Friday, February 25, 2011

The Sweetest Nightmares.

These past few days I've been having this reoccurring dream, this reoccurring nightmare. I'm still unsure which. In the dream, I wake up one morning in San Cristobal and out of nostalgia and stupidity, I book the soonest flight back home. In the dream there is no time frame, I do not take a 15 hour bus ride back to Cancun or spend the day on a flight back to Ontario. I simply decide I want to go home, and at home I am! Of course everyone is happy to see me and I reminisce on the people and places I've met and seen. The dream never seems to drag on. Like most dreams it starts just as quick as it ends. In this dream, I can never remember too much of anything, except for one feeling. A  heavy feeling of heartbreak of regret. Of anxiousness. Is that a word?

Ehh, anyhow. I awake to a world unknown. With the covers pulled over my head, for a second, I am unsure of whether reality was really a dream, or dream a reality. I peel back the covers slowly each time and see the oak wood of my dresser next to me. A feeling of both disappointment and relief hovers over me. I'm unsure of whether to be happy I'm in San Cristobal or to feel sorrow for not being home. 

I simply go on with my day. 

Soon it will be a month since I have been in San Cristobal de las Casas. People come and go. People from Austria, Japan, Quebec, and all over Southern and Central America, my favorite are the Argentinians. Something about them, maybe it's in the water, but they are simply the sweetest, most hilarious people you'll ever meet, honest. Wait where was I going with this? Ahh yes, okay, over this past month I've seen so many come and go already. As most of the others locals are smart to not get too attached, I've seized to learn my lesson.

Whether I'm awake or asleep I have started to realize a change in me. A me I hardly recognized, due to a short hiatus.  A me who appreciates the comforts of home, but more-so the nakedness of being all alone in a foreign place. A me who is once again happy. Not through alcohol, men or materials even. I am simply happy in my own atmosphere. Happy waking up each morning to a fresh brewed cup of cafe con leche from Yoli (the hostel mom) to Pancho's loud but welcoming voice echoing throughout the hostel each afternoon, and to sitting around the dinner table at night watching boot leg  scary movies on the hostel's ancient television set. My life in San Cristobal is not that of daring adventure, or one of endless romance. Life here is simple. It is no Cancun, I admit, the nearest beach is 4 hours away, and the weather here, greedily changes it's mind often. The cats here are skinny, the clouds often hang low and every morning the cathedral bells ring loud.
Mom, this place is a utopia, sometimes I fear of waking up in High school Musical plastered sheets, and sometimes even in multicolored cobijas.  At times I wish the two could collide, both paradise and reality.
Both High school Musical sheets and multicolored cobijas.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tostadas, familia, and oh so much more.

Palenque, Chiapas          

It's been almost a week since I’ve returned to San Cristobal from Palenque. Who knows, maybe even less, I've always been terrible with estimation. Regardless of the actual time, it's felt like years. I've gotten to know the place and the people so quickly and can hardly imagine leaving.  New faces and stories are seen and heard each day by travelers from all around the globe, and each time they head off to further destinations, we are forced to say goodbye and go forward. As hard as one can try to detach themselves you simply cannot help it, you fall in love.

Recently I'd celebrated a 22nd birthday, and being amongst people I hadn't even known a month ago, I expected nothing more than a “Feliz Cumpleaños” if even that, to me it had simply been another day.  Though come nightfall I had been surprised by the entire hostel with an enormous cake, and off key singing of Feliz Cumpleaños. My heart melted as quickly as the trick candles did. Jonathon, an American man who had lingered here from California, and spoke terrible Spanish banged his fork against the table, to catch everyone’s attention “Un tostada” he’d shouted “Un tostada para Nico” he repeated. We’d all looked around for these so called “tostadas” and burst out in laughter, in realization that he was trying to give a toast…not a tostada (a delicious little fried tortilla with beans and such on it) as the night tip toed on we’d laughed and danced the night away.  As we do most nights here. 

San Cristobal, Chiapas

Last night in the kitchen as we’d cooked a farewell dinner for a couple from Argentina Yoli, the “Hostel mom” had said “Somos familia” and though my Spanish is still progressing, I’d understood exactly what she’d said. We are family, no matter how long or short of a stay someone has spent in Posada 5, in San Cristobal they have become part of the family, part of something some hardly recognize. 

And I wish to never leave or forget this place. Well, I’ve semi-gotten my wish. I’ve landed a job teaching English at a school here in San Cristobal de las Casas.  I was told “You’re like an angel who’d fallen out of the sky” when found by the Director of the school, because an English teacher was very much needed at the school and well, here I am. Ready to weather this out with them. I had simply planned on staying out here two weeks, three weeks tops, and have been caught up in this beautiful little routine. I will be out here for all of next month, I’m sure of that…as of anything further than that…quién sabe? (who knows) All I know is, that I start work tomorrow and I’m happy. I’m experiencing life a little differently, coming out of my comfort zone of materialistic items, cookie cutter living, and warm weather.
                                                                Mostly, warm weather. 

Friday, February 11, 2011


 The ride over to Palenque was a cold and nauseating one. A five hour trip that felt more like fifteen. Half way into the trip I felt the need to violently vomit all the floor of the bus, or wherever convenient. I looked around for something to throw up in, or on if needed. As I came to the conclusion that my purse was the best and least embarrassing option, my stomach had settled. "Oh thank you God!" I'd announced a little too loudly.

As the grueling bus ride came to an end and I'd gotten off I’d met an Argentinian couple, and split a taxi with them to El Mono Blanco del Panchan (something about a white monkey) a grungy little Hostel conveniently placed in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Literally. We had been dropped off in the middle of the rain forest.  This was definitely not how Ontario Mills Mall had depicted it at Rainforest Café, there were no singing alligators or friendly little monkeys. In fact, the monkeys sounded more like hungry tigers. 

Once we'd found civilization, we'd decided two of us would share a room, as the other had plans of her own, which had worked out perfectly seeing as though there were only two beds available. Until Alejo, my roommate a twenty something year old Argentine, who was tall dark and slightly handsome, abandoned me! He had ran into some friends and planned on bunking in with them instead. So I figured I would move to another room as well (single dorm) which had been cheaper. Cheaper for a reason I'd thought. I've had closets bigger than that…come to think of it, it probably was a closet, and someone had simply decided to throw a bed in it.  "Four dollars a night and not even a toilet or a sink to wash my hands in!" I'd huffed! Why did I even leave San Cristobal in the first place? I'd pondered. Until I remembered, sweet epiphany! Alejo and I had left the back door to our more expensive, cabana open! Which had come complete with both shower and toilet. I'll just sneak in through the back and use that restroom whenever I need to, I'd thought, and it seemed a swell idea until just after I'd snuck in, used the restroom and was on my way out…there it was on the door, a four inch long cockroach twitching her crunchy little antennas right at me…okay maybe she wasn't really four inches, but still, gross enough to keep me hostage in that restroom. She was not there accidentally, and both her and I knew it, she'd been hired. As an attack dog of sorts.

El Mono Blanco del Panchan, Palenque
But, wait! I thought, I'm bigger, smarter even. I still had a chance at victory! I'd looked around the restroom for something to throw at her, to shoo her away, soap perhaps? No too big, too noisy. I might get caught. Another sweet epiphany! Toilet paper! I could wad up pieces into tiny balls and throw them at her.  I had crossed boarders, snuck into ruins, and swam with sting rays and there I was, a twenty one year old woman wadding up pieces of toilet paper to throw at a roach no bigger than my thumb “This is punishment” I muttered. For sneaking into the restroom in the first place. For leaving San Cristobal. I'd thought of my comfy little hostel back in San Cristobal, complete with a restroom, and no roaches. Oh how I longed for it.

Victoriously, after  ten minutes and twenty wads of toilet paper later, I had shooed her away. I had made it out. Alive. With not a scar on me. And when leaving that restroom I had realized that though I had won the battle she had won the war. For because of her, I would never again use that restroom…well at least not at night.

Traveler tip #2: Always, always, always bring toilet never know when it may come in handy.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

If you love something, let it go?

I've spent six days in Chiapas so far. Yet it feels more like a lifetime.  I've fallen in love with the people, the sites and the place as a whole. There have been many times this week that I have thought of leaving and going off to Palenque, Guatemala or even back to Cancun, and I simply can't bear the thought of leaving San Cristobal, Chiapas. It's taken all of my heart. I am like a hopeless teenager in love. A lump begins to form in my throat even thinking of leaving.

The past few days I've spent seeing the city of San Cristobal de las Casas and all it has to offer, dancing terribly to Salsa music with friends, broiling up new things in the kitchen each day, walking through endless miles of markets and just simply seizing the day. Each day seems to linger on longer than the next, and I am simply "conteno" as they put it. 

Palenque, Chiapas

Yet, I have booked a one way once again. Tomorrow I will be on my way to Palenque. A five hour bus ride away from all that I love and adore. Already I'm getting this feeling of heartbreak, of fear. The kind of feeling I got when I'd left home for this trip. Truly San Cristobal has become home, so suddenly.

I will spend three to four days in Palenque, camping underneath the stars, and beside the ruins, then after who knows where. Possibly Guatemala, Belize, I hear Costa Rica is cheap! Or even back to San Cristobal, back home. Whether I follow a path to Guatemala or take a ferry to Costa Rica.  As cliche as it sounds, I'm certain of only one thing.

San Cristobal de las Casas will always hold a little piece of my heart. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

So this is love?

  As I write now, I see the city lights beneath me, and hear songs of love strumming on the guitar beside me. I've fallen in love. And so quickly, I'm almost ashamed. 

Mornings are spent walking through markets that go on for days and days, afternoons are spent lounging in the kitchen, sharing stories and laughing with the locals and foreigners alike and our nights, our nights are ours to dance away. To laugh, to sing, and fall in love.  

 An innocent kind of love. A “can I hold your hand?” kind of love. A love you can't comprehend until you've lived it. 

In leaving Cancun, I'd thought I was leaving paradise, but in coming to Chiapas, I've realized I hadn't experienced paradise until just then. True paradise is not; beaches, snorkeling, and beautiful faces. True paradise is finding beauty in a place. Seeing prosperity and poverty, the indigenous and the tourist both dwelling as one. I can hardly put to words why I've fallen so hard. But I suppose that's how love leaves you.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

San Cristobal de las Casas.

I officially landed in Cancun on the 1st. With a major migraine and a bit of nausea to go along with it, in arriving, I simply wanted to fall asleep and die. Instead, I spent the night by the beach with some fellow travelers from the hostel I stayed at. A convenient little hostel right in the middle of everything you need, called Hostel Quetzal.The next morning I was unsure of exactly where I wanted to go, so I'd packed everything up and gone off to  the bus station...ready to take the world, booked a one way to San Cristobal de las Casas and didn't look back.

So, here I am at a quiet little café  in San Cristibal de las Casas; the café is comparable to those seen in French films, the chairs are curly and fancy and every few minutes a boy looking to shine shoes walks in. Luckily I'm wearing sandals, or I'd give in. Though the 15 hour bus ride out here was no penny pincher, the town is absolutely dirt cheap and I love it. Hostels are no more than 5 dollars a night which includes an open kitchen, free coffee, a hot shower and Internet. They had me at free coffee. Unfortunately tonight I am staying elsewhere. Before finding this little piece of heaven, also known as Posada 5; I had gone to the first place I'd seen. Tonight I stay in a grungy little Hotel with cold showers, stinky rooms, and a toilet that hardly runs. What can I say? I was tired and compromised for less. Tomorrow.  Free coffee and hot showers await.
I have been here for less than 24 hours and already I find myself in love. With such a place as this. At night the streets are full with vendors, laughter and music all around.  Children are seen walking the streets selling whatever they can, to whomever they can and you just can't resist. With faces covered in food and dirt, and shoes two sizes too small. I just can't help but see a little piece of my son, and my sister in them, and I am nostalgic for home, nostalgic for a familiar face.  But still, I am as happy as a bird with a French fry and awaiting more beauty yet to come. 

Travel tip #1: When you here a tsh tsh from a stranger; it's usually best not to look.