A Travellerspoint blog

Off into the unknown

Michoacan

After living it up in DF for nearly a week (thanks Emily) we needed to hit the road again but we weren{t quite ready for the beach, with memories of boredom and rain still fresh from Punta Pajaros. So after a recommendation we headed to Queretaro. This town is actually where I was first offered a job in Mexico, way back when we were in Honduras, a year and a half ago. I turned it down due for various reasons, one of which was the location. Well I was wrong to discount it because of that. Queretaro is a great city - there´s not really anything especially that stands out and there are no ruins, caves, beaches or tourist attractions of any kind. It´s just a normal Mexican city. However it is very well looked after. The colonial centre is perfect for strolling mor sitting in parks (there are at least 5) and as we are on a tight budget that´s about all we could afford to do. We spent two days just walking the centre and occasionally sharing one drink in a bar. We seemed to chose the places up high to drink, as you can spend more time just watching the world go past or, as Kerri likes to do, snap photos of unsuspecting passers-by.

Unsuspecting passers-by

Unsuspecting passers-by

We did make one day trip from Queretaro, to the Peña de Bernal. This is apperently the world´s third largest monolith, after Ulhuru in Australia and somewhere else. Basically it is just a big rock to walk up. It is set in the midst of rolling countryside and has a picturesque town at it´s base.

The Peña

The Peña

A dog followed us up

A dog followed us up

After Queretaro we headed into Michoacan, home of La Famalia cartel. Many people had told us that the drug violence was bad in this state however we don´t buy large (or small) quantaties of Cocaine so we thought we would be OK. There are some ´Tierras Calientes´(hot land) that I wouldn´t visit, but then there really is no reason to. Our first stop was Morelia, another beautiful colonial town.

Morelia´s stunning cathedral at night

Morelia´s stunning cathedral at night

Then we headed way off the map to visit our friend Nestor´s mum (Theresa) in his home town. This was an excellent decision and it was great to be in a house with a mum to look after us for a bit. She lives in a place called Tangancicuaro (try saying that with a mouth full of taco), a small town in the middle of Michoacan whivch probably see´s no tourists ever. Needless to say we are already used to being stared at having lived in a town that sees no tourst ever for a whole year. Teresa is a lovely person, she made us feel very welcome in her house and gave us a lot of really great food. We ate Chicken soup, sandwiches, biscuits, tamales, amazing yogurt with fresh fruit and even had milk and cookies before bed. We met some of Nestor´s friends and made papier mache models with them for the upcoming day of the dead celebration.

Teresa and Kerri

Teresa and Kerri

From Tangancicuaro we visited an ice cold lake and a boiling geyser. I had never seen a geyser before so this pretty cool. There, we swam in a nutrally heated lake. When the steam from the geyser falls it is very cold, so it was wierd swimming in bath-warm water in the freezing rain.

About to get cold

About to get cold

Kids playing next to the geyser

Kids playing next to the geyser

Finally after that rest up, we were feeling ready to head to the beach. So after a night stop in Uruapan and then two more long buses the next day we arrived here in Maruata. It´s super chilled and we are camped right on the beach for 3 quid a night. We are really trying not to spend any money (because we don´t have any) so we are eating a lot of bread and biscuits, and buying fruit of the the back of a pick-up when he comes around. Luckily we brought the hammock with us so we spend a lot of time in that. Again, there is not a single other tourist here. This sounds great but since we left DF we haven´t spoken to or even seen another traveller so there is none of the random meetings that really make a trip what it is. I suppose its our choice of destination. Apart from everything is going very well. Yesterday we were scooping baby turtles from the sand to be realesed later. Last night we sat and watched a mother turtle dig a nest and lay her eggs right next to our tent. It was so close we had to move the tent. The whole process probably took around 2 hours and looked like an incredible exertion on the mother´s part. There are so many turtles on this beach and it seems like the locals really protect them, which is good to see.

Unfortunately there is no way to upload photos from here so you will have to wait until next time to see Kerri next to a turtle and the pictures of cute baby turtles. 6 weeks or so to go now so look out England.

Posted by lewyandkerri 21.10.2013 09:27 Archived in Mexico Tagged churches beach mexico lake geyser turtle michoacán Comments (0)

City High

Puebla and the incredible Mexico City

sunny 27 °C

Flip Flops are not made for walking

One week on and it feels as though teaching English on a secluded island for 6 weeks didn't actually happen. Yet, my disgruntled feet, who been guiding me patiently around Mexico's finest cities, seem intent on reminding me that they miss their sandy freedom and dislike their recent confinement within my trainers.

Villahermosa: A City 12 hours from Carrillo

On the 28th of September Lewy and I left Felipe Carrillo Puerto once more. Feeling older and wiser since the last time our trusty backpacks sat moulded to our backs, we sat quietly in the warm rain waiting for our night bus to arrive. At 7am we arrived in a large City in the state of Tabasco called Villahermosa. Unfortunately labelled as a 'not much to see' city in the Lonely Planet this place doesn't see many foreign visitors. Despite a bit of bad luck having arrived on a Monday when the local museum and Zoo was closed we thoroughly enjoyed our 12 hour stop over. Since suffering from severe flooding, the bustling city centre has been re-built and has plenty to see, shop and fill your belly with and the people, although slightly surprised to see white faces, were very friendly.

The park at sunset

The park at sunset

The brand new Central Plaza was a fantastic place to buy yummy food off local vendors, put our tired feet up on a bench and people watch as this beautiful park came to life as the sun went down. In front of us children frolicked in the water fountain as it bubbled and lit up in colours, while parents stole a few romantic moments with each other overlooking their little ones. The park was filled with the sound of Frank Senatra whose music played on loud speakers from the surrounding palace and as the sun offered its shade families, teens and lovers filled every corner of the park. After watching the teenage skate boarders and the break dancers we head back to the bus station for our second night bus.

Perhaps we would do this in England if we had more sun?

Perhaps we would do this in England if we had more sun?

Puebla City: 24 hours from Carrillo

Restaurants.jpg

Puebla was the perfect location for Lewy and I to set back into the travelling grove. This INCREDIBLE colonial city is bursting at the seems with mind blowing architecture, traditional food and beautiful central parks.

Cathedral.jpg
Xochitecatl, Aztek Ruins, near Puebla

Xochitecatl, Aztek Ruins, near Puebla

We felt relaxed, once more in the dorm of a hostel and we enjoyed listening to fellow travellers tell us about their world wide experiences - there is a lot more for Lewy and I to see! The beautiful colonial hostel, La Casona, gave us a free breakfast everyday from which we filled our boots before exploring the city and its surrounding Aztec ruins. Puebla is a MUST SEE.

Puebla is surrounded by volcanoes and mountains

Puebla is surrounded by volcanoes and mountains

Two Years of Excited Apprehension: Finally in Mexico City

As our bus meandered around the traffic packed motorways entering Mexico City, Lewy and I gasped, open mouthed out of the window. Lewy nervously biting his nails. I in a state of absolute awe. We are incredibly lucky to be staying with a great friend, Emily, who is teaching in the city and she has been able to show us the City through the eyes of a local.

Me and Emily, in one of many parks

Me and Emily, in one of many parks

I could write about this city for hours. We are having an incredible experience and are amazed by the efficiency of the transport systems, friendliness of the people and abundance of beautiful places to visit. So far our time has been filled visiting the HUMONGOUS Anthropology Museum, the strange art museum of Freda Kahlo, AMAZING bustling markets willed with artisanry and local foods, beautiful green parks, local cosmopolitan bars and beautiful colonial neighbourhoods lined with multi coloured houses. We still have a few more days here but I will leave you with some of my favourite photos so far. Love to all xxx

Enjoy the Photos

Here I was in the Centre this view is just to one side of me but is as large in all directions

Here I was in the Centre this view is just to one side of me but is as large in all directions


People of Mexico

People of Mexico


Decorations in a HUGE Park

Decorations in a HUGE Park


Freda Kahlo's House

Freda Kahlo's House


Mariachi

Mariachi


Central Market

Central Market


Lewy's Gran Mole Y Queso Tostada

Lewy's Gran Mole Y Queso Tostada


Anthropology Museum

Anthropology Museum


Anthropology Museum again

Anthropology Museum again


Picnic with Emily

Picnic with Emily


Us!

Us!

Posted by lewyandkerri 07.10.2013 06:14 Archived in Mexico Tagged travel mexico city puebla villahermosa Comments (2)

Back to the mainland and on-wards we go!

Mexico City Ahoy!

sunny 35 °C

Preparing to leave England I packed up my pre and post university life into boxes and distributed the useless tat among the hands of strange car-boot hoarders. I also had a few boxes which I deemed worth saving: I can’t remember what they are but I know they are collecting dust in the loft of my parent’s house. With the money I made I spent hours surfing the net, buying ‘useful’ travel gadgets from gap year websites- most of it came in useful. After all the leaving parties and heightened emotions, it wasn’t until I took my seat on the plane, breathed deeply and thought ‘Boom. I’m doing it! I’m crazy! I’m going to South America!’

looking 'well fed' before we left!

looking 'well fed' before we left!

Two years later and I still relish that feeling of stepping off the plane into a heat bomb with a belly full of excitement and nerves. God, I didn’t know more than a handful of phrases in Spanish! But now I’m at different stage of my journey and instead of Googling ‘portable washing lines’ I have been using the internet to help me prepare for my next exciting journey: HOME.

The beginning of our trip: Colombia

The beginning of our trip: Colombia

A friend gave me a piece of advice before I escaped the 9-5 grind. Be careful how long you stay away from the UK because life moves on. Travel no longer than 2 years and you can slip back into home life: traveling memories packed in a sacred box, just about hanging onto your employability and finding your friendship group hasn’t changed since you left.

Coming up to 22 months of being away, I’m asking myself what motivates a traveler to risk the 2 year limit. Which crossroad separates the traveler who always had a plan to return home and the traveler who chose or stumbled upon the inevitable path of missing weddings, funerals and the birth of a best friend’s baby?

Seems worth it!

Seems worth it!

Backpacking with Lewy through Central America we hung out with an array of free minded people, enjoying the open road. A few with a long term escape plan from the life of eternal western responsibilities and the majority, seeking excitement and aiming to conquer their dreams. The latter are those normally enjoying a disposable budget and limited time frame- and perhaps a job still waits for them at home.

Upon meeting the time-frame traveler the standard backpacker conversation ‘where are you from? Where have you been? How long have you been away for? When are you going home?’ would allow Lewy and I to gloat ‘we have been away for over a year now and we have no flight home yet’. ‘Wow that’s so cool‘, they’d say buying us a beer in pity of our budget ‘I wish I had the balls to do that’.

Having a tipple in Nicaragua

Having a tipple in Nicaragua

But then Lewy and I met some real timers. An inspiring couple that have mastered the ways of the road and showed us we still had a lot of miles to keep up. Having been away from the western grind for ten years, they are a committed pair of globe trotters with many more exciting adventures ahead. Since meeting them Lewy and I have made a plan to return full circle and booked flights home. Does that mean we were essentially time frame travelers all along- just with a crappy budget?

The Earth Lodge Gang

The Earth Lodge Gang

Well, all of those who know us well will know what scrimpers and savers we are, “every penny counts”. How it has paid off! Having worked a year teaching in Carrillo and finishing this 6 week placement in the paradise prison we have saved enough to fund our last two months exploring the lesser-travelled Pacific coast of Mexico. Tomorrow morning we leave this island. What an experience it has been! We are fighting fit, full of energy and eager to see our friends in Carrillo before we start on the long journey up to Mexico City.

I am almost at my limit. I miss home: I miss my friends, family and all my home comforts. BUT I have 2 months left as Dora the Explorer with my super excellent boyfriend and I am so excited about traveling again I shall not sleep a wink tonight! Of course we will keep you updated as we go! Love to all xxx

Posted by lewyandkerri 26.09.2013 20:22 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Fishing Fail

storm 22 °C

As you may have seen (probably not) Mexico is currently experiencing two hurricanes. There is flooding and landslides in various parts of the country. Luckily the worst of the storms has passed us by, but the accompanying wind and torrential rain has not. The rain has been at times biblical; I did not know it was possible for the sky to contain so much water.

For the last week we have been confined to our room which is sending us a little bit crazy. This island sorely lacks in inside diversion, as all of its attractions are outdoor based. So we decided to go fishing anyway with Kerri’s students. Aged 20 – 25, from small villages in the Yucatan, they had been hinting of a secret fishing trip for the past week or so. The manager away, class was cancelled and off we went. Needless to say, these guys are not expert fishermen, they are gardeners. The expert guides live on the other end of the island, where I give my class. So it was with some trepidation that we got in the boat under a pencil-lead grey sky and waited for them to figure out how to get the motor running properly.

Under way in good spirits

Under way in good spirits

It was great to see the whole length of the island flash by; it’s actually a pretty big place. They showed us the other tiny fishing communities that cling to the shoreline, made up of shacks just waiting to blown away by the next big storm. The men (no women) there live even more rustically than we do – virtually no electricity and 50 km out from the mainland. We arrived at our destination under darkening skies. A lagoon, separated from the sea by a strip of mangroves and apparently one of the world’s best sport fishing locations. The guys told us normally it is crystal clear and turquoise but unfortunately for us it was opaque at best and distinctly mud coloured. Must have been something to do with the aforementioned rain.

Fishing in the normally beautiful lagoon

Fishing in the normally beautiful lagoon

To get warmed up we began casting off a small spit of sand with our yo-yo lines. This a fishing line with a hook and bait wrapped around a reel and you just throw the hook, no rod involved. It’s definitely not what the pros use. Anyway to my surprise I actually caught something! A baby barracuda, probably weighing a mighty 2 lbs. Still his teeth looked sharp enough. After that it was time for some fishing in the boat. Because the lagoon is so shallow, you have to pole around it because the motor would hit the bottom and also scare all the fish away. It’s a very tranquilo way to get around and I enjoyed being pushed around in circles while the boys argued about which one was the worst at poling. They were all terrible, but to be fair it doesn’t look easy. We spent around half an hour looking under mangrove bushes, as this is apparently where the fish like to hang out. We cast a few times and got some nibbles but then a big Snapper stole my bait. As no-one had thought to bring any spare it was time to head back, trophy-less.

Catch of the Day

Catch of the Day

As we pulled out of the lagoon to begin the hour or so drive back it began to rain. Then the wind picked up. Then it began to properly rain, then pour, then lash. As we picked up speed in open water the wind was driving the rain horizontally. The waves increased in size and soon we were being slammed up and down in our seats like basketballs that felt pain. Luckily the route back was easy as we just had to follow the shoreline back the way we came so we only got lost once. The rain was so hard the visibility was down to maybe 3 metres at one point and the sea became indistinguishable from the sky. Just water everywhere. At one point we had to stop because the other boat had engine trouble and it was like we were just sat in the ocean, completely surrounded by waves and rain.

You know it's going to be bad when the rubbish bag coat comes out

You know it's going to be bad when the rubbish bag coat comes out

Eventually we made it back. Wet through and freezing, with the only catch of the day being my barracuda. It was an experience that only served to reinforce my belief; that I don’t really enjoy fishing all that much.

Posted by lewyandkerri 18.09.2013 13:16 Archived in Mexico Tagged rain fishing mexico Comments (1)

Worse weather than England....

storm 23 °C

I sit up from my dream. I had frustratingly been trying to do a 100 point turn in my Nan’s huge Peugeot 306 to get it out of the en-suite we have here in Pajaros. Strange. It’s 6am and I look out of the window. The sun is still hiding and the palm trees are sleeping in the hazy blue sky. In my sleepy confusion I ask Lewy “who is being so noisy in the room next door?”. He’s upright in his hammock with a torch, trying to catch the mosquito flying around his head. He laughs sleepily, “it’s thunder”. I rub my eyes and open my ears. Ah yes, thunder is rolling around the sky again like a loose bowling ball.

STORMY!

STORMY!

The electricity goes off at 12am every morning and with it goes the fan: so in the early hours of every morning Lewy and I are often sweaty, confused by delirious dreams and pretty pissed off by the mosquitoes that can now land on us. I murmur that one morning we should watch the sunrise but I am back to my sticky sleep before I finish the sentence.

Adventure in the rain!

Adventure in the rain!

I’m awake again at 8am and setting up my exercise video in our large en-suite (about 10 by 7 feet), I can’t do it outside because the mosquitoes seem to have a taste for my blood. I shut the door as Lewy is snoring in the hammock. I’m getting quite into my Davina McCall work-out videos and feel fierce trying to clench my fists, kick my legs and look mean during ‘Box Cardio’.

I look out the window as I can hear a truck coming. We live with the deserted beach outside our front window and a wild jungle track out the back, with not many neighbours I have to be nosey. The rattling, white pick-up truck drives past. My eyes set view on an image that for many represents the dark dangers of Mexico in the news (especially in the States): young lads crammed into the back of a truck, looking worn, carrying large machetes and with bandana scarves around their face and neck. But I know that rather than fighting a revolution or working for the Cartel, these boys are my students. They have come from all over the country to work here on this pretty intense little paradise that is not theirs to enjoy and they are off for a hard day’s work clearing the mosquito infested jungle road.

For Lewy and I, this ideal job, working on this paradise island and teaching English for 3 hours a day AND getting paid for it is tip top: but it has its constraints. With no electricity until night time, no snacks or sweet food or drinks, rice and meat/fish for every meal, at least 15 new mosquito bites a day, no access to the outside world and working for 42 days straight we have naturally come to form a daily routine to stop us getting bored and hungry. So far it’s working well and time is flying by! We appreciate every morning on the beach and spend every afternoon napping and planning. The evenings are spent teaching - all the while covered in clothes and mosquito repellent. We are enjoying our time but will definitely be ready to leave at the end of the 6 weeks having had our fair share of the Caribbean.

Raiiiiiiiny lagoon.

Raiiiiiiiny lagoon.

For the boys on the other hand, my students, life is very different. They share rooms together sleeping in hammocks and do not have a fan or private bathroom. They wake up at 5.30am and start work at 6.30am everyday (when the mosquitoes are slightly less vicious). Covered in old clothing and most without repellent they work a long 9 hour day in the scorching sun keeping this virtually un-visited island hospitable. They all have rough hands from using their machetes all day and a smile from ear to ear- for they love their jobs. They to work for 42 days straight without a day off, they then receive a week off to return home to visit family before the 6 weeks of work start again. I have never once heard them moan.

The boys laugh when I ask for a photo!

The boys laugh when I ask for a photo!

After finishing work at 4pm they join me for 3 hours of class in the beachside restaurant: the only time they are able to enjoy the beach view as they are restricted from walking on the beach. These boys never moan about having class and try to tactfully hide their yawns. They make the most of every valuable moment of class because for them, free English classes is a golden opportunity. Lewy and I shall try to never moan again about a hard day’s work.

My students and classroom

My students and classroom

Posted by lewyandkerri 11.09.2013 18:55 Archived in Mexico Tagged beaches beach travel Comments (0)

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