A unexpected romantic date in Paris

Versailles

Paris, you are beautiful to behold. Looking at the reflection of the Eiffel tower in the water, as the fireworks lighted the sky to the left. We took the metro early enough for us to find the places that were mentioned to us by locals. 
Getting to the metro was fun, it was packed with people and many were standing up. The exit for the tower was closed and we were taken to the next station where human herds were moving towards the most famous monument of France.
The streets were closed and full of sexy French men in cops uniforms. I wonder where they got hundreds of very fit and good looking guys to fulfill the security needs of the city during the most pedestrian traffic in the city center. 
We made it close to the tower, but realized it was not where we needed to be. It was time to cross the canal and head towards the two museums that frame the tower and have the fireworks right in front of it. We saw the multitude of people seating there, about 3thousand gathered in a small space, I danced and skipped myself towards the middle where i found a place to seat. But there was something wrong with the location.  Camera-wise not a good location, since the light of the fireworks would overwhelm the tower and only the fireworks will show up. Unless the camera has the settings that are needed, and the person knows how to use them. We moved on, as Thad went back to the bridge where we thought the view and access to good photos would be at, I bought some baggets (very French of us) and got us a nice white wine. I went towards the bridge and found Thad, in a perfect spot, where we could have a small picnic. Meet a Australian couple, traveling for 3 months before school started. It was great conversation.
We sat and enjoyed the baggets and wine, we talked. Thad had picked a perfect area. 
A kiss as we stood under a bridge, over a water channel, with the lighted Eiffel tower in one side and fireworks on the other. 
A date in Paris.

Angela Arvizu

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Paris Metro

The metro is known for its high pace, high mobility and high price, sometimes too high. 
Looking at the people that are in the subway, you can see there is something wrong. Women holding their bags with both hands to their chest, men making their personal space. People looking sideways. There, in the subway underground are people that are supported by a low moral system.
As the people grapple their purses and look at strangers with untrustworthy eyes, I consider the social implications of why is this is still happening, specially in this high tech, low forgiveness society. 
Yes, we were robbed, a wallet taken from us by a child and older lady. Who is there to trust? 
More and more you can feel the stress and distrust of people. 
As I traveled through more cities with metro systems, I realize that Paris is the one place the government is not willing to touch. A delinquency supported by the government.
Why am I making such a claim? 
Government cares about money, mobilizing money. Money in the metro is mostly stolen from tourists, the money will still go into the community, and all of it utilized within the city. Why would they want to stop this? Is the tourists that are not important, since they will keep coming to one of the most popular destinations for tourism in the world.
Why are they supporting them? 
By doing nothing, they do some paper work, but that is all. Where are the cameras, where are the undercover cops. The force of the government in Paris is weak, and shameful. Why don’t they look into many other systems in different countries that work, that are free of this kind of metro terror. 
Paris government turns its head and degrades the quality of their people.

Paris city: 8 +
Paris people ( some other French too, thanks captain):  2-

Hope my next visits will make me think of this city in a different way, one can always hope.

Angela Arvizu 

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Paritian Water Fountains

Paris has created a path for healthy living, even in the worst circumstances, a person is able to acquire clean water. Water fountains are located around the city, a constant water source of clean water for all.
Water should be something that is given freely to all human beings. Counties and cities should have a similar system design to provide a basic necessary human need. 
The fountains were made of metal, dark green in color, cold to the touch, and high up. 
Someone, sometime made a decision that was for the people, for the community. A community action that is for the benefit of health, well being, and a healthy population. 
Paris city, thank you.

Angela Arvizu

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Welcome to Paris

 

Without a plan, an airport might seem overwhelming. It seems we have shown up at the busiest time for Paris, also since is busy it becomes more expensive. We got the metro pass and we went on to find the place where we will sleep that night.
I won’t go into details, but it ended up with me having to go and mediate the situation. At that time I was impressed at my self. This first time was only the beginning, the last night we were there became a 3 hour project, that ended in success.

Paris, you are beautiful. Your architecture is spectacular, transport, community areas, water fountains. You have it all. 

French people, minus a few of exceptions, left a lot to be desired. I  haven’t been through the whole world, but so far I feel there are more than just a few good French, I just haven’t encounter them. 30 not so good French  against 3 awesome ones.
Stealing, lying, scaming, discriminating, the list goes on. I’m disappointed in how blunt the negative side of the Paris population is. 

Angela Arvizu 

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Sao Miguel in one day

The plane lifted off, we could not stop looking though the window, seeing the expanse of the sea, no longer lacking the knowledge of what it meant to be there, in one of those sail boats floating in the blue water. 
We exclaimed in awe about how fast we were moving. Thad did the calculations, for every hour on the boat, it was a minute on the plane. I felt like a little kid of the first time in an airplane, i had forgotten what a luxury and revolutionary invention the plane was. 
The Azores islands would appear and disappear. Leaving behind unexplored land that made me feel a sense of loss. 
One island, Pico, raising from the sea and showing a beautiful volcano, Punta do Pico. Similar to the island called Ometepe, located in the middle of a lake, in Nicaragua. In this case it is in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. 
Sao Miguel, our first city, somehow we found ourselves next to the docking port where we might have stopped. Beautiful city, and a nice hostel to sleep in. They separated the girls and the guys, and we met a couple that spoke English, I think she was from Portugal and he from the UK.  Got up early to get the bus to the airport. 
Next stop, Paris.

Angela Arvizu 

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Leaving Flores

Hitching the last ride from Lajes to Santa Cruz allowed us to meet a local man. He drove a work vehicle, and we packed ourselves in like sardines. He spoke little English, but we were still able to communicate. He stoped at the store and got us a cold drink and some other drinks for workers at a site about a kilometer away. He was happy and proud, the kind of man that has build his empire with his two hands, literally since he had a garden, house, 8 cows and still worked construction.  
The hotel we stayed in was next to a man made beach, we’re many went to socialize, show their styles, new swim suits, hats and muscles also a place to get into the cold, very cold sea. Beautiful girls laying on the concrete, hoping for a tan. Men posting and flexing attempting to call attention. Children jumping into the water and playing. There were also jelly fish that were taken out with a long handle basket. The jelly fish were so cool looking. We had fun, stretched, swam and enjoyed the last day in this paradise of an island that we were stranded in. 
Time to go to the airport. 
Next stop, Sao Miguel

Angela Arvizu 

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Flores bench

Flores 

During the first 20 minutes walking around the city of Lodges, I had found the place where I knew I had to seat. This place called to me, and I would desire it every time we would go by it. I’m finally here, to my back the church, to my sides cannons overlooking the water and the ship yard. Yes, it’s beautiful.
Flores, doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed by touristic influence, and the tourist that come, tend to follow a schedule….. I suppose I’m trying to synchronize many things and over all my overview is failing.
Life takes unexpected turns, I feel like I have many more turns, not unlike a path through a mountain pass. The mountain passes might show you long stretches of the road you are taking, or only a few hundred meters. My favorite might be when you are looking at a beautiful mountain overlook, where you can see on the opposite mountain a small stretch of the road. 

Angela Arvizu

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Stranded in Flower Paradise

Have you seen the movie “Cast Away”? It was nothing like that.
Cascades, hikes, long refines, cow pastures with perfect green grass, bunnies jumping, butterflies, flowers and more flowers, rows of flowers, on the hill, on the side walk…. Flowers.

European style houses, rock padded sidewalks, canons overlooking the harbor, artistic clean public bathrooms, gardens, rocky beaches, rock walled mazes through cow fields, streams of green, mazes made out of rocks, rock walls 400+ years old, white paint, red roofs. All of it highlighted with more cascades and more flowers.

People, Portuguese, open arms, warm welcomeness, well tended gardens, social gatherings during the night, one euro beers, open supermarkets at 12, siestas, gossip, strangers, picking up hikers, workers, retirees,  Germans, Finlanders, Portuguese, Flores born and raised, personal waterfalls, being called “the Americans”, weekend social free lunches, male defined areas, beautiful librarian, hard working men, good looking truck driver with gentle eyes, young full bloom woman showing her beauty under a new hat and wearing a bathing suit, hotel hosted with a business ethic, policeman giving us a ride at 11 p.m., retired German couple, young German couple, construction worker, government official from Laredo, couple from the super store, getting a ride due to groceries, ridding with a dog,  amazing views after a long hike and some wine.

Horse with sobbing bottom lip, chained dogs, frazzled kitties, cute kitties on a wall, dog protecting kittens, kitty in the middle of the hike, working horse, cows with legs tied, black sheep in company  of bleach white sheep, goats, baby goats, different style goats, jumping bunnies, dead bunnies on the road, dead bunnies by poison, I ate bunny in a restaurant.

Flowers, dark blue, light blue, every shade of blue, purple, pink, yellow, alive and dead, cut, fallen, blooming…… Just too many to continue.

The emotional side might need to be a bit more descriptive. 
Scammed, by an individual that  will martyr himself into death. 
Angry, at not leaving before, and at defending him thought out our voyage. 
Disappointment, at myself for not telling our captain how we knew of how poor he spoke of us. His attempt to look better and his need of petty from strangers, .
Acceptance of the fact that we had been stranded.
Relief, at knowing the next two weeks will be comfortable and fun.
Surprised, at the fact that I could again be a female, sexy, and comfortable with my body without the previous judgement. (I was unable to express myself, I felt……uncomfortable.) 
Active, let’s get ready to stay here attitude, let’s get a place to live.
Friendly backpacking mentality came back.  I started asking individuals for information and help.
Proud about asking strangers for assistance until we found our new home.
Ecstatic, at the long shower, clean clothes, and beauty to come.

Beauty and purpose. 

Angela Arvizu

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Letter to self

Angela,

Not every one can get along, there are limits. Even the most sociable person you know has told you they have limits. Striving to make every one happy won’t make every one happy. Remember what your mother told you about victims? Nothing ever ends well. Remember the signs of victimization? It creates chaos. 
At times you will be wanted, other times unwanted, either way someone gets off. 
Finally, causation. 

Angela Arvizu

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Letter to my Captain

Mr. Captain

You speak poorly of your wife, and women in general. You are running from the education that your parents, brothers, sisters, and wife have. You live in a small life called Captain. Out of your 7 passengers only one stayed, the newest one. 
One way communication is no communication at all. 
You have to respect degrees and scholastic  achievement, it takes true dedication and years to achieve. 
I suppose you will still run away, heading to the sea, where no one gives you a different opinion and you only know people for short periods of time, just long enough for them not to  know the true you. 
A shobanistic  man doesn’t know the other half of himself. A little man for a little boat. 

From:
Crew member

Angela Arvizu

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Two weeks traversing the Atlantic

Two weeks at sea 

It took two weeks to get to the Acores, Portugal. During the first week, all was calm and pleasant, but it seemed that people stated to separate into two groups. Our captain seemed a little too enthusiastic to do everything. Taking long hours steering, and tacking by himself, putting the sails up and down without saying anything, or asking for help.
It was interesting to see how almost sneaky he was about it. Quite pleasantly letting us steered when there was no wind, and in the moment he will start steering 3 minutes later after he realized how hard it was, he would turn on the motor. Once his shift finished he would tell the next person, that they were using too much gas and turn it off, making them  steer in a no win situation.
I don’t know how many times I offered for me to take his place at the wheel, but he rarely would say yes. But would always sheepishly ask another crew member to please help him out.
It felt like I was being setup on something. I supposed I realized my predicament when the bacon was cooked. The bacon had stayed in the fridge for a long time, maybe due to knowledge  that if you cooked it, you would be the bad guy FOREVER. At last the bacon could wait no longer and our captain cooked it. Strangely enough he served me, but served no one else. He quickly gave me the bowl with smash potatoes and the bacon  underneath it. I got nervous and realized there were 3 pieces of bacon in my own bowl, and got really scared. I went to the kitchen where two other people were serving themselves and asked if people had enough bacon. There wasn’t enough, so I took out one and gave it to Marc and said that there were more on the bowl on the kitchen for the other person, but to leave one for Thad.
I felt scared, for two reasons, if he was being nice to me, the fact that I was scared of his niceties is not a good sign. Second, if he was setting me up, he could say how I put so much bacon on mine and possibly how he only had one pice or maybe even none. In one word, unconfortable.
His constant battering of other people made me angry, maybe because I was the only other person that understood Spanish. His indirect battering about us made me at one point even clap at what he was saying. I had seen this before, in Cuba. Our captain becoming the supposed victim of 3 (starving) americans.  Cuba should have been the first clue that he would play the victim. What else could I do?  

Once we reached the Acores, the jokes about being stranded here started. I supposed we knew he was just on land long enough to check that all the money was wired to him.  

Jokes became reality. He sailed without us. We were stranded in a flowery Paradise. 

Angela Arvizu

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Run Angela Run

As Thad and Marc left for the city, I was finally able to go for a run. I was so exited that I didn’t realize the distance between San George and Hamilton. For the first 2/3 of the run about 18-20 kilometers, it was amazing. My legs acked in all the right places, my mind was at peace, my heart pumped strong and healthy, I missed the ability of being mobil. I miss the world of the living. And I run though the world of the dead, passing though a cementery and remenecing my runs towards the university crossing the big cementery. Nothing like a good cementery run.
As I continued I realized I was low on energy and also low on water and time. My run became too long 5 kilometers before my destination. I walked and fast walked for the rest of the distance. I made it to the bus station at 5:36 p.m. and Thad had left in a bus at 5:32 p.m.
I had to talk myself into walking to get something to eat, so I went to the surpermarket, where they have an array of meal choices for a very cheap price of 9 Bermudan dollars per pound. The cheapest thing around, I also think the best. The walk to the park where I was planing to eat felt like a super slow marathon. I finally made it, took my shoes off and looked for the first time at all numerous blisters. The where quite a few of them and I sighed at the relief that I didn’t stop until I had food with me. I ate slowly, watching all the people walking though the main street, heading to expensive restaurants painted in pastel colors. The locals didnt know what to make of me streching my legs and feet, while the tourists didn’t really cared.
Steamed vegetables, a bit of meat, and some salad.
I acked all over and it felt so good, and I had the best meal ever. It was all good.

Angela Arvizu

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Bermuda

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The small chaos that comes with docking after a long voyage is fun, knowing that we will touch unmoving land mass is always a very exiting experience. We are ready, and the place looks unreal. We stay behind while the captain anchored the boat, the guys were planing to help him do all of this but his insistence that they should stay was too good of an offer to pass up. This action might have cost us. We didn’t anchor on the harbor because it cost the captain 45 dollars per day. This would have been 3 days of comfort, or a lot of adventures in the dingy. Dingy it was.

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The White Horse was the first restaurant we ate at. Expensive doesn’t even explain this island, super expensive might. Lucky for us, this was one of the cheaper places. Even more lucky, Scott treated us to dinner. Finally we are on land and have food, the view, the atmosphere, the full belly and life is good.

We checked out some of the beaches, and learned the bus system. I started to count the people running, and there weren’t many. My body desired to run, and run.

The island was borderline creepy in that it felt like it had too many arrangements, and structure. British-American- semi Caribbean, aalthouugh they made sure of separating themselves from the caribe. And of course the Bermuda shorts with long socks, used appropriately, very sexy. Blue and turquoise waters, populate by small quantity of locals, or hundreds of cruise friendly people. At one point we sat down at a coffee shop with an incredible 20 minute free Internet access, and nest to us were a couple from Utah. It felt unusual to meet some one else from Salt Lake City, after so many months traveling and finally meeting one, it felt unusual.

They had a festival and we were able to enjoy their local dances, food and the free entertainment of tourist watching, courtesy of the nick-nack shops, providing the consumeristic fix. The next day we went to the airport to say good bye to Scott and pick up Marc. It was sad to see him leave, I really like his personality. We had such amazing times with him, but he was going back full of plans.

Welcome to Bermuda a.k.a. Candy Land.

Angela Arvizu

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Arriving to Bermuda

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There it is, in the distance, a beautiful green and white scattering of land. We saw a few ships leaving Bermuda, a military ship with a helicopter on the back. Today was one of the few days I felt comfortable taking off my top, and enjoying the sun without the worry of tan lines. These days are rare, and I take full enjoyment in this. Land, beautiful beautiful land.

Angela Arvizu

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Shade

Costa Rica The hottest week of year is upon us, landing hard on our sweat glands. The heat takes shape on the hot pavement, like a mirror being elevated to the sky to remind you of the sun’s power. Around us, date palm trees mocking the heat and your senses by displaying human alined trunks of more than a meter width. Above them, the 4 + meter long leaves create an inviting shade. Unnatural and beautiful, and at the moment impossible to reach by wiggles. Longing for shade while surrounded by it is a new experience for me. Angela Arvizu

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Costa Rica

Costa Rica Smooth road and palm trees, introduced the visual numbness of green, identifying it as nature. The time passed and from the road, I see a factory in the distance blowing smoke. The new visual input provided an alternative mental set of emotional states. The dislike of industrialization and pollution brought strong feelings of disapproval, humans destroying the world. As we approached the factory, the sweet smell of date production overwhelm my olfactory sensors, changing my already bipolar mental state to one of smell infused desire to inhale more of the sweet smoke. Delight was heard from 5 expressive mouths in the car. The drive continued on the well paved road, with perfectly aligned palm trees, the numbing feeling of nature, created by man. Angela Arvizu

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Panama Canal

Seconds pass across the Panama Canal, no warning was given, no signs on the road, no outlook for enthusiastic tourists and no pedestrian cross way. For the locals, this is just a passage to work, home and life.

Angela Arvizu

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Belize & Mutant Fireflies

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As we laid down to sleep, we opened the the screens surrounding us, leaving the world outside open to our eyes and closed to the night-bound critters. As we relaxed and admired the sexual dance of the light night bugs. I felt was Thad’s  body tense with an exclamation of awe and admiration. As I looked to his side, I saw something that I will consider unnatural and impressive, a lightning bug shining in all its splendor . The lightning bug surfed the air like an acrobatic plane, its light on without stoping. It passed his window and went to the front of Wiggles, where we could no longer see it. As the lighning bug appeared on the other side of the window, we could see it was still “on” and strong, below it you could see the illumination  of the ground, a natural flashlight. The lighning bug traveled as the alpha it was, and we cheered him on.

Angela Arvizu

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The Life of Oranges

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After 4 cloudy days, we find ourselves siting in the middle of an orchard of orange trees. I look out the side door  into the trees displaying the life cycle of the orange. The budding young deep green fruit usually acompanied by a few sibilings sprout from the stems of the best suited branches and grows to become a yellow and green fruit that is just right for harvesting, the fruits that matured on the tree become the perfect target to the incredible number of birds that roam the orchard. Birds delight in picking the fresh mature fruits. Some of the fruit will fall aided by gravity and become the food of bugs and other land creatures. The fruit will become a reddish, then brown, and finally display a deep black color of total decay. The loud birds sing during the early hours of the day. The sometimes uncoordinated song of the birds have a base of a woodpecker and distant hum of cars passing on the freeway that heads towards Tikal. Tikal is our next destination, it’s only 9 am and is already hot.

Angela Arvizu

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Sandy Fun

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The beach called Chachalacas, a well known spot in the North of Veracruz, sandy beaches, huts selling sea food and blue warm water. After a wonderful run, we encountered the sand dunes, they were calling out to us to run on them, to disturb the smooth pyramids made of sandy fun.

Angela Arvizu

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Cliff Jump “Nemesis”

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Rainy days are very beautiful, and most of all, cool. Rain also cleans the leaves making the green of the plants become more brilliant and alive. On one of these rainy days, I meet my nemesis and, consequently, learned some lessons. Here is the story:

The 25 foot jump was something I had done before, even higher jumps… I have done those with little  hesitation.  My nemesis (the 25ft jump) must have called unto the rain gods and told them to drop cold, cold rain. I found myself shivering even before getting into my swim suit, then, as I was soaked by the rain, my body went into survival mode. It said, “If you jump, WE WILL DIE”. I stood at the edge attempting to jump, my body and my will competing – body and mind moving in different directions.

I had to work myself into it, starting with a 4 footer, 7 footer and then finally my successful nemesis jump. My body was sure that if i jumped into the water I would get even colder than I already was. Lesson learned is that if you are already very cold, you will have a harder time getting into running water.

I jumped from my nemesis multiple times thereafter, just to assure my mind that it had won, and to teach my body of the block it had, I pushed myself to jump from it over and over again, cold or not cold.

Nemesis, I conquered you.

Angela Arvizu

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Real Mexico you say?

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The use of the phrase “Real Mexico” was coming out of my mouth enough times to make me stop counting. The more I used the phrase, the more I realized I had not asked myself the original question. What is “real Mexico?”

These are my thoughts concerning the question:

Metropolitan area, covered by smog, with an air of wild freedom, modern cars and attitude. Metropolis of twisted commercialism and attitude of action, and a not forgotten memory of class separation.

Towns encountered between metropolises inspired by the touch and solidarity and sociality, where the people know each other and vendors stay on the middle of the street during the hot hours of the day selling pineapples, mangos, fruits with a relaxed sellers’ attitude – a catwalk of advertisements and dead commercials of things from the past and political propaganda. Hidden natural spots where the moon shines inside cenotes, through palm trees or the sound of waves where lovers loose themselves at the tune of nature. Islands, cascades, cenotes, sand dunes, city lights, trash, city buildings, cathedrals, dogs, cats, music, color, rain, sun, waves, vendors, children, mennonites, asians, fat tourists, pyramids, hitchhikers, street food, cannot be condensed to “real Mexico”.

Do I have the right to simplify all of what Mexico is? If attempted, I would still fail and miss completely what “real Mexico” is.

Angela Arvizu

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“Doggy Bag” you say?

As we drive,  I look out of Wiggles’ window searching for oddities and curiosities. Most of the time these are provided by my fellow humans, I will write about an exemption. The oddity has to do with a dog adaptation, or something else.  This dog with its waggly tail had a heading, a mission, dismissing all humans and cars, he went on his merry way. This dog was carrying in his mouth a plastic bag containing what I assume to have been food. I wonder how he knew he could carry the bag and its contents. Animals here are much more adapted for survival. But it does give a new meaning to “doggy bag”.

Angela Arvizu

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The Umbrella

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The freedom of traveling with your home is the opportunity to sleep at random spots. The sun had gone down and we were looking for a place to park. We took a side road and parked next to tall plants. The next morning we woke up to the sound the breeze blowing through leaves. The sound of the tall sugar canes hitting against each other, the sun hitting them and welcoming us up to a new day. As we ran through the field and played, I saw an umbrella that must have blown there. The umbrella had found a home between the sugar cane. I check it out and it was in working order. I played with it a bit and found that it had a few tricks to make it work properly. Since I misplaced my polka dot one, this was a great free replacement. Thank you sugar cane field.

Angela Arvizu

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Agua Azul

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Agua Azul translates to Blue Water and the name is well deserved. The water was blue and clear. Agua Azul’s clear blue water reminded me of Havasupai in the Grand Canyon, where the water shares some of the color. As we swam from one side to the other, I had a rush of adrenaline, when I felt the waterfall dragging me towards it, but I was already at the end and only had to swim a meter or so more. It’s all good. Since the day was cloudy, we only saw 1 other male/male couple in the water. I’m starting to think that people don’t like to swim. The water was only cold for 5 seconds after jumping in.

Angela Arvizu

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Agua Blanca

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With the windows open and our humidifier spraying us every few minutes we realized it wasn’t cutting it, so we turned onto a road with a swimming sign. It was time to cool off!  It was early in the morning, about 9 or 10 am and we knew the heat of the day would only increase. We went through a small town. We asked where the swimming was at, they told us about 3 kilometers more, so we went on. As we parked in front of the place, we realized we were the first there. We raised the top of Wiggles and decided to make breakfast burritos with eggs, beans, rice, avocado and salsa. After a few burritos, we got out of Wiggles and saw people coming in, the fee was 15 pesos per person.

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They informed us of some caves we could check out. As we climbed up towards the cave we didn’t expect to encounter a 3 exit cave that took us at least 3 hours to go through. The cave had its own bridge, an area full of sleepy bats, a cemetery of snail shells, and many places to investigate.

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After a long, amazing cave experience it was time to get to the waterfalls. The waterfalls were fed directly from the mountain, an area that was flowing from within the mountain and exiting into a cave then the water would fall  into hundred of small and medium waterfalls forming rock falls of many shapes and styles. It was play time.
Right before closing, we were ready to leave. Exhausted and our hearts feeling like those of children full of adventure we headed south, thinking that this place was one of the most filled with adventure and cheapest of the trip. Dinner was guacamole and chips.

Angela Arvizu

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A joke worthy of laughter

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Cemeteries are a common sight. The picturesque Mexican style of honoring and remembering their dead comes with a grandiose display inspired by their desire for emotional abundance. As we passed through a small town, I saw a cemetery approaching. I really enjoy looking into them, and admiring the unique style of Mexican cemeteries.

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Cemeteries resemble a small version of a colorful town. The houses vary in sizes most are the size of a man or smaller. Pastel colors flash throughout the small streets the size of two people side by side. The immense amount of flowers of different colors, material, shapes and styles, are in semi-strategic locations. The crosses of different sizes adorn the top of some of the structures, like a city where every third house is a church. The shrines are decorated with a random styles of candles, some with imagery depicting saints, the virgin Mary, Christ and many other religious symbolisms.

The beautiful display loved ones have created for their deceased is for the most part found unwatched, unseen. On a few occasions you might find a caretaker or someone cleaning the family grave. There is an exceptional exception, where the town cemetery full of color and beauty was highlighted by a group of 3 men hanging out, laughing as they hold their stomachs, rocking back and forth, creating a blurred connection between life and death.

The cemetery and the laughing men seem to make a perfect show of how frivolous life is. Not having fear of death they laughed in the cementery.

Angela Arvizu

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A refreshing river shower

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Playa Hermosa, we took a shower in a  beautiful clean river meeting the sea about 30 meters from where we were. The fishermen boats, the light blue water of the sea and a cold welcoming to a clean body. Life is just amazing!

Angela Arvizu

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Nature’s Melancholia

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As we drove toward the next waterfall on the itinerary, we were able to admire the beautiful rain forest with fog all around. If Nature could speak by create scenes with emotions, to me the mountains with low fog, the sprinkling continuous rain, the fields of corn and sagging trees would be Nature presenting melancholia. The scene pulled a heart ache full of memory and beauty.  We drove quietly listening to the wheels hit the road and the water being dispersed by the weight of Wiggles.

Angela Arvizu

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The Ever-changing Meter

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We are often diverted toward places advertised as caverns or waterfalls. As we drove towards the Biosphere of Monte Pio, Veracruz, we encountered many such signs. The usual advertisement would say “Attention, waterfall 50, 100 or 200 meters ahead”. We realized soon enough that we had to ignore most of them, since every time we traveled the designated roads, after a kilometer or more without locating the waterfalls, we had to consider they didn’t exist. When we finally gave up and decided to get back on the road, we saw yet another sign for another waterfall. It said “Waterfall at 50 meters”, as we looked towards the road, we could see at least 300 meters ahead without any inkling of a waterfall, then a small rolling hill and the road continuing for at least another kilometer. It seems 50 meters is not what it used to be. I miss the old times.

Angela Arvizu

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Palenque

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Professor Paine would surely have had thousands of things to say about Palenque. I feel full of excitement to see the place, wishing I had more time to read and inform myself more about Palenque, a place taken out of a fantasy book. As we walked through it, I could almost picture the fires around the temples, the color, the smells and chaotic noise of a city at its peak.

They have only uncovered about 6% of Palenque thus far and there still are major temples and buildings covered by trees and soil. It makes me wonder what beautiful architecture Nature has hidden over the centuries. Nature, sometimes you are inconvenient. I asked for archeological information, finding out they don’t have any digs going on currently. They informed me that a new project will possibly start next year. I will check into this a bit more, the only downfall would be the intoxicating heat and mosquitos.

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As we exited the Archeological site, Thad was going to open the umbrella for me. It seems that the trick of opening it must not have worked because he was walking away with a completely overturned umbrella, a worthy project for a shady spot. Feeling overheated and hungry, we started towards a tree laughing at the funny scene.

A few of the things we learned about Palenque:

  1. The site is only 6% excavated.
  2. At the peak of the civilization, they had cleared the forests for many kilometers around.
  3. They made mortar from dirt and trees.
  4. The buildings were covered with colorful paintings.
  5. There is a building (still un-excavated) called the watchtower, this building has a small tunnel that goes from the highest point of the city to the lowest, presumably for messengers to carry information quickly from one part of the city to another.
  6. They had an extensive network of running water.
  7. Separation between male and female bathrooms. (different stone shape)
  8. The water network would run from the sauna, then on to the bathrooms, then exit. The water was perfumed by plants in the sauna, they assume the bathrooms were deodorized that way. These bathrooms were for royalty and other lucky individuals living in the main temples.
  9. Some of the reconstruction done by the archeologists is incorrect, but they did their best and it would be pointless to modify it.
  10. If the deforestation is true, then during the summer Palenque would have been unbearable.

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At the end of the hot day, we got to shower in a waterfall outside of Palenque, not a bad way to end the day.

Angela Arvizu

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Veracruz

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Veracruz City is a place with many facets. The people in Veracruz seem to cary themselves differently. I get the feeling that it’s because they have a different attitude towards life. Veracruz is the port city where Thad and I parted ways with Chihiro and Thomas. I feel convinced that their adventures will be epic. They will encounter many that will give them knowledge, time, and new stories to tell. Best wishes for Chihiro and Thomas.

After  leaving Veracruz, we asked a local  what the cool things there were to do in the area. The young man told us of a laguna about 2 miles into the town to check out. The laguna was next to a cow pasture and one cow got especially friendly with Wiggles (he even liked the driver mirror). We swam across the laguna, to the waterfall on the other end. Thad got to work a fisherman’s boat and we took a shower in a stream. Over all it was very refreshing and welcoming.

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As we were leaving the small town and enter the main road, we saw Thomas getting into a truck. He had joked about seeing us soon, but this was ridiculously soon, only one day. Chihiro got out of a second truck, and we said hello and laughed for a bit. We had to leave soon since we were in the middle of the road and we didn’t want to disturb the traffic. Anything can happen at every corner.

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Good Sleep & Encounter

We arrived at the first waterfall, it was dark so we decided to go into a restaurant, attempting to get some kind of unhealthy sugary desert. I am sad to inform that we were unsuccessful in this venture, they only had healthy choices of fruit and flan. We decided to not eat anything and go to sleep.

We parked and went to sleep, being cuddled by fireflies, howling monkeys, a waterfall, and rustle trees, and above us the stars shined and the moon created a hammock (crescent moon) to rock the night sky and put it to sleep. Sweet dreams.

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We woke up to a beautiful cloudy day and had breakfast at the restaurant, as we did computer updates and charged all the electronics we met a couple driving a car towards Brazil. They had swam in the waterfall and were very refreshed by it. The conversation was smooth, and it was refreshing to find a couple with inspirations, goals, desires and drive.  Mutual interests were shared, the conversation was fun and engaging. Thank you travelers, see you in Facebook, and I hope some time we get to meet you in Brazil or some other destination. It seems the only people that swam that day was the couple from Brazil and us. The tourists gawked at us, and pointed like we were a bit out of our minds.  I think we all should be a bit crazy, what fun it would be if everyone was the same.

Angela Arvizu

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Mariposas

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The “flutter byes” or more commonly known as butterflies provided an amazing day full of adventure.
We went to the location where the Monarch butterflies breed. Thousands maybe millions of butterflies flutter around showing their bright orange colors. I remember running through Provo canyon and encountering a monarch butterfly, as I run after it, striving to take a picture and exitedly returning to the car with a blurred picture, and a childish attitude renewed about the beauty of the butterflies.El Capulin made a fary land come alive with butterflies. El Capulin is located west of Mexico City, by taking a side road south of Zituacuaro, and east of the fountain of the “La Senora de el agua”. Yes, those are the actual directions.

By taking the back roads plagged with pot holes, and minimal butterfly advretisement or information.
After arrival Thomas and I went to wiggles roof and we were able to see the area from up high, thank you Thad for driving. As we dodged the tree branches, taking pictures of the area and small towns, we were able to see the surrounding towns. We camped at a cross roads used to guide the sheep and horses. We woke up ready for the hike towards the butterflies.

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The place where the monarch butterflies spend their winters and mate, creating the next generation. The next generation has a safe place to sprout from their cocoons and fly south all the way to the great lakes. It’s still unknown how the next generation knows to fly north, and a generation later come back to Mexico.
Walking though the highest concentration of butterflies, it felt like walking in a tunnel full of movement and color. Above and to the sides the butterflies flight created a constant hum that was randomly disturbed by “Thud” due to the collisions of butterflies. When looking down on this fluttery tunnel, it became a colorful path of death, no longer having the rhythmic hum. It seems butterflies as well as humans are not able to flight againts time.

Getting back to our campground, we enjoyed a solar shower and a fire that was fed by Thomas wood findings and Thad took amazing photographs, the fire gave a glow and the oportunity to test the camera.
Good times, good food, and good people. We left too soon, and we all felt like an extra day there would have been nice, but we headed towards Mexico Distrito Federal.

Angela A

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San Miguel Allende

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San Miguel Allende a city name after Ignacio Allende, a friend of Miguel Hidalgo.

Ignacio Allende was a member of a group working on a conspiracy towards the independence of Mexico. Ignacio Ayende was the man able to give warning about the Spanish discovery of the conspiracy and the involvement of Hidalgo. Allende rushed towards the city of Dolores Hidalgo, and informed Miguel Hidalgo of the danger he was in, forcing Miguel Hidalgo and the other members of the conspiracy to take action. San Miguel Allende is city that displays beautiful architecture, it’s busy and full of life. This city is known to be one of cities to attract retirees, and tourists.

We decided to run though the city, and Thomas and Thad discovered that it’s not allowed to run without shirts,something about the town not being a beach town, but it was too late by the time they informed us. We run back to Wiggles, he/she waited patiently parked in front of one of the busiest “Mercados”. We were glad to be back, and took the hose out and took a solar shower, between taxis, busses, and pedestrians. It’s quite surprising how some reservations are forgotten and we can live a more relaxed life, after all I feel that all humans have an excessive amount of reservations, making you stop instead of taking action. It seems I took the action of taking a shower infront of a mercado.

Angela Arvizu

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Historic Mexico

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The city of Dolores Hidalgo, la cuna de la Independencia de Mexico. I have stepped and looked out from the place where Hidalgo, raised his voice and gave his speech for “El Grito de Independencia”. As I looked out into the city I pictured the people looking up at the cathedral where Miguel Hidalgo stared back at them and made the first movement towards the independence of Mexico. Miguel Hidalgo was a year later executed in Chihuahua. The head was then sent to Guanajuato and displayed among other notorious men. This act of displaying the head allowed the deceased to became martyrs, giving strength to the Mexican population to battle for freedom.

Angela Arvizu

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Guanajuato with love

My mother talked about visiting Guanajuato and about loving the place, she said she had fun, and her attitude towards the city was something that stayed with me and was in the top 10 things to visit during the trip. Mom, you were right it is beautiful.

Guanajuato the town where multitude of callejones lead you to steps that lead though mazes of multi-colored houses, music, “roof dogs”, and a mixture of good and bad smells. The “roof dogs” bark from the rooves of houses at strangers or possibly anything that might go though their steep neighborhood. We walked the downtown and plaza, and realized that there were so many young people, some sporting the same shirt, like members of a team. We has arrived at the same time as a gathering of different states to do a 17 mile walk towards a statue of Christ and 17 miles back to Guanajuato. Their shirts sported their schools and their state, and some kind of logo or motto. Young people from all over the country gathered at a multifaceted college town. We were able to enjoy some pizza with a group from Puebla.

It was time to be trolls, in mutual agreement we realized that we wanted to sleep in the tunnels, and this is what I learned from the experience: 1. Awesome. 2. Sound bounces off the walls and there are echoes at the same time 3. It’s hard to sleep with traffic in a tunnel 4. In the most noisy times, Thomas would just laugh. Thomas laughed a lot. 5. So worth it. 6. It’s cool to be a troll.

In the morning we decided to go for a run, and uphill we went. We ran around the outer rim of the city. The views would create a fiesta of colors and architectural individuality. A very beautiful city. Next stop was “Las Momias de Guanajuato” World rebound for the incredible fast conservation of cadavers. The cemetery was being moved, and as they opened the catacombs, they realized that the bodies were dehydrated and so preserved without the need of enbouldment. No need to prepare the bodies, and some were removed after only 6 years in the catacomb. The most impressive and well preserved bodies were those of the babies, they conserved the look of baby fat and looked almost like they were asleep. One specifically caught my attention, because they burried him with the outfit of “San Martin de Porras”, sporting delicately made sandals and even the broom.

Guanajuato, the land of color, flowers, steps, trolls, mummies and more. Highly recommend!

Angela Arvizu

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La Tortilla

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Perfectly round Tortillas are taken for granted. Machines do them most of the time, their perfect round shape tortilla after tortilla, coutesy of technology.
It has been a long time since I have eaten home made tortillas, my mom used to make them when I was a child, but I never learned, specially how to stretch them with your hands. I was fortunate enough to try it in the city of El Triunfo, where we stopped to eat, the cook was out of tortillas and needed to make more. She started making the masa, I went towards the kitchen and sat down to learn and talk to Consuelo the cook and her mom Josefina. The kitchen was old style with a wood fed stove and a comal on the side, a big pan had refried beans and the other some kind of meat. She was working on making the tortillas, she would pour boiling water on the masa and she would knead it with out flinching.

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As she finished with the masa, she told me that creating tortillas and cooking took some art and asked me to try it, I went and washed my hands, and went on to become a tortilla maker. It was very hard, and the ladies loughed at me, but after some work and a lot of stress from not doing it right, I finished my first homemade tortilla, I shared it with Thad and we enjoyed it. Even thou it wasn’t perfectly circular, it was delicious.

Angela Arvizu

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My precious!

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For those adventuring females out there, I shall make a list and some comments about what I have learned as a female traveler.

Best purchases :

The “Diva Cup”, used for your very anticipated days.
I was quite scared when I decided to use it, and I was a bit shaken, but after realizing the first time that I wasn’t supposed to insert it too deeply. Once re adjusted I went swimming, and forgot about it. The device is easy, and nothing to trow away, no extra use of toilet paper to attempt hiding it. Cheaper, cleaner, and more comfortable, the only thing it doesn’t do is help with cramps.  I highly recommend it.

Baby wipes :

Can’t live without them, sadly enough you will not find your favorite brand every time, but they are still incredibly useful and I seems to start depending on them.

Sunglasses:
Even if they are 5 dollars, get them, they will save your eyes.

Sunblock:
The sun is not a friend to your skin, I assumed since I can tan that I will be less damaged by it, but I feel like I didn’t put enough attention to my body. As time passes, I realize I still have a lot to learn about how to take care of myself for future years. Sunblock was one of those lessons that I wish I would have followed earlier.

Vibrams:
My toe shoes are my little vise. I find them comfortable and enjoy them deeply. Quite a few complements about them.

Floss:
Floss them teeth.

To end this post I realize my needs might not match yours.
That takings things for granted at different stages or your life is common. That constant change or constant monotony can create a comfort zone where leaving it might require unknown, sacrifices. Unknown can create fears, and fears are usually avoided by humans.

Angela Arvizu

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Updating!

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It was time to look for a place to sleep and we ended in Mismoloya, where the small beach provided much entertainment and lots of people to keep us busy.
During the morning Thad, Thomas and I went for a run, at first it was going to be a short and sweet one, but ended up being long and amazing. We started our run  though the small city across the main street and away from the beach, as we run up for a bout a mile or more, we saw a sign saying “Waterfalls 2 miles”. We decided to run for it, and make it to the waterfalls. We run up and beat the couple riding the horses, i felt proud of my 30 year old self for acomplishing that. Once we were almost ot the top we saw a gate that made us stop and take a pictures, we were saying that it looked like going into Jurasic park, and there were signs of “Predator”, altho we didn’t  know what it meant, we continued running, at the end we realized that it was the set for the movie Predator. The crashed helicopter was there, and a beautiful restaurant that was cleaned every morning.
And  we hadn’t seen the waterfall, when we saw it we realized it was a very small one. We realized that the waterfall could be used as a slide, and the fun started from there,, a slide and a swing rope that brought some fear into my heart before trying it, and some awesome feelings of accomplishment once  i went down on it, or swing from it. LIFE IS AWESOME.
We run back a lot faster then we got there, specially because it was downhill and we covered the 3 miles or more quite fast.
After the 6 or more mile run, we went back to WIGGLES where we met Chewey.
Our soon to be guide Chewey  very much fancy Chihiro and gave us a good deal to go snorkeling.
Snorkeling was so much fun, we got to see fish of all sizes and many colors, the water was a bit murky and it was difficult to take good pictures of them. But the fun was incredible, and we enjoyed the swiming and specially swiming through the cave, we did that a few times, just for the fun of it.
Full of smiles we got back on the boat and started on our way bac, when Chewey ( our guide) saw a big while jumping, and we stayed a bit longer to watch the whales at work. WHAT A DAY !!!   and it was not over.

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Yes, there was a shower waiting for us. It came with lots of espectators, but i really didn’t care, i shampoo and washed and felt refreshed. Went to wiggles and we relaxed and later had a night meal,  and served double for the two man that were starving in our car. It seems the calorie count was low and it was time for them to fill up. We finalized the day with massages, we all enjoyed a relaxing massage and we were ready to go to sleep.

The next morning the favorite word was “Gallo” (Rooster)  and something about killing it. It didn’t know when morning was, it just kept cooing over and over again. Even the locals were talking about it,  sometimes about killing it.
We got ready and prepared ourselves to go. Good bye Mismaloya.

We drove back to Puerto Vallarta, where we ate in a street stand, and enjoyed some conversation with the cooks. Were able to find a good map and the usb connection for the SD cards. All of these errands were done much faster than we had expected. Great cheers for finding the perfect parking area.
We drove around Puerto Valllarta less touristic areas, and I so impressed and exited about the architecture, and how foreng it looked in comparison to the city where i grew up, being Orem Utah.

Then we started to drive towards Guadalajara, going torugh the Sierra Madre de el Sur, and finding amazing views with strange pines, and layers of mountains, i counted 6 layers, and was sad to know that the camera wouldn’t be able to captures the beauty of it.   Next stop Mascota Jalisco.

Niceties out and straight forward ness in, Mascota Jalisco makes me think of a black hole, a place where a figurative sense of trapping can be possible and is almost palpable. It reminded me of all those times I heard of people that were going to pass by Utah, broke down and stayed. Mascota seemed to be one of those places. Thomas found himself broken down behind the main church, it was still running but it seemed that one of the pistons was out.
It was a good thing that Mascota offered free intent and many streets paved with stones, this made this place quite pretty at first.
Mascota withs it’s energy, vibe, disposition, circumstances, wherever you would like to define it as, left us with a bitter taste. There is not one thing I can point at that would be able to pinpoint why I felt awkward about the place, we left with some negativities. Car broke, camera broke, necklace broke, and Thad and I had an argument, that although we spend much time together it was not normal to occur in the fashion it did, we didn’t like it. We were glad to leave and head towards Guadalajara.

Guadalajara welcomed us with open arms and quick to fulfill the needs and errands we assumed would take a day or more to finish. Went to chillies to eat, since we had a melancholic moment to feel at home and had the worst meal of the trip. I decided to ask for a salad, and it was the worst one I have ever had without exaggeration. The salad was old, and the ends a bit brownish, the meat was incredibly weird, and very undercooked, I left the meat behind.  Say hello to MacDonald’s, the savior of the day, it tasted just like home, breakfast was awesome. We went on to take care of  the errands, and as I mentioned before, it was fast and efficient, we were done within a few hours and it was time to look around the city. The downtown was amazing, architecturally and culturally, streets small and mostly one way roads. Walked for a bit and found ourselves behind the cathedral. We went towards the park and enjoyed watching the people of Guadalajara at the main point of gathering. We sat until dark and until it was time to go and visit Thomas abut 10 minutes  away. Those 10 minutes turned into a much longer endeavor, the phone thought we needed to see more of the city and sent us on what I will assume was the scenic route., buy during the night it was impossible to tell. We finally found him and we decided to go to his cheap hotel to take a shower. The motel was less than appropriate for children, and…… thewater was hot and the shower needed, can’t complain, it cost 25 pesos.

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We found a wall with lots of beautiful murals, and decided that it was a good  place to sleep, since it was close to where Thomas was going to stay, but as we parked and started to talk and have some loughs, the cops stopped very quick next to us and got out of the car and flashed the lights inside the van. They told us that it not recommended for us to stay there. We said good bye to Thomas and went to look for another place to sleep, next to a park. The park was quite open and had a bar called “Mala Yierba” it seems that we were it the right place and set up wiggles to go to sleep.

The next day we went back to the center and found the most amazing breakfast at a place called “Las Palomas”. They had a plate of fruit with yogurt, with granola for 25 pesos. The plate of fruit was big and delicious, we had to come back the next morning, Chihiro and Thad agreed. Went around the museum, the governmental  building, the cathedral, and the mercado, it was fun to walk around. Went back to pick up Thomas, he had finally sold the car and decided to move in with us for an unknown amount of time. Welcome Thomas to wiggles.  We went back to the center where we found the best parking spot and were able to stay there for the night. I woke up during the night, and heard the cops talking outside wiggles and laughing, saying now wiggles had two levels and there were four people sleeping in the van, and how cool it was. I specter them to wake us up and ask us to move, but it never happened, it was a good thing because I was quite comfortable.

Angela

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Sunrise and coffee

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Pichilingue is about half an hour away from La Paz, and the place where the ferry leaves towards Mazatlan, Sinaloa. Chihiro and I had to go separate from wiggles and Thad, and the wait to get to the ship was much longer from what we expected. As we waited, I saw a couple playing cards, and speaking English. I decided to intrude and see if they wanted to include two more. They were nice and had flown from Japan to La Paz, and then take the ferry to Mazatlan for a wedding, later we met a Argentinian, that worked as a veterinarian, who was traveling by car and driving to Argentina from the US. We seem to meet travelers like us, or at least it seems much easier to find them – I assume because we congregate in specific points of access or information. As the ferry moved, we saw the land move farther away from us, good bye Baja California, we had good times and good memories traveling through you. As we were going we saw stairs leading to the top, where the antennas were and where the highest roof area was. We saw Thomas for the first time jumping over the gate, asked if we could go over there, he said he didn’t know and that he hasn’t asked. I read the signs of no transpassing, and personnel only area, we laughed. A person came out if the front and unlocked the gate, Thad asked if we could go up, he said it was dangerous, Thad replied with “Ella es una curva peligrosa”, that comment must have worked because we were able to go up and take some pictures. Then on to dinner and to the cabin, we invited Thomas to join us, and he did, he is from France and 23 years old, has an awesome sense of humor. We had decided to watch the sunrise, and the alarm sounded at 6:20. We went to the front of the ship, and were readily invited into the pilot’s cabin by the same gentleman that allowed us to go to the antennas level, we found ourselves watching the sunrise from the main cabin, talking to the first in command and at that point the captain, and drinking coffee from a French coffee maker. I couldn’t have Asked for a better way to start the day. I Learned a lot from the well traveled 37 year old.

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Angela

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Wake up. It’s time to go.

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Waking up on December 26 2012 didn’t feel any different than other days. I began finishing the preparations, making sure all the last minute details were finalized. The rooms become empty and the clock was ticking. Jumping into Wiggles (the Vanagon or commonly known as a Hippy Van), driving through Salt Lake City for what felt like the last time, brought out some nervous and funny jokes.

We met Chris, and she gave us some cookies that i think she stole from a homeless person. She called them “Hobo-Cookies”. Then we headed towards Jeff’s and enjoyed his company and sense of humor. Jeff is quite the cook. For our final stop we met my family for dinner. My family has always been incredibly supportive reminding me to shoot for my dreams.

On our first night we headed out during a snowstorm. We woke up to a snowy morning with very crisp air. The view was white, clean, a fluffy. A blanket of white powder was all around me. When I kicked it a puffy cloud spread all around, so I had to clean my shoes because they were covered with snow. Being a grownup child is difficult.

The next destination was Zion’s National Park. I love the wild beauty that is painted in red stone. Red rock is a must see sight in the west. I’m ready to experience other colors, the color of green of rainforests, and blue of the sea. I’m looking forward to traveling south, especially because the north is cold this time of year.

We slept under the full moon at Horseshoe Bend and woke up to hike in 25 degree weather to watch the sunrise. It was cold but worth it. Then we started driving towards Arizona and Tucson to visit with Chris and Mike, good friends of Thad’s, and people with impressive character. Mike has a son named Chayton and he is an awesome 12 year old.

We have spent two days with them and i learned many things from them. Chris showed us a multitude of gems and precious crystals, a space and air museum, how to bead, and we all enjoyed long hours of conversation.

It’s the beginning of our trip and I feel alive.

Angela

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