Sunday, September 5, 2010

Accidentally Acapulco

Every trip I take to Latin America is an adventure. I try to plan them that way, but they often end up being adventurous in ways I'd prefer to avoid. I've had my luggage stolen by banditos, I have made my way through Honduras during a military coup, and I've travelled around Guatemala on "goat and chicken" buses at a time when gringo buses were untravelable because they typically got hijacked. This past week Christy and I were supposed to be in Oaxaca volunteering at a sea turtle rescue, among other things, but the forces that love to tinker with my Latin American travel had other plans for us. Here's the tale of what transpired, along with the obligatory "photos of yummy food I ate on my trip" (and even a few herp photos at the end!).

A day before we left, Mexicana Airlines went bankrupt and cancelled all their flights. So our trip coordinator made us reservations on a bus (a nice one, no goats or chickens) that would take 13 hours overnight to get to Oaxaca from Mexico City. While we waited for the bus, we checked out a beautiful area of Mexico City called Coyoacan.

We ate duck taquitos and venison tostadas along with margaritas at an awesome little restaurant on the town square.

Then we were off to Oaxaca on the bus. Sometime in the middle of the night, the bus pulled over for a couple of hours to wait out a horrific deluge of rain. Apparently the road began falling apart in the rain because after that it was pothole city. At about 6am, over 10 hours into the bus ride, we discovered that the floods caused by the rain had knocked out a bridge on our route. Here's the spot where we hung around while the drivers figured out what to do.

And here's who we were sharing the wait with.

After a couple of hours, the drivers decided that the only choice was to turn around and go back to Mexico City. Why this took them so long to decide (as far as I know, even Mexican bridges don't regenerate themselves) is beyond me. You can imagine how we felt at the prospect of being in the bus for another 7+ hours. So I dashed into a tienda and got El Jimador and Squirt, and Christy made us gringo margaritas for the ride.

After a few hours it dawned on us that the bus was entering Acapulco. Having been on the bus for 18 hours, and unable to bear the idea of going back to Mexico City, Christy and I jumped ship at Acapulco and found ourselves a snooty hotel for a few days while we tried to figure out how else to get to Oaxaca. Meanwhile, everyone else in our group had gone earlier on a different route, so they were all smugly beginning the fun in Oaxaca.

Always adaptable and optimistic, we decided that Acapulco wasn't going to be so bad. We did a lot of this:

And quite a bit of this:

Check out this amazing prawn salad.

I must have eaten my weight in prawns the three days we were in Acapulco. I'm surprised I didn't turn into:

Molletes, one of the best breakfasts I've ever had:

Our lovely hotel even had Mexican versions of gringo condiments. In Mexico, soy sauce is called "jugo" (juice) and worchestershire sauce is called "salsa inglesa" (English salsa).

Meanwhile our trip coordinator was coming up with all sorts of plans to get us to Oaxaca. She could send a driver- no wait, the roads are out. We could go back to Mexico City and take a flight to Oaxaca. Why didn't we do that in the first place? Because Mexicana was bankrupt. Ah, there's another airline? Well, why didn't we do that in the first place? We got online to buy tickets, but this airline does not take American credit cards. Huh? Yeah, I know, makes no sense. We resolved to go to Mexico City in a few days and pay cash for the tickets at the airport.

In the meantime, we ventured into the city of Acapulco in search of El Mercado de Artesanias. Here's a panoramic view of the hotel zone (which was really quite icky and sewery; luckily we had chosen a hotel outside of the city, far to south).

At el mercado, we worked up quite an appetite haggling over ceramics, getting eaten by mosquitos, and goofing off.

We started looking around for food, and decided that chicken feet and unidentified meat laying around in the open was probably not for us, adventurous as we are.

We found a food stand and ate some yummy chiva tacos. Here's the vendor cutting into the goat's skull to make brain tacos. We didn't eat those.

In an effort to see something scaly, we went to a little botanical garden in the hills on the campus of Universidad Loyola. Here's a view of the outskirts of Acapulco from the garden:

Christy standing next to an incredibly giant green thing:

Beautiful very large ferns:

And even a few critters! Here are some Norops lizards in the garden.

A female Sceloporus:

Lots of Ameiva:

And even a forest frog! Pretty amazing, considering that the creek running through the garden was, in the same fashion as all creeks in Acapulco, a sewer.

It rained on and off while we were there, nothing major, but apparently inland and south there was A LOT of rain. Our final morning in Acapulco, I was getting some exercise at the hotel gym when the silent TV screen started showing images of severe flooding in Guerrero, Oaxaca, and elsewhere. The jist was something like this.

That was it. We had weathered the storms of cancelled flights, washed out bridges, and stone age airline websites, but we wouldn't weather this one. Back to the US we went. Yeah, not exactly the vacation we were hoping for. But it was still fun, and maybe I'll try the get to the turtles next year...


Laini Taylor said...

Hm, I don't know about going to Italy with you. It seems like you have kinda bad travel luck . . .

ha ha. Glad you're safe, sorry you missed the turtles!


Krista said...

Wow - that's crazy. I'm just glad that you made it back in one piece! Your optimism is admirable, I would have been doing some serious bitching.