November 29, 2013

"Live" blog of Yucatan/Cuba trip, day 3: Yucatan high & low

November 8, 2013
Day three was mucho mas bueno. We left semi-early and hit the cenote at Ik Kil, which was amazing. When we first looked down into that seemingly bottomless sinkhole, we almost didn't know what it was. We were the first ones there, and we got to see it pristine, vines and roots trailing down into the water, dark but for a few sunbeams. My first thought was, "I don't want to swim in that."

My second thought, which came about two seconds later, was, "I want to swim in that!" So we rented a locker and a life vest for Bunny and narrowly missed being the first ones down there. That would have been incredible, but even so it was pretty ridiculously cool. The water is cold, and full of friendly black fish who may or may not have eyes. When I first stepped down the ladder, I wasn't sure I could bear to immerse myself in that water, but soon the effort of swimming warmed me up enough that it was okay. Swimming is hard! And there was no shallow end--a cenote is basically a hole straight down into the earth. The sides are sheer cliff, but it's rough enough that we eventually found handholds and even a ledge. On one side, plants grow at the water's edge, and hanging vines and the roots of trees above trace the earth-side edges of the hole. Water trickles down in small waterfalls. Heavenly. I will admit that on my first swim across I had a moment of panic. It's rare that I swim in water over my head, and being away from the walls--in fact, not knowing if any of the walls offered purchase--was a bit like being thrown down a well. 

November 28, 2013

"Live" blog of Yucatan/Cuba trip, days 1 & 2: Getting there is less than half the fun.

Did I say I'd start on Wednesday? Whoops! Late already, which seems appropriate. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

November 7, 2013:
Yesterday our trip began, far too early, with Bunny and Crow picking us up for the airport before dawn. Our first flight was after theirs, and yet we got here ahead of them. Husband and I spent a boring couple of hours on the floor of the Cancun aeropuerto, not going outside for (legitimate) fear of not being allowed back in. When they did arrive--their flight late, of course--the man from Fox car rental bundled us all out of the airport before we could change money, look for maps, anything. I'd thought to take care of money-changing while I waited, but it seemed silly since I'd just have to wait for Bunny and Crow to do the same thing. I wish that I had at least checked the exchange rate. Then I would have known that the ATM in the 7-11 ripped us off by at least half, giving me only 500 MXN for my $100 USD [update: the ATM only charged me around $40 in the end, so all kinds of WTF]. Instead we erroneously used this as the exchange rate, and spent about a day thinking things in Mexico were incredibly expensive, instead of just very expensive. Who would have thought that Mexico was such an expensive place to travel? Not I.

We weren't the only ones bored in the airport.

We had worried about the drive to our hotel near Chichen Itza--three hours or so, in the dark, in freaking Mexico--but we needn't have. The cuota road was lovely and about $25 US all told (tolled)--though at the time we thought it was much more. Also at the gas station Husband immediately got cheated by the attendant, who got an extra $20 bill out of him using the scam from the freaking guidebook (turning away and pretending he had been given different bills, then demanding more). We were off to a pretty terrible start.

November 22, 2013

A message from the Central Bureaucracy

This letter is to inform you that you're about to receive a letter. Or rather, it's a blog post about upcoming blog posts. You see, I have been neglecting this blog. I could give you excuses, but what am I, some kind of freshman? You don't care.

My favorite of these excuses is only valid for the past couple of weeks: I was traveling in the Yucatan and Cuba, with no internet. Sound interesting? You betcha. So I've decided to "live" blog my trip, with "live" meaning three weeks behind. We start next Wednesday! Grab your passport, check out the exchange rate, and come along with me, as we travel through space and time.

Warning: not to scale.

Oh, and remember how much fun I had with postcards last summer in Iceland and Norway? (Check out these links if you don't: Postcards from, Postcard Madness part II, More Postcards!, Postcards! Again!, Return to Sender?, two fishy love stories, What postcards have taught me, Family, and a poisonous corpse, and Things that will eat us) Well, postcards return! So stay tuned.

In other news, my story "The Red Sno-Cones Are Not for Sale" has been podcasted for Every Day Fiction by the lovely Folly Blaine. After, or before, you should listen to the manic horror that is the children's song I based that story on. There really was an ice cream truck that played it on endless loop through my neighborhood, and that song stuck in my head was worse than "Guantanamera." I'd give you a link, but I can't find one creepy enough.

Finally, an update on the Million Writers Award: my story really did time-travel! It can't be considered for the 2012 award, but it has been automatically added to the 2013 shortlist. So next year that'll be pretty awesome. Prepare to be pestered for votes.