Friday, May 30, 2008


Too lazy to blog...must drag myself to the internet cafe...gah. So we´re at the beach in Nicaragua. We got here on Tuesday and hadn´t seen the sun until today (it had been about 2 and a half weeks), after "Tropical Storm Alma" (just call it a goddamned hurricane whydontcha) graced us with her presence yesterday afternoon with what I estimate to be about 600 inches of rain in about 5 hours. It was exciting - streets flooded with human feces, dead animals, more cockroaches than you can know. The usual. The entire floor level of our hostel was in about 4 inches of water, and the rain was so loud we literally couldn´t talk to eachother without screaming. It was intense. It was supposed to hit us again last night, but apparently pulled some kind of super-tropical-storm trick out of its super-tropical-storm bag of tricks and did a little u-turn, missing us perfectly. So today it´s been beautifully sunny, and I´ve gotten a nice splotchy little sunburn on my thighs which at this point I welcome because I am just about more pale than when I left. I mean that´s just not right. I am determined to return at least one shade darker than printer paper. Maybe it´ll have to be one shade darker red, who knows.
That´s pretty much all there is now...oh, we also met a man (staying at our hostel) who has been walking for the past 18 years. He´s walked 75 countries, over 75,000 miles, across 6 continents, and is heading back up to San Diego to end his trip by 2012. His name is Hawk, and he will be 82 in August. We interviewed Hawk for about an hour the day we met him, all of us sitting in front of him with our jaws on the floor and rivers of drule running around our feet. Sorry, you´ve done what? And you´re how old? Well, any acomplishments I´ve ever completed seem to have just evaporated faster than I can say "prostate problems" (which yes, he does struggle with). When he told me he was 81 I just about choked on my tonsils (granted, not that hard to do if you´ve been blessed with tonsils my size) and then yelled at him in disbelief. "What do you do?!" I yelled, "What do you eat?!" "Why are you so with it, so conscious, so...vertical?!".
Hawk looked at me. "I walk". Well, no shit ya do. All he swears by is excercise, he says. He drinks milk, no alcohol, goes to bed at about 7:30 from what I can tell, and plays tennis. And he also carries a 6 foot tall wooden staff with sharpened steel at one end. And did I mention his name is Hawk? What a guy. He´s broken every walking record in the book, and is still going. He´s been enough to solidify my guilt in not excercising every day, so I´m determined to start up again when I get home. Jeez. What a guy. Hawk McGuinness. He also throws knives.
Ta ta for now! Costa Rica tomorrow...

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Here we are on the edge of another 2 days of non stop travel...though after doing the 50 straight hours in Mexico, I'm sure we'll manage. Currently we're parked in Copan, Honduras - a nice little jungle town, lots of good food and apparently some great ruins [the reason we came] that we failed to get to today because none of us actually had enough money to get in to see them. Goddamned Lonely Planet for quoting the wrong amount! Ha. Anyway, our spirits are pretty high as we managed to bathe after about 4 days [ for me at least...] of personal stench, and this is a nice place to get a good nights sleep before our next push farther south. Antigua was somewhat disappointing, though really beautiful in a Spanish colonial sort of way, as it seemed as if the only thing to do there was to walk around to boutiquey stores and spend money. Basically if I were a rich old Spanish woman, it would be heaven. But shockingly enough, I am not a rich old Spanish woman nor do I wish to be one. So to avoid laying about all day and spending more money on useless things, we decided to climb a volcano. It appeared to be the popular tourist activity from Antigua, so we signed up for the four of us to go yesterday. Unfortunately Marcus and Travis were ill in the gut and decided that a hike up a volcano at 6000 feet probably would not benefit them, so Austin and I met up with the other 35 tourists and got on our ever-reliable third world bus. Of course we were only able to get on after the bus driver just about threw one woman off the bus because he had overbooked. But it was alright, we just fit 6 of us in 5 seats and were roaring up the mountain minutes later. I am slightly curious as to why no one mentions [even the guide book] the difficulty of the hike. It's pretty much a 45 degree angle up a mountain , at an elevation of 6000 feet, which, if you're from Portland [elevation 60 feet] makes a bit of a difference. But we held up for the whole hour and a half, me with my mouth hanging open and a beet-red face, and Austin springing up the mountain little a little goat. And he's the smoker. My life is so unfair. But the hike was definitely and undoubtedly worth it, which I realized when we came over a hill of lava rock, and about 50 yards in front of us was molten lava, oozing out of the earth like a never-ending zit. I'm sorry this can't be more poetic, it's just the only thing I could think of. I'm pretty sure that in every other sane country in the world this would have been highly illegal...but not in Guatemala! People were poaking the lava with sticks, roasting marshmallows over it, pretending to light their cigarettes and joints over it [obviously not the most intelligent humans], and some kind men were posing with a security guards shotgun in front of the lava, pretending to shoot it, etc. It was just charming. But really, it was awesome. It was nuts, and really fucking hot! The extreme heat of lava probably seems very obvious to most people, but then so does the importance of keeping the general public away from molten lava. Obviously Guatemala didn't get the whole "public safety" memo. That's fine with me, as I quite enjoyed almost falling into crevasses filled with lava and partaking in an adventure that would give most sane people a heart attack or two.
Anway, that's the story for now...we're off on a 5 am bus tomorrow to Tegucigalpa and then onto Nicragua to the beach! I'd better go, as I told the boys I'd meet them at the pool hall 20 minutes ago and I'm sure they're REALLY worried about me. Hah.
Miss you all!

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Jungle was pushing in, and here it is. In. On. Around. Jeeez. We spent another 10 hours on a bus from San Cristobal, and arrived at this fog-covered lake 3 days ago. It`s ridiculous to me to think that at one time, not so long ago, we were surrounded by ocean and suffocating heat. Now we dodge daily jungle downpours, and can´t sleep past 7 because of the birds (they literally sound like car alarms and screaming babies). We`re currently spending our days in a town on Lago de Atitlan called San Pedro de la Laguna, a slightly dirty but homey little town with lots of hippies and good, cheap food. And cheap rooms. Like 12 dollars a person for four nights. I mean jeez...that`s almost India cheap...almost.
So what do we do here? Honestly, not much, which seems to be the general attitude of San Pedro. I´m sure you´re all shocked to discover that we enjoy doing "not much", very much. Hammock swinging, guitar and drum (Marcus purchased a hand-made goat skin drum yesterday) playing, eating , lake watching. That´s how our days are filled here. Although we really would like to hike one of the three surrounding volcanoes, the stories we´ve heard about muggings and worse on the paths have deterred us from that plan, which we´re just fine with as far as I can tell - I think we get enough excercise walking to the bathroom in this altitude.
We´re planning to leave here tomorrow morning, and make our way to Antigua by the afternoon. Antigua sounds nice, still surrounded by jungle but a bit cleaner. We´ll only be there two days though.
Also we were all very happy to hear about Obama taking the Oregon primary (though I was stressing just a little bit the day before) and I have to admit that I wish I´d been there for the rally! Gotta love Portland.
So obviously spending our time doing nothing makes for some less than exciting blog entries, but we´re all thoroughly enjoying ourselves and missing Portland just a little bit!
Off to scratch my bug bitten ankles,

Friday, May 16, 2008


I forgot about this whole blogging thing. And how I actually have to blog in order for it to acheive the desired effect. Right. So from Oaxaca we hopped a bus to Puerto Escondido and arrived there at about 7 am, found our hotel with little problem and headed straight down to the beach. Marcus having never swam in warm water before in his life (and he made sure to remind us of this astounding fact at least un mil veces) was extremely excited to get into the water. By 9 it was about 90 degrees, and of course it only went up in temp and humidity. Almost a little too much heat. We spent our first day walking for about an hour trying to find a secluded beach we had heard about from other people (it has been dubbed the "steps beach" due to the 167 concrete steps that one has to descend to get to the goddamned thing) and after almost passing out from the heat and extreme frustration we found it and collapsed into the shade. The beach was really amazing (for those of you like my father who want to look it up on Google Earth as soon as possible, it´s called Carrizalillo beach in Puerto Escondido) and we spent the rest of out afternoon lazing around in the unbearable heat, relieving our poor Northwest-climate-adapted bodies with regular floating sessions in the warm, green ocean. Stupendous. Austin and Travis and I also decided to rent surf boards for an hur and go out and make fools of ourselves in the beginner waves. I think we caught more fellow surfers than we did waves, but it was good fun. We also got ourselves out of bed at 6:15 one morning and had a private surf lesson at 7 am, which was awesome. It was just us and our "surf instructor" Jimmy (really a 17 year old local who figured he might as well make a buck off of us) out on the waves. Travis and I caught a few waves, and of course by the end Jimmy was joking that Austin should be the teacher and take over Jimmy´s surf shack on the beach because of how great a surfer Austin is. Anyone who´s ever met Austin knows that he can do literally anything well, which is of course the reason I date him. (jokeflag)
Our time in Puerto was really spent between Steps Beach and our hotel, the Mayflower, where it seemed every single other young backpacker from Australia to Holland to Vancouver, CA was staying as well. At night we had little need to go out due to the constant party on our rooftop balcony. At about 2 pm every afternoon the Germans, Aussis and Brits would re-emerge, having finally slept off their previous hangover and would start drinking promtly while they shot billiards balls at eachother and listened to bad European techno-punk. Just my scene. We did meet some pretty cool people there, but upon reflection it was a bit of a sketchy place. We heard quite a few stories of robbings and assaults and one of the guys staying there got punched in the face by a local one night for no apparent reason, so we were fairly relieved to get out of there and up into the mountains. But don´t worry, we took good care of eachother and no one was going out alone.
So we arrived in San Cristobal de Las Casas yesterday morning and checked into a hostel that had been recommended by a few of the people we met at the Mayflower, and it´s fantastic. Great rooms for 6 USD a night, beautiful courtyards and gardens, and a rooftop hang-out space that we spend most of time in. I think San Cristobal is my favorite place in Mexico so far (a close second to Oaxac though, don´t get me wrong), as it has a certain juxtaposition of cultures that I really enjoy. The Mayan culture is totally inhterspersed with the modern, almost European-Mexican lifestyle. The artisan markets are nuts, the food is cheap and amazing, the people are so layed back, and it´s amazingly clean. One of the guys at our hostel described it as Mexican Disneyland, which we all guffawed at until we went walking around el centro yesterday and saw exactly what he meant. Perfect little cobblestone streets, colorful storefronts, an awesome central square and cathedral, all with a breathtaking view of the lush surrounding mountains. It´s great. And the history of political rebellion only makes me love it more, which I completely blame on my communist education at EMS.
Yesterday we were caught in our first tropical rainstorm, and I was so excited I just about peed my pants. Not that it would have mattered seeing as I was drenched through and through. It definitely took me back to my trip to Bali, during which I established a very important daily ritual called "puddle stomping". Man those tropical storms are like nothing else. The electricity on your skin seconds before the first thunderhead, the rain that comes on like a tsunami, so hard you can´t hear, can´t go out, can´t think, the sound of that god. I just love it. Hail stones so big they hurt. Streets turned into rivers. Jeez. The jungle is pushing in on us, or vis versa.
Off to enjoy my daily mango juice,

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Calabazas en mis orejas!

I´m BACK! Holy holy cyber world! It has been so all know how long it´s been. We all know how long it´s been. We´re over it, right? Yep. So over it. On to the next! So....I feel the need to apologize for the slight cliff-hanger my last blogging experience ended with. To any of you who I didn´t see face to face when I returned home from India to sum up my journey in voice rather than text, I apologize for not writing a follow-up entry. I have a few exuses I can use, but let´s just not. In short, coming home was like coming home. Like taking a bath. Like eating ice cubes. Damn good. And confusing and hard and a little lonely at times trying to figure out where and how I fit back into my rhythms, or if I even fit them anymore. Trying to process my experiences there to put them into some sort of tangible, relevant light. I mostly gave up on trying to figure out my experiences and feelings in India, and accepted that it just was what is was. It hurt me, it helped me, it lifted me up and broke me down. Sometimes I still get flashbacks to the first week of being in Calcutta, and the lonliness that pervaded my every thought, the desolation that followed me everywhere, but mostly I look upon the experience as something I will (of course) never forget and something that I will always see as one of my first great challenges in life. It forced me to remember that everything in this life, the pain, the pleasure, is temporary, and I doubt I will forget that. But to sum up the then-to-now, I´ve spent the last 4 months engrossed in making music, being with friends and family, rebuilding my post-parasitic intestinal integrity and wearing Carrhart overalls. That´s really all you need to know. And as you are all aware, I have begun overseas adventura 2 of my year off - Las Americas! The journey began two weeks ago when Austin and I (accompanied of course by my entire family and a plethora of their friends) headed south for Los Cabos, on the Baja peninsula. After stuffing our rental car literally to the roof with food, various kinds of liquor and 5 boxes of Corona (not to mention 7 people and all their required shit for the week) we drove to a very off-the-grid little clump of picturesque beachside houses called Cabo Pulmo. The 6 days we spent there were wonderful, as the most active thing any of us did was snorkel every now and then and figure out which book to read next. The scenery was breathtaking, the sea warmer and greener than the Mediterranean, and cocktail hour went from about 5 to 10 every night. Really, what´s there to complain about? (Ok, actually the fish taco stand ran out of fish a couple times which really upset everyone a good deal, but we all managed to forget that little mishap after choking down a couple of Davids margaritas.)
From Cabo Pulmo we returned to San Jose del Cabo, and after a little freak-out (and maybe some poor planning on Austin and I´s part. Oopsy!) about not being able to find Travis 3 hours after his plane was due, we found him sitting in the other international terminal (who knew?) bored out of his mind wondering why we were such bad friends and had convinced him to spend his money to come to Mexico with him while we abandoned him. My bad. Anyway, that´s really beside the point, because of course we found him and waited another hour for Marcus to come off his plane, at which point we taxied back into town to our fairly grimey hostal and set off the next day on a 48 hour non-stop travel expedition. Yes. 48 hours. Non-stop. Bus-ferry-bus-bus-bus-bus. Ho damn. And we all had one meal during that period, mostly out of choice given what was available. But hot damn, travelling like that when you actually have people to talk to? I was ecstatic! I´m pretty sure the boys have had their share of hearing me say shit like "Oh this is nothing! You guys should see Indian busses! Dirty bathroom? No problem! At least you don´t have to learn how to shit squatting!" or my many remarks on the wonders of travelling with men. I know it´s annoying, but I just can´t get over it. I feel like I have my own little protective posse, and actually feel relaxed while walking around the streets. But of course we are all taking great care to protect our valuables and stay out of trouble. Don´t worry Moms.
So after our ass-busting trip down pretty much the entire length of Mexico (seriously. Consult a map. That´s a hellofalot of ground), we are here in beautiful Oaxaca. And damn are we happy to be here. We arrived yesterday afternoon and found a great little hotel for 20 USD a night per double, which also happens to be nicely situated above a chocolate shop and cafe (for those of you who are unaware, Oaxaca is world-famous for its chocolate) so everything smells like chocolate. With the exception of the shared bathrooms. But shit, if you ever have the means to sleep in a chocolate shop/ hotel, I highly recommend it. It makes for great dreams and healthy appetites. Today we´ve been wandering the cobblestoned streets, remarking at the amount of people out and about, eating fresh mangos and tortillas, and revelling in the wonderful fact that we are here. And maybe sharing a few laughs about the friends we have in Portland who are attending class at this moment. Sorry guys. The people in Oaxaca are absolutely wonderful, really friendly and layed-back, and we´re excited to spend the next few days here. I think tomorrow we´re going to go see some ruins just outside the city, which are really cool.
I´m also having a great time being back in Oaxaca (I was here on a school trip when I was 14) revisiting the places I went when I was here, and also revisiting the memories. I was so different then, it´s great to see how I percieve it all now compared to then. If only I had known that I would return 5 years later with two of my EMS classmates!
For now we´re off to get lunch and a nap!
All the best to everyone, we love and miss you!