Well I have spent most of today travelling and didn´t get to Mexico City until 9pm. Once I managed to get an authorised taxi, my taxi driver had a bit of a problem reading the hotel address and got his magnifying glass out...not really what you want to see. Anyway after driving through the crazy traffic which was still congested at 9pm at night I finally got to my hotel. The hotel is basic! But I think I better get used to that! I take on Mexico City tomorrow!
Went on a tour around some of the sites of Mexico today. Went to a traditional stone masons where they carve the precious and semi-precious stones into animals and masks! Also tried a few kinds of Tequilla, which was interesting at 11am. I think they were hoping it might loosen our purse strings!
First Lunch in Mexico was not what I was expecting...They really like their meat! So it was rice and salad for me! Hopefully the food will improve tomorrow!
Pyramid Experiance 1, turns out Mexico has a lot of pyramids. There are two main pyramids at Teotihuacan, the pyramid of the sun and the pyramid of the moon. Managed to climb all the way to the top of the Moon but the Sun was huge only managed 3/4's of it. The heat was pretty unbearable and there was no shade!
Back to Mexico City to meet my group for the next 15 days and our group leader. Turns out there's only 3 Brits, 1 American, 1 New Zealander and the 11 Aussies! Sam our leader is Guatamalan. When out for food with the group and Sam helped me navigate the menu. I think I will be having Cheese Quesadillas for the next month!
Tomorrow I will be going to the Museum of Anthropology tomorrow!
Went to the Museum of Anthropology today with Kate (New Zealand) and Campbell (Aussie). The museum took you through the history of Mexico from Evolution to Modern day life. They had scaled down models of statues and buildings, models of people as well as the artifacts and skeletons. It took us hours to get round everything but was definitely worth the time.
I had a complete nightmare with Lunch today. Asked for Minestrone Soup which I thought was a safe option...I ended up with chicken Noddle soup, then vegetable soup made with Chicken stock finally I gave up and settled for a salad!
Visited the tallest building in Mexico, Torre Latinoamericana. From the observation deck you can truely get the scale of the city. The city carries on through the mountains and is still growing. The houses on the hill don´t pay for the land, taxes or electricity, they just build a house and take the electricity from the main supply. The City itself is a mixture of old and new, and rich and poor. A lot of the new building ¨have replaced the buildings that got destroyed in the earthquakes. The whole city is a contradriction. The Churches are well looked after and busy all the time. They have services all day and each one is full. Religion is a large part of life here, they light candles at shrines, carry rosary beads everywhere and have religious statues for sale in every market and street corner. There are also lots of Statues and Fountains.
Sam our tour leader helped me out with ordering food but I had Cheese Quesdilla for the second night. I got to add beans though so that made the food a bit more exciting! :-)
I leave Mexico City tomorrow morning and head to Puebla. I travel on a public bus which should be an interesting experience!
Puebla is famous for blue and white tiles, and they are everywhere. You can see the Spanish influence in the town far more than in Mexico City. In the main square (Zocolo) there is a fountain and the catherdal. Puebla is much smaller than Mexico City and has a much more chilled out atmosphere. After wandering round the town we sat and people watched. As there is a University here the shops are far more modern. Every second shop is a stationery shop and students set up with their laptops on the side of the road opposite McDonalds to use the WiFi.
The traffic police are comical. We think it must be an initiation into the police force. They start and stop traffic with their whistles in time with the traffic lights. Not sure what the point was but it was quite entertaining watching them take so seriously.
We went out to Toads Alley tonight. I have never seen so much Tequilla consumed in one night. It was a really good night and everyone really got to know each other. Didn´t get in until 3am...and have to meet for a tour at 9.30am tomorrow.
Went to Chalula today, it was a bit difficult to get up after last nights drinking session but was well worth it! At first site Chalula appears to have a church on top of a hill...but it is actually siting on top of two pyramids. The Spanish Catholics built their churches on top of Mayan Pyramids to encourage them to convert to the Catholic faith. The inside of the church was covered in gold. As you walked through the smaller pray rooms there were different shrines surrounded by paintings, flowers and candles.
After visiting the church we mazed our way through the underground tunnels in the bottom pyramid and ended up in an outside areana. When you clap in the centre of the areans it makes a noise of a sacred bird. Apparently its pretty accurate!?
We headed back to Puebla for a quieter night. We had a team game of Pool, Team GB Verse Australlia. Team GB Won 2-1, and I potted the final two balls of the final match! There was some celebrations...but the aussies don´t like losing!
Travelled for 4 hours to Oaxaca today across mountains and valleys. Just walked around the city to find our bearings and tooking in the atmosphere of the Zocolo. There are markets and handicraft shops everywhere in the old part of town. Its all pedestrianised and it feels really safe.
I had a run in with a mime. I was trying to take a photo of the chuech and he sneaked up behind me and made me part of his act. All the locals in the square were laughing! I was definitely not what I was expecting. :-)
Went out to a bar to watch Mexico play Honduras, Honduras won 3-1 so our tour leader was happy!
I had a quiet day today in preparation for tonight's festivities and the all-day excursion followed by overnight bus.
Kate. Katrina and I went out to sample some of Oaxaca's traditional foods. First we tried Chocolate Mole, which is a dark chocolate & chilli sauce. It was horrible, Sam, our leader had warned us how bitter it would be but we really wanted to give it a go. So then we tried their hot chocolate, which was with almonds and cinemmon. This wasn't much better, it wasn't as bitter but was very strange. I think I will only be eating regular chocolate for the rest of my trip!
For Bobby's Birthday we went out to a few bars. The locals were really friendly and sang 'happy birthday' and the barman was giving us all free shots of Tequilla. It wasn't the best quality tequilla, but it got the party in full swing! There will be a few sore heads in the morning!
We had a mini bus to take around the area around Oaxaca today. First stop was a big tree...a really big tree! It was more impressive that I thought possible. It was 2000 years old apparently. Then we went to a mill where they make rugs. They gave us a go...we found it really difficult even though 8 year olds do it. It put some of the guys to shame! Then we went to a waterfall, it was my first chance of a dip and a sunbathe. The landscape was spectacular. The last stop was a Tequilla factory...and of course we got to try the tequilla. I avoided the one with the worm floating in it!
Have an overnight bus tonight to San Cristobal. Not sure how much sleep Im gonna get!
Well after a long nights travel we arrived in San Cristobal. Its up high so the weather is colder here and there is an eerie mist that doesn't really clear until midday. As our rooms weren't ready when we arrived so we went on a boat ride up a canyon. It was boiling hot in the canyon but luckly the boat was moving fast enough to keep us cool. We saw black vultures, monkeys, iguanas and crocodiles. One Croc got fed up with us and snapped at us, some of the people at the front of the boat got a bit nervous but the the guide soon moved the boat back out of its reach.
Found a really good restaurant with veggie food that someone on the overnight bus had recommended. It was nice to have a non-mexican meal. The mexican food is not what I expected at all. It's nothing like the 'mexican' food we have at home. They don't do nachos or tacos like we do and they don't really understand vegetarians!
Travelled to a indiginous village called Chamula today to see the traditional markets. As its a week before Easter there are lots of religious ceromonies going on. Just as we arrived at Chamula a ceremonial walk had began. You can't really take photos because they think it will steal their soul. Inside the church the indigious people were lighting rows of candles and praying. They also drank Coka Cola to make them burp as they believed it would bring their souls closer to god. Some of the groups were sacrificing chickens. They would pray that any illness would be passed on to the chicken then kill the chicken (by hand) and cook it and eat it! It was pretty horrific to see inside a church, I didn't hang around for long.
I tried my luck at bartering in the local market after. I bought a traditional shawl for 130 pasos which I bartered down from 250 pasos. I saw some artwork on leather scrolls but apparently I can pick some up from other places along the way. So I am looking out for a good deal.
Spent the morning at the ruins in Palenque. They have been the best ruin so far! They set are deep in the jungle and look spectacular. Our guide really brought it all to life and explained the Mayan culture really well. They seemed to have a bit of an obsession with Corn - it is in all their pictures and sculptures, and they even tried to shape their heads like it ( or at least that is one of the explanations given for them giving themselves coneheads). We were able to climb up these ruins, so as it was cooler as it had been raining all night we all made it to the top. The views from the top of the tallest pyramid was amazing.
In the afternoon we went to visit some waterfalls. Unfortunately, because of the rain. the Agua Azul waterfall was brown instead of bright turquoise so we didn't bother seeing it. But we did see other waterfalls in the area, including the largest in Mexico. I didn't bother swimming this time as it was actually pretty cold - I didn't expect to say that while I was away, although I was a nice change from the intense heat we have been having lately.
Went to an Italian restaurant tonight where there was live music and a fire show. The music was waste a little on me as it wasn´t what I would normally listen to, but the fire show was really good. It was a good end ot the night.
We have a long day of travelling tomorrow to Merida, got some cold pizza for the journey though :-)
It´s Mourn Day Thurday today so Everything shuts down early. We hit the shops early for some retail theropy! I tested out my bartering skills after a local told us about a specialist shop for local products. I bought a panama hat for 300pasos from 700pasos so pretty happy with that! Got some presents too!
As everything closed down we went back to make the most of the pool and recharge for tonights celebrations. It started of very civilised with cocktails but once someone suggested Tequilla that was it. I´d excused myself by 2am as I wanted to be fresh for Chechin Itza. Allanah enjoyed herself and the boys were left to continue the celebrations on their own.
Left Merida this morning to travel to Chechin Itza. The boys were a little worse for wear as they didn´t get back to the hotel until 6am! It was really busy at Chechin Itza as everyone is on their Easter Holidays. It is also unbearably hot today, close to 40 degrees. We walked around the site looking for the next shady area. I was slightly disappointed that we weren´t able to walk over the ruins, they were all roped off. Also we weren´t able to get a guide as it was so busy. I didn´t enjoy these ruins as much as Palenque. Some of the pyramids were impressive but it didn´t grab me like Palenque did. I´m looking forward to Tulum, in Guatemala as these are also set in the jungle.
We arrived at Playa Del Carmen in the afternoon. It is very touristy and I don´t like it like I had expected to. I think this trip is changing my perspective on ´holiday destinations´. I think I would have liked it before the trip but now I´d prefer a smaller, less touristy place.
We went out tonight to say farewell to the people who are leaving at Playa del Carmen. We went to the Blue Parrot. It´s the first place where they have played more western music. I was a really good night. I have made some really good friends in the last 15days. I will definitely be visiting them in the future. We meet 6 new people joining the tour tomorrow night, hope they´re as good as the last group!
After last nights farewell drinks everyone is a little hungover. Kate and I were the only ones able to meet for breakfast. Playa is empty in the morning, so we made the most of it to explore the main strip. The shopping is good here although I don´t really feel like I´m in Mexico - all the signs and menus are in English first and Spanish second - Its not really what I expected. There isn´t a lot to do here except to go to the beach.
Met the new group this evening. One guy who is English and the rest are girls, Irish, American, Swiss, Kiwi, and Aussie. They all seem nice but a little quiet. I hope when everyone gets to know each other they will come out of their shells.
Tomorrow we leave playa - I´m glad to leave, even though it is a lively place, I thought it was pretty boring. We head off to Tulum, where we stay in huts on the beach. Really looking forward to it.
WOW - this place is like paradise! We are on a private beach staying in wooden huts, The water is turquoise and the beach has white powdery sand. Its a little windy but that takes the edge of the heat and means the are waves.
I went into the sea to cool off and it was like bath water, so warm. The waves are really powerful though and you get bashed about a bit - its refreshing! Unfortunately the shower block is basic and it feels like the water is slightly salty. But thats the only downside so far so I can live with that!
Food here is also good. I had nachos and veggie fajitas like we get back home and they were soooo good. I´ve finally found a place where I can eat the mexican food - although as Sam pointed out, its not really Mexican!
The wind really picks up at night! Not sure how much sleep I will get, the walls have a lot of gaps in them and the sea spray reaches our hut! It´ll be an interesting experiance!
Today I travelled across another border into Guatemala. We headed to a small island called Flores, it´s in the middle of a lake. Unfortunately the island was being renovated and the cobbled streets where replaced with rubble and wooden planks to cross over holes they had dug in the road. Aside from that Flores is a pretty quiet place. I had hoped to go on a night river safari but it was cancelled at the last minute as there were bush fires. Went looking for a beautiful sunset but the clouds put an end to that! Hopefully I will have better luck tomorrow.
I travelled to Rio Dulce today. The town is on the edge of the Rio Dulce River. To get to our Hotel we had to take a water taxi. All the girls are in, what can only be described as a tree house. It’s open on all sides and surrounded but the river. It’s accessed by a series of bridges. We are only able to leave the hotel by boat. It’s so peaceful. I am going to take the opportunity to relax and recharge for the next part of the trip.
We discovered that there is an excellent Cocktail menu here at the hotel and took full advantage of happy hour. This set the mood for the night. It was a great night for swapping stories and getting to know everyone a little better.
I woke up just in time for sunrise. As the sun rose over the tree across the river the wildlife came alive. The fish we jumping, birds were circling and an otter took a break on the end of the pier for a moment before diving back into the river. It’s so tranquil and beautiful here. It’s the perfect place to relax, and that is what I intend to do.
Left Rio Dulce this morning early to travel to Antigua. We are coming back here in a few days. This is just a stop over before we travel to our home stay in San Jorge. This place has the most tourists since Playa Del Carmen, but luckily not as many. I spent the afternoon in the main square. From the main square there were markets and shops selling every kind of souvenir you could imagine, as well as cafes and bars. It was nice to get my bearing on the town for when we returned in a few days.
Today we travel to San Jorge to meet tour family that we will stay with for the next two nights. On the way we stopped off at a massive market in Chichicastenango. Traders from all over Central America come here to buy goods to sell in other markets. It’s a maze of traditional goods as well as produce. I got to barter with the traders again. I think my previous attempts helped me to get a good price. Sam told us they give us the America tourist price first which is double what they sell for.
We left for San Jorge in the afternoon. It is a small village on the edge of Lake Atitlan. San Jorge means Saint George, who is the patron saint of Guatemala. I met my family, Victor (father) Rosario (mother) and the five children. Victor could speak some English but the rest of the family spoke very little. Got taken on a tour around the town and then had dinner with the family. Unfortunately Victor couldn’t join us so we were left to struggle in Spanish. Sonia and I got our phrase books out and the family had a Spanish/English dictionary and with some sign language we got through the meal. I played piggy in the middle with the two boys before doing some drawing with the little girl. We didn’t see much of the oldest girl, only at meal times and she was very shy. And the baby, Pedro didn´t really like the look of us today. Hopefully he will get used to us before we leave.