February 2003

OK, this is my first trip update (finally!). For those who are in a hurry and don't have time to read a long-winded email, here's the short version:

Here's a short summary of my schedule for the year. Angela and I decided to take a year off and travel. We started with our friends' double wedding in Mexico, and then we'll head down by bus through Central America. After that we'll fly to South America and travel around there through the end of June. July and August we'll be in New Zealand and Australia. September in Singapore. For October thru December we'll be in Southeast Asia: China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand. And then in January we'll finish the trip in India. Afterwards we'll return... somewhere.

And now for the update. Ana Luisa was our host in Guadalajara, and we couldn't have asked for more. She introduced us to Mexican tacos--similarities between them and Taco Bell or Ortega are purely coincidental. And she helped sort out all our little details. For example, my suit from Paris arrived 3 days after the wedding, so I had to rent one. Probably for the best anyway, since the rental was nicer than the one suit I owned.

Ana Luisa's tongue taco at Tacos Providencia Dinner at La Distilleria La Familia Dorantes--¡muchas gracias a todos!

We visited the triplet cities: Tlaquepaque had great crafts, Zapopan had nice restaurants and bars, and Guadalajara itself had a nifty downtown area with fountains, shops, and plazas.

In the middle of what used to be Chapala lake Mexican flag and fountain in some plaza in Guadalajara

The weddings were great. On Sunday we went first to Adela and Andreas's church wedding, and then to Gabriela and Paul's civil wedding. After that the schedule was mariachi music, dancing, grupo music, dancing, dj music, dancing, dinner, dancing, drinking, dancing, chilaquiles (that's a 3:00 am mexican snack), dancing, and tamboura music. All of this was followed, of course, by dancing.

Adela and Andreas Adela and Andreas Gaby and Paul Gaby and Paul Overhead view of the reception Overhead view of the happy couples Matt and Angela's standard wedding photo (nice rented suit, eh?) The day-after wedding party

A day or two after the wedding we headed out with Gaby and Paul on their honeymoon. Well, OK, not quite a real honeymoon, but we all rented a van and traveled around Mexico for a week. Guanajuato was a highlight of the trip. It's an old Spanish colonial town that used to be a big silver mining town--it was actually the capitol of Mexico for a while. We drove through the state of Michoacan (that's bandit country!) and saw several other nifty towns, none of who's names I can remember at the moment. Three or four of them were the birthplaces of Mexican independence, from what I understood. At the end of the trip we visited one of the big butterfly sanctuaries. It was pretty impressive seeing thousands and thousands of monarch butterflies all in one place. It was a great trip for a week, but I'd also like to wish Gaby and Paul a good time on their upcoming real honeymoon.

Night view from our hotel Daytime view from our hotel A typical taco stand View from the big hill 'Kissing Alley' (copyright Lampitt enterprises) Silver mine tour Big Guanajuanto cathedral Wandering around town
San Miguel de Allende
Professional mosaic painter in action Really steep road that you can't really see Upcoming Miller Lite Ad
A refreshing canarito: Squirt, limes, and orange juice Sculpture outside the art museum titled 'Angel' Harp fountain
Traveling in Michoacan
Getting spicy coconut at a roadside stand A photo can't do this landscape justice 50,000 monarch butterflies

After that, we struck out on our own. Now when I left my job back at the end of 2002, it was sort of like the trip was beginning. But since I just stayed in Paris, it wasn't really like the trip was beginning. Then when Angela quit and we moved all of our possessions to her mother's place in Birmingham, it was like the trip was beginning because we didn't have anymore stuff in the apartment. But it wasn't quite like the trip was beginning, since we still returned to Paris. Then we left Paris to visit my folks in Milwaukee and it was like the trip was beginning. But since we were just staying in familiar old Milwaukee (cold Milwaukee) it wasn't quite like the trip was beginning. Then we flew to Mexico, and I was sure that the trip was really beginning. But since we stayed at Ana Luisa's place and had other friends around to help organize everything, it still wasn't quite like the trip had started. But now we've struck out on our own... and I can finally say that the trip has started.

First we flew into Tuxtla Gutierrez and caught a bus to Chiapa De Corzo. (Those are both in the very southern part of Mexico.) We had a great tour of the Cañon del Sumidero there along with a Mexican family that vacationing there. There were lots of birds to see, and it was surprising seeing them as much as 1 km overhead. At its deepest the canyon is a sheer cliff just over 1000 meters tall. But the highlight was seeing wild monkeys playing around in the trees.

After that we bussed to San Cristobal Colon and then on to Guatemala. San Cristobal was another interesting colonial city, but it had more of an indian influence than the other towns that we'd been to and it was evident in all the crafts available. Now I'm in Guatemala and hoping to learn some Spanish before heading out into the rest of Central and South America.

That's it for now. Hope to hear from everyone--and see lots of you along the way too.

-Matt & Angela

Canyon view from our boat Canyon view from our boat Funny slow motion waterfall on the cliff More of the canyon Jamie and wife -- he helped us get to see the canyon

Last modified: 7 December 2003