Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Travel Blog - Parte Dos

This blog picks up where the last one left off - my first day in Acapulco which was Wednesday, March 25th. I was there until the 31st when I boarded a 9 hour bus to Puerto Escondido. I was in P.E. until Saturday the 4th of April. I then went on a bus trip for 18 hours across the Guatemalan border and arrived in Guatemala City on Sunday the 5th of Abril. This part of the blog is about my experiences in Acapulco. I will catch up on Puerto Escondido and Guatemala City next time. Thanks for reading!

When I got to Acapulco airport, I paid for a shuttle to the area I was staying and was told to wait. About 20 minutes later, myself and three other people were put into a taxi and taken to our specific locations. Mine being the K3 Acapulco Youth Hostel in Playa Condesa (Condesa Beach). This was a central location to everything and the hostel was across the street from the stairs down to the beach. The rooms in this hostel were so small! There were 2 bunk beds that jutted out from the wall itself. The entire room was about 6 feet wide and about 8 feet long. Luckily, I had the room to myself for the most part. I immediately took a shower to get off the sweat and grime from my day of traveling. A bit tired I decided that before I ventured out into the evening for some food that I'd just relax a bit in the huge patio overlooking the street. The hostel was up three flights of stairs and opened up into a half block length patio covered on one end and partly covered on the other allowing for sitting in the sun if one desired. There was a bar serving sandwiches, super-cheap beers and manned by middle aged local ladies who ended up becoming great friends with us. But before I get into who "us" were, there's a story of the first night which needs to be continued.
After my shower, I was sitting on the patio observing the traffic and people watching when this woman looking to be about my age sat at the table next to me and started smoking a cigarette. I struck up a conversation with her wondering where she was from and what good places were around to eat. She introduced herself as Vivianna on vacation from Buenos Aires. Her english and my spanish were about even, so we had a bit of fun communicating. I remembered that I had bought a bottle of wine with Nils from the San Diego hostel when we thought to make dinner one night (but ended up never getting around to it) and had been carrying it with me this far. She agreed to share it with me and if I remember correctly, it was from Napa Valley and named "Fat Cat". The wine was a red of some sort with a description on the back which led you every which way but to actually discovering anything about the wine itself. Vivianna and I enjoyed a good conversation learning about each other and talking about our plans for the present and future. We finished the bottle and went out to find something to eat. She had recommended this place called "Tacos & Beer". I couldn't think of a more awesome name for a streetside restaurant overlooking the beach. The menu was simple. After eating, we went to this bar called "Paradise" which was huge for a bar in my opinion. This place was modeled to look exactly like a pirate ship, with all the decor. I was actually very impressed with how tactfully and not-cheesy the place was designed and decorated considered what theme they'd chosen. It was two main floors with a raised third patio area. We sat at the bar and had a few cheap beers before calling it a night.
The next day I spent walking up and down the beaches of Acapulco. Starting at Playa Condesa and wandering myself all the way through the variously named "Playa's". The thing about most of these beaches is that you get hassled literally non-stop by merchants. Every 2 minutes, someone wasn't accepting "No, Gracias!" for an answer and continuing to try to talk you into buying something. It was so annoying that it got to the point where I was dropping the courtesy of saying gracias and just replying with a resolute "No!" This one merchant approached me with some crappy looking silver bracelets and after my 'No, Gracias', he proceeded to grab his privates and said in english with a heavy spanish accent as if he were making fun of it: "ohh, you want this senor, you need this..." I just kept repeating my "No, Gracias" until he walked off. (yikes!) After about a half day of this, I decided that it was finally time to get in the Pacific Ocean. I found some gringos on the beach and asked if I could hang out and leave my stuff with theirs while I went for a quick swim. The water was a bit chilly at first but very easy to get used to. I didn't stay in very long and retreated back to my beach spot to lie down and dry off under the sun's warmth. About a half hour later, I pick myself up off the beach and gathered my belongings. Right when I was about to take off, something hit me really hard on my shoulder and I was shoved straight down onto the sand. I had my day bag with me over that shoulder and it was ripped off my arm by one of the four guys who took off running up the stairs and away from the beach. In that bag was my phone, a small amount of cash, my travel journal, sunglasses, and a few other things. The biggest losses were my brand new blackberry smartphone which was the best thing ever and my travel journal which I had just started using every day. In the end, after some reflection, I realized that maybe this had been the best thing for me. I was using that phone way too much relying on its usefulness and that travel bag made me a beacon for robbery. That and the pain my shoulder was giving me was really affecting my ability to stay angry at myself about it. The rest of the evening I spent at the hostel nursing my shoulder and trying to find a reason not to leave this city tomorrow. I even asked the host if I could get refunded for the days I had arranged to stay. Of course, it wasn't possible.
The next day I took a bus downtown with this other girl from the hostel to the bus station to check out departures and destinations. The station she had to go was for buses heading west and north and we discovered the station I needed was 3 blocks away from this one. As it turned out, her bus was leaving straight away so I ventured down to the other station solo. I found only a strong language barrier with the ticket agents there. Grrrr. Yet another frustration in Acapulco. I left the station without any more knowledge than I had come there with. So I just walked to cool off a bit in an attempt to restart my trip. Up to this point, it had been one thing after another of troubles with money, people and traveling. I really needed something to help brighten my spirits. After losing myself in my own negative thoughts and overall unhappiness, I found myself in the midst of a huge outdoor market. Right in front of me were delicious looking fresh strawberries and mango slices. I bought a bag of both. The flavors of the fresh mango immediately warmed my heart making my mind forget the previous few days. The market was full of vendors selling everything from vegetables, nuts, and meats to clothing, electronics and even kitchen sinks (seriously, I wished I had my camera because the market had everything AND kitchen sinks!). I ended up stopping in a small restaurant and having some tacos for lunch before finding a cab and heading back to the hostel once more.
This hostel ending up being the real turning point for me and my feelings about the trip I had so haphazardly and recklessly ventured out on. I ended up meeting so many awesome people. First there was Vivianna from Buenos Aires, then came Juan and Rodrigo from Mexico City, Adrian and Nicholas from Australia, Franco and Damian the Locoturbina visual artists from Buenos Aires, Daniel from Bolivia, Tom from the USA, Cecilie and Tina from Norway, Sarah and her sister from Germany and probably a few more I'm forgetting. It became quite a crew actually. Mainly myself, Juan, Rodrigo, Adrian, Nicholas, Franco and Damian. I can think of so many awesome things about all of these guys. First there were Juan and Rodrigo, brothers who were on a short travel trip from Mexico City. Juan was 18 and Rodrigo about 22. These guys came up with a phrase for me after we were hanging out a few days: "best gringo they'd ever met", lol. I actually made myself a little famous one night... The ladies who worked there would let me hook up my laptop to the sound system and we'd listen to 80s, 90s and current rock music on shuffle. This one infamous night, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" came on. (Yes, exactly). I did the entire music video dance scene in front of everyone. After which, I was called "The Thrilla!". Until that name changed to "Salad Boy" when I decided to order a salad for an appetizer at a restaurant where all 8 of us guys had gathered. They liked to poke fun at me. Adrian and Nicholas were from Australia reaching the end of their travel journey after I believe was 6 months. These were two very well built men in their mid-20's. I'm talking rugby built. Adrian was the crazy one... he'd wake everyone up in the hostel at 10am with his resounding "WAKE THE FUCK UP! IT'S TIME TO GET DRUNK!". So by 11am, the group was drinking and usually by 11pm Adrian was either sitting or dancing naked somewhere. Nicholas was more of the storyteller usually having everyone in tears laughing by the middle of one. Both of these guys were all around great people. The two guys forming Locoturbina, Franco and Damian were highly skilled visual artists. They showed us a video of their work and it was seriously like some Pixar animation type stuff. I was very impressed with it. Hopefully, we'll get to work together in Buenos Aires.
My second to last night there, I met this guy Tom, who hailed from the US. He was also 28 years old and we ended up sticking together somewhat after leaving Acapulco because we got along well. I discovered he was taking the bus down to Puerto Escondido for a few days before heading to San Cristobal. I thought this was a great idea and asked if it would be alright if I just joined him on the bus. Once this was agreed and plans were made, I announced to everyone where I was going... and within a span of about 10 seconds, everyone else chimed in, we're with you! So, we bought tickets the next day for an 1130pm bus ride to Puerto Escondido. I went with the crew to buy the bus tickets and met this guy Curt whom I had briefly met the night before. Curt is by far the biggest douche the world has ever seen. This kid was the most annoying, childlike, cocky, son of god knows what anybody had ever met. The reason I am even giving this kid the space in my blog is because of what happens in the future...

To be continued...

A short preview: Songs about Curt, Puerto Escondido and my favorite place so far, my unlikely dislike of Guatemala City, more new people met and an interesting crossing of borders.

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