Guanajuato

After the Day of The Dead festivities ended in San Miguel De Allende, we moved on to the city of Guanajuato to finalize the last leg of our trip. I have been to Guanajuato a couple of times and I have so many fond memories from walking its streets and I always felt it was a place Josh would love.

The best way to hop over to Guanajuato from San Miguel was via cab. Some people like to do the bus but when you have 3 people, the cab ride is far more cost effective and convenient. An hour ride will cost you about $25-40 depending on your driver. The ride was incredibly scenic. Along the way we got to see tons of clouds and a funeral procession in the streets of nearby pueblo.


Guanajuato is a really kooky little town and there is an entire network of underground tunnels. These tunnels make you feel like you’re on the Pirates Of The Caribbean ride. You go in a tunnel and next thing you know there are minutes worth of dark, dank pathways. (click on the link above to witness)

It was entirely way too complicated for our cab driver to get us to our hotel so we got dropped off underground and just walked our way up. Quick!

I chose a centrally located hotel called La Casona de Don Lucas. It had some average reviews but I didn’t really care because convenience/location was key. Here is where it gets interesting. We walked in to our room and had a full on HOLY SHIT.  See that top left balcony? That was our room.

This was our view. Total wow for us especially considering the place we stayed at in San Miguel (more on that later). The room was HUGE and was everything we could have hoped for as a place to close our trip out. That particular area is very hustle and bustle, can be very loud at times but the doors are so thick that they cancelled out the noise so well and we slept like babies besides the singing in the streets at 1 a.m. We all spent quite a bit of time on that balcony, reading, drawing, taking in the daily life of Guanajuatenses to the sound of church bells ever hour on the hour.


Guanajuato is a beautiful, colorful labyrinth of stacked architecture. Narrow alleyways take you into another undiscovered jewel only to loop you right back into the heart of downtown. Unlike San Miguel, it is extremely walkable and far more forgiving on the feet. It definitely has some very steep areas so good walking shoes are still a must. But you can hussy up your feet a little more here without a high risk for ankle rolling.


The city itself has a heart that I didn’t feel in San Miguel. Far less touristy and definitely has a beat to a different tune. There are sculptures on corners, wheat pasted art that shows a contemporary embrace and a nod to Don Quijote everywhere. Once a year they host the Festival Internacional Cervantino, usually in the month of October, where the city is overrun by music, theater, art, concerts, art installations, crafts and dance… in venues and on the streets. People from all over the globe flock to the city and immerse themselves in a cultural experience of the arts. It’s a pretty fun experience if you have the opportunity to go, just make sure you book your stay far in advance because you won’t find an empty bed in the city.  Also, since it’s not as touristy as San Miguel, I found it to be far more affordable because they’re not gouging the man. You can seriously live like a king here depending on the dollar exchange. Just note, if you plan on changing dollars while there, your bills better be crispy, new, unmarked, and un-torn in any way. They simply just won’t take them.

Highlights include…

Nieve de Garrafa which pretty much OWNS traditional ice-cream any day of the week. And it’s cheap! This cup of heaven was less than $1. To say it wasn’t a daily treat would be a LIE. So so tasty.

A visit to the infamous mummy museum, las Momias De Guanajuato. Not for the squeamish or easily affected by the sight of bodies. It can be pretty graphic for those with a weak constitution. Even more because part of the museum is under a portion of the cemetery so it can get pretty dank.


And of course the cemetery which happened to be right next to the mummy museum. Different air at this one since we were catching it post Dia De Los Muertos so there was no one there and we were able to freely roam without making anyone feel uncomfortable. A lot of the Day Of Dead type altar/offerings had already been cleaned up by the time we got there though, boo!

Visiting the birthplace and former home of Diego Rivera, now turned museum. We were not allowed to photograph any of the artwork but rest assured it was a real treat to see many pieces by this beloved Mexican treasure.

Wandering around the Mercado, where amongst all the kitschy, touristy crap, you can find some real gems to bring home with you.

And of course no trip is complete without a lot of tasty eats (ice cream!), hunting for bad ass souvenirs, naps, hotel room lounging. There was a lot of that. Especially since I got slammed with monthly chick shit that no one wants to deal with on vacation. Note to you ladies: pack your things cause using tampons you’re not used to sucks BALLS. Yes, TMI. I don’t care.

So about the hotel vs AirBnb. Ok so after doing both on the same trip, I can say that we preferred the hotel experience FAR more. Not that the room we booked through AirBnb was bad, but honestly it’s hard to completely relax when you’re in someone else’s home. You have this air of accountability and you just can’t chill. Not like in a hotel. In a hotel you can get purple hair dye drip on a towel and not worry they’re gonna have your ass over it. Add free breakfast buffet, room service, sending away your laundry to get washed and folded for next to nothing,  getting your bed done for you every day? That’s vacation! And honestly well worth spending the extra peanuts to make it happen. Sorry AirBnb… not sorry. 😉

The trip home was a long one with too much time to kill at the Leon airport, an insane layover in LAX that entailed hustling through immigration and customs and hauling back to another terminal with barely enough time to stop and pee. I will say this, the international terminal at LAX has certainly changed since we were last in it and they were ninja quick in getting us through since we had a connecting flight to make. Add another hour drive upon landing in SFO. Still, for the cost of the airfare, it was so worth it. ($400 rt – it costs more to fly to the East Coast! Just sayin’)

So what did I bring back? To be continued….

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The rest of the photos from this leg of the trip can be found over on our flickr page.

raíces

It goes without saying but sometimes it is necessary to go back to your roots. Originally I had planned on doing just that but as we all know, life has a way of throwing a wrench into the machinery. Come to think of it, that’s an interesting analogy considering Henry was a mechanic.

The day of travel started out smoothly, like having an empty seat next to me from Philadelphia to San Francisco. Score! But then I was met with road bumps like a beefy delay at my layover and getting stood up at the airport when I arrived to San Diego. When you’re traveling on your own, fighting back the emotions from having to deal with the loss of a family member, the only thing I hoped for was a familiar face to hug me when I came down the escalators and when it didn’t happen, I was that girl, crying into her cell phone wondering what I did to get served such a piece of a shit sandwich. As if I didn’t have enough in my head, the last thing I needed was to be let down AGAIN. I don’t know why I keep giving people chances when they continuously have nothing to give other than disappointment. It’s rare that I drop my wall for people and expose my vulnerability… I did and I was let down once again. Needless to say, I am done with that situation on so many levels it isn’t even funny. Luckily Spencer pulled the knight in shining armor, came to my rescue and promptly took me to Lalo’s for a burrito.

The next few days were a whirlwind of family time. Josh pretty much pegged it. Because I missed the services, I would be trickling in at a time where everyone was so done with crying and my arrival would feel like a cool breeze coming in through the window. It was in fact just that. I surprised the parents earlier than expected and even though they had a sad undertone, I never saw them break down or cry. The days leading up to the services were hard on everyone and my not being with everyone was a heavy brick of guilt for me. But now we were all under the same roof to just be a family even if for a couple of days.

This is the thing… I have my perceptions about what kind of a person Henry was and as things unfolded I came to a lot of realizations that those perceptions were not off base. It was nice to be validated in my feelings by people who knew him better than I did. Do I feel bad for judging him? Absolutely. But then again, he never gave me the opportunity to see who he was in order to change those perceptions. So Henry is gone and now I will never know the answers. I am still struggling as to whether I am mourning the person, what was there, or what never was. I may have stopped crying over it but the internal thought is still very much present.

I spent a couple days in Mexico with the Garcia clan… going back to CA was one thing but being in Mexico is another. There is something so strong about putting your feet on the ground where you have roots, to be surrounded by comfortable familiarity, to ingest the sights, tastes and scents where you can call it even with closed eyes. Soul healing. I was happy and the only thing missing was the rest of my triangle. Going back to the West Coast will be one of the best things we ever do for ourselves when the day comes. The sun sets on the Pacific and that’s just the way I will always see it.

Then the day came where we all had to part and make ways back to our respective corners of the globe. It was good to see them all and even if the time was brief I was reminded just how awesome my family is. It’s crazy, loud, multi-cultural and it’s mine. I need them far more than I thought and if Henry’s departure has left me with something it’s not to take them for granted cause who knows when the next domino falls.

I only had a small window of time for friends and thankfully I was able to have some time with Spencer, Jason & Eryc, who were amazing enough to open their homes to me even if for a night or 2. It’s interesting and somewhat symbolic that as I lost a brother, I got closer to a few of the men in my life. I felt loved and taken care of the entire time. Amazing what bonding over Slurpees, tots and The Oscars will do to you. I love my boys.

As sad as the circumstances were, it was a good trip full of perspective, lesson learning and some MUCH NEEDED sunshine. It was hard to leave but it had it’s course. Thankfully I had two cats, a sleeping nugget and two very happy boys to come home to – boys who were more than stoked for the bean & cheese burritos I transported in my camera bag cross country. The things we do for the ones we love.

I cannot wait for Spring because for a while now I have felt I was standing on the edge of something greater. It’s coming. I am not sure what “it” is exactly, I just feel it will.

******
I didn’t take nearly enough photos because my headspace wasn’t “there” but the ones that made way to my camera can be seen here.

NYC 12.12.12

I am never the one to turn down an opportunity to roll up to NYC and when Josh says, “I have a vendor party I have to attend, you want to come up with me?”, well, you know what my answer was. Our trips usually consist of taking the train up, staying one night and coming back the following evening. It’s faster than I would like it to be but if you saw the cost of hotels you would do it this way as well.

So we did just that… on Tuesday we took an afternoon train into Penn Station, hopped in a cab and off to SoHo we went. Josh’s function was near there and honestly, as much as I love the theater distrcit in all its decked out holiday glory, it isn’t the NYC I like… too many tourists, too much of everything. Last time I went in the Summer I really liked SoHo and there was so much within walking distance (read: saving on cab fares) not to mention I got a hotel deal (read: less than $220 a night).

After checking in, I immediately departed to go to Harney & Sons for a tea date with my girl Bianca. Backstory: Bianca and I have known one another via the ole Livejournal days for what seems like eons. The opportunity to meet never presented itself cause we were on opposite coasts. Since moving out this way, we “chat” a lot but my last few trips to the city never allowed us to get together, till now. The beauty in all this… I walked in, we hugged and said our hellos like we have known one another forever. In a way, we have but it’s always cool when you finally meet e-friends in person. I get nervous mind you, but ultimately I fall into it like nothing. I am so glad she suggested Harney cause not only had I heard great things about it, but the tea and scones hit the spot. SO GOOD. Bianca is a rad chick with an impeccable sense of fashion, funny, witty… quintessential NYC girl. I highly recommend you read her new photography blog & check out her photography work. Hot and talented… how do I get so lucky knowing people like her?

Afterward I walked back to the hotel to relieve Josh of his duties and Reza and I walked over to Pinkberry to get some very overdue froyo. The shit here in Jersey is so damn average. Blech. We called it a night shortly after. Josh rolled in around 2:30 a.m., in a hilarious state of intoxication. Bless him for trying but I already knew that the next day he was going to be nice and ripe.

We checked out Wednesday morning and walked around SoHo. The mission: breakfast, Kidrobot, Evolution and The Land of Nod. Thankfully all of those things appealed to Reza so the complaining was at a minimum. Bones and toys? Yeah.

Reza has become a full on Kidrobot addict these days and I wanted to see if I could find anything out of the ordinary at the store for her xmas gifts. Nothing really stood out but it was really cool to check out. Besides, who could pass up a photo op of your kid straddling a Labbit.

Next stop: The Evolution Store. I had a feeling that Evolution was going to be amazing and sure enough, it signed, sealed and delivered. Just look at this amazing wall of bugs….


When it comes to dead things, they have A LOT of it… bugs, bones, skeletons (real and replica), taxidermy, fossils… you name it. Absolutely blown away at how rad this store is. If you ever find yourself in SoHo, I highly recommend it. I ended up walking away with a small envelope of real butterfly wings and a thai cicada in a vial. The restraint I exercised could have won me a gold medal at the Olympics.

Last stop: The Land Of Nod. Backstory: I have been a long time reader of the blog of Heidi Kenney aka www.mypapercrane.com. She is an all around crafter and makes the best stuff! Recently she posted about her holiday plush items available exclusively with Land Of Nod. It just so happens that they put up a pop up shop for the month of December in SoHo, so off I went to see the giant s’more. They were selling raffle tickets for all the giant plush items in the store and goddamn, how rad would it be to win this thing? LOOK AT IT!

Other notable moments: drooling outside the Vosges window display and walking past the Kardashian store and giving it the finger.

It was a quick trip but as usual we always manage to see most of what we wanted to see in 24 hrs. It’s hard to leave it cause it is a place like no other but we had some meows that really would like us home. So on that note we walked back to the hotel to get our stuff and head back to the train station.

Til next time NYC!

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As usual, I could not get enough of the photographic possibilities. I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I would have liked but what I did take can be found over on my flickr stream.
clicky clicky

San Diego…

Sometimes the universe sends you things at a time in your life when you need them the most. This trip was exactly that. Our little battery icon was red and at 5%, it was signaling us to recharge. So we plugged in.

In going through our photos I realized I didn’t take nearly as many as I should have but I was just too happy enjoying my very limited time with everyone.

In 9 days we crammed in…

The first thing we did after getting our rental car we picked up Tom and Spencer and promptly headed to the closest taco shop we could find. Glorious SoCal Mexican foods.
Hit up Club Ascension (while running on fumes no less, damn jet lag and time change) – great seeing Tom spin again.
Had a follow up appointment with Dr for a 2 year post-op appointment
Drove to Irvine to see Cass, Liz and have lunch
Spent the night in Anaheim to go to Disneyland the following day
Disneyland with Jason & Eryc who are without a doubt some of the best people to do Disneyland with.

Lots of one on one visits with friends over awesome foodies or coffee.
Heartbreaking family drama.
MUCH NEEDED hair appointments with Jason & Eryc to get our respective mops done. I was sporting some roots in those Disney photos like WHOA.
Mexican food overload has occurred
A massage appointment with Ricardo who is still hands down my favorite masseuse ever.
A dinner outing on a rainy night with my ladies. I love how we just fell into it like time never passed and not sure what it is but they only seem to get finer with age. Rawr.
Took in lots of eye candy
Reza got playtime with K&K while I caught up with Michelle.
Threw a party for Reza who is now a bonafide 6 year old. SIX! Giving her a party plus getting to see everyone was just an awesome bonus. Paired with cupcakes and taco guy? Even better. It was like old times <3 (So grateful to the Kneelands for hosting)

Lots of couch snuggles with Tom and ball busting with Spencer.
Reconnecting with friends… jesus, you have no idea how invaluable this was. When you come back to those people with a new set of eyes you come to a deeper sense of appreciation for them. You have no idea how awesome this is and you have no clue just how many drawers the heart in my chest has for them. They know who they are.

Coming home didn’t come with a lot of awesome though, there were a couple moments of disappointment. We were so scheduled at times that I felt spread so thin. You try cramming a 15 month absence in 9 days. You can only see so many people, eat at so many old favorites, make so many plans that someone or something is left out. I know for a fact that there were hurt feelings about my lack of availability and in turn I suffered the same disappointment by being totally flaked on by one of my best friends on more than one occasion. Then there was my poor Sheriff who was laid up so sick and we didn’t get to see her as much cause she was on Drs orders. Boo on you stupid bug that got my Sheriff!

Either way, the trip accomplished as much as it needed to. It was a great re-group of thoughts, focus, a balance of the scales that were tipping to one side far too much. I fully expected to be at the airport bawling, lamenting our departure but as much as I wanted to stay, we were ready for our own bed and kitties. It was hard to leave though… you get a taste of what your life used to be like and you want more. It’s bittersweet cause our moving to NJ was a necessity but Josh and I have evolved so much from it that it really isn’t a loss. It needed to happen but now that we have taken what we need from it, we are charged and ready to gtfo out of this place who despite its looking like an inviting Autumnal Wonderland, just isn’t enough for us anymore.

The question now is where we go next.

Oh and check this out… Here is us at Disneyland in 2001 and 2012.

Home is and always will be where he is. Love this man like you have no idea and as long as we are together, there is no feat or place we cannot conquer together.

Hand in hand, onward and upward.

*****
The rest of the photos can be viewed over on flickr

I’m on my way

Time to bust out the duster and get rid of the cobwebs around here. Oh neglected blog, I oh so sorry, but life happened and off I was, relishing in what little time I had at the refill station. This is the thing about travel, it is a much needed step away from reality but then you get back to realize how much catching up you have to do. Sharing stories, photos? Awesome. Having to get back to being a “responsible adult” and dealing with plumbing drama the minute you get back? Boo!

On the 6th we packed up shop and took off to San Diego for a much needed reprieve and battery recharge. Sometimes you just need your familiarities and your people, ya know? It sucked getting up at 4:30 a.m. to make our flight but it was worth gaining a day cause of the time change. Check in and security was a breeze and I was thankful Josh’s dick didn’t set off the metal detector this time. As if they knew we were coming, the airport overhead was playing Motley Crüe’s “home sweet home” as we walked to our gate. I’m on my way, I’m on my way! Home sweet home.

The plane ride was far too long for my bones. Anticipation does that to you… you just want to get there, especially when you are on a plane full of asshats. We were unfortunately seated near the back of the plane which means I had every dick and ass in my face from the people waiting to pee despite the fact they tell people not to congregate in the aisle. Not sure what was on this plane but I have never seen so many people getting up to use the lavatory. You would think they were giving out free hand jobs back there. Fuck. Paired with the old lady who didn’t know how to silence her phone while game playing *ding* *ding* *ding*, the annoying Jersey broad behind us who thought everyone wanted to hear her convo, the fart cloud inhalation, Reza who appeared to have ants in her pants and one too many copies of 50 Shades Of Lame, I wanted to shank a bitch. I will just say it, I find planes revolting. It’s a flying petri dish that gets you from point A to point “I want to kill everyone on here”. I would like to think that first class would be a better section but after walking through it to head to our row with the rest of the coach peasants, I dunno if I could survive that much bad perfume/cologne abuse for the 5+ hours it took to get us there. All things considering, I shouldn’t complain. The airfare deal I scored was just that… cheap.

You know that moment as you’re in descent and you just feel like you lost 20 lbs? That is exactly what happened. You look out the window to the familiarity and it’s like the anvil comes off your shoulders and the vice press releases your rib cage. We walked off the plane and it took everything in me to not get on my knees and kiss the floor. All of a sudden time was not moving fast enough! Longest wait for luggage EVER. We got loved ones to squeeze dammit!

We were on the shuttle to the rental car place and I said to Josh, “you thinking the same thing?”. “What’s that?”, “You know, how in the fuck did we ever think we were bored with this place? What the hell were we thinking?”. “Right there with you”.

There are times where “too much of a good thing” applies. Anything in excess can get, well, excessive. San Diego, our friends, our life there, our lifestyle: it ruled. It was fantastic and we were too caught up in it and ourselves to truly appreciate it, to see it for what it was, to enjoy it with gratitude. We were gone for 15 months and it’s like running into the dude you broke up with and regretted… you fall in love all over again the minute you lay eyes on him. Amazing how your perspective changes when you step away and look at things with a brand new set of eyes. Consider me humbled to my core.

So yes, there are stories to tell, photos to share and heartbreak to shed. All in due time but for now I retreat to photo editing over my cup of pumpkin spice coffee and a very rainy, dreary Fall morning.

The Carleys Take Manhattan

So we went to NYC! It was a quick overnight jaunt… Josh had a vendor party to attend and he got the idea to take us along with him. Neither of us had been to NYC and well, Josh wanted his first trip to be with us in tow. I am so glad we tagged along cause we had the best time!

After surveying on my facebook page, we decided to drive part of the way and then we took the train in for the rest. It really was the best way to do it cause driving in would have been a SERIOUS mistake. More on that later…

I was so glad I asked for tips from locals and people who have been because I felt like we walked in very prepared to handle our first time. We literally dropped in and aside from not knowing where to go to eat, we handled it pretty well.

We had a comped room at The Roosevelt which was perfect because it was within walking distance of a lot of coolness. We were even more stoked to find out we got booked for a suite. SCORE. Our room was not ready so we checked our bags and took off to see the infamous tree at Rockefeller Plaza.

Everyone has said that Christmas time in NYC is one of the most wonderful times of the year and it truly is. Everything is decked out with decor, lights, people have the xmas buzz… the weather was crispy but not freezing ass, everyone was wrapped up and bundled, the window displays were awesome. I could go on here.

Some people love suburban whatnot, but us… we find ourselves in a place where we get the best of both worlds. We get the small town vibe and we are a hop away from major metropolitan areas. It really was surreal to be there… all of the things/places/buildings you see in the media… alive and in full color in front of you for the first time. It was pretty damn awesome. Josh and I love urban/metro areas and this certainly did not disappoint.

The yelp app, as usual, saves my ass when swimming in unknown waters. Josh took off to go to his vendor xmas party and Reza and I were left to venture on our own. We ended up at an udon house and I had the tastiest katsu curry udon. Nothing like a bowl of hot soupy goodness paired with some hot sake to warm you up before venturing out. Reza is getting better with the chopsticks. One day the rubber band will come off but for now I am so proud at how adventurous and poised she is when she wants to be.

After dinner, she and I walked off to Times Square. It was exactly what I had a feeling it was going to be like. If Hollywood Blvd and the Las Vegas Strip had a child, that is Times Square. Completely overrun by tourists, oversized stores, lights and a shit ton of tourists and tourist trappy-like knick knack stores aka things that don’t appeal to me. A SHIT TON. I guess I went cause I wanted to see it once and say I have seen it. An overrated experience there but all was not lost cause I got this shot and took Reza to the Disney store to kill some time.

After that we just went back to the hotel. Reza tends to whine on walk-scursions and well, I had had enough of it. We hung out and somewhere around 3 a.m., Josh rolled in from his shenanigans with his vendors smelling like gin and cheap body spray. Lordy. The following morning we laughed our asses off at his tales of evening past. Details omitted to protect the innocent.

We had intended on going home the following day so we hung around the room in the morning, checked out, ditched our bags and went out to see a few more things. I swore up and down I wanted to take Reza to see F.A.O. Schwartz and since we were close, that is what we did. Why lie, I wanted to see it too. The store was crowded and hot but it was so worth it. Reza got to play with the floor piano in Big! I could begin to explain to you how worth it it was and how besides herself she was with everything but I think this photo does it better than I could… EPIC.

Oh and another note of awesome… we have known several people online but never had the opportunity to meet. Diana has been a longtime friend and luckily she worked very close to where we were so she came out and pulled a drive by hello with us. Super cool chick! One down and few to go… *cough* Ingrid, Vivienne and Bianca *cough*

Other notes about NYC….

The cab drivers, bike messengers and a good percentage of pedestrians are suicidal. Everyone told me to expect this and y’all were not joking. Holy. Shit. The cab rides and watching how people/bike messengers throw themselves into traffic is scary. Part of the adventure though, glad I wasn’t driving in it.

Not sure why or how but we kept finding rogue pastries on the sidewalk, case in point… the lost cookies and suicidal muffin.

The flow of traffic on the sidewalks is all over the place. People walk FAST and if you stop in the middle there are chances you are going to get your ass bumped or knocked over. It was hard with Reza at times but we just held her hand and dragged her around to avoid her getting lost. I do have to say though, the people/traffic flow on the sidewalks in NYC pales in comparison to the organization and flow of the streets of Tokyo. Oh wow, that sounded so fucking snobby. Heh. Because of this reason, taking pictures proved a little difficult at times.

People in NYC love to smoke. Some may not notice this shit as much but coming from CA, where it isn’t nearly as abundant and since I am a sensitive non-smoker myself, it is blatantly obvious. Just walking the sidewalks I came home with ashtray hair. Expensive habit too! Josh noticed smokes were between $14-16 a pack. OUCH.

My only regret was not getting any photos of all three of us. Yeah, you try handing your DSLR to some stranger in downtown Manhattan. I have seen National Lampoons European Vacation far too many times to know that has the possibility of not ending well.

Having stuck our foot in the puddle to get a feel and realizing how easy it was to get up there now we know we will be making MANY trips back because we LOVED IT HARD. New York, I love you.

The rest of the photos can be viewed over on the flickr set