I Hate Working

Journey to Mexico with your boy Oldie. These emails were composed throughout the course of my wife Kesia and I's three-month escape from work during the spring of 2005, shortly after we relocated to Stumptown. We decided it was time to take a break from earning a living, and just live.

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Location: Stumptown, OR, United States


Last Words

hey gang...

man, it's been a long week and a half since i wrote you all last, and sadly this is the last trip update, as we're going to be heading back to the states the day after tomorrow...since we have to get to the airport at 2am on wednesday, tomorrow we'll be pretty much hibernating, socking a few extra hours of sleep away...which is very unlikely now that i think about it because of the nightclub seemingly located right above our room that plays shitty house music and banda till 3am. oh well.

i left you all off in the sleepy town of melaque...our last three days were a little bland. kind of like living in iowa, i imagine. not much to do. not much to see. not many cultural attractions. farm animals the only creatures moving. one restaurant to feed the whole town. too damn hot. so i think we'll just skip any further details...save one, the food in this town is terrible. oh, and anyone out there who has ever disparaged TexMex cuisine is silly in the head. Texmex has vastly improved upon the mexican version of certain foods, namely enchiladas (mostly dry here, with a little bit of meat and not much else), burritos (same as enchiladas, except they use flour tortillas instead of corn...none of that veggie stuff, or cheese, or rice), and fajitas (here they're basically some meat and tomatoes stewed up and plopped onto your plate). otherwise the other foods everywhere else on the trip have been mighty tasty.

we took our first 2nd class bus of the trip to puerto vallarta, and instantly regreted it...there is nothing to compare to the pain of holding your pee for 6 hours while bumping along the road, hitting every pothole and topes (speedbumps...which are EVERYWHERE), making you feel like your bladder is going to explode all over the front of the bus. so yeah, no bathroom, and the driver allowed no stops (except to buy himself beer and smokes, of course). the views were great though, craggy ocean cliffs and tropical jungles...it's still very dry here, but much more green than other places we've been to (for a visualization, this is where they filmed the movie predator, with that naziracist prick arnold swasticaneggar, or how ever you spell the guy's name). finally, we entered puerto vallarta, and took a cab to the amazing resort of villa del mar, our home for the next week. The resort is pretty fucking mindblowing in it's extravagance, especially since we've been living in substandard housing by U.S. standards for most of the last month and a half. beachfront, 3 pools, 2 restaurants, a sports bar, a grocery store, an internet cafe, a bakery, laundry facilities, bocciball courts, tennis courts, i mean shit the list goes on and on. there is everything you'd need if you're rich enough to eat and shop here...and this is exactly what most people who stayed here did. they spent their time in mexico at the pool, eating at the resort restaurants, watching the resort-sponsored entertainment, watching the sunset from the resort's roped off manicured beach complete with strips of lawn with signs proclaiming "don't walk on the grass"...this was their total experience of mexico. how very very sad. i'm not going to lie, though...after roughing it for 6 weeks, we were ready to relax a little ourselves, spending hours at the pool and laying on our unbelievably comfortable bed watching cable TV (and i hate TV), setting the A/C so high i think it reached freezing at one point. unfortunately, the staff at this resort are the biggest snobby assholes we've encountered so far...it must be that they've become jaded from dealing with so many ungodly-rich snobs themselves, that they can't even bring themselves to act decently to someone who isn't slipping them a $10 dollar tip for answering a question. it didn't help that we look like we just walked out of the jungle, but really, we're still guests. for example, every service staff member would ask us our age, seemingly out of the blue...when we would tell them 25 and 27, they would either act very rude to us, or simply stop talking with us and walk away. it wasn't until several days later that we learned everyone at the hotel gets a commision of $50 for helping guests sign up for shows, tours, trips into town, etc...but, only if the guests they are dealing with are 28 and over. what utter crap. so our entire stay, we rarely had a meaningful, or even decent interaction with any member of the resort staff...which was just so opposite of our interactions with our other hotel hosts, it really left a sour taste in our mouths.
The city of puerto vallarta is a mixed bag...on one hand, the entire city is designed to take away the resort-goers money. i certainly don't blame the people for this, as i'd do the same thing in their shoes. unfortunately for us, though, we don't have a lot of money, so everthing was extremely overpriced and unfriendly to the budget traveler. throughout our trip we've been paying 20-40 pesos (2-4 bucks) for a complete meal (soup, entree, beans, rice, tortillas, drink and desert), and here we find that the cheapest eats go for around 80 pesos...for a sandwhich! our only saving grace was that our resort room had a full kitchen, so we stocked up on groceries for the week and mostly cooked our own meals. otherwise, we wouldn't have lasted two days here. to be fair, though, this city has a great deal of charm. beautiful shining white buildings with red tiled roofs and cobble stoned streets...shaded plazas, a great malecon (beachfront boardwalk with some of the most amazing bronze statues i've ever seen), sandy beaches, a very safe atmosphere, and a plethora of traditional mexican entertainment. on any one of our many trips into town, we were regaled with live mariachi music, baile foklorico (traditional dances), clown shows (which are very popular here), indigenous pipe music, and our personal favorite, the voladores...these crazy lunatics climb to the top of a 150 foot (at least) pole, and wrap an equal lenth of rope around the pole's top, hand tie it to their waist, and jump backwards...four do this at the same time, all spinning earthward in ever increasing arcs as the rope tied to their waist unravels from the pole...they do this upside down, with their arms outstretched...one guy, who was obviously crazier than the rest (watched a few too many telenovelas i assume), played music the entire way down.
oh, before i forget, our room at the resort has a separate room designed specifically for ironing your clothes...is this for real? i don't understand that world...there are families in this country living in a space this size.
English is THE language spoken in this city...yes, the mexicans speak spanish, but most know english equally as well to improve their chances of relieving tourists of their cash...this was really frustrating for us, as even when we tried to speak in spanish, they would respond in english every time...very strange feeling.
This city has excellent art galleries, which we explored for the better part of a day and a half...featuring only mexican artists...for those of you who care about art, check out sergio garval, luis macias, alberto fregoso, luis filcer, jorge marin, and agustin castro...speaking of castro, at one of the galleries, we befriended a cuban guy our age who worked there and he gave us a personal tour of the owner's house while he was away. fun stuff. while hanging out with Jesus (the cuban's name), we ran into the world's greatest liar...this new yorker just walked up to us and started spewing this great bullshit about how he wanted to buy some of the art in the gallery, but he didn't have any room in his house due to his mother dying and leaving him all her art and his mother studied in spain under salvador dali and also lived in spain with frida khalo and diego rivera and how he had pink martians living in his colon and bush was a good christian leader and basically a whole load of other great lies.
a definite highlight of our stay was our trip to a little town north of the city called el pitillal to take the xalixco tequila tour...this basically consisted of a woman telling us the history of tequila, showing us some old distillery equipment, and then letting us sample to our heart's content...it was the best $10 drunkeness since high school. a few bits of info to make you a more informed drinker (i.e. nice party trivia).
-100% of true tequila is made in mexico, 90% in jalisco, 10% in tamulapias...that means that all you petron drinkers aren't really drinking "tequila", since it's made in texas.
-no tequila has a worm in it...the alcohol with the worm is mezcal, which is made from the same succulant plant as tequila, the maguey, better known as blue agave. mezcal is much more harsh, because it is basically the undistilled, unaged pure alcoholic product of the plant.
a crash course in tequila sophistication:
-true tequila will have the words "100% agave" written on the bottle.
-tequila aged under 10 months is good for mixing.
-tequila aged at least 10 months, but not over a year is called reposado.
-tequila aged at least a year, preferably over 7, is called añejo, this is the premium shit, good for sipping...smooth like butter.
-the older the tequila, the darker it is...the darker it is, the smoother and more refined the taste is.
-time for a public service anouncement...because of the last tidbit, you´d think, "hey, jose cuervo must be pretty good stuff with it's nicely golden tint". no, you're wrong and will suffer a headache as a result. good ol` jose is originaly clear, and has coloring added to it to make it look older, along with extra ingrediants (sugar, preservatives) and scents...This is why jose cuervo gives you a hangover.
-tequila is hand crafted...the 40-230 lb. plant is popped out of the ground and stripped of it's stalks by hand (which should take one man no more than 60 seconds)...the only machinery used on the farms is the truck to take it to the distillery...all the plant is used, nothing thrown away...the fibers are used to make clothing and rope, and the excess pulp is used to make maguey molasses and honey, both very delicious. each plant takes 8-10 years to reach maturity. which is amazing, because i haven't even accomplished that milestone yet. fart. poop. hehe.
-we also tried some flavored tequila (apple, coffee, chocolate, hazelnut), a top shelf $200 a bottle tequila (so smoove), and a personal favorite called ricia...ricia is agave moonshine and hovers somewhere around 190 proof. surprisingly easy to drink, but rumored to make you see purple elephants singing the theme song to "sesame street" if you partake in more than 3 shots. good stuff.
and that was puerto vallarta...lots of being lazy and lots of wandering around seeing what there is to see. the resort was a nice treat (thanks pops!), but we could've done without the resorty people and those trying to get rich off of them. itching to get back to the states, we moved ourselves further away from home by traveling east to guadalajara (where we flew into and where we'll fly out of mexico), completing our journey of several thousand miles of mexican potholes, over 10 states, hundreds of cities, an unbelievable amount of good food, many fine people, and too damn many insects...i'm not going to provide any sort of conclusion on our travels, no summary, no synopsis of our rich experiences...you'll just have to come down and make your mind up for yourself, thank you.
it's been a good trip folkers...hope you enjoyed it, too.
Christ...i swear to God the roof in this internet shop just collapsed above us, showering me with chalky powder and nuggets of concrete...there is a 4 pound chunk on the ground next to me, missing my grillpiece by 2 feet. time to go.
Love you all, and look forward to seeing some of you soon.
PEACE...old and kesia

What is it with Americans?

Why do most american tourists we come across really make me sad for them? Is it something in our drinking water? Must be flouride, or maybe the republican party, but those travelers from the united states we've encountered have just downright sucked. More on that, though, as the tale progresses...

Howdy yall...not a whole lot to report on this week, as we´ve been drifting from one sleepy town to the next for the past few days. I´m also sick as a dog, whatever the hell that means, so i´m not in much of a writing mood.
Hmmm...looking at my journal, it seems the last time i wrote all of you, we were still in zihuatanejo, the sleepy fishing/resort town. well, we spent most of our time here jumping from one beach to another. at playa madera, we enjoyed the silky smooth sand, the clear ocean water (that made me look like a man-shaped salt crystal when i dried off from the high sodium content in the bay here), and the little kids having a blast eating sand and throwing it up...i tell ya, they make em different down here. speaking of differences for a minute:
the majority of mexicans we´ve seen at the beaches swim in their clothes...now we´re just baffled by this...at first we thought that people were just spontaneously deciding to go swimming and left their trunks at home, but then we started noticing that the women all have swimsuits on underneath their t-shirts and shorts. hmmm. catholic conservatism?
in the united states, red salsa is usually hotter than green salsa...here, red salsa is hot, but salsa verde is fucking downright sinister. you´re guaranteed to lose your sight if you´re not careful. someone better tell georgie bush that those weapons of mass destruction are down here in old mexico.
you have to ask for your check at restaurants here...unlike the u.s. where the waitress/waiter puts it on the table with your food (which is actually fairly rude if you think about it), here they hold it until you´re finished out of politeness.
okay, sorry for the sidetrack...there will be more, i´m afraid. ate the best BBQ chicken i´ve ever had in my life here, and watched the 10 guys in all of mexico over 5 feet tall play an amazing game of basketball along the waterfront. on our way back from the game, we spied two american tourists standing absolutely bewildered on the corner, recently emerged from their taxi, with a look on their face like they had just eating a good poo. "Ugh, this is not what i had expected..." and "The whole town must be like this!" both uttered with utter snobbery and harvard accents. hmmm, i've got an idea. why don´t you take your snively yuppie polo shirted asses back to new england, take your unhappiness out on your manservants, and stop giving us gringos a bad name.
At playa las gatas, we snorkeled around for hours in the crystalline blue warm water gazing at thousands of fish, including pufferfish and barracuda...for the first five minutes i swam with our money pouch (smooth move, exlax). aside from the great time in the water, it was a little too crowded for relaxation, as it was the national holiday celebrating the batalla de puebla (battle of puebla), which we know in the united states as cinco de mayo...everyone takes a four day weekend and travels to the beach towns. in one day, we went from sole occupants at our hotel, to all 30 rooms completely full of people. the battle of puebla took place when the invading french armies under napoleon the third were stopped and defeated in the town of puebla, preventing them from taking mexico city. puebla, and mexico city (thus the entire country) were captured by french forces the next year, but that seems to have been forgotten, giving the modern country yet another excuse to party. anyway...on the boatride back from playa las gatas (it's across the bay from zihuatanejo) we ran into more heart attack inducing irritants in the form of american tourists...they didn't speak a lick of spanish and kept trying to ask the pilot of the boat to drop them off at a "i´m a white american and deserve special treatment because i'm rich and you're not" location far away from the set taxied route...the driver tried to explain that it wasn´t possible, but the americans kept insisting. They finally gave up and spent the next ten minutes complaining about having to walk the extra ten minutes to their luxury hotel...get a clue you greazy pile of walrus fat, the people here aren´t born to serve your wallet. sorry, it just really bothers me how the many americans we´ve crossed have treated the locals...and we wonder why our country isn´t respected in the international community.
After another day relaxing on the beach in the crowds, we decided to move on with the trip, buying tickets to manzanillo...passed out of the state of guerrero, went back into michoacan along their beautiful rocky coast (looks very much like northern california) and past endless acres of banana plantations, finally arriving in the small state of colima...very tropical here and much cooler than what we had become acclimated to. Manzanillo is THE mexican port on the pacific ocean, and makes no pretence at catering to tourists...this is strictly a working class city, busy with machines and freight-laden ships night and day. very reminisent of the east bay ports of oakland, etc. while not as relaxing as the coastal resort areas, it was nice to get a change of scenery and have people be sincere without the semi-genuine smiles of those trying to make a buck off of the tourist population. Stayed in a lovely colonial style hotel with arched balconies, stained glass windows, colorful tile work, and a plant-filled courtyard...very peaceful here, but not a whole lot to do without accessible beaches, so we moved on the next day.
After our first under 8-hour bus trip, we arrived in the small town of Barra de Navidad...this place gives a whole new meaning to the term "sleepy village"...this town is comatose. i swear to god, people actually move, speak, eat, and work in sloooooooooowmoooooooootioooooooooon..........we instantly found ourselves following suite, getting up late, taking an hour or so to eat breakfast, eventually finding ourselves wandering aimlessly around the dusty streets for another few hours, eating again, and before we knew it the sun had set and we drifted into hibernation once more...aaaand that's about what we´ve been doing ever since. We stayed in a bungalow in Barra...basically an apartment...two sets of windows with mosquito screens (not common here), the bathroom actually had a shower door (who woulda thunk), a full kitchen, and a large bed with a tiled mosaic of an african savanna scene, complete with penis-endowed giraffes (not necessary)...all for 250 pesos, about 23 bucks a night. none to shabby. unfortunately, i also became afflicted with some sort of death virus around this time, and spent most of the day in a snot-infested, medication-induced haze...so don't expect too many more details...it's all kind of a blur.
oh, and just for your information, every toilet in this country leaks...it must be some sort of law, or something. and no one, i mean absolutely positively completely and totally no one, has change...not at restaurants, not at stores, not at hotels...it works like this: ATMs here only spit out 200 and 500 peso bills. now nothing costs that much here, and an average purchase at a store may run around 30 pesos, soooo....either you can decide to buy their entire stock of pickeled jalapenos, or you can walk your ass elsewhere hungry, because you're not getting your change. they just don't have it. oh, sure, sometimes they do, but they only have it because they've left you in charge of their store for 48 minutes while they walk across town to get change from their grandmother´s cousin´s aunt. yeah, so basically "no tengo cambio"....
well, since after two days we had walked every street in town, checked out every store inside and out, walked along the entire beach, and ate at each of the two restaurants open this time of year, we decided to take a taxi a mile or two down the beach to relocate in the town of san patricio-melaque...a much bigger, much dustier town, and unfortunately for the part of our minds that likes being awake, a much sleepier town. we were dead on arrival. this town has no life to it...it feels like no one works, and no one cares. the whole town sits in plastic chairs outside their homes, outside their stores, along the beach, in the plaza, in the streets, on the roofs...doing nothing...no talking, just gazing blankly in peaceful bliss. so far, we´ve found A restaurant open this time of year, and have been eating there nightly...we´ve been spending so much time there, we´ve started paying rent. We arrived here on my birthday, and moved into the nicest hotel we´ve stayed at so far, hotel bahía. we are the only guests here, and have a corner room overlooking the bay...it's very relaxing falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves...and blaring banda music, which thankfully stops around 3am. The owner of this hotel, rafael or rafa for short, is the best part...this guy is a crustacean, salt of the earth type of guy...smile creases in his face have turned to canyons, and he has a face that makes you instantly feel welcome...a longtime friend. this guy is the only one in town that moves more than thrice a day (getting out of bed, moving to their chair outside, then getting back in bed)...he is famous in this state of jalisco for his masonry, and his hotel shows that...it is very intricately built, and meticulously maintained...at any given point of the day, we'll stumble across him working on some project to improve on greatness. i really can't say enough on how welcoming this place is...there is even a completely equiped communal kitchen and fully stocked library to make the stay as comfortable as possible...well, as i said, we arrived here on my birthday, and not but 10 minutes after moving into our room does rafael come upstairs with three shot glasses and a bottle of nice tequila to serenade my special day with (in my excitement i clumsily bumped the table, spilling two of the shots, but he happily poured two more with a grin). good times.
okay, so i lied and wrote another long-ass email...so sorry to distract you from the daily grind (which we have actually begun to miss a little...yes you can smack me for saying that when we get back). another few days here, then on to our timeshare resort (thanks pops!!) in puerto vallarta...i'll write another update then.
i'm so sick of spending an hour each day lathering myself in sunscreen...we are perpetually greasy. Horray for oily greco-roman wrestlers!
love ya, old and kesia

Hotter Than Hades

...with a pitchfork.
howdy ya'll...not sure where i left off last time. my head's a little fuzzy from all this damn heat and humidity. never ever ever ever ever ever visit the coasts of mexico during the months of april-july. holy hell it's hot. a nice cool day here is in the mid 80s...at the moment it's close to 92 degrees, and the humidity must be damn near 70%. we walk around in a constant stinky sweat (i formally apologize for making fun of all those hippy stenches in humboldt), but thankfully we're not down here to impress anyone. hmmm...puerto escondido, i think it was. we spent a fabulous day on playa manzanilla, lounging under a huge umbrella for free as long as we bought beer, which was hardly a burden. muy tranquilo, very few people, and soft, crystal clear ocean waves...we spent over an hour snorkeling along an old coral reef, spying from above at thousands of electric-colored fish, and we even spotted a stingray. on the way back to the hotel from the beach, we became lost thanks to kesia's geography skills, but we were quickly rescued by a local who showed us the right way and chatted with us about his time working in portland. pretty cool coincidence. aside from lounging at the beach we spent all of our time mellowing out in the pool, finding ourselves the main exhibit at the aquarium, or at leas tit felt like it with this one family that kept gawking at us. very uncomfortable, but hey i can't help having nice man boobs. at least we weren't the jerks swimming in our undies...real classy. our last night in puerto escondido was spent drinking fresh coconut juice from cocos we bought at the shop of an ancient old man (my brother), his shop consisting of a crusty old wheelbarrow filled with empty tequila bottles and trash, and a big ass machete. i think i need to buy one of those, they're awesome. try getting one of those in my carry-on bag at the airport though. probably not gonna happen. we also had the fortunate chance to be sitting next to these two gay guys from chihuahua at the internet cafe, who showed us their absolutely amazing photos from their trip to chiapas and guatemala...very green and pristine, and not too hot (they claimed, but i suspect they were lying...this whole country is a frying pan right now).

moving on...we had an absolutely cruddy bus ride from puerto escondido to our next destination, acapulco. the bus was ghetto (a fine greasy sheen that only the likes of greyhound can match), the baggage loader was ghetto (he demanded a tip from us even though we placed our bags under the bus...tip this), the movies were ghetto (mostly b movies from the 60s featuring your favorite ex-porno stars), and most of all the drivers were ghetto...we purposely bought the front two seats of the bus so kes could keep her gentle road stomach intact, but upon boarding, the driver demanded we move back a seat, that the front two were reserved for his second driver...great lie, but i didn´t really want to piss off our ride and have him dump us in the middle of the jungle without our bags. kes did her best to argue with him, and restrained herself very admirably without striking him in the eye tooth. we found out later, that those two front seats were actually reserved for the driver's buddies he picked up along the way, how nice. we must have passed 5 different military checkpoints, and twice we were boarded...the second time one of the "drivers" talked quietly to the soldier, who then promptly walked towards us and asked to see our identification...thankfully, he left us alone with a gracias, but it sure was a puckered-up moment for a minute there. very beautiful drive, nonetheless, with nice coastal views, passing through dense tropical palm forests...lots of neat little pig-filled towns...got to see some real life cowboys herding their cows down the middle of the highway, straight out of city slickers, minus the city slickers. finally we reached the gigantic city of acapulco (more than 2 million folkers live here), and settled down into our hotel up on the cliffs above the zocalo (a lush town center filled with mangrove trees, screaming kiddies blowing bubbles, and traditional music and dancing...we spent a lot of time chillin here people watching). The local buses in acapulco are very cool...almost all of them have airbrushed artwork covering the entire outside (pinky & the brain, blade, ren & stimpy, nekkid chicks, etc.), and bumpin' sound systems...you can't really beat a local mexican bus blaring 50 Cent's latest hit and spray painted with the characters from the Little Mermaid. good stuff. experienced the clavadistas, acapulco's somewhat famous cliff divers...despite being a little homo-erotic for me with the bulging speedos and shaven chests, it was neat to see these guys jump off cliffs headfirst (after praying at a little shrine nearby) into the crashing surf 25-35 meters below...about 90 feet or more. crazy mofos. we checked out a cool castle, complete with moat and drawbridge, that was used to defend against maurading pirates, who, we learned in the museum, never actually mauraded anywhere near here...typical government overspending on silly defense projects. Oh, as a sidenote, for those of you who actually care about the political situation down here with lopez obrador being denied a run at the presidency, it looks like all the protesting has made the international community frown heavily on the fox presidency, and the charges may soon be dropped, clearing obrador to campaign. now if only we can get our president to give a gnat's shit about protests at home...but that's a rant for another day. spent some time trying to relax at playa hornos, but were cruelly denied the rest due to the insanely aggressive vendors plying the beaches here. they would come at us in attack formation constantly, even touching us a few times in attempt to give us outrageously priced massages...kes actually had to up and slap some sense into one lady for getting just a little too touchy feely. too many people on the beach here...and it's not even the busy season. i mean we were truthfully rubbing elbows with our fellow sunbathers...a bunch of sweaty sardines...we rented an umbrella from a guy who was so excited for us when we told him we were on our honeymoon that he gave us some refreshing coconuts with ice in the milk just because he was a nice guy, which made the unpleasant experience worth it. the people here are very friendly...one of the women who worked at the hotel we stayed at gave kesia a change purse she had just finished crocheting because kes had remarked how beautiful it was.
a few sidenotes:
there are shoe shiners everywhere, and won't hesitate to tell you about their special process for shining up your nasty ass old tennis shoes, and they claim to even have some way of sprucing up our feet when we're sporting our sandles...not sure i want to stick around to find out what that entails...nail polish? hmmm...
driving down here is sensible insanity, or cohesive chaos...there are no rules. people drive seemingly at whatever speed they desire, change lanes when they want (what the hell is a turn signal?), cut each other off for fun, and never ever ever ever ever obey a traffic light or a stop sign. yet everyone is strangely very aware of where and what everyone else is doing...we have seen zero accidents so far, despite all the crazy taxi rides we've taken so far. those dudes are ruthless. mabye all the rules in the united states that we so strictly follow while driving make us lazy (thus giving us plenty of time to apply makeup, talk on our cell phones, read the paper, etc.)and unawares, increasing our chances of killing each other. the lack of rules keeps you on your toes at little more...who knows?

Okay, moving on as you are more than likely nodding off by now...bought tickets to zihuatenejo, near ixtapa...ixtapa is a manicured resort town, so we avoided it like the plague and decided to settle for awhile in the somewhat resorty zihuatenejo nearby, which has yet to shake off it's sleepy fishing town past. this city is great...very slow paced, not too many gringos, good food, and beaches where we can actually use them in the way that god intended...drinking beer and relaxing in the sun, without crowds of people and persistant vendors of crappy trinkets. and here we shall remain for the next five or so days, doing exactly that...drinking beer and relaxing...oh and ofcourse, eating ourselves to bursting. snorkeling is definitely in the plans. since we could easily get away with it, we might even kill someone here for the hell of it...just kidding, kesia made me write that.
well if you made it through that, congratulations, here's a cookie.
we love you all and look forward to seeing/hearing from you all sometime soon.
and remember, it ain't eazy being greazy...
dustin and kesia

Loving Life...

hey everyone...how´s work?
so sorry...i´m such an ass. if that comment pissed you off, you´d better just delete this update right now, as we have been spending the last four days doing absolutely nothing but sleeping in, laying around in the sun, swimming in the ocean, drinking cold cervesas, and our perrenial favorite, eating great food.
We started our journey to Puerto Escondido (Hidden Port) on the Pacific Coast by taking an absolutely horrific 10 hour bus ride on the mother of all winding roads...think highway 1 along the west coast on mezcaline, with a blind bus driver, and you´ll begin to realize how terrifying this leg of our trip was. 1000 foot cliffs to our left and right, very tiny lanes, turns a sane person wouldn´t take at more than 3 miles per hour, cars speeding around the corners into our lane, and here we are, riding in this deluxe size bus (think two greyhound buses mashed into one), ripping along at a steady 75-80 kilometers per hour, our bus driver chatting to a buddy he picked up, maybe looking at the road 26% of the time, and a huge crack in the 10 foot tall windshield growing at an alarming rate every time we crunched into one of the thousands of potholes along the route. Fun times...and that was a first class bus ride, along the best highway in Oaxaca...still, saw some great sights...lush canyons and lagoons, beautiful mountain vistas, hundreds of acres of agave farms (the cactus used in the production of maguey, mezcal, and tequila), and hundreds of farmers walking along the road with 3-4 foot machetes...must be the mexican Oaxaquenos equivalent to clean undies, i.e. don´t leave home without ém. Finally and thankfully, we arrived in Puerto Escondido...if you haven´t been here, this must be your next vacation spot. Now, before it gets any more touristy, as it´s still very small time, clean, and mexican. this is primarily a beach bum town, with a fair share of foreign expatriates, but coming here is to step out of the hustle and bustle of life, and step into the artform of doing nothing (larry and mike, you would love this place) and having a great time at it. as great as oaxaca city was, before coming here we were starting to get the itch to come home...just a little, mind you. once we arrived, that all washed away...THIS is what vacation feels like, we realized. we´ve been doing a whole lot of nothing lately. we´re staying at a great hotel for 350 pesos...two queen size beds, air conditioning (our only saving grace in the humid nights), friendly geckos chillin´ on the ceiling, a balcony with a palm-shaded view, and an inviting pool to cool off in while drinking modelos con limon. The beaches here are a delight to visit...they are much cleaner than any beach i´ve been to in the united states, with pristine white sand kissing our toes as we wade through the warm (yet refreshing) ocean surf. There are many separate beaches here, all with their own different attitudes and uses. playa zicatela is the surfer beach...supposedly the 3rd greatest beach to surf in the world, and surfers have been flocking here to test their skills since before there were roads to puerto escondido. playa principal is the extremely calm bay where all the locals harbour their lanchas (speed boats used to taxi people to all the different beaches) and haul in their daily catches of the freshest seafood we´ve had in some time. we´ve spent most of our time on playa marinero under a rented umbrella, relaxing on padded lounge chairs...reading, napping, people watching (lots of annoyingly half naked surfers and tasty topless europeans), diving into the waves (or in kes´ case, ankle wading...she´s scared of ocean surf), and burning our flesh in the hot hot sun (i.e. tanning)...don´t worry mom, we´re using sunscreen. spf 4000. before i forget...for all you movie lovers out there, go rent the italian-made film, "Puerto Escondido"...besides being an excellent travel/crime story, it has some great shots of what this city looked like in the early 90s before some of the more touristy features popped up...a fun tale of murder, friendship, adventure, and peyote trips. well, not much else to report...oh, oh, oh except my epic battle with the cockroaches. these little suckers are all over mexico, but thankfully hide themselves whenever we´re around, mind their own business, and are essentially harmless little, i mean big, critters. unfortuanately for them, i am god´s bane on insects, and turn into the blood thirsty warrior, gothmog the destroyer (also known as the hellskank to those of you who are in the know) whenever i happen to encounter large bugs of the creepy crawly variety (for example, all insects). anyway, last night, after being out all day and most of the evening, we came into our room quietly, and turned the lights on to find several 3inch long cockroaches peacefully doing whatever it is that they do. i don´t know what came over me, but i suddenly began screaming war cries (mostly sounding like a frightened little boy...maybe even a terrified little girl) and dancing some strange little jig while wielding my weapon of choice...a shoe. nigh on two strokes of the clock, mine enemies vanquished, i retired to the balcony to partake in a refreshing breath of enchanted wind. i needed to catch my breath, for certainly any minute, the pissed off neighbors would come rushing into the room looking to beat me senselessly, for the entire time this battle had been taking place, i had been screaming out the cute little ditty..."La cucaracha, la cucaracha!" i apologize for assaulting you with that droll little story.
okay, i´m ghost...
loving and missing all of you...Dustin and Kesia.


The Saga Continues...

hey gang...
well, we´re still alive and eating. the last week or so has been somewhat of a mixed bag. after our amazing time spent in mexico city, we journeyed out east to the gulf coast and the (somewhat) great city of veracruz. almost immediately the suffocating tropical heat threatened to drown us in its burning humidity. its been in the high 80s everyday, but coupled with the wet air, it saps every bit of energy from our bodies...which was okay i guess, because mostly we walked around on the breezy (thank the lord) marina boardwalk, which wasn´t made of boards at all. veracruz is basically your latin version of key west. if you like to get trashed and dance the night away, here´s the medicine to all that ails you. as we´re getting along in the years (i´m 82 tomorrow), that scene just doesn´t hit us the way it used to, leaving not a whole lot else other than being bombarded by vendors selling poorly made shirts and dollar packages of gum whose flavor lasts 1.34 seconds. okay, okay...i´m being slightly over critical...they had great places to hang out, drink coffee, and people watch. the tropical weather kept the city very green and lush, with palm trees along every street (watch for the falling coconuts, which kill more people in mexico than lightning bolts). Ummmmm...they had a great aquarium, and ummmmm...who am i kidding, go somewhere else if you´ve any other options in mexico. After a few days of sleepless nights and bed bug infestations, we pulled up stakes and headed the hell out of the gulf, on a 7 hour bus ride back into the mountains towards the amazing city of Oaxaca de Juarez, or simply Oaxaca. instantaneously, calmness hit us once more and we were back into the groove of enjoying ourselves to the fullest. this city is a great place to vacation in...it´s very mexican, yet there are several international language schools here, so everyone is fairly comfortable with foreigners, limiting the google eyed stares at us whities every five steps (unlike veracruz). this city is extremely clean and well-preserved, though it still has it´s extremely poor fringe neighborhoods like everywhere else in the country. the streets here are mostly cobblestone, and i imagine that this is what paris or parts of rome may look like...though, really i don´t have any clue about either of those cities. we spent every night here at hotel reforma, right in the middle of everything (grand churches, great restaurants, huge markets, etc.), and we have been enjoying having the entire rooftop 3rd floor to ourselves, complete with a chair filled patio where we could spy on people walking down below us. we´re spies. well, not much else to report...it´s mostly been a relaxing few last days spent supporting the local economy (mostly indigenous peoples...they make up around 80% of the state of oaxaca with a full quarter of them not speaking any spanish at all) by eating (the most exotic thing i lately tried was huitlacoche...a black fuzzy mold that grows on corn and is damn tasty) and buying nice decorations to take back home with us. we have been treated to terrifyingly tremendous thunderstorms every afternoon, thankfully helping to keep the heat down in the evenings making for great sleep. oh, and we did take a day trip up into the hills to check out the ruins of monte alban, the former capital city of the zapotec society, which was inhabited off and on from 800 b.c. to the early 1500s a.d....though much smaller and lacking the eerie quiet of teotihuacan, this mountaintop city commands 360 degree views of the valles centrales thousands of feet below...very well preserved temples, and amazing critters everywhere...footlong lizards, monarch butterflies, radiant red birds, and these huge locusts that kes and i had an epic temple top battle with...me screaming and flailing my arms around like windmills, while kes valiantly smote our enemies down with her trusty lonely planets guidebook, allowing us to triumphantly live to see another day...really, they did attack us, those bastards...okay, maybe it was one, and he just buzzed around us for a minute or two...okay, two seconds. checked out the neato stone carvings of decapitated rulers and conquered enemies having their penises mutilated. man, what i´d give to be born in the 3rd century! well, this has been long enough (sorry jeff for wasting another 10 euros). time to go stock up on food and water for our 10 hour journey tomorrow out to the pacific coast, as we´ve just been dying to get back into the sweaty coastal heat and mosquitos. next stop, puerto escondido to check out the famous surf.
hang loose, brah...
still missing and loving all of you!
peace in grease, dustin and kesia

Kes' Take on Veracruz

not feeling too hot today...i think i caught a cold. we missed the only day bus to oaxaca this morning...had a sleepless night due to some sort of bugs that bit us all night...so didn´t get up very early...so now we are staying closer to the bus station...and will be up and early tom. am to catch the day bus to oaxaca...there is a night bus but we decieded it is too dangerous to travel at night...or rather riskier...than day. veracruz is super sweaty...very tropical. you take a shower and instant sweat when you step out of the water...but the smell of salt, dirt, and fish is very strong...this is not our favorite so far...i think mostly due to scruffy/dingy not cheap hotels. there are not a lot of foreigners here, it is mostly a mexican vacation destination, so we get stared at a lot. and people seem to be ruder here than in mexico city...saying things at us in spanish about being white and what not....looking forward to oaxaca as a change of scenery and people...might do a couple day stint of staying in a remote village as a ecoturism package...not sure yet?
missing you guys...love kesia and dustin

It's Rotting Hot

hey folks...well, we´re here in veracruz sweatin like pigs and only marginally enjoying ourselves...too humid, and the city is very dirty...we have been trying very hard to find a hotel that´s affordable that isn´t a total dive...very disappointing after our great finds on our earlier travels. we´re going to head towards oaxaca city tomorrow to get away from this grimy sticky tourist trap...the weather has been fair...mostly hot, either dry or humid depending on what kind of terrain we´ve been in, but we´ve also been treated to some amazing thunderstorms in mexico city. i think our next trip to mexico will be in the fall...cooler temps and a little more greenery. the buses are absolutely amazing down here...they´re made by BMW with a/c, large seats, footroom, movies, sometimes lunch, etc...very comfy and affordable...a 5 hour trip usually runs around 18 bucks apiece. well, we´re getting hungry and itching to check out the aquarium here which displays critters living in the gulf, so i´ll sign off...take care, much love...dustin and kesia

Mexico Shmexico...

hey yall...excuse the punctuation...the keyboards are different down here and im lazy to learn, so you get no caps or apostrophies, etc. deal with it. well, mexico is simply amazing...the culture is so rich, the people so friendly, so much to see and eat. we could spend years grubbing on all the local specialties...so far we havent gotten sick...fingers crossed, no? man, where to begin...i only have a half hour of time, so lets get the biggies. flew into guadalajara, a beautiful colonial town that we loved simply because it was on the ground (we almost died on the plane trip down due to SERIOUS turbulance...think jumping off of a 37.6 story building and the feeling your groin gets and youll have an idea)...we only stayed a night because of prior plans to be in morelia to the east in the mountains...over a mile elevation...we stayed out in a family oriented neighborhood away from the richie downtown, with our dear friends annie and luis at luis' mother's house. we had such a relaxing time despite there being dozens of people in the house at any given time due to family from out of town coming to morelia for the wedding of luis´ sister. before and after the wedding we mostly hung out drinking beer, smoking cuban cigars, eating, drinking beer, chatting with their family, drinking beer, eating, walking around town, eating, and maybe drinking a little beer. we also attended a futbol game between morelia and monterrey...unfortunately morelia lost by a goal...pinche monterrey. the main reason we were in morelia though was to attend the wedding of Rosi and Pedro...very catholic style ceremony/mass, but man do they know how to party afterwards...several hundred people in a large hall...no ventilation, but we had tequila, so who gives a shit...lots and lots of dancing...i was honored to be included in many of the traditional dances that centered around the bride and groom...the bull dance was a highlight...i was placed in this fifty pound cage covered in black cloth with ribbons and a bullhead attached...to some crazy ass music, i spun, swerved, jumped, lunged, and im sure some tae bo was involved in there somewhere...all the while fifty people were smashing me in the head (bull head) with balloons and i was dangerously close to fainting from the heat...my huero (whitie) ass isn{t used to this kind of heat...the best part was the buckets of sweat that squirted on my face whenever i jumped and the cage came smashing down on my head. wow, im getting carried away...anyway, it was some of the most fun ive had in years. thanks annie, luis and vanessa! hope the little one is feeling better. next we headed off to el D.F. or mexico city or Mexico as everyone down here simply calls it. at first we were scared shitless...i almost stabbed a little boy selling chiclets because i thought he was going to mug me and leave me naked in the alley, but after about two hours we just sort of fell in love with this place...its just like new york, only there are about 10 million more people here than that great city of ours. we stayed in this amazing hotel for 23 bucks a night, expensive down here, in huge rooms with great views of the city and an ever helpful staff. we spent the last five days checking out an immense square footage of museums, monuments, galleries, cathedrals, plazas, streets, blah, blah, blah....basically we immersed ourselves in the breath of life that is mexico...they cherish life because they embrace death...its more of a part of life here, so why the hell don{t you live it to the fullest. fun is factored by 10 here, with little care for personal safety, space, hygiene, etc. it made us nervous at first but we're getting over that quickly...we kinda had to because we got lost in the biggest city park in the world for about two hours...talk about a butt pucker...luckily we're still here, and ready to continue on with things. Lot of political activity going on down here...the governor of mexico city, andres manuel lopes obrador, a left leaning frontrunner for next years presidential elections, was recently stripped of his political immunity by the current president vincente fox and his PAN party, over the building of an access road to a hospital across disputed lands...anyway everyone is protesting because its an obvious attempt by the president to keep the people{s candidate out of the election. there has been a fairly huge military presence on the streets, the government buildings have all been closed to the public, senators from obrador{s party (PRD) have been going on a hunger strike in front of the presidential residence, and therefore most of the park surrounding the residence has been closed...the military officers who told us the park was closed, said it was due to scheduled maintenance...right. today we went to teotihuacan, the location of the oldest civilization in mexico, and also the residence of the two largest pyramids in the country...the second and third largest in the world, only beaten by cheops in egypt for heigth. there was such a tranquil silence and spirituality flowing through these ruins despite being covered with asswhip tourists complaining of the stairs, heat, dust, whine whine whine...go back to the u.s.a. and never ever wear your gucci hand bag to my vacation spot ever again. well, theyre closing up here in a minute so i{ll close up as well. were on our way to veracruz next on the gulf coast for some much needed ocean time...hopefully well have access to internet out there, but who knows...the famous international internet cafes have been few and far between so far. we miss you all, and cant wait to visit with stories and pictures. stay in touch...that means write me or kes or both...more updates to come. hopefully we{ll have some good near death stories to chat about...just kidding mom(s). its safer down here than many parts of the united states we went through on the roadtrip. kesia says hugs and kisses, but i prefer stench and grease. much love to all you nuggets out there. stay up...OLD and KES