This is it. After almost 11 months living on the road we park our car at our friends house and go on vacation home to Austria. Soon we will be back to work again. It will be very different. We will not own our days anymore, only part time. But that’s Ok because we will be in our favourite city close to many great friends. The wandering days are over? Let’s say we take a break. But we will still keep up the blog though. There are so many great experiences we never took the time to write about, like many of our favourite moments are not documented. And we will have more free time now as we are back to work again ) Our life in the Americas continues, just that we will stay in one place a little bit longer this time. Stay tuned.
We know, it has been a while since we last updated the blog. In the last 6 weeks we drove many Miles from Mexico to the US – yes, we are back in the USA, right now we are in colorful Colorado!! We also did some awesome hikes, visited some of the most beautiful National Parks in the country and spent a few relaxing days in Las Vegas. So you understand, that we had no time left to blog! Sorry! We post a few updates today, more will follow soon, hopefully!
By the way, we want to congratulate our fellow collegues for making it through another tough school year!!! You guys are everyday heroes, dealing with 150 kids a day with like 6 hours of sleep per night and trying to have a life on the side!! Enjoy your time off, the next school year will start sooner as we all wish for!
There is always a first ime, and on the trip we had a few. One of my favorites was hiking my first peak over 4000 m (12.000ft)!
Not long after we left Merida, we established another record, we drove, yes, DROVE, with our car, almost up to tthe peak of the Volcano Cofre de Perote (4282 m – 14.049 ft) and parked the car at 4128 Meters!! The peak of this volcano is not exactly a tourist destination, there are several buildings and antennas right before the top and as we climbed up the stairs to the “peak” some workers passed us. We must have been quite a sight for them, still in our beach outfits, struggling to climb a few easy steps, while they were carrying heavy equipment up and down. We had severe problems to breathe, after all, we were at sea level just the day before, and now we were high up in the snow!!
That same day we headed towards Pueblo, south-east of Mexico City and drove up to the campground in the Parque Nacional La Malinche, which is at 3000 Meters. We wanted to get accustomed to the altitude to be better prepared to climb La Malinche (4461 m – 14.636 ft), named after Cortes lover and interpreter, the sixth highest peak in Mexico.
We started our hike very early in the morning but not too early for a group of dogs that followed us, keeping a safe distance. The first two hours we did OK, we hiked up a road and then up some steeper path through the woods. As we got out of the woods we saw the top of the mountain, the path looked pretty easy and it did not seem so far anymore. Very soon we started to feel the altitude. It’s like when your feet, your whole body feels really heavy and you are out of breath very quickly. Chris says it’s like when you need to take a deep breath after running as fast as you could for 100 Meters/Yards, just that it’s all the time like that. To get into some kind of routine he had the idea to hike 50 steps and then stop, take some deep breaths and get the force together to continue. This worked OK for a while, then the breaks got longer and the amount of steps we could do became fewer and fewer until we went down to three steps and had to stop for a while to be able to continue. It’s a very odd feeling, you feel this should be an easy hike just your body does not seem know that. It was pretty tough but what a great feeling of accomplishment as we finally reached the top. And the view was magnifient. There were some snow covered peaks around us and the rest of the world far down in the valley. We shared our snack with the one dog of the crowd that followed us all the way up to the mountain, actually he showed Chris the right way when we was about to take the wrong turn shortly before the top.
The dog also did not take as long as we did to get back down again. Luckily some nice workers who were digging a drainage up on the edge of the mountain invited us on their pickup for the last part of the hike on the road. They were super friendly and seemed very surprised when we told them we were just coming down from the peak of the mountain. They did not even know, that you could hike up all the way to the peak. I did not know I could do it either, I felt really proud!
And to top this day after we came down to the valley we passed a performance of “luchadores”, these are professional show wrestlers wearing bizarre masks. First time I have ever saw these for real!
It was not easy to leave our Merida family (even for the second time). Muchas Gracias por su hospitalidad! We’ll be back!
I really admire ants. Very fascinating creatures, well organized, hard working.., But the moment they invade my house the fascination changes into an obsession to eradicate the whole tribe. After Helene had spent several weeks at the beach in Sisal she came back to Merida and found the house taken over by ants. Chris and I took on the challenge to solve this problem. It was not easy but after a few days we chased them out of the house and now they are pretty busy in the the backyard, just where they are supposed to be.
Please be advised, the second video is to be watched with caution.
It took us a few days to travel back from El Salvador through Guatemala and Chiapas (Mexico) until we arrived in Merida to spend a few more days with our friend Helene and her family until starting the long journey back to NYC. We spent our time cooking all the good food we could not cook with our little gas stove and hanging out with Helene and the rest of the gang. We also fought against ants and the influenza. And I got to know how it feels not be taken seriously by a 13 months old … to be continued.
At the border from Guatemala to El Salvador they pulled us over and called us into an office where two public health officers with masks in front of their faces took our temperature. That was standard for anyone who has been in Mexico the last few weeks. Our temperature was fine and we got into the country. The North-East of El Salvador is very pretty, coffee plantations and flower farms are everywhere. We did not really see much of them as it is the rainy season so in the late morning clouds come up on and everything get’s pretty misty and by four or five it starts pouring. In a nice village we found a nice hotel with internet and TV in our room and the only thing missing for us to be totally happy is good food. So we go and find a place where they serve pupusas, typical street food. Pupusas are made out of cornmeal and filled with beans, cheese or chicharrones (pork skin) or all three. You eat them with pickles and hot sauce. We also tried Pacaya, a vegetable we already saw in Guatemala, it looks a little strange an tastes a little bitter, but we liked it. We went for coffee and desert at the pastry shop on the corner of the zocalo. What a perfect place for us! It was there that I got an e-mail from my principal reminding me that the deadline for extending the leave of absence would be on May 8th – and it was May 7th. Chris and I knew we needed to make a decision soon about what we will do next year. Would we go back to teaching in NYC or wait until we get a job offer in Austria or just continue traveling but risking to loose our job in NYC (if we do not get the leave and our visa extended). We had to decide that evening and we decided to go back to NYC. This trip was -is a wonderful experience, we met interesting people and saw a lot but we are also ready for a more steady home and spending time with our friends and somehow we hope we will be able to deal with the sleep deprivation in NYC – right now we have like 10-12 hours of sleep a night, in NYC we will have half of this and go to work!! We decided to keep on going south until it would be time to turn around. We left our perfect little village and went to the Parque de los Volcanoes to climb the highest of three volcanoes, But already in the early morning we could barely see the peak as clouds were hiding it. We kind of got discouraged continuing the trip further south, with that weather there does not seem to be much we can do. Se we decided that morning to head back to Mexico, stay a few days with Helene and then solely ride back to NYC. So we turned around on May 10th at 10.24 am. There was a little of remorse but basically we are excited to head towards our new old life!
Antigua was the capital of all Central America a few hundred years ago, now it’s a tourist mecca. One of the biggest churches in the new world ( 100 meters long with 18 chapels) was destroyed during the devastating earthquake of 1773 and now it’s ruins are perfect for photo shots. Antigua is pretty, so pretty that it seems unreal. If there were not the occasional vendors of local fabrics and other products, you would not know you were in Guatemala. The restaurant scene is also very international and as we both did not feel too good (I was sick before and Chris got sick in Antigua) we did not feel like experimenting and went for “feel good food” from back home in Europe. The first place we went after we found a hotel was to get some Weissbier at the Bavarian Beer Garden, after all, my brother always says, beer is like an electrolyte drink, and this was exactly what we needed. During the next days we had bagels at the Bagel Barn (they also have free internet and movies nights), Wiener Schnitzel twice at an Austrian restaurant called Wiener and for dessert Crepes at La Lune de Miel, a cozy little French creperie who’s owner we met a few days before in Semuc Champey. And Christian finally agreed to get a haircut. He was pretty nervous when the hairdresser used his razor. And you know everything about our trip to the active volcano Pacaya. Antigua was our last stop before heading to El Salvador, where we had to make the big decision!!
We could not have found a better place to get sick as the lake Atitlan. We stayed at a campground right on this beautiful lake surrounded by three volcanoes. First everything was perfect: we bought food at the market n town and had a delicous barbecue. The next day I (Sonja) got really sick – Montezumas revenge – and unfortunately lost all the good food from the barbecue. The problem was probalbly caused by a fruit juice I had in village the day before. Well, you do not want to know the details, it was the first time I got sick on the trip – I guess it just had to happen! For almost 3 days I was staying in the tent all day, sleeping a lot and eating little to nothing. But as I said, the setting could not have been better: I woke up to a clear sky, the volcanos and the lake right in front of me and at night the sun would paint the sky in old shades of red. Eventually I got better and we left for Antigua, where Montezuma got Christian. But that is another story.