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**

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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.

Merida

Today was a busy day of travel and sights. We were up and ready to leave at 6am (as noted in the previous post). Then onto a mini-tourist bus and a quick breakfast after the sun came up and on to Chuchén Itzá.

I’m too tired to elaborate. It’s an old Mayan sacred site and includes structures like this:

Our guide for the site had lots of information, much of it speculative. However, probably the high priests used their in with the gods to control the masses. The masses were taken in by this and were more than happy to offer themselves as sacrifices in time of hardship. Only the strongest, though, please as the gods wouldn’t be impressed with the blood of the weak. (This is a retelling of what I remember only. There’s more to it.)

This is our guide pointing out the face of the rain god.

I’m resting now before meeting up with the group again at 7 for a brief orientation of Merida and supper.

Tomorrow is cenotes adventure.

Playa del Carmen – Just leaving
It’s 5:41am and I’m up, packed, checked out and ready to go. We are an efficient room, due to a need for caffeine and the only place open at this time being three blocks away. We have been promised breakfast in 1.5 hours.

However, I slept reasonably well so that’s a good start. The time difference is two hours so not hard to adapt. Yes, I’ve been having naps (plural) in the afternoons, but I’m on holiday and naps are my favourite.

On Homesickness – Friday Night, October 5th.

I’m leaving on my yearly trip out of the country (I’m currently en route to Mexico) and admit I am already homesick. I already miss my routine, my dance classes, the familiar setting. But mostly, I miss my bed. I made the mistake of changing over to my winter comforter this week and it, combined with the greatest of mattresses, makes for a very cozy bed-time experience. “I miss you already, I said, patting at the top of the blanket after I straightened the bedded before leaving this morning. At least it will be waiting for me all tidy when I get back. There is nothing finer than getting back from a trip to a nicely made bed.

Another cause of the homesickness, in a away, is thy I’m travelling on my own again after years and years of having travel buddies accompany me around the world. I sort of ran out this year, or rather, all my previous travel buddies have other travel buddies. No fear! I also travel alone! Only I notice that it’s not as fun. Having a travel buddy means having someone to plan with (or do all the planning for the both of us) and someone to hang out with during long layovers. Not to mention having someone I know in foreign countries.

When I first started travelling I did it alone and didn’t think anything of it. There were places I wanted to go and I didn’t want to wait for the schedules and budgets of friends. But then these things, in addition to people noticing I travel to places, led to a series of travel buddies. Traveling alone and with travel buddies are great. I like traveling.

But it’s been a while, and I have panic, hesitation and doubt that travel buddies would usually help to distract me from. Panic because of new situations I have no control over (I might be in control of them at the time, but there’s no way to prepare before hand). Hesitation in trying new things while being in new places; talking to new people. Doubt in my ability to handle all aforementioned; that I won’t be in the right mood when I get there; that I won’t feel right, emotionally and healthily. But I go anyway.

Things that help: a tradition of calling Mum from YVR (today accompanied by wine); the things that can and have been planned in action; my wee travel colouring book; phone charging stations

Mexico. Day One. Playa del Carmen – Saturday morning

I get an actual full day as my first day here because I landed at 7:30am. I went right to my hotel, and bonus they had a room ready for me. I dropped my stuff and have “found” a vegan restaurant just a few steps away. “Found” because I saw it on Google maps during research into my trip. I had my order ready in Victoria, but now in the heat, I had to amend to a smaller portion and a cooler drink. I’m hungry.

I’m hungry because I flew with WestJet and they don’t have many options I can eat from their on-board menu, or their pre-pay menu. A couple snacks maybe. It was an overnight flight so I wasn’t too worried: I filled up on a pad thai at YVR. Also, only a 5.5 hour flight so I survived on a granola bar.

Also, I didn’t sleep more than a nappish/doze all night so I’m flakey this morning. My new method for sleeping on the airplane is: a) neck pillow b) pashmina c)warm socks d)podcast i have on but don’t really listen to because I’m dozing. I’m fond of the poscast. “Casefile” for this. It often has multi- part episodes that run for a fews hours and i set them to run continuously. On the way to England last year I half-listened to a really long one about Jamestown. Today was one about some serial killer who I still know nothing about becauae I slept through it. He killed 40 people, probably more (I woke up for that statistic). (“Casefile” is a true crime podcast, which you might not think is good for sleeping along to; however, the narrator has a nice voice.)

I had a super bowl at the vegan place. It was beautiful to start but being sleep- deprived and hungry I dug right in before taking a picture. A picture is no good now because it looks like sawdust and snow:

There’s coconut and granola and a banana in there somewhere and you can see a couple blueberries. The wooden spoon is pleasing.

I’ve camped out in room 14 at the National Gallery. There wasn’t enough time to go back to the Air BnB before I’d have to leave again to come back to this area for the show tonight. I’m going to see the musical 42nd Street, and the theatre is just up the Strand from where I am now. I thought I’d wait here at the gallery where it’s warm and there’s free WiFi. There is also bench seating in whatever kind of lighting I might enjoy (since the different galleries have different lighting requirements based on what painting are in them).

I’m a big fan of Jesus and Mary paintings. Not because of their subject so much, but because they are colourful and huge and are a pleasure to look at. Here is what I’m sitting in front of right now:

Mary is always (usually) in a blue dress and that pleases me.

One of my very favourite things to do is wander around an art gallery, or a museum, so these past couple of days have been nice. Back to Victoria tomorrow, and I’m excited to go back.

P.S. I had to move a minute ago because there was no Wifi where I was sitting, but I found a gallery with a couch, so here I am now:

Busy 2 days.

Yesterday was the train from York to London. It was a lovely ride. Then we had to lug our suitcases on the underground, which was an ordeal, as I hate lugging my suitcase anywhere, but the trains weren’t busy, and it wasn’t far to go, so it was fine.

Then since it’s London, we sort of just set our bags in our room, got changed and then went out and about: dinner in Covent Gardens and then the West End production of An American in Paris.

There was also a rather lovely walk around with me trying to find Covent Gardens, and getting us lost, or at least, not quite where we planned to be. I love London! There’s so much to see! Susan took over navigation after supper to ensure that we got to the theatre on time for the show.

That was our first day (half-day, really).

The our second day (today) started with me at the Tate Modern and Susan at the British Museum. Once I had my fill of modern art, I met Susan for lunch, and then back to the British Museum because Susan had more to see and I wanted to poke around, too.

Then tonight was a ballet show at Sadler’s Wells, which is a dance organization in London, and they had a show on, so I thought we better go see it. This is what we watched

No we are done for the day. One more day in London tomorrow, and then flying home Saturday.