|I know how hard it has been for you all without the beloved Friday Comic series this past month. Don't worry; it's back! And since I don't foresee any epic adventures in the near future*, hopefully there will be FCs for at least a couple more weeks.
Some of my comics have no basis in my life: I've never met a talking emerald and never crossed paths with Fuzzy Wuzzy. Some, however, are totally taken from real life (84, 66, and 90 just to name a few). This week's is so taken from my life right now that I even used my own name in it. (I was going to go into an explanation of what's going on, resplendent with all sorts of cutsie euphemisms*, but then I realized that's what old people do, talk about their health maladies. If you're under 50, you can't really get away with it (and for good reason!))
Anyway, I got a few good comic ideas on the road, so I'm looking forward to the next couple FCs. But, as well all know, good ideas don't necessarily equal good comics, so time will tell.
|Thursday April 1 2010||File under: comic|
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|A popular topic of conversation for travelers is money. From how you work it to travel (if you are on a longer trip or travel frequently) to daily budgets, it pretty much all gets covered. Luckily for me, instead of feeling like this is an intrusive topic, it is one that really interests me. How do other people find funds to travel? How long with their saving hold out? What do they plan on spending per day and what do they actually spend?
For this last trip, I gathered up all my recipes and compiled them to have a better idea of my travel budget (which could help with future planning). I post them here not only for posterity and for my own reference's sake, but also because the finances of travel are a big part of it all, so it is just another piece of the puzzle.
Overall, this trip cost $1384 (on ground expenses, flights, and getting home from the airport). Not bad for 24 days of adventure. Some interesting observations:
|Monday March 29 2010||File under: travel, Mexico|
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|Friday March 26 2010||File under: travel, Guatemala|
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|DISCLAIMER: Another wordy post, I know*, but no attempts at art or style in this one; just a regular, run-of-the-mill travel anecdote.
Sometimes bureaucratic/logistical disorganization can work for you. Sometimes it works against you. Today, while navigating my way back to the good old U.S. of A., I experienced both to a blog-worthy degree.
It all started at the airport in Tuxtla-Guetierez airport at an hour when I would rather be asleep in bed. Small airports have a certain degree of advanrage over their megalith cousins: short lines for both tickets and security. At ticketing, I checked in simply by showing my passport, as always do. I've since done away with even printing my itinerary because it hardly matters anymore. Anyway, with a smile and nod, I was handed my boarding pass and pointed on my way, no exchanged words needed. Only after I had cleared security did I realize that I was only given one boarding pass instead of 3 as I might have expected (being as there were three legs to my flight). A minor detail, I thought, that I could easily work out at the Mexico city airport.
As soon as I stepped off the plane, I realized it wasn't going to be so minor. For one, I didn't know what airline I was transferring. A silly fact, I know, but an important one, it turns out. I knew I started on Mexicana and knew I was continuing on one of the biggies (Delta, American, or Contential) through somewhere in Texas (Houston or Dallas). That array creates an astounding number of permeations, which, when coupled with the two vastly separated terminals of Benito Juarez International Airport sent me on quite a goose chase. Finally, after an hour of roaming around, asking contridicting, but very smiley, information people, I got my boarding passes. Relieved, I asked the counter agent about paying my exit tax*. She vaguely mentions a bank location "somewhere downstairs" and hustles me away. So begins another goose chase.
I can't find a bank and am getting kind of getting tired of looking. Again, many helpful but ultimately uninformed information booth operators point me varoius directions with nothing doing, so I decide that when I need to pay something, I will be more explicitly told. In my experience, this usually happens when you go through pre-security or another ticket checker somewhere in the pipeline, so I proceeded. The ticket/passport checkers for my security checkpoint seemed to be on a gossip break, so I wasn't approached as I headed on my way. Cautious not to let my optimism about saving $25 run wild, I was wary that surely there would be a double check on this down the way. Afterall, didn't I have to let someone know I was leaving the country?
Next onto security*: upside, no lines; downside, over-anxious security personnel. First, they determined my fork to be questionable lethal so set it aside with a rapid Spanish explanation as to why. My broken attempt at conveying that I had already been on a flight that very same day with the very same fork failed to dissuade him. He must be in cahoots with that damn Jamaican that stole Loafy last year. Then they decided my juggling clubs were weapons with which I planned to raise an army against the flight attendents if I didn't get my choice of soda. This I would not stand for. I first attempted to explain the situation in Spanish: "Estos son clavas para hacer malabarismo. Queries una demonstracion? Los tuve en el vuelto esta manana y entrada el pias del avion CON estos. Cual is el problema?" That didn't work, either because I didn't convey myself properly or it wasn't a valid arguement. Next I requested an agent who spoke english so I could more properly explain/vent. He arrives, and, after tossing the club into the air and knocking it experimentally against his palm, he says the same thing in broken english that the woman before said in spanish: no pueden pasar.
I've never actually jumped up and down in frusteration before. Okay, maybe I have, but usually it is in a place where the gesture can be understood to be ironic or funny. Here, not so much. I did, however, manage to convey that I wanted to speak to the manager about this issue. By now, a group was developing. Yeehaw, another showdown.
The manager arrives and I can tell right away by his demeanor that he is on my side. He tosses the club in the air, spins it in his fingers, and jokingly asks something about the circus. Saved. With a nod and smile, he sends me on my way. The others gathered around all smile an apologetic smile and wish me a good trip. As I'm repacking my bag (juggling clubs, computer, pocketables, etc.) I see my fork unattended and grab it. I'm not letting go of Loafy II that easily. As I walk off to find my gate, I smile that knowing that standing up for myself has proven valueable again. Could this become a habit?
Checking in at that gate, the agent asks for my tourist card (the card which I was supposed to get stamped for $25 when I visited immigration to let them know I was leaving the country). I handed her the wad of papers that they handed me down on the Guatemalan border, try to look as innocent as possible. She flipped through it more than she had with other the passengers, but then gave a quick nod. I must not have seen or something because she then glanced up with a look that said you're-still-here? but politely said, "That's all." Now for sure I knew I had dodged the exit fee.
Sometimes disogranization can work for you and sometimes it can work against you. When it works for you, you smile at your triumph. When it works against, you're inclined to deride the lack of logic or effort or discipline that has caused it al. But in either case, looking back you end up with a story and there is definitely value in that.
|Wednesday March 24 2010||File under: travel, Mexico|
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|DISCLAIMER: through a combination of randomly reading a novel about writing, wanting to keep blog posts fresh and new, and being rained in for the better part of a day, I found myself writing this. A word of caution to those who didn't like my last foray into prose (Four Nights): you might as well skip this one. Otherwise, if you're up for a little boredom-induced, unedited experimentation, read on.
|Monday March 22 2010||File under: travel, Mexico|
|For those of you following along at home*, you know that after a brief stint in Belize and Guatemala, I'm back in Mexico—San Cristobal de las Casas to be exact. It is a gorgeous town with lots to do, although I find the majority of my activities involve ice cream, crosswords, and chatting with my dad, with whom I met up a few days ago.
Besides loafing, we've just meandered* around. There is some great architecture to see as well as a church or two. The food, as always, is amazing. Our hotel has a wonderful courtyard with a great bougainvillea. Also, just out of town, there is a great walk up the river, with sketchy suspension bridge included!
Besides loafing/meandering about town, we did a great trip up the Canyon del Sumidero. We saw birds, spider monkeys, and even crocodiles. Besides the fact that it was an organized trip and they shuffled us around like cards and stuffed us in wherever we fit, it was worth it.
Yep, Mexico continues to live up to its reputation for easy, relatively cheap, interesting traveling. So as the end of this adventure draws near, it is comforting to think that I know I will be back someday.
|Friday March 19 2010||File under: travel, Mexico|
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|Wednesday March 17 2010||File under: travel, Guatemala|
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I've chosen to spend my few days in Belize out in the Northern Cayes* instead of exploring inland where jungles, caves, rivers, etc. are found. There is just something about sandy beaches, slow Caribbean life, and ocean breezes. So in lieu of adventuring with jaguars, monkeys, and who-knows-what reptiles, I walk around, read, eat, swim, and chat up my fellow travelers. Oh, and I take some pictures too: requisite self-timer beach shot, almost spoiled turned artsy shot, beach palm, good advice that I take as often as possible, and more friendly advice.
Perhaps I will return to Belize some day to expand my knowledge beyond the Cayes. Or perhaps I will return someday to each johnny cakes, drink fresh pineapple juice, and wonder at the beauty of the Caribbean sea. They both sound pretty dang nice.
(Alternate post titles considered: Jeez Belize and You Better Belize It)
|Friday March 12 2010||File under: travel, Belize|
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|Conveying the vibe of a place—how it feels to be there—is something that is hard to do via any medium: words, pictures, even video.
Sure I could tell you that here in San Pedro, Belize there are more golf carts on the roads than cars, an equal mix of English and Spanish on storefronts, and coconut palm lined paths right on the beach. I could further go on to describe how friendly the people are, and even offer an anecdote of being helped (without ulterior motive) by 3 people within my first 15 minutes of being here*. But you still wouldn't get the full vibe of this place.
Feeling a place's vibe is a lot of what traveling is about for me. Sure I like to see the sights, eat the food, and meet the people, but all those things can be overshadowed (both in a good way and a bad) by the vibe of a place. As for the here and now, I've done found myself a place with a wonderful vibe. Now I'm going to head out and enjoy it.
|Wednesday March 10 2010||File under: travel, Belize|
LIFE IS SHORT, MAKE IT WIDE
Staying at a hostel in Valladolid, Mexico, I met an older traveller about whom there was a lot I admired (and aspired). His business card fancies him as an "entrepreneur, adventurer, traveler, troubador, eccentric" and from the few days we hung out, it all seemed true enough (and then some; I'm looking forward to reading the book he wrote*). At the top of his business card was this phrase: "life is short, make it wide". He also had a very well written song that said the same. I thought it was as good a quote as any to add to my Monday traveling quotes series, to be reminded, whenever I have occasion to review past posts, to do just that—make it wide.
|Monday March 8 2010||File under: travel, quote|
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