A Travellerspoint blog


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Posted by robingoka 18:31 Comments (0)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

León, Nicaragua

Recovering from food poising, or something equally horrible, and following the advice of Leon’s friendliest pharmacist after she heard me list off my various ailments, I walked into the public hospital here to have my blood pressure checked. Blood pressure within the normal range, the doctor tells me and prescribes an aspirin a day for the burst capillary in my eye and nausea pills if I feel like chucking my guts out again. No problem. Lets turn the tables, if a young Nicaraguan woman walked into a US hospital to have her blood pressure checked, how much would it cost her? Sure the hospital here in Leon is nowhere close to first world standards, but what is more pressing, to have a spic and span health care system where only those with resources receive attention, or a broad based one stretching resources to the limit where all can be treated? It goes back to what our host Vicentino said about democracy, that you can’t have one when working people can’t eat, buy medicine and house their families without sacrificing something else equally necessary.

Leon is the fourth of either rural or urban zones with socialist, revolutionary and defiantly laid back vibes. Livingston, Guatemala; San Salvador and Perquín, El Salvador; and now León, Nicaragua. Beto, an old friend and former co-Poetry for the People Student Teacher Poet (P4P STP), once said of Mexico that social movements grow in the soil down there, and this is just as true of Central America. While each country struggles with her community members' ever-increasing flight to the US and the influence of the all-mighty dollar on those who remain, the histories of these diverse countries are filled with revolution, armed uprisings and today remain rich with current direct action mobilizations against CAFTA (Central America Free Trade Agreement) and other abuses to their democracies and self-sustainability.

Livingston is a Garifuna town on the Atlantic coast of Guatemala. Vladi and I made the last leg of our road trip with Mauricio to Rio Dulce, but not before hearing two original members of the Afro-Cuban All Stars perform at a small club in their current town of residence, Antigua Guatemala. From the town of Rio Dulce, we took a boat to Livington, which is isolated from the rest of Guatemala via automobile. Cars, goods and people arrive by ferry, boat and canoe, the latter our skipper compared to bikes in urban areas, and the more affluent have shiny sailboats parked at the docks outside their river front properties. After unhurriedly boating down the Rio Dulce through a small canyon of green vegetation, flocks of pelicans, cormorants and cranes overhead reminding us of the Atlantic coast coming up, we finally arrived to Livingston to meet Kikis, who we ran into each day thereafter. He helped us find our housing at Javier's African Place; we settled in and wandered around the small town. (We met so many people I could never do them all justice in this piece; of course that is Vladi's specialty so ya'll will have to wait for his entry....) Tons of folks we met had at least one relative in the US or Belize who left to work and provide for their families back home, and everyone sports all the latest US fashions and listens to Snoop Dogg on the radio. However, I noticed how people actively work to preserve the richness of their day to day lives, protesting the construction of a road to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala and maintaining a proud sense of community visible from the streets and sidewalks, as everyone opens their front doors in hopes that a breeze or piece of gossip will find its way inside. Vladi and I waited for the rain clouds to blow south and enjoyed a few days of sun rays before packing up our mochilotas, saying our goodbyes to everyone, boarding the ferry to Puerto Barrios and finally crossing the border into Honduras.

Our stay in Honduras was short. We spent our first night in San Pedro Sula, an almost first world city full of malls, where I shocked Vladi when I craved and eventually dragged him to get an egg mc muffin from McDonald’s after seeing all the familiar neon fast food chain signs. We quickly moved on to the town of Copan Ruinas, where we spent an amazing day at the intricately detailed Mayan ruins. Copan is an UNESCO World Heritage site, and is comparatively expensive, very well kept and of course very well guarded. Throughout our travels in Honduras I spied many soldiers, noticeably more than her neighboring countries, who sport as uniform an eerily familiar blue grey and green grey camouflage I have seen on the Fox evening news back home with my dad when reporting on the young American soldiers in Iraq. Of course, because the fashion industry upholds the popular notion that to support one's nation one must support her unjust actions, the same camouflage pattern can be seen on civilians of all type, not excluding young people throughout Central America. Maybe because of the military presence, or maybe because we had less luck in meeting folks in Honduras than Guate, we spent one final night in Ocotopeque on the El Salvador border and were off.

We crossed the border early and arrived in San Salvador by mid-afternoon, found a cheap bed in the seediest of neighborhoods, crashed out and were awoken before sunrise as the local buses poured diesel exhaust into our hotel window. To escape the gas chamber-like hotel, we took off to the capital’s center, which by seven in the morning is crazy with buses, commuters, uniformed students, newspaper venders, breakfast venders and some pigeon feeders. After being overwhelmed before a decent morning hour or a cup o joe, we made the hasty decision to try the university campus, called as in DF la Ciudad Universitaria, and we laid our tired eyes on a refuge, both in the physical and ideological sense of the word. Posters, flyers, banners and murals decorated the campus and the predominate red and black stood out in the grey morning air. Conference to reflect on current social movements in El Salvador! Cultural Political Action Meetings of the Salvadorian Student Force! Remember the November 1989 Student Movement! Face portraits of Fidel, Che and Farabundo Marti. All these and more messages of involving oneself in political activity and social movements were scrawled on the walls and plastered to lampposts. The cool canopy of green I felt on my shoulders in the middle of the concrete jungle of San Salvador was a metaphor for how I felt the moment I laid my eyes on the consciousness of those students. My travels up to this point have been blessed with beautiful sights, friendly folks, smooth road tripping and trying yummy new foods, but at that moment I felt a familiar stir, like the one that brought me to Berkeley and later to Mexico City. Learning about the past and present social movements locally from people who lived them is one goal in many I have for my time in Latin America. I want to find my niche where I can offer myself and any services I can in a positive way while shaping the protest tactics I have picked up in Berkeley and DF. My time in the University of El Salvador reminded me like an itch of a mosquito bite that I needed to begin to actively pursue my goals, or I would end up touring and turning a blind eye to the challenges of those around me. We ended up leaving San Salvador after being there for less than 24 hours, but it was an important turning point for me.

From the capital, we headed for Perquín, El Salvador, on the northeaster border with Honduras, within the state of Morazan. Perquín was a guerilla stronghold during the Civil War, the site of Radio Venceremos and the Massacre of Mozote. The town is highly recommended by Lonely Planet thanks to former P4P STP Gary Chandler, but despite being the number one site to visit in all of El Salvador, it is still tranquil, traditional, and goes to bed by eight each night. We stayed with and eventually adopted la Abuelita as our own, and likewise she took good care of me when I got sick after eating a pupusa from a street vendor (note: while I was dying after half a pupusa, Vladi was a little queasy but overall kept his cool after eating three! Which proves that Chilangos really do have bullet proof bellies as Vladi loves to tell folks). La Abuela's stories of the Civil War and our visit to the Museo de la Revolucion Salvadoreña: Homenaje a los Heroes y Martires (Museum of the Salvadorian Revolution: an Homage to the Heroes and Martyrs), illustrated the words we read aloud to each other each night as the town snoozed away from the excellent book Las mil y una historias del Radio Venceremos (The Thousand and One Stories of the Radio Venceremos). We very contentedly ended up staying a few days extra while I recuperated and when I was strong enough, we made the long leg of our journey, crossing a small section of Honduras, into Nicaragua.

During the revolution, León was, and remains today, a bastion of Sandinismo, as we heard repeatedly on the radio and in person at the political rally held by FSLN presidential candidate Daniel Ortega. The election will be held Sunday, November 5 2006, between three main candidates: former Sandanista leader and FSLN ticket holder Daniel Ortega (popularly know as just Daniel), right wing and US hopeful Eduardo Montealegre, and right wing vote splitter Jose Rizo (known as El Feo). While Daniels popularity is high and the right divided, the United States is not hiding their opposition for the candidate against whom they fought so hard during the Reagan era Contra War (for a detailed overview of the Elections, check out the Democracy Now! Show from Thursday, October 26th, URL http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/10/26/1341242&mode=thread&tid=25). The support for Daniel is especially strong here in Leon, which we saw first hand as we accompanied thousands at his closing campaign rally. Sandanista, or I would venture to say Nicaraguan, is synonymous to poet, as many from that era and today wrote and published verse, notably Ernesto Cardenal and Leonel Rugama (who was introduced to me by the late great June Jordan). The FSLN fought for many social changes such as literacy campaigns, support for the arts, universal health care (which they championed in mass vaccinations, water cleaning facilities, and popular health education), women’s rights, the building of schools, roads and infrastructure, as well as the democratic system that people are readying themselves for in the coming week. After the Sandinistas won the revolution, they opened up the electoral process and their political party, the FSLN shocked everyone when they eventually lost the first, second and third free elections of Nicaraguan history. People today are becoming very aware of the fact that the international loan repayments and structural adjustment programs imposed on them by the liberal market are not helping them eat, buy medicine and house their families. I feel in the air, at least here in Leon, that they want change. Whether the electorate of Nicaragua opts for change or remains on their free market path is beside the point. What is urgent and imparative is that the Nicaraguan people decide the outcome of this election without interference from the US or any special interest parties.

Among the many activities Vladi and I embarked upon during our stay in León, including visiting the largest cathedral in Central America, viewing the political murals and graffiti around town, visiting the University of Nicaragua, we also paid our respects to the birthplace and resting place of famed poet, Ruben Dario, who is celebrated on the 100 denomination bill of Nicaragua's currency, the Colon. It is fitting since poetry, like social movements, grows in the soil down here.

I would like to dedicate this to the many brave activists right now supporting Oaxacan teachers demanding a living wage, and in memory to Brad Will, and Indymedia journalist killed while reporting on the police brutality against the strikers.

Posted by robingoka 18:05 Comments (0)

TRAVESIA POR CENTROAMERICA. Un espacio para compartir

El primer pestañeo. Todo tiene un comienzo

Desde hace tiempo Robin y yo hemos estado queriendo recorrer el continente americano hacia el sur. Ella en particular ha sido una gran impulsora del proyecto. Juntos ahorramos a lo largo de dos años en un cochinito y por fin lo rompimos. Después de varios tramites que dejaron “la vida” y “las obligaciones” en marcha, inició la travesía, con algunas ideas pero sin una ruta fija, un road trip que se va planeando sin plan. Porque un viajero que quiere en verdad conocer, que busca la sorpresa y no el tour encerrado a una guía o al lonely planet (sin negar su utilidad), aprende a caminar y cambiar de dirección cuando miradas, colores, sabores, o una simple corazonada avisan.

Después de un mes de viaje puedo decir que hablar con la gente es una forma básica de conocer. Aprendes como las palabras son nombradas alrededor de los símbolos, de la cultura, cómo un mismo idioma se habla de diferentes formas. Algunas palabras no entiendes, nuevos acentos, modismos diferentes o con otros significados. También en silencio se aprende, escuchando. Los mismos diálogos o los sonidos de la naturaleza dan un panorama, nuestra madre tierra, el clima, la brisa del mar, el brillo del río, los sonidos del viento, de los pájaros, hasta de los insectos. O La comida. Que llena la panza pero también es cultura, es geografía, es historia. Pupusas, enchiladas (nada que ver con las de acá), chuchitos, huizquiles, variopinto, churrascos, un buen tapado, ayotes y mucho banano y yuca, rodean nuestro viaje.

Aún siendo español hablante se es extranjero, extraño. Inmediatamente al hablar o pedir algo se dan cuenta. La pregunta obligada:
-de donde sos?
-de México?
Y viene en seguida el comentario sobre el país.
Si no lo conoce te pregunta algo, si conoce te cuenta donde estuvo, que vió, imita como hablamos (chido, güey), te preguntan por Vicente Fernández o José Alfredo, del chavo del ocho, del fraude electoral.
En seguida la pregunta a Robin

-Y¿ usted chica?
-De California, Estados Unidos, gabacha…
-¿Pero habla muy bien el español?
- he vivido en México por 5 años
Y de ahí la pregunta sobre si es difícil cruzar, como la conocí…
-oiga y como la enamoró, como se la agarró?!
-ella me agarró a mi, sigo, a veces en tono bromista.

El mismo rito, más o menos igual, se repite al lugar a donde llegamos sin perder a la vez algo nuevo, divertido, a veces un poco incomodo pero siempre interesante. A más de uno le sorprende Robin, frente a los estereotipos de una “gringa”, llámese turista o no, resalta su sencillez, su capacidad de comunicarse, su sonrisa, su conciencia revolucionaria, su antibelicismo, su crítica al gobierno estadounidense.

En momentos de calma, escribimos a cuaderno y lapicero. Esta es una trascripción de esos apuntes. Un espacio para compartir, jamás para presumir. Caminando y a la vez rompiendo ese mito que solo se viaja con muchísimo dinero, que viajar te otorga un estatus especial; con humildad hemos buscado gente sencilla con una enorme riqueza humana y espiritual, y si eso en alguna medida nos hace crecer, bienvenido sea. Por ello esperamos que estas notas sean eso, un compartir –bilingüe- y un saber que nuestros pies, como los de otros antes de nosotros, están abriendo caminos que servirán a los que vengan, para que los superen. Y esto se concretizará en amores, pasiones, paz, tranquilidad y, por supuesto, en procesos revolucionarios internacionales.

Nuestras coordenadas después del primer mes y medio es la última etapa en centro América, de Nica a panamá, con hambre del sur, de cruzar el canal y llegar a Sudamérica. Tomamos algunas fotos que podrán ver, sin que seamos el clásico turista que con su cámara en mano va fotografiando hasta cuando alguien se tira un pedo, como si fuera a otro planeta y tuviera que llevar evidencias de los marcianos. Por ejemplo, en Livingston, Guatemala, no podrán ver casi ninguna pues los negros garífunas en general son muy reservados pa eso de las fotos. Por suerte no fuí yo al que rechazaron una fotografía justo al momento de enfocar, pero sí escuché al menos dos explicaciones muy interesantes que podrán leer en las siguientes entregas. Hemos tratado de ser discretos, no solo por aquello de las maras, sino porque así es este viaje.

Hasta pronto al Distrito Federal
Los porqués (si es que los hay).

Para hacer una acelerada pausa en la acelerada vida urbana del Distrito Federal, de la Ciudad de México, de Chilangolandia. Para conocer las arterias que unen a este gran corazón llamado Amerika. Para redescubrir sitios ajenos pero hermanos. Para aprender nuevos conocimientos, de la palabra hablada, la experiencia común y cotidiana, y así, replantear los propios, la información acumulada, los aprendizajes de los libros y la academia. Para cimentar las aspiraciones personales, de vida. Para mirar como la resistencia se dice pero sobre todo se hace, se construye sin una necesaria guía-receta del camino revolucionario.

Antes de salir del país el sureste mexicano nos despide. Oaxaca/Mazunte/Boca del Cielo, Chiapas.
La hermosa y rebelde Oaxaca. Sus muros reflejan la situación, se huele y se escucha el descontento. Donde el mezcal y el café florecen es también sitio de una disputa fundamental, que ahora, cuando llegamos, se traslada en caravana rumbo a la capital. Estuvimos en el campamento, viendo la información, asistiendo a algunas actividades. Al día siguiente, partimos a la sierra.
Pasando la región loxicha aparece un hermoso pueblo, a mas de 3000 m sobre el nivel del mar, con una vista increíble: San José del Pacifico. A veces la neblina cubre las montañas y no puedes ver nada y al poco rato se descubre inclusive el mar desde su parte más alta. Es a la vez tierra sagrada, donde crece el teonanácatl, la carne de los dioses, parte del imaginario colectivo de la zona y punto de encuentro de visitantes de todo el país y el mundo que buscan paz y tranquilidad espiritual.

Salimos a la costa oaxaqueña. En la playa mazunte solo de paso estuvimos otro par de días. La casualidad nos hizo conocer a Mauricio, quien vive en el Estado de México, la llamada zona conurbana. El venía en coche para vivir en Playa del Carmen, pero antes su destino era Chiapas y Guatemala, por lo que se cruzaban parcialmente nuestros viajes. Andaba buscando viajeros para compartir gastos de gasolina, y de pronto, sin conocerlo, estábamos los 3 en un coche lleno de maletas: Robin, Mauricio y yo.

La primera parada fue Boca del Cielo, Chiapas, aquella playa que se hizo famosa por la película y tu mama también aunque concluimos que se filmó en otro sitio pues en verdad no se parecía. Sin embargo, la experiencia fue grata. Una Barra solitaria sin siquiera palapas ni mucho menos hoteles o cabañas. Nos quedamos acampando en la playa, después de conocer a doña Rita y Don Ángel, quienes nos indicaron un espacio de ellos – un pequeño techito de palmera- sin cobrarnos, pero comiendo ahí. Me agradó su amabilidad y el hecho de que nos llamaran por nuestros nombres, no “señor” “joven” y los miles de etc cuando tratas con un extraño a quien le das un servicio. Lo que mas me gustó fue que en aquel sitio llegan a desovar las tortugas y tienen un tortuguero donde están las crías. La primera noche vimos a una gran tortuga salir del mar para desovar, pero nuestra curiosidad humana lámpara en mano, junto con unos niños, la inhibió. Al día siguiente fuimos a ver como conservan los huevos y como liberan las tortuguitas (ver imágenes): cientos o talvez mil tortuguitas corriendo hacia el mar, de las cuales, a decir de los jóvenes voluntarios del lugar, solo sobrevivirán 5 a lo mucho. Única opción que se puede hacer en esta actividad eco sustentable, frente al tráfico, y valga decirlo, con un escazo apoyo gubernamental.

La última noche tuvimos una plática amena con Rita y Ángel. Viendo el noticiero de López Dóriga, después de que se chutaron toda la barra novelera -como a diario se ve que lo hacen- alguien dijo “ese pinche mentiroso” y “éste porque no sabe lo que es la necesidad”. De fondo, un “reportaje de investigación” sobre las señoras que piden limosna en la Zona Rosa, la gran conclusión del “periodista” era que son una mafia organizada, que estafan, cuando lo verdaderos delincuentes están panzones, tienen cuello blanco y fuman puro. Hablamos del fraude electoral, de la economía, de los sindicatos (ángel trabajó en PEMEX y salió por salud pero a su decir “vio toda la movida”) en fin, sumamente concientes para vivir en un sitio tan recóndito y olvidado como la paradójica boca del cielo.

Ahora si a salir de México

Desde que vas llegando a la zona limítrofe de Talismán se anuncia un poquito de Centroamérica. Una fila enorme de vehículos toyota y honda chocados, destartalados, todos sin placas y provenientes de EU. Después vimos como hay tantos coches de estas marcas por acá pues resulta mas barato, los compran a bajo costo y los arreglan para que queden como nuevos. Sobresalen los camiones escolares gringos –si igualitos a los de otto de los simpson- también formados y en malas condiciones. Mas tarde nos daríamos cuenta que los transforman en transporte público, como en algunas regiones de la provincia mexicana. Los bautizamos “pedorros” porque contaminan demasiado y puedes ver y oler la enorme cantidad de humo que echan, sobre todo cuando vas en coche, cuando no vas viajando en ellos. Lo que si es que están pintados con un colorido particular, sobre el amarillo original hay rojos, verdes, azules, les ponen letras por doquier, además de los destinos, se lee: “Cristo es amor” “el mil amores” “renegado”.
Pasando la gran fila llegan como 15 personas correteando el coche y repiten todos al mismo tiempo.

-Le ayudo a cruzar!!
-No yo le ayudo!
-Solo por una propina de 50 quetzales!
Hombres con grandes fajos de billete:
-Le cambio pesos por quetzales!!
Te enseñan una credencial para que agarres confianza
-Yo soy de aquí conozco a los de migración!

Sellamos la salida en México y ahora si a pagar el impuesto por ingresar a tierras guatemaltecas. Al final lo más difícil fue lo del coche, acabamos pagando de más entre el timo de los “ayudantes” y la novatez nuestra. Así fue nuestra experiencia. Las fronteras: libres para el capital y un reto para el “otro”, una necesidad, un paso, búsqueda, reto, bizne y adrenalina. Expectativa acumulada, así es el comienzo.

Posted by vlado 13:19 Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

Black Cat Hostel, Antigua Guatemala

I have to say that Antigua is a tad too tourist town for me to really be into, but it is cute cute and the hostel is jumping with trendy international travelers. Guatemala is so green, lush and breathtaking you don’t want to blink, and our spontaneous road trip is full of surprises. Although this isn’t how I envisioned traveling through Guate, Mauricio and his little Chevy Comfort have been a treat, and the road trip allows the three of us to stop for photos, snacks and bathrooms (or bushes) whenever. Mauricio also has a huge collection of music, so we’ve been jamming with each curve in the road. Right now, Missy Eliot is blaring on the stereo in the bustling bar, while the past few nights outside the car all we had to listen to was Marimba, the traditional music of Guatemala, in two different town fairs.

We first entered Guate through the Talisman border crossing from Chiapas, Mexico. We were shocked when the scenery changed from Pacific tropical to fern drooping foothills falling into valleys patched with vegetable farms like quilt work. We reached San Marcos at sunset, got our pesos changed to Queztales, and drove on to Quetzaltenango, also known as Xela. We spent two nights in this colonial town, and witnessed the towns’ saint celebration of la Virgin del Rosario, listened to Marimba and banda, ate chuscurros and longaniza, gulped Gallo beer and walked through all the lit up stands selling sweets and a shot to win Loteria, which Vladi valiantly won for me. We spent a relaxing afternoon in Los Georginas natural spring, sulfur baths set in stone boulders and moss on the top of the misty foothill highlands. That evening we watched Mexico’s classic soccer match: America’s Aguilas vs. Guadalajara’s Chivas. Mauricio is super Americanista, and of course I am Chivas under Robert’s influence, turned Puma for my alma matter, la UNAM. So, I was screaming my head off and Mauricio was quite grim when first Bofo Bautista and then Omar Bravo scored in the second half, and Oswaldo Sanchez shut out the game at 2-0.

From Xela we moved on the Lake Atitlan, a small tourist town of Panajachel. On arrival, we read in the paper that Mexican president elect Felipe Calderon had arrived in Guatemala City to rub elbows with Guatemalan president Oscar Berger and lend a communications hand to the right wing presidential candidate in the upcoming election here in Guate. Calderon and his National Action Party (also of current president Vicente Fox) led an extremely successful smear campaign against the popular vote winner and Democratic Revolution Party candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, which was one factor in many that led to Calderon’s reported 0.6% lead in the polls, so he must have much advice to dole out. The town of Pana itself was a stinging reminder of the failure of the right, as after one year of hurricane Stan, president Berger had not rebuilt one bridge or school. We asked along with the graffiti on the walls, what happened to all the international relief funds? The destruction of the hurricane was hidden from the tourist center, and the only proof one could see were the street kids begging for change, but our humble budget enabled us to see other parts of town, a truer Panajachel. We camped for a couple of days, first in a nature reserve with butterflies and monkey’s playing in the trees, and then to another cheaper campsite on the other side of town owned by an old Texan hippie named Miguel, who warned me of the current Venus crossing, the return on my Saturn at 28, and the Mayan prophecy of the end of the world in 2012. Lake Atitlan, as I visited the previous year, is a clean blue lake surrounded by volcanoes. After so much beach bumming, the sweet fresh water was refreshing to swim in. Our stay in Pana coincided with the towns’ 50th anniversary of the Cathedral of San Francisco, so we were able to listen to more Marimba and choke on acrid blue smoke at each firework shot into the night sky.

From Pana we drove on to Antigua Guatemala, whose stunning cobblestone streets are patrolled by tourist police. Groups of blond US and EU tourists walk around town escorted by a uniformed officer as they view the intact and earthquake ruined churches. We found bunks in the Black Cat Hostel and braved the sites on our own without harm or threat. I was relieved to have some time tonight to reflect on all that I have seen thus far, and now that everyone, including Vladi and Mauricio, have moved on to the next bar in the hostel’s organized bar hopping activity, aptly called the Cat Crawl, I am sitting in a lone bar chatting with the bar keeper Minor, who is telling me about his sojourn to the states five years back, where unfortunately, while he has family in Mountain View, he was apprehended and deported at the border. As I sit here comfortably in this cozy hostel left silent, drinking my ginger and lemon tea from Josah, I’m feeling the urge to come home to Cali and work; to offer my services to my hosts here in Guatemala and Latin America, who for economic necessity leave their remarkable and beautiful homelands to make the long journey to the US to serve us there.


Posted by robingoka 17:48 Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

Boca del Cielo, Chiapas

A tortoise is readying herself to lay her eggs on the beach at our feet, while a yellow crescent moon hovers over the open Pacific ocean. On the Pacific coast we were blessed to witness the entire process of tortoise love, from courting, copulating to egg laying, hatching and little tortoise prodigy in mass exodus to the ocean for their first swim. We gave a hand with the local tortoise farm volunteers here in Boca del Cielo harvesting or digging up the newborns and releasing the little webbed feet guys on the shore, and it was magical to watch them crawling towards the waves with a bravery that comes with preprogrammed instincts.

Vladi and I first headed out after a few weeks of chilling at his family’s home in DF to Oaxaca, Oaxaca. We arrived to this very city I have been frequenting these past five years I have lived in Mexico to see the zocalo full with striking teachers from Mexico’s public school system, SEP. Posters remembering Emiliano Zapata, Francisco Villa and Benito Juarez and demanding fair wages, open contract negotiations and the resignation of Oaxacan governer Ulises Ruiz were hung high from trees and the kiosk. Vladi’s brother Emiliano went with his organization to the camp-in for a week early September to offer help to the teachers union, and passed us on some contacts before we took off. Outside the city center, the atmosphere was grim and worrisome, as severe police brutality led to the chasing out of the teachers, and as the protesters returned, the police had retired and left in their place posters announcing crime alerts and instilling fear in the neighborhoods surrounding the center. We attempted the contacts but came out dry, as most organizers were working on a march and the actions of the following days, and we ended up booking bus tickets to the sierra mountain range in Oaxaca, none other than a town called San Jose del Pacifico. During the three hour drive through stunning Oaxacan scenery, we saw mixed reactions to the teachers strike graffited on the walls, some saying "give our teachers a living wage" and others "get off your lazy bums and teach our kids".

Once in San Jose, we camped, hiked, felt that rumble of an earthquake, ate great grub and contemplated the vast wilderness that surrounded us and the long road ahead. After a couple days we headed on to Mazunte beach on the Oaxaca coast, the beach that has been my bay to the Pacific Ocean all these years living in Mexico. Vladi and I have been coming back to this popular hippy beach year after year, and while this time we almost had the beach to ourselves, we happened to run into Mauricio,who was planning almost the same route in Guatemala and Honduras. He needed gas expense help and we needed some road tripping, so it is working out that we will spend another night here in Chiapas at this beach made famous in the Mexican movie Y tu mama tambien, head to the border, on to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala (where I stayed last summer... beautiful place!), down to Antigua and then up again to Copan, Honduras, back over the border to Livingston, Guatemala, and then up to Tikal. From there, Vladi and I will be on our own to head down through El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and finally Panama, which will either lead us to South America or to the Carribean!


Posted by robingoka 11:08 Comments (1)

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