It’s been a long time since I have really updated anything. My excuse is that since we left the Middle-East we have entered almost familiar territory in Europe, Canada and the US embarking on a different style of travel. It has been a sort of re-engagement of sorts, catching up with long distant friends and family then driving ourselves down through the states. The days have been full of parties, conversations, open road and national parks and we have found that we suddenly didn’t have the same downtime anymore to write and postulate.
I’m certainly not much of a blogger though – no future career path for me here, but then this trip was never about the website, I left Japan to get away from that stuff. We are chasing the experience itself first and foremost and stopping to write about it, like taking pictures sometimes, means you miss stuff. I guess the site has really just become a travelogue of sorts, more independent of time than a diary. I do have lots of updates half written, almost complete to fill the backlog of the past few months. They are coming soon I feel, time and opportunity has uncorked itself yet again. But in the interim I thought it easier to just provide a simple update – a ‘this is where we are and what we’re planning’ sort of thing, which is really what a blog post is supposed to be ironically. Makes a change anyway 😉
Now that we are free of North America, time has started to flow more slowly. We are free of plane tickets, schedules and agenda’s now – our haunts of the past 6 months. There are no more close distant friends further South, we are entering the unfamiliar. The people and cultures are getting more fascinating, we haven’t seen a Wall-Mart in days and things are getting cheaper by the hour. It’s looming as a perfect independent travel storm – insecure, foreign, cheap, liberating and invigorating all at the same time. You can almost feel a travel pulse quicken. So far (and we really only just entered the zone), Central America looms a lot more like travelling in India and SE Asia, exotic combinations of wild nature; ancient, foreign but still strong cultures and perfect weather – our favourite proven recipe.
At the moment, we are in Xihuatenejo, Southern Mexico on the Pacific Coast, a small, beach town where Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman met up at the end of the movie “Shawshank Redemption”. I don’t think they really shot it here, but its still nice. We found a great, cheap hostel, (Hostel Rincon del Viajero) run by a Mexican female artist, Mali. The rooms are covered in a unique blend of Mayan and graffiti fantasy art and over look a verdant, tranquil tropical garden. The village, just a few hundred metres away over a small bridge where all the fisherman dock and prepare their catch of the day, is busy preparing for tourist season a few months ahead – lots of maintenance projects afoot. The place is quiet, but beers are cheaper than water, the food is great and while we are still dodging activity, sombrero & tequila salesmen, Mexican late night rhythms are starting to help me sleep at night.
For the first time in our travels really we are also confronting a language barrier. With the exceptions of France and Iran, the rest of the world has been largely English friendly, provided you take the time to get your local hello’s, thank you’s and basic niceties down. Latin America is all Spanish though and we are slowly picking up speed on the language adoption. Over several epic bus trips down the coast, I have been sitting in the corner, headphones on, language tapes running and mumbling crazily over and over to myself, like many of the street freaks we left behind in LA, San Francisco and the States. Megumi who has studied a little Spanish previously is a little further ahead, though still trying to untangle it from her Italian. Necessity finds a way though.
From here we head further South to Puerto Escondita, home of the Mexican Pipeline of surfing fame, then inland to the mountain highlands of Oaxaca to experience the ‘day of the dead celebrations en route to a Zapotec village to see a shaman about some mushrooms. After that we hit the Mayan trail, San Cristabel, Palenque and North to the Yukatan peninsula and the Carribean sea where we will cruise into Belize to do some diving at the legendary “Blue Hole”. Then, working our way down Guatemala and more Mayan trails to the volcano & hot spring city of Quezaltenango. We plan on experiencing local homestays and some volunteering while we study Spanish for the better part of a month there if all goes well. After that its El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama – part of our ambitious plan to see if we can get all the way from Canada to Argentina without the use of a plane! South America may be too much of course, but that’s probably thinking too far ahead. For the moment, apart from sand fly and mosquito bites we are happy, healthy and excited by the paths ahead. More than 15 months in and it almost feels like we are starting again!