From Instagram: Dia de los Muertos festivities are kicking into high gear. Beautiful Catrinas everywhere! #guanajuato #gto #mexico #festival #culture #diadelosmuertos #catrina #wp

on Instagram: http://ift.tt/2f1kWUk

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Month one.

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I walked back (up) from the mercado, all 332 stairs, in the penetrating afternoon sun, and gave new meaning to the word “trudging.” I put away the 12lbs of fruit, peeled off my bra, put up my hair, and sat down to my computer with a fresh strawberry daiquiri.

All of a sudden, it’s pouring outside, and thundering. Despite being in a desert, this is jungle-level rain, like the type of rain you see in movies when something shady is going down, or when two people in love find each other. This rain is enveloping, and inescapable as it pushes its way under doors and in-between the seals of windows. The thunder is not the ordinary, mumbling thunder of which we’ve grown accustomed to, either. Every minute or so, the downpour pauses to accommodate a shred of lightning, the dogs lick their lips nervously, and we all brace ourselves as the sky tears itself into a thousand pieces, its shots echoing magnificently off the surrounding hills. It’s the sound of cannon fire, fireworks bursting, glass breaking, metal crunching, boulders rolling, animals screaming  – all competing for the loudest decibel, all at once. It’s violent. It’s fantastic.

This is the rainy season in Guanajuato, Mexico.

It has been nearly one month since we moved in, and I’ve found that my level of content & comfort changes as quickly as the weather. As cliche as that seems, sunshine is not always the harbinger of happiness; often, the jarring crack of lightning and peal of the first raindrops rattle me back into a positive perspective. A friend asked me, not only if I am happy here, but if my “soul feels at home.” Without any offence meant towards this beautiful city and fascinating country-  gods no, my soul doesn’t feel at home. But, it has been a very long time since it did, longer than I can accurately remember, and there’s still plenty of time to find a piece of home (whatever that means) here in Mexico. It’s a pendulous country: a land of rain and sun, of dichotomies and conflict;  leaving much to be wanted, yet having a great many things to offer.

It’s best to be flexible.

I finish my daiquiri as I type, and by the time this post is complete, the dogs are lying out in the sunshine again.

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10 days! 

Hotels, hostels, & AirBnBs all booked and logged in each offline map; train tickets booked, itinerary meticulously complete, stuff purchased, packing planned, hair scheduled, dogs taken care of… Now to get the job under wraps, while impatiently and anxiously twiddling my thumbs for the next week. 10 countries. 17 days. 2 backpacks. 😱 Ack!
I have to thank Jackie at The Budget Minded Traveler for her awesome packing advice. I swear I’ve looked at every article/blog on packing advice, but hers was far and away the best. I love how she updates lists with what worked, what didn’t, what she didn’t end up using, etc. I’ll probably still overpack, but I’m feeling much better about it. I’m bummed I can’t justify bringing my new kickass hiking shoes, but it is what it is. I had this totally narcissistic vision of epic Matterhorn pictures wearing them like some sort of not-noob-tourist, but whatever. 

I’ll post photos of what I actually end up packing as it happens. Hopefully it’ll be helpful to a reader, and will be good future reference for me. 

I left my… 

Cellphone. In San Francisco. Not really, almost though. I left it in a bathroom of that god awful airport and got all the way to ticketing before I realized what I had done. Thank the stars it was a deserted bathroom in a buried corner somewhere in between terminal 2 and the clusterfuck that is the international terminal. Ran all the way back, duffel over one shoulder and two-handing my egregiously heavy and broken tote (thanks MacBook), and burst into the bathroom to find my iPhone exactly where I left it, sitting on top of the TP dispenser. Gross, I know, but had I left it in my back pocket it would have fallen on the even grosser floor and I also didn’t want it to get lost in the vortex of my defunct tote. 

Anyhow, San Francisco is beautiful, and it’s charming (sometimes), yet overall pretty  fucking weird.  And I’m from Portland, so you’d think I’d have seen it all by now. Nope. Even I couldn’t prevent myself from gawking judgingly at the (badly) synchronized roller skating in golden gate park, complimented by the dirty tweakers swaying unsteadily near the kindergarten outing. What.

I told my friend that San Francisco’s cumulative fashion sense was like the party child of Nirvana and a Forever21 mannequin hastily dressed by a hungover freshman who doesn’t give a shit. I’ve never experienced a city so reluctant to give up its combat boots.

But, I digress. I was unfortunately not there long enough to really see or do much of anything. The downside of business travel. But what I did end up seeing was either fascinating, or lovely, and sometimes both. 

First up, coastline and the ubiquitous Golden Gate Bridge (at a distance). Driving around led us to this lovely and lonely little beach underneath a residential area. Those houses were not the cheap seats, let me tell you.


Next up, omg the flora! This city is succulent paradise, with me plantgasming all over the place. As you can see, here I am, clearly having a great time: 


I get shit for this constantly. I am the resting bitch face poster child. Sigh. It is what it is. 🙄

Here’s more flower and pretty architecture photos:



San Francisco will also be remembered as the place where I learned an important lesson about getting older and mixing food (or more accurately, lack thereof), wine, and new medication. Yikes. And here is me, summing up the experience in possibly the most authentic way: 


You do you, SanFran. 

It’s not obsessing, it’s planning.

18 days until Europe.

I’M GOING TO EUROPE IN 18 DAYS.

ack!

I’m not the type of person that gets super excited before a trip, because I am always too focused on obsessing planning to really soak in the anticipation of it all. And, goddamn, have I planned. More on this later.

But, after deciding on a whim to extend our trip for a few more days, and then figuring out what we could DO with said days, I then allowed myself (or, maybe it was just impossible to keep down), a few moments of hyper giddy, arm-flapping, squealing, face-contorting moments of pure excitement. It was glorious. This was basically me:

giphy

And now it’s gone. It was followed up with a fresh round of anxiety and stress, and at least another 10 hours of research, and finally now everything is pretty much all planned and now I only have to think about what to brincg. Which is a whole new post in itself. Anyhow.

What got me so excited? Um, only the MATTERHORN. You know, nbd. Insert yeti!!

We are going to overnight in Zermatt, Switzerland and do the five lakes hike! As much as I am so looking forward to soaking up the cities and experiencing the history- the Matterhorn is on another level. When I think about it, why it gets me going besides all of the obvious reasons (beauty, nature, etc), well,  I think it brings me back to a place of literal childhood wonder. I have a memory of being at Disneyland, and my dad excitedly talking about the Matterhorn rollercoaster. He almost had a sense of reverence about the mountain’s significance, or fame, and it’s always stuck with me.

I never thought I’d see this in my life. I guess I always thought it was unreachable, figuratively and literally.

We will also be taking the famed Bernina express, and staying in Bergamo, Italy for two lovely nights.

But. The Matterhorn.

This is going to be one hell of a trip.

Eclairs & Expletives

To elaborate, this week has been a gem. Ugh. BUT LOOK AT THAT TASCHEN BOOK! ermahgerd, it’s just as lovely as it seems. Taschen, take all my money.

It was training week at work, which means because our entire team is remote, we secured a conference room in a downtown hotel to host our newest franchisees. After being initially skeptical (you’d think they’d get something a little further from Chinatown!), I think we were all pleasantly surprised with how well it worked out. Also, food. Goddamn, the embassy suites serves a mean lunch spread. (And snacks. And coffee. With real cream!)

We had one attendee who is just a darn special raindrop of a person, and by raindrop I actually mean she’s a tsunami, or a typhoon, or a sharknado. In addition to dealing with all of the crazy, my former kitty (now belonging to a coworker) was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, my boyfriend had a strenuous week, famous people died, I’ve hardly sketched, and we haven’t hit the gym once. It’s just one of those weeks where you’ve had so much to do and been so busy, yet so little felt accomplished.

Ah, well.

Only 32 days until Europe!! I’ve been keeping busy planning and researching until my eyes bleed. As much as I wanted (in theory) this trip to be spontaneous… yeah, no. With 4 people going via train, on a budget, from Brussels to Prague (via Amsterdam, Cologne, & Berlin) – there’s not a lot of room for error here. Spontaneity is for rich people. I’ve got 75% of accommodations and transportation already figured out and I’m waiting (impatiently) for another to take over and book the last three nights in Prague & Bratislava. From there, my boyfriend and I go solo to Budapest for a night, then take the Railjet (!!!) to Zurich where we fly home the following morning. I’ve been obsessing over what to bring and how to bring it all, scouring all the “what to wear in Europe in June” articles I can find. I cringe saying this, but I bought a pair of Crocs brand flats in the hope that they will eventually prove as comfortable as all the old ladies say they are. They are actually pretty cute little canvas shoes with a lot of support, and much better-looking than Toms, if I say so myself. I do have to stretch out the part around the ball of my foot though because they are suuuper tight, but apparently you can do this with either freezing or a hair-dryer? Huh. We’ll find out, I guess.

One major milestone accomplished last week was committing to a property management company to manage my house when we are in Mexico. He’s letting me advertise and show the house myself, which saves me about $700 and a hell of a lot of inconvenience. I’ve also been told we can list it partially furnished and see what happens. God knows I don’t want to get a storage unit, but Everything Must Go. I’m still waiting for my contact in Todos Santos to confirm our rental arrangement, but hopefully I’ll hear back from her in the next few. If this doesn’t work out, I’m still a little torn between the Cortez side of Baja, or going inland to Guanajuato where I wanted to go in the first place. Either way, I feel good about it all. I’m positive about 95% of people think I’ve lost my mind. Maybe I have. But it’s worth the journey to find out.

 

Europe x 8 < San Fran +3


Man, the hours I’ve spent on planning this! But, thus far I have 8 full nights booked with 4 more to go, at under $500 (lodging only). I feel pretty good about it thus far! Especially considering 3 nights in the Bay Area for just myself cost me more than 7 days in Western Europe. Boom.