Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dame lo Gasolina; Si mames way

You can see the stars in Mexico City (DF).  Without being mugged.  Anything is possible!

My metaphors for my return to DF, as mixed as I can make them are linked, like our days, together.
I think it's time for a count.

6 nights in 4 different houses & 5 different beds.  I shared a bed 3 times & 3 nights were on air mattresses.  Woke up on average around 11am & stayed up on average till 3:30am.  4 museums (Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Palacio de Bellas Artes & the Franz Meyer Architecture museum).  2 volcanos.  Thousands of years of history covered.  8 days to fix my computer.  Met about 18 new CSers.  Zero deliveries, one gay bar & zero kareoke!  Ha!  A bloody miracle.

3 hours with 15 CSers. The canals of Xochimilco.  Somehow, you wander through a random part of town that looks precisely like the rest of Mexico & arrive at the bank of a river.  We all split the cost of a flamboyantly coloured boat at 40pesos each (4$).  It was fun to keep almost sinking the boat & call over floating mariachis on a whim.  One of the French guys fell in, & even though we were in short supply, we were chipper by the time we got home.  Beautiful day.
Fact:  I have never been interested in learning German until coming to Mexico.

One chance encounter.  Mooching old downtown alone made people watching interesting.  Carousels & cheap anything if you wander enough.  Jazz in the park.  Helicopter pads in parks.  Had my destiny read.  The Zocalo at sunset brings out the weirdos.  Lots of people blowing bubbles, unicycles, preachers, two people wearing zombie costumes, facepaint & a jolly roger kite above it all.  At a payphone, two people blindsided me...  Rene (MxC) & Fernando (Spain/US).  What a small city.  It seems I am never alone.

2 bottles of vodka hoy = 2 litres of orange juice manana.  Nights at Rene's house are never quiet.  Nunca Nunca quiet.
Never have I ever been so hungover.  That's all I have to say about that.

Yunuen, Lulu & Dulce came to our rescue in the nick of time when we had nowhere to go.  Couchsurfers take care of their own. :)  We made her laugh (she laughed at us) & fixed her with some emergency stock.  On our last night, I stayed up with Luiz playing zombie games, doing the internet & drinking beers.

Endless amounts of subway rides.  Together, Luiz & I sliced through this town via the underground railroad.  We were assassins AND on the Amazing Race.  Locate a friend in a labyrinth museum?  Find a group of strangers somewhere you've never been, in the 6th biggest city in the world when everyone including yourself is showing up late?  We even found out we had nowhere to stay at 8pm one night.  We scoured the city, then tore it apart.  Who else drinks underneath the Angel of the Revolucion talking about metobolic chemistry?  I apparently became his Fag Hag.

I am cutting out all the good parts, but I will miss mi hermanito Brasillero & the Mexico City crew.

Clockwise:  Kerry, Me, Luiz, Lulu & Rene <3
5 days since I've left DF.  You couldn't imagine what's in store...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Left & Leaving

This post is inevitable.

I´m back with scars to show; back where the streets I know will never take me anywhere but here...

Homesickness sneaks up behind you, puts it´s arms around you, squeezes, then slams you to the ground.  You never see it coming.  At least I didn´t, but I should have.

The internet is normal.  It makes you feel normal.  It makes you feel like you´re not missing out on everything you´re missing out on.  It helps you keep in touch, but you know that.

One night at home with a couple bevvies & two friends, one clued into that I´m from Winnipeg.  He plugged into the one thing I know is my trigger.  Not just the right band, but the right song.  I have seen these guys countless times, and once even cried to this song live.  Track 7.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

I broke down for about 15 minutes, till I eventually just fell asleep.  It wasn´t even the recollection, I.....  I don´t even know what it was, but it was too much.  I was so shaken.

I wait in 4/4 time.  Count yellow highway lines that you´re relying on will lead you home.


Foggy morning, head in the clouds.  Shit day for hitchhiking - cold & wet.  Got 5 rides of 20km each.  The last two guys were really irritating me.  Submitted to the longest busride.  Somehow I am never prepared for how long it takes.  5 movies long.  On the bumpiest part of the bus, so the speedbumps make me nauseous.  Should I get off here, or here?  Otherwise it`s my destiny to spend the night in the Pachuca bus station instead of with my friends.  8 hours to go 300km?  Crammed into the back - I wish I was on the side of the road.

Sometimes I think I do not have such a strong character.  Looking at the road is a lonely place.  I need to learn more.  I wrote something that was interpreted abstractly than the way I intended it, & it felt really nice.  Refreshing cold shower.  I didn`t know that by the time I ask, I`d be pulling into the station in Mexico City.  When Luis answers on the fifth ring, my heart melts.

On the bus ,coming out onto the flat of the desert feels better.  Deciphering the spanish dubs with one ear, thinking I`d rather hear Liam Neison`s real voice, with eyes on the horizon.  The sunset in Mexico is always beautiful.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Treasure of the Sierra Madre

I woke up in a town I couldn´t remember the name of, 3 feet from the highway.
The man at the market today gave me a free orange, as if he knew that later that day I would be lost in the desert.

I have only recently reminded myself how uncomfortable the desert used to make me.  I used to hold my breath at the sight of it.  This is rattlesnake country.  The kind you might remember from Roadrunner cartoons.  The landscape is stark.  All the plants have thorns, like the environment isn´t harsh enough, and grow 3 feet tall.  The trees are all at the top of the hills, as if the shrubbery had seiged them up there.  It is quiet.  There is no wind.  I am dropped off at an intersection in the middle of nowhere.  A semi driver earlier told me that not many cars go down there, but I thought well, I only need one.

Wrapped my shawl around my head & shoulders to prepare for the long haul.  (Some people call it a serong, like it´s trendy & from Thailand, but I prefer to call it what it is.  It makes me feel like an old lady.)  Also, looking like you´ve been waiting a long time could be a lucrative way to get rides, although I didn´t wait more than 20 minutes.  The trail walking alongside the road was definately made with hooves.

As we get into the mountains - my 4th & final chain of Sierra Madres, thank you - it gets more lush.  I kind of like the state of Queretaro.  Every little town I´ve stopped in feels really cool.  I am grateful to the demolition workers who literally carved the road into the mountain.  We passed a couple of them cooking up tacos on the side of the road.  It smells like the lake here.  Feels refreshing.

In Xilitla, only fools take shortcuts into a ravine, or so I thought.  Getting good at tackling barbed wire is a survival skill.  It felt like Wile E Coyote trying to sneak past the sheepdog.  That is a really large bone he`s gnawing on. 

Can´t explain the way the change of horizon feels.  Wait, did this used to be...horizontal?  I´ve always been a bit of a climber, just like I´ve been a bit of a grappler, but without the training.  Don´t think about how you´re getting down - just think about your appetite.  Those rocks are scattering down a long way...  this is better.  This feels right.  To work for it.  Suddenly I´m at the mouth of the falls, or higher.  I don´t want it handed to me.  I want to get lost & find it myself. 

I came into a clearing.  ....Wow.  Beauty.  Not too far away there are pastures & I can no longer hear the falls, but I hear cows.  Dammit - there was an easier way to get up here wasn´t there!

Bear turds.  I know this might be jaguar country, but I take solice in thinking that they´re both nocturnal - to the best of my knowledge - and that this view would be shit at night.

My knees are weak.  I can´t slow down or stop or I might collapse.  As soon as I promise to stick to the stairs, I head left uphill on some overgrown trail.  It ends at a treehouse with bamboo floors, high above the valley.  I think about my ¨former¨ fear of heights.  Bamboo floors are bouncy.

These ruins are being constructed right now.  Just some eclectic archetect decided to.  Middle Earth.  Escher paintings.  Infinity stairs.

All the Mexicans dress like it´s winter, & my face is freezing underwater.  I think about when Kelvin would tell me to simply be aware of when water that´s obviously too cold feels normal.  I am going to catch hypothermia.  Two Mexican guys dive off the ruins, must be 5m, into the pool that´s 6ft.  Several times.  I almost flip out but leave instead.  Non-westernized countries have a different idea of fear.  We´re scared of them, our health, safety, accidents, getting sued, what people think, whatever.  They´re pretty much just worried about getting by.

I was told Xilitla gets more rain than anywhere in the state.  I laughed.  It just started raining.  I hate rain.

If I´m going to be doing this sort of thing - and call it intution, but I think I will be - I need to learn what poison ivy looks like IMMEDIATELY!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pas Parle Americano

My L´Oreal Kids shampoo is awesome.  3 in 1, no tears, and smells like mango-tangerine.  :)

This started with an idea.  This idea was something along the lines of ¨Oaxaca sucks.  Maybe I will have some fun this weekend with Kerry in Mexico City.¨  Yes, I know this is the opposite direction of south.  Little did I know I was also volunteering to help her move.  This includes getting lost in an English department store & ODing on perfume fumes.  Oi.

Back in Oaxaca, I met a couple - Ross & Cathy from Calgary.  After some peanuts & tea, they offered to give me a ride 3/4 of the way to DF, to Puebla.  They are the most polite people & so genial, so friendly.  Campervans are seriously luxurious.  I cozied up to their big dog Kona in the back seat, Cathy made quesadillas & we shared stories.  Ross has been a hangliding pilot/instructor for 25 years.  He says he doesn´t meet alot of people who are interested in hangliding.  What?!  It´s f"#$ing hangliding!!!  He encourages me to take lessons.  Maybe he will give me a discount in Calgary! :D

Kerry: When I take the Metro, I´m going to walk down Revolucion instead of through Tacubaya, because that area to you say Terrifying in Spanish?  Terrifio?
Dante:  Well, are you trying to say Terrifying, or Terrific?

A graph depicting that night´s housewarming party is very bell shaped.  (Fun on the y axis & time on the x axis.)  It started okay, then somehow got completely off the wall.  Abraham made some killer piña coladas - as usual - & declared me officially Mexican.  Rene (Mexico City) is so cool, wild, helpful, a great photographer & makes sweet guacamole.  He is a slam dunk personified.  In fact, all the boys from Mexico City are cool - Dante & Adrian - love Lady Gaga, are hilarious & dance like lunatics.  At the second party, we broke the dance floor, & simply kept dancing around the 3 foot hole in the ground.  I think you can imagine what happened.  Kerry almost broke her other leg a couple times, & me just once.  We danced like buzzards around fresh meat for the music was unreal!  This DJ was cooking up some sweet tunes to the sound of Pantheon Rococo, & my favourite discovery thus far LOS FABULOSOS CADILLACS!!!!  Dios Mio!

I seem to recall getting pulled into a third party, DJing for a brief time, & someone´s mother driving us home...

Sunday was of course a write off.  Chilaquiles & litres upon litres of OJ.  No bright lights.  Just soft Bavarian ska music (LaBrassBanda & Santeria & the Porn Horns). 

Spent the next day wandering through the second biggest city in the world.  Cathedrals, zocolas, subway rides.  Churches make me feel belittled.  I am pretty sick of them at this point, as well.  Considering my realization that I love the smaller cities, this was the obvious wrong direction to go.  I am giving it another shot, but getting too good at using public transit & deciphering which areas are where.  I am becoming Chilango.  All the other Mexicans are going to make fun of me.  :(

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hitchhikers are Optimists

Whenever I try to pretend I´m not doing something I shouldn´t be - like peeing in the bushes, trying to climb buildings, holding my socks out the window like they don´t smell, or drinking on the street - I have to check myself again.  Nobody cares.  Traffic signs are suggestive at best, along with firecodes, immigration laws & common sense.  Why?  This is Mexico.  Everyone does whatever the hell they want.

Roberto, Jose Luis & I were recovering from futbol, drinking Italian coffee at the hostel.  (The only thing that makes coffee Italian apparently is adding brandy.)  I never drink coffee, & I should stop cause it takes me a full hour to make my heart not feel like it´s going to climb up my throat.  Gabriel, who works the front desk came & said someone was looking for me....

At the front door is a tall scruffy guy I do not recognize.  This is Chris Dyson.  I had messaged him in December, because we had mutual interests in travelling the same direction & by which means (hitchhiking, sailing, ridesharing).  He´s in town learning Spanish & eventually travelling to Peru where something is waiting for him there.  We kept everyone awake at the hostel chatting until midnight.

The next day I spent attending to some fictional important business I had created for myself.  I spent so long on the internet, when I walked outside I forgot I was in Mexico, and also that I had been drinking.  My friends & I only communicate via the timeless grade 6 method - leaving each other notes at each other´s hotels.  I wandered magnetically towards the only saxophone in the city, a jazz band playing at Revolucion, & stumbled into 2 people I never thought I´d see again.  Basilio had left me note inviting me to dinner at Revolucion, to make up for ditching me the day before.  It´s super cool talking with this guy, because I can ask what different words are in Spanish & him likewise in English.  He calls me a butterfly, cause I´m free to do whatever I want.  He taught me about Mexican graveyards & how Mexicans seem to like to mourn.  They will go there after a night of drinking to play their friend/family´s favourite music, drink their favourite drinks & reminisce.  (Mexican graves are fantastic by the way.  Colourful castles.)  He also told me about Cortez & how the Aztecs thought he was their snake god with wings because he had arrived in a boat.  After I saw him off, hopefully to meet someday in Culiacan, I parked myself at a tea party downstairs where Chris was off his head.  He really shows that Spanish is all inflection, & we chat till 3:30am again.

On the road, I have been able to pick & choose which rides I want.  Sometimes the first car I thumb down will stop.  I get alot of attention - Preciosa is only what people who like pain call me.  It was a long day of hitching & I only made it 300km, to Juchitan.  My last ride of the day offered me a beer, but I didn´t realize I was encouraging him to drink & drive.  In front of cops no less.  No worries.  Until further down the road he offered me some coke...  I am alright in awkward situations, this one included, but if there´s ANYTHING I want nothing to do with in Mexico...  That´s what I get I guess.  I was on my toes, making sure he was watching the road & not drinking.  He offered to pay for my hotel room, dinner & bus ticket the rest of the way the next morning.  He has a sister up north & wouldn´t want anything to happen to her, he told me in a far-too-long monologue in Spanish.  We agreed to meet in the morning & I sat on my grandiose double bed for about 2 hours shaking my head thinking What the hell just happened?  I met some hitchhikers - Jonathan (Monterrey Mx) & Cinthia (Honduras) who were doing poi for money at the stop light in front of my hotel.  We started chatting & I invited them to share my free room for the night, to pay it forward.  It felt good trying to explain the strange situation I had been in.  They said I came across some good luck, because he paid for my room & dinner.  Hitchhikers are optimists, myself included.  I felt smarter when I was a cynical bastard.  Still, I am one state further & somehow made money that day.
I slept in the next day & never saw him again, luckily.

It is with Mexican shamelessness & the spirit of misadventure I write this cautionary tale.  If you are passing this on, especially to certain family members who might freak out, maybe you want to think twice about this one.  I did.

Back on the road.  Standard day of hitching.  Lots of people talk with their hands, or repeat things like I don´t understand.  Not sure if it´s because I´m a white, or a woman, or both (a gringa), but sometimes I have to say ¨Listen, I´m not an idiot.¨  (Yo no estoy idiota.)  A truck stopped & some familiar faces jumped out - Jonathan & Cinthia!  They stopped the truck for me!  An hour later, I caught a different truck headed through the Sierra Madres at about 40km/h.  (By the amount of hours I will have clocked in, at the end of this trip I will be able to apply for truckdrivers´ pension.)  Through Mezcale country & the mountains.  It is still kind of surreal living the life I do.  Beautiful scenery, and the colour of agave takes over.  We stopped in the armpit of the road for lunch - my best meal of the year so far.  Señora made me scrambled eggs with cheese, poquito picante salsa, with black beans, instant coffee & sipping Mezcale on the side.  Mezcale is a type of tequila that comes from the state of Oaxaca that has a smoky flavour.  I prefer it.  The driver could point out, within 20 feet of each other, the different types of trees - papaya, mango, banana, pistachio & coffee.  Coffee beans are sweet when you pick them.

I have notes in my pocket of Spanish words I´ve learned, or English words I want to learn.  I can follow the newspaper.  Someone had told me you know you´ve mastered the language when you understand their humour.  I can joke around & make people laugh well enough, but it true that some things don´t translate.  I can at least pronounce Coatzacoalcos, Xul-Ha, Tehuantepec & the city I´m in now, Oaxaca (Wa-ha-ka).  It kind of smells like Brooklyn.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Return to Paradise

Moorea, French Polynesia

"Nothing on Tahiti is so majestic as what it faces across the bay, for there lies the island of Moorea.  To describe it is impossible.  It is a monument to the prodigal beauty of nature." - James A Michener, Return to Paradise

I spent the weekend with friends on Tahiti & sent the crew on Paramour ahead of me to Moorea with the intention of taking the ferry later & finding them.  My friends on Tahiti said if I had any trouble, I could take the last ferry back & stay with them no problem. I suddenly realized I had no idea which anchorage they might be in, & I was looking at a strange map in the shape of an irregular heart.  It was almost dark, & an hour before the last ferry back.

Adventures don't happen unless you're unprepared.
So I try my luck & stick out my thumb.

When I explained my problem ("I've lost my sailboat"), they gladly took me to look for it.  No luck in the dark.  They invited me to stay over at their house for the evening, to continue the search the next day.  Alright!
"Where are you coming home from?"
"From a cockfight.  We train fighting cocks."
"Ah, okay.  And what do you do for work."
"We sell weed."

Johnny & Mivani offered me dinner, cake, a shower, clean clothes to sleep in, breakfast & I played with their 4 year old daughter (Heimahi) all evening.  I came home the next day well rested with orange & purple toenails & another story to tell.

My first of many beautiful nights on Moorea.

This little island had a big impact on me.  Despite what it's famous for, Moorea isn't about ritzy resorts.  It wasn't the white sand beaches, the sunsets, or the gorgeous landscapes that hooked me either.  Although Moorea’s beauty is legendary.  It is on the 50, 100 & 500 pieces of FP francs.
It was the people.

Spent a few nights aboard Apetahi's fishing boat, where they taught me that fishermen are the only people who can drink more than sailors.  They granted me sanctuary aboard if I needed to get away & called themselves my Moorean family.  Roland even offered to help pay my way home if I were in trouble, which is absurd.

Watched the World Cup of Rugby quarter-finals over pizza at Denis' house with his brother Tika, Manu, Joel & Terena.  Tika is a semi-pro surfer & turns up in a cellphone commercial between plays (also absurd).  We eat 6 pizzas & all crash on the floor to be up at dawn to hit the morning surf.

Played volleyball with RaeRae's. If a Polynesian family has too many boys, often one will be raised as a girl to help the mother around the house.  They are RaeRae's.  They are quite common throughout the Pacific & have a wicked spike.

Walking by, anyone would strike up a conversation or wave you over.  I met workers in the pineapple fields, construction workers, computer programmers, rowers training for the upcoming competition, chefs, coconut tree trimmers & families sitting on the beach.

I spent some great days zipping around dodging cops on the back of Laurent's scooter.  Utua & Taane fix the internet that's always down, & they would always stop to offer me a ride.  Eric & Ataria are such cool, friendly dads who helped whistle down my boat & had me sit for a picnic.  Mike saw me wandering past alone, & simply invited me in to rest my weary legs.

Who am I?  Where am I?  What happened to the real world & was it only ever a dream?

Trying to get into trouble never works.  I met some hooligans on the beach & indulged in a beer or two with them.  They brought me back to their house for dinner.  Big house, big family.  I was at my most polite, to be sure I wasn't intruding.  After only a couple minutes of arriving, their father offered me a glass of champagne.  I’ve been adopted.  (Again.)

The Tetuaiteroi family Sunday dinner is a serve-yourself spread of fish, chicken, spaghetti, "ségale", breadfruit beef casserole, fresh bread, coconut & peaches.  All the cousins are down at the beach partying & come home to serve themselves whenever like.  Sweet deal.

Bernard, the middle son, was my designated bodyguard for the night.  His parents were worried because they thought he’d tricked me into coming to their house.  They told him to make sure I get back to the boat safe & take care of me.

The beach has two cars serving as DJ's with wild contrasts of music.  Mid-tempo salsa on one hand, Cotton Eyed Joe remix on the other, followed by Tupac why not.  Dancing barefoot in the sand under the full moon with my new friends & family.

Strangers become family.

Never told them it was Canadian Thanksgiving that day.  I was far from alone.  I am thankful.

I hiked through the heart of the island, but I'm not sure I walked out...

They taught me generosity.  It is rewarding simply to walk down the street.  I cannot count the number of houses I've walked into in open arms, hands waving to come join them, or cars that stop on the street simply because you're walking.  They see you & smile back.  These days, I smile because I am happy.

The world is beautiful in the eyes of it’s locals.  Watching the world from the inside out.

Moorea made me want to be a better person.

Monday, January 10, 2011

She´ll be coming round the mountain when she comes...

I scrambled hastily through my bag looking for my 35th piece of clothing & the only piece I hadn´t worn yet - my lohn johns.  Welcome to San Cristobal de las Casas.  The coldest city in Mexico.

San Cristobal is very cool.  It´s very relaxed.  Muy tranquilo.  It´s a colonial city, which means it looks very silimar to Europe I guess.  The architecture is impressive.  This is the place where vendors meow in the street, walk around in costumes, or drive around playing the Mission Impossible theme.  There´s an underground I haven´t quite found yet - it´s evident from the grafitti.  The Zapatista movement originated here in Chiapas, & there still seems to be alot of support in the countryside.  The weather gets me - like Canada in the fall.  As low as 5 degrees at night, but still 25 during the day.  Alot of trees don´t have leaves, I can see my breath, & the local delicacy of corn on the cob with mayonnaise, shredded cheese & hot sauce scratches me right where I itch.  Mmmmmmmmmyum.

It was nice being with friends.  We climbed ruins together like monkeys in the jungle.  Drinking piña polatas & swimming in waterfalls, even getting drunk on the longer than hell busride with Kerry & Luiz singing as loud as they could.  There´s something ironic about getting left in front of the church for the patron saint of travellers, to have to stramble down 300 stairs to get back to town.  And Kerry with her broken leg...  San Cristobal - we drink to you every night.

Another week - another fiesta.  January 5th (or 6th?) was Dia de los Reyes, & Abraham substituted our ignorance with cake.  In Mexico, they celebrate the Three Kings, or the Three Wise Men (or the Three Magicians directly translated from Spanish).  This day is like Christmas; kids get presents & adults get fruitcake.  Baked inside the cake is a toy, usually a little white man, & whoever gets the piece with the man inside has to throw a party for all their friends or buy everyone tamales on the 2nd of February.  Why?  It´s another saints day.  Luiz got ours.  He´s going to be in Toronto at that time.  I dare you to go there & demand tamales, or at least a beer.

Since my friends left, things have been falling into place.  The way they do when you let them.

I have been learning to play futbol from Jose Luis (Mexico) & Roberto (Italy).  They are so quick with their skills & I do alot more running after the ball than catching up to it.  But they are nice to me, and let me get a couple in.  Playing against the backdrop of the mountains at sunset is striking.

I sat beside the only other person sitting alone at the bar at Zirko, a salsa bar, who turns out to be Basilio, who is pretty much the coolest guy here.  Caballero, surfer, architect - I´m still waiting for him to say he works for Vandelay Industries.  We biked through these mountains the next day.  Past quarries, staring down cliffs, & into fields of black sheep.  4 treacherous hours of much steeper terrain than my humble prairie town, turned into a great day.

Horseback riding to the small town of San Juan Chamula.  Sunday means the market is much bigger & the church is much better attended.  The story of the church blends worlds.  It was built by Catholics from Spain, but they honour Mayan traditions now, as well as occasional masses or baptisms.  The ground is spread with pine needles, to be closer to the earth, and I couldn´t imagine how their old church burned down with the amount of candles there were (re: 10x300 against each wall.)  The open floor had people standing lit candles on the ground, sipping Posh & juice for prayer.  Each family had eggs, and sometimes a chicken next to them for sacrifice.  The candles were only the colours of corn throughout the harvest (white, yellow, red, black).  The police of the town wore white wool uniforms, and get angry when you take their pictures (pictures to come).

The terrain for the riding was through the foothills of the mountain, a river, then up a small road.  I ride a horse like I ride a camel when it goes above a walk - bouncy.  I still need to figure out how they stay so close & comfortable & make it look easy.  It took time to figure out how to communicate with my horse.  We were told they know not to run on the roads, because it bothers the villagers.  I guess my horse got the message of me trying to speed it up most times, when it took off at a run right near the end.  I was not as prepared as I thought & almost fell off when I tried to adjust my footing.  Through thorn tree & pine tree branches - as bad as you can imagine.  When I did get him to slow - I guess I am 5´7 all-Canadian muscle like Kerry says - my cheeks were wet with tears.  I can´t seperate the words terrifying or thrilling from each other.

As I pull my sweater on, complete with touque & gloves for the evening, I have a shot of tequila next to me spiked with habañero, courtesy of some friendly Americans.  Hopefully I can scour out another sweet band for the evening (Zumbido, Xofrenio) maybe Cuban or salsa influenced, or metal like last night, but I´m not picky!  I´m just happy my live music cravings are finally being filled!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Brand new year, Same old shoes

Just for today, I will be grateful.
Just for today, I will not worry.
Just for today, I will not get angry.
Just for today, I will be honest.
Just for today, I will respect other living things.

Let me introduce characters a bit:
Kerry (Extrovert, Driver, London, UK) is Tam's friend she met in Melbourne & travelled with for 5 months.  I'd been hearing about Kerry's man troubles pretty much since I'd run over Tam on the west coast.  She had also said something along the lines of how she was worried we wouldn't get along.  She's impossible not to get along with.  Boistrous laughter, forcefully grabs life by the horns & takes the good in everything.  She laughs in her sleep & in the shower.

Luiz (Extrovert, Driver, Sao Paolo, Brasil) is a CSer & I hesitate to leave it at that.  He knows about 8 languages & charms people in every one of them.  Makes me sick.  He is flabbergasted by the fact we didn't know he was gay right away & had to check his facebook profile.  Now we know better.  Oh, do we ever.  He is super open & honest & it turns out Brasilians have a clever saying about everything.  He constantly sings Blame Canada in my ear, while trying to get on my good side so I don't beat him up.  High five for not being beaten up!

Abraham (Analyst, Amicable, Orizaba, Mexico) is the most amazing optimist.  He loves everything.  He is very timid & tends to go with whatever is happening.  He doesn't understand the spanish in this area & the Veracruz accent is the most hard for me to understand so far.  He gave me a couple coins from Ukraine & Russia, where he just was recently.  He is a couple years younger than me, but has seen much more of the world.  He chases guys all over the world - Look out!  He is a sweetheart.

Lauren (Analyst, Amicable, NYC, USA) has her life in a bag as well.  She's been travelling for about 2 years & doesn't know where she'll end up.  I can relate to her alot, actually.  She doesn't like to be forced into things & can be indecisive.  I know how that is.  At night she is wicked & a crazy fun time; during the day she wears glasses & uses body language to say how she's feeling.  Hopefully she catches up with us.


"So, what are your new years resolutions?  Other than living in the now of course..." 

New Years Eve started trying to sleep on a bus crammed with people, which is especially hard to do when certain people are exercising their tounges/'s.  The 7 Wonders of the World are marketing schemes.  I'm sure of it.  That still makes them more impressive.

We arrived at Chichen Itza early-ish.  Mid-morning.  Luiz, Abraham & I didn't even think we could get up.  The girls didn't even try.  Learning about ancient cultures is constantly fascinating.  The holy sport in which you only use your hips, thighs, or knees & must get the ball through an impossible ring carved in stone.  Of course the winner gets sacrificed to the Gods - they are only deemed worthy.  The amazing calculations are impeccable.  The way El Castillo lines up exactly towards magnetic north, & along with the other temples is balanced for the directions, the elements, the sun & the sea.  The way on the equinox a snake slithers down the front side of El Castillo, the largest pyramid & towards the cenote, towards the underworld.  The cenote is where they make their daily sacrifices of treasures, living humans or animals - praying that morning comes the next day.  When someone theatened to toss me in is the only time I saw the gravity of it.  At 20m down, 15m deep & with 3m of slime there's no coming back.

We swam in a cenote afterwards that was way too supervised & way too popular.  The ones we saw the other day were infinitely cooler.  But, you know, swimming is nice too.  :)

Lauren, Abraham & I went to chase down the CS party that had already been over awhile, then dashed back up to 5th to scramble together some sort of countdown.  This was Lauren's first New Years in 2 years - last year she spent it on a plane.  We counted down the new year from outside some posh restaurant that has it on tv, found The Cat Empire playing on the street & danced.  We tried to squeeze past people on 12th but the crowd was too thick.  Lauren admitted she is claustrophobic, so I doubled my efforts & re-created a strategy.  I just wanted to get to the beach.  She says it's her first warm NYE as well, but I remember I've had 3 in a row now - Las Vegas, New Orleans & Mexico.  When we finally got some breathing room I saw Kerry shifting through behind us.  KERRY!!!!  With Luiz, Paoloco (Mx), Pedro (Brasil) & some girls (Daisy & Vidi, both Mx).  Un-be-lievable.  With the amount of people there that was definately a stroke of luck.  & I'm glad I got to spend NYE with my friends.

We ate 12 grapes for each of the months that have passed, as is Mexican tradition - but we counted each beer as 2 as well.  It was fun to relive the year & spit out or swallow the seeds from each month.  We ran to the beach & jumped 7 waves for good luck, as is Brasilian custom.  I can't think of any Canadian traditions, other than getting drunk with friends.  Check.  I lose the girls in the shadows of the crowd on the beach & someone tells me it's tradition to wait for the first sunrise of the new year.  In 2 hours.  No way, Jose.  But I'm thinking it'd be cool so I curl up to nap somewhere.  When I wake up, there's a guy next to me making sure I'm okay & that maybe I'm very drunk, but I'm not, & sunrise is that much closer.  My friend Duane is catching waves with his feet in the tide, his hands on his guitar & a smile on, as always.  He is concerned for a drunk who later almost drowns.  The sun rises again.  Without sacrifice.

Did I mention some guy was playing bagpipes on the beach?!

And There She Was......Gone.

When we got back from the ruins we found out Tamara & Levi had left.  Even though it was New Years Eve I felt some sort of relief actually.  I had been holding on to them for so long, it was nice to be able to let go.  I am horrible with goodbyes & I'm happy she could cut the cord for me.  When I woke up, it was a shock to be alone in bed without thinking about when I would meet up with them.  Now I know where they are, & when I see them next is up to me.  Feels good.


I am still convinced that kareoke is a good way to learn Spanish.  When I mention this to the nearby Couchsurfers, they sincerely disagree with me.  We have been at this dank kareoke bar for several hours & frankly, they'd like to move on.  Even if it is 2am on a Sunday.  They are still good people nonetheless.  :)

There was a day of hitchhiking & a day of indecision for some of us as well.  Los Tres Amigos (Kerry, Luiz & Abraham) had bus tickets for Palenque.  I was determined to hitch & Lauren wasn't sure what was what.  What a gorgeous day for hitching!  At one point I thought "This book is so good, I forget I'm in the back of this truck."  I am learning about Mayan & Brasilian culture & reading a book placed in Northern Pakistan - the American border guards won't like that!  I was lenient on the timeframe of travelling 764km, thinking it would take 2 days, but 4 rides, 4 states, 2 free bevvies, one 2 hour nap & 13 hours later I was chilling in a hotel room in the southern state of Chiapas.  Naked, under an oscillating fan.

Goddamn it is humid.  It rained that night.  Rained?!  It hasn't rained at all since I've been here!  I have stepped into a rainforest.  While visiting friends, we were all asking about the ferociously hoarse roaring coming from the jungle.  We are told it is a sanctuary from los monos.  Monos?  Oh, Changos!  Monkeys!  Howler monkeys!  Upon closer inspection I can tell which tree tops they're in, although they're SO loud you'd think it's a jaguar from further up the hill, but the trees are SO tall you can't see anything anyway.  Plus I almost fell down a waterfall by accident.

It was Abraham's birthday so we decided to let loose for once.  I know, right?  We bought all the fixin's for piña coladas - his favourite - except he forgot the Malibu at home.  We went to a nice restaurant, but it wasn't the one he wanted so he ate dinner alone.  We went to kareoke & all sang together.  My voice boomed through the room, as is normal but I think shocked my friends, and Abraham still holds the mic too far away to be heard.  This place has much more options for up & coming kareoke superstar Jocelyn McLean.  Some songs I was shocked they even had, like Gym Class Heroes or Cartel?!  Whoa.  Obscure.  Channelling my brother when I do this sort of thing - Bust A Move, Girl On TV, American Pie.

Despite cutting my finger slicing limes, losing my lip ring & leaving my sandals in PdC, Kerry´s beating me at misfortune.  She fell off the edge of an infinity pool a couple days ago & it looks like a very convincing shin fracture.  She practically ODed on eyedrops the other day.  She´s making my losing streak look good. We still do things like squeeze 7 people into a small car & shimmy together singing Estoy loco por mi tigre by Shakira.  So you know, we probably deserve it.

Hopefully things will continue to be held together by a thread for both of us. Knock on wood.
Or, as they say in Brasil - Bater na madeira.