Very late on this! I wanted to make a post for each city but that fell through. Sometimes it’s hard to justify a night in front of the computer when in a new city of a foreign country, and these get pushed back. So we’ll just do the usual circus of going from right now to whenever the last post ended.
Currently I sit in the Rossco Hostel of San Cristóbal de las Casas. The rain is near constant here, but it always pretty small so you can walk around still. This is the highest elevation (I think) I have ever been, roughly 7,200 ft. To give you some perspective the mile-high city of Denver is just over 5k ft. Someone told me they call San Cristobal the city in the mountains. Even higher mountains surround the city and you can see all the clouds right there, which explains why it rains so much. But I could live here! It’s small enough to walk around in a day and has multiple parks, museums and a few strips for the nightlife! I ran into a bunch of Mexicans who were here for the weekend, so you know it’s good stuff.
Let’s move back a few days so you know how I got so south so fast.
For the two weeks after the nice stint in Mexico City I was in Puebla, MX, which is about two hours south. I was HelpXing the whole time (what’s HelpXing you say??) instead of Couchsurfing and it’s been a mixed bag,though mostly fun. On the off chance you were too lazy to click on the previous link, HelpXing is staying with someone and doing some kind of work in exchange for food.
This stint was with Gabriel, pictured left, who owns his own place in a very classy area of Puebla (crazy nice and clean here, especially compared to Mex City) and just wanted some help fixing up his place, which, like the area, is really fancy.
Here’s a little tour of his place…who knew my cheap camera could shoot such gold!
I painted the roof, I crawled up there again to add silicon to the seal where the skylight is, I installed a bunch of screens around the house so the tenants could open their windows at night and not be eaten alive by the mosquitos, I ruined a pair of pants pouring an acidic solution over a garage floor for cleaning (life lesson #1: pour acidic solutions close to the ground) and I swept/mopped the whole house everyday.
I probably didn’t get out to see the city as much as I should, half b/c of the work, half b/c Gabriel lived sort of out there and half b/c (this metaphor has three halves I guess?) I was doing some demanding manual labor and took some naps in the afternoon.
I would say the highlight of the Puebla time was a trip to La Mixteca, which is the area that Gabriel comes from and we stayed in the house he grew up in. His dad may have nodded at me once, but it was nice of him to let me stay in his house nonetheless. The town was called Progresso, I would say had about 500 people total?? The power went out when it rained and naturally the power went out for the entire town. It was creepy to lean out over the edge of balcony and see a whole street void of lights or people. Also out in the Mixteca were the wild iguanas! Honestly, I don’t think they were iguanas, but there were huge and sooooo fast. The picture I got is horrible b/c they won’t let you get close to them at all. Up to four feet long and gone in a flash. Also notable were white butterflies the size of your hand and these weird, somewhat translucent red dragonflies.
The first night we were there we got to check out a some horse races that were happening outside of town. The horses didn’t appear very well-behaved, which makes me wonder how well they are treated, but oh well. On a side note, everyone there stared at me the entire time.
Two more Puebla notes: first was a dish called chile en nogada, which is something served around Independence Day in Mexico (16 de Septiembre) and happens to come from Puebla. Here we’ve got a pepper, stuffed with goodness, and topped with a walnut sauce, parsley and pomegranate, which symbolizes the colors of the flag. Below is myself perched over one:
Also, since I’m now such a pro videographer, here’s another video of the Rosario Chapel downtown, which some like to call the most beautiful chapel in the world. I thought it a tad garish, but we all know us from the States are known for subtly and class:
Anyway, soon “the wind started to blow again” and I was ready to leave Gabriel and working for him in Puebla. Oaxaca was the next stop because I had heard so much about it sooooooo I guess it was last Wednesday morning I got up and took a bus four hours south to Oaxaca. On the bus they showed (with Spanish dubbing) Mr. Banks (the recent one about Mary Poppins? Isn’t it called that?) and Diana, about the life of the Princess, which I missed even coming out. Though I know both of those stories somewhat, you would be surprised to know how much you can follow a movie w/o understanding any of the dialogue.
Got to Oaxaca and paid money (so painful!) to stay somewhere for the night for the first time here. If you travel make sure you Couchsurf! It is the way to go and it’s FREE!!!! Among just a few hosts I have one badass life-long friend (tipped hat to Fessenden) and one girl who was the closest I have gotten to someone I would want to marry in a long time (¡adiós Olgaaaa!). Anyway, the hostel has an awesome vibe right off the bat! Cool people from all over the world there. In the bed next to mine were two girls from the UK who I spent the night stomping around with. One was named Robin and the other, who I kind of hit it off with, I can’t remember her name, and yes, I feel like a jerk for it.
That night, among beer and smoke, everyone from the hostel (who is social) met up on the roof for chatting about this and that. Two bearded, chill looking dudes from Canada sat down and I found out they had driven all the way down from Nova Scotia and were headed to Argentina. I jokingly invited myself to get in the car for a few cities south and they said why not? The next morning I found myself shoved into the back (they had ripped out the two seats for more room, so I just created one out of sleeping bags) of their ride headed south. I actually really liked those two girls and was looking forward to another day of chilling with them, but this seemed like a pretty good deal.
Is this thing getting too ramble-on??? I feel like I’ve been typing forever. Anyway! Their names were James and Jonathan and I parted ways with them just this morning. 4 days of about 500 miles and complete debauchery. These guys were partiers and I had a solid time with them, but was glad to be off on my own again, away from the vices we all know I don’t need anything of. I forget the name of the small town we hit at the end of a day of driving away from Oaxaca, but we stayed in the worst hotel you have ever seen and hit Tuxtla the next night, stayed in a hostel that seemed like a palace after the previous night and finally landed in San Cristobal last night.
I forgot! On the way out of Oaxaca we stopped at Monte Albán, which is another ruins site. We’ll let the pictures speak for themselves on this one:
WOAH! This one was kind of long. But I like the videos thing, so I am going to try and make a few for each post. I’m a little embarrassed I had that camera for the better part of six years before I realized one can make videos on it. I’m a bit of a late-bloomer in lots of areas though.
Also, let me end on a video of some pretty sweet drinks prepared for us in San Cristobal. And yes, that’s the smoke alarm going off in the background as he lights them on fire:
That’s it! Tomorrow I will be in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, which will be my first border cross. There I would like get hooked up with a immersion program and get a little more serious than I have been with Spanish. I have picked up tons, but I really want to do this, so I need to put my head down a little more.
More to come!