A Travellerspoint blog

Palenque

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After almost a straight day of travelling, we arrived in Palenque. The bus ride there was pretty torturous though, as we spent the night on the night bus, which, in typical latin american form, blasted the air con all night. Since I had accidentally forgotten my sweater in the bus station, I was pretty frigid all night. Luckily, we arrived in San Cristobal a lot earlier than we were supposed to, so we were able to jump on the first bus to Palenque. Unfortunately, the bus to Palenque had no air con and the road was pretty curvy, so the trip went from freezing to boiling and vertigo-inducing.

Anyways, it was definitely worth it to get to Palenque. We took a colectivo (basically a mini-van that people use take them places) to El Panchan, an area in the jungle near the ruins where people stay. It was gorgeous - we had a nice cabin in the middle of the jungle and there was a great restaurant / bar with a cool live band, hippie bead stands, and jungle all around it. We ran into a bunch of people we had met in either Puerto Escondido or Oaxaca and ended up having a blast with them all night.

The next day, we went to the ruins and they were, simply put, spectacular. Probably one of the most spectacular sights I've seen so far, and not just in Mexico. The ruins are Mayan and in the middle of the jungle, so they are layed out on different terraces with jungle, waterfalls, and flat green area in between them. We spent all day climbing around the ruins, then checked out the museum and headed back to El Panchan. On the way back to El Panchan, there were Mexican guys who kept jumping out of the bushes offering to sell Magic Mushrooms, which was pretty funny as well.

Unfortunately, since we all have to fly out of Cancun on the 19th, the next day we all jumped on the bus to Tulum, so we weren´t able to stay in Palenque as long as I would have liked, but it was definitely a worthwhile stop. I've now arrived in Tulum, and I'll be staying here for a few days or so.

Adios!

Posted by chrisnomad 09:04 Comments (0)

Una Semana en Puerto Escondido (A Week in Puerto Escondido)

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I have to say, Puerto Escondido is pretty cool. Playa Zicatela is gorgeous, there are waves (although the surf hasn´t been that great since I´ve been here) and the party scene here is better than most places in Mexico. After arriving last Thursday, we went out and had a big night, then switched over to a 3 bedroom apartment that was pretty sweet for the rest of the week. It was called the "Hippy Room" as there were funky paintings all over the room.

To be honest, I don't have much to write because the last week has basically been spent just partying, chilling out in a hammock or on the beach, bodyboarding (because the surf wasn´t that great and I´m pretty out of shape, I didn´t end up getting a surfboard and got a bodyboard instead - still massive fun) and recovering from my drunken sojourns, so there´s not too much else to tell. The first few nights here were pretty mad, but after the weekend most of the tourists took off so it´s been a bit quiet since then. We also had our first incident of "Dangerous Mexico" when my Aussie mate got mugged by a Mexican with a tiny knife who grabbed a dollar out of his hand and ran away, which was a bit random.

Anyways, tonight we´re taking a 12 hour overnight bus to San Cristobal de Las Casas, then jumping on another 5 hour bus to Palenque to see the Mayan ruins and hike through jungles to get to waterfalls.

Hasta Luego

Posted by chrisnomad 11:23 Comments (0)

Regreso en Mexico para Ano Nuevo

After a nice week at home, I am now back in Mexico. I flew out of Canada at 1 am and didn't arrive in Mexico City until about 5 pm, and when I went to the hostel, there was no power so I couldn't check in! I was pretty knackered, so I just crashed out on the mats in the lounge until the power went back on, then ended up doing shots of free tequila and drinking Coronas with a Japanese girl I'd met named Ai.

When I woke up the next day, there was once again no power, which signalled to me that it was time to leave Mexico City to Oaxaca. Unfortunately, quite a few people wanted to go to Oaxaca as well, so I ended up having to wait at the bus station for four and a half hours. I met a couple cool aussies there, and when we arrived in Oaxaca (a few hours late) we ended up having a pretty big night.

Oaxaca is ... ok. The central zocalo is nice, but it really doesn't have anything to distinguish it from any other Mexican town (except the food). We spend a few days there, but there was nothing really exciting to report. On New Years, we went out for a fancy meal which involved fried, spicy grasshoppers and got tanked on tequila, but after midnight, most of the Mexicans went home with their families so the party scene was surprisingly boring.

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After a day recovering from all the tequila we drank, the day after we climbed up to the Mixteca ruins of Monte Alban. The ruins were up on a mountain and pretty cool, so we spent a few hours exploring them, but after that, we were all pretty much finished with Oaxaca, so we booked a minibus to Puerto Escondido. The ride to Puerto Escondido was ... torture. It was pretty much the worst ride I've ever had in my life. The minibus was fine, but there are so many curves (that the driver chose to hit at a high speed) that it was basically 6 hours of me wanting to vomit. I've never had motion sickness that bad before - if you want to experience it, I recommend spinning in a circle for 6 hours.

Anyways, we are in Puerto Escondido now and, even though we only arrived a few hours ago, it seems really cool. The beach is gorgeous and there are loads of people around. If the waves look good tomorrow, I'm gonna rent a board and get my surf on.

Posted by chrisnomad 17:24 Comments (0)

Mexico City...Surrealism at it´s Finest

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The best way I could describe Mexico City is as a full-on acid trip. It´s been that amazing and bizarre at the same time. My first day in Mexico City, my mate Sam and I started out by checking out the Zocalo, or city square. It´s a massive square in the center of town surrounded by historical buildings, but unfortunately at the moment, you can´t see the main square itself because there is a massive outdoor ice-skating rink in it. For some reason, I´d never put ice-skating and Mexico together, but there it was. From there, we checked out the Government Palace, which in itself was a bit boring, but the murals painted on the stairwell and second floor by Diego Rivera were amazing.

Also in the Zocalo are the first major cathedral in Mexico (built right over the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan by Cortez), an old Aztec temple they found ten years ago under a church, a bunch of shops and organ grinders everywhere. From there, we walked around the city some more, just checking out the buildings and neighbourhoods. That night, we ended up having tequila poured down our throats by the hostel staff and getting completely annihilated, before I headed out on the town with my mexican amigo and some other people. First, we went to the Spanish Cultural Center, which had a decent DJ but started to close right after we each bought a drink. Then, we went to a club on top of a building near the Zocalo, which had an amazing view, but not many people.

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The day after, we got a bunch of people together and headed to Xochimilco, a series of rivers and floating gardens that has been around in some way or another since the Aztecs. We rented a boat for a few hours and went sailing around the rivers, and I have to say, it was one of the maddest things I´ve ever seen. Trippy, fluorescent colored boats sailing down the rivers, with Mexican families dancing on the boats, boats full of mariachis that sail up to your boat to play songs, floating street food stalls, and all other kinds of mayhem. We even went to a tree that had a bunch of mutilated dolls and stuffed toys hanging from it, as an old Mexican fished them out of the water after a local girl drowned to appease the "river gods".

After that, we went to the Dolores Olmeda Museum, and it honestly has to be the trippiest museum I´ve ever seen. The museum is a walled complex, with huge gardens and the buildings themselves looking like an old castle/ mansion. The gardens have sculptures all over the place, with peacocks and small, black hairless dogs running around everywhere. I walked out of one of the exhibits and there was a peacock standing right in front of me! The museum itself is separated into a bunch of different galleries with a lot of work by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and one of the exhibits in a building that looks like a castle is full of man-sized skeletons surrounded by bright, fluorescent artwork. There was also another building in which you could only walk a certain way through the exhibit and you had the staff there telling you exactly where to go.

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The next day, we went to Teotihuacan, the ancient Toltec site about 45 minutes outside of Mexico City. Teotihuacan is comprised of two giant pyramids, the pyramid of the moon and the pyramid of the sun (which is the third largest pyramid in the world), a long avenue called the "Avenue of the Dead" and a large temple complex on the south end. The view from the temple of the moon was amazing, and we spent the day wandering around the ruins and climbing the pyramids.

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On Tuesday, Sam, Ying and I went to the National Museum of Anthropology, which is supposed to be the biggest and best museum of its kind in all of the Americas. On the way there, we walked through a giant park and Sam and I decided to buy "Lucha Libre" wrestling masks and started to pretend to wrestle in the park. The Mexicans around us looked at us like we were completely mad. We then went to the Museum, and we posed in various places in the exhibits with our masks. The museum itself was pretty cool, but it´s kind of hard to keep your excitement after you´ve looked at the thousandth piece of pottery or figurine. The replicas that they´d made of some of the ruined temples and statues (like the Aztec sun stone) were extremely impressive. That night, Sam and I went to the Mexico Arena and caught a live "Lucha Libre" match. It was insane. The acting was about as bad as in the WWE, but it was way more entertaining and the crowd was really into it. After that, we went back to the hostel and joined in the party there with our masks - the whole night was pretty mad.

Now, I´m off back to Canada for a week for the holidays, so I´ll start blogging again when I´m back on the road.

Posted by chrisnomad 16:31 Comments (0)

5 Days In Guanajuato

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After arriving in Guanajuato on the overnight bus, the first thing I did was crash out. The second thing I did was to walk around. Put simply, Guanajuato is gorgeous. It's basically a small city, but it's one of the more important cities in Mexican history. For one, it was the site of a lot of activity during the Mexican revolution. For another, it was the home of some of Mexico's greatest artists, like Diego Rivera, which has resulted in a lot of museums and art exhibits. Third, it had one of the world's richest mining veins, so it became one of the wealthier cities in Mexico with loads of European style outdoor cafes. Finally, it's home to one of the best art universities in Mexico, resulting in a large student population with a decent nightlife. If you put those things together, the end result is Guanajuato today.

I spend the first day wandering around the streets of Guanajuato and taking in the architecture. Lots of color, lots of interesting buildings, lots of ... churches (this is Mexico). Way too many Mexicans snogging around the clock though. After a few hours of walking around, I ended up meeting up with an English guy I'd met in Zacatecas, Sam, and a Chinese girl I'd also met in Zacatecas, Ying. The next few days were spent exploring the city, climbing a hill to check out a statue of a Mexican revolutionary, checking out art museums, the nightlife, and a Mummy museum (which was really cool). Also, on Wednesday it was the Virgin of Guadalupe day, one of the biggest days of the year in Mexico. People were lining up (over a kilometer long) to try to get into a church at the top of the hill. There were tons of food stands, people selling stuff, makeshift food courts, and little kids running around dressed up in their little costumes. Overall, it was a pretty interesting experience.

Our last night in Guanajuato, Sam and I had the brilliant idea to drink a whole bottle of kahlua (because it's so cheap in Mexico). The night started off fine, as we met a Canadian guy and a few European girls who were studying in Guadalajara, but apparently drinking a whole bottle of liqueur is not a good idea as we both ended up feeling really sick and messed up that night. Like, in a constant state of having to vomit. Even though we were messed up (or maybe because of it) though, we both ended up being really ...strange... with Sam giggling like a school girl and feeling like he was on mushrooms, and myself offering up gifts to the Virgin of Guadalupe draped in a towel... and things that were even stranger. Everybody on the roof ended up laughing half the night, but when I went back down to go to the bathroom, I ended up feeling really messed up so I went to bed. The only problem was that I was so sick that I had to curl up into the fetal position because if I unfolded myself, I felt like I was going to die. After a few hours of constantly trying to get to sleep, I finally managed to pass out, but unfortunately, we both missed out bus to Mexico City the next day.

We did manage to get the next bus, but we were both in such rough shape that the bus ride was a total ordeal. By the time we arrived in Mexico City, we were tired, hungry, hungover, and generally not in a fantastic state. Plus, the Mexican couple in the seats in front of us kept making out and giggling and acting like 12 year old school children. We both felt like taking a baseball to them. Eventually, safe and sound, we arrived at our hostel, but neither of us was really in top shape so we just ended up crashing out.

Next blog...Mexico City!

Posted by chrisnomad 22:22 Comments (0)

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