Day 45 - Burned Out in Huatulco

Our last place to visit before settling down.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

After our night in the palapa at Zipolite, Nick and I got up early to head down to Hualtuco, which was the last stop on our 3 day journey in southern Oaxaca. We set off on foot towards the next little town over called Puerto Angel; we needed to make it back to he main highway, and it was the only place that had transportation. Puerto Angel was a small little fishing village, and had little to no tourists, but it was easy to navigate through, as there was only one main street.

After hitching a ride on another collectivo, we were dropped off on the main highway again with nothing around us. We sat nervously at a make-shift barricade looking structure, hoping to find a bus to Hualtuco. Eventually, one came by after waiting a good 20 minutes, and we were crammed in the back like sardines. I couldn't handle it; I started to get a little claustrophobic, but luckily it was only an hour drive!

I had been to Hualtuco when I was a kid, but had no memory of what the town was like; this made it hard to know where the hell we were going. All I knew, is that it had probably changed as much as Playa Del Carmen had; 20 years away from a place can really do wonders.

When we arrived to a town called La Crucecita, we were dropped off on a random corner, and were hoping it was our destination. Nick and I were starving, so we decided to eat at a little taco joint close by. The guy that ran the place was awesome, and told us where to go. While we ate, we admired his baby parquet that sat perched on a basket, in the back of the restaurant. After slamming down our food, and taking some pictures with the tiny bird, we were off.

We walked for what seemed liked forever in the hot sun, bitching at each-other along the way about where to go. After getting lost a few times, we eventually found our hotel. It was the nicest thing we'd stayed in since Cancun, so we were totally stoked to have a pool and a bar again! However, Nick and I had traveled and walked so much, we didn't want to do jack shit. We didn't even care about seeing much of Hualtuco either, so we used the time to relax, and acted like honeymooners again. We lounged at the pool side, drank cocktails, swam around til we were prunes, and even found a shitty pool table to play on. It was so nice to just "be", I felt like we were kids again!

When we did manage to walk around to check out the scene, we made it quick; our bodies were burned, and we had little to no energy. The entire town was catered to tourists, as the streets and beaches were very clean. Everything in the coastal area was new looking and had little to no personality. We were only in a small portion of the city though, so we didn't get to see much of anything. Like Puerto Vallarta and Cancun, the hotels ran the beaches, so it was hard to see all of them. We weren't that impressed with what we had seen thus far, so we were over exploring. At this point, we were out of cash as well and needed to have enough money to get back. So we resigned to only handing back at our hotel for the night, using only our debit card.

Hualtuco was nothing but a resting place to us, and we barley got to see any of it; we didn't care though. It was time to head back to Puerto, and start living a life less traveled for a bit. We were so burned out, that we just wanted to be in a place that we could call home.

Day 38 - Soaking Up the Culture in Oaxaca

When everything started making sense.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

On the morning of our flight to Mexico, we were groggy but totally stoked. The connecting flights on the way there were pretty awesome actually, as Nick and I celebrated with complementary Tequila drinks. We took a new airline this time, Interjet, and it was our favorite by far. It was time to get back into the Mexican lifestyle.

When we arrived in Mexico City to connect to our second flight, we were subjected to more Mexico customs. This time, all of our shit was searched through, and most of our food got confiscated. Nick also got written up for having hard boiled eggs in his suitcase, and we learned that they were the most dangerous things you could bring into the country. Who would've thought? But we both had a good buzz going at this point, so we were totally cool with whatever they threw at us.

The best part about arriving back into Mex, was the food. It was everywhere, and it was freaking cheap!! We were so excited to finally eat meals again, and celebrated every part of it. We couldn't get over the fact that a huge salad only costed $3. This alone, made us certain that we had made the right decision on where to go. It's amazing how much our mood changed, once we were nourished properly.

After arriving in Oaxaca, it quickly became our favorite "city", by far; It was such a beautiful area, and the people were very friendly. As you walked down the streets, no one tried to sell you anything, like they did in the tourist areas. The people were humble, and kept to themselves. The parks were filled with families, and the streets were very clean. It kind of felt like a place stolen from Europe, as all of the buildings were unique and classic looking. Nick and I roamed the streets for a while, and soaked up the culture. We gorged ourselves on more food, and kept getting excited over the thought of it all. It made me feel at peace just being there, and I had this gut intuition that this region was what we were looking for.

We also FINALLY bought me new luggage at a place called Coppel, because my "dead body" bag was not cutting it anymore. I couldn't even stand the thought of schlepping that thing around for another second. The new one that I bought for $40 was totally sweet, and I think it made Nick a little jealous. But still, it was time to prepare for our next journey, as we would have no car again, and would have to rely on taxis/buses. Mobility is crucial at this stage of traveling; I had learned this from earlier our journey in Mexico.

That night at our hotel, I presented Nick with some options on how to get to the coast from Oaxaca. The main issue, was that the beach was not easy to get to; there is a huge mountain range that blocks the pathway there. The cheapest and fastest method, was to take a $6 van, and trudge through the center of it. The only downside, was that it would take 6 hours to get across, and they warned that people always get car sick. Supposedly the drivers went fast, and never stopped along the way, but we were willing to try it out anyways; we were tough.

After our convo about the next day, and when Nick had passed out, I sat in bed thinking about how happy I was to be there. It was the first place that I had felt that in a long time. I couldn't really sleep that night, because the excitement was just to unbearable. This was uncharted territory for both of us, as neither had ever been to this part of the country before (Well, actually that's not true. I had been to Huatulco when I was about 12, but Club Med doesn't really count, because you never leave the premises). Despite our lack of familiarity, I felt safe and at ease for some reason. "We are in good hands", I thought to myself; something about heading to Puerto Escondido felt right. Occasionally I would look over at Nick, while he was sleeping, and I thought about how far we'd come together, and how close we had become. It was a nice feeling to have, and it allowed me to relax a bit.

Day 34 - Quick Stop in Tamarindo

Back to the old stomping grounds of Tamarindo, after 10 years.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

We ventured off from Nosara, on dirt roads heading north, to the town of Tamarindo. I had about an hour and a half in the car, with C-Boo already frustrated at me from the day, because I took up half the day to surf a left handed reef south of Nosara (which was amazing, and I scored 6-8 foot surf all morning ;) . I slowly and calmly reassured her that we had enough time to see Tamarindo, while I drove down the dirt roads filled with potholes, horses, lambs, and cows. We eventually made up, and decided to pulled into a great surf spot that I used to surf called "Playa Negra". This beach still had the same feelings and layout as before, with only one restaurant there. The North Gaunacaste Region was right in the middle of the dry season, there was little greenery, and much of the plains were dried up; they looked like our summers back home in Central California. It was a huge difference in landscape and jungle, from the Southern section of Costa Rica, which gets small amounts of rain even in the dry season.

Once leaving Negra, we hit a fresh smoothly paved 2 lane highway, which I had never seen before, that got us in to Tamarindo. It seemed like it took only a few minutes, after driving through poorly dirt roads for the last hour. While entering the town, we crossed through a small police checkpoint, passed multiple resorts and business plazas, and hundreds of cars and bikes coming and leaving the town. Tamarindo had a completely new face-lift since I'd been there, but it was still Tamarindo in my eyes. Yet money, locals, and even expats seemed to want to invest in some way, shape, or form to make a buck of each and every tourist. We drove very slowly through town, looking for our hotel, in awe at all the new structures; at the same time, I was trying not to hit people crossing the street in every direction. We found our small little hotel off the strip named "In the Shade", and setup camp for the night.

We decided to finally hit the town by foot, and grab some drinks while watching the sunset. Tamarindo's surf scene seemed bigger then ever, with surf shops on every corner. They were all trying to rent/sell everything from a grommet board (small surf board), all the way up to an SUP (stand up paddle board). It seemed hard to even choose a restaurant, because everyone had a happy hour special, and very expensive prices for food/drinks. I showed Christi the beautiful long stretch of beach that wraps all the way to "Playa Grande", and finally decided to choose a restaurant with a little bit of reggae music. We ordered two mixed drinks: vodka soda and a screwdriver. The waiter came back with tonic water, and what had seemed like a Sunny Delight drink with water. They were the worst drinks we'd ever had, with absolutely no alcohol. We said "no gracias" to any more drinks or food, because of the pricing, and took off on foot. Most people (tourists) in Tamarindo, at the time, seemed like prices weren't an issue for them, because of their limited time there; unlike us, who were still on a gnarly budget. We ended up walking through most of the main strip, checking prices on more drinks and food, but they were all the same.

We were so frustrated with our financial situation there, so we found a random liquor store, and decided on buying our own bottle of cheap Guaro. We walked back to our room, and continued our cheap path with dinner; hard boiled eggs w/ bread, slices of avocados, canned tuna, and a stiff cocktail of classic Costa Rican Guaro. Our room had a beautiful deck, where we watched the last bit of sunset, while listening to some howler monkeys. We felt like we were doing it right, by avoiding the town altogether! We ended the night with a game of "Rumy", some "Vampire Weekend" music (great for road trips too), and some toasts to our safety/travels thus far on our adventures. We were extremely happy to travel from the southern tip of Costa Rica, all the way up to the old and new town of Tamarindo, with minimal issues :) We ended up finishing all of the Guaro that night, and passed the fuck out.

Day 10 and 11 - Back to PV, then off to Cancun

The joys of traveling.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Our plane was scheduled to leave in Puerto Vallarta at 9am on the 11th, so we thought it would be wise to book a room back in the city, in order to make it on time. I booked a pretty cheap room for about $28 a night, which wasn't too bad. This meant we had to hop on another bus though, and do the trek back again.

The new bus was a lot more comfortable, had great AC, and was not as crowded as the first, however the price was upped about 20 pesos each. I think it was a different company, but I was totally fine with that. However, it dropped us off at a different station this time, and we had no idea where the heck we were. Plus, I was stupid, and did not take a picture of the hotel's address on our iPad; this made it difficult to tell a taxi where our hotel was, because again, we had no WiFi. The only solution we came up with, was to take a taxi to the Walmart, try to get internet there, pull up the address, and go from there. But again, nothing is that easy. Instead, we had to walk over to a mall next door, and had to buy some expensive food to use their wifi. Once we were done, we caught a taxi, and finally made it to the hotel.

When we got to the Hotel & Suites Coral, we were greeted by this cute little guy, that reminded me of an Oompa Loompa. He showed us to our room, and we were totally stocked. The room was the largest we'd been in, and looked liked a little apartment. I wish we had stayed there the whole time! The only downside, was that the pool was totally murky and gross. I just laid by the side, while Nick was brave enough to dive in. That night, we celebrated leaving PV with some super sweet-ass wine, and some lovin. It was a nice way to go out!

The next day we got up at 6:30 am to take another taxi to the airport. Check-in was way faster than it was in the US, so we were pretty early. We chilled, grabbed some coffee, and went over the next chapter of our itinerary.

Our plane was another connecting flight, and we had to fly into Mexico City. Nick had never seen it before, and was totally stoked to fly over. It was pretty insane with how many people live there! So many houses trickled all over the hills and valleys. I was glad we were only there for an hour, before our next plane. The airport was freezing too; it was probably about 45 degrees, and were both wearing bathing suits. I thought to myself "Isn't this Mexico? It was too frikin cold".

Eventually we arrived in Cancun, where it was super hot and humid; a nice change from the damn airport. Our next plan was to find and take a bus called ADO (which costed about 120 pesos), take it to the downtown area of Cancun, and find another taxi for our hotel. Nothing is easy without a car. We totally got ripped off with our gringo tax, again by a taxi guy, and were were dropped of at our new hotel, The Dogtown Suites, in the ghetto. And yes, this was definitely the ghetto, as there was nothing around us but flea markets for miles. However, the accommodations we're halfway decent, and the reception desk was nice. We were just stoked that we made it there.

At the end of our journey (2 buses, 4 taxis, and 2 planes later) we were so done! I was ready for our soon to be "honeymoon" that we were about to have, at our paradise on the beach. A trip like that can test your patience, which is something that Nick and I both have, but it's still extremely daunting. We pulled together as a couple, used our heads, and breathed through it all. We also came to conclusion that we had not found our "home" yet. Nothing was hitting our hearts yet, but we knew there was a long road ahead.

Day 6 and 7 - Heading to San Pancho

First Days of Hardship

Sunday, March 6, 2016

If some of you are wondering what happened to day 5; well nothing happened on day 5. We hung out on the beach, worked, and chilled all day. I guess everyday can't be that interesting. However, I did wake up in the morning, and found bug bites all over my legs! It was like I was attacked by a fleet; not something I was happy about, as they would stay with me over the next two weeks.

Anyways, we were totally ready to get out of Puerto Vallarta, as we'd heard so much about the town Sayulita, which was about an hour bus ride north. If you have never heard about this town, you're not alone. We had no idea either, but got word that it was an awesome surfing town. Nick had been having surf withdraws, so it was only obvious we go there. I had tried to book a room in town, but it was way too expensive ($50 a night for a shitty hostel at best). After searching for forever on Expedia, I took a chance on a little village north of there called San Pancho, and booked a hostel there. From what I saw online, I was a little worried about this trip. The hostel looked way sketchier than the first one, but it was only $30 a night, and we were on a budget. Plus, the town had no pictures on Google, so we were going blind on what we were getting into.

The way there was about to be our standard way of getting around; lots of guessing, different forms of transportation, and wandering aimlessly. We had heard that there was a bus that took you to San Pancho, however it was located at the Walmart, which was on the other side of town. The only solution was to take a taxi in that direction, where we would hop on the bus, and head north. I didn't even mention that we had little to no money at this point, and my bag had started falling apart. The wheels had broken, and it was like dragging a dead body around. So once we had arrived at Walmart, we had to buy a new suitcase that would fit all of my crap, and we had to find a working ATM; not as easy as it seems. The one that we bought looked great, but after throwing all of my stuff in it, the wheels broke again! Nick was reluctant to keep it, but I said "screw it, we just paid $40 for this thing".

We soon found a line of buses, out front, that had written towns on the windshield. The one we hopped on only said Sayulita, but we had hoped it was going to our spot. It was a nice little bus at first; way nicer that the ones we had been on. However, each stop we arrived at, a ton of people came on. We started to wonder how many people they were going to cram on this thing. Eventually, there were kids and women standing in the middle ail, and people were started to sit on each others laps. Nobody was getting off, and I was starting to feel a bit claustrophobic. Finally, they all trickled off, and we were semi comfortable again.

The bus stop for San Pancho was in the middle of nowhere. We were let out on a dirt road, with a couple of fellow tourists, so we just ended up following them. We had no idea where the hostel was, and there were no street signs. Nick gave me his suitcase with the wheels that worked, as mine was too hard to pull. I then headed out in front of him hoping to find our spot, because I was was the one that booked this thing. It was hot, dusty, and there were no streets signs, so it was not fun at all. I looked back at Nick, because I hadn't heard much from him; I was stunned to see that he had picked up my 100 lb bag, and was carrying it on his shoulder. He was sick of dealing with it. Trying not to laugh, and feeling totally guilty that I was getting off easy, I was starting to panic when we couldn't find this place. Then, like a beacon, I saw the hostel sign right in front of us, and we were totally relieved.

The place, Hostal La Selva, was bright in front and dimly lighted in the back; it kind of looked like a dungeon. The girls at the reception desk knew little to no English, but somehow we managed to work everything out. One of them led us to our room, past a series of empty bunk beds, and I noticed that nobody was staying there. I never knew that this would be the case over the next four days. The room she opened was probably as big as a closet, and the bathroom was pretty nasty. The toilette had no seat, and the shower was even scarier. Yet, we were here for a few days, and we had to deal with it.

After putting away our things, we began to explore the town. There was only one main street, with lots of little shops, and a lot more expats than I had expected. The people were very natural, and extremely carefree; I guessed it wasn't going to be that bad after all. However, those bugs bites that I was telling you about flared up, and were driving me crazy! I was not a happy camper that first day, and it was hard to enjoy that cute little place.

The food we found that night, was probably the best that I had so far. It was called "Tacos con Amore", and let me tell you, they were definitely made with love. The shrimp tacos tasted like lobster, and Nick's pastor tasted like bacon. There were dogs traveling the streets, and they were all so friendly. Kids were running around playing, and people were waving at each other like they were family. It was a magical place at night, and I soaked up all of it.

Despite of all that, I started to get emotional once we got back in the room. I felt disconnected, vacant, and stuck. It seemed like the walls were closing in on me, in that small little closet that we were in. This is where the communication with your partner is key, as I wanted to tough it out, and hide it from Nick. Eventually, I told Nick exactly how I felt, and he was glad I did. We came to the conclusion, that I was starting to get effected by all of the traveling.The trip was starting to be a bit crazy, but I was glad to be still be doing it.