Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lazy days and Merry Christmas

Since the last post about my Christmas in Mexico, not a whole lot has happened, but I figured I'd put in a few words to keep the fam updated on my status and whatnot.

Days have been lazy and slow. We drive or hike somewhere most days, check out a few new sights, and spend most of the day lazing around the hotel, reading, and swimming. I bought myself a mask and have been diving around the rocky areas looking at the fish. It is really pretty incredible. I probably saw more different kinds of fish (in the wild) in the first 30 seconds than all the rest of my life put together. It's like a huge aquarium. There are even some small blobs of coral in places. One challenge has been resisting the urge to go off swimming by myself more often.

There's an old Canadian couple in the room next to ours who just sold their house and are spending their time travelling around now. The guy, whose name is Art, gave me a book that he wrote with some of his own creative scientific theories in it about continental drift. I didn't really have the heart to tell him that the continental drift theory was replaced about 20 years ago. He and his wife are both obviously very lonely, and they are really friendly and helpful and want to visit as much as possible. They're also both pretty old and somewhat loopy, especially Barbara, the lady. It must be pretty sad and lonely travelling away from your home and friends like that in your declining years, trying to see as much of the world as possible while dealing with failing health and memories. I don't think I'd do it. Better to be among friends, even if it's in a retirement home or something. Interestingly, they live in the Bridge River valley in British Columbia, where I expect to be doing a fair amount of field work next summer. Art says they only leave BC in the wintertime when the cold is hard to deal with, so I have promised to come visit them next summer when I am up there.

We are going to be cooking some turkey (not a turkey, since we have to do this in two toaster ovens, but some turkey, i.e. two legs and a breast) for Christmas and some other veggies and stuff. Amber and I went to a supermarket in the large nearby town of Manzanillo the day before yesterday and brought back a ton of food, so we have plenty of gringo eats for Christmas. I bought Amber and Link some gifts in the states and brought them with me, but I don't have anything for Terry (Amber's mom) or Barbara (her grandma - yes, another Barbara). They both buy stuff from the shops constantly so I'm not sure what I could get them that they don't already have. Hopefully a thank you will do. Maybe a card. The opportunity to go on this trip was pretty awesome in and of itself.

Okay, rambling. Time to stop. Love to everybody; have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year. Sorry I'm not in Washington to be there with you.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Greetz from Melaque

Wow... sitting down to write a blog post after so much time brings back strange memories. Namely of typing these things up on sticky keyboards in the stifling heat of Choluteca, my backpack and several bags of groceries sitting next to me. It's strange that only traveling seems to motivate me to do this.

We had an epic journey getting here. When I left Bellingham on Wednesday afternoon, there was about an inch of new snow on the ground and it was piling up fast. Mount Vernon already had at least three to four new inches as I drove through. Amber, leaving Bellingham around 1:30, later reported to me that there were already four inches of new snow by the time she left.

Seattle was bizarrely clear; I spent the rest of Wednesday there visiting with Maya and Jake while waiting for the flight out at 5:00 a.m. on Thursday. The plan was to meet Amber & co. at the airport. She called me at about 9:00, however, to say that our flight to Phoenix had been cancelled and the next one didn't leave until Friday. We resolved to drive down to Portland and catch another flight leaving at 11:20; from there we could catch a later flight from Phoenix to Puerto Vallarta.

So that night, Maya dropped me off at a hotel in Sea-Tac where I got about four hours of sleep before we piled into the car again and continued on through the dark and lots more snow, four hours down to Portland. As we parked and walked to the bus stop to go to the airplane, it was snowing so hard that my bag was covered in seconds. Things looked grim, but it cleared up almost immediately afterwards and our plane was able to take off without incident.

Because the delay resulted in us arriving in Puerto Vallarta at 9:30 pm, we had to stay the night at a hotel there and finish the drive to Melaque, another 3.5 hours by car, this morning. We got settled into our hotel and have been relaxing and exploring our surroundings. In some ways this town reminds me of the Honduran beach town of Tela. It's about the same size and has a similarly laid-back atmosphere. The beach is stunningly beautiful though, better than any I have been on before, and the town is clean and quite full of gringos.

So much of this area reminds me of southern Honduras, and so much is different. Oddly, the trees are similar but the small plants are not. One of my favorite sights has been the plantations of light blue agave plants, hiding behind big front gates and elaborate wooden signs of the inevitable tequila distillery in the middle of the plantation.

Our hotel is beautiful and not the least bit ostentatious. Nuff said about that. The weather is absolutely frickin gorgeous. 80-85 in the daytime, cool at night, sunny.

Travelling with Amber's family is going to be an interesting experience, I can tell already. She is a rock and her grandma, the trip sponsor, is a travelling expert. Link and Amber's mom, however, are pretty green. They have enjoyed the heck out of themselves thus far though, which I'm especially glad is true for Link, since it's a bit hard for him to be outside his comfort zone.

I expected this all to be a big jolt (weather, culture, suddenly being back in Latin America), but it's almost ucanny how natural it feels to be here. The two weeks that stretch in front of us, which I first worried might be a bit long, now suddenly seem far, far too short.

Love to everybody,