Sunday, July 20, 2008


Mamma Trish y Pappa Elvis

Cenote outside of Valladolid

El bano de la reina, Palenque.

On the way to San Cris.

Graveyard, Chiapas

swimming the halocline

I am running a family trip right now which means that my life pretty much means guiding a really really nice Danish family through the Yucatan. And because they are so nice we didn't go to Tulum (overrated) and instead ended up swimming the afternoon away in Yal-ku lagoon in Akumal. It is the kind of place where giant parrot fish like to come hang out and the kind of place that makes me incredibly happy. The reason I like it so much is because of the halocline, the meeting of cold freshwater from underground rivers and the warm water from the sea. When the two waters mix everything becomes a swirling blurred vision. But if you dive below the point where the two waters meet it suddenly becomes crystal clear. Somehow in that swirling green water, chasing parrot fish, I felt totally at home.
I've been down here for nearly 10 months now and though this is not completely home, I have a sense that neither is California. I worry that no place will ever completely hold me, that I will always feel a longing for another place. Maybe that is just the curse of the vagabond.
Somehow the image of the two waters, both clear on their own but hazy upon mixing feels like my position in the world. Some people live in fresh water and things are very clear for them. Some people live in the sea and things are very clear for them too. And some people live in the halocline, and though we catch sight of clarity at times, more often we live in the haziness of being able to live in both environments.
Lately life has been teaching me that no way is right, no way is better than another, everything just is. As we learn to accept the way things are, the way we are, my haziness is no longer a curse, but a thing of beauty. So that is where I find myself, swimming along in the beautiful confusion of the halocline.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

guate guate guate....

I am a little pissed at Guatemala. She stole my heart back in October and still hasn't given it back. And then the other day she once again bowled me over with her beauty. It may be hard for some people to believe that there are still huge parts of Guatemala that I haven't seen, but it is true. The road from La Mesilla to Panajachel via Huehuetenango is one of those places. And damn is that ride gorgeous. Worn limestone hills that look like emerald camel humps give way to sheer water carved canyons cradling rainy season brown rivers. Along the roadside one catches glimpses of women weaving on back strap looms, men carrying impossible loads of wood on their backs, and the fresh green of the growing maiz. Through the mists of Cuatro Caminos, past the market at Solola, to our first glimpses of Guatemalan Volcanoes. Then Lake Atitlan finished the journey, gracing us with a beautiful showing of blues and purples as we rolled down the hills towards her waters at sunset.
The only thing that would have made the journey better would have been doing it by chicken bus.
Most of this time in Guate has been spent doing various tourist activities. We had a hilarious visit to Maximon, in his new house. This time I did have my camera, which lead to two underexposed very expensive photos, (now my mom may still put me back into her will if I can only get her to forgive me for the quiche debacle). Another entertaining portion of the last week has been practicing my chicken bus calls with Tiago, a fellow tour leader. I think he may have me beat, but he has latin blood, so I figure I am still the best gringa at screaming, "GUATE GUATE GUATE!" or my personal favorite, "CHICHI CHE CHICHI CHICHI CHE!"
The most poignant and beautiful experience that I have had in the last week was when Tiago got me to go out and visit a small town outside of Antigua. The place is Santiago Zamorra, and when you organize a tour with their women's weaving cooperative they will come get you in a pick up truck. Then you ride out for half an hour, through the fields of maiz, cafe, and frijole to Santiago. There the women will meet you, tell you the story of their town, about their cooperative, about the kids they support and teach you things like how to grind coffee. It was another reminder of what makes travel important and good, those moments where you really connect to another person, when you realize that your being there is making a difference, that we are all truly in this together. Plus as Tiago says, the food is so good, you could be enticed to go out there for nothing else, so between the Pepian and the amazing community it was a satisfying afternoon.

Monday, July 7, 2008

the good stuff

I think one of the great flaws in the human brain is our tendency to focus on the bad stuff. Sometimes I snap out of that cycle and realize what a stunningly great place we live in, how blessed we are to have this chance at being human. Today has been one of those days. I am writing this from highway 180 in the state of Campeche, Mexico.
I spent the morning shooting the shit with my driver Pasqual, who has determined that besides having a small mouth (which sounds weird in translation) I am also atrevida (which translates, at least in mexico, to something like daring and playful). While my group was checking out the ruins at Uxmal we went and got gas, I drank an epic amount of jugo de guanabana and kept throwing the seeds at things, sometime that thing was Pasqual. What can I say? I am pretty sure I still am about 5 years old.
After picking up the crew we headed out on the road. At the state border we were stopped by a super guapo soldier who wanted to check that we weren´t carrying fire arms or drugs in our van. I of course got right into conversation with the soldiers and ended up spell checking their poorly edited sign which concluded with, "hava nice day." They tried to convince me that a local english teacher from Toronto had written it, but the Canadians are way better spellers than that. Anyways after grabbing a photo with the men in uniform we loaded back up to drive away, and as we were pulling back on the road one of the soldiers were pretending to dig out the sign.
I think that one of the things I will miss most in leaving Latin America is the playful approach to life that most people take. People here (for the most part) are more interested in having a human interaction than just getting the job done. An attitude that leads to a lot of laughter at arms and drug patrols.
With that I will leave you.

Friday, July 4, 2008

once dias

I had eleven days off. It was strange to have all that time of freedom. I didn´t consider what I wanted to do that much. One thing was obvious, a visit to Hopkins, to Kisment, to my home, was in order. Hopkins was a discovery back in January, when my ferocious crew of she-goddesses and I had departed Guatemala in search of a new year adventure. We found ourselves first in Placencia, oft accidentally named Placentia, but soon bused our way north into fate, into Kismet.
Tricia, the owner of Kismet says that some people are meant to be there and others are not. Lacey and I found it after two hours of walking the dirt roads of Hopkins, as if we were drawn there by an add suffering magnet, or the beautifully hand painted signs.
Walking up the sandy track to Kismet for the first time, I remarked to Lacy how much it reminded me of Pt. Reyes, a place near both of our hometowns. It ended up being a foretelling comment, as Trish the owner turned out to have lived near by in Bolinas for a number of years.
Kismet is probably not for everybody. I have seen others reactions to the place, one has to have a certain love for disorder and chaos to feel at home there. One has to have a certain love for life to love Kismet. It is a place that thrives on humanity, authenticity, homemade bread and love. And when you love Kismet, it vortexes you, it sucks you in. Even when you have left it, it feels as if it has held on to a part of you.
Part of the beauty of Hopkins, and Kismet, is the people that populate it. Elvis, Trish, Dave, the CD man, the chickens, the laughing children, floating coconuts, the straggling travelers, the staring tourists. It all seems to come together in some sort of symphony, the lone sounds ugly by themselves somehow weave themselves into a delightful tune. Elvis and Trish though, are my favorites, my mom and dad.
Often while traveling I find myself feeling raw, opened up and thirsty for home. Only one place has made me feel that I am home, that same feeling of slight annoyance yet total dedication to a place and its people. Kismet is that sole location. Even after months in Guatemala, days passed in Antigua, nights slept in the same hotel bed, have never rendered that feeling. Only Kismet has that honor and duty to me. Why that place?
The wind, the sea being at your doorstep, the kitchen table where I can sit and draw and read and eat bread with mango jam, Trish making me nachos in the afternoon, book shelves of books, outside showers, dogs that lick your feet. How can one not feel at home? How can one not feel compelled to sweep the floor of sand, to wash the dishes?
I often wonder if all this time south of the border has made me soft. I suppose it has, but I think that that is a good thing. I think that maybe that is what we need more of up north. I think all this romance and love for people in places that Latin America stirs up could benefit us all.
With that I leave you.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

cenotes, isla holbox y fotos

Just put up a couple more photos online. About 2% of the many I have right now. I am in Valladolid, hanging with Kerri for my last day off. We went to the local cenotes today and ate mayan soup for breakfast, it's been a good day.
We spent the last two on the Italian hideaway of Isla Holbox, rumor has it that the name means barefoot. I spent most of my time lusting after nutella, eating nutella, and using the internet. Kerri visited the whale sharks. The island was very cool, small, sandy, reminded me a bit of Thai islands, though everyone spoke spanish. It was a nice time, plus it was fun to go somewhere new.
Thee are more stories to be told about Belize, Hopkins, and bread eating with Elvis and Trish. I will get there I swear!