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May 7, 2011

Back in Paradise!

Hello friends,
The past three months have been one hell of a roller coaster ride.  As I am sure you all know by now I was emergency evacuated from Cozumel, Mexico on February 1st, the day of the record breaking blizzard in Chicago.  It all started on January 29th when I woke up with a red eye.  It was a sunday and there were very few people in the hospital to help me.  One nurse prescribed me an eye drop to take, but it was apparent she had no clue what was wrong with me.  That night was one of the most painful experiences in my life, if not THE most painful.  I actually woke my neighbors up with my screams of agony.  The next morning I went straight to the hospital at 8am, the optometrist didn't see me until 12pm.  When I finally got to see the doctor I had already gone blind in my right eye, it was completely covered by a white film and was oozing goop.  The doctor admitted me to the hospital and put me on and IV for antibiotics and pain killers.  Unfortunately no brand or dosage of drugs would ease the pain.  They put drops in my eye every 30 minutes as well.  The next morning the doctor came in at 10:30am and told me that I had to go back to the USA that day or else I would lose my eye.  There was nothing more they could do for me there.  So I called my dad and told him to get me a flight home, he replied with "Ok, just one problem, all Chicago airports are closed due to the blizzard and they are going to shut down Houston soon too".  Well shit.  Not to mention there is only one flight out of Cozumel at 12pm and by this time it is already 11am.  We decided just to get me on the plane out to Houston, my amazing roommates packed all my bags for me while the people at the hospital practically pushed me out with the IVs still in and the gown still flapping about.  I made it to the airport just in time, thank karma the plane was delayed.
When I arrived in Houston I was elated to see David, one of the owners of the dive shop.  Although I had only met him once before, he picked me up, took me in, and provided everything I needed.  He drove me to the doctor every day for 3 days straight.  He and his wife made dinner for me and made sure I was comfortable.  His 10 year old kids were just too sweet and his 3 year old boy took a real liking to me.  On the third day I finally made it back home to Chicago.  Of course coming off the plane I got very strange looks because all I had to wear was the Mexico attire.  I even got asked if I had just come from California. 
Mom and Dad were so torn whether to be happy or sad to see me. The most popular remark I heard from everyone I saw was "Its so good to see you, just not under these circumstances." I spent two weeks in bed drugged up waiting for the swelling in my eye to decrease.  Went to work with my dad after two weeks of healing.  Read the Red eye and ate our cereal on the 1.5 hour commute to work and drank scotch and played gin on the way home.  5:30am mornings - 8pm nights .... long day.  Went to bloomington/Indy a few times to see amazing friends. saw a lot of amazing live music. met up with old friends. and went to memphis is may beale st music festival. 

December 15, 2010

Chiapas!!!

Life is Good!
As of Friday I started my travels for a fort night.  I spend one last day in Mahahual eating and drinking at my favorite places and caught the 6:30pm bus to Chetumal.  I was originally going to get the midnight bus to Palenque but all busses were sold out so I had to get the next bus which left at 10:00pm the next day.  Mike, Sarah, and I stayed at a place near the market and town square and had a day of walking around the markets, and just chilling out.  We went to the mall .... that was a serious shock.  even though it has only been about 10 weeks since I had been in a mall it was a serious change of scenery.  I once again realized how much I really dislike malls, although it was really funny to see kids in huge blow up balls that were floating on a kiddy pool of water.  Mom wants to wander around the mall without having to look after her kid? ah, just drop them off in the plastic ball, its a sure way they can´t hurt themselves.  We wanted to see a movie but there weren´t a whole lot out ... so we saw the new Harry Potter (Sarah´s request) ... yeah it was alright. We met up with Carlita and ate some yummy street food tacos and tamales, its sooo cheap!!! There was not a whole lot to do in Chet, its more of a town to buy stuff and not so much for the tourist.  There was christmas music playing constantly and yet I still have not heard Feliz Navidad being played .... hmph.  We ended up waiting about an hour and 1/2 for our bus but it turned out better that way.  We arrived in Palenque at sunrise and it was absolutely beautiful to see the sun rise and mist clear from the hills in the not so far distance.  We cuaght a cab to El Panchan where we stayed at this really cool hostel with lots of backpackers and some crazy locals.  Once reception finally opened after about 5 coffees we put our stuff in a room and headed off to the ruins.  They were sooo magnificent.  So large and in such amazing condition! I almost peed my pants with excitement.  I will post pictures at a later time, promise.  The whole time we were there we kept hearing howler monkeys all over the place but couldn´t see them so we decided to head out into the jungle to find ourselves some monkeys.  It wasn't too long before we heard the russeling in the trees and soon found ourselves with two monkeys strait above our heads.  They were so cute and were very curisous as to what we were as well.  We hung out with them for probably about a half hour while they swang from tree limbs and hung upside down starring at us.  I think Mike´s favorite part of the monkey adventure is when one of them started to pee on me.  Luckily i heard the trickle first before I felt the drip and I got out of the way just in time and it only got a little splash on my leg.  We had a good laugh at that one and Mike´s saying of the day was ¨"you got peed on by a monkey!!".  We walked back to where we were staying, a lovely half hour walk with beautiful trees and a white horse on the way.  We got back to our cabana and had a shower then set off for town.  it was the holiday for the saint of guatelupe which is like the saint of mexico and so the town was having a huge party.  There were fireworks and some performers and the whole town was very lively.  Once we got back to our hotsel the party didn´t stop.  I ended up walking around the place meeting heaps of new people and watching a few people throw fire and juggle fire and spin fire and overall it was very exciting.  The only concern is that they were doing all of this under a palapa (a structure with dead palm tree branches as the roof) and the whole building was made of just a few wood posts.  There were quite a few times when the fire would pretty much hit the top of the palapa and I just kept imagining the whole place going up in flames.  it was very exciting!  The next day we woke up to the relaxing sound of rain dropping from the tree tops as well as the not so relaxing sound of howler monkeys all about.  We decided since it was already raining we might as well go to the water falls.  It turned out that it really didn´t rain that much but the sun never came out.  We went to Misol-Ha waterfalls which were very beautiful and had a cave that you could walk into where the water was about knee deep.  Then we set off for Agua Azul.  It was pretty and fairly blue but the main part of the waterfall had been closed off because the trail to it had been destroyed by nautral causes, but I ended up swimming in the freezing cold blue water which was very refreshing .... and very very cold! we got back to our hostel after dark, had some coffee and drinks then headed off to bed.  I have now arrived in San Christobal a beautiful city up in the mountains.  It is soo gorgeous here, I love it a lot!! It is fairly cold but I am braving only wearing flip flops, jeans and a light jacket, while others are walking around in pea coats and big fluffy jackets. It does get really cold at night, but we each have two very warm blankets for our beds.  The markets here are huge and the streets are smalls and hilly.  We wondered around for a little bit yesterday and came across a carnival with bumper cars and all sorts of fun games.  Everything closes down around 7 or 8 except some delicious restaurants so we only had about two hours to wander last night.  We are now off to explore the city, buy some socks, jackets, and hats (which are all about $5 USD)  all of which are hand made.  and nice hand made, very warm, panchos for about $5-10 USD. 
Until next time!!!

November 19, 2010

Punta Gruesa!!!!

Hello all!!
So sorry it has been so long since I have blogged.  Internet is not available on base and I do not go into town all that often so when I do most of my time is spent talking to my mother and friends ... but mostly my mom, she worries. 
So week 1 was pretty intense.  We arrived at our base which is a 40 min drive from the nearest town, Mahahual.  The base consists of a communal area called our Palapa, named because of the structure and roof made from strong leaves.  This is were we have meetings, eat meals, hangout, and .. well yeah its the communal area.  There are 4 huts which have no floors (meaning its all sand), 4 bunk beds and logs for walls and leaves for roofs.  But they are really cozy and I actually love living in them.  We learned about duties we would do and projects to complete and responsibilities around base.  There are 4 rota groups which have duties every morning at 6am.  We either rake the sand to reduce the sandflies, kit up the boats for the day and clean the dive shop, clean the palapa, or cook the meals for the day.  Every day is pretty busy.  Usually we go diving twice a day and each dive takes up about 2 hours even though most dives are only 40 min long, it takes a while to kit up and get on the boats and then drive to the sites.  We also have to always have someone on the radio when the boats are out and we have to fill tanks with a compressor.  The base is literally on the water, I walk outside my hut to palm trees, clear water, and the sun rising every day,  it is beautiful and relaxing.  I do get time to lay in a hammock and read a book or take a nap but not very often so it is really special when I get to do that.  Our meals consist of mostly pasta, rice, lentils, beans, peppers, carrotts, tomatoes, potatos, bananas and apples.  Sometimes we get pineapple or other fruit and veg and on friday nights we get MEAT!!! its great!!! Most mornings we have to eat porrige, but i put bananas and peanut butter in mine in order to get it down.  We also get cereal, eggs, and pancakes each once a week for breakfast.  People have fallen in love with my cooking, especially my "peanut saute" ... fried rice with a peanut sauce.  My kitchen group has been voted the best because we make pizza and other things that people don´t feel like putting the effort into doing.  We get friday afternoon and saturdays off to do what we please.  Most of the time people come to Mahahual to get on the internet and have a few drinks.  This is a town where cruise ships stop off but it just a mile long strip of local food and shops and everyone that works here lives in a town 5 min away called cassitas (little houses).  It is good to get away sometimes but I usually just come to town every other weekend.  There are a mix of people from the UK, America, Australia, and Canada here.  We did have a 5 weeker from Spain and one from Germany but they are gone now.  I will have a two week break starting on the 10th of december and then I will be in Cozumel for the next 12 weeks getting my Dive Masters and working at a dive shop.  The weather is bad today and there is only one internet store open with 3 computers and everyone is waiting to get on, so I will update more later on.  Promise. 
Miss and love you all!!!!

September 10, 2010

Not soon enough!

Hello all!!

Welcome to my Blog.  I have 20 days until I depart for Mexico.  I am extremely excited to start my journey but the days seem to be crawling by.  As of right now I am in Chicago hanging out with my parents and friends.  Yesterday was Rosh Hashanah and my parents and I decided to go to the "hippie services"  which was very interesting.  Lots of clapping and singing along, barefoot dancing, deep breathing and yoga stretches.  Although I think my favorite part of the service was when the Rabbi told everyone to "take a deep breath and release all your oy's".  And so a group of around 150 people all let out one huge OY together.  It was pretty funny, I even suggest trying it ..... go ahead, just let it out!!  Its nice to be home, my parents are spoiling me with delicious meals and helping me get ready for my journeys.  But I miss Bloomington so much every day.  I love my friends there and will think about them constantly.
Here is a little information on where I will be going and what I will be doing over the next 6 months.
On September 30th I will fly out of Chicago and arrive in Cancun, Mexico.  From there I will take a bus to Playa del Carmen in Quintana Roo.  I will spend one night in a hotel or hostel there and then head to my base camp the next morning.  It is a 4.5 hour bus ride from Playa del Carmen to my location which is 25 miles outside of the village of Majahual.  I will be very very close to the Belize border, if you go on google maps and type in Chetumal to Majahual  you can see roughly where I will be.  It is not a town or a village, it is just a camp site.  log cabins with bunk beds right on the shore, hammocks galore, and beautiful sunrises.  Although I am sure I will go into more detail once I actually experience it.   http://www.gviusa.com/life-in-the-field/media-library/scuba-dive-academy-course/best-photos#/5763/  this is a link to pictures and videos of what I will be doing .... but don't worry I will post plenty of my own!
Oktober fest is coming up on wednesday and the following weekend here in chicago, so that should be a great time!!!  There are also some amazing free shows at the millenium park outdoor venue, one of my favorites!!  Not to mention its about a 10 min walk from my place. (hint hint .... come visit me!!!!)  Well I hope you all enjoy reading my blog and please keep in touch while I am gone, I will be on skype here and there so keep it open!!  You can also email me at anytime to let me know what is going on in your life too!!! and please leave comments on things you like to heard about or don't like to hear about.  I will miss everyone soo much but I am very very excited to make new friends from across the world!
Much love to you all!!!
~Maura