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My Year Abroad

So, I started my blog last semester, that idea failed rapidly. Keeping up became difficult and there was no way to post pictures. So I'm switching over and hoping to blog, at least for the few days I'm actually traveling before and after school.
Hope you enjoy!

Diary Entries

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Location: Ixtapa, Mexico

It's nice to have one full last day. It's been great tohave had a break, where there was really nothing to do. I think we're going to go out and have a nice last night dinner after another wonderful day on a beach. Vic and Em are great to travel with. We all get up around the same time and can move quick if needed. We all want to see lots but have fun as well. We drink but not to excess and by now we're all ready to move on to somewhere new and do other things.
I'm really glad they're here. Travelling would have been much more difficult if they weren't here, and I really don't think I would have been comfortable to go out at night alone in some areas, not to mention it would be so lonely!
All I can think about it how much I was to travel and what more I want to see and how much I want my spanish to get better.
It'll be nice to get out of this touristy area, however I have thought about it and I'd love to do an all inclusive, I would just be that person who actually knew spanish.
It'll be interesting to see whats going to happen and where else I'm going to go, but as for tomorrow we have to head to Acapulco to take a bus to Taxco, a small silver town in the center of Mexico. Time to buy some jewels!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Location: Zih., Mexico

Wow, the beaches here are beautiful! Especially today's beach. We went to Isla Ixtapa, to one of Gregg's favorite beaches. It was so much fun.
Yesterday, our goal was to find a beach and lie on it for as long as we could. Clearly the goal was not to put on as much sunscreen as we could, because we all got pretty burnt. Thinking we could walk to playa la ropa, we headed down the boardwalk only to find Ken, Katie and Stef! They were headed to the same place so we all ended up treking to the beach, which ended up being a lot further then we expected.
I would love to know if Mexicans could tell the difference between us and all the all-inculsive..ers. The sun was so intense, even Ken and Katie, who had spent the last month on beaches, got burnt. Being in a tourist area is so strange and I've been trying to adapt but I'm not totally sure how.
Today we went to La Isla Ixtapa. Our bus ride was amazing, $1.50 for the three of us, and it was super easy. On the boat while we were going to the isla, there was a whale!!! It was so rare for locals. Whales in that area, at that time of year was such a shock. But It was so cool. Arriving on the beach was perfect, a bit pricey by mexican standards but not too bad. We hung out mostly in the shade, aside from Vic who was determined to get as tanned as ken by the end of the trip.
I WENT SNORKELLING! I have never seriously gone but it was so cool swimming with the fish. But i definitely have a fear of oceans and lakes with all the things in them and the vulnerability of it all freaks me out. We saw an eel and Ken saw an octopus. It was pretty cool, and I loved the black and neon blue fish. After a great day, we almost missed the boat back. On the other side, there is a crocodile reserve, REAL CROCODILES AND IGUANAS! We were all very worried about a stray cat that wondered in, we think he was fine.
The evening was just like the last 2, goblet drinks, dinner, followed by endless talking. It was funny to see at the next table 3 older ladies, there was quite the resemblance between the 3 of us drinking on the beach in Mexico and them.
Since we love it here so much we figured we needed just one more day... so with another night, another day, another beach, before heading off again. Man, I'm gonna need to do laundry soon.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Location: Zih.

I can't sleep. We got up at 7 for a possible 10 hour bus ride (which ended up being only 7 hrs.) I'm not totally sure what to even write, I'm tired like traveling can make you tired but I can't sleep.
The bus ride wasn't too bad, I wasn't able to sleep there either. Driving through the mountains of Mexico and the little towns, seeing everything in the bright sun, all i could think about was how amazing it was and all I wanted to do was get out and learn more about their culture and explore each community. The second thought was how I was actually sitting on a bus driving through Mexico and how surreal it all seemed. Five years ago I never would have assumed I'd be where I am now.
I really wish I had more time here, but I know unless I'm fully committed to making a life here and choose a location and stay, I will always be presumed as some sort or visiter. There is so much to see and so many important things to do and learn.
I found out tonight, just how much I dislike tourist in Mexico. There is so much english, that I'd rather but slightly confused by only hearing Spanish than being able to fully understand all the English. To be honest, tourist, and how people act is what gives us our naive stereotype.
Today I saw both kinds of Mexican travelers, and not even as bad as though who go to Cancun. After seeing the real Mexico, going to spanish speaking place for an all-inclusive would be hard, probably amazing, but difficult.
Gregg's hostel is amazing. We were all very excited to get here and finally have a real shower and head to the beach. So all out in our shorts and dresses we headed for dinner and drinks. Drinks were very cheap in Zihuatenjo and so tastey.
It was nice to feel at home in Gregg's hostel. Previously knowing the owners and having a room to ourselves allowed us to spread out, take our time and do whatever. At dinner we were talking about how nice it was to be in a place, voluntarily, where there was nothing that was a "must see or do" for 3 days. It's a nice change.
I'm concerned about my spanish. In Guadalajara we barely spoke spanish and here, practically everyone speaks Engish or at least starts conversations in English.
Time to pull out the spanish books and translate!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Location: Guadalajara, Mexico

Saturday we haad a bunch of things planned. We figured we had to take 2 buses to get to Ixtapa, which meant we had to stay another night and had an extra day here.
We stopped in this nice place and had amazing crepes for breakfast before heading to ******. I love free admission. After we wandered back to the church from the night before. Virtually the entire roof was stain glass. We had agreed it was one of the most amazing caterdrals we had seen so far. We had a great time exploring the streets. Since it was our extra day, we didn't feel like there was anything specific we HAD to do, so it gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted. Part of traveling I've found is that it nice just to walk the streets like locals and soak in everything to see how life is like there.
Coming back we stumbled upon a bus travel agency. We were still hoping there was a direct bus to Ixtapa so we decided to check it out. Sure enough, the guy there was able to find one, that put us there in the evening the next day. It took a few phone calls but it was perfect. Back at the centre, we decide we'd take a double decker bus tour to some smaller towns just outside Guadalajara since the Palaico de Gobierno was under construction. We went to Tlaquepaque and Zamopan, both pretty artsy but more in touristy shops of artesian things. In Zamopan was very nice, but we were starving and couldn't find a restaurant for the life of us. So it wasn't surprising that the waitress thought we were crazy when we ended up each getting practically 2 dinners worth or food, but really who wouldn't be hungry after 8 hours of not eating. We just barely caught the last bus back to the centre, but we made it in time and ended up walking around. It was pretty cool because a stage had been set up for an up-coming festival and a warm up band was playing the Beatles. After some crazy pictures and singing along we headed to sleep for our 7 hour bus ride the next day.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Location: Guadalajara, Mexico

Guadalajara has just gotten better and better. Surprising what good food and some sleep will do.
Yesterday we went to Tequila! The 2 hour bus ride wasn´t too bad, however it seemed that we walked to every sketchy road in Guadalajara to find the local bus station. Tequila was such an interesting, small town. The people were very friendly and helpful. It´d be interesting to live in a town that small, but at the same time... I think it would be too small to spend your lifetime there.
While walking to the center a guy approached us and asked if we were interested in a distillery tour. Of course we were, so we listened. (It helped he had a promotions badge, making him seem more legit :) )
I love being a student in Mexico, that little blue and white card lets you go everywhere, usually for free, if not, cheaper. We ended up on a tour of one of the tequila factories. La Cofradia is one of the few distilleries still owned by Mexicans, but allowed you to go up to the fields and see everything. It was very interesting. Driving up was very cool to see practicaly the whole town. It was cool to see the whole process for making tequila. They first take the core of a cactus plant, then they cook them for several hours. This gives them a caramalized flavor, and it actually quite tastey. Similar to sweet potatoes. Then, the cores are crushed and fermented. Afterwards the mixture is distilled, and water is added each time because otherwise the tequila would be too strong. Then it´s ready for consumption. It was interesting to find out that this distilleria was on of the last still owned by Mexicans. We ended up trying tequila from that month, 6 months, and 3 year old tequila. It was funny how hesitant everyone was to try it, but it was so good.
Later, we headed back into town to find food. We got back around 2, so unfortunately nearly everyone was having their lunch and siestas, this usually happens between 2-5 where things close up, especially in smaller towns.
We wanted to eat at a loncheria, just to say we had. The english language really influences some parts of the spanish language, so you end up getting lonches from lunch for example. Unfortnuately the plac3e was closed so we ate somewhere else. We decided there wasn´t a whole lot more to do, except for buy some Tequila shot closes of course.
When we got back to the city, we wanted to walk up to a catedral we had heard was spectacular. When we got there it was by far the most amazing catedral, nearly the whole roof was stained glass. unfornatualy it was dark by now, so we made an effort to see it the next day. There must have been a University grad going on cause everybody was dressed up fancy and had grad gowns on, which was pretty interesting. After picking up some much needed horchata, we headed back to the hostel to plan out how we would get to Ixtapa. Only to find that no one goes to Ixtapa, except by plane. We were going to do some crazy transfer in Morelia and then to Ixtapa and then to Zih.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Location: Guadalajara, Mexico

Today feels like 3 days in one, since waking up at 4 am on the 11th to now after 12 hours in a bus, my bed is calling.
Aside from the first bus being freezing and the second, however totally worth the extra $10, was sitting next to a stranger, the trip went smoothly.
Once we got to Guadalajara, I'm surprised we were so productive. We explored a bit of the plaze and went to the Mueso de los Cabanas. We ran into Stef and Katie after eating "tortas ahogados" which means submerged sandwiches...which means its smothered in mayo... and the size for 4 sandwiches. We did not finish them. It never ceases to amaze me how much mayo they put on everything here in Mexico.
On top of all that, we still managed to make it out to the Mariachi plaza for...a beer, before practically falling asleep. It was cool to hear them play, however we passed when asked if we wanted to buy a song. The funniest part was that we were all so exhusted we hardly had enough energy to talk to each other.

Tomorrow, Full of energy , we're headed to TEQUILA FOR SOME TEQUILA!!!
Hasta Luego!
*See you later*

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Location: Xalapa, Mexico

The last 2 days are kind of a blur, I feel like I've been up for the last 48 hours without sleep. I'm definitely feeling the affects of sleep deprivation.
The journey to Xalapa, as long as it was, went so smoothly, only glitch you could really say is I got chosen for a random bag search in Mexico City.
I must say, I was quite impressed with myself, being able to make the turn around from plane to bus (not knowing the area) within an hour. Not sleeping much before my flight, during my flight or during the bus ride, I was beat.... and starving when I arrived in Xalapa.
I was able to meet up with some friends and grab some food before hitting the hay.
The next morning things kind of spun out of control. While we were away our lights were nearly cut and our internet was cut. So we had to pay bills and lots of running around to buy tickets and take out money, pack and eat!
Now it's currently 12:15 am and we are waiting to leave for our bus which leaves at 2...and no, we have not slept yet. Waiting is the worst when you know you're waiting to sit for hours.
I won't be bringing my laptop but I hope to write or get online a few times during our travels!
First sleep, then Stoaked!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Location: Canada

So, To start off, I'm hoping this blog will work better then the other.
I'm currently sitting at my gate, listening to the new on the tv and the hum of other peoples music in the background. I think aside from coming home from L.A. last winter this has been on of the most relaxing times in an airport. Everything went so smoothly...
So I'm slightly dreading what could go wrong once I land.

The plan is, to get to Mexico, go to Xalapa, turn around and head out to Guadalajara with Emily and Victoria for our 20 odd days of travel down the west coast. We are all very excited, and really if you sleep on the bus and travel in the evening, we can get there pretty quickly.
I would like to blog at least every other day, just to keep track of all the things we'll do. It seems kind of crazy that just last year a "trip" was the ride across the ferry and transiting back home. But I suppose is it a different kind of "trip".
I keep thinking about how I will dread next year, and the lack of travel, for either time or financial problems.

Being home was great, but I am really excited to be back in Mexico, see my friends and start learning Spanish again...Everybody is right... you don't study while you're on vacation.
I keep thinking there are things I have forgotten to do, or left behind or have too much of, that I'm just ready to go.

So with this, I'm off to get some Starbucks but expect to hear from me soon.

Take care!

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