Monday, August 30, 2010

some days are like that

I must start by saying it is so hot. I can't believe it. Whew. No fan, no breeze. **(next morning) There was an amazing amazing storm last night which cooled everything off enough to get a couple of hours of sleep and today is overcast and cloudy, which, while making it more muggy at least cuts some of the heat and I'll take it! I forgot about those storms. They are so great.

On the other, more exciting hand, I am in a Garufina family's house in Belmopan. I was trying to go to a hostel that I understood from the Internet was close to here so I got to the bus station and asked the taxi driver if he knew where it was and he didn't so we called the number from the web page and the lady gave him directions and we ended up at a house in Belmopan, not a hostel on the river on a farm that I was expecting. The old woman said that the farm is about forty-five minutes away and belongs to her son so why don't I just stay here tonight and go tomorrow? So I said, “you have rooms?” and she said “yes” and there was a gringo sitting in the living room so I thought, “cool, I don't care, I just want to sleep somewhere after being on the go since five o'clock this morning” So I came in. It turns out that it isn't a hostel at all. It's a family's house. One of the daughters is the dean of students at the university and some kids from Ohio are here doing their student teaching so they were staying here for a few days while they worked out a house to live in, which they left for tonight because a bunch of family came to town and needed the beds. They invited me to eat with them and we sat and chatted about everything for hours and hours and they are amazing fascinating wonderful people. And now I am in a bed in the hallway and there is no way I'm ever going to sleep, it's so hot. And the neighborhood dogs are barking up a storm and it's all so great anyway. I expected to just travel through Belize just cause but didn't expect much of it and it has already turned into one of my favorite traveling moments.

The whole day has been great. I thought I was going to split this day of traveling into two days because one of the things on the list that didn't quite get obtained was a time piece with an alarm on it so I didn't have any way of waking up early enough to get the whole day done in one. So I got the bright idea that maybe if I left the air conditioning in my room at the condo on all night I would get cold early in the morning and wake up to turn it off and sure enough I woke up at five o'clock. Sweet! I wasn't at all sure that would work.

I headed off the couple of miles to the highway to try to flag down a bus. It was just starting to get light as I was walking so I could see but the sun wasn't out yet making a hot mess of the walk. Got to the highway and without too much delay was able to flag down a combi van and ride to Tulum. From Tulum there was a bus leaving for Chetumal in about twenty minutes so I got a smoothie and onto the bus with me. Arrived in Chetumal not sure what I would find in the way of buses going to various places so at that point I thought I might even head over to Flores Guatemala and head south from there if that's which bus was leaving. At the first class bus station there was a bus leaving for Corozal in about three hours and I vaguely remembered something about chicken buses going from somewhere else in town more often so I got in a cab and asked him to take me there. Luckily one left about fifteen minutes later and we went off to cross the border. I had about two hundred pesos with me and the bus ride was going to be two fifty so I changed out a twenty dollar bill which was just about two hundred and fifty pesos. So with that I paid the bus and wondered what I was going to do with this extra couple hundred pesos in my wallet. Well at the border I ended up having to pay an exit tax that I didn't think I was going to have to based on either misunderstood information from the guy stamping my passport into Mexico or a really insistent corrupt guy stamping my passport out of mexico. Either way, the exit fee was the two hundred pesos I had in my pocket. Just right!

The bus drove over to the Belize entry checkpoint and I kept talking to the passport stamper in Spanish and she kept talking to me in English til I remembered that they speak English in Belize so we had a laugh and off I went. The bus driver even changed CDs while we were in customs to and English one which made me laugh. Got to Corozal and had to wait just about a half an hour for a bus to Belize City. In Belize City I kept getting elbowed out of the way for the buses to Belmopan – one filled up so fast I didn't even try then the next one I ended up standing and thinking I was going to stand for a couple of hours but was just going to live with it but the bus driver said everyone had to sit but there was nowhere to sit so I had to get off the bus. Luckily, the bus next to it which wasn't going to Belmopan a minute ago changed it's mind and decided it was going there after all. So I was one of the last people on that bus and it was crowded and hot but then since it was originally a local bus everyone got off straight away and it was smooth sailing and comfortable all the way to Belmopan. Bob Marley's Legend at full blast and all.

In each town I only decided where to go next, not sure how the next place would pan out and I ended up getting a really long way today without any big mishaps and ended up at this nice family's house. It was a perfect day of well prepared with no plan. I had done a lot of internet reading and map looking ahead of time to see what kinds of options there might be so that I could always have a few options for the next bus out and it just worked out perfectly.

I think I've gotten better at this game.

Off to the farm hostel after all tomorrow then south to Punta Gorda and over to Livingston and up the river to Rio Dulce. I think.

Friday, August 27, 2010

just a lucky so and so


I am in Akumal,  Mexico which is a few hours south of Cancun along the Caribbean coast and it's beautiful. My friends Scott and Doreen own a condo here and offered to let me stay in it for a few days, what a treat! I am sitting in the living room which is on the beach overlooking the bay of blue blue water. In a bit I'm going to explore the condo a little more to see if there is snorkeling gear somewhere.

I got in later last night than I expected to and the bus just dropped me off on the side of the highway so I was really unsure about what to do, especially after not sleeping and traveling all day. Not the ideal situation for being able to think. With a stroke of luck, I decided to head over the overpass toward the ocean even though town was on the other side. There was a guy with a bicycle passing and so I asked him if he knew where the Iguana condos were and he said "oh, you must be Sra Doreen's friend, I work there!" whew. talk about lucky. Anyway he walked me over to the taxi stand because he said it was much too far to walk after a full day of traveling, especially in the dark. I was so grateful to him when it was about a twenty-five minute taxi ride. He also called the guy working the office to say "don't leave, she's on her way" because they were just closing up for the night. So I got here and didn't have to wonder what on earth I was going to do at the front step of a closed up building late at night a few miles down a dark winding road. So yay for the right place at the right time with some helpful people.

I remembered that it would be hot and muggy but I don't think there is any way to actually remember what that feels like. How hot it really is. I'm not sure that I would advise to anyone to head to Southern Mexico in August, kind of a silly thing. But being right on the ocean with a breeeze and air conditioning in the bedroom to cool it down before sleeping make it perfect.

i haven't figure out yet how to transfer pictures from my camera onto this computer (geoff put the umbutu operating system on so I have to learn everything all over again) but I'm sure I'll figure it out before too long and post some of the condo and the bay.

I am also of course finding myself deciding that even though I get to get rid of a bunch of stuff in my backpack at the orphanage, I'm not willing to travel anymore with how heavy it is so I'm ditching a bunch of stuff here. I wonder how many times I will have to go out into the world before I finally learn that lesson. Maybe not too many more.

So I'm here, I'm safe, I'm happy and I'm relaxed. I'm also really looking forward to getting to the orphanage and wont be surprised if I find myself ditching the plan of staying here until Monday and just getting on a bus headed South.I've changed the Yucatan tour plan for going straight south through Belize and taking a ferry to Livingston, Guatemala and then a boat a couple of hours upriver to Rio Dulce and casa-guatemala.


 this is the view from the living room of the condo

 the dawning of a new day and a new trip, beautiful and perfect

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

moving piles

I'm sitting here moving piles of things around in my room and on computers and hard drives and thinking about taking off.

After getting laid off I decided to simply pull my trip up to now and shorten it rather than spending all my saved money living here and then have no money to go a the allotted time. It's abrupt, but it is really working out. I am enjoying the getting ready process immensely. It's much easier this time around and spring seems like it's just around the corner and then I'll be back.

I'm flying into Cancun then bussing over to Merida and down through San Cristobal and Palenque which is one of my all time favorite ruins to this day and I've been to a bunch of them since then, so I'm excited to see it again. Then headed down to a river a bit inland from the Caribbean coast to spend some time with these folks - . It seems a lot like the ranch I have in mind so I'm really interested to spend a few months hanging out there and learning what I can. My friend Kent plans to head to San Pedro on Lake Atitlan in December and my friend Matt is headed to Antigua for new year's so I will head over and check out those kids when they get there and do some visiting then see what happens. I suspect I'll head home in April so there is another nice chunk of time after visiting with those guys to do something cool.

I fly out early in the morning on the 26th and we're having a party on the evening of the 20th. Please please come. If you haven't seen an invite in some other arena, then contact me - and I'll get you info.

hasta Mexico,