Archive for March, 2014

I decided to do a special post only about today as this journey was one of the most adventurous one crammed with adrenaline, getting helped by locals, almost like being on a mission ( with almost no reason though) and completing it!!

Just to be clear this post does not cancel the post promised in my last one;-)

Yesterday I celebrated my last day in Guatemala with a fabulous Sunday roast at Casa de la Iguana in Livingston and decided not to take the easy and quick route the day after ( today) to Honduras: La Ceiba.

Here is the visual of the route that had to be completed:

Aliz Chicken bus route


Options :

1. Buy a direct shuttle from Livingston to La Ceiba for Q435 (£40) that allows you to take the last ferry at 4pm to Utila.

2. Do it on your own with chicken buses and 5 exchanges until La ceiba and take the ferry to Utila the next morning. Lonely planet described it as the following: ‘ Please not even if you take the 6.30 am ferry from Livingston to Puerto Barrios , it’s almost impossible to take the last ferry on the same day.


This is how I prepared myself.

I crossed to Puerto Barrios ( as last passenger ) at 6.30. There was the shuttle waiting for people who bought the direct shuttle . The guy tried to do business with me and offered me the same package that other people paid Q435 for Q250 which let’s be honest is a good price but I was so involved in the negotiation that I walked away from this deal because the guy wouldn’t give it to me for Q 200..I mean we are talking about £4 difference for a 7 hour journey!! Sometimes I should really do that maths!!

So I turned around and made my way towards the main road to look for a chicken bus when I realised ..damn it I really don’t feel like changing several vehicles and being crushed in chicken buses!!! By the time I ran back to the guy  to accept the offer he was I thought ..I really screwed this up now!

So here the adventure began..took the first shuttle To the Guatemalan immigration where I got my exit stamp, then same shuttle took me to  Honduras boarder where I got my entry stamp . On the other side a chicken bus was waiting for me and took me to Puerto Cortez where straight away a shuttle was shouting : San Pedro Sula!!(most violent Latin American books emphasize to stay away)

This is when I saw a bit of hope of being able to catch the last ferry maybe to Utila!! I got to San Pedro at 11.30. I was told there was a bus going to La Ceiba at 11.40 and given that the journey is 3-4 hours, I was pretty confident that I would beat Lonely Planet and prove you CAN do it in one day!! ( again time was not an issue , I could have easily stayed a night in La Ceiba but I loved the challenge !!)

the San Pedro bus did not leave until 12.15 which made me sooo angry!! Especially because a local lady showed me this bus company – I could have chosen another one among 7 others! So as a ‘ punishment’ I did not speak to her:) I did tell off the driver too and emphasized how unacceptable it was to leave  30 mins later and told him he better off putting his foot on the gas cause I have a  ferry to catch at 4!  He smiled and said u will be fine:)

hahh! Typical Latin laid back individual – I thought..

Well it was a hell of a 3 hour ride ..imagine an old school bus speeding with 130km/h , overtaking cars and trucks in blind curves etc. I was even more resenting myself not taking the Q250 offer!

We got to the edge of La Ceiba at 3.35 pm. The local lady kindly made a phone call to the ferry company to ask them to wait for me but it’s like calling an airline to ask to wait for 1 passenger:)

So the very end just before the bus would have arrived at the terminal the police stopped us for passport control..driver ran to me and said to get off now if I wanted to make the ferry, take a taxi ..FAST!! It was 15.46…taxi hailed and imagine a Fast and Furious scene…shooting through the town decent traffic, overtaking cars from left and right, scaring off children playing on the edge of the road!! I was frozen in the car and had several colours during the ride..

When we got there, the ferry was still there. Taxi driver grabbed my big backpack, me the small ones and we ran…In this moment ferry started moving away from pier ..we were almost there …imagine this scene on a big screen in the movies..then 2 guys working there shouted: JUUUUMP! And yes..I had no other options..a big step wasn’t driver throw my back pack on ferry and I jumped with mine…I MADE THE FERYYYYYY!!!:)

Conclusion: Instead of Q 435 or second offer Q 250 I made it from around Q 150.. and instead of 7 hours I made it in 10 hours BUT…saved about 5 quid and had the time of my life on this adventure trip:)

LOL …that’s all I can say! Thank you locals for helping me with crazy drives, throwing backpacks, making calls…I made it to Utila, to the little seafood and dive heaven..and tomorrow I am starting my Rescue Diving course at the Utila Dive Center! Bring it on!

Oh and to close this post with a lovely I got to the dive shop early evening all I heard is the word : CONGRATULATIONS…

A diver guy proposed to his girl 42 meters underwater and she ‘nodded’ yes…LIFE IS GREAT! ENJOY IT!



After the hard but rewarding month in Cuba, I flew to Mexico City at 6am on the 3rd February. I was not planning on doing anything on that day given that for a month I  was cut off the world. I realised again how difficult is for me just to chill and do nothing apart from catching up with people and admin etc.
I needed that day off still I felt I was missing out. A great friend of mine Maszi introduced me online to her friend who lives in Puebla region so she suggested me to go first to Curenavaca. I was a bit disorganised and planned nothing at all for Mexico..all I knew was that Richard was arriving on the 21st February and by that time I should visit some great places.So I started with Cuernavaca as Ana suggested.
Cuernavaca is a lovely lively city only 30 mins south of Mexico City. It has 2 gardens, churches, a central plaza and palace. Each night of the week you can enjoy dancers, musicians, acrobats and a lot of locals who use the plaza both by day and night as a place to hang out, meet friends and be entertained by many local artists and entertainers. The square and adjacent area is full of street vendors selling everything from bead work to maize on a stick and tacos. Best juice in town can be found in front of Teatro Ocampo.


After Cuernavaca I went to Tepoztlan. The stunning ‘pueblo magico’ is surrounded by beautiful mountains- I climbed one to see the pyramid on top:

Oh I have to add a funny detail here about my iPhone. As some of you know on my first trip the second day of being in Brazil my phone died to I traveled a year without smartphone. On the second trip after 2 days my phone did not recognize any service in Cuba, but I thought it was just a ‘cuban thing’..well the problem persisted in Mexico as well and even though I made a couple of phone calls to my UK provider as well as Apple and tried to restore the phone it still showing me no service so please so not contact me on my UK number, and if you did and you are angry with me for not getting back to you now you know the reason why.
The other great iPhone illness that occurred was that first around 30% then 40 and finally 60% of battery the phone just switched off…again having spent a couple of hours online searching for solution, downloading an app and restoring my phone helped.

After Tepoztlan I went 2 hours south to Taxco. I will take my time here as Taxco was one of my favourite places in Mexico. Imagine a little white jewel built on a hill where the streets are so narrow that only tiny white Beatles can fit as taxis and normal car hardly any. People are very fit in this town as they have to go up and down with their baskets full of empanadas or ‘elotes’ (corn) or whatever they sell on a daily basis. The ‘zocalo’ as they call the central square in nearly every town in the center of Mexico is beautiful with a huge cathedral in the middle surrounded by silver shops. Taxco is nominated as ‘Pueblo Magico’ (Magical Town) with a reason.
taxco view taxco 2 taxco beetle
In Taxco I met a very nice local man called Evaristo and his sister Patricia. I just walked by their convenient store and we started chatting. In Mexico if you speak Spanish and are not from the US people are super friendly! They directed me to the highest point in town where a statue of ‘Cristo’ was guarding the town. A lovely lady joined me on my walk..just because she had nothing else to do. Again very nice chat. I had a private room with bathroom and kitchen 2 steps away from the zocalo for 200 pesos (9 GBP) called Hotel Casa Grande. When I got back in the evening, I had a pleasant surprise: Evaristo turned up and asked if I wanted to hang out. He remembered the hotel I stayed in and wanted to show me the town. So we went for a walk, got some beers and tequila and had a great night chatting. Next day I was walking around silver shops to get a nice memory from this beautiful town and I decided to order a ring that has a salsa dancing couple on it. Given that salsa and the latin culture is such a huge part in my life I wanted to create something that reminds me all time how much happiness Latin America, the people, the language, the
music and the dance gives me. I requested a ring from a silver shop by next day. I had to explain pretty well what I exactly wanted and even having done so, I was not confident they would make a ring exactly how I imagined. In the afternoon I went to a beautiful cave called:  Cacahuamilpa Cave where visitors are mainly Mexicans. Stunning place. It takes 2 hours to complete the visit of this cave..and this is what you can see:
IMG_2027 corona bottle
By the time I got back to Taxco my ring should have been well ready..sadly it wasn’t and it wasn’t even close to be.. So I had to look for another silver man to do one for me. I asked him to be ready for 11am the next day because my bus left for Mexico DF at midday..needless to say it wasn’t! Ended up running to catch the bus but I made it in the end. Moral of the story: Whoever want to have a ring done, STAY WITH THE MAN UNTIL HE FINISHES IT otherwise every other order will be before yours no
matter when they came in. Here is the art:

salsa ring

Upon arrival at Mexico DF I wanted to stay in the ‘Zona Rosa’ this time which is full of bars and supposed to be one of the nicest part of the city. Sadly they didn’t have a dorm but Line (from Quebec) offered kindly that she would share her double room with me. I was super delighted. This is the hostel where I met one of the nicest group of people that includes Line (mentioned above), Sean (US), Lucila and Flavio (Argentinian couple arriving a day after me). The day I arrived was a Saturday and I was dying to go out. Line and Sean were well up for it too so we went to the Condensa area crammed with bars and clubs and I truly had one of the best nights on this particular night in a Cuban bar and in a place called ‘Patas negras’.

aliz dancing on bar Patas Negras
The next day we wanted to take advantage of the ‘free museum Sunday’ but we were way too hungover so had brunch at Wendy’s then went to one of the most famous museums in MeXico DF :The Antrolpology museum. Sadly it was only free for locals so due to our hangover we opted for skipping the museum and visiting the Modern Art instead.
Good decision. Loved it. We bonded with the Argentinians who travelled with little money but great talent. Flavio is a musician and Lucila juggles with fireballs at traffic lights. The day after we went to one of the most important Aztec ruins near Mexico city : Teotihuacan. We spent a great day there climbing the Sun and Moon temples, fighting off the hassle of fake silver sellers..and had an average lunch..


Now I think this average lunch turned into a regret the day after when we went to Xiochimilco.I will explain why in a minute. Xochimilco is best known for its canals, which are left from what was an extensive lake and canal system that connected most of the settlements of the Valle de Mexico.These canals, along with artificial islands called chinampas attract tourists and other city residents to ride on colorful gondola-like boats called ‘ trajineras’ around the 170 km (110 mi) of canals.

xiochi 1 xiochi 2 xiochi 3
My breakfast was a melon juice..once we arrived at Xiochimilco my dear Hawaiana flipflops broke..along with my heart as those black flip flops walked a few miles around the world..oh well..sometimes you need to say goodbye. Flavio fixed it for the day anyway..if anyone has the problem here is a great way to a temporary fix:
On the boat I started to feel weak and sick..I knew something was wrong so after the boat and museum I made my way back to hostel..sadly I couldn’t go anymore on the metro because i felt too sick to travel, so I took a taxi with Chervel …umm..I didn’t make it to the hostel without being sick in the taxi 😦
The coming evening was the worst on this trip..I had pain, I felt sick..if these guys were not there and the helpful staff of the hostel I would have suffered way more. They called the ambulance and I had blood taken, blood pressure measured, I had fever so they prescribed a medicine that sent me to sleep and the day after I felt much better. Very weak because I could not eat anything the whole previous day and the following 2 days either but I made sure to drink a lot of liquid. I am not sure if I had a bug..probably yes ..and also maybe the spicy Mexican food did not do well to my tummy ..but hey, at least I lost weight and felt superb after I

I don’t usually like Latin- American big cities but Mexico City reminded me very much of Buenos Aires. Loved it!

Next stop was San Miguel de Allende. This little charming town (also Pueblo Magico) is a top American retirement spot therefore you hear more English than Spanish here. There are several hot thermal baths in the neighborhood to enjoy (Taxi is the quickest way to get to them but if you have time try the local buses! I boarded one and a national transportation control asked me if I was afraid to ride on this bus.), there is a huge handicraft market and design unit where you can get some inspirations, or just get lost in the bars and fine restaurants..I stayed in Hostel Alcatraz with kitchen facilities. Great staff and good atmosphere.

san miguel 1 san miguel 2 La gruta
After San Miguel I continued to Guanajuato. This town is slightly bigger than San Miguel but the centre is absolutely walkable. In Gunajuato you will find great street entertainment especially during weekends.

Guanajuato 1 guanajuato 2 guanajuato 3

To mention one and my favourite is to participate in the tradition of ‘callejoneada’ a type of “walking serenade”, during which local musicians dress up in traditional 17th century costumes and weave their way through the narrow alleyways of colonial Guanajuato while playing music, singing popular folk songs, telling stories and reciting local legends.

I was lucky enough to witness a proposal during the serenade which certainly doesn’t happen every day.
In Guanajuato I had a splurge by staying in a hostel called ‘Casa de Dante’..with superb breakfast, stunning views (it is on top of a surrounding mountain so a little bit far from the centre but great exercise opportunity!) and great company! I met Brian here, American photographer, reunited with Chervel again whom I met in Mexico and did Xiochimilco together and met Daisy from England with whom I spent a great day together visiting the Mummy Museum and the city and enjoying the traditional
serenade night.
Daisy and Brian
After Guanajuato I made my way to the last destination towards the West Coast: Guadalajara, the second biggest Mexican city. I found eventually my hostel stumbling around with my backpacks in the night: Hostel Tequila. At first glance I did not like this hostel even if it had a pool but as everything it needed time. First day I spent in the San Juan Market..This is the place to go if you want to buy cowboy outfit, leather stuff, cowboy boots, sombreros, or fruits, veggies, everyday clothes, souvenirs or if you just want to try the market food which is exceptional quality shrimps and fish prepared in white wine or garlic. Don’t ask me why they offer seafood, Guadalajara is not by the sea. I bought a pair of boots for myself and 2 sombreros for the arrival of Richard in a few days’ time!
On the second day I went to Tequila with 2 Brazilan bankers. It’s a 2 hour bus ride from Guadalajara and then a tour in one of the tequila factories. Jose Cuervo is certainly the most traditional and biggest but I went with rubio and I did not regret it! If you happen to be here make sure you eat before because there is some serious tequila tasting going on and you DO FEEL THE DIFFERENCE between a smooth gold tequila with least taste or the very tasty but strong white tequila!

After Tequila we wanted to go to the famous Lucha Libre (Wrestling) but tickets were sold out for that day so I just chilled. Ont he last day I went to Tlaquepaque (another part of Guadalajara), I absolutely loved the creativity of this place. It attracts loads of wealthy tourists from all over the world, lots of wholesale merchants and curious ordinary tourists like myself. If you want to enjoy the great nightlife Guadalajara offers head to Chapultepec, a famous road full of bars, restaurants, live music and every Monday free salsa on the street (alcohol consumption on street is prohibited).

guadalajara 1 guadalajara 2 IMG_2269
I had a night bus back to Mexico DF at midnight. The journey is 6-7 hours. I slept ok. Once I was in Mexico, I had to change terminals and head to Puebla, where I finally got to meet Ana Karen and her brother (as I mentioned at the beginning, a good friend of mine, Maszi put us in touch). Now..this is a welcome!
Welcome to Puebla
I spent 1.5 fantastic day in Cholula where Ana Karen lives. We drank Micheladas (beer with spicy lemony sauce, sometimes with tomato juice added), walked to some of the tons of churches Cholula offers, one is very pretty but you cannot take pictures called:Church of Tonantzintla, which means “place of our little mother” in Nahuatl, comes from the Aztec goddess Tonantzin, the earth mother who became the equivalent of the Virgin Mary when the Spaniards conquered the pre-Hispanic world.

In the evening we drank some Mezcal ( with Ana Karen then headed home to sleep.Next day she prepared a fantastic breakfast:

Tlacoyos with fresh orange juice then Memo brought down his tequila selection and the day has started very well! Ana saw me off to Mexico City Airport (Memo came with us as well half way) from where I flew to Cancun to meet my Love..but this will be a next story..guaranteed entertainment if you stay with me for the next time:)