quietly on my phone.

Tomorrow brings a jungle walk, some jungle ruins, and some jungle waterfalls.