sending postcards
a travelogue by alex and mina


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2009 was an intense year. A recap:

We started the year off with a trip to the ostentatious city of Dubai.  After a brief stopover in Amsterdam, we landed in the United Arab Emirates.  There we enjoyed desert safaris, skiing indoors, great food, and we got engaged!  We also made our way to Luxor, Egypt to see ancient ruins and pharohs' tombs.

Our winter was spent mainly hibernating from the cold - we began thinking of the wedding and planning our getaway. It was the 5 year anniversary of the day we started dating in May and we celebrated with sushi at Wasabi Sabi. In June, we started this blog as a way to document our travels.

During the summer we started the process of selling our house ourselves.  We still made time to explore our hometown (before we left for good) and for lots of evening bike rides.

The arrival of fall brought 3 milestones: selling our house, starting our trip, and best of all, getting married in Los Angeles.

We packed our storage unit  and drove away from Winnipeg just before Hallowe'en.  Chicago was the first stop on our voyage, and didn't disappoint.  We continued on to Toronto where we got rid of our car and visited family. 

Mina had to have an unexpected surgery, which delayed our departure for a few weeks, but it gave us a chance to pick up some final supplies and equipment.  As soon as she was feeling better we hopped on a plane to Mexico City.

We tore ourselves away from Mexico City after a fulfilling week of sightseeing and amazing cuisine, and bused down to Oaxaca in time to catch Las Posadas celebrations.

We made our way to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.  The trip took us through the cities of Tapachula, Guatemala City, Antigua, and Panajachel and required a few different modes of transport over a few days.  We were relieved to finally relax and enjoy a nice Christmas together overlooking the lake.

We ended the year off by climbing a volcano and then heading to San Salvador for New Years Eve.

Happy New Year! We hope you have a wonderful 2010.

all you need is love

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Not the type of thing we usually post, but I'm kind of obsessed with The Beatles, so I loved this and wanted to share {and there is a bit part from Sungha Jung who is an amazing young guitarist that we are big fans of.} It kinda fits the theme of the blog.


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bus tickets

Our plan after Oaxaca was to make our way to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. With the holiday season approaching, our options for transportation were limited. We ended up taking an overnight bus from Oaxaca to Tuxtla Gutiérrez. After arriving in Tuxtla, at 6am, we waited a few hours and then took another bus to Tapachula (a town on the Mexico/Guatemala border). We stayed at a place called Casa MexiCana in the Frida Kahlo room on the first night. Although it was comfortable, the heat combined with the small size was making us claustrophobic so we upgraded to a larger room the next night. The hotel had all kinds of odd knickknacks and cultural artifacts placed around the hallways.

After searching online about things to do, we found that the consensus seemed to be that the best thing about Tapachula was leaving it. The bus rides were getting longer and we were weary, so we needed to stay there to recharge. When we did venture out, we found it to be very humid.

Our time in Tapachula was mostly uneventful. Both of us were not adventurous enough to try the local food after our previous stomach issues. We found a Domino's and reluctantly paid about what it would cost in Canada to eat a mediocre pizza. On the way to Domino's we noticed another fast food restaurant that was packed with people. We ascertained that it was a fried chicken restaurant and thought that fried food might be a safe bet, so we joined the dinner crowd. Neither of us make a habit of eating fried chicken back home, but we can honestly say it was the best we've had. And cheap.

Although the parts of the city that we saw were rather drab and uninteresting, we did stumble upon this church and figured it was worthy of a photo:

We left Tapachula as quickly as we could and continued on to Guatemala...

el tule

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After leafing through some Oaxaca guidebooks, we decided to venture out to see the biggest tree (but not the tallest) in the world. It also happens to be the largest single biomass on earth.

The 20 minute walk to the bus station was noisy, hot and muggy and definitely was not frequented by tourists. Upon entering the bus station, we had a feeling that this ride might be a little different than the first class bus we took into Oaxaca. Why would we think that?

1) We saw a lady carrying a cardboard box with a live chicken poking out of it.

2) This was our bus:

Just kidding, here’s the actual bus we took:

The locals would stand on the side of the street to flag down the bus - although, there were designated stops as well. We can't explain their attire, the sun was so hot.

The tree is located in the town of El Tule, about 30 minutes (on this bus) from Oaxaca. We arrived at the tree and walked around the area that had a church and some random plants and topiaries.

There were many cafes and shops full of handmade items. We decided to grab a hamburguesa and a fanta. The language barrier makes it difficult to order food sometimes so we’re always a little concerned that our selections have been lost in translation.

You may be wondering if there is more to this post. No, there is not. We spent our day visiting a large tree.

santo domingo

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The main tourist attraction in Oaxaca is the Santo Domingo Cathedral.
Here are some photos we took there:

hola, oaxaca

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From Mexico City to Oaxaca on a first class bus:

We ‘splurged’ and spent $10 more for a platinum bus. The seats are incredibly large and recline just far enough for it to still be considered a seat and not a bed. However, it was still a bus ride in the middle of the night, so it could only be so comfortable. 6 hours and a lot of noises and sharp turns later, we arrived in Oaxaca. We stayed at Casa Ollin - a quaint bed and breakfast that is a short walk away from the tourist areas.

Every morning, we would have a traditional Oaxacan/Mexican breakfast. Some of the items were quite unusual, but always delicious and always accompanied with home made muffins and freshly squeezed orange juice.

The view from our balcony:

Most of our days in Oaxaca were spent just wandering around, with no specific itinerary. The weather was always perfect, which made it all the more relaxing.

While in Oaxaca, we also experienced Los Posadas. This basically meant we fell asleep to the sound of fireworks every night and woke up to the sound of (what sounded like) hundreds of children rehearsing well known Christmas carols, in Spanish, at the top of their lungs. For 9 days before Christmas, there are always festivities, parades and parties in the streets.

We are now in Guatemala but will be posting about our time in Oaxaca for the next few days. We hope that everyone is enjoying the holiday season - it has definitely been a different and unusual experience for us this year!

museo nacional de antropología

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Some photos from our visit to the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City:

This is one of the most extensive museums we've ever visited. You could easily spend the entire day there. We took so many photos, but we're having trouble uploading them all on the spotty internet connections we've been using while traveling.

This is our last Mexico City post, next stop Oaxaca!
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