On existing in the world and in Chiapas

Blogging is hard. Here is the stories, pictures, and thoughts from my last few weeks. Sorry if it is a bit long and cluttered, or if you managed to catch the first version which was even more so. 

 

San Cristobal from one of the many hilltop churches

  I arrived in San Cristobal de Las Casas early morning January 14, to visit a friend from Bike!Bike!. Lorena gave me directions to the bike shop she runs with another person. When I arrived only he was there and we chatted a bit. He asked me what I knew about Chiapas, what do people in Pennsylvania say about Chiapas? I will admit that I didn’t have much to say. I could only think of the most recent things I’d been told which was that the state is beautiful, though poor and there is ongoing conflict. Somehow had not connected that to the little I knew about the Zapatista uprisings. I’ve learned a lot since then, through reading and chatting. Including that in the future I should try to know a bit more history before I show up places.

it is not hard to find yourself in the woods here.

    

Just an awesome sunset from near my friends’ bike shop

   

Santo Domingo. Find here a market of artisans, as well as Frayba.

  

I tagged along with Lorena for a tour of town with this couple from Monterrey

Lorena and I wandered through Moxviquil one afternoon. She’d heard they were looking for volunteers for a construction project, but got the day wrong.

   

In case anyone was worried that I don’t still exist, here is a photo of me. This is from Moxviquil also.

 

Andrea, Eric, and Lorena, who I was staying with, and Lina, a friend of Eric’s visiting for the night

  

They are looking for another roommate and we passed around this flier for a while, adding to the drawing. It was silly and quite fun.

   
 I recently finished reading This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein, which relates to everything, and perhaps especially here. I will tell you about it, because it is very long and maybe you don’t have time or interest in it all. This book is a well researched and told story of the relationship between climate change and capitalism, the ways we are letting globalization destroy the globe (or at least our chances of survival here). Facts and anecdotes are interwoven with Klein’s personal journey and a surprising amount of hope. In fact, though the book is largely a compilation of evidence that there is climate disaster being wrought upon us by unchecked capitalism, I think the point she is making is more a case for hope. If we can stand together and quit climbing on each other, if we can deny unchecked growth for profit and destruction, if we can manage to redistribute land rights, wealth, and jobs, it is possible to empower people to take care of themselves and have the air, water, and soil security to do so. To deny division, racism, and the social propaganda forced on us so long, and fight together to protect the world we all live in from the greed of a few shouldn’t be a hard choice to make. In short, the book ties together a lot of the overwhelming problems which cloud my mind and at times stun me into inaction. It even addresses the not knowing where to start that I know is a common problem in trying to find solutions. 
We are sold the idea that changing the way we live, consume, interact, etc will be very hard. Sometimes this comes at us along with attempts at justifying not trying. Sometimeswe are told that the technology to live differently is imperfect, or that parts of the world still industrializing deserve to pollute their way to prosperity (especially if there are existing companies in already developed areas that stand to gain as well). The obvious other option as to why we haven’t yet done more, which Klein spells out is “far more simple than many have led us to believe: we have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have been struggling to find a way out of this crisis. We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe—and would benefit the vast majority—are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets.” And so here we are, with international trade laws which make it illegal to aim to hire and source locally, to protect your own community. We have subsidies for the huge, heavily polluting industries and only the argument that they aren’t quite good enough yet for the renewable energy sources which actually can fill a lot of the demand. We have the already wealthy scrambling and bribing and lobbying to be allowed to get richer off of the remaining fossil fuels, which are almost definitely way more than can safely be consumed. And we have our governments supporting them, crushing the people and environments that get in the way. Existing in a place, even if your ancestors have been there for a really long time or had agreements with the reigning government, is irrelevant.

We are often convinced to pick battles, to choose the most important fight. That the fight against prejudice or wage disparities or the never ending wars or for health care or jobs or conservation of land and water or feeding the hungry kids in Africa are counter to direct climate change action. But the chemicals used in extraction and the pollution in the air and water from burning fossil fuels is leading to increased miscarriages, birth defects, asthma, among many other health crises. Low wages can be linked to higher emissions, food insecurity to increasingly unpredictable climate and desertification, corporate-government oppression used to make way for heavily polluting extraction. Klein argues that the struggles are connected, and we can succeed by fighting together “asserting, for instance, that the logic that would cut pensions, food stamps, and health care before increasing taxes on the rich is the same logic that would blast the bedrock of the earth to get the last vapors of gas and the last drops of oil before making the shift to renewable energy.” If we can work together it may be possible to “protect humanity from the ravages of both a savagely unjust economic system and a destabilized climate system. I have written this book because I came to the conclusion that climate action could provide just such a rare catalyst.”

But of course this will only happen if we force it. Climate change is most likely to cause more social and economic disparity and injustice.

As humans we all want similar things. We may say, I want to live, breath, drink water, eat food, and raise a family-all free of poison. We want to be safe from inflating prices and from storms that destroy cities. We want our children to do better than we could. We must remember that other people want this too. Even if they live somewhere else, even if they look a little different or seem a bit different in culture or beliefs. Understanding more about each other or even just allowing for the assumption that on the basics we are all the same, can go a long way. So that we can work together and protect each other and ourselves. Or at the very least, when the world kicks back, as this planet becomes a more dangerous home for us all, that we are not reduced to barbarism by the prejudices we have allowed to foster between us. 

There is a lot to fear on the path we are on. Climates are getting more intense and less predictable, extreme weather events are occurring with greater frequency- floods and droughts exacerbate food insecurity for many. We have an image of these things happening in Africa and generally “developing” areas, which have been hit harder though contributing less to the problem. Do not let yourself think that the wealthy have no responsibility to bear for the state of the world as it is. We do. That said, more and more we are experiencing dangerous results in places that have been lucky so often in the past. The direct impacts of fossil fuel extraction and transport are also increasingly obvious for the people that had been safe from it for so long. Which Klein argues is kind of a good thing. It brings us into the mix, it wakes up the people with money, who thought that this was someone else’s problem, or didn’t realize it was a problem, and brings them into the fight. When the pipeline is running through the oil exec’s backyard, suddenly it doesn’t seem like such a good idea. 

It is true that we need some major changes to avert (increasingly intense) disaster, but this doesn’t have to mean a decrease in quality of life. Many of the possible changes are better for a vast majority. Coops, indigenous land rights, clean technology and public infrastructure provide more jobs and better security for more. people. Reject the idea that the only jobs possible are the ones controlled by fossil fuel development or manufacturing. Demand training for a changing world.  

 

The Museum of Mayan Medicine is a smallish space with a lot of information about medicinal plants, traditional childbirth, and of course demonstration garden and a pharmacy.

 
We must remember that we are not alone. The masses are suffering. “They” often control the story, and we are told that they are not a minority, but they are. In this system, we are losing a game we never agreed to play. Once upon a time, those who could managed to convince(usually through force and violence) the rest of us that we need the things that they happen to have a lot of. Those who had been able to take care of themselves were told they are poor and that the things we actually use to survive are disposable. If we want to survive, this must change.

There are fights already. Front lines are increasingly everywhere, often led by indigenous peoples, and they are inspiring more and more to join them. It is hard, there isn’t a lot of time. One must work against the current system and simultaneously be working on the solutions as well.

In Chiapas, for example, when NAFTA went into effect Jan 1, 1994 the Zapatista army, largely comprised of indigenous Mayans from Chiapas, declared war on Mexico, stating that in the agreements made to join the free trade agreement, the federal government  was disregarding land rights of indigenous communities by allowing land which had been communal to be privatized. That first battle was short, but, perhaps thanks to international support, the Mexican government failed to sufficiently squash the movement, and 22 years later there remain autonomous communities in this state, with their own schools and clinics (which the government had failed to provide them before), continuing to work their communal land, and organizing their own Good Governments. Zapatismo is appealing to many because it aims to listen, to command by obeying-believing and practicing that government should be voice for the people, not a force to control them. Their good governments are made up of a rotating group (terms very by community, some shift every week or two). It is also open to connecting the struggles of the world. It is about true democracy, and refuses to play inside of the existing system. It is not trying to take power, but insists we need a change and to make a world with room for many worlds, where we listen and support each other, but are allowed to continue separately and take care of ourselves.

Lorena filled me in a bit and I started reading to fill in the gaps still left. A couple days after I arrived I met Albert, a guy from the US who has been living in a Zapatista community for about eight months (with no plans of leaving), and had stayed and worked there for a while about 12 years ago. He wrote out for me directions to make the ~8 hour trip into the jungle to visit one of the many autonomous communities as a peace observer (or whatever, to come hang out with him). And so, with little idea of what to expect, I did. 

    

A couple of Argentinian campamentistas, and the kitchen on the right. Beyond the fence straight ahead is a road, where you can watch people passing. Off to the left is a river, where people often come to wash clothes, bathe, or play, and beyond that is the school and clinic and women’s cooperative.

  
I spent a week in the peace camp in La Realidad-hanging out with Albert (who has the outside enough perspective to see how much drier and less consistent the weather is than when he was there before, just 12 years ago) and the other observers, and the folks from the community that come by sometimes. I also read a lot. There is a good deal of tension in this town. About two thirds of the families are no longer Zapatistas, now part of CIOAC, a state created network of Chiapas indigenous workers. Almost two years ago some folks destroyed the autonomous clinic and school, and assassinated the teacher. The CIOAC receive some government support and are thus available to be used as a militant tool at their will. It was hard for me to get my head around the switch. There was some communication between sides in town before this, but none since. In the camp I was mostly with other foreigners, but there were women who came every day to bring us tortillas and would stay to talk sometimes, and a couple of men who came by in the evenings to hang out and would tell us stories and answer questions and whatever. One of the women told us that her grandparents are still alive, but are CIOAC and so she hasn’t spoken to them in years even though they still live in the same town. There have been outside observers almost continuously since that last attack- most through Frayba, a human rights organization-to discourage violence and to be able to report anything that may happen. 
So what is to be done? How do we not get overwhelmed with how huge the problems can seem? I don’t have answers, of course, and it will be different for everyone. I have wandered through many places devastated by extraction directly and others feeling the painful effects over the last ten months(and surely before that, too). If nothing else, I have learned that I need to be a better activist. It is easy to get caught up thinking too big-nothing is everything, everything is something. Learn and act with compassion and strength. Acknowledge your privilege and use the privileges you have for good. There is no time left for ambivalence. There is no time to believe that things will be ok if we just keep going like we are, nor that anyone who wants you to believe that isn’t getting rich by doing so- don’t be their pawn.  There is a lot of information out there. Share what you have and what you know. Fight destruction, greed, theft, and systematic injustices as you see fit. 
For now, from Merida, where I have taken a bus to visit some friends who are doing some rad things in their community (and are just fun people).

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Oaxaca, etc

I took six days to ride from Chalmita to Oaxaca de Juarez. Some of this was beautiful, sometimes it felt slow going. Sometimes I stopped and talked to people a while and others were pretty solitary. There is pretty strong culture of food, such that in an area you may find exactly the same offerings at almost all of the kitchens, and these offerings were relatively friendly to your non meat and cheese eater in Mexico, Morelos, and Puebla. Not so much in Oaxaca. Oaxaca is full of cheese. I got a lot of weird looks, and an occasional, if we take of the meat and cheese it will be bad (and/or not much left). Just when I was getting the hang of the names of the things that I like, they change. Sometimes the food changes, sometimes it is just called something different, whatever, this is part of moving around and should be expected is all I’m saying. 

  

You know what is hotter than the air in the afternoon as heated by the sun?

  

One of many truckloads of sugar cane to teeter by me

 

entering the state of Oaxaca.

   
 

Just thought this was pretty

 
     

Just past this town I met a Polish bike traveler

I arrived in Oaxaca Friday afternoon and eventually found the mother of someone I once sat with at breakfast in Guadalajara, a friend of the people I lived with there, who grew up here and seemed excited to connect me with his family. His brother and his wife and kids live down the street and I hung out with them some too.    

I spent much of a day exploring the archeological area of Monte Alban, one of the earliest cities on our continent I believe. There is a lot there. It is interesting to think about how peoples rise and fall and take over and reuse space. What is left behind, what is sacred, how much we can gather about the way people lived from the pieces that remain long after they have been abandoned.

  

Monday I took a mini adventure out of town. First stop, Arbol de Tule.

  

Obviously it is a giant tree.

  

Much like cloud watching, if you are looking you can find all kinds of faces, shapes, figures, animals etc. I overheard a young girl (she was official) guiding a group, pointing out sleeping babies, legs of giraffes, face of gorilla, etc.

  

The route to Hierve El Agua is pretty easy until the last bit when you have to get to the other side of this mountain. That squiggling line is my road. I walked about half of the way up, and rode my brakes coming down on the other side. There is a shuttle service, which I opted to employ coming back.

  

Hierve El Agua is a site of petrified waterfalls, mineralful springs, generally lovely spot to visit in the mountains

      

It is neat to think about how the water simultaneously cuts and builds

  

It is a pretty spectacular spot to find yourself at the end of the day.

    

I had good luck with the skies this trip. A bit cloudy for a nice sunset, then cleared up overnight so to watch the stars, then perfectly overcast again for a great sunrise. Camping at the site is $40(mx) and they pretty much just tell you to set up whereever and then leave you to it. There were three other campers, I think, but we were not a social bunch

 

I got a ride back to the highway and had an easy bike ride back into Oaxaca on Tuesday. Hung out a bit more in the city, visited a few things, hung out with the family a little, ate many things, cleaned and repacked. 

Wednesday evening I got on a bus and today I am in San Cristobal de las Casas, staying with a friend from Bike!Bike! Visited their shop this morning and cooked together in the afternoon. I feel pretty good about all this. I had been planning to ride a bit further before busing, but at first glance it made as much sense to just go here in one shot. I was feeling excited to be in a community bike shop again, to hang out with people I knew at least a little, to be in a place and not to climb mountains in the heat to see all the beautiful country in between. I cannot do everything at once, and as I have suggested to other people so often, if you are doing something for fun, and it isn’t as fun as you’d like, it is time for a change. Or something like that. Bus with bike was sufficiently easy, no hassle about boxing or nothing. 

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Muy lejos todavía 

Thursday I met another bike traveler, the first I’ve encountered since Guadalajara. He is from Poland and was heading the other way. He said it is probably a month to Merida, which is longer than I was planning but makes sense at this point. 

I stopped Thursday night in Nochixtlán, slept in the municipal building. Someone I met told me insistently it was only a four hour ride into Oaxaca, which I refused to believe, but I went on the autopista, which may be cheating-made the ride much easier than I expected, and I think I made it in five hours. 

I tried covering my face yesterday and today which is not the worst. I stop ever so often to rewet the cloth. 
It occasionally occurs to me that I may not be cut out for biking long distances in hot places. I made it to Oaxaca yesterday and will take a couple days off here… There may be some busing in my future. 

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Kings

Remember late spring when I had nothing to say except how sunny and hot it is? The next few weeks may be like that again. Stay tuned only if you don’t mind my whining, and haphazard ability to protect myself from the climate I place myself in. 
 

Though I am sometimes reminded of the Prairies, where shade felt similarly hard to come by and I eventually convinced myself that any trees I saw in the distance but never came any closer were actually just mirages, this place is actually quite lovely, and not really anything like the prairies up north.

 
Dusk is perfect, though, and I enjoyed riding for the last couple hours yesterday quite thoroughly. I arrived in Acatlán after dark to a market festival sort of full square, in preparation for Day of Kings(?) which is an important gift giving holiday. I asked a police about camping and he told me it was fine to sleep in the artisan market, next to their building, and that it would close at 8. Because of the holiday and whatnot, they did not close at 8, but I did eventually sleep, just not quite in that spot, and not as much as I’d have liked.

Today was similarly hot and pretty. Towns were a little farther apart, climbs a little longer, crossed into Oaxaca in the afternoon and the road surface immediately got a little tougher. Stopped in Huajuapan in the afternoon and failed to move on to enjoy the dusk today. Rosca de reyes for sale everywhere. 

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Sugar country

I miss the long days, when I could dally in the afternoon and still have time to get as far as I’d like. I’m not actually worried about time, it is ok to be doing shorter days. 

Spent a bit of the day dodging trucks full and tractors pulling loads of sugar cane (getting passed on flat ground and trying not to run into them going up or down hill) and fields and fields of the stuff on fire. The burned leaf matter blows around, I’m pleased that I finally got a new pair of glasses yesterday, so to protect my eyes. Stopped for the day in Atencingo, home to one of the largest sugar refineries in the country. Most of the population is involved in sugar production. 

Went out to get food and walk around in the rain. There is a really nice park near where I am staying. 

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Going! 

Yesterday was an easy restart to traveling. I set out late morning, missed the cool part of the day. Stopped for a coconut in the afternoon. I cannot yet drink,eat a whole coconut at once, but maybe with practice. 

Stayed with a woman in Mesquitera last night who invited me in when I passed by, and my plan to set out early was picked away at… But enjoyed chatting , watching birds checking out her papaya tree, making breakfast and eating with her and her daughter.

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December

It has been a while again, here is a little about my past month:

  

Staying in Chalmita has been alright. It is a pretty area, with relatively clean air and water- it has been nice to have safe tap water to drink again, from the local spring-and stunning landscape. Here is the view from the bathroom.

 

There is a simple hike up to the top, where the crosses are in that last picture if you look closely, and from there you can see a lot of the valley.

I think these are called passionfruit in English? They are great and I eat lots, along with avocado and guava, of which there is also an abundance.

I’ve learned a lot about coffee. We mostly collect the fruits, then the seeds have to be removed from their skins and sit a few days in water, then any remaining “trash” is cleaned off before laying out to dry. So I’ve spent most of my time hanging out with a 75 year old man who has been here doing this for 10 years, and a lot of other things before that. Sometimes I have a hard time understanding the things he says, and sometimes he teases me about that, but it is good practice.

sometimes the tasks at hand seem so many or so grand that it can feel overwhelming just to begin. It is important to stay calm. Plan a little, as simple as choosing a place to start and working in some semi logical order, to the extent that one is available. Set small goals, to break it up into smaller projects. Going in too many directions at once leads to missing things or creating more work in backtracking. Don’t worry about whole, let it get done bit by bit and you may find it is manageable afterall.

 I haven’t biked much here. Chalmita is in the middle of a long hill, which seemed pretty daunting when I arrived. Any trip out of town will be a lot of climbing going or returning, but I did convince myself to to out once- to remember that I can go out alone still and that riding unloaded is fun (And the hills much less daunting)! Coming and going from the town is the worst part, on all the cobbled streets, with dogs everywhere.

I did go on some adventures with new friends. This dog hangs out sometimes and has accompanied me some places.

 

Adrian led me and Sergio, who works here, out to visit these paintings. He has a lot of ideas about their origins, which I think all came from his own head.

  

He did say that some university people came and said they couldn’t be more than 100 years old, though he is certain that is not true.

Sergio and I went to Malinanco, to visit the archeological site, museums, artist markets, and such.

This is in the church there, a whole room painted like this.

     

I’m trying to remember all my injuries from the trip so far. I’m pretty sure this is my most impressive bruise, though the picture doesn’t do it justice, and it isn’t even the result of my own clumsiness!

  

I adventured by bus into Mexico City, which is huge, but not as scary as I expected. Most things aren’t. The center is full of people, though it may have been a calmer than average time to visit in general.

  

I visited some friends, some museums, and got lost wandering around a bit.

  

A friend leant me his card to use the system of public bikes, which was convenient.

 

I returned to Chalmita today, again by bus, and am planning to set out again tomorrow. It is certainly time to be moving on.

It has been a while, and I am sure someone wants to know: this episode of lost, found, and broken brought to you by, if I am honest, the same level of neglect I have employed for things always, but with a little less luck. I am traveling, and so there is not much that I have with me that I can say is unimportant, but I myself without some things that saw a lot of use. In a similar fashion to so many things (setting on my bike instead of putting them away after use, doing something else and forgetting about them, then setting off again) I have lost my pStyle– which is super useful and I recommend to any female bodied people who spend more than part of a day at a time outside ever, or maybe even if you don’t. It is useful to be able to stand to pee on the side of roads and to come away dryish. Not the end of the world not to have it, just a bit sad. I also seem to have lost the cord to charge my camera. You may have been wondering how I keep in touch at all, given my lack of interest in devices of various sorts, but I have been borrowing an iPad, which I no longer have. I have misplaced or dropped many things along the way, but for the first time I have lost some things to theft. Not for lack of trying. I’d like to think I’m generally careful, but really, it is a bit random, and I have left many things I’d rather not lose in unsecured fashion many times. I can ony be thankful I haven’t lost this or, you know, my whole bike with almost everything I own, any time sooner. My headlamp has also disappeared and I can only assume someone wandered off with it too. I am less disappointed about this thing, which while useful, I didn’t actually use too often
(especially when I could read ebooks…).  I finished the bad of soap and toothpaste that I set out with while in Guadalajara. The handful of spoons and forks I’ve found and a few clothes I have aquired from friends don’t do the losses justice, but the most important things have now been replaced to varying degrees. 

Really it seems to be only luck that keeps me with any things. I’ll have to make a list of what I haven’t lost some day.

As far as things broken, nothing is jumping to mind except my streak of luck with dogs. It is very common to be chased by dogs when traveling (or just riding around?) by bike, though I’ve been really lucky in this regard, and actually this year, I don’t think I’ve had any give real chase, not past their property line or so, just letting me know… But here, on a simple ride out of town and back into Chalmita, I had a dog come up barking on one side of me, which I ignored, and another ran up on the other side and bit my leg! I had stopped believing that they are actually any threat and while I used to pedal harder and feel scared when large, loud dogs run up at me, I have seen so many now that I hardly respond. I think it didn’t expect to catch me, and ran off after pretty quick. Left a great bruise.

People often ask if I am scared. I usually say something like ‘sometimes, but I don’t think it helps to worry. most people are good, most dogs aren’t going to bite, most bears don’t want to eat humans…’ it varies. I would like to note that I still believe this. I still believe that, though I know inconvenient, unpleasant, painful, and deadly things happen, that there are more good and it doesn’t make sense to live waiting for the bad. There is a difference between knowing you can die or get hurt and proceding with caution, and believing that you will die at any moment and hiding. To the untrained eye, proceding with caution may look a lot like reckless abandon, but please believe that no one in the world has more stake in my continued personal wellbeing than I do.

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Tomorrow was a bit of a stretch…

Tuesday I had a short ride to Chalmita, where I am staying on a farm, WWOOFing for a bit. I also had my first road stop inspection! I answered all the questions well enough and my could find both identification I have, and they allowed me to carry on. I am in a beautiful valley place with lots of fruits and vegetables. I work a bit and hang out and talk to people and eat many things. Still getting the hang of the routine here, more next time. For now, some pictures from the last few weeks:

I stayed, in Guadalajara, six weeks in part of a house that I did not need the key to leave but did to reenter, in a house which did need the key to leave. I am very pleased with myself for not once forgetting my keys and trapping myself between these doors. In my last bit of time in Guadalajara I explored some more of the city, finally got to Tlaquepaque and Tonala; got and applied new connectors for my rear light, which had stopped working; was the second person on a bicycle, which was scary, but so common here that I’m sure it was an important thing to try; and probably some other things which are or are not worth mentioning. I was starting to feel restless. There is a lot of cool stuff going on in Guadalajara, and many people I like a lot, and much I was only just getting to know, but that will be true everywhere. I left feeling a sufficient mix of well liked and appreciated, unimportant, and encouraged to go. 

I set out without knowing exactly where I was going. I planned a few days out, from which I could connect to a few potential routes.

First stop: Guachimontones! An easy (65km, mostly downhill) ride from GDL. The archeological site is just uphill from the town of Teuchitlán

These are, I believe, the only circular pyramids in the world. It was good to visit, it is important to think about what is left behind, how civilizations change.

It is neat to think about the time scales on which we move, and the general nomadlyniess of our species.

The second day had a lot more climbing. It was sunny and hot, And I felt a bit out of practice for travel. I stopped in Union de Tula in the afternoon, which seems like a lovely town. First thing when you turn off the main road into town is the Casa de la Cultura (where there are dance, music, art classes, theater rehearsals, etc). I talked a while with a guy in the office there, who let me take some water, told me I could camp there, and gave me some route advice. 

Jalisco-fields of agave

decided to shorten my original route, and headed for Ciudad Guzman. This is one of many views that reminded me how similar so much of the places i have been can be. I get flashes periodically of other roads I have traveled, people I’ve met, roadwork I’ve waited to pass through…

In Ciudad Guzman there is one person on Warm Showers-who wasn’t around, but connected me with some of his friends, Gerardo, Gina, and Mathias

  
   

Volcan de Colima

   

Gerardo is a member of the group that cares for the Nevado and he and Gina took me to hike to the summit(s)

 
A farm project I’d been in touch with is in Concepcion de Buenos Aires, which happens to be only about 100km south of Guadalajara. I hadn’t heard back from the guy in a while, but decided, since it isn’t so difficult to get to, or far off the route on to other places I want to go, to stop by, at least visit and check out what they are doing… As I got into town someone stopped to talk to me, and invited me for dinner. He later accompanied me to the Presidencia (municipal sort building) where I asked and was allowed to sleep. Someone who came in later, who works sometimes in town something government and was also excited to talk to me insisted I go to the hotel on the corner. He was also staying there and paid for my room in spite of protest. I accompanied him to eat, though had to explain repeatedly why I wasn’t hungry. We talked about many things, (traveling and a real answer to why I am out here, problems in the world, etc) and I felt really good about my Spanish this night. Turns out the guy from the project here was in Guadalajara then, and I was feeling impatient so moved on.
 

On my way out of Concepcion de Buenos Aires, after only 15km or so, I met Santiago, who I hung out with for a little while, joined for an early lunch. I let him show me around a while, and eventually insisted on moving on.

Maybe 25km on from where Santiago left me I met Cuca, Who suggested I’d be better off calling it a day and coming home with her than aiming for the city coming up. She loves walking, and I met her mid route and walked with her a ways before heading back to the town I had only just taken a rest in. I met some? of her kids and grandkids. They spoke fast and I missed a lot-it is hard with multiple people who are talking amongst themselves and also to me… But they were inviting and generous none the less.

  

I don’t know anything about this, actually, but it is in Zacapu, where I ate breakfast with some people one hungry morning.

 
 

I made it through Michoacan unscathed. I got into Morelia relatively early last Thirsday, stayed all Friday and explored much of the center.

  

I like Morelia, it was a nice city to enjoy being in for a minute while taking a day off bike.

Camotes! In addition to sweet potatoes, stands along the highway can be found offering coconuts(cut open so you can drink it, then more so you can eat the flesh as well) and plantain chips(and of course tacos)

 

Sometimes cactus turn into trees. I stopped to eat a fruit here, and was reminded that it isn’t the big spines you need to worry about… I was pulling little hair thorns out of my hands the rest of the day.

   
 

Just a lovely evening sky

   

There are five sanctuaries for Monarchs, all pretty close. I went to the largest, up the way from Ocampo

   

It may be possible with a better camera to effectively convey this place.

All uphill out of Zitacuaro, which allowed for a fine view of a city I felt no real affection for. It didn’t do me no harm or nothing…

   

Sometimes the signage is a bit redundant, others lacking.

 

as far as I can tell there is very little flat ground in this country

Our continent is kind of funny, in its triangleishness(I know it isn’t exactly)… So big and spread out up north and compact here, I picture it like a funnel, and the flat ground gets lost as it is compressed towards the bottom. I remember being taught in school that North America is just Canada, USA, and Mexico, and have always been a bit confused as to where Central America is supposed to be. Continental lines are physical, right? I think maybe all the Americas move together, even, but I could be wrong. I am sure that Central is not its own continent, is all, and so is probably also North America, I’ll not make any claims in this moment about South.. As for terrain, though, I can only imagine Panama is just a solid line of giant mountains.

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30 November 

I’m stopped for the night in the lovely city of Toluca. Made a friend, explored a bit. Probably more, but I’ll have to tell you about it tomorrow, for now to sleep.  

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Mariposa monarca

today I visited a monarch butterfly sanctuary. It is a magical place, they fill the sky, the trees… 

I am tonight in Zitacuaro. 

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