Sunday, February 25, 2007

Mexico City

Honestly don't know the guy in the white mask

Mexico City has been so much fun! I got a group together to see a Lucha Libre match and we all ended up buying masks--hey, it could come in handy when you're on the road. It was all a bunch of fake wrestling by costumed luchadores with names like Blue Panther or Shokercito. Hiroka and Mim Shimoda were Japanese wrestler-ettes who came out in kimonos (???), and there was a gay team who did kinky moves to their opponents that I probably shouldn't mention if my parents are reading this (or anyone else, for that matter) At last the most famous luchador of modern Mexico came out, El Rey Mistico, HURRAH! The crowd went nuts!!!! In the first round he got his white-masked ass kicked along with his team members, then went on to gloriously and, oh no, definately not practicedly or in the least bit planned way, whoop the opposing Perros Campeones (Champion Dogs) and send them whimpering out of the ring.

Then I met up with Michiyo-san, a girl I used to work with by e-mail but had never met. I thought she was probably a very interesting person being Japanese and living in Mexico for so long, and right I was. We had a such great time together! Ate some yummy Japanese food, went out on the town, and finally got to catch up on my Japanese blog. Thanks Michiyo for everything!!!

She told me about a hostel I should try, a Nihon Yado, or Japanese-only hostel. Apparently this place is only known by Japanese backpackers, and even the entry is unmarked except for a Japanese flag and a few letters in hiragana saying "ring the bell". Peaked by the curiosity about whether they would let me in or not, I went up to the unmarked door and rang the bell. The man who answered said he would let me stay since I speak Japanese, but they put me in a room with the only other non-Japanese person in the hotel, ha ha. Go figure. She says she usually gets the room to herself!

Today I went to the great pyramids of Teotihuacan (eek, probably butchered the spelling). It was hot. And I walked a lot. (lovely writing, huh? I should write travel guides with this material) And the vendor/stalkers were pissing me off. Then I went back into town and gorged on a buffet at the "best vegetarian restaurant in town" according to reputable sources (Michiyo's friend). It was the most heavenly eating experience I've had in months. ahhh

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The latest, Guanajuato and around Uruapan

Feb. 16, Guanajuato

It was Fri. night in Guanajuato, an old silver mining town tucked away in a mountain valley full of students. People were in the street drinking, chatting, laughing, blaring their music from stereos, and I wanted to be out there with them. But hark, once again the youth hostel was void of travellers. Sat. night rolled around and I anxiously awaited the arrival of anyone, anyone that would want to go out and enjoy the weekend, but noone again. I mustered my courage and decided to go out into the night alone and see what might come about.

Guanajuato is famous for it's callejoneadas where professional musicians dressed in old Spanish leotards gather a group in the plaza, pour drinks, and take the group around the windy cobblestone streets singing and dancing. I followed the group and started chatting with people, and before you know it I had a whole new group of friends! I met two Mexican-American cousins/artists from Aguas Calientes who love rock music, and we went to a "rock" bar after. They invited me to their home and want to take me out, so I might be backtracking north in a week or so. What a great night, it sure says something about putting yourself out there!

Feb.19, Paracho

The small indigineous town of Paracho (50km from Uruapan) is famous for its guitars. I met a Japanese guy in the hostel who was here just to buy one with a budget of about $300, and I came along for the entertainment. We went from studio to studio where they make beautiful handmade guitars with nothing more than a saw, sanders, some funky tools, and some wood. I was tempted to buy a violin (for about $35!) but resisted, then resisted even buying some claves (you know, those wooden clinkers they had in the percussion section of band class). Sure, $2 for a pair of beautiful hand-made claves, but what am I going to do carrying a wooden pair of sticks across Central America??? I suspect I'll regret this decision later in life.

Feb. 20, Angahuan

Being the volcano freak that I am, I've been looking forward to visiting Angahuan for awhile now. It's the nearest town to the Paricutín volcano which emerged out of a field in 1943 and destroyed a couple of towns. The only remaining structure today is the top of a church and it's steeple that withstood the 2-story-high lava flow. I splurged and hired a guide Jesus who took me on horseback (Chicutín, in case you want to know my horsey's name) to the site. For lack of words, I will tell you that it was awesome. Unfortunately no volcanic steam since it hasn't rained in a while.

Me and Chicutín

Church remains in lava

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A little more about Real de Catorce, and Pictures!

Yesterday I hiked with my friends to El Quemado, a sacred mountain shaped kind of like an elephant. The Huichol indian shamans make a pilgrimage here to eat peyote (hallucinogenic cactus) and worship their numerous gods. By sheer chance, when we got to the top the shamans were there and invited us to sit down and watch. It was amazing. They are real jokesters and were laughing and playing around at the same time they were serious about their rituals.

The altitude here in Real de Catorce is 2,756m (about 8,000 feet). You cannot walk up the smallest hill without totally losing your breath, and I wake up in the night sometimes panting.

I put up pictures! New shots of Copper Canyon and Zacatecas/Real de Catorce!

P.S. Thanks to everyone who voted in my polls! I was shocked to find out that the majority of my sweet friends and relatives are sick heartless spider killers! I will also make sure to get a BIG apartment in Hawaii for all to visit! I'll put up new polls as soon as I think of something interesting to poll about. Until then!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Real de Catorce

I went for about a week of being the only traveller around, with locals trying to convince me I'm crazy for travelling alone and quote-unquote, "Someone could rob you because your are very linda." (???). I started to lie that I have friends but they are working/I'm going to meet them/etc. Then I arrived to Zacatecas, a gorgeous colonial town with a wonderful hostel---full of travellers what a relief! I befriended one of the hostal owners who took me and another girl into a local cantina where women usually aren't allowed---didn't even have a ladies room! Then I also befriended a group of fun vegetarians who have kidnapped me and wisked me off to Real de Catorce.

It usually takes 8 hours to get here. You take a bus, then another bus, then a 25km (about 15 mile) long cobblestone road, then another bus through a creepy one-car tunnel into a mountain valley. Real de Catorce was a rich silver mining town in the 1800's but nearly turned into a ghost town when the price of silver decreased. If you've seen The Mexican with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, it was apparently filmed here. It is a magical place with half empty stone buildings and little colonial restaurants and cafes. I've been hiking and cooking with my friends, staying in a really nice cheap apartment with a HEATER and balcony with a great view and loving every day of it.

I'll put up more pics soon, I promise!
25km cobblestone road
One car tunnel
Ghost town
My hotel

Monday, February 05, 2007

Ay, Chihuahua!

I came to the internet cafe today just to write a blog entitled "Ay, Chihuahua!". Sorry, I couldn't resist. Now I have to figure out what to write about...

I'm in Chihuahua and everything is closed for Constitution Day. Unfortunately no fun street parties or fiestas for the constitution, I already asked. So far I've notice painted Chihuahua statues (of the dog) all over town, and you can buy a purple or green pair of high-quality ostrich or snakeskin cowboy boots for about $50. Now you all know what you're getting for Christmas this year.

I'm staying in a $10 a night fleapit hotel right across the street from the Cathedral on the main plaza. Good location, but I keep getting the La Cucaracha song in my head. (Ya no puede caminar---here I go again...!) There's a vegetarian restaurant right next door to the hotel but it's CLOSED, darn that constitution!

Copper Canyon Railway

The Copper Canyon train ride to Creel was beautiful, but it started raining, then hailing, then snowing...! I stopped in the little tourist town of Creel, where at two-thousand-something meters (six-thousand-something feet, to be specific) was covered in the stuff. The first day was a snow day, my luck! My friend in New Zealand was calling me the "Snow-bringer", after 11 inches in North Dakota, 5 inches in Seattle, and now THIS, I'm starting to believe it! I stayed--- more like froze my butt off---for 4 nights.

The canyon was incredible, and everywhere you go you find funky rock formations. I mountain biked over ice and mud to the Valley of the Monks, or better known to the indigineous people in their language as the "Valley of the Erect Penises". I'll put more pics up as soon as I find an able computer.

Picture of, er, Monk-shaped rock