A Travellerspoint blog

The Princess of Mexican TV

sunny 38 °C
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Again, a million things have happened that it is, as always, almost impossible to begin. The easiest thing for me to do is to start where I left off and work my way up to today, by including as many as the cool stories I can – or at least the ones that are able to be shared. In the last 2 weeks I have been on a Caribbean island, my skin has turned black once again, I have had fish eat at my feet while swimming in a cenote, and I have been the Princess of New Zealand for 3 days. I have also flown from Mexico to El Salvador where I met a lovely man who took me for a drink and dinner, before flying to Cali, Colombia where I have a 5 hour wait before I board my plane to Bogota. Hence, I have the time to write this while sitting on a dusty floor in a dirty corner of the smelliest airport I have ever been to. It is 1.30am and I am writing rather than shopping or drinking with new friends as the airport is closed so I am actually not within the departure gates so I am slightly terrified of being jacked. And I am sitting in the corner because this is the only part of the entire airport with free wifi signal. Even my fancy new wifi hacking app (wifi password is the highly original name in case you care) hasn’t found anything available that is near a chair. Actually, I had a chair but then the security came and took it away despite my protests. I guess I lost my royal rights as soon as I left Mexico…

But, it is now time to talk about the past few weeks before I can talk about today. I know in my last entry, I was in Tulum with two good friends Memo and Juan. Memo is from Mexico City and Juan from Colombia. We travelled together from Tulum to a town called Bacalar. The reason we went to this town is because it sits on the bank of the most beautiful lake I have ever seen, La Laguna de Bacalar.
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We stayed in a horrific hostel, shared a bed in a sweaty and crowded dorm room because they mucked up our last minute reservation. I was full of a nasty flu (which at one point I was convinced was Dengue) so I went outside at about 11pm, covered myself in repellent and slept in a hammock under the stars and with the breeze. Everyone thought I was nuts because of the mosquitos, I just laughed and added a couple of extra layers of coconut oil before sleeping until the came up. I was still feeling sick but we had already booked out sailing trip out on the lake. I figured that what I truly needed was a cleanse – and what better place to do it than in one of the best lakes in the world? So off we went.
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The lake was stunning, and the day was super hot and sunny. We stopped at all sorts of interesting places along the way to swim and explore the different areas.
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At one point we all jumped off and followed our sailing captain to a specific area. He started covering himself with sand from the bottom of the lake, instructing us to do the same. We covered ourselves in calcium and sulphur rich minerals that made our skin feel as soft as silk. Some people kept theirs on until it dried, but as always I needed to be clean so mine didn’t last much longer than a few photos and many more laughs.
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The sailing trip was a full day out, at least 7 hours. At one point everyone jumped off with their legs through the arms of life jackets and then floated down a beautiful canal way. DSC00351.jpgDSC00350.jpgDSC00348.jpg
Ichose not to because I was cold, despite the 35 degree weather. I knew my fever had really kicked in, so I tanned on the boat in peace and quiet instead which was heavenly. I kept looking up to see that I was all alone in the most beautiful turquoise water. It was the same colour, if not more vibrant, as San Andres. But the water was fresh water rather than salt, or agua dulce (sweet water) as it is called in Spanish.
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We decided not to spend another night in that hostel. It was just super weird, the girls were super hairy, the men had long nails, and everyone seemed to be pregnant to each other. I don’t know about that last part for sure, but we certainly didn’t dig the vibe. So we headed back to Tulum to camp in a remote part of the beach for a few days. The bus ride back was a joke, we were all crammed in like sardines and had to wait for people to get off in order to get a seat. I didn't like it one bit because it wasn't safe, but there was nothing I could do as getting off the bus in the middle of the night to stand on the side of the road in Mexico is probably even less safe.
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We met up with Ilse, a friend of Memo’s from Mexico City, and we rented a little beach cabin. By night we partied on the beach and by day we swam. Ilse and I made a fantastic sandcastle one day which we were so proud of, I think the photos are on Memo’s camera and I hope I can get a hold of them. It really was a spectacular castle which everyone on the beach came along to admire!
After my time in Tulum and Bacalar I needed to say adios to my 3 traveling buddies and head for Holbox. Now, I ask that as you read this you please say the name properly. The word Holbox is not Spanish, and is actually a Mayan word and it is pronounced like this: OLL-BOSH.
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Holbox is a beautiful island three hours bus ride north of Cancun. You then need to take a short 30 minute ferry to the island itself. On Holbox there are no cars at all and the streets are made of sand. All of the buildings are painted different colours or have murals on them, it is so pretty. If you need a faster way to get around you can rent a bicycle or a golf buggy. Everything is in walking distance so I chose to walk, which is always a great thing to do as a traveller because I find that I meet so many more people - especially if I walk without a phone in my hand or headphones in my ears. I stayed in a Hostel called Tribu. The hostel itself is gorgeous, it has the most beautiful buildings and artworks everywhere you look.
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Sadly, the atmosphere was horrendous and I didn’t particularly enjoy the company of anybody there. Actually, that’s not entirely true, the first night I met some lovely girls who were leaving the very next day. But the reason for the lack of atmosphere was because the owners had called in some friends from Argentina to help with renovations. And these friends were very closed off to anyone else which is a shame because as workers they should have been actively trying to make the hostel a fun and friendly place. Also, the only area with wifi was the common area so everyone would go there and just sit on their phones! It was such a shame. However, I was very grateful to my amazing friend Gabi from Guadalajara who had given me the phone number of her friend Adriana, who lives and works on the island. The first night I was there, I met up with Adriana for a quick drink and a dance – one that ended up with us returning home to bed at sunrise!
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The following day, Adriana's cousin Alan had arrived for the weekend to celebrate his birthday. We hired a golf buggy and went off with another friend Cristian to explore the different points of the island.
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At the different points there were some beautiful and remote areas for swimming and exploring
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We tried to see the flamingos but we couldn’t cross the river because there were crocodiles swimming in it (thankfully they knew what to look for, if I had gone by myself the thought of a crocodile would never have even crossed my mind!). We saw sunset from the beach which was stunning, then went home to get ready to go out for dinner and some drinks that night.
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There were many days of tanning on Holbox, and I loved spending the day with Ariana at her hotel. Her hotel was right on the beach and had all sorts of amazing tanning chairs that non-guests paid a fortune to lounge on - but not us! DSC00398.jpgDSC00399.jpg
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There were days spent lazing on the beach with the local fishermen. Sometimes they would cook up fresh ceviche on a beach stove they had made.
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Sometimes I would go for a drink with new friends, there were plenty of cool bars to try. My favourite ones had swings at the bar where you could catch a breeze.
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Other times we would just share a rum or a beer. I met lots of lovely people in Holbox and I loved how everywhere I would walk I would meet someone I knew, and then they would offer me a seat and a beer. It was the atmosphere where to say no would be rude, so I found myself casually drinking beer with new friends all day long. I met one friend who became my Mexican father. He was a fisherman with a lovely heart, reminding me of my own dad. He would always bring me a beer or a michelada and make sure that I had the comfiest seat or that I was warm or dry or whatever.
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Sadly, I got sick during my time in Holbox. The Not-Dengue-Flu had not quite left me (the cough still lingers now of course, in true Katy style). It wasn’t a normal sickness that struck me down, rather a terrible allergic reaction to the mosquitos. Holbox has a terrible mosquito problem, in fact it is the reason most tourists don’t stay longer than 48 hours. They are vicious and relentless, and there are billions and trillions of them per square centimetre. And it wasn’t long (despite the 3 types of repellent I wore) until my skin had broken out with massive hives and rashes. Some of the hives were 20cm long and at least 2cm high. I was in pain and I could hardly walk, so I hobbled my way up to the hospital/ emergency clinic for a couple of injections. One which is full of vitamins and it actually changed the scent of my blood so that the mosquitoes no longer wanted me! However, after a whole lot of gel, antihistamine injections, blood scent changers, and some time spent in the sea and sun, it wasn’t long before I was ready to party again. So I met Adriana and we headed off to a Bachata dance class for the evening. Luckily the injections healed me, because my trip to Holbox coincided with their 3rd annual Gastronomical celebration.
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The party went for 5 nights, of which I was there for 3 of them. All I can say is wow – the food, the music, the location, the decorations, the mezcal and tequila! They had booklets for sale, and you needed to buy one every night. Each one cost about $50NZD and it was full of coupons to eat at all of the different stalls and to get drinks and alcohol. But because I had spent over a week on the island, I was able to eat at most of the stalls for free because I knew all of the owners and workers of the restaurants! And the people that I didn’t know, Adriana or other friends knew – it was perfect! At one point, I even got given a book half full of tickets which meant I could then hand out some to other friends - so much for tickets and them making money from an event huh? They were great nights, and it always ended up in dancing until my feet ached. Everyone was drunk due to the huge amounts of free liquour. One guy was so out of it, he was dancing romantically with a chair! I was in stitches, trying to take sneaky photos of him.
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I also knew the members of Holbox's local salsa band (and they knew me too, cos I was always requesting Bachata!). My friend Raphael let me try his saxophone and I was so excited, I knew one would present itself into my life at some stage!
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There was quite a bit of media covering the event, and for some reason I boldy approached a TV crew and asked them if they would like the privilege of interviewing the Princess of New Zealand. They were thrilled to do so, and of course I was super excited to be interviewed – and to be called princess while doing so!
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Each night we partied the whole time, and on my last night we found a whole lot of left over rum, vodka, cocacola, ice cubes, and a bag of fresh limes… Talk about an omen! So off we went, laden with goodies. I was scheduled to take the 7am ferry back to the mainland so I could meet my friend Brissa in Cancun at 10.30. However, I knew that if I did not get on the 5am ferry straight after the party, I would never ever wake up for 7am!
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By this stage I had long left Tribu and was staying with Adriana in her adorable little house. It was really sad saying goodbye as she had become such a good friend in such a short time. With promises of trips to Cuba and visits to dance bachata in the Domican Repulic together, it was time to leave behind the great life and the amazing people I had found in Holbox. I arrived in Cancun to meet Brissa in the lobby of her hotel. I was beyond exhausted and fell straight asleep for a few hours.
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When we both woke up, we headed off with a couple of her friends to Cenote Azul, about an hours drive from Cancun. This was exactly what I needed, a dive in fresh, cool, crystalline water.
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The water itself was bizarre, it was full of lots of fish that would come and nibble on my feet and legs – causing me to laugh and freak out every time! They were like the fish in the fish foot spa’s in Asia, only bigger and scarier!
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We then went to the beach in Playa Del Carmen for a few hours, had some dinner, and I then passed out for 12 hours!
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I had been in contact with Benjamin, the owner of the TV station, in the hopes of receiving a copy of my interview. When he realised I was in Cancun, he asked if the Princess of New Zealand would have time to accompany him to events over the weekend. I was super excited, and of course I said yes – as both meant free backstage passes to events and places I would never have had the money to go to otherwise! The experience was amazing, I went to a musical called Que rico mambo and got to meet all of the actors before watching the show from right up the front.
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I got to go to Xplore in Cancun and see everything behind the scenes of the race, including all of the sexy men!
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And at the race, I got to interview people for the TV channel! It was all super exciting, and everybody called me Princess. Someone even wiped down a chair for me before I could sit on it. I guess I will never truly know if people truly thought I was the princess, or if they were just playing along. But either way, I was treated like royalty and it was so much fun. I really enjoyed seeing all the behind the scenes stuff for the press – for the most part it seems to be quite a lot of running, very little sleep, and a lot of waiting around! The funniest part for me was interviewing people who were clearly Mexican celebrities, them thinking I was the Princess of New Zealand, yet I had absolutely zero idea of who they were!
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When they realised I had no accommodation booked, I was put up for the night. Which was so lovely as money is certainly running low these days.
I was taken to a secret spot in Cancun where it is only for the locals. The water is a mix of fresh and salt and it so clean and pretty with tropical fish swimming all through it and around you.
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Benjamin dropped me at the airport where I made my first flight of 3 to Bogota. And now, here I am sitting here in this dusty and cold airport with now just 2.5 hours left to go. I was sad to wave goodbye to Mexico, especially to all of my amazing friends who live there. But a huge part of me is already so happy to be back in Colombia. On the plane I met a lady who has invited me to stay with her when I come to Cali to explore properly, and I already have the magical feeling of being wanted and loved by even strangers, the feeling that only exists here in Colombia . I know it sounds stupid, sitting here on a smelly piece of concrete, but the truth is that Colombia well and truly stole my heart.

Posted by chasingsummer 13:12 Archived in Mexico Tagged beach caribbean tv colombia holbox media princess tanning cenotes Comments (0)

From Tequila to the Caribbean

sunny 38 °C
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Again, it feels like I just can't keep up with my own adventures. I try so hard not to be a tourist, uploading a million photos onto facebook that just annoy everyone because they aren't on holiday too - and because I know how know one really cares about another persons travel stories. It's why I like this blog, because it is partly for the amazing people in my life who do care and want to know where I am and what trouble I am causing (love you guys so much), and also because essentially, it is purely for myself and for the day when I compile the entire thing into a printed book. But to keep both the people I love, and my future self, up to date with this whirlwind adventure is dam near impossible.
Right now however, I am slightly sunburned so I can not face yet another day in the unrelenting heat. I am in Tulum, sitting in my dark dorm room, all alone, with the fan blasting on me while I take the opportunity to write my stories and share some photos.

I guess I need to start with Tequila, the region I went to explore with Advier, Alain, and Dirce on the day after Dirce's birthday. We all had a slight hangover from drinking too much red wine and tequila the night before when we went out for dinner.
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I was so pleased to see Dirce enjoying her day, especially when she got given her prized gift of a ukelele!
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After dinner, we had cake and tequila back at Dirce's house. I didn't know about a particular Mexican tradition where everyone chanted 'mordida' after singing happy birthday, and then Dirce was face planted straight into the cake!
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Next thing I knew, there was a full on cake fight! Luckily there were 8 dogs and of course, me and my Taquito, so we could be licked clean!
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So the following day, with head aches and the odd piece of sugar or cream still in our hair, we left to see the round pyramids. On the way, we stopped in the Tequila region to drink cantaritos, which are the most delicious drink ever! They are made from various types of freshly squeezed juice, salt, and tequila. The entire process is done right before your eyes, straight into a clay drinking cup that you get to keep!
First you have to pick the size that you want, I chose medium. The grande has an entire bottle and a half of tequila poured into it!
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Then they chop and squeeze all of the fruit into the cups
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And then they use a hollowed out cows horn to add 5 horns of tequila into each mug! The traditional way to pour and measure tequila is through a horn, and it is only recently that many places have changed to using shot glasses or more western types of measures. So I was very happy I could drink the real deal.
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Then it is time to sit back, relax, and drink a whole lot of tequila!
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Where we were was certainly not for tourists, I was the only person there who was not Mexican, and the outdoor bar was full of live music and chatter. The bar looked out onto the beautiful, UNESCO protected Blue Agave landscape and mountains.
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Blue Agave is the blue plant from which Tequila is made. And Tequila can ONLY be called Tequila if it is made in this particular part of the world. And I went there!
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I saw some cactus's and realised I had promised Erie I would take a picture behind one pretending to be the shape of a cactus.
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I didn't see the wasp nest while doing it though, and one of the little buggers got me on my arm. I wasn't sure if I was allergic but I had my bee injection on me so I knew I would be ok if so. Thankfully I am not allergic so it was definitely worth the sting for the picture for my darling esposa Erie!
After finally finishing our huge drinks we drove to the pyramids. But we were devastated to find that our time in Tequila land had meant we missed our opportunity to enter to see the pyramids. And no matter how hard we tried to convince security that I am the Princess of Nueva Sandalia (translates as New Sandal, where my friend Ariel had mistakenly thought I was from, starting a great joke and of course, an entire new country of which I am the Princess), there was no way we were going to be let in. We were very disappointed as we headed back to Guadalajara, but the sunset over the mountains was beautiful and I was very grateful to Alain, Advier, and Dirce that we had tried, and that I had made it to see the Tequila territory.
That night we all went out for my goodbye party, we went to Paul-O, Gabi, and Ariel's house before going to a karaoke bar until the early hours of the morning. We had street quesadillas, of which I will always remember as the best drunken 4am food of my life, before heading back to sing and dance around the apartment once more. At 6am, we decided it may be time to get some sleep, so Advier, Alain and I headed off for home. However, we were locked in by the giant fence around the apartment building. Every house or apartment building in Guadalajara has a fence around it, many are also protected with very high voltage electricity at the top. Thankfully this one was not, as we had to jump it in order to get out! The fence was at least 12 feet tall but after I saw Advier jump, I knew that Alain would make it too, and I was NOT going to be the girl who couldn't jump a fence! So before Alain had the chance to go ahead of me, I began to climb up. By this stage, the rest of our friends were watching, cheering, and laughing from upstairs. I got up with the help of a car, a few broken bricks, and some dodgy electrical poles only slightly freaked about going down, and then swung my way down a very scary looking spikey part and a wobbly telephone pole. It was great, Advier was so proud of me and everyone cheered "we love the princess of Nueva Sandalia!" to which, I explained that everyone at home can do these things, and now everyone thinks New Zealand breeds tough women... And I guess in many ways we do, because I have been laughed at many times for wearing barefeet, running over rocks, choosing to take the beaten path instead of the paved one, and now climbing massive security fences like a monkey!
The next day though, I realised my jeans didn't quite like the fence jumping...
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A couple of days later I met up with Franco's cousin Carlos. We went to see the pyramids together, and this time I managed to make it inside. The hike up the hill in the heat was pretty intense, and I was regretting not wearing my jandals so I stripped into barefeet again much to Carlos's disgust. I didn't care because I was boosting it up the hill and he was straggling behind, constantly asking for me to help haul him up and stopping for rests. I had to laugh, and I was grateful too because that has been my position many times with ex-boyfriends, and of course my amazing brother Dom. I laughed, partly at his unfitness, and mostly with pride at my new found independence and ability to do anything I put my mind to.
The view on our way up was spectacular, so Carlos got to rest while I stopped to take some pictures.
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I saw a short cut, that looked beautiful. Carlos was too scared to take it, but I explained to him that shortcuts are only created out of humanity's laziness and desire for an easy route - that appealed to him. I kept secret that shortcuts can also mean harder terrain leading to somewhere remote and idyllic, but thought I would keep that one to myself. I had to wonder though, how could anyone desire a paved road of concrete over one so beautiful
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Once we got to the top, there they were - beautiful round pyramids of grass and rock. We walked around, exploring them all. Sadly, no one is allowed to climb up onto them but you can see how they need to be preserved instead.
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Carlos dropped me home, and then I took Dirce and her family out for dinner to say thank you for letting me stay there for 2 weeks. The next morning as excited as I was to head back to the Caribbean, I was very sad to say goodbye to Dirce and to Taquito. I was especially sad when Dirce told me that Taquito came straight back inside, failed to climb up onto my bed without my help, and instead curled up right against it and waited there for me. I wish I could have taken Taquito. but I know the best thing for her is to find a forever family now while she is still a puppy.

I flew to Cancun (far longer than I had realised so I did some work on the plane). I got to my hostel, which was full of Aussie's and Kiwi's so we had a great evening. I met a guy from Venezuela and he gave me lots of advice about my upcoming trip there. We danced salsa and bachata too which was lots of fun. Again, I was the only non Latina who could speak Spanish, so I got extra tequila in my cocktail, free sunglasses given to me when I lost mine, and free beers all night. Sometimes, even still, I just high five myself!
The next day I took the bus down to Tulum where I have been for the past few days. I met a couple of friends in the hostel, one from Mexico City, one from Bogota, Colombia, and one from USA. We hired a car on one of the days and went to see Chichen Itza which was beautiful.
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The only thing that faulted it, was the large numbers of vendors everywhere. They lined the sides of the grounds, and called out to you every single step of the way. It was very hard to enjoy the ruins, and appreciate the tranquility when there were so many people calling out for your attention. I said to my friend how I didn't like it and one of the vendors overheard only part of the conversation. He asked me, "don't you like it, don't you like the Mayan culture?" I turned to him and said, "I love the culture, but this is not culture this is cheap souvenirs sold by pushy vendors." He realised I was right, and let me go without any more hassle. I felt very sad though, to be on the grounds of such a significant place for Mayan people, to be hassled for a few pesos. I can't even imagine what the ancient Mayans would have done, considering the vendors lined the paths to their sacrificial steps where they would make the steps rain in human blood until the real rain would come.
One part that was very cool was how you could clap, and then hear the sound of the quetzal bird echoing through the pyramid. I was bouncing up and down with excitement, it took a while for me to learn how to make such a loud clap (the louder the better) but once I got it, I was away!
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After walking around twice, clapping our hands a million times, being hassled for cash, and sweating more than I ever have at the gym, we left the pyramids and headed for a cenote. A cenote is an underground pool of water and there are said to be over 4000 of them in the Yucatan peninsula. We headed for one called Ik Kil and it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever swam. You could look down on the cenote from above, and of course in the nearly 40 degree head, that was super exciting!
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You make your way through tunnels underground, carved into the limestone to get to the water DSC00188.jpg
and then all you have to do, is jump!
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We stayed there for a couple of hours, enough for the water to cool us down so much that we stayed cool for the rest of the evening. It was so beautiful, floating on our backs and looking up at the opening with the vines making their way down. Their were also all sorts of rocks, cavern, and mini waterfalls around the edges. It was paradise!
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As we had entered the carpark, someone had taken a group photo of us. When we left, we were handed a bottle of indigenous Mayan liquor with our photo on it! We didn't buy it, but I was allowed to take a picture! I never had my face on an alcohol bottle before so I needed a pic!
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We spent the following day riding our bikes to the beach, at a place called Papaya Playa Project. It was such a neat place, all sorts of alcoves to enjoy a drink with a great view! There were also beds on the beach inside little cabañas so we took over one of them for the day. The waiter brought us beer and nachos with salsas and fresh guacamole - bliss!
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That was where I picked up the sunburn, forgetting it had been 6 weeks since I was in the Caribbean sun I over did it. Not too much, but I am feeling a little bit sore. Today I rode my bike to the Mayan ruins that are in Tulum. They were once a port city for their trading, and it was much bigger and much more impressive than Chichen Itza. Also, no vendors were allowed inside so it made for a much more pleasant day. And because of its location on the coast, I was able to stop for a swim half way through!
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Tomorrow I am heading off to la laguna de bacalar which is a lake of 7 colours. I am going to go sailing and kayaking for a few days, perhaps before heading into Belize. Then I will head to the island of Holbox for 10 days before meeting Brissa for one last weekend of partying in Cancun before I leave Mexico and head to Venezuela!
x

Posted by chasingsummer 13:50 Archived in Mexico Tagged beach caribbean pyramids tulum mayan tequila cenotes Comments (2)

Viva Mexico

Guadalajara, Mazamitla, a dying puppy, and a fake wedding

After the amazing thunder and lightning show, I was expecting great things from Mexico. My first taste of my new country was when the immigration officer gave me his phone number and face book details so that he could show me around his country personally! I had to laugh at how easy it was to enter a country for a year; especially after all of the dramas I always have entering the United States. I came through the gates to find my good friend Adrian waiting for me, as promised. He took me straight out for dinner, where we had quesadillas and sopes, pozole and agua de orchata. I really love Agua de orchata, it is like rice water but it tastes like some kind of spicy milk. He then took me to my friend Dirce’s house, who I have been staying with since my arrival in Mexico. Dirce has been one of my very favourite people since I first met her 18 months ago on her first day in New Zealand. When I arrived, it was in the middle of her sister’s birthday party, so I was immediately given tequila and cake – making me realise, I was going to be eating like a King during my time in this country!

Over the next couple of days we went to Zapopan, a border city to Guadalajara. It used to be an individual city, but now they have merged together – like Auckland and Manukau. Again, we ate delicious food, wandered around the church and the beautiful little buildings, and had a couple of beers. I went to a party at her Aunties, for which we had previously helped make the most delicious cakes for. The party served all traditional food – more sopes (like arepas/ corn cakes topped with delicious ingredients), quesadillas, pozole (a type of corn and usually meat soup), taquitos (mini tacos), and home grown elotes (corn on the cob, but not as I have ever known it, served with fresh lime and lots of chilli rubbed all over it or sour cream if you are that way inclined). There were even mini pavlovas, which of course everyone then learned are a New Zealand dessert! I fell in love with Cari, the tiny Chihuahua of Dirce’s Aunt.
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Over the weekend of Mexican Independence Day, I went with a group of 10 of Dirce’s friends to a small town called Mazamitla. They are the loveliest group of people, the entire time I felt so loved and included. They were so patient with my Spanish, and helped me to understand when I couldn't. I really enjoyed their company, and felt like I had know all of them for forever.IMG_20313391163654.jpegIMG_28857230693962.jpeg
On the way, we stopped at a small town, where there was a huge line of people queuing in the rain for something. I didn’t understand what they were waiting for, but quickly realised we too were going to be waiting in this same long wet line. My friends explained we were going to be buying Vampiros, an amazing drink that this town is famous for. Apparently people drive from Guadalajara just to buy them and then return home. They are made in front of you and are a mixture of tomato juice, lemonade, orange juice, salt, chilli (I think) and of course – a lot of Tequila! They are made, and served, in a plastic bag with a straw. You can even choose which type of tequila you would like! You then pile back into your car and drive on with your vampiro in hand – Vampiro means vampire, and the drink is called this because it is bright red like blood. And omg is it delicious!
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We got to Mazamitla, which is a beautiful town, absolutely magical, sitting up on top of some mountains. The entire town is painted white with a burnt red around the bottom fifth of the buildings. The cobbled streets, the magnificent church in the centre, and the surrounding woods make it feel like paradise.
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We went out for breakfast, we cooked the most amazing food at home, we stayed up all night dancing salsa and bachata, and there was a guitar just for me to play until the wee hours of the morning. The funniest part was when everyone loved the song Dom and I had written for a very disliked boy I used to see. When I had first said I would play the song, Paulo was worried I would cry. When he heard the lyrics, everyone laughed and laughed. I must have played this same song 30 times, each time the others learning more and more of the words!
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On the night of el grito de Mexico – the cry of indepence, we went into the town and looked around the markets, we met some dancers called the viejos, who do the dance of the old people.
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Everyone laughed when I told them I wanted to find my Mexican husband, and then when we found a giant tequila bottle - well, it was love at first sight and there he was - MY HUSBAND!
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We tried all sorts of different candy and sweets in the village, and then came back for a nap/ rest to prepare for the Independence Day party that evening. Brissa and I dressed up for the party, her as a beautiful Frida Kahlo, and me in traditional Mexican attire. Sandy helped do my hair, and we were set to go!
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In the town there were fire cracker towers, music, dancing, and lots of tequila! At one point I remember some random guy just pouring tequila from a bottle straight into my mouth, and the mouths of everyone around him. Everyone was having a great time – maybe not so much the guy who was in the ‘bullring.’ Completely different to those of Spain, this involved a bull made from fire crackers and the man having to run away from it – much to the delighted screams of everyone who watched!
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I was into it, screaming Viva Mexico along with everyone else, but it did feel really strange to be celebrating Mexico after celebrating Colombia so whole heartedly during the world cup. I almost felt like I was betraying my own country – even though Colombia isn’t my own! I must admit though, from what I have seen so far of Latinoamerica, the people are so patriotic and they love their countries. They know how to throw an amazing party, and they all pull together to celebrate their love for their land. I wish New Zealand knew how to party like this in celebration of our land.
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The following day we had to leave our little home in the woods, and as we headed back to Guadalajara, I had a pretty serious hangover. But thankfully, by the time we made it back to the town with the massive line – this time in the sunshine, I was ready for another vampiro to see me home! I learned to ask for one without salt, and found it was much easier to drink. It certainly took the edge off the headache! When we got home, it was straight to bed for about 18 hours!
I guess I need to mention about my baby… As Dad says, in true Katy style, I went to Mexico to find a rich husband, and instead found myself a poor, street dog. But in my defence, Taquito is the most adorable little puppy I have ever seen!
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Dirce and I found him when we had gone to buy fruit. He was sitting in a cage, without any food or water and was the skinniest, sickliest looking dog I had ever seen. I told Dirce how we had to save it, to take it home and look after it. She agreed but was worried as she already had 7 un-homed dogs she had rescued. We worked out a plot to steal the dog from the cage, and then I suggested,
‘Well, why don’t we just ask it’s owner?’
She looked at me as if I was crazy, but decided to give it a try. She located the owner, who said how this was the runt and no one wanted him, that he was skinny because his brothers and sisters had eaten all it’s food etc. We knew he was lying, but we went along with him. She told the man how I was from NZ and that I really wanted to have a Mexican dog, and he basically threw the dog at us, grateful to be rid of it. I have never held such a tiny, bony, smelly, sickly puppy in all my life. We took him straight home and fed him some water. He must have drunk nearly a litre of water, in huge gulps, and to the point where he would throw up and then keep drinking. The dog was hugely dehydrated, and it was heart breaking to see.
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Thankfully now, after nearly a week and a half with us, Taquito is no longer flajito (skinny), rather a real tubster! He walks around like the boss, comes for walks with the rest of the 7 dogs, and sleeps like a little angel. Oh, and Taquito is a she not a he, but I think Dirce and I have forever given her gender issues because we refuse to change her name! We are trying to find her a new home, hopefully one will come up that will love her forever and treat her like a little princess.
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My days in Guadalajara have been pretty lazy, involving a bit of sightseeing with Dirce, some salsa and bachata dancing, and a couple of parties with Adrian.
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One of the things I really loved, was how they had a massive square which was surrounded by sculptures who helped within the revolution of Mexico. I loved how amongst the sculputres stood artists and poets, alongside the fighters and the war heroes. It made me realise how Mexico values the importance that the arts have in society, or at least it did at one point..
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I finally tried tortas ahogadas, the food that every single person from Guadalajara had told me about. It was pretty delcious, amazing bread, avocado and prawns drowned in delicious sauce. It was virtually impossible to eat without being a giant mess, but somehow I made it through!
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I tried to sort out my visa to live here but the immigration centre tried to rip me off and recharge me the money I had already paid in Wellington. To get my visa approved will mean spending a further 2 months here in the city, and I already have my plane to the Yutucan peninsula booked for next week. I fell in love with a pair of python cowboy boots, that unfortunately were the only pair over $100 in the shop (of course, they were the only $300 pair there).
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I sadly had to leave them behind me, as I knew $300 is the price of the sailing trip (San Blas adventures) from Colombia to Panama that I want to do before flying to the Dominican Republic. I was only able to completely cheer up at leaving my boots behind when we decided to enter a bridal shop and dress up in thousands of dollars worth of lace and tulle! I had always wanted to do this, but never had the courage or the opportunity. I think I make a pretty sexy bride, now I just need to find the rich husband!
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Only prolem is, if I don't stop eating all of this delicious food that Mexico has to offer, I will never find the rich man!

Posted by chasingsummer 15:02 Archived in Mexico Tagged food guadalajara tequila delicious mexican_food comida mazamitla cowboy_boots Comments (0)

My time in Bozeman, Montana

hunting, fishing, sunset, and a sky full of colours

sunny 25 °C

My time in Bozeman, Montana was so amazing. The place itself is really cool as it is set in the plains surrounded by magnificent mountain ranges. In the way that Auckland is named City of Sails, Montana is named Big Sky Country – and that it certainly is. Dom and Erie always laugh at me because I have figured that you can measure your own personal sky by counting how many hands it is across, similar to how you measure a horse. I swear that the sky is bigger in Montana, it stretches farther, it’s bluer and deeper, and just prettier. I was determined to go out and watch the sunset from a mountain and to see the stars while I was in town…

The night my parents left town, Uncle Butch, Aunt Terri and I went to a pig roast. Not the best place for a vegetarian, but they were determined to hook me up with a guy who had lived in New Zealand and Colombia. Isn’t that so thoughtful? However, when we met the guy it turned out he had lived in Colombia for 4 years and had never learned Spanish so the future arranged wedding that my parents and Aunt n Uncle had planned was instantly off! It was a cool gathering though, they had a keg and so much pork! I tried the tiniest bite ever but it was so gross, so I didn’t try anymore. Thankfully they had bread and a salad too for us veggos! After the party, Aunt Terri and I wanted an adventure so Uncle Butch suggested we do what is called ‘The Bermuda triangle.’ This is when you go to the 3 bars that are positioned in a triangle and have at least one drink in each. When we entered the first bar, The Hauf, we ran into a group of people who some worked with Uncle Butch. We joined up with them and started chatting, and I met two guys Casey and John. I instantly clicked with these two, and their two other friends, because when they asked why I was doing my travels, they asked if I was just following my heart - instant trust and friendship! The bar itself was awesome. Everything was carved with names, and I was super excited because you could eat peanuts and then throw the shells all over the floor. I asked John if we could carve Katy into one of the tables and the owner of the bar even gave us the knife to do it!
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John and Casey came with us to all 3 bars, and at the second bar we played a game of shuffle board (Aunt Terri and I lost by just 1 point!) and had our next drink. When we got to the final bar, Uncle Butch and Aunt Terri decided it was time for them to go home after their drink. So I stayed behind with John and Casey. We went to another bar, one with live music, and danced for what felt like hours. There was a guy who approached me, he was the tallest man I had ever met, and he wanted me to teach him how to dance – so I tried my very best! He was so happy, I think I made his entire week, especially when I thanked him for the dance afterwards and told him he did very well – something people always did for me when I was learning salsa or merengue in Colombia.
We went back to John and Casey’s place and John and I took Trigger out for a walk, where we went down to the skate ramp and just talked for hours and hours and hours under the stars. It was so cool how much we had in common, from ‘warmth insurance’ where we both always try to have one more layer of warmth available when we are away from home, to being able to see the colours of people. No one has ever been able to tell me what colour my aura is, and I learned that to him I am turquoise/ mint green. Which makes sense, as that is the colour of my hakuna matata tattoo and the reason I bought Trixi!
The following night I went for dinner with Jorgelina, my friend from Argentina who I met at my cousin’s wedding. After dinner we partied at a bar that had a DJ playing.
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The next day I had the worst hangover, but I still managed to go fishing with my Uncle. And it turned out to be the best hangover cure ever – the mountains, the river, the grass, the birds, the sunshine, and of course the ginormous sky!
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I caught two fish, and was so proud of myself. I was screaming and jumping up and down. Later, my uncle taught me how to cut it up and gut it. I nearly vomited the first time, but I did manage to do it myself. We then cooked them up and had them for dinner – delicious!
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I spent the rest of the week working, riding my bike around town, buying things I needed to get before being back on the road (headlamp, pocket knife, drink bottle etc), shopping with Jorgelina, fishing with my Uncle, cooking pizzas, pasta and arepas for my aunt and uncle, and working on editing Rob’s book.
One night, John came for dinner at my Aunt and Uncle’s before taking me on a hike up a mountain to see the sunset. When we stopped to buy some cider to drink at the top, I made him laugh by pretending these two giant watermelons were my breasts.
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It was so beautiful, you could see for miles and miles and miles. It was so bizarre watching the sunset behind other mountains, knowing that it was still in other parts of the USA. It felt like a ‘fake’ sunset, as if it was all just an illusion. I am so used to watching the sunset out over the sea when it takes with it all the light from New Zealand.
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On one of the days, I went with my Aunt and Uncle to a Taco bus in Dillon. We had the most delicious Mexican food, and I suddenly got super excited for the next part of my travels.
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On the way back we were looking for sand hill cranes, as opening season began the week after my departure and my uncle had a license to hunt two. We were also keeping an eye out for a rabbit, because my aim was to shoot something. I had already proved to my uncle that I could shoot, having been taught many years ago by my ex-boyfriend. Uncle Butch was most impressed when I managed to hit the target every time with both a shotgun and a rifle, so we knew that any rabbit we did see would be suicidal because there was no way I would miss. Finally, we saw two rabbits just sitting on the side of the road on the grass. It was state land, so I was allowed to shoot them. My uncle got the gun ready for me, and I panicked asking “do you think they are best friends?”
My uncle gave me a weird look, “are you going to shoot a rabbit or not?”
And I knew that I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t. I was determined to shoot something while with my uncle, because I truly feel that people who eat meat can only do so if they are able to go out and hunt the animal themselves. So I lined the bunny up with the barrel of the shotgun, half hoped that the gun would jam, and I pulled the trigger just as the bunny put his head up – meaning a perfect shot in the head. The rabbit still had grass in his mouth, which my uncle told me meant that he died instantly and never panicked or felt a thing. After I killed the bunny, I was so excited that I had made my shot, but so upset that the rabbit was dead. I even asked if there was anything we could do, maybe we could take the rabbit to the vet…
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I watched my uncle skin it (or really peel it) gagging a couple of times. Thankfully he didn’t make me do it myself, I don’t think I could have. Then we prepared it for cooking the following evening in my cousin’s famous, published recipe… And I can’t deny it, the rabbit was truly delicious!
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I had such a good time with my Aunt and Uncle, and I really enjoyed my time with them in Montana. I think Michigan will always be my home state, but Montana really is the most beautiful part of America that I have ever seen. I was so lucky to have met Jorgelina and John, meaning that I had people to have adventures with while my Aunt and Uncle were working (or deserving a break from me)…
It took me 12 hours to reach Mexico on 3 different flights, where my friend Adrian was waiting for me. As I flew into Guadalajara, I looked out of the window and saw the most amazing thunderstorms surrounding me. Our plane was not even in the clouds, but I could see in the not too far distance that there were different groups of clouds, each with lightening flashing within them. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, the clouds and sky around them would glow different colours every couple of seconds; blue, green, yellow, orange, and white. In all my years of traveling and flying, I have never seen anything quite like it. I can only imagine that a sky full of rainbow colours, as I land in a country I feel my heart has been calling me to, is a sign of amazing things to come.
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Posted by chasingsummer 11:21 Archived in USA Tagged fishing sunset hiking fun adventures montana hunting rabbits big_sky Comments (0)

Family time

leaving sunny Colombia for the freezing cold United States

rain -50 °C

Again, I have left this entry far too long. Now I need to try to remember everything that has happened in the past three weeks. Usually I can do this with the help of my camera… However, I sadly lost my camera when I was tubing with my family down the Madison river in Montana. I hit a rock, flipped out of my tube (probably due to the large amounts of whiskey and beer we had all been drinking), and my camera slipped off my wrist and down towards New Orleans before I had a chance to build a dam to catch it. Thankfully, I only lost a couple of days worth of pictures, rather than my entire trip so far!

I need to update my trip to Medellin, Colombia and Cartagena. Both are large cities – things that I never particularly enjoy. I really was not looking forward to going to Medellin because it was where some awful male I once knew was from. I was determined I was going to hate his city… But I didn’t. It was the annual feria de flores, and the town was alive with people, parades, fiestas, and the most beautiful flower creations I have ever seen.20140806_151424.jpg90_20140806_162123.jpg
The city itself, at least the part I stayed in; El Poblado, is very clean, trendy, and full of beautiful bars, boutiques, classy markets, and amazing clubs. 20140806_175330.jpg20140806_175335.jpg I met two guys from Ecuador who forced me to go out drinking with them one night at a bar called chupitos (shots in English). We did so many, some that were striped yellow, blue and red for Colombia, others that were highlighter green, and so much tequila!
The next day I went on an adventure with them, we went into the city to look at the cool statues in Parque Botero. These are massive statues made by Botero and donated to the city of Medellin. They are huge, made out of bronze, and you are actually encouraged to climb all over them and to touch them. How nice is that?
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We then made our way through the markets to where we could catch the cable car up to the top of the hill. Medellin is in the shape of a bowl. As in, there are mountains all around the city, and so the city has now spread further and further up the surrounding mountains. It really is a magnificent sight. The further up the mountains in certain directions are some very poor areas. The cable car is not a tourist attraction, instead it has been put there to help the local people be able to afford to get down into the city for work. Apparently there are other areas which have escalators going the whole way up, but I didn’t see those. So we rode the very cheap cable car right to the top, where we had a most spectacular view over the city. The photos as usual really don’t do it any justice!
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I again took the over night bus to Cartagena. Luckily, because it was the middle of the feria de flores everyone was entering Medellin, rather than leaving it, so I was lucky enough to have a whole row of seats. I pretty much slept the whole way, and arrived in Cartagena feeling super refreshed! I managed to make my way to my hostel using public transport, much to the row of taxi’s disgust that a foreigner could speak enough Spanish to do so. In Cartagena I stayed at the Media Luna hostel, which turned out to be my favourite of all inner city accommodation. I had chosen to stay there over the El Viajero because of the pool – and I was so glad I had! Cartagena is HOT! Much hotter than anywhere else I had been, possibly because the entire city remains inside the huge concrete wall that the Spanish built when they were busy robbing Colombia of their gold. I don’t have any pictures anymore of the castle, or the wall with the canons as that was all on my camera - which is now about to join Mardi Gras. The city of Cartagena, the part within the wall, is terribly touristy – but beautiful. I found that the best time to see it was early on a Sunday morning before the shops are open and the venders are out on the street trying to get your attention – and your money!
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I met an amazing group of friends from all over the world at Media Luna. We spent two nights drinking and partying on the rooftop of the hostel, which was a godsend due to the nice breeze that came across from the Caribbean sea.
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Somehow, I managed to convince all 12 of them that we should head off on one of the days to climb into a volcano to swim in a massive pile of mud! We drank about 4 bottles of rum on the bus, and when we ran out I managed to convince the owner of a bar to sell us the very last bottle of his. He wanted 40,000 pesos and I told him that was just ridiculous. I managed to get it for 20,000 including a bottle of coke – a pretty good deal since that bottle sells for $18,000 in an alcohol shop! Anyway, we all climbed into the volcano and had a great time. We were all pretty convinced that the volcano is not natural, or at least it has had a serious amount of help to remain standing. But real or not, in we got and we bobbed around like apples inside, completely covered in mud! No matter what you did, you could not manage to be upright because there was no gravity in the mud. It would just flip you over and spin you around so you always had to grab onto people to right yourself. This + the large quantities of Caribbean rum made for a lot of fun!
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The following day I had to take my plane to Chicago. Sadly, leaving Colombia was a giant struggle. I don’t think there are a large number of solo female travellers who aren’t smuggling drugs. Because of this, I had to have 3 police interviews, a full body xray, my stuff searched, and myself and belongings swiped for traces of drugs all before I could board my plane! I was told that if I wanted a translator, then I would have to wait for one to arrive to the airport, so I said that I could do the interviews in Spanish. I knew if I waited, then the translator would be on latino-time and the likeliness that I missed my plane would be 100%. I was very impressed that I was able to have my interviews in Spanish because usually when I am scared or emotional, my Spanish just goes straight out the window! But I even managed to correct him when he wrote something down wrong (my birthdate because January is Enero in Spanish, and he saw Jan and thought Junio for June). I also told the third officer that I was very sorry that he had to conduct the interviews and baggage search, that his beautiful country was still being used and abused for drugs. I was not angry at the airport at all (maybe if I had missed my plane, because I have since heard that if you do because of this reason, insurance does not cover it), but I was (and still am) very angry at the drug trade around the world, for causing such deep pain and despair to such an amazing country. I truly love Colombia, far more than I ever thought that I would. I really want to return and do something that could help to make a difference.

I arrived in the USA to be interviewed and questioned again. I know what I am doing is unique, and very different to many other travellers. However, I find it baffling to think I am one of the very few young women who have the courage to travel solita, to have the desire to speak flawless Spanish (or at least grammatically correct), to want to explore beaches and islands, to live forever in the sunshine, and to meet amazing people. I am sure people do it all over the world, why is it so hard to believe someone would want to do it in Colombia, and then to move to Mexico? Either way, I was grateful that my secondary interrogation officer in the USA was from Puerto Rico. We conducted my interview in Spanish, even though English was an option, and he was 200% behind my decisions and wished me the best of luck.

I got to my cousins place in Chicago, slept for 14 hours in her super comfy bed, and then got up and double washed my clothes on hot! I had the longest hot water shower, my first in 5 weeks! I don’t even think my blog entries have mentioned how I was showering previously – with buckets of agua dulce – sweet water that was actually yellow… I had to pour water over myself from a smaller container, cover myself in soap, and then pour again. Every now and then I found myself able to have a cold-water shower from what was basically a hose coming from the wall, never a showerhead! But to be honest, it was so hot that if I had have had the chance for a hot-water shower, I probably wouldn’t have even wanted it! I took the train to my Grandma’s in Holland, Michigan where she was waiting with my Aunt Di and Uncle Bill. It was cold. Like freezing. About 11 degrees! Grandma took me out and kindly bought me 2 pairs of jeans and a new top so that I wouldn’t freeze!
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We had such a great time, we went to breakfast at Jackies – a restaurant/ diner that we have gone to every time I stay with her since I first went to stay with her when I was 5. 20140812_112213.jpgWe managed to have such great luck everywhere we went, car parks right where we needed, free things at lunch, and we managed to stop in at a second hand store to find a brand new handbag (still with the original tags) that was supposed to be $135 but we got for $6! We couldn’t believe it!
I went to a concert to see two amazing guitarists names Rodrigo y Gabriela in Grand Rapids. The concert was in an amphitheatre set amongst the most beautiful gardens. We danced away and thoroughly enjoyed it, Rodrigo y Gabriela put on a very high energy performance, and the couple manage to synchronise perfectly.
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Grandma woke me up at 6am so I could get ready to begin my road trip with my Aunt and Uncle across the USA. I was super excited to see so many of the cool sights along the way that they had told me we would get to see.We spent 12 hours in the car on the first day, solid driving. I have never driven or been in a car for that long in my entire life! We calculated that we had driven further than the entire North Island of New Zealand! Day two was far better because we got to see so many cool sights. Including the corn palace; which is a building in Wyoming decorated with all different types of corn. Sadly it was in the middle of change over (they update it every year) so it was not in it's finest glory. Still pretty cool though as some parts were completed, and you got to see how they actually made it which was very interesting!
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My favourite place we went to was the Badlands, sadly I have lost quite a few pictures down the river… But I did take some on my phone too thankfully! The Badlands are in the middle of nowhere, just this endlessly flat, dusty, dry space of land. And then all of a sudden you feel as if you are actually standing on the moon! It was so amazing climbing all over the rocks, the hills, the cliffs, and then to be able to look out at the view. Aunt Di and I went for a walk and pretty much ran right into a deer. Again, the pic is on my camera but it was a very surreal moment being so close to it. The three of us just looked at each other and didn’t quite know what to do!
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After the Badlands we arrived into a town near Mt Rushmore where we were to spend the night. After a lovely dinner at a microbrewery and a stop in at a (totally awful) wine tasting venue, we headed to see the famous carved heads! I really enjoyed seeing the heads, the night time show where they light the faces was crazily patriotic but I did learn some fascinating things about the United States of America – including how young its history is. Even though I have spent so much of my life here, I had always ignorantly assumed that the USA was really old like Europe or Colombia.
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The following day was our last day for the road trip, it still meant another full day of driving, but we did get to stop at the devils tower in Wyoming. Dom and I had watched a Steven Spielberg called Close encounters of the third kind about a month before my departure, as we were told that the movie featured something that I would see on my road trip. Turns out that the entire movie is based around what we would see – the super weird column from the movie AKA Devils Tower! We had a lovely time, spent about an hour walking around the entire thing – which is really huge and really strange. On our walk I saw these trees with coloured cloth tied onto them. My aunt explained how they are actually prayer trees and the cloths are tied on by the Native Americans to protect the bush as it is a very significant area to the local tribes. Even today, it is a very serene place, and you can really feel how the native people felt such a spiritual connection to this particular piece of land.
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We finally arrived at my Uncle Butch and Aunt Terri’s house in Montana. I was so excited to be there, not only to see them, but because I knew that my parents were inside the house! I just ran through, completely ignoring all of the dead friends on the walls to hug my parents! Followed of course by the rest of my family who were all there and waiting seeing as that we were one of the last to arrive from our big drive. It turns out in total that we actually drove longer than the entire length of New Zealand – and about half again, so it was no wonder my back was killing me, PHEW! My Uncle Butch is an avid hunter, he is also a ranger and does some amazing work for the environment. I knew that his house held a lot of what I like to call dead friends, but I wasn’t quite expecting this! These are just some of them, of course there are far more!
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I have made peace with them now, but I have chosen to sleep in the room without them – that is also my cousin’s old bedroom and has an Audrey Hepburn poster on the wall, whatever are the chances of that?!
My parents and I spent the next few days exploring the area, stopping in an old western ghost town. We had ice cream, tacos (super western, not!) and had a fantastic time dressing up as an old cowboy family for our latest family picture.
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After some amazing days in Bozeman with the family, including the famous river trip with the entire family that lost my camera…God, two family reunions in a row, something has happened to my camera - try living that down!
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We all headed up to Big Sky for my cousins wedding. The location of the wedding was just heaven, way up in the mountains and in the most amazing lodge called Moonlight. The rehearsal dinner was so much fun, especially the bus ride home where we had the entire family in one bus singing songs for about 45 minutes after drinking a lot of wine and beer – too much fun! IMG_5589444141095.jpeg
The rain set in, and we thought that we would never see the sunlight again. However, about 1 hour before the wedding, just enough time to make sure everything was nice and dry, the sky broke and the sunshine poured through. The wedding was beautiful, next to a waterfall, and my cousin was the sunshine as she walked down the aisle to The Beatles singing ‘here comes the sun.’ After the ceremony and the photos were finished, just as everyone was heading inside to be seated, the rain came from nowhere and continued to pour for the rest of our time at Big Sky. I can only say that our Grandpa was certainly helping out Tiffany from above, because nothing else could have made such a magical thing occur. I believe it is truly a sign of good things to come for one of my favourite people and her new husband Alex. And in true Dood style, we partied and celebrated and danced and drank for as long as we could...
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The following days meant leaving Big Sky, saying farewell to my amazing family who all had to depart back to their different parts of the United States. It is always so sad saying goodbye, something that never really gets easier even after doing it so often throughout my life. But the time I have with my Grandma, my Aunts and my Uncles and my crazy cool cousins are amongst the best memories of my life. We realised that I will have to have multiple weddings if I marry a Latino – one in his country (which ever amazing place he is from!), USA and NZ – of course if anyone is to have 3 weddings to one man, it will be the same girl who had 25 birthday parties to celebrate turning 25!
My parents and I headed up to Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park. We had a wonderful 5 days traveling through the beautiful countryside of Montana. From rivers to canyons to glaciers to lakes to mountains – this state really has it all! We stayed in a lovely 2 bedroom/ 2 bathroom apartment that was actually the size of an average house! We went to a waterpark and rode the waterslides, we went to the Glacier park and saw a real live Grizzly bear, IMG_54918842868820.jpegIMG_54922911106123.jpegwe went out on a boat trip on the lake and saw a family of deer drinking water from the lake as well as a giant Ram doing the same.
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We saw ancient cave paintings made by Native Americans. The significance of this one is that this particular cliff was used as a point where the hunters would strategically march the animals right off the cliff onto the shelf below so that they would be easier to kill and use for flesh/furs/meat/ bones etc. There were tally charts that marked how many times this had been done successfully. Just amazing.
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Even though so much of my time here in the USA has been spent far too cold that was in my original plan, I have really enjoyed it and I can see how there may be a time in the (very distant) future where I will actually work in a cold place, perhaps a ski season or something on a beautiful mountain range. For now, the sun is calling me back to the Caribbean!
It was so lovely spending time with my parents. I had missed them so much, and I can’t wait to see Dad again in Chile in 2 months’ time As the lyrics of one of my favourite song says ‘tiempo vuele’ or ‘time flies’ and it really is true. I feel that the 4 months since I saw them has literally flown by, and I know that the next 2 will do so aswell. I am now staying here at my Aunt and Uncle’s place in Montana. My Uncle is going to take me hunting and fishing and then teach me how to skin and cook up what it is that we manage to bring home! Hopefully we get some good fish because he is going to teach me how to smoke it. I won’t be killing anything more than a rabbit though, after seeing such beautiful animals in the wild I am still as vegetarian (for land animals) as ever. I seem to be eating a lot of fish again lately, but hopefully once I am in Mexico I can revert to being a true veggo because I have heard that there are far more green options there than there are in Colombia.

Many people want to know what my next plans are, and to be honest it is very hard to say because I am not entirely sure. I do know thatI fly to Guadalajara in Mexico on the 10th of September to sort my visa. I need to sort my visa (which will mean I am a temporary resident of Mexico) so that I can keep traveling, otherwise I need to buy a return ticket to New Zealand, something I can't afford and really don't want to do! I will then head to Tulum in the Yucatan peninsula (in the Caribbean of course) where I have secured a one month job through workaway. I will be helping a business man to write his letters from Spanish to English, in a way that they read very well, so that he can use them to send to larger organisations in the hope of receiving funding for his goal of creating a rehab centre in the area. It depends on how well I do as to how long I stay, and if I get offered paid employment – rather than the 5 hours of work per day in exchange for food and accommodation. Many people think I am being ripped off, however I like to remind them that I am also essentially getting 24 hours a day of free Spanish classes/ practice as I refuse to speak anything but Spanish.
Depending how the work (and my Spanish) in Mexico goes will determine my stay. I am planning/ hoping on going to the Dominican Republic in January for 3 months to work at a hostel. I have nearly secured this job, and hope that it works out for me. My main goal for moving to the DR is to learn to dance Bachata because I really love both the music and the dance.Depending on my Spanish, I may find a 'real' job in the near future. I quite like the idea of settling down for a while After that, I have no plans. However, I really hope that any future plans will include my brother and best friend Dommy. I am so excited for him as he is about to embark on his first every travels next week. I really hope that the travel bug embeds itself as deep into his soul as it has mine, because then we can travel through the Caribbean together next year!

Yea mon!

Posted by chasingsummer 12:05 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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