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212 days

a travel blog by Steffi & Chris


Our trip around Latin America
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Mexico City

Mexico, Mexico


Finally we're here. Mexico City is a busy, dirty and dangerous town and so it seems, the home town of squirrels. It's crowded of these little creatures.

Here in Mexico City we have stayed with Carlos and his adorable family for four days. On our first day here we went to the museum of Frida Kahlo. I fell in love with her vibrant colours and especially how she decorated the kitchen. Sanna, thank you for the tips! I had no idea it was in Mexico City ;)

We have also gone to Teotihuacan. Spectacular pyramids with steep steps under a hot tropical sun. Although I insisted on spraying Christoffer with sun block he wiped it off and now he looks like a redneck with a red neck.

In Lonely Planet they warned us of not getting into any cabs with strangers but that's exactly what we did on our third day. We were totally lost when this mexican girl in our age suggested to get into a cab with us and show us the way. The girl later said: "I have never been abroad myself but I hope that if I get lost one day in some other country just like you someone will do the same for me". Hard to believe but sometimes people are nice, genuinely nice :)

What else, we've been to a concert with Invisibles Amigos (listen to their hit El Disco Anal), partying with our new friends from Mexico and USA, paddling and just enjoyed the big city. Next stop, San Cristobal de Las Casas.

Over and out.
Steffi




permalink written by  Steffi & Chris on September 11, 2009 from Mexico, Mexico
from the travel blog: 212 days
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San Cristobal de Las Casas

San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico


Hello!
Last night we took the night bus down to San Cristobal de Las Casas which is a really cool small town surrounded by jungle.
We took the bus at 18:50 and arrived like 13 hours later at 7:30 in the morning.

Our first plan was to get a bus the same day and go up to some waterfalls and then sleep in Palenque but all the tours left at 6 in the morning so we had to wait, and that turned out to be really lucky because we ended up having a really good day.

After we found out about the trip we went looking for a hostel and found one but since they had run out of private rooms we ended up getting a dorm room for ourself for the same price as a regular dormitory(70 pesos per head, about 35 SEK) room only problem is that the door is secured by metal strings and the whole thing looks really temporary.
we left our bags in the room (after we took out all the valuables) and went for a walk around the city just taking pictures and having a look around.

and thats about all we have done today a really nice relaxed day, and tomorrow we go up to see the waterfalls, the palenque ruins and then hopefully we can find a night bus up to Merida the same night.
good night
Chris.


permalink written by  Steffi & Chris on September 13, 2009 from San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico
from the travel blog: 212 days
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Palenque

Palenque, Mexico


The mini bus picked us up outside the hostel at 6 a.m. We had bought a tour to see the waterfalls at Agua Azul and Mizul Ha and then the mayan ruins to Palenque. It was the bumpiest ride ever!!! I almost knocked my head in the roof when the driver forgot to slow down before a roadbump. The roads here are for the daredevils. I was starting to get sick after the night before on the bus (it's fucking freezing on their buses but somehow the mexicans manage to sit with only their t-shirts on). Soon I started cursing the heat and the road bumps :) But I shut up the moment I saw the spectacular view of an endless forest surrounded by big mountains covered in a mist.

Aqua Azul was just full of very brown waterfalls. Didn't think anybody would like to swim there but the mexicans did. Didn't see anybody dip their head in the water though...

Mizul Ha on the other hand was really beautiful and I would've loved to swim under that waterfall but couldn't... We had only 30 minutes there.

A few hours later we arrived at Palenque. Palenque is considered to be the most beautifully conceived of the Mayan city-states and one of the loveliest archaeological sites in the world. And yes, it was amazing! I liked this a little more than Teotihuacan because this was more mysterious. It was nestled amidst steep and thickly forested hills.

I could hear Axl Rose screaming "Do you know where we are???? We're in the jungle babyyyyy". It was exhausting wandering in that tropical heat. Christoffer didn't even wipe the sun block off this time :)

Later on at the bus station in Palenque we were waiting for a bus to Merida. I was starting to feel more sick and had no energy at all.

Christoffer said that I should take a tablet of fluid replacement. The water bottle had a too narrow neck to just drop the tablet inside so he put the tablet on top of it and as he smashed it with on finger he accidentally got a piece in his eye.

The piece of tablet started to bubble in his eye! I laughed. He cried. We rinsed his eye instantly with clean water and soon the eye was fully recovered!

Amor y paz amigos!
Steffi




permalink written by  Steffi & Chris on September 14, 2009 from Palenque, Mexico
from the travel blog: 212 days
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Independence Day in Merida

Merida, Mexico


We came to Merida Early in the morning at about 5 o'clock not having any idea where to go or what to do, so the first thing we did was stay at the bus station for about 1 hour (that i spent sleeping). then Steffi woke me up so we could meet up with a German couple that she had seen getting of a bus.
together we found a really nice hostel for a good price close to the main square.
the first day we spent not doing much since Steffi has been feeling a little bit sick lately so we relaxed and for sunset we went up on the roof and had a beautiful view over Merida as the sun was setting.

in the night we went out for some drinks and then we celebrated Mexicos independence day in a sea of Mexicans

they also put on a really cool fireworks display on one of the main buildings.


the next day we didn't do much at all again just relaxing at the hostel and then in the night we went out for some drinks and dinner with the people from the hostel.
That's all from Merida next stop Playa del Carmen.

Bye Bye Chris.


permalink written by  Steffi & Chris on September 17, 2009 from Merida, Mexico
from the travel blog: 212 days
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Playa del carmen

Playa del Carmen, Mexico


We came to Playa del Carmen at about 7 in the afternoon/night and as usual we started with looking for a hostel or guesthouse to stay at, and we found a really nice one close to the beach where we could sleep in a shared dormitory for the night and the hostel also offered a free bar that same night.

That night we started with sitting at the hostel for a couple of hours sharing some vodka and sprite and meeting people living at the hostel.
We ended up going out that night and by accident I dropped my camera in the floor and it broke so now the pictures are really not that good. I think that the lens has been banged up a little bit. It wasn’t the big camera, but unfortunately the little one is the one with the underwater housing.

The next morning at about 7 steffi woke me up saying “come with me out on the balcony” and since we only got back from the club 2 hours earlier my response was “what? No? Why? Come sleep here instead.” But she insisted so as I came out on the balcony she told me that just a couple of minutes ago some guy had come into the room while we were sleeping and laid down in her bed saying “is it o.k. if I sleep here?” and she replied “No, go sleep in your own bed.” So he said “no, no problem, it’s ok I sleep here.” Steffi tried to kick him out of bed and the guy replied “It’s cold, I want to sleep here”. Steffi said that he must go to his own bed when he says “this is my bed” and pointing at steffis. Finally he went to sleep in the bed next to hers. This was when she woke me up and then we got the manager who kicked the guy out from the hostel.
The next day we changed rooms to a private and then we spent the rest doing not much at all, swimming on the beach and just relaxing.
The day after we had planned to leave but then a guy from Argentina who we had met the first night at the hostel, offered to show us to a reef where we could do some snorkeling we ended up swimming for almost 3km which was really cool also got to see some fishes that where better than just snorkeling at the beach.
Since this was the first day we really spent on the beach and because sunblock is for the gays i ended up with a bad sun burn on my back and steffi also got burnt even tho she was wearing sunblock, so now she as a clown ass. =)
Next day we took the bus down to Tulum!
bye bye Chris

permalink written by  Steffi & Chris on September 18, 2009 from Playa del Carmen, Mexico
from the travel blog: 212 days
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Tulum

Tulum, Mexico


We took the bus in the late morning down to tulum and spent the day here befor taking the night bus to Chetumal and then Belize city.
We decided to take a walk down to the beach and since the sign said 2km we assumed that it actually was 2km and not almost 4 on a straight road, under the tropical sun, with a burnt back, and no water, But we made it!

Then we spent the rest of our day sitting on the beach sipping wine and relaxing! Then it was time to walk back!

That’s all from tulum too bad we didn’t have time to see more of it!

Chris


permalink written by  Steffi & Chris on September 20, 2009 from Tulum, Mexico
from the travel blog: 212 days
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San Ignacio, Belize

Benque Ceiba, Belize


A country neither of us had heard anything of so of course we had to go here. We left sunny Mexico and arrived in sweet Belize.

We got on a local bus and it felt like we were in a movie the few hours while we sat there, packed like tuna in a can, jumping up and down on the seats over the pebbly roads next to Belizeans and their squeaking chickens. The bus stopped every 100 m to pick up someone and then just 50 m later drop off someone else.

Apparently it was Independence Day this day so a few hours after we had arrived in San Ignacio we watched the carnival with happy Rastafarians, semi-wild horses and more. Some woman got so excited of the base in the music she started humping a car.

We were planning to stay in Belize for two days but ended up staying here for five. In other words, it was good. Real good.

We couch surfed at Markus (aka Dr Feelawesome) place the whole time right outside San Ignacio in the middle of the jungle. The place is called Parrots Nest in Bullet Tree Falls. Sounds like a treasure map destination.



These five days in Belize we have done some river tubing, canoeing, become friends with a spider monkey (Mango) who just loved to hug, relaxed in the hammocks, listened to E-type (Markus is a big fan), watched millions of fireflies from Dr Feelawesome’s porch while drinking papaya and also banana wine (It’s stronger than ordinary wine. It’s Yummie). We have also tried a huge fruit called Jack fruit when we went to Barton Creek one day. It smells like bubblegum. One of the coolest things we did was the excursion to Actun Tunichil Muknal, which is a cave where the Mayans had their ceremonies. The stone formations inside the cave were stunning and we had to swim inside to get to the skeletons and the pottery. I hope that we will see a lot more caves on our trip.

It was a bit sad to leave Belize. I will definitely come back one day.

Over and out.
Steftscha

PS: If you wonder about Markus nickname Dr Feelawesome, it comes from when he and some friends came up with a game called the Beautiful Life Game which kept going for several years where they challenged each other on doing things that enriched their lives like for example concerts, rollercoasting, travelling etc. Markus thought of Mötley Crues song Dr Feelgood and just made it better. Dr Feelawesome.


permalink written by  Steffi & Chris on September 27, 2009 from Benque Ceiba, Belize
from the travel blog: 212 days
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Antigua

Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala


We arrived here after a 10 hour bus trip from Flores in the north of Guatemala. Our mission: to learn Spanish. In one week.

We quickly found a good double room at a cheap hostel. Just minutes later a guide started talking to us and we asked him if he knew any good Spanish schools. Tired as hell after the never ending bus trip we still decided to follow him to the school. We met the owner and it sounded good so we bought it… One lesson learned. Never do business early in the morning.

Why? The man who runs the place lies probably more in one day than Pinocchio does in a year. For example we paid for 40 hours of Spanish lessons but the day after it turns out we will only get 34 hours because of pauses that apparently was included in the 40 hours… After arguing with him he says “I forgot to tell you…” Apparently he’s done the same to other students but we will get our 40 hours after having argued with him about it.

We have now studied Spanish here for five days. Almost fluent now. Our teachers are great! Mine has never heard of Google and neither of them has been outside Guatemala. My teacher doesn’t speak any English so I’m literally forced to learn Spanish.

Yesterday we went on an excursion to Pacaya the volcano. Neither of us has been to an active volcano so we were really impressed standing next to the lava. People laughed every time a rock of hot lava tumbled down just centimeters from our feet. Once or twice I looked down at my shoes unsure if they were melting. It was extremely hot! People brought marshmallows and chorizos but most of it just turned black. My teacher told me a guide died last year when a rock flew from the volcano right on his head. The group he guided carried him down (it’s more than an hour walk on pebbles and mud). Then it’s two hours to the hospital… Luckily we didn’t have any problems what so ever.

We are living with a Guatemalan family together with some other students. One happy old man from Texas that loves the cerveza, sings every dinner and loves the expression "Ya man". There’s also a guy in our age from Nottingham staying here, also travelling down to South America.

And what else? Yeah, we have tried salsa. It takes a lot of cervezas or tequilas to even think you can do it.

Now we have finished our week of intensive Spanish studies and to catch up the 5-6 hours that was lost in breaks but he forgot to tell us about we had to do 7 hours on Saturday and Sunday and unfortunately we also had to change teachers since our teacher refused to work during the weekend since they probably wouldn’t get paid. So Steffi got a good teacher again but I (Chris) ended up with something not as good. Not only did she have zero patience and very bad English (my Spanish is not as good as Steffi’s so when I asked about a word in English she just said “si, si” even when I knew that it was completely wrong.)
She also had 4 breasts 2 in front and 2 in back and was telling me that her entire paycheck went to trying to feed her 3 kids. (She actually sounded like that was a good thing.)

I managed to get most of the important grammar out of her though, so now I can at least try to have a conversation with someone in Spanish. It might take me awhile before I get the verb right but it’ll get there. =)

Some of you might be wondering what happened to Honduras since according to our plan that’s where we are supposed to be right now.
Unfortunately the old president has returned to Honduras and after he urged all of his followers to join him in a demonstration in the capital the ruling government decided that it was best to close the ports, airports and also the border at some crossings. This meant that we probably could not go diving on Utila or Roatan in Honduras so we decided to skip the whole country (Except when we have to pass through a small part going from El Salvador to Nicaragua.)

We still have to go back to these wonderful countries one day, since every day we discover something new that we would like to see or experience. There is so much more than one could ever imagine when looking at pictures or reading guide books.

This ended up being a really long post but now we are off to Nicaragua by bus and just stopping for a night in San Salvador to stretch our legs. As Lonely Planet beautifully expressed it San Salvador is like when you're telling a woman she's got a nice personality. Not that beautiful =)

Buenas Nachos amigos!

Stefanita y Christóbal


permalink written by  Steffi & Chris on October 12, 2009 from Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
from the travel blog: 212 days
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Shit this aint livin'

Leon, Nicaragua


After 10 hours in a bus from the not so beautiful San Salvador we arrived in León, Nicaragua. I had received an e-mail from a surfer guy called Fito that we could couch surf at his place so as soon as we arrived I called him up. He asked us to come to a newly opened hostel called Cama Léon so we came there and he showed us a double room and said we could stay there for as long as we wanted.

Volcano boarding is famous in León so the next day we went out on a trip to Cerro Negro (Black Hill) for a wicked ride down the volcano. It is the youngest and most active volcano in Nicaragua. The last time it erupted it rained dust for several months. The slope at Cerro Negro is 550 meters and the speed record, 80 km/h.

The guide told us to shut our mouths. “The pebbles are big as apples”. The stones just flew everywhere on the way down and suddenly you realized that you had survived and reached the bottom! My score was 49 km/h and Christoffers’ was much better actually… 50 km/h :)

Christoffer competed with a german guy who now is known as the man, the myth, the legend. There was a tunnel of smoke next to Christoffer and out of the smoke flew this historic man in 82km/h. A new world record was set!!! A good start of the day so afterwards we went back to town and celebrated with some mojitos.

After that it was time to dust off our noses and go to the place we all love. The beach. Fito had asked us earlier if we wanted to come and spend the weekend with him and some friends out on a lodge he owned. We said yes without blinking.

The party of 8 consisted of:

Fito. The proud and crazy Nicaraguan who hates silence. He is all about adrenaline. Three years ago he was in a big motorcycle accident. Was in bed for a year. As soon as he could walk again he went out to the sea ready to surf again and broke three ribs. He has good projects going on (his company is called 505) and if you ever come to León look up this guy.

Greg. The gringo from North Carolina. Everything he owns, his whole life, is in this guy’s truck. Greg is out with his dog Sola on a never-ending road trip together with his bible “The Adventurers Handbook”. His hobbies are eating, spear fishing and surfing. He lost his job in the US and that’s when he decided to leave the country. “It’s better to be poor here than in North Carolina”.

Martin. The proud fiddle player from Ireland. Who needs Google? This guy knows everything.

Visean. Roots in India but raised in Manchester, UK. Knows a lot of dirty jokes.

Kajsa. Probably the happiest girl from Gothenburg. Presumably because she left Gothenburg and came here. A beautiful voice and can sing every single nubbe-song there is.

A happy party of 8 left León and arrived at a lodge just meters from an endless beach. The best thing. Nobody there but us! We had the whole beach just to ourselves. It was a good weekend!



The second day we visited the leader of the local community who's had real problems with big corporations eating their lands. We visited some of his properties and saw the damage that has been done but we also saw beautiful beaches that are the reason they’re trying to steal them.

After that Christoffer and I tried to surf for the first time. Both Greg and Fito are addicted to surfing so we had four boards with us to the beach. Both of us fell in love with the surf from the first second so it will be a lot more of that in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

The Sunday everybody was hung over after a great party the night before so we just relaxed in the hammocks all day, ate good food, watched the sunset and then went back to León where we spent two more days because it’s such an awesome place to stay in before heading off to Costa Rica.

Amor y paz!

Steffi



permalink written by  Steffi & Chris on October 14, 2009 from Leon, Nicaragua
from the travel blog: 212 days
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San Jose

San Jose, Costa Rica


We went from Leon at 3 in the morning and we almost overslept but made it.
After another 10 hour bus drive we came to San Jose and since we didn’t have any idea where to go we followed some American guys to a hostel they knew of. Since this one didn’t really float our boat we decided to go to a internet café to check some of the couchsurfing requests we had sent out.

So while Steffi was checking that I went for a walk and had my first encounters in the city. The first guy who talked to me said “Do you wanna buy some cocaine? No? Ok. How about heroin? No? Ok. I have marijuana as well? No? Ok bye." Next I walked past a sex shop and then some prostitutes then finally I found the ATM and was able to get some cash. Probably the worst first impression I've had but Steffi liked it, atleast when we where on the Tica bus she keept saying she wanted to buy a house here.

Next we were off to a guy named Victor who had replied on couchsurfing, but once we got in the taxi I started feeling really bad and weak this was because when we were on the beach last weekend I accidentally cut my foot on a broken surfboard and it has ended up getting really infected although I have been really trying to keep it clean. So this had happened on Sunday and now it was Wednesday evening and I started suffering from a bad fever.

When we got to victors place we hung out for a while and then I had to go to the bathroom but once I got inside it was a little dark so I just felt my head spin and next thing I know I hit a paper stand that was on the floor with my head, I got up felt really dizzy and had to sit down on the toilet for a while.

When I came outside again we started to try to figure out if I should go to the hospital or wait for the morning and then go to a doctor.
To get a second opinion we took a walk to a local pharmacy to get some advice what to do. She told us to go to the hospital at the night and that the closest one was a private hospital.

So we went and once we got there they first made sure we gave them money and after that they were really helpful. They took some tests and cleaned the wound and made sure that it was “only” an infection. Got me a recipe for some antibiotic and that was it. 90 000colones later we were going home to victor again and actually feeling a lot better.
Next day we sleep a long time almost 12 hours and after that we went to the bus station and on our way there we saw a really bloody street fight on the same street they had offered me everything last night. And that just made us more sure that this city really wasn’t anything for us we have stayed out of the big cities so far and will probably keep doing so for a while.

Last of all I want to thank Victor since he works the night shift and was sleeping when we left we never really got to say good bye. But he helped us a lot and thanks to him I’m a little bit less invalido today. When I’m writing this we’re sitting on the bus on the way to Cahuita on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

chris

permalink written by  Steffi & Chris on October 16, 2009 from San Jose, Costa Rica
from the travel blog: 212 days
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