Seattle tomorrow!

I left MayaPedal today and am currently staying in a hostel close to the Guate airport. Turns out airports in other countries actually close! Tomorrow holds about 12 hours of travel, thanks to the miracle warpspeed that is flight. Excited to see everyone that I have missed and settle back into Seattle. See you all soon!

h

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Maya Pedal

I left Xela (and my awesome Couchsurfing host, Pablo) today for San Andreas Ixtapa, in Chimaltenango. I will be volunteering here for the next week or more with an amazing organization called Maya Pedal , so I am looking forward to working and staying in one place for a bit. Domingo, one of the other volunteers, and I went for a bike ride today. We are really close to Antigua so that will be great to visit soon (by bike!). I think that this is the longest I have not ridden a bike in many years. It felt so strange to get back on today! And it is also strange to think about coming home soon…

Xela, Guatemala

Currently I am staying in a city called Quetzaltenango, or Xela, in Guatemala. A friend is traveling here as a part of his Bonderman scholarship, so it is good to spend time with him and speak english in stead of just writing it. This city is fairly large, and has a high concentration of spanish schools, which means a high concentration of extranjeros. I am getting used to a new currency, and new slang/vernacular. We are at a substantial altitude, which means not too hot, and no bugs. The transportation is Guatemala is much more colorful than that in Mexico- the busses are refurbished schoolbusses that are painted bright colors and have various stylized tributes to Jesus on them. The streets here do not make any sense, and are almost entirely cobblestones. Guatemala has the highest concentration of indigenous population in all of Latin America, and you can see the bright, intricate clothing of Mayan women everywhere.

I am exploring volunteering options with an amazing organization called Maya Pedal (check out their website!), so I am hoping to go there from here, followed by a couple days in Antigua, then flying out of Guatemala City! So strange to think about life in Seattle… 

Comitan

I arrived in Comitan yesterday, and am staying with an architect named Ignacio. He built a bouldering wall in his house! We talked climbing and exchanged some vocabulary. He told me about some of the more specific corruption issues here in Mexico, and his studies at UNAM. I have another host here in Comitan that I am excited to meet as well- hopefully we can explore some of the beautiful forests around here!

From here I will go to Palenque for a few days to explore the ruins, then come back to Comitan before crossing the border into Guatemala! My first stop will be a city called Quetzltenango, where a friend from school is living for now. He has been traveling the world on a Bonderman scholarship, and it will be great to trade stories!

I went out for a run this morning (along the Pan American Highway!), and there was already a running event going on, so I joined in, and then kept going after it ended. I was stopped by the policia right before I turned around. They asked me where I was going and what I was doing! I said I just wanted to run and they told me to be careful. Running is still a weird thing to do here. 

Hasta luego,

h

Tuxtla and beyond

I just spent an amazing couple days in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capitol of Chiapas (which is named Chiapas because of the chia plant!). I stayed with two couchsurfing hosts, Adolfo and Martha. Adolfo and his family live in the south of Tuxtla, and were such great hosts! We went to Chiapa de Curzo, a nearby town, and took a several hour lancha ride through an incredible river canyon. Wow, I took so many pictures! We also visited a climbing area in Tuxtla complete with waterfalls. The next day we went out to Sima de las Coturras (I think that is what it is called), which is an enormous sinkhole in the earth out by Coita. Adolfo and I wanted to see another sinkhole, so the man running to place took us out into the campo to see it, where we got covered with thousands of tiny red insects that bit us a lot! The remedy? We were sprayed with Raid, then took showers with laundry soap, followed by another shower and clotheswashing when we got back to the house. What an adventure! The next night I spent with Martha, a really sweet arts student in Tuxtla. We spent the morning walking around and exploring the markets, churches, and centro of Tuxtla. I am really loving Couchsurfing- I am waiting here in San Cristobal to meet up with another host, Rebeca. More to come!

-h

Chiapas!

Hello from Pochutla!Today was my last day in Mazunte, and in Oaxaca (the state). Tonight I am headed to Tuxtla Gutierrez, in the state of Chiapas. I will spend a couple nights with Couchsurfing friends there, and then head to San Cristobal de las Casas, to spend a week with another Couchsurfing host. One of my major reasons for taking this trip was to learn more about Mexico, an enormous country adjacent and very connected to the US, and I think one of the best ways for me to do that is to get to know as many locals as I can here. Initially I thought that I would want to spend more time with other travelers, but over the last week or so I have found myself seeking out the company of Mexicans. The idea of meeting, and getting to know, more people who live here is really exciting to me. I am loving speaking Spanish, and am working every day to learn more. In the coming days I will post some of the vocabulary that I have been learning!

Love from the blazing sun,

H

Mazunte

I am in the beach town of Mazunte, on the Oaxacan  coast. This small place is full of leathery expats, travelers, and locals. I am staying in a cabana in El Agujun, with two ladies from Quebec that I met in San Jose. We got a deal on the place, so we will be here  for a week, at least. There are hammocks that look out on the ocean, and the sunrises are unbelievable. Also I am slowly learning French phrases from my new friends (I am a woman, I am trying to learn French, one beer please, may I use the toilet, etc)There are some sounds that I have never made before! I am passing the time by running, swimming, eating delicious produce, reading, writing, and making new friends.

Love from sea level,

h

San Jose del Pacifico

O my goodness. This place is amazing. It is a tiny mountain town at or above 8000 feet, perched on forested ridges. You can see forever, and hike higher to see farther than forever. This is a sleepy place, and the clouds roll in in the late afternoon, blanketing the landscape. I am staying in a hostal called La Casa Catalina, which is full of great art, people, and views. I think I will be staying here longer than I thought! There is a steam bath ceremony called te mezcal that I am going to do, and I look forward to hikes and hanging out. Again, so beautiful. The 7 to 9 thousand foot range is my favorite altitude, I think, although it is hard to beat sea level at times. Wow.

La Luz de Luna

I am currently staying in a hostel here in Oaxaca called la luz de luna. There is a beautiful inner courtyard wth a fountain, hammocks, books, chess, sleepy dogs, and a cat. I am looking forward to meeting other travelers and I did not want to inconvenience my couchsurfing host, Madga.

So far in Oaxaca I have visited ruins, mineral springs, markets, an enormous tree, and many beautiful cathedrals. It has been great to get to know Magdas friends, and talk to them about immigration, the cartels, the indigenous peoples here, and more. The closet indigenous group to Oaxaca city is the Zapotecs, who built the city of Monte Alban, now an Unesco site. There are entire communitites where everyone speaks Zapotec. Mexico herself has at least 60 official languages.

There is a steam bath ceremony called temezcal that I would love to experience before I leave, so we will see! I am thinking that I will head out to the coast on Monday or Tuesday for a couple weeks.

Also I discovered that I cannot understand Argentinian people. They do not pronounce the letter s, speak very rapidly, and pronounce y and ll as j. So interesting! I can understand the Mexicanos just fine, especially here in Oaxaca, where everything is a little bit slower.

livin la vida tranquila,

hanna