jc blog - tales of a modern-day nomadic hunter-gatherer

Follow jcomeau_ictx on Twitter This is the weblog of Intrepid Wanderer. You never know what you might find here; graphic descriptions of bodily functions, computer programming secrets, proselytizing for the antichrist, miscellaneous ranting and kvetching, valuable information on living off the land... if you don't share my rather weird interests you may want to try slashdot instead.

You can consider my Del.icio.us links an extension to my blog, as are my LifeTango goals and my other to-do items. My to-buy list is also public, but only for sharing any useful ideas that might be there; I'm not requesting charity, neither do I offer it.

You can find me easily in google searches, as jcomeau, jcomeau_ictx, or jcomeauictx. There are lots of other jcomeaus, but AFAIK I'm the only jcomeau_ictx out there so far.

If you want to comment on anything you see here, try the new Facebook comments, reachable by clicking the "[comment]" link at the end of each post. If for some reason that isn't working, go ahead and email me, jc.unternet.net. You know what to do with the first dot. Make the 'subject' line something reasonably intelligent-looking or it goes plunk! into the spambasket unread.

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2007-12-25-0011Z

Why is it that none of the recipes I can find on the web for banana heart, AKA banana flower (the big purple pendulum-looking thing) mention how fucking bitter the goddamned thing is? I tried cooking one tonight, and it took lots of sour grapefruit juice to make it edible, let alone palatable. [comment]

2007-12-23-1504Z

San Pedro de Atitlán is a pothead's dream. You can roll your joint and light up just about anywhere: hostels, restaurants, or along the street. I remember someone telling me if a cop does catch you, you pay him Q20 on the spot, and that's all. Or you can pay Q40 and keep your stash. I haven't found out how much an ounce is yet, since (duh!) I rarely smoke it.

There was an all-night full moon party across the lake last night, and the survivors are still straggling back. I just sat at Trippy's, shared my two liter bottles of Brahva, and went to sleep with the little Guatemalan beauty who's been keeping me more or less sane since Monday. [comment]

2007-12-22-1741Z

San Pedro is much, much nicer than Panajachel. The most affordable place is Hotel Paraiso, but watch the showers downstairs: you can easily get electrocuted, the water heater connections are seriously fucked, and everything from the valve handle to the shower head is 110VAC. When I complained to the manager, he told me to leave. Really nice guy. [comment]

2007-12-17-1451Z

Malcolm Wallace, Jr: a musicians' agent I met in a dream last night, who knows a musician friend of mine "a little". Remembering names from dreams is rare for me, but it's details like this that can connect the dream worlds to this world, if enough people blog these things.

Tips for San Pedro: buy chocolate cake (Q10) only from the lady with two missing front teeth: it's moist and delicious whereas others are usually dry and crumbly. I don't recommend pan de zanahoria (Q5) from the morning street vendors, the one I tried didn't have enough carrots to add flavor and it's just an overly sweet bread. The meatball pita for Q24 (or Q26? can't remember) at ZooLa is one of their best meat meals for the price; in particular the Argentinian meat empanada is much smaller and costs almost as much.

Walk east past the docks to a grassy area where you can swim in somewhat dirty water; there's a swing hanging from a tree over the lake where you can indulge in the childhood joy of flying out over the lake and jumping in. I did yesterday, and swam out to the first buoy and back, and man was I exhausted. I haven't had exercise like that for a while. The presence of a young beauty from my hostel accompanying me that day must have given me an adrenalin boost. That, among other hormones.

I worked out a deal with the hostel owner, an American, for Q15 a night, skipping the "free" breakfast and sleeping outside in a hammock instead of in the dormitorio. Half the price, and at least as comfortable when it isn't raining; if it does rain while I'm here, there's also a palapa with hammocks, but those aren't suspended as well. I can't promise he'll give the same deal to you, but the owner of Trippy's is a nice guy and it can't hurt to ask.

One of my crazy dreams is to install zip-lines all over the world, for low-maintenance free transit for anyone willing to take the risk. Even in flatland areas they can be strung from small towers. Each a mile long, you can cover 60 miles easily in maybe 2 or 3 hours. Bring your own pulley, all I'll provide is the cable... what made me think of this is a conversation on the way back to Pana the other day, in which an American guy, Bill, was telling me about Tulum, which he says is a great party town and is a good place to spend the full moon celebration on December 22nd (although there's one here at the lake, too, which I think will be my choice), and he mentioned other things in the area, which included zip-lines strung across the jungle. I never knew the name of those things before. [comment]

2007-12-14-2240Z

I asked the price of the lancha to San Pedro. Even though I'd already done the two things I thought I'd have to go there to do -- see a coffee plant and find free wifi -- I have time to kill till tomorrow morning. But it was Q20, too much for me. For the cost of the round trip, I could buy 3 beers. But as I started back up the dock, I was blocked by a smiling bearded face and a foot with a Burning Man tattoo on it: my Burning buddy Yoav, with whom I rode to my first burn two years ago and whom I saw at this year's burn. He was going to San Pedro to see a friend of his, so what the hell, I came along. The hostel here, Trippy's, costs Q30 a night and includes breakfast. I'll just have to sort things out with Hospedaje Londres when I get back tomorrow. [comment]

2007-12-14-2006Z

Axel, owner of Jack's Café that I mentioned earlier, used to live in the States and speaks good English. He told me of a place where I could find coffee plants, so I went there, north of town, to Santa Victoria, a finca where I stole a single fruit off one of the plants and left. On my way back, I started the Universal Edibility Test on it, not being sure that it was, indeed, coffee; but when I got back to Jack's, and Axel told me it was indeed coffee, I ate the rest of it. The fruit is pleasant-tasting, not overly sweet, and has two coffee beans inside; probably common knowledge to Guatemalans but news to me. I'm going to try to sneak those two beans back across into the US and see if I can grow them in my greenhouse. I sure didn't have any luck sprouting the green beans I've been buying online.

My primary webserver is down for the count. I hope Unixshell gets its act together soon and fixes the problem. I'm pretty sure it's the hosting server and not my virtual (XEN) server at fault. [comment]

2007-12-14-0029Z

That place I mentioned earlier, Las Brasas, did indeed add a 10 percent tip to the bill; but with two beers it still came to only Q60. The same thing would have cost me twice as much on the lakefront, though the fish would probably have been fresher; this wasn't all that good.

After that, I went and bathed in the lake and slept a little on the beach. Then I finished setting up lighttpd on my new server at Spry in Seattle. I'm celebrating with a few more beers at Pana Rock Cafe.

My waiter, David, told me there's a bus to Antigua for Q20 at 10AM on Calle Principál. I might just go there and see some of my favorite coffee plants growing before heading back north. [comment]

2007-12-13-1841Z

One of the most affordable restaurants along Santander is Las Brasas, which has a number of lunch plates for Q25. Beers are Q15 each. I've found a number of places here add a tip to the bill, typically 10 percent. I rarely check, though, so I don't generally tip, assuming they've already figured it into the price. I'm probably making some meseros angry, but nobody has taken a machete to me yet.

This is my first time at Las Brasas, so I don't know if this is one of those places (that add the tip) or not. [comment]

2007-12-13-1721Z

Instead of continually blogbitching about the lack of availability of fishing supplies, I -- what a concept -- asked around, and found out the Ancla hardware stores carry such. I bought 100 meters of 6 pound test line for Q6. No yoyo reels, though, just cañas. So some entrepreneurial-minded person might still clean up with yoyo reels here.

Also bought a small hairbrush, Q15.50, this morning to replace the one I lost. No need to dread up -- you can buy caps here with dreadlocks attached: instant Rasta-man! [comment]

2007-12-13-1510Z

I found the best breakfast price at Orale Steak House, just north of Callejón Londres on Santander: Q15 for 2 eggs scrambled, black bean paste, a piece of the local cheese, some fried banana, tortillas, and coffee. That's Q5 cheaper than most other places for a complete breakfast, although you often get more, like a small piece of steak, where it's Q20 or Q25.

Internet access ranges from Q5 to Q12 per hour. Most will let you connect your laptop. Other prices, now that I'm thinking about it: roll of toilet paper, Q1; replacement shoelaces, Q5.

[comment]

2007-12-13-0158Z

My transfer finally went through, and my bank reversed the overdraft fee. BankOfInternet.com is really the best online banking solution out there. Excellent customer support, high interest, low fees. Now just have to go to an ATM and get me some cash to last until Friday.

If I'd had a Visa card instead of MasterCard, I could have gotten a cash advance from one of the banks here, without a PIN. Next year maybe I'll remember to bring one of each type of credit card, assuming I've learned how to manage credit by then. I'm doing pretty well, actually, but still not totally responsibly. [comment]

2007-12-12-2120Z

The lake is nice and windy today, could maybe throw in a line and catch a few fish, but am unfortunately unprepared. Meanwhile these desperate street vendors are trying to sell beautiful, hand-embroidered or woven things for Q5. They seem incredulous that the gringos could refuse such bargains. Sell me a fucking yo-yo reel, goddammit!

Another idea -- a hand-propelled raft ferrying passengers from town to town along the lake. The fare can be very low, and the proprietors make their income from beer, kept cold by dragging it in a net behind the boat, where it can reach the colder water. Passengers can be very comfortable in sky chairs suspended from horizontal bars along the length of the raft, and can do some fishing in the process. [comment]

2007-12-12-1916Z

Took a walk to the far east edge of town today, crossing the footbridge to the poor area and back over the Amistad bridge built jointly by Korea and Guatemala. Along the walk, I noticed the absolute lack of any store advertising articulos de pescar. Selling all kinds of shit, but nothing for fishing? Nothing in the way of luggage carriers, either. If I come back next year, maybe I should bring some fishing stuff and luggage rollers to sell. [comment]

2007-12-12-1416Z

Now that I have the WEP key for Pana Arte, I can use it across the street at the Parrillada during breakfast. Cool! Things are looking up. But I don't think I'll stay beyond Saturday unless something amazing happens that makes me want to stay. I'm not saving any money here, either.

US$150 seems to be lost in a transfer from PayPal to my bank... let's see if PayPal's customer support turns out to be anything better than normal (pitiful)... [comment]

2007-12-12-0143Z

These Guatemalan brats are too cute. It's easy to refuse buying the crap they're peddling, but when they point to things on your plate it's kind of hard to say no. I tried to get one little girl to take the platano frito but she insisted on the remaining piece of steak. Smart kid. She got it, of course. [comment]

2007-12-12-0106Z

Pana Rock isn't open yet tonight, but upstairs Pana Arte has pretty good prices -- Q15 for beers and Q30 for a plate of various meats -- and free wifi with a WEP key of 1980z. Not sure if they'll take credit cards, but I got Q100 out of an ATM so I should be good to go if I take it easy on the beers.

That adapter I bought today wouldn't work, so I tested things with my meter and determined that it wasn't making contact where it screwed into the light socket. I had to take my knife and bend in the aluminum so the threads were actually where they belonged. So much for quality control in Central America. [comment]

2007-12-11-2103Z

Earlier today I took another bath in the ocean, and washed my socks and pants. Everything is getting close to dry, which is good because the nights are a little chilly here. I also found an electrical distributor way up the hill on Calle Principál where I bought the adaptor I need for Q12. Now I'm at Atlantis Café & Bar drinking Brahva at Q12 a pop; it's on special today, normally Q15. [comment]

2007-12-11-2019Z

OK, got it compiled on my newer Debian machine. Sorry for the cursing, just had to vent... [comment]

2007-12-11-1950Z

Fucking goddamned scons is a piece of shit. Trying to compile different versions of NSIS on Linux, and keep getting version-related errors. Fuck scons. Fuck NSIS. [comment]

2007-12-11-1519Z

I just got done talking with a young beauty from some other country -- her green eyes and blondish hair are definitely not common among Guatemalans -- and she gave me the lowdown on street vending here in Panajachel. No license is required, but she has to pay at most Q2 per day (I didn't understand the actual mechanics of that); foreigners can vend on Calle Santander just south of where it meets Calle Principal, or near the church.

On Calle Principal just south of that same junction, the east side of the road, is where I can get the bus to Xela at 9:30 or so AM, for Q25. So I didn't lose that much after all by taking the bus to Santiago the other day.

I sometimes get tongue-tied when people ask me where I'm from. The "correct" answer is, of course, "Estados Unidos", but that really isn't unique; Mexico is, after all, "Estados Unidos de Mexico". I'm thinking of answering "El Reino de Bush" next time and see how it goes over.

So the Pana Rock cafe, where I had a couple more beers later yesterday evening for Q15 each, has free wifi but no "corriente". So I should be able to use my laptop there as long as the battery has a good charge. Since my room doesn't have any outlets, I ought to look for a lamp-socket converter. One of my goals for today...

I acquired a virtual server from Spry in Seattle, but can't get the damned thing working with Apache. I found the solution but it doesn't seem to apply; the vzctl command isn't available, and even when I used apt-get to install it, the file /dev/vzdev wasn't there. Even if mknod were to work, I don't really want to do all that work to learn the quirks of another virtualization tool. I'm trying to get them to switch me to XEN. I guess I could also use a more lightweight HTTP service, but that will most likely require significant changes to my setup, which will make maintenance a nightmare. [comment]

2007-12-11-0050Z

Calle Santander, a few meters after it becomes Calle Principal (or Reál, as at least one local refers to it), splits off again to become Avenida Los Arboles. One of the more interesting places in this area of town is Jack's Café, with a pirate decor, pleasant lighting, and playing homegrown Guatemala rock-and-roll, a San Marcos group whose name I couldn't catch. And the beers are only Q13 there, much better than those fucking overpriced tourist-trap restaurants along the beach that charge 20 to 30 each beer.

I got enough of a buzz by now, and am having an espresso at Pingüinos continuing down the hill towards my hospedaje. I can't really say I like Panajachel yet -- those 3-wheel taxis in particular are quite annoying -- but it's starting to grow on me. If only I could find a place with free wireless! An American who lives in San Pedro, another town here on the lake, says it's all over the place in his area. It sure hasn't caught on here. [comment]

2007-12-10-2224Z

Still can't find that International Hostel I saw this morning when walking with Pete. So I checked into a couple of other places, and found Hospedaje Londres, a real dump but with a rate of only Q20 per night. Also went to the Catamaran, a lakeside restaurant, and had an excellent fried whitefish with a taste almost identical to the perch I used to catch in North Pond in Smithfield, Maine. [comment]

2007-12-10-1633Z

Sitting in an Internet place in Panajachel. Took a bath in the lake not long ago, and got most of the roadstink off me. It's been a wild ride for the past 36 hours or so... let's pick up from where I last blogged, in Tapachula:

I had gone back into the OCC station to wait, but the thought of sitting there for hours didn't really appeal to me, so I got directions to a colectivo to the beach. As soon as I went out the door, a small bus came by, with a guy yelling "frontera!". I let it pass, thought a few milliseconds about it, then yelled "frontera!" back. They stopped, I got on, and was off to the Guatemala border.

Where the bus stopped, Talisman, there were lots of vehicles with other cars and trucks in tow, but they didn't seem to be going anywhere. Continuing walking, there were no vehicles at all approaching the bridge. A cajero asked me if I wanted to change my money, I figured "why not?" and did. I was surprised at the low amount of Quetzales I got, but since I didn't know the exchange rate, I figured he must be giving the right amount. It turns out I was wrong, but that was later...

A Mexican official indicated I should stop at the INM office, so I did and got my passport stamped. Then on the other side of the bridge, I was also urged to go to the passport office, where I had to pay Q10 to get the passport stamped, but in return got a bunch of maps and bus information. I walked on up the street, got into a colectivo to Malacatán for Q4, and from there down the hill to a brightly-colored bus to San Marco, Q10. It was on that bus that I inquired into the exchange rate and found out that 1 peso was worth about .75 quetzales. In fact, according to this website, 460 pesos was worth 330 Quetzales yesterday, which means the Q205 I received was 125Q short, close to 17 dollars lost to that prick; that would have paid the whole bus to Lake Atitlán. But, whatever. My fault for not doing my homework.

From San Marcos I took another rickety bus to Quetzaltenango, also known as Xela (Chela), another Q10. My ass was getting really sore by this time. I stopped for a little food before continuing, from one of the stalls lining the bus terminal. I was tempted to try the fried papaya blossoms but stuck with chicken and chorizo. I don't remember how much it was, but it was for sure inexpensive. Then for the final leg, or so I was told by the guy at the border, to Panajachel. "No hay". Turns out there was a bus to Lake Atitlan, but to the south side, not the north side where Panajachel is located. There is a "lancha" (motorboat), that goes there from Santiago, but by the time we arrived it was late and there were no more till the next morning at 6AM. Plus, that bus went way down through Cocales, making it a Q30 trip instead of the expected Q10.

So there I was, in Santiago de Atitlán, the only gringo in sight, schlepping my almost-ruined luggage rack through the bumpy streets. Not a bar open anywhere, but plenty of fucking churches. Sunday night in December, every goddamned church packed to overflowing. There were a bunch of kids playing soccer near the bus terminal, so I sat there for a while watching the game. When it finished, I walked to the food vendors and got a piece of chicken for Q8. Kept walking, looking for a place to pee. Then, lo and behold! A bunch of guys in this little hole-in-the-wall place: drinking beer! Hallelujah! I went in, ordered my first-ever Gallo, and was invited to sit down at one of the tables, all of which were occupied. These Guatemalans were real friendly, and I was suspecting "gay", but I didn't really give a shit. When conversation got around to where I was staying, and I said I didn't have a place (the hostal hostess didn't answer the door, and the hotel was over Q70 and I didn't want to spend that much), my table-mate offered me his floor, and I was grateful to accept. After my second beer, and a little plate of shrimp and limes on the house, I followed "George" (I can't even pronounce his real name) to his little apartment, unstuffed my sleeping bag, and was out almost instantly. I woke up at daybreak, thanked the guy, and left for the lake. Got on the lancha, where a young Swedish guy named Pete was already there in the front, the Guatemalans in the rear, and talked with him in English till we pulled up on the dock in Panajachel and paid our Q20 each. We walked for a bit, breakfasted, found a working ATM after 4 tries, and parted ways. I saw him again on his lancha to Santa Cruz after I took a bath in the lake. Then dried off and walked here.

My luggage rack fell apart for good this morning. But I'm hoping to convert the PCDecisions build to Linux, sell my laptop and any associated electronics shit I don't really need, and travel a lot lighter from here on out. That would sure be nice. My back hurts again now, after mostly healing from that first day in Oaxaca. [comment]

2007-12-09-1516Z

From what little I understand of what's going on around here, I should get a bus to Cocalo in Guatemala, and from there, there's a colectivo that goes to Lake Atitlan for 16 Quetzales (?), about 28 pesos. If I get on the 10 AM bus, it's something like MX$230 to get to Cocalo. If I wait till 2:30 in the afternoon, it's only MX$160, but the ticket lady doesn't know if the driver will stop in Cocalo. I'll take my chances. Now if I can only find out how to get to the beach meanwhile...

Oh, and the 10AM bus stops for 45 minutes at the border so you can exchange currency and whatever. I don't know about the 2:30 bus. It seems to me I could convince the Guatemalans to accept Mexican pesos, but who knows? [comment]

2007-12-09-1406Z

The bus trip to Tapachula was uneventful, but I couldn't sleep much watching out for roadblocks, after reading about that highway robbery on the same line that I took...

It looks like there are direct lines to Guatemala City but none to Lake Atitlan. If I can pull up a map on the web -- the local Oxxo doesn't sell any -- maybe I can get the driver to drop me somewhere along the way, from where I can walk to the lake. I don't really want to be in a city smelling like I do right now, and there's no beach nearby where I can wash up. [comment]

2007-12-08-1648Z

Got my ticket to Tapachula on Cristobal Colón for 7:10 PM: MX$322. I could probably save some money by going back to Pochutla and taking the coastal buses, but I feel like going first-class for a change. I've heard the Guatemala bus rides are horrible, so I might as well give my ass a break in preparation. Next year, assuming I'll do this again, I'll skip Oaxaca and go coastal all the way. Come to think of it, I'll skip Puerto Vallarta as well and go directly from Guadalajara to Acapulco.

The hostel has locker service for MX$10 per day -- a nice way to store my stuff until tonight. The luggage rack I bought at Soriana yesterday doesn't look like it will handle nearly as much abuse as the last one did before it died. I'll be grateful if it gets me to the bus terminal at the north edge of town.

I also bought a bunch more Palacios chorizo at Soriana. In addition to the big packs, it's now available in smaller pieces, each individually sealed. That works even better as travel food.

Went drinking again last night with some friends. Overindulged a bit, but no headache this morning, just the shits. That trick of drinking water, whenever you wake up to pee, really works. [comment]

2007-12-07-1729Z

Went to the grand opening of a strip club last night with my Couchsurfing companions. Just what I needed, something to increase my libido again. Dumb, dumb, dumb. But who knows, maybe my luck will change...

Juniper (Chase) customer support got back to me with a useful answer this time. They show that the PIN I selected is indeed in their system. So I'll try a cash advance at some different ATMs today and see what happens. It will be good to fix this problem now, when I don't need it, than some time when I'm desperate, don't have Internet access, and am standing cursing at an ATM when the damned thing doesn't work.

My back still hasn't straightened itself out since the other day when I was carrying my luggage around for miles after the rollaround broke. And if I don't find some kind of luggage rack today, I'll hurt myself more carrying the stuff to the bus terminal. I don't relish that prospect. [comment]

2007-12-06-1842Z

Yesterday went to the market with couchsurfers Moe and Claire, tried some fried grasshoppers, blood sausage, and other foods. We then took a taxi to the Lucha Libre with another two couchsurfers, but the cheapest tickets were MX$150, which I didn't really want to pay since that wrestling crap doesn't appeal to me anyway; so they stayed and I left. This morning I found some hojas de afeitar, razor blades, and had my new moon shave, cutting myself up pretty badly in the process. I couldn't find any single-edge blades at the hardware stores, which are much easier to use than the flimsy double-edged blades.

I'm down to MX$200, with maybe that much again in PayPal, to last me till Saturday morning, and I spent over MX$1000 on my credit card too. Hopefully I can catch up, financially, at Panajachel. It sure ain't gonna happen in Oaxaca. [comment]

2007-12-05-2230Z

I went out looking for a hardware store to buy a razor blade for my New Moon shave. Didn't find one, but did find a nice black wool hat at a stall in the Escritorio for MX$200, a small fraction of what similar hats cost at the store near the Zócalo. I feel like parading by there and looking at their hats in the window, shaking my head. But I have better things to do, don't I? [comment]

2007-12-05-2122Z

A young couple I met at the café told me about this hostel, which I finally found after schlepping my luggage around for blocks in the wrong direction... my back is in bad shape, but finally got a good night's sleep after partying with some other couchsurfers. I'm paid through Friday night for $280 pesos (their website isn't up-to-date, it's MX$70 per night), and am just going to chill as much as possible till Saturday morning. There's high-speed wifi here, power, and friendly people who aren't likely to steal my stuff; as close to an ideal situtation as I'm likely to find in this city.

I finally got PCDecisions put to rest for another 2 years, except for maintenance. Now if I can just convert the build process to Linux, I can get rid of this goddamned heavy Windows laptop; nothing else important to me depends on Windows. A WRT54G, with some kind of I/O devices attached, is enough computer for my needs. [comment]

2007-12-04-2246Z

Found an interesting report on the bus I'm about to take to Tapachula. Sounds like a shitload of fun. This was probably some years ago, though. [comment]

2007-12-04-2217Z

I feel right at home for the first time in this city. I found Cafe Los Cuiles, a "den of commies and terrorists" according to a quote on their website. Free wifi, pleasant atmosphere, good coffee. [comment]

2007-12-04-1514Z

The first few hours of that express van was all hairpin turns through the mountains. It started raining, the windshield fogged up, and the dipshit driver was fucking with his stupid cellphone every few minutes. Sure, retard, just what you need, some diversion from the road. Anyway, I made it to Oaxaca regardless. Found a bar, Casa de Mescal, IIRC, and drank Indio till closing; ate at a roadside stand and had some real mole, on what I thought were empanadas but here they call them quesadillas. Then I started walking the city.

And I walked. And I walked. One time I sat down at a bench and started sleeping; shortly some guard woke me up and told me to move on. Turns out I was near the government complex or something. But shit, I couldn't find anything open. I just kept going around and around until daybreak, and then I purchased some hot chocoloate, Oaxaca style, and a churro from a street vendor for breakfast. Somewhere in there I also paid MX$2 to use a public restroom; I peed gladly all over town last night but had to take a dump.

My luggage cart finally broke beyond usability; pieces had been falling off since Guadalajara. The zipper on my old Akona bag finally broke in the past week or two, also.

So far my health has been holding up, at least, despite being stuck in that closed van with the driver coughing for hours last evening. [comment]

2007-12-03-2324Z

I thought I'd learn the route better, and walk back from Zipolite through Puerto Angel. It seemed that the route the camioneta (I said colectivo before, but I was wrong) took this morning was overly long. I was wrong on that score, too. I'm pretty sure I walked at least 10km, and it was at least another 10km into Pochutla. The colectivo -- a taxi with either light blue and white coloring, or light blue and cream -- cost me MX$20, but it was well worth it as I would have been killed on that road after dark, dressed in black as I am.

Across from the Zimat store on the main drag in Pochutla is the express van to Oaxaca: MX$120. I could probably continue along the coast and be at Lake Atitlan by tomorrow, but as I've said many times, nobody can guarantee me another day on this earth, and I want to see el Ciudad de Oaxaca.

Finally broke down and bought a bowl of Sopa de Mariscos for MX$100 on the walk back from Zipolite. There might be a photo in the Facebook album if I get a round tuit. It was worth it: a large serving of prawns, fish, and octopus. Very tasty and filling. [comment]

2007-12-03-1822Z

Ended up walking into town long before daybreak. Nothing ever seems to be as dangerous as people tell you it is. When I hit the road I came in on, kitty-corner across the street were buses to Pochutla for MX$20. From there, cross back over the street you came in on, and down the hill. Just before it ends in a left turn, there's a beauty parlor/"bus" station where you catch a collectivo to Mazunte for MX$10, and it takes you right to the Zipolite beach as its last stop. Very affordable. It's about a 3 hour walk if you want to try it, but the directions I've gotten are pretty confusing.

Nobody was naked -- the "Playa del Amor", where people are more comfortable cavorting in their birthday suits, is something of a walk. So I just stripped down, jumped in, got back out and dressed again. Had to be done. Strike a blow for freedom and all that.

Internet places are everywhere along these beaches. My screen is giving me problems again, but at the moment it's deciding to work. Lovely. [comment]

2007-12-03-0647Z

Guess I got too sloshed at the bus terminal; I lost my hat. Earlier in the week I lost a bunch of other stuff when I left a pocket of the duffel bag unzipped: needle and thread, velcro, bullet connectors, and possibly more. Maybe US$30 down the drain. Just hunky-dory.

I'm in Puerto Escondido in the great Mexican state of Oaxaca. The plan right now is to sit tight in the bus terminal till daybreak; walk into town; find an ATM and get some more cash; get a ticket to Puerto Angel; and go get naked at Zipolite.

Spent over 1000 pesos in the last two days. Damned if I know how. [comment]

2007-12-02-2053Z

Got to the Acapulco station almost two hours too early, but what the hell, I'm not going to walk back downtown again. Just gonna chill out here until the bus comes. It's easy to do because they sell beer right here in the bus terminal and let you drink it here! What a concept! Greyhound, are you listening? Bunch of fucking wimps, they won't even let you on the bus if they smell beer on your breath, doesn't matter if you had only one.

I kind of like this town, at least better than Puerto Vallarta. The public beaches are for the "common people", and I don't see cops patrolling, waking people up. If it weren't for the risk of catastrophic wave activity, this bay might be a good place to set up camp.

Once I get to Puerto Escondido, I'll have to make a decision whether to continue along the coast, or go to Oaxaca for a taste of mole, mescal, y xocolatl. If it's not too expensive, my ideal would be to continue on to Puerto Angel first, walk or bus to Zipolite, Mexico's famous nude beach; then east to Oaxaca; and from there find the best route to Lake Atitlan. There might be something direct, but if not, I can go to the coast in Chiapas and get a bus to either Lake Atitlan or Guatemala City. [comment]

2007-12-02-1810Z

Got my ticket for MX$238 on the 4:45 PM Estrella Blanca bus to Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca, then walked back downtown to the "Rosmar" restaurant on the Malecon. Some kind of motorcycle rally going past right now.

I have to thank Pedro for two good nights of sleep, but a couple of things were bothering me. One, I had no key, and was basically a prisoner locked in his apartment. I could have gotten out -- he has a neighbor, Maria, who let me out this morning -- but I don't like to have to bother people. Another thing, he was copping feels last night out on the balcony. He possibly didn't even consciously do it, but it was too often his hand brushed against the front of my pants to be an accident. Maybe I've done that to women before, and if so, karma has come around and slapped me. Anyway, my experience with staying with a gay guy wasn't particularly pleasant. It's not likely I'll try it again soon, unless it's a Couchsurfer with some good references.

Some notable differences between Acapulco and more northern cities: no whitefish ceviche; the ceviche here is a soupy, sweet, red mixture of pulpo, camarones, y caracól. No hay abarrotes; hay misceláneas. The natural gas vendors don't play jingles, they just blow their horns as they cruise the streets.

There's an ornamental tree I've noticed both in PV and here, with large, glossy leaves and a peach/almond type fruit. I'll probably post a photo at Facebook eventually. And I probably won't get a chance to edibility-test it this trip.

I ordered the pulpo á la diabla, which wasn't nearly as spicy as the name would indicate. But it was tasty nonetheless. Pricy, too, at MX$100, but I'm not even trying to stick to my budget. Fuck it.

I finally figured out last night what was wrong with my midiplay program. I hadn't recompiled the DLL with the version 2.5 Python.h. Once recompiled, it worked just fine. It would have been nice if the error message could have hinted at the problem; "not found" isn't particulary informative. [comment]

2007-12-01-1722Z

I've been doing not much other than walk since breakfast. That filet of fish wasn't a lot of food, but I was only charged MX$27. I couldn't believe it, I kept counting the change; finally I left a $5 peso tip and got out of there before they changed their minds. Supposedly the fish was MX$50 and the coffee at least MX$10 more, so I got charged less than half.

There's a new Woolworth's store opening here. F. W. Woolworth's was, as I remember, the only department store in Skowhegan when I was young, but I thought the chain had pretty much disappeared. Well, perhaps it has in the states, but it's resurrecting in Mexico by the looks of it.

Can't find free wifi anywhere, fuck! [comment]

2007-12-01-1523Z

Didn't want to start blowing my paycheck right away, so here on Playa Caletillo I tried the cheapest breakfast I could find, huevos tibios, soft-boiled eggs, MX$20, nescafe for another MX$10. The eggs were served with limes and what appeared to be finely-chopped garlic. I added liberal amounts of the garlic until I realized... it was salt. I couldn't finish it, obviously. Paid my tab and went up the street to the breakfast buffet places. The first one didn't have any seafood on the buffet, so I figured they'd all be the same in that regard; I ordered the fillet empanizado for MX$50. Hopefully this will be enough to get me started for the day. Got some work to do. [comment]

2007-12-01-0609Z

I lucked out in one way, at least. A guy was following me in his car, and eventually opened the window and started talking to me. He's quite obviously gay, but I got a good vibe from him and his offer of a place to stay was mighty tempting. I did tell him, on the ride here, that I'm not gay, and I could see he was disappointed, but he said it's OK, the offer still stands.

So here I am, in a 3rd-floor apartment on the harbor, looking out over Acapulco. Pedro, a professional astrologer, has already gone to bed, and left me the balcony to myself. He also sprung for a 6-pack of Victoria, so I'm going to have one more at least before retiring myself. [comment]

2007-12-01-0456Z

Arrived in Acapulco maybe an hour or two ago. The bus was so fucking cold the whole way, about 24 hours, that I'm really glad that at one stop I had the presence of mind to request, and get, my sleeping bag from my checked luggage. I have a tickle in my throat but am hoping for the best.

Yep, it was 9-ish last night that I got fed up with Puerto Vallarta. Almost out of cash, and the bar not accepting credit cards; hadn't slept much over 6 of the last 48 hours, due to ladrones on the beach at night, and the cops 24 hours a day, making life impossible. When it isn't too dangerous to sleep, it's apparently illegal to do so. Also, like every other city, almost every square inch is paved over, and no free restrooms anywhere to compensate. Some cities make a half-assed effort to provide facilities, but not PV. I get the feeling they're just daring me to take a piss somewhere so they can haul me off to jail.And I can't seem to get laid, but I can't really blame that on Puerto Vallarta; it's just adding to the anger.

After exiting the Acapulco bus depot, I made a right and went as far as I could go, then another right the same, then a 3rd right. I came out shortly after that into a large walkway with restaurants on both sides. Rinsed my arms with some of the 2 liters of water on which I spent almost my last cash. Maybe if I find a place that accepts credit cards I won't stink too much to get in. That Palacios chorizo is good travel food but, man, the garlic permeates your whole body very quickly. [comment]

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