You hear his office door open, as you punch TripHash.com/travel-blog into your terminal. He saunters over, a stack of papers in his right hand, several manila folders in his left. He swings around the corner and peers over the side of the gray fabric-clothed cubicle. An empty chair...
The torn shred of paper, with its lingering fibers bending against the wind circulating through the windows: “46 Neptuno” boldly soaked in blue ink. Neptuno you can pronounce in a bad Spanish accent. “Forty-six”, on the other hand, would best be uttered as “cuatro seis” evoking some wild look in the driver’s eyes and you ending up in some strange place along Neptuno, the long street running between Cuba’s Old Havana and the University. So the paper does the work, yet the driver still looks a bit confused.
You slice the air with one outstretched arm, palm perpendicular and flat as it hacks downwards. Read More →
The rubber tread chafes slowly against the vinyl tile; a scraping sound elicited, times hundreds. Bodies snaking in clustered rows. The eyes of hope, the sagging shoulders of defeat, the curved lip ends of humour, they are all dotted throughout the landscape. You have been waiting in a giant mass of people in the basement of the Havana airport for hours now, pushing forward ever so slowly.
It seems the line several rows over is being attended to by two officials rather than the typical one. Should you switch to that line? It is a much longer line than yours, but it seems to be going much more quickly. You will wait for a little longer and keep on observing. Those two people just split their resources; he sends her to the longer line, he waits in yours. Who will win the race? Read More →
Dodging rain drops and automobiles, you weave towards Mexico City’s Condesa neighborhood. Over the scarred concrete walkways—which invariably disintegrate randomly to dirt before building back—and around murky puddles lapping past the dysfunctional (or perhaps non-existent) storm drains, you make your way.
Hunger is rising, a consequence of having not eaten all day. Another giant puddle has formed by a lively restaurant, the employees trying to divert the liquids away. You hadn’t even bothered to check the weather forecast, oblivious to Mexico City’s potential for schizophrenic weather. Read More →
The green light fires and you are on your way past the customs officials in the Mexico City airport. After withdrawing from the ATM, you locate a small convenience store and buy a water to break your larger bills into smaller ones, aware that you will most likely need those to purchase your bus ticket.
The electronic doors slide open, exposing you to the humid air and sound of heavy rain. “Taxi! Taxi!” clashes with your ear as you walk past the taxis in an effort to locate the M3 Metrobus to bring you downtown. You find the ticket machine hiding just beyond those taxis. The machine wants 40 Mexican Pesos (“MXN”), or a little over $2USD. You have the exact change due to your cunning water purchase but the machine is not accepting bills. You only have bills. Read More →
The clouds want to talk—you can tell they do—but everytime you think they might, they refuse. You pretend like you don’t care, but you do. You quicken your step, around the corner with broken concrete blocks wedged at various diaganols to each other. The continuous hum, or is it a roar, of motorbikes, are they getting quieter?
Bollywood DVDs with their faded covers and stacked neatly on a rickety lime green cart with oversized wheels is pushed in front of you. You decline, naturally, which makes him more persistent. If not DVDs, perhaps a taxi, a tour guide, a menu? You continue briskly. You glance at the clouds, darkening with a heavy heart. Read More →
The buzz of gasoline engines, the sunlight illuminating the flower-printed curtains of the new room, the loud-speakers of the rat-trap selling bicycle jockeys, it all seems to signal the arrival of good things to come. You stare at the ceiling. You wonder if the fire alarm would even work. You doubt that. The water stains in the ceiling. Is there roof access? Read More →
You peer out onto the street from your perch atop the small plastic chair, the same used for children back home. You hardly even notice the chair, it is far beyond the immediate sensory overload present. Smoke tumbles off of charcoal fires atop mobile stainless carts. The delicious smells of roasted meats and betel leaves ride the smoke through the air. The buzz of motorbikes, a constant at all times, merges with the occasional horn and the merciless thwacks of a vintage kitchen tool chopping. Read More →
You step out from the windowless room; its green and blue tiles reflecting the dusty golden light escaping from the dusty wall sconce. The bathroom, a long, narrow chamber where pipes glisten, drip and gurgle. There is something appealing to the raw design; a porcelain sink spitting its contents down through the undersized drain pipe and out onto the floor, an aquatic adventure down the slanted tile floor towards the open hole in the corner. Read More →
Frozen rain and hail lash at your face, the wet air feeling colder by the minute. Your rental car, with its fully functional heater sits nearby. You grasp the keys in your pocket; it would be nice if you could use them. Your other hand is holding the phone as you pace the Aspen Vista parking lot, climbing on boulders to increase elevation, angling in different directions, seeking the slightest advantage to get a cellular signal. Read More →
The crowd erupts in cheers as the ball glides through the metal ring, kissed briefly by the nylon net. The young players race to the other end of the floor, high-fiving each other. The scoreboard time continues rolling but the score is static, as the kid operating the scoreboard panel has briefly forgotten his role, swept up in the excitement. Read More →
You had noted her canopy tent set up at the cemetery entrance just behind the big stone church in Sagada. You had purposely veered to an alternate path as to not cross paths with her. When you explore, you want to explore; you don’t want to be sold tours, trinkets and pizza meals.
You continue walking. There is now a tinge of anger in the voice and you sense it will grow violent in tenor. You turn your head to acknowledge her, you have nothing against her. You just want a peaceful walk. The difference between a tourist-centric area and not is whether travelers are constantly being harassed or not. You were hoping Sagada would not be a tourist-centric place.
“You are not allowed,” she coughs out in a hurry. “Come!” she demands. Read More →
The wide-eyed passengers turn their heads slowly, affixed at your peculiar presence as you hit the top step and swing yourself in the direction of the aisle, continuing towards the last seat remaining. The heat is climbing inside the metal box which sits silent on the dirt road. All manner of possessions and people are aboard—old and young, large and small. As more people arrive, more invisible seats—to your perceptions—become clearly visible: seats on laps, seats on fold down apparatuses, seats on packages in the aisle way. Read More →
The road continues downhill and sweeps around in a curve bringing you past some small convenience stores and people doing errands. At one point you note a local fixing a tire. Back home, fixing a tire at home typically involves a small patch kit with glue. You are transfixed by the method here. He has a clamp set over the hole and uses fire for the repair. You stand and watch for a bit and then carry on.
“Are you heading to the stone?” one local asks, referencing the locally famous Lumogig Stone. Read More →
You watch the rooster walk at the fringe of the rice grasses with a handful of chickens in tow. Beside you is a roughly built shelter on the side of the road. You glance at it; aware to the fact that the wind is picking up—the air—growing heavy.
You continue along the dirt road seeking more entertainment, more chickens, more photogenic scenery or that special random event which seems to enrich travel adventures. Not more than five minutes past the shelter, you reconsider. Some experiences, like language, don’t translate perfectly abroad. Foreign weather—the a major offender—is often a tough code to crack. Read More →