Guanajuato Mexico: Oh What A Night…


Andrea, Daniel, Jorge and Mario. 3:30am Calle Juarez, GTO.

Despite previous attempts to “slow my roll” as we say in Virginia, I got caught up in the fever and went out with Jorge and Andrea last night.  Magnus has left us for points south to hang out with friends in Puerto Vallarta, but we have our eyes set on a new arrival: Max (30, TX), Photograper and Production Assistant extraoridnaire.

Jorge bought Andrea and me Bacardi and Jugo de Pina (pineapple juice) which I think was part of a master plan to get us up and moving. We finally hit the town around 9:30pm and headed to WHY NOT? a bar on the other side of the Jardin Union. Everyone was chill but the music was totally out of control so the three of us decided to dance.right.then.and.there. Because hey, these people don’t know us! Our vibe must have been contagious (I think it was my “shopping cart” dance move) because a group of students came to chat us up and we were laughing, talking in 3 languages (Spanish, English and French) and suddenly invited to a private backroom party at Capitolo. I’m not really going to get into what went on there until the wee hours, but the music in the private room was so good that Jorge and I kept looking at each other like “are we really at a party in Mexico and they are playing _____?) Jorge is from California so he KINDA knows about good music.

I will not talk about:

1. Why Jorge thought it would be a good idea to put his sunglasses on someone’s grandma and dance with her in the zocalo. 

2. Why Jorge bought roses for EVERY woman in the back room. And a bunch for one in particular!

3. Where are Andrea’s hands in this picture?

4. Why these two (Daniel and Mariana) make me want to take Salsa dancing lessons.

5. Why Justin is probably NEVER going back to the US.

6. Why all of my single girlfriends should

7. What you get to do if your boyfriend is the bartender.

8. What kind of relationship you have to have with your friends to use this bathroom.

So, tell us about one of YOUR favorite night’s out on the town, either while on the move or while snug in the place you call home.

Guanajuato Mexico: College Town

What would college be without late night pizza and cheap beer? No McDonalds that I’ve seen, but Domino’s has a rather unique method of transporting gooey goodness to the students of UG.

Guanajuato Mexico: Note to Self


Note to Self: Go to Bed! You have spanish class in the morning. No more hanging out until 2am every night.

Do not go to Zilch with these chicks. Do not go to dinner with Ricardo at Dona Lupe’s. Do not stop at Callejon del Beso (street of the kiss) to hear the story of star crossed lovers wherein some woman’s father killed her lover and the street is so narrow that neighbors on opposite sides can lean out their windows and kiss each other.

Do not stop at the Oxxo to grab a drink to walk around with while Ricardo introduces you to everyone in Guanajuato. Do not stop and talk to Jorge and Olga while they prepare a new bar for its grand opening.  Do not entertain the idea of meeting up with the swiss girls later at BAR FLY. Do not meet up with Drew, Pablo and the crew for drinks with these chicas (and who brought the dog)? Self, please don’t get home at a reasonable time and then stay up jibber jabbing with Jorge (32, CA) and Magnus (26, Norway) all night.  But self, if you can’t help yourself a couple of nights in a row, don’t try to do your spanish homework on the way to class. Just a thought.



**Next day update:


I don’t know why I even talk to you. Were the Mojitos, Micheladas and that shot of tequila really necessary at Cuba Mia? And just because you can watch people dance Salsa all night doesn’t mean you and Jorge and Magnus should plan on doing THAT again. And don’t you need to get some exercise?

Still with affection but rapidly declining trust in your decision-making abilities,





For Lu


Lu, peep it and weep baby! Per your request:
My custom-made, waterproof, padded, velcro-closing Nikon Coolpix case.



Guanajuato Mexico: A Perfect Fit


Has it been a week already? Wow, there is something about time down here that is surreal. Like it passes so slowly and you can savor every breeze, chirp, glass of wine, tortilla and conversation but look up and days have passed. I am totally in lurve with this city. Guanajuato is a small college town with beautiful theatres, gardens, statuary and multi-colored houses. Oh, and I can’t forget the churches. It is a walkable city. Indeed it would be a pain to have a car here because (like all college towns) you’d never find a place to park.

I went for a run (okay, a long walk*) yesterday morning TRYING to get lost, and couldn’t manage to do it. Now for anyone who knows how geographically challenged I am that should tell you how navigable this place is. Noone is in a hurry, noone pays me any special attention, noone expects me to be anywhere at any particular time and I can spend hours absorbed in thought, The Chronicles of Narnia or listening to Floetry and Outkast on a bench in center of the town (La Jardin Union). Actually that isn’t true. I started my Spanish class on Saturday so I have to be there a few times a week or Maestra Marisol might have a few things to say (that I probably wouldn’t understand). I decided to go the Hostel route because I know that if I stay in a hotel I would be less likely to venture out and meet people. I found a nice balance at La Casa del Tio which is run by women and is brightly painted and decorated with textiles, plants and music coming from the central sound system most of the day. The hostel I stayed at the first night was adequate but definitely had the feel of being run by a man (sorry!). He has an amazing green thumb but I couldn’t lock the door when I went to bed for the night, the rooms have navy blue accent walls and although I didn’t mind the HUGE picture of Jesus hanging over the bed, it was a little gloomy for my taste. When I moved over to Case del Tio, I compromised by getting my own single room ($12-15US/night) so I have the best of both worlds. There’s free purified water, free internet, a small kitchen w/ fridge and microwave, a little washing machine and free coffee and tea daily AND satellite TV! The hostel isn’t at all packed right now so actually meeting people, remembering names and feeling at ease with introductions and hanging out have been amazingly easy. Everyone has a story to tell and I love hearing them. Like this guy.

I have been trying to think of what I’ve been doing for a week and all I can come up with is drinking hennesey with Blaire (24, Maine) and eating Bratwurst at Bar Ocho. Playing pool with Gaby (24, Mexico) at Caronda, Jibber-Jabbing with Sabine & Andrea (both 24, Swiss) and trying to hack our way through Spanish class with Yoko, Mina and Yuriko. More pool with Carlos (30, local artist). I have been kind of lazy about taking my camera out with me, but there is always something to see. Gaby and I wandered around over the weekend and never got bored. There is a nightly comedy show on the steps of Teatro Juarez. It is mostly physical comedy so even though I can’t follow most of the words, I get the jist of the jokes. If you are in the crowd then you are fair game for the comedians to pick on (always good natured) and there’s alot of crowd participation. There’s also a group of minstrels that roam the streets at night playing instruments and the thing to do is grab a drink and a friend and follow along, so towards the end of the week the crowd can be pretty large and you can hear it from a mile away. The experience is only better from the terrace of the hostel or from the patio of Bar Ocho.

In day to day news, I bought some new kicks (shoes) so I can be more stylish and I’m hooked on my daily breakfast of Huevos revueltos con queso y Tocino (Scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon). If you are looking for me, I’ll be in the Jardin de Union trying to conjugate some verbs.

*I need to run/walk because of this and this.

Angangueo Mexico: Dónde están las Mariposas?*


*Where are the Butterflies?

Sunday I was standing at the top of Mexico (the country) and had a decision to make. Would I play it safe and head to Guanajuato to settle in, find a place to stay, and make sure I had a good internet connection in time to work on Wednesday or…would I try to book it down to Morelia to see the Monarch Butterfly migration? Yeah, that’s what I did. I hopped on a first class bus for the 15 hour ride down to Morelia. I got there Monday morning around 8:30 after a good night’s sleep in the luxury coach seat, a ham & cheese sandwich and soda courtesy of Primera Plus (bus company) and a wicked line/crease on my face from where I’d slept on my pillow. 

I walked off the bus into a crisp, clear morning ready to find those butterflies.  It turns out that I was still quite a ways away from the Monarch Sanctuary. I will admit that I was finally starting to really feel out of my comfort zone. I hadn’t seen or spoken to anyone who spoke English in 24 hours and none of the people at the bus station in Morelia a) spoke english or b) could tell me if the Monarch Sanctuary was still open and c) where exactly the sanctuary was located. I was leaning heavily on the guidebook I was carrying around and found a really cute guy who helped me figure out that I needed to catch another bus to San Felipe (2.5 hours, 105 pesos=$10 US). The great thing about the Mexican bus system is that it is clean, comfortable and there is ALWAYS a bus leaving RIGHT NOW for wherever you want to go. Megan does a great job of describing the ins/outs/ups and downs of bus travel in Latin America and so far I agree with her observations.  The bus to San Felipe was more of a regular bus (US Greyhound without the crazy folks) and it was packed so there was always someone right next to me, leaning on my hip or elbow digging in my side. These folks were people heading to/from work or coming from celebrating Semana Santa with family last week. So mostly everyone was asleep. The sun was shining and the ride through the countryside was peaceful and a nice way to wake up to the day.  I was starving by this time, but saw no options for food in sight.  We got deeper into the countryside where the human population are outnumbered by cows, horses, sheep and corn.

We got to San Felipe around 11:30am and I psyched myself up to see the butterflies, find some lunch and try to get to Guanajuato by dinner time. Oh if I knew then what I know now…I found out in San Felipe (after many, many attempts to find someone who spoke a little english or understood my spanish) that I had to take ANOTHER BUS to a place called Angangueo which was where the actual sanctuary was. I figured out how to catch the smaller bus and paid my fare (10 pesos=$1). By this time I was tired, hungry and couldn’t remember why I wanted to see some butterflies so much.  The 40 minute ride up to Angangueo was again a peaceful ascent into cooler mountains with trees, more livestock and a blessed glimpse into the day-to-day carryings on of the local people. And it is always comforting to see one of these on a rickety, ancient bus with questionable breaks.This part of Mexico is unfazed by tourists, they don’t cater to us, we don’t impact their day and aren’t the major driver in their economy so it was nice to be disregarded as a non-entity. When the driver indicated that I was at the right stop I hopped off the small bus and asked for the tourist office. It was closed. I asked a policeman about the Butterfly Sanctuary and he did his best to mime, signal, and act out the reality that the sanctuary was closed, the butterflies left in March and that the tourist office was closed since the season was over.

I could have cried. Mainly because I was so hungry. But still, 19 hours, $20, 3 buses, 1 bottle of water and a smooshed breakfast bar later and no butterflies. I laughed and asked how to get back to San Felipe. At the bus stop I meet the two people who speak any english within 300 miles. Olivia and her daughter Ingrid. They were sympathetic to my disappointment and my hunger and more importantly they were just plain good company after two days of semi-isolation and constant movement. Listening to their lives (they were visiting from Acapulco for the Easter week) I was struck by how everyone on the planet really is/are more alike than different with regards to our needs, dreams, frustrations and ambitions. I got back to San Felipe. I walked around looking at the pottery, homemade goodies and woven baskets. Finally, I peeped this mission. This guy made me a couple of fajitas and I bought some pistachios from a cool roadside stand and then hopped on the bus back to Morelia. Fortunately there was some unplanned entertainment when this dude got up and put on a show in the aisle. He was actually pretty good, and I was impressed at his ability to play the guitar AND the Harmonica at the same time! Later I spoke to him and it turns out that he (Victor) speaks pretty good english and lives in Mexico City. He lived in Chicago for a while but left due to green card issues. He told me to look him up if I get down to MC and offered me the remainder of his bag of weed. I declined and told him I much preferred liquor if I was gonna get down, get funky and get loose. He was a real sweetheart though.

In the end, I got to Guanajuato at 11:30 Monday night tired but content even though these were the only butterflies I ever got to see.

Morelia Mexico: A Recap of Sorts

Current location: Guanajuato, MX 


Mulege to San Diego: 
Luxury coach: $80
Snacks for the 15 hour ride: $8
Random little girl passed out on my shoulder: priceless.

San Diego to Denver:
Pat’s Irish Bar for drinks with Scott and Erica. Freak snow storm and Shrimp Pad Thai. In the “It’s a small world” category: Scott and Erica were coming back from a week skiing in Vail. A friend they were with tore her ACL and was headed back to Virginia. The friend: one of my first year MBA students at UVA!

Denver to Chicago:
Giordano’s Pizza with Hazel and Rick. They had just come from getting hitched in Vegas! I wanted to treat them as a wedding gift, but they wouldn’t hear of it. They gave me the best “I just met you but this was so much fun please look us up when you are in town” hugs ever.

This dude (Thomas) was cute at first but then got too aggressive. Plus he gave a terrible shoulder rub, you know what they say, if the shoulder rub is bad then…er, nevermind.

Plus, another guy was arrested for carrying like a pound of weed in his carry-on bag! The Marshalls (is that what they are called? Po-Po?) were not playing around and carried him out of there crying like a baby in handcuffs. This dude had a block of marijuana wrapped in plastic, tucked into a backpack and then tucked into a rolling carry-on and you could STILL SMELL IT! I was questioned briefly, because I was coming from Mexico/CA (and possibly because I’m brown) but they quickly ascertained that I am a dork with no knowledge of the drug trade except for what I saw in those classic hood-in-training flicks: Traffic and New Jack City. 

Chicago to Michigan:
Conference/Training with client. Debauchery with new co-workers. Very long days. Jessica and Jocylen blew my hair out of its braided tangles and tamed it with some Pantene and a curling iron. My mom Fed Ex’d my business casuals to me and WA-LA! Instant Professional ™! Slight cold due to rapid change in temperature from Mexico to Michigan and shaking 250 hands in 3 days. But that didn’t stop me from putting a dent in the open bar at the Credit Suisse reception or from having drinks with M. Blake.

Michigan to Virginia:
My dirty-third birthday! Mom’s Potato Salad and Fried Chicken, Dad’s Apple Martinis with lil bro and Jamila, Sunday spent replacing a blown water heater in rental unit B ($350), Monday spent dropping $300 for repairs to Shorty Rock (my car) to pass inspection. Dinner with Stella (free, she paid).

Let me tell you what I got for my birthday: two airline sized bottles of liquor, a candle in gift wrap I had given my mom a gift in, and a slightly used box of valentine’s candy! I get the feeling they weren’t expecting to see me don’t you?

**UPDATE: I totally forgot to mention my birthday dinner at Outback with my ex-mother-in-law (yeah, i’m confused too). First of all we had a crazy waitress who spilled beer on a guy at the table next to us. Second, that was the best steak I’ve had in MONTHS. Ms. D is also a traveler so I loved seeing her pics from her most recent trip and the stories about her group of girlfriends and their antics. The conversation was uplifting as always. I feel like I have two phenomenal women (Mom and Momma D) who continue to shape my journey into womanhood.

Another funny story, while waiting for my car at the mechanics, this guy (who was with another male friend) actually thought I was going to a) buy him lunch b) go off with him and his friend to his house while waiting for my car (theirs was ready) and c) give him my phone number. Riiiiigggghhhtttt. The crazy thing is he was really cute, but dang, can’t a sistah get some flowers? A lunch invite where YOU pay? A first date? Plus he had spent 2 years in JAIL. QOTD (Quote of the day) “Not everyone in jail has tattoos”….uh, check please!

Best.Compliment.Ever: Young, Caucasian, spring-breaker kid to me while waiting in line at ATM in DC with his brother and a friend: “Your smile is gonna save this city.” 

Virginia to NY:
More training with client. More debauchery with new co-workers.
Why I’m going to love this client: They have Blue Moon AND Corona in the office fridge! PLUS, I got to wear jeans and tennis shoes to work! PLUS they have cable and TIVO in the office. To all my NY friends that are reading this: I didn’t call because I don’t have the money to hang out with yall like that! If I can’t go to Blue Fin or Plataforma or Virgil’s I’d rather stay home!

NY to Atlanta:
Stacey, Siddiq and their twins. Laundry. Atlanta Zoo and the very worth it: Chuck Close exhibit at the High Museum. Dinner at The Flying Biscuit. Ice Age 2 and being woken up by two three (and a ½)-year olds.

Atlanta to Houston:

Houston to Nuevo Laredo, MX:

Mulege Mexico: Adios NOLS


Alright already, the two of you left reading this thing don’t need to e-mail me off line to ask “what’s up with your whack, non-updating, supposed to be traveling, travel blog” it is so nice to be missed. But don’t make me come after you. And i will.

I decided to go with the majority vote and accept the contract. I bid “Hasta Luego” {see you later} to the NOLS crew. I’m going to miss the slow pace they have going on down there. The beautiful weather, the outdoor showers and the family style lunches. This pic is of Oscar and Karina. Both are from Mexico and are NOLS staff. Oscar is an instructor and Karina is an administrator with the finance group if I remember correctly. I got along well with everyone but I think the local staff gave me some cool points for really trying to get to know them and use my Spanish when I could. I would sit near Karina at lunch and speak to her in Spanish and she would respond in English. Her English is fine, so I was getting the better end of this deal. Oscar was in a sling because he had dislocated his shoulder doing some crazy A#$ adventure sport or another. I don’t remember if he was kayaking 23,232 miles, diving for oysters or what but this is typical of these guys (and gals: Hi Claire! Hi Sue!). They amaze me with their spirit of adventure. They think of and do stuff like trying to see how far they can free dive before coming up for air, fishing before sunrise and living on boats in the bay. I tend to think of things like: if I take a nap before lunch and a nap after lunch, will I still be able to sleep tonight?

I also scored when the seamstress (Conchita) saw my little naked Nikon coolpix II and asked if I had a case for it. I told her I didn’t because the one I had was too big. She asked to see the camera and said she’d make me a case. I’m thinking I’d get it in a few days, not even knowing how she was going to pull this off. But, Superseamstress™ woke me from my nap not 2 hours later with a custom-made, waterproof, padded, perfectly fitting, Velcro-closing case for my baby. I tried to offer her a gift or payment and she just laughed and patted my arm and said “no problem, you’re a nice lady I wanted to do this for you.” Wow. You can see I wasn’t really trying to leave this place of foosball on the back porch, indescribable sunrises and guilt-free naps. I will not however miss the birds or the dog.

The good thing about the backpacker lifestyle is that all your stuff is generally in one place and I was ready to roll in no time. Claire offered to drop me at the bus station and we laughed as she told me about her own adventures. She spends September-May in Mexico and May-August in Canada and the U.S. teaching kayaking courses. I can’t think of a better send-off from a special place than her stories and I really meant it when I said I hoped to be back soon. I only hope they were equally sincere when they said I was welcome any time.

The bus ride from Mulege to Tijuana/San Diego is about 15 hours and was a little steep at $80 US, but I soon found out why. These people know how to make long haul bus riding a luxury experience. The buses are extremely clean, most are Mercedes Benz made so they look sharp too. Now if you have been on a US Greyhound, throw that image out the window. It ain’t even close. The Mexican buses have about 1/3 less seats so you can stretch your legs all the way out in front of you (what a novel idea!), the seats are about 25% larger so you can actually sit next to someone and not have them reaching in your pocket to get your chapstick for you (what a novel idea!). This means that the aisles are very narrow and a little difficult to navigate but as the driver said to me “who spends any time in the aisle?” good point driver dude, good point. The windows have curtains on them so you can actually sleep without the light of day roasting one side of your face and they have movies! They were in Spanish but obviously first rate quality U.S. movies. This all combined to make for a wonderful ride for me (I was stretched out and knocked out 12 of the 15 hours) and I hope the little girl that fell asleep on me had a good nap too. She was gone when I woke up so I couldn’t ask her.

*A special “shout out” to Graham and Ledger. Graham posted an ad on craigslist and asked if anyone wanted to bike from California to Costa Rica to help a friend of his set up a farm he had inherited or turn it into a protected animal reserve or some such craziness-I mean why can’t I inherit some random property in central America? Yes, I’m drinking Hater-ade! Ledger answered the ad and I ran into them one morning on the beach when they were eating fruit, greeting the day and woo-ing (or rather un-woo-ing) two young local ladies. I was so dazzled by the stories of their bike trip so far that I forgot to take a picture. So if anyone sees two random white dudes with long hair and nice tans riding bikes down the baja, honk, wave and tell them said Hello!

I made it to Tijuana and my first stop was….McDonalds. I know, for shame, for shame. But what’s a to do?

Mulege Mexico: Dilemma


I’ve actually been “working” quite a bit since I hopped off of the Green Tortoise tour. By working I mean following up on potential consulting projects, drafting pitches, cleaning up smaller projects, keeping in touch with networking contacts, etc. As you can see I have been carrying my laptop, various electronic gear and skype headphones with me.

All that said. I now have some decisions to make. Do I keep vagabonding as is or make a go of being a free-lance consultant and travel at the same time?

Pros: I can save money or travel longer
Cons: I will have to stick to major travel routes for technology access

I realize I am blessed to be in a position where I can even contemplate NOT taking a job, but sometimes the paradox of choice can cripple you all the same. I will admit that I had a feeling this would happen when I left so I’m not completely surprised.

So, what say you? Would you throw all caution to the wind and travel til the money ran out? Or would you try your hand at earning as you go?