Friday, March 6, 2009

The Adventure to the Beach: An Epic Saga

So, last night around 10 pm Heather, Amanda, and I began our trip to Puerto Escondito. The bus left without a hitch at 11 for our 10 hour journey. The beach is only about 200 miles, but its over windy mountains and far away. At about 3:30 am the bus stops, thinking the driver had to go to the bathroom or take a break I got back into my dramamine-induced sleep. At 4 am he turns on the lights and says "Hubo un accidente, tenemos que esperar un rato". Translation: There was an accident and we're going to have to wait for a while. We all fell back asleep sort of, listening to people walking around outside in the dark. When the sun came up around 6 we decided to take a look outside to see what was going on. At this point many of the people on the bus (who were mostly Mexican) were taking their luggage and walking. We were in the middle of the mountains in who-knows-where-Mexico at 6:30 am. As we're standing thinking of whether to risk just walking down this road, which is stopped up with at least 20 busses full of people and 50 flat bed trucks carrying cargo through Oaxaca's mountains to the shore, two girls come ask us in broken English what is going on. They were two German girls who did not speak Spanish and were very confused. We told them they could stick with us. We walked about a mile until we reached the accident, passed several trucks and busses. Amanda was wearing healed flip-flops, and all of us were in sort of a sleepy haze. A 18-wheeler gas truck had flipped over covering the whole road. Since we were in the middle of no where, there was no alternative way around except walking. Once we got around we were able to get a taxi to take us to the nearest town (which cost about $120 pesos--pretty expensive for a Mexican Taxi), after squeezing 5 of us into it with all of our luggage, we took off for Tehuantepec. About 25 minutes later we arrived, and the driver dropped us off on the side of the road tellling us we had to then take another bus to get to a bus station where we could get a bus to get to Puerto. That bus arrived and took us to Salina Cruz where the first class bus station was. Another 200 pesos later we were on a bus to Puerto Escondito--at about 8:45 am. By this time we should have already been there. 5 hours later we arrived at the beach...but the long journey definitely made everything seem much better.

Friday, February 27, 2009

10 Taco Night

Wednesday night is an awesome night because is 2 for 1 tacos at Pastor Cito, a restaurant right near my house. 10 tacos cost 30 pesos, and with today's exchange rate that's $2 for dinner. The tacos are awesome, and you also get as much guacamole, pico de gallo, salsa verde y roja that you want. Its a great adventure. Probably the best part is when the make the tacos. They have the big piece of meat on a roaster with a pineapple on top. For every taco they cut the meat into the tortillas and then from a piece of pineapple that sits above the meat, they cut a piece off with the knife and catch it with the taco. The best part about 10 taco night (besides getting to eat 10 tacos), is you get to watch them do it 10 times. Each taco is served with pastor (meat), cilantro, onions, and pineapple.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Beach Weekend 2

The beach this weekend was an awesome break from being in Oaxaca, and it turns out we missed the "cold" weather they had here. It was about 90 degrees all three days we were there, and the water in the ocean was perfect. We tried a new beach this time, called Bahía de Chagué. Huatulco has 9 bays with over 33 beachs, and many of them are not accessible by car or foot, and you have to take a boat to them. However, when you're there on the weekend, Huatulco is a tourist location for many people in the country of Mexico. Since Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in the country, most Oaxacans do not get to go on vacation, and their resorts fill up with out of staters. We chose this beach because it was quiet and had awesome surf. The waves were about 3-4 feet and would crash right on the shore.

The bus ride is always fun, and this time sitting in the front row I could see the roads we were travelling on. Oaxaca's mountaineous terrain and poor infastructure makes traveling to this beach, only about 160 miles take over 7 1/2 hours. It is literally 7.5 hours of driving down back country roads, like Firetown Road in Granby. It got its nickname from last years group "the Vomit Comet" from those who forgot to take their dramamine before leaving Oaxaca. The drivers don't make it any better of a ride since they know the roads well, and fly around the corners in the middle of the night making it an exciting and scary ride.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Running/Mexican Drivers

Running here is an adventure. In Mexico there are no rules about pedestrians, and cars can basically do whatever they want, if that means run you over, then they will. Running here has been really nice because in the mornings it is 70 degrees, but it is very dangerous. When crossing a street, even if its one way you have to look the other direction because you never know who is coming. It is also a little tricky running in some places due to the cobblestone roads, and the huge hill that I have to run up to get home. The other hazard are other people. Its like no one here has ever seen some exercise before. Many times I have to stop and walk out in the road (where I then might get hit) because people won't move. Its sort of a every man for himself out there.

On the subject of cars, Mexican drivers are pretty ridiculous, they honk a lot, and are generally bad drivers (no blinkers, drive way to fast in places they shouldn't, cut people off, run read lights, go the wrong way down one way streets, etc.) They also honk a lot. Many times its at girls, other times its at other cars, and my favorite is at inanimate objects such as construction sites, because if you honk enough the huge hole in the middle of the road will fill itself up so they can get through. Its also a chain reaction, once one person starts honking at the hole in the middle of the road, everyone else does too--the more honking the better. A couple days a go I had my favorite Mexican driving experience. I walk home from school on a 2 way road that has a lane for people to parallel park. There was a lane of cars parked, and 2 large 18 wheelers that were delivering Coronas, leaving one lane open for people to go both ways. Two cars approached going different directions, and both advanced into this one lane section. When the reached the middle and could not move because there was no space, they began to honk at each other. More cars followed suit so there was a huge gridlock because no one could go anywhere. It was just a big honkfest.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Beach

We went to the beach in Hualtulco last weekend. Its not too far from Oaxaca mileage wise, but you have to go over mountains. We left at 11:00 at night and got in around 5:30 in the morning. It is a really windy ride, but I was able to fall asleep. The bus gets its nickname, The Vomit Comet, because of its fast speed around these mountains and switchbacks. We got to the beach and went to our hotel and slept until 10. After that we walked to the beach, like a block from the hotel. It was a nice day about 90 degrees. The beach is line with restaurants and all the store owners are very agressive about getting you to come sit at their restaurant. They all think that by talking to you in English you are more likely to sit down in their restaurant. Most of the people only know the words of what they sell in English. Later that day Tamara and I went Jet Skiing which was a ton of fun--once you got out of the bay, the waves got big so it was totally worth it.
We went back to the beach on Sunday and went on the Banana Boat which is a long inflatable banana shapped thing you sit on, and the motor boat pulls you along quickly. They also flip you over into the ocean which is pretty fun. We left on Saturday night at 11:15 and got back to Oaxaca at 5:00 am. It was tough doing the over night busses but it was totally worth it.

Here are some pictures:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Metro Ride

Our last day in Mexico City we took a ride on the subway called: Sistemo de Transporte Collectivo Metro Ride. It was quite and experience. The system is fairly new built in 1969 and is the second largest train network in North America (after New York). It also has the 5th in greatest number of people transported. It is a rubber tired metro system, as you can see in the pictures. Each station we went to was crowded like one of the el stations after a White Sox game. Chicago could learn something from the organization of the Metro, the Mexican's really have it down. Each train ride costs 2 pesos which is the equilavent of about 14 cents with today's exchange rate. Each train is like the Metro in DC, they are all automated, except the catch in Mexico is that the doors are automated as well, so you have to quickly move in and out of the train. We learned this the hard way when getting on for the first time and having half our group stuck on the platform and the door closing on my back. Some Mexican teenagers find it cool to stick their feet in the doors and try to hold them open. Rather than have the train wait for people the people have to wait for the train which makes everything move more effieciently. If you've ever thought you've been packed into a train car, this was like ten times as bad as anything in Chicago. We were getting on, which everyone does in a mob so they can make it on the train before the doors closed. The train looked packed, I heard the doors closing sound and all of a sudden I felt a huge shove from the people behind me, the force pushing me on to the train. It was like everyone had to suck in for us to get on. It was pretty fun.

Here are the pictures I was able to snap without looking like a terrorist threat:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mexico City Day 2

Today we took the bus out to Teotihuacan, home of the Teotihucanos. Teotihuacan was the biggest Mesoamerican site, and had a population of about 150,000-200,000 and the 2nd largest pyramid in the western hemisphere called the Pyramid of the Sun, which we climbed. The site is spectacular and huge. Only parts of it have been saved as the actually site, and there are many houses built over the rest of the city, but for the most part you could see it. It was amazing how big these pyramids were. I'll put up pictures soon that show them.