Traught: Nothing is worrying you, every thing is perfect.
I’ll know I’ve arrived when I realize there was no place to go.
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.
I started this blog started because I needed some place to put all of the photos I have been taking on my travels. Additionally, it’s become an opportunity to bring some structure and discipline to my travel. In my experience, without a project, it is easy to get lost in the freedom of traveling without a schedule and few, if any, obligations. On the flip side, this kind of freedom has also given me the space for daily practice of the skills that I want to build for my life (like speaking Spanish or taking better photos) instead of the skills I may need for work (like spreadsheets or meetings). Writing for this blog is my project.
I spent this day getting progressively more lost. Even with my Maps.Me I took a wrong turn getting from my hostel to the bus station. I couldn’t get lost on the bus but I did need to see every other tourist get off at one stop to know that it was mine. Then, after registering at the park office and getting a map with specific instructions about how to navigate the park, I set out immediately on the wrong path. But at least it was a path.
Until it wasn’t and that’s when I got lost in dense forest. Fortunately, there was at least a river for me to follow… somewhere?
Eventually I did find my way back to the path and out of the park. But don’t fret, still more opportunities to get lost. Thought I was walking to the park office, ended up at a toll booth. Waited at toll booth for bus for 45 minutes until I decided to hitchhike and got dropped off in a part of Cuenca where I was totally lost.
Sitting in Calderon Park, waiting for the Cuenca walking tour to begin, I met “Da $hoe$hine Boyz!”. That’s just a name I gave them but I feel like they’d be real happy with it. They offered to shine my sneakers (?) and I tried to explain… nah, I just said “No” actually but they wanted to hang around. So we talkled about how much my shoes cost compared to theirs (theirs were less), where they were from (Cuenca, Ecuador), how old were they (7-9 y.o.), and a little bit about school (they weren’t really into it). I was taking pictures while we talked and they asked if I’d take one of them. I don’t usually photo kids but since they asked… And it only ended up costing me the two dollars they asked for to, I guess, compensate them for having the pleasure of taking their picture. Anyway, good kids.
You can tell it’s the middle of the world because there is a line going right through it just like on a globe. Plus the country is named Ecudor, get it like “e-qua-tor”. And the whole region was called Quito by the indigenous Shuar people which, in their language means “earth” (qui) “middle” (to). How these ancient people knew they lived on the middle of the earth I do not know but their neighbors in Peru built a pyramid so maybe they talked about it.
There were guinea pigs. So. Cute. Or should I say so “cuy”? Because that is what they’re called in Ecuador because of the little sound they make which is also really cute. So guess you could call these cuy, cute which… wait, that’s just the same joke backwards.
Anyway, looking forward to eating one of these soon.
Because it’s the middle earth and magic you can balance an egg on its end here. I mean I couldn’t. And neither could anyone I saw but I don’t know, maybe you could.
In 1724 (maybe?), a French science guy wanted to prove that Issac Newton was right about the earth being shaped like an oblong egg. So the French King gave him a bunch of money and told him to go figure it out. And I guess he did because he arrived in Ecuador (or Quito) and said, “Yep, this is it!” This also somehow proved Newton was right. Cool.
And that was basically it for 200 years until Ecuador decided being on the equator was cool enough to celebrate. They went all out and built a 10m monument. Cool.
And that was it for another 50ish (?) years until Ecuador rebuilt the monument to be 30 meters. Cool.
At this point in our story it’s the “go-go 80s” and Ecudaor decides to go buck wild and build a city (read “tourist trap”) around this area to which tourists have been coming for decades without being trapped. 30 years later, the trap was complete.
It’s a very good trap because the fact is this isn’t even the real equator!! That’s right. It’s like thinking you’re at Disney World but ending up in UAV Entertainment World (deep cut, look it up) . The actual, real equator is 240m away from here. So take that Newton! In your face!
Taking a lot of photos of buildings, cars, and other inanimate objects. Would like to get past my fear of “getting caught” taking candids of people but in the meantime here’s a long shot of some drama across the street.
I arrived at my AirBnB late on a Sunday night. Oaxaca, like most Latin American countries, is almost completely shut down on Sundays and late Sunday night is even worse- especially is you want food. Which I did. So just after I got the house tour from my rentor and put my stuff down, she comes back with a plate full of dinner. Chicken soup, chicken, tortillas, an orange, and some juice. It was an incredibly nice gesture for my first night and my introduction to Mexicans being some of the nicest people I’ve met in Latin America.
This is my first tour in Mexico and on my trip overall. I signed up with one operator but when we got to Monte Alban I was shuffled off to the English-speakers tour and bus for the rest of the day. Turned out to be the best as a) I don’t speak Spanish well enough to understand what’s going on and b) I met two really nice women from Ohio.
Back in the day, Monte Alban was the place from which the Zapotecs ran shit in the Oaxaca region. One of the main temples they have symbols of the different pre-Columbian nations they conquered. I have no pictures of this so you’ll just have to take my word for it or you can go to Oaxaca and find out for yourself. Anyway, the Zapotecs had things on-lock for hundreds of years and then people just got tired of them and headed for the hills. I mean… I think that’s what happened. It was hella hot out here and I might have missed a few things from the tour guide.
Sooo… Monte Alban… honestly, the tour was just ok from an information perspective but the sites were pretty cool. From here we went to lunch where I chatted with my new friends Stella and Adriana. Stella bought me a beer (Oh, that’s kind of funny. Just twigged to that now) so I’m looking forward to going to Ohio at some point in the future to repay the favor. After lunch we were off to Cuilapam.
Again. Not paying too much attention to the tour guide but this is an unfinished convent built by some Spanish colonizers. They probably did some dirty shit to the Oaxacans until they got ran out of the country. But they built (read: enslaved some Oaxacans to build) this convent and it takes good pictures.
So there you have it. A poorly related day of touring one of Oaxaca’s most famous tourist sites. I hope I get better at this.