Created this blog to document my travels, experiences & thoughts thru Central & South America but hell plan to blog my travels to where ever. Goofy harmless Free Spirit hoping to spend most of my time with locals & enjoy the world! So hang on as I travel, drink cervezas, raise a little hell, maybe piss off a few people & hopefully not give Canadians a bad reputation! Of course don't do these things on purpose but while having a good time well "Shit Happens"!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Boy was it a refreshing change to get to Morelia. It´s a really pretty city with some nice old buildings and churches. It´s been designated as a UN Historical Site city.
I came to Morelia cuz this city is the near the town of Patzecuro where the best Day of the Dead Festival is held in Mexico. So I made the visit and checked into the local hostel and found it quite empty as I guess most ppl prefer to stay in Patzecuro. But I decided to stay 45 km away in Morelia cuz it´s easier to get a place plus it´s cheaper. So I`ll take a bus to Patzecuro on Nov 1 & 2 for the festival.
You may notice the decorated memorials that people build for some of their deceased family members. I will post some more pics after I attend the actual Festival on Nov 1 & 2 in Patzecuro.
As I mentioned the hostel dorm had only myself and Augusto (Argentinian guy) staying there. He had just returned from spending 8 months travelling and working in Europe. He´s on his way back to Argentina so of course is sort of on the same path as me. The only difference is he is planning to spend a month or 2 surfing, playing his guitar and smoking weed in Puerta Enscondido.
So it appeared we have a lot in common unfortunately his English is a lot better than my Spanish. So guess what we´re speaking together? So of course we went for a beer last night and going for a beer again tonight. It´s kind of nice to hang with a Spanish speaker but it doesn´t help my understanding. But he´s leaving to go to Mexico City so I´ll be on my own to visit the festival. I did meet some ppl in the Zihuatanejo hostel also going to Patzacuro for the festival but doubt if I´ll run into them as it´ll be crowded.
I have to go have a beer so I´ll be adding to this posting either tomorrow, Sat or Sun.
There were 3 Mexican chicks (on some course in town) staying at the hostel. So they invited Augusto (Argentinian mate) and I to this local watering hole. Well this was a bit of a happening place as it had 2 shaking floors due to a live band. The volume in the bar put us all on a level playing field. Cuz then none of us could understand what the others were saying. But by the end of the night hey I had a conversation with ppl for 5 mins and neither of us understood what the other said. But yeah we had to leave by 2 am cuz the hostel closes for the night. Unfortunately the custodians of the hostel are kind of sticklers for rules (a-holes). Can u imagine ppl working at a hostel that weren´t more chilled and easy going. Plus it didn´t help that they didn´t speak English cuz being so monolingual so far I`ve become quite good with sign language and charades!
Poor Augosto he was leaving for Mexico City in the moring to meet some mates there for the Day of the Dead. He also kept saying he has to wash clothes to go to the big city! Unfortunately e didn´t get it done but at least made it out of the hostel by noon! Hope to meet up with him again either at Puerto Escondido (down by Oaxaca) or Buenos Aires.
So thought I´d spend Fri chilling on the hammock in the courtyard with my mp3 and a bottle of $6 red wine and whatever else was available. Then Julian an Aussie guy shows up in the evening so met another mate to hang out with for the Day of the Dead!
One of the odd occurrence on my visit here coincides with the migration of the Monarch to just north of Morelia where I am. There was a guy who did see it aand took some pics of them. It´s interesting to read and find out about their migration.
Notice all of them in the trees in the pic. The Monarch butterflies cannot survive a long cold winter. Instead, they spend the winter in roosting spots. Monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains travel to small groves of trees along the California coast. Those east of the Rocky Mountains fly farther south to the forests high in the mountains of Mexico. The monarch's migration is driven by seasonal changes. Daylength and temperature changes influence the movement of the Monarch. The monarch's flight to Mexico has been compared to the migration habits of birds flying south for the winter. It is the only insect that can fly 2,500 miles to a warmer climate. Their unique wing structure and yearly life cycle makes it possible for the fall generation monarchs to travel thousands of miles (on those amazing little wings) to the warm nesting grounds of Mexico
They are the only butterflies to make such a long, two way migration every year. Amazingly, they fly in masses to the same winter roosts, often to the exact same trees. Their migration is more the type we expect from birds or whales. However, unlike birds and whales, individuals only make the round-trip once. It is their children's grandchildren that return south the following fall.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I only had the choice of one bus to take so of course it was first class. But this was OK cuz I would be sleeping on it for the night so it was good to have a little comfort. The problem with Mexican’s buses are they play their videos at full blast! Dam is it ever noisy so I went up to the driver to ask if he could turn the sound down as we were trying to sleep. But he had his own music on really loud so didn’t understand me. So I put on my own music and got some sleep. Lucky for me the guy in the seat next to me was getting off at the same town so he woke me up in time to get off.
I got off in the dark to find that it was only 3 AM. The thing was we crossed the time zone plus I didn’t realize that they change from Day light saving time that night. So I thought dam I’d have to kill a few hours before things open. So I would have wait to till 7 and then head to the hostel. But when I checked my computer I had save some data about the hostel & it had 24 hr check in so thought hey I could head there right away.
I was going to take a taxi but the driver for some reason (must have been a rich dude) said it’s very close so u can walk there. So I started walking there with the directions he gave me. However I realized there were a couple small problems. Mexico is like the U2 song "Where the Streets have No Name" or at least they have no signs. Plus when people tell u 2 blocks it can turn out to be 6 or 8 blocks. So long story short I got lost and carrying my pack is a bit tiring plus it was 4 AM and dark. A couple of taxis came along and wanted to charge me 25 pesos to the hostel but I felt I was really close so kept walking. Then I got to the point that I had walked darn near to downtown but was still lost. I was a bit pissed at myself cuz I was lost and getting a bit tired. So I went to this grassy protected area in a traffic circle to rest. Took off my pack and leaned up against it and next thing I knew I fell asleep. The traffic noise woke me up and it was light. So I continued my search of the hostel. I felt like a person lost in a snow storm who perishes and is found 200 ft from safety as I found the hostel 2 blocks away from where I had rested. But what the heck it was nice and cool outside so I got a good sleep for 3 hrs plus I found the hostel. So all’s well that ends well.
It’s really great to stay at this hostel as the owners are so friendly and it's like a home. They are Greg (a transplanted Canadian from Vancouver) and his Mexican wife Angela hence the name Angela’s Hostel. The hostel is in Angela’s name and Greg is employed by her so he can get a work permit which he renews yearly. The hostel is small but hanging out there has been great as we've watch World Series the past couple nights. There are also a few Mexicans, Aussies, Canadians, Americans, Europeans staying so it’s nice to talk to travellers to get tips of other places. But hey I’m also still working on my Spanish but it’s a slow work in progress.
Zihuantanejo is a nice town which has some tourists but nothing like Ixtapa which was built about 6 or 7 Kms away over some big hills. Ixtapa is definitely a resort town with it’s 5 Star resorts and long beaches like Cancun or Nuevo Vallarta near Puerto Vallarta. I've been here before and am familiar with the beaches. So went for a run down Laropa beach this morning before it got really hot. But the heat doesn’t bother me but the humidity sure does cuz it’s a lot more humid at this time of year than in Dec when I was here last time.
Hey this was the Mexican town that I got my first tattoo and piercings cuz they were cheap. But think the shop that did it is no longer around. So any idea of doing that again will have to be forgotten. But anyone that knows me probably feels I don’t need more.
So will spend another day here, leave my pack here and catch a bus to Morelia to catch the Day of the Dead Festival this weekend. One of the biggest celebration of this Festival happens in Patzcuaro a small village near Morelia. So think I’ll stay in Morelia cuz it will be hard to find accommodations in Patzcuaro. Then after the weekend I’ll return to Zihuatanejo for a day or so to pick up my pack and maybe go check out Acapulco. I had thought of giving it a miss cuz thought it was too touristy and pricey. But apparently there’s a hostel there that has Japanese style rooms with just a bed and room for a bag. So will check it out and the Cliff Jumping! Wonder if they'll let idiots like me try it??
Friday, October 24, 2008
The Guadalajara out of town bus station is way out in the suburbs. But it only costs 5 Pesos (50 cents) on a city bus for a hr to get there. But I didn’t recognize the bus station as thought it was a shopping center.
Then I realized that we were headed back the way we came so had to walk about a mile back to the bus station with my pack! So needless to say I was a bit hot by the time I got to the bus station/looked like a shopping center. So I went to the first counter and bought a ticket to Melaque for $26 which I felt was a bit expensive. But I had no price to gauge it against and my spanish is still a work in progress. Later when I was walking around I found there was a 2nd class bus for $5 less. Now most of u will think boy is this dude ever tight! Well I wouldn’t say I’m like that but when I travel for months I have to watch my cash! Cuz I like to travel for a long time cheaply than a short time expensively. So it’s doubtful anyone wants to travel with me like I do. But hey in life I’ve also believed in quantity not quality so I guess I’m a loser in both area! So yeah maybe I am tight!
Yeah anyway I was stuck with this 1st class ticket cuz they wouldn’t exchange it for a 2nd class ticket. Crap I’m going to have to learn Spanish if for no other reason than to argue a case for an exchange or refund. But that 1st class bus was really cool. They gave us a bag with a sandwich and a choice of water or drink! The bus seats were so spacious with foot rests that folded back like a recliner. Maybe I haven’t ridden in many buses back home but only in other countries. But this one also had an a/c, tv’s, bathroom and sort of a snack area in the back. But I’m not used to comfort as I flew on US Air didn’t I? So next time I’ll take a 2nd class bus cuz hey I took a 2nd or 3rd class in Africa (cuz that’s all they had) for 12 hrs trips and it didn’t bother me! Heck one time I rode a 12 hr overnite trip to Nairobi to meet someone and have lunch, and took another 12 hr overnight bus ride back, Then caught another 6 hr bus to this island on the coast
A funny thing was I was the only one waiting for the bus to Melaque. So they put me on the bus to Manzanillo. So not having checked a map well everytime we stopped I’d ask is this Melaque cuz didn’t want to end up going pass my stop again. I must have pissed off the bus driver as he yelled something in Spanish like “U idiot we aren’t even close yet so got sit down & quit bugging me”.
Melaque is a small town between Puerto Vallarta and Manizanillo. I learned an important Spanish word to remember when I for a room. I asked this American chick who was walking down the street if she knew of any cheap places to stay (I’m not too cheap to buy a Mexico Lonely Planet book, just forgot)! She said use the word economicos when asking for a cheap room. U can believe I won’t forget that word as have used that for everything now from buying a bottle of water & at an Internet café! But it only seems to work for rooms I guess. But I find when I travel that bargaining for a deal is like a game to me!
So I found a room that was a poor man’s 1 bedroom condo as it has a kitchen (well a bit crude but still a kitchen), living room, bedroom and of course a bathroom with hot & cold water. Oh I forgot to mention a ceiling fan and a stand up fan cuz boy am I using it as it gets a bit hot at night. Oh yeah got a small tv with about 30 channels with English movies. Hey was hoping for something cheaper but guess this was a bargain for 180 Pesos or $16 a night. Hell I wish had travelling friends (acquaintances would do) cuz I have 2 double beds. I had planned to bring my tent to camp on the beach but was talked out it at the last minute. But the room is great & heck this old dude woke me up this morning to clean my room. But I wanted my sleep more than I wanted a clean room! Then remembered I was going for a run on the beach this morning but by noon it’s too warm so will have to wait till tomorrow! So took my Spanish course book and cd to the beach and had breakfast and studied while I had breakfast. So u naysayers I am trying to learn Spanish tho it’s going slow!
Then decided after walking a mile with my backpack that I had some unnecessary clothing. So sent my cold clothes home like hoodie, long pants (cuz always wear shots) and other clothes. But needed to find a box (caja) sounds like baja but with a c. But took some time cuz I was asking for it like us English speaking person say it and not like a Spanish speaker as it rhymes with baja. So it took me 2 hrs to find a box and find the post office but got it sent just before it closed for siesta. But after some thought it occurred to me that hell I had put the wrong address on the box. Heck I had put the correct street, city and postal code but the wrong house number. I had put my old house number on it so heck it would never get to where I wanted to send it. But I thought good thing they have a siesta as the box had still not been sent out. So I could go back and change the address so my money to send it wasn’t a waste.
When a person travels sometimes doing things like mailing a box home can be an all day event. But then to complicate things when you’re an idiot like me u either lose or forget things. On the long weekend before I left I lost my driver’s licence so couldn’t drive until I got a new one. So what do I find while packing to travel but my driver’s licence. When I lived in Seattle I lost my passport so was about to get another one but needed to move and guess what I found in my recliner? Then this summer I lost my mp3 with all my music but never found it. So am always conscious of looking after my valuables but then I forget things like addresses. People keep wondering how I can find my way anywhere and back again let alone to foreign countries. So the way I travel I have more time than money!
But my day wasn’t a total was cuz when it got cooler I did walk about 3 miles down the beach to Melaque\s sister town Barra de Navidad! So having walked it now I plan to wake up earlier to try to run there and back tomorrow morning (if I can get up but maybe the cleaning guy will wake me up) .
So I’ll probably hang around town till Sat or Sun. Then not quite sure where I’m heading for next but it’ll be south.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
But here I am in 28 C / 85 F Phoenix for the night! I don't have a problem with the temp or the city but I made a mistake staying here over night. I wasn't thinking (as usual) cuz I wanted to bypass the US and fly into Mexico to start my trip. But to use my air miles for some reason I thought I only had a choice ot either flying to Guadalajara or Mexico City but I had been to Mexico City before. So I decided to fly to Guadalajara but had to spend a night in Phoenix cuz if I fly to Mexico City I'd have to wait until the end of Oct to get a seat. So I decided on Guadalajara but there was a woman sitting next to me flying to Puerto Vallarta and getting there at 5 pm today on US Air. So I thought sh*t why didn't I think about Puerto Vallarta so I wouldn't have to stay overnight in Phoenix. Actually I thought Puerto Vallarta was too touristy and I had been there before!
So when I got to Phoenix I thought why not check if I could change my flt to Puerto Vallarta instead of Guadalajara. But found out have to pay $150 extra for the change so I passed on that idea. But the guy gave me a 20% discount coupon to stay at a local hotel. But heck was going to stay at the ariport until I realized that I got into Phoenix at 10 am and didn't leave until 9 am tomorrow. So thought unless I was like Tom Hanks in the Terminal Man well maybe I should get a room. So I got a cheap hotel room at the Quality Inn for $49 (still 4 times the price of a hostel in Guadalajara), a free shuttle plus a free breakfast in the morning. So decided to pay the piper for my bad decision!
I found that Arizona State University campus, bars and resturants are 3 miles away. So decided to walk there cuz had time to kill but the clerk at the front desk says no one walks there. But checking the ppl at the hotel it seemed a few had eaten a couple extra Big Mac's and probably hadn't walked in a few years! So I walked and realized that after the cool weather I experienced in Vancouver & Edmonton in the past week that it was a bit hot! But boy that cold beer sure tasted good when I made it there!
Sure glad I have my little computer with me cuz can blog, email or write stories in my room! But figure I better enjoy this room cuz this will probably be my last room to myself for a while. Actually have a free 7 day Timeshare condo to be used anywhere until the end of Nov. But have chosen not to use it cuz it's not my thing anymore so tried to give it away but no one wanted to use it!
So now it's onward to Mexico tomorrow to see what's happening there!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Mexico - as I fly into there so I don't have to travel thru the US as bin dare dun dat many times!
But hey I may not make it to all of the countries but then again I've always been a person who needs to go and see something myself even if it's maybe a waste of time to most ppl.
I hope to check out Darian Gap It's the land that borders between Colombia and Panama which is notoriously dangerous. This is an area of 200 miles of land that should be extensively researched before starting the trip. I have heard that it is possible, taking 'guides' between the villages to ensure safe passage. Even when there was an accord between the Colombian Government and the guerrillas 2 botanists working close to that area disappeared.
I would like to ride down the Amazon River from Peru
but I don't know how feasible or expensive this is to do. As this may be a ridiculous dream of mine cuz it'll probably cost a small fortune. But this may be out of line but will look into doing it but if I don't do them well so be it.
You know a place I've always wanted to visit has been Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Also want to be in Rio for the Mardi Gras but another dream cuz it'll be expensive and hard to get a cheap place during the week. Plus the timing has to be right too as Rio Carnival 2009
http://www.rio-carnival.net/rio_carnival/rio_carnival_programs.php starts on Friday, February 20th and ends on Fat Tuesday, February 24th.
Also want to check out Machu Pichu in Peru
but may not hike up to the top as I understand that a person has to make a reservation as the
government limits the number of ppl hiking up per day. But I understand I can take a train up to see it anyway. So may have to do that cuz I hate booking anything as don't have any idea when I'll be in Peru. I'd like to hike up cuz I like climbing mtns but figure it'll be crowded and I've hiked Mt. Killamanjaro last year and Mt Ranier so have had a taste of climbing a mtn and will do it again but not a touristy mtn!
Also want to check out the Highway of Death in Bolivia
Some of the road's most dangerous sections have nicknames. The curve where the bus accident happened is called "Central Sacrament." Rescue workers pulled 31 dead from the jungle floor after the crash Sept. 2.
Julio Paco, 30, one of 16 people who survived, woke to screams around 5 a.m., and realized the bus was leaning over the edge. The bus, which was traveling uphill from Coroico to La Paz, fell 600 feet down the mountainside, or about 50 stories. After regaining consciousness, Paco managed to climb up to the road with half his scalp torn from his skull. Julio told his story from a hospital room he shared with another survivor, Fortunato Guarachi, 36, who lost his brother in the crash. e broke his collar bone but also was able to climb back up to the road.
The government is building a new, safer highway. It was supposed to be finished two years ago, but officials say tunneling difficulties have set the schedule back. They now aim for completion by April.
I read this guy who wrote 2 years later I head back to the Death Road to find all the heavy trucks and smog-churning buses absent. The new highway has diverted the traffic, making the road infinitely safer, and robbing it of its World Most Dangerous title. Of course, this has meant more tourists and more shady operators, and the tourist death toll is now at 11, pretty good odds given that 120 people ride it every day. You still descend a whopping 3.5km in altitude, the first 22km on asphalt, the rest on cracked mud and dirt. There are two guides, a support vehicle, regular bike checks and dry cheese sandwiches. At the end, you reach a wonderful wildlife refuge where you can drink cold beer, play with baby monkeys and get chewed apart by jungle mosquitoes. Today the death road is more fun than ever and ultimately you only go as fast as your nerves can handle. Given that the return trip to La Paz involved sitting on a bus as it navigated the same terrifying road I’d just recently descended, my nerves can handle more than ever.
Boy would love to go see the Galapagos Islands while in Ecuador
But figure it'll be expensive plus u need to go on a tour or excursion. But I don't do well on a tour, excursion and a cruise so chances are slim that I'll make it. I was in Uganda last year & wanted to see the mtn gorillas but had to make reservations. So didn't see them cuz it also cost 500USD for 4 hrs of viewing which is too rich for me. I'm more into adventure like the Highway of Death cuz it's cheaper to do but hey don't have a Death Wish or anything as I'm a careful guy who doesn't like to spend a lot on one adventure!
Want to visit Patagonia a geographic region containing the southernmost portion of South America.
Located in Argentina and Chile, it comprises the Andes mountains to the west and south, and plateaux and low plains to the east. The name Patagonia comes from the word Patagon used by Magellan to describe the native people who his expedition thought to be giants.
Live it up or cool it down in this hip-shakin' town Buenos Aires http://www.geographia.com/argentina/buenosaires/Index.htm More European than South American in flavor, Buenos Aires' heart boasts bustling streets, grand avenues, old-time cafes and stylish restaurants. It's a city of tragedy and elation; a vibrant, cosmopolitan capital where locals are renowned for their flair and cockiness, even in times of adversity.Buenos Aires delivers. Wander the cobbled streets, marveling at faded architectural glories and colorfully painted metal houses; talk world politics and fútbol (soccer) in an atmospheric old cafe; then tuck into a famously delicious Argentine steak to power a long night's partying.
They are also wider than the Victoria falls in Zambesi (Africa). The northern arm of Iguazu river finishes in a 'canyon' known as the devil's throat, where a continuous mist of water produces an almost constant rainbow. In 1983, the last part of the trail was destroyed by the floods. In recent years, local authorities repaired it so that visitors could reach the end. After a short train ride, people can just walk almost over it.
In essence, the falls create half a circle of about 2700 mts. comprised of 275 streams. Besides the 'garganta del diablo' other well known streams are Bozetti, Dos Hermanas, San Martin and Adam and Eve. They are all part of the Iguazu national park, a natural habitat of about 55,000 hectares. The average temperature during winter is 15C and during summer around 26C.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Yeah, I finally decided how I'm going to start and end my trip. But everything in between is a bit vague or I should say I'm going to be winging it. So now I'm kinda getting stoked about traveling again! Dam I was lucky cuz I had a bunch of air miles points which I could redeem for a ticket Vancouver to Buenos Aires return.
So I'm using the outbound portion to fly to Guadalajara, Mexico. Then I'll go surface by bus, car, boat, air, horse, donkey, foot, etc. from there thru Central America. Also will need to find a cheap mode of boat or plane to get around Darien Gap. If it were not for the Darien Gap between Panama and Columbia, one could drive a motor vehicle from the northern edge of Alaska to the southern tip of South America. For engineering and political reasons, the 200 miles of jungle and swamp between Panama and Columbia has never been tamed. So once I make it to Columbia then I'm free to roam South America heading towards Argentina.
You know the way the financial pic is unfolding lately. I'm probably better off taking any money I have to enjoy myself and travel cuz it's not going to be worth much soon. But I don't spend much time worrying about it. The Canadian dollar is dropping like a stone as I've found The Canadian dollar was 1.14 for 1 US dollar a week ago. It dropped .005 of a percent while I was getting my money changed in 5 mins. Then today the Canadian dollar was 1.19 for 1 US dollar. So why not just take any money I have and enjoy it while I can. So if I don't have any money later in life well so be it cuz I was never one to worry about tomorrow! I guess I'm not too responsible as I'm probably more like a teenager in caring about my financial future. But I don't care about material things or caring if I have a home now. Cuz all I need is a place to sleep and I can pay for rent and food!
When I told my brother in law about my trip well he asked me do they have Greyhound buses in Central & South America? I said I doubt it but if they do then we wondered if their Greyhound logo was the same as the one for Greyhound Canada "Where you Beheaded?". Yeah I know that's a sick line & incident but hey I have a sick mind so what can u expect. So in my travels if something should happen to me then it's more than likely that I deserved it. But hey my theory in life is "If it's my time then it's my time" so I don't worry about things. Cuz "I'm here for a Good Time, Not a Long Time". But no problem as I'm street smart and careful as I don't do anything stupid (Well I take that back as I have been known to do things that are a bit stupid!) but I wouldn't put myself in jeopardy (as I don't know how to get on the Quiz show)!
Anyway Adios Amigos
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