Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chía Seeds

Several months back my sister-in-law sent me information about chía seeds. They are an Aztec food. She was trying to locate them in Houston, and wondered if we could find them here. At that time I couldn't. I have been keeping my eyes open for them all this time and recently found packages at...of all places...Chedraui (the Mexican WalMart). I don't usually post a blog like this, because the info below I copied from two different sources. But I thought it was blogworthy, and so here it is. When I googled chía seeds, there were noticeably more hits now than months ago, so maybe there is a rebirth of the chía seed.

Chia Seed - The Ancient Food of the Future (excerpts)

"In the last twenty five years, there has been a resurrection in the definition of medicine, a resurrection that amplifies the significance of our eating habits and our lifestyle. Medicine is not only defined as a treatment for illness and disease, it is now understood to be for the prevention of illness and disease. That would mean, for example, laughter is a medicine because research found it to boost the immune system. Exercise is good medicine for its cardio-vascular stimulation, muscle toning and flexibility and expelling toxins and for giving you a feeling of well-being, all immune boosters. To express a positive attitude towards life is not only good medicine for you, it is good medicine for those in contact with you. But the most important medicine, especially for the prevention of illness and disease, is our diet. It only needs our cooperation in supplying proper hydration and the needed nutrients to effectively maintain a state of well-being.

Research has revealed that more than two thirds of all deaths in the United States are diet related. More than 50% of all deaths are caused from coronary occlusion, blockage of the blood flow to the heart and/or the brain. These are all preventable deaths according to the Journal of American Medical Association which published in 1961 that, “All coronary occlusion can be eliminated by 97% through a vegetarian diet.” Fourteen hundred American’s are dying of cancer every day. In the prestigious Advances in Cancer Research, they concluded, “At present, we have overwhelming evidence… (that) none of the risk factors for cancer is… more significant than diet and nutrition.”

Because the question of what might be the optimum diet can, at times, be emotionally charged for many people, having had a significant emotional commitment in believing they know what’s best, I would like to suspend the issues of diet and introduce you to a “super” food that all would agree on. It is known as the Chia Seed. Once valued so much that it was used as currency, this unique little seed has exceptional nutritive and structural benefits.

Chia, is familiar to most of us as a seed used for the novelty of the Chia Pet™, clay animals with sprouted Chia seeds covering their bodies. Little is known, however, of the seeds tremendous nutritional value and medicinal properties. For centuries this tiny little seed was used as a staple food by the Indians of the south west and Mexico. Known as the running food, its use as a high energy endurance food has been recorded as far back as the ancient Aztecs. It was said the Aztec warriors subsisted on the Chia seed during the conquests. The Indians of the south west would eat as little as a teaspoon full when going on a 24hr. forced march. Indians running form the Colorado River to the California coast to trade turquoise for seashells would only bring the Chia seed for their nourishment.
If you try mixing a spoonful of Chia in a glass of water and leaving it for approximately 30 minutes or so, when you return the glass will appear to contain not seeds or water, but an almost solid gelatin. This gel-forming reaction is due to the soluble fiber in the Chia. Research believe this same gel-forming phenomenon takes place in the stomach when food containing these gummy fibers, known as mucilages, are eaten. The gel that is formed in the stomach creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, thus slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar.

In addition to the obvious benefits for diabetics, this slowing in the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar offers the ability for creating endurance. Carbohydrates are the fuel for energy in our bodies. Prolonging their conversion into sugar stabilizes metabolic changes, diminishing the surges of highs and lows creating a longer duration in their fueling effects.
One of the exceptional qualities of the Chia seed is its hydrophilic properties, having the ability to absorb more than 12 times its weigh in water. Its ability to hold on to water offers the ability to prolong hydration. Fluids and electrolytes provide the environment that supports the life of all the body’s cells. Their concentration and composition are regulated to remain as constant as possible. With Chia seeds, you retain moisture, regulate, more efficiently, the bodies absorption of nutrients and body fluids. Because there is a greater efficiency in the utilization of body fluids, the electrolyte balance is maintained.

..................................................................................Chia, as an ingredient, is a dieters dream food. There are limitless ways to incorporate the Chia seed into your diet. Chia must be prepared with pure water before using recipes. The seed will absorb 9 times it’s weight in water in less than 10 minutes and is very simple to prepare.

Food Extender/Calorie Displacer: The optimum ratio of water to seed, for most recipes, is 9 part water to 1 part seed. One pound if seed will make 10 pounds of Chia gel. This is the most unique structural quality of the Chia seed. The seed’s hydrophilic (water absorbing) saturated cells hold the water, so when it is mixed with foods, it displaces calories and fat without diluting flavor. In fact, I have found that because Chia gel displaces rather than dilutes, it creates more surface area and can actually enhance the flavor rather than dilute it. Chia gel also works as a fat replacer for many recipes.

Making Chia Gel (9to1 ratio): Put water in a sealable plastic container and slowly pour seed into water while briskly mixing with a wire whisk. This process will avoid any clumping of the seed. Wait a couple of minutes, whisk again and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk again before using or storing in refrigerator (Gel will keep up to 2 weeks). You can add this mix to jams, jellies, hot or cold cereals, yogurts, mustard, catsup, tarter sauce, BBQ sauce, etc.. Add the gel, between 50% to 75% by volume, to any of the non-bake mentioned foods, mix well and taste. You will notice a very smooth texture with the integrity of the flavour intact. In addition to adding up to 50% to 75% more volume to the foods used, you have displaced calories and fat by incorporating an ingredient that is 90% water. Use as a fat replacer, for energy and endurance, or for added great taste, buy substituting the oil in your breads with Chia gel. Top your favorite bread dough before baking with Chia gel (for toping on baked goods, breads, cookies, piecrust, etc., reduce the water ration to 8 parts water to 1 part Chia seed) for added shelf life.

There are additional benefits from the Chia seed aside from the nutritive enhancements when used as an ingredient. It was also used by the Indians and missionaries as a poultice for gunshot wounds and other serious injuries. They would pack the wounds with Chia seeds to avoid infections and promote haling. If you place a seed or two in your eyes it will clean your eyes and will also help to clear up any infections. There is a wealth of benefits beyond the information outlined in this article and treasure-trove of benefits yet to be discovered. Chia seed, having a qualitatively unique situational richness along with a profound nutritive profile is one of man’s most useful and beneficial foods and is destined to be the Ancient Food of the Future."

15 Facts About Chia Seeds

When you think of the word "chia" you probably think of chia pets. That's what came to mind when I first heard about it (for good reason - chia pets are grown with chia seeds). I didn't pay much attention to it and walked by the bags of it for sale in Whole Foods without a second thought. It turns out I was walking past a newly rediscovered "superfood."

I say "rediscovered" because chia was prized as a superfood for thousands of years before it was nearly forgotten.

Here are 15 facts I found out about chia:

The chia plant (Salvia hispanica), sometimes referred to as chia sage, originated in the central valley of Mexico and is a member of the mint family.

Records indicate chia seeds were used as a food source as far back as 3500 B.C.

It was the third most important crop for the Aztecs, who recognized it as a "superfood" and prized it so highly that it was often used as currency.

Aztec warriors and runners are believed to have sustained themselves for an entire day on just a tablespoon of chia.

After the Spanish conquest, chia seed nearly disappeared as the Spaniards banned foods that were linked in any way to Aztec religion or tradition and virtually wiped out the complex agricultural system established by the Aztecs in order to grow foods that were popular in Spain instead.

The word chia is derived from the Aztec word chian, which means "oily."

The name of the Mexican state of Chiapas, originally called Chiapan, translates loosely to "river where the chia sage grows."

According to Aztec mythology, chia seed came from the nose of the maize god, Cinteotl.

The Chumash Indians of California also cultivated chia and prized it for its beneficial properties.
This variety of chia is often referred to as chia sage or California chia.

Chia seeds have more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other plant food, including flax seeds.

Chia seeds are about 20% protein.

When soaked in water for 30 minutes, chia seeds form a thick gel. This gel also forms in the stomach when chia seeds are consumed. That sounds bad, but researchers believe it actually slows down the rate at which digestive enzymes turn carbs into sugar, making it especially beneficial for diabetics and others with blood sugar issues.

The popular Mexican drink chia fresca is made by soaking chia seeds in water until they become gelatinous and then adding sugar and lemon or lime juice.

Chia is hydrophilic and can absorb more than 12 times its weight in water. This makes it helpful in maintaining body hydration, something that is especially beneficial for athletes who need to remain hydrated during races and endurance activities.

Chia seeds are so high in antioxidants that they do not spoil easily and can be stored for long periods, unlike flax seeds.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Panamá Hats

Before I went to Panamá, I thought this was a Panamá Hat.

Mike and I talked about them, and we thought they were made in México or Costa Rica somewhere, and sold around here. It's a very popular hat among Yucatecans. And below is what I learned in my research, from the Lonely Planet Guide to Panamá, p.141:

"A Panama hat or simply a Panama is a traditional brimmed hat made from a Panama-hat palm (Carludovica palmata). Although originally from Ecuador, the hat became popular in Panama during the construction of the canal when thousands of Panamas were imported for use by the workers. After American President Theodore Roosevelt donned a Panama during his historic visit to the canal, the hats became the height of fashion.

Unlike the better-known hats from Ecuador, which are woven from crown to brim in one piece, this kind is made by a braiding process, using a half-inch braid of palm fiber, usually of alternating or mixed white and black. The finished braid is wound around a wooden form and sewn together at the edges, producing a round-crowned, black-striped hat. It's a common site in rural parts of Panama......"

These boys are wearing Panamá hats.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Just Another Day in Puerto Lindo

Rodolfo came for us at 10am. We grabbed our gear and walked down the road to the boat waiting for us at the beach. We motored across the bay into an extensive mangrove system. Rodolfo drove us through the “tunnel of love” where we saw white-faced monkeys (capuchin?) darting through the trees.
We saw egrets and herons and birds of all kinds and colors. The Panamanian Caribbean coast is dotted with lush, hilly, mostly uninhabited tropical islands and islandettes. We circled Linton Island, home of an abandoned research station, and were greeted at the dock by spider monkeys (cacique?).

We beached the boat on a deserted islet called Sodros to do some snorkeling. Rodolfo and Annie were hunting for lobsters, and Pablo and I were just looking around at the young, reasonably healthy coral reef and numerous but small fishes. We walked halfway around Sodros Island. I found an oar. Pablo found a turtle egg. Rodolfo found another egg. The oar came in handy to dig a hole in the sand and rebury the turtle eggs. There was evidence that some had hatched.

We headed over to another little beach and dropped anchor. After investigating more reef and fish, we combed the beach. We started collecting seashells and coconuts. We discovered an almond tree full of nuts and ate them on the spot. We gathered noni fruit to take to Sara’s toucan. Rodolfo picked ripe sea grapes for us to taste. Once we were sun-crisped, we headed back to the beach and the guest house. We grilled fresh spiny lobster tails on the patio while listening to howler monkeys, and watching parrots, toucans, hummingbirds and butterflies.

The jungle atmosphere intensified when the skies clouded up and the afternoon tropical rains came. I love the sound of a tin roof in the rain. We sat on the front porch until nightfall just passing time. We were all tired and crashed early. Just a typical day in Puerto Lindo.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wearing Shoes in the House

In Hawaii it is customary to leave your shoes outside the door. Not only at your own house, but when you visit other friends' houses as well. Most people wear "slippers" (chanclas)(flipflops) and literally flip them off before entering a residence. It may have been influenced by the Japanese population there. Half of Hawaii is Japanese-American and the influence is noticeable in foods and lifestyle behaviors. We lived for ten years in a coffee shack, and learned that by taking your shoes off at the door you leave the dirt outside. The floors are cleaner because no one is dragging around mud or twigs or other flotsam.

In Mérida you are required to leave your shoes on in the house. The floors are cement tiles and very hard on your feet and body. Plus, the Yucatecans are very superstitious about bare feet. Evidently illness creeps up through a humid floor, a cold floor, or a hot floor...well, I guess any floor. Pablo insists I have something on my feet at all times. As far as leaving the dirt outside, here that is simply impossible. This is a dusty place. Since we haven't gotten our rains, it is even dustier than usual. The amount of dirt that collects on these floors is surprising. The winds blow all kinds of dirt and dust and even leaves into my house.

Here's a good reason to wear your shoes in the house. Today Moka was announcing the results of her morning hunt and I turned around and saw a giant centipede on the floor. Without thinking I grabbed my shoe, conveniently located on my foot, and "FLWOP!!!!!!!!!!!" It is a dead centipede.

When this happened to me in Hawaii I would be scrambling around looking for a shoe or a book or something to whack the monster. They may be small but they are powerful and they must die. Today the concept of keeping one's shoes on one's feet really hit home. As I was making certain the centipede could no longer hurt me, memories of bug hell passed through my mind. I could write a book about bug hell. Maybe I will.

Meanwhile back at the hacienda, this is how Mokito came home. Moka stepped in front of me as I snapped this photo, so you are looking at camouflage Mokito through the whiskers of his Mom.

It is funny, at first. These are some super sticky weeds. All the cats came home with them but Mokito was covered, branches and all. I've been slowly working them out of his fur for three days now. Knowing Mokito, as soon as he is cleaned up he will find a new batch of trouble.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Confessions of an Imaginary Farmer

Two years ago I wanted to write an article about my friends who were addicted to their computers. I am glad I didn't, because now I have fallen into a black hole on the internet, where I get stuck for hours.

After the move to Mérida, I lived without internet during renovation. When friends came to visit, their internet-addicted behavior was obvious to me. When I finally got my cable connection it was intermittent at best. During the 'unavailable' intervals I noticed my visiting friends would freak out. They had people in chat rooms to keep up with or hundreds of emails to answer, and spent more time in virtual reality than they did in reality. I thought it strange to travel all the way to the Yucatán for vacation and spend so much time sitting in the house staring at a computer. Eventually I'd drag them outside and we'd walk into El Centro, dance in the street, have a cold drink, or drive to the beach. They always managed to pull away from the cyberspace magnet for a while, anyways.

I've been "computerized" since the early 90's and I spend my share of time online. I write long rambling emails, these blogs, frequently check the news and weather, and do lots of research. But I've never felt addicted to the computer - be it a chat room, email, skype, games - until recently, that is...over the past year.

It started when Pablo showed me Plant Tycoon. I never liked arcade games, but I like pretty flowers. Somehow I got lost in my imaginary nursery, cross-breeding imaginary seeds. It was insane. I spent hours and hours trying to find all of the magic plants from the fabled island of Isola! I've always felt guilty when playing. I feel like I am just wasting my time away. For me time is very valuable and I get mad at myself when I am just pissing it away.

I closed the game for good after a few crazy weeks....but still.....WEEKS???

Once I ended the Plant Tycoon marathon I finished writing the book I'd been working on for two years. All 185,000 words were reviewed, rewritten and typed into the computer. I got as lost in my work as I did the game. And though the lesson I learned was that the book is but a very rough first draft, I don't feel like the time I devoted to it was wasted. And blogging is mostly journaling, and it is still writing, so I don't feel I am wasting time here either.

A few months ago I received email invitations from several friends to join Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other such sites. When I signed in, practically everyone in my email address book popped up as a potential Facebook friend. I was immediately referred to THEIR friends and the whole thing snowballed. All of a sudden I was reviving all kinds of old yet still cherished friendships. Before I knew it I was sucked into scanning madness with one old friend and found myself scouring photo albums for fun or funny photos to publish from our past. That was fun, but I was hooked! I had to stop the scanning madness, and I had to stop opening Facebook.

Things went from bad to worse when someone invited me to Farmville. I now have a huge farm and I am addicted to it. While waiting for crops to grow one day, I saw an ad for another game. I entered YoVille and now I work in a bakery and live in an apartment with no toilet facilities. While waiting for imaginary pies to bake, I accidentally went over to Café World. Now I also own and operate a corner diner. I've been completely sucked into the Black Hole of the Internet in Facebook. I've noticed it is a common syndrome. It is without doubt an illness.

I hope the first sign of a recoverable addict is recognizing the addiction. I stopped playing long enough to write a thirty page outline on a new topic I want to write about...a fun and light theme. I decided to let Jim's Nightmare sit a while longer on the back burner. I'll get it right when the time is right. And honestly, I have a few items about Panamá almost finished.

I know the back of my mind is writing when I am playing a game up front. It's just that OTHER more creative outlets seem healthier. I could be finishing a sewing project or making jewelry, something with more than a virtual outcome. But no! Waiting for artichokes to grow and chickens to roast....

I am weaning myself off the Facebook games by cooking the slowest dishes and growing the slowest plants. I'll only have to check the farm, cafe and bakery once every few days to ease myself out, and then just cut it out completely. Since I found myself goofing off too much, I have been making an extra effort to carry a notebook around and always write my fleeting thoughts. I hope this little addiction is the precursor to a great masterpiece! Or at least something productive....and not virtual. There is always hope, and of course the delete button.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Painted It Brown

Sometimes you just need a simple yet drastic change. The time has come for me to not be blonde for a while. When I published my PAINT IT BLACK blog, I got a lot of responses that said, "Don't do it!" The responders offered many reasons. First, the locals would still see me as a gringa: my features, build and the rest of my being. Then I would open my mouth and they'd hear me it wouldn't help the discrimination factor. I agree with those folks. But, at the same time, I want to see if driving down the street is any different. When people see me at a distance in a local car or even walking down the street looking much like them doing the same things they are doing, perhaps I won't get the bad attitude. I guess I just want to see if there is any difference at all being brunette as opposed to being blonde, especially at my age.

I was warned the hair color would make me look older. The verdict is still out on that since I just colored the hair today. I should say Pablo colored it. He happens to like doing that stuff, and has knowledge and experience and does a good job. My Mom was a hairdresser. We did colors and changed them just for fun. It's not a big deal to change your hair color, if you don't like it you can always change it back. It is best to wait a month or so before doing so, and in my case I think next month I will go darker! I think the brown will give my hair more body. It may not look so thin and stringy. If Ijust use color and not bleach, my hair might actually get healthier. So I have my hair health reasons in addition to just wanting to blend in. The fact that I want to blend in is a totally new concept for me. I usually like being and looking a little different. I guess I'm just tired of attracting attention.

The color didn't turn out to be the dark dark brown I had in mind, but we started from a blonde blonde. First we did the de-coloration. We took all the color out of my hair,this is me in albino form.

Then there was this part. Sitting with the dark dye on for a long time. I am not REALLY as miserable as I look. I think I have dye all over my face.

Ta da! Here it is. The darkest we could get on the first try. Better luck next month.
So far I like it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Resort Sitter

So you want to know about Panamá. It was an interesting journey worthy of a few separate posts. But first you have to endure this story… Last summer Pablo and I traveled to Central America. We explored parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. We’d really hoped to make it to Panamá, but it would have made for an extremely long drive home. We’ve had Panamá on the brain since we didn’t get there last year.

Backing up further, after I lost Jim I took creative writing classes. I’d discovered that the only creativity I managed during his ordeal was writing. One online writing assignment was to make a list of ten things I would like to do with my life if there were no obstacles, a soul searching assignment. On that list of impossible things I considered quitting my job, selling my house, moving to a foreign country, and, get this, becoming a RESORT SITTER. As I worked with these ideas, I came to believe they were possibilities.

For my adventurous wanderlust the most interesting tropical resorts and lodges are owned and operated by individuaIs. After years of work in the vacation industry, I know that owners can never get away from their paradise businesses once the doors are opened. Although these places often have a self-managing staff, the customers feel more secure if there is an English speaking person around. I’ve managed small resorts and dive operations in remote areas, and felt that with the help of the internet maybe I could make my idea happen. It seemed somewhat obscure, I admit, but it was something that I was uniquely qualified to do….temporarily manage small resorts so that owners could take an elusive getaway.

I found this Eco Tropical Resort Website and corresponded with the owner. With my ad she opened the classified section of her website. The same day Lise posted my ad I received an email from an eco-lodge in the mountains of Bali. Linda and Norm own a three bungalow resort on Mt. Batukaru. They ‘d not been away from Indonesia for over five years and wanted to spend Christmas with family in New Zealand. Linda said she couldn’t pay me a wage, but she would offer me food and lodging for nearly a month before their trip if I oversaw things in her absence.

I couldn’t have asked for a better place to reenter the universe. With the help of my friend Jude, who donated air miles to my cause, I made it to Bali for my first two month resort sitting job. As usual, I didn't properly plan financially for the return to Kona. But I flew off to Bali in my typical no looking back, forge ahead style.

Linda, the owner/manager, and I hit it off great and spent hours chatting. She took me down to the beach and showed me where to shop, and up country into Ubud town to introduce me around. By the time the family left for vacation, I knew Bali pretty well. I felt like I could entertain the guests as well as be informative. And I really I enjoyed the guests. It was a magical place and only magical people find their way there.

I lived and wrote in this bungalow for a month....shear heaven.

The pathway to the lodge from the road is a beautiful though long walk through cocoa and coffee trees, beautiful flowers, a vanilla patch, and interesting birds and reptiles.

This is a shot of the Balinese style table in the main community building. Sometimes we played a game there, or we ate there on pillows crosslegged. Mini-Meow (or Meowie, not sure) poses for a tranquil photo.

Katja and Reto, from Switzerland, were guests I still keep in touch with. We had some excellent dinners, hilarious conversations, and fantastic bug and flower photo sessions.

Ok, maybe I returned to Kona flat broke, sick with a flu I picked up in the Seoul airport or after a week of partying a little in Kuta Beach like an idiot….ya gotta do what ya gotta do sometimes. But for me it was a success. I realized my dream. And that made me think I could realize the rest of them. I found a job, my friend Lynne came from Alaska to stay with me as well as help with expenses, and then I dreamt one night about returning to Mexico.
At a Balinese funeral I couldn't help but share some betel nut with the adorable woman below. Every time she saw me after this occasion, she shared some of her "chew" with me. It was not the tastiest of South Pacific treats, but definitely one of the more unique flavors.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Paint It Black

Oranges are in season. The orange vendors roam the streets ringing doorbells. When Pablo answers the door I usually hide and he buys 100 oranges for 25 pesos. When I answered the door yesterday, home alone, the vendor wanted 110 pesos. I refused. We talked back and forth. He cut open a fruit for me to try. He was hot, tired, and thirsty and wanted to go home. As I walked away, he cut the price to 40 pesos. I bought the oranges. I may have only gotten 50 of them though. But I was disgusted and finished with the conversation.

I think I am attracting too much attention with blonde hair here in Latin America. It seems to cause heads to turn, which I am trying to avoid. I have been wearing my hair like this a few years now and until recently didn’t give it a second thought. I just want to fit in, and get a fair deal on purchases, and feel less discrimination for my very existence here.

The way I look causes prices on just about everything to double, and the general treatment by the people is often less than hospitable. If people see me with Pablo, my young local boyfriend, between the age difference and the cultural differences, we often are treated with yet another discrimination. I am seen as a cougar and he is seen as a gold digger. Neither is true. Only we know and understand why we are more than just friends. And who is to judge us, anyhow.

So, I am thinking I want to dye my hair Mexican brown. Real dark brown. Then see if I get the same treatment when I walk to the marketplace, or go to the supermarket; if they treat me any differently before they know for sure I am a foreigner. I still may be a dead gringo-giveaway since I won’t be wearing spiked heals or heavy black eye makeup. And of course I am afraid I will look like a freak, wearing a bad wig, or appear older than I already feel I look. I have to try something, even if it’s wrong.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wingin' It With Mexicana

The phone rang at 4am. Once we woke up and realized we were in a hotel room in Panama City and homeward bound for Mérida, we hustled down to the taxista waiting for us in the lobby. And so began October 2,2009. Three tolls, thirty minutes, and twenty dollars later we were the first customers at Mexicana Air. We were originally scheduled to fly out a week later, but we changed the program. I usually try to avoid changing the program since air travel is so complicated these days. In order to change the return reservation we spent most of the day before riding for hours in bumper to bumper traffic, to and from the airport on local buses.

At check-in, no less than eight agents tried for an hour to get our boarding passes to print out. NOTE: Mexicana is a normally a good airline. They were in the active process of changing their system and routes. The result could mean cheaper and better options for domestic travel in Mexico. With that in mind, we maintained our patience and just kept smiling.

The three and a half hour flight from Panama City was uneventful. Immigration, terminal changes in Mexico City, gate changes, the usual stuff, no problem. By 1pm we were on our way to:


At least it as during the day and we could look at the clouds and sky scenery. When I booked the ticket, the Guadalajara stop was unavoidable. We waited two frazzling, sizzling hours in the stuffy new terminal. Finally, at 5pm, we were on board a small sleek jet

bound for: OAXACA!
My fault for not seeing the small light-gray print on the electronic ticket. Ok, so on this flight we opted for a dinner of beer and peanuts. We got to see the ruins of Monté Albán outside of Oaxaca from the air as we landed. I learned about another feature of my camera and had fun photographing clouds and scenery.

Looking down at Monté Albán on top of the green hill in the forefront and the city of Oaxaca behind it.
The flight to Oaxaca lasted just over an hour. Then we had a "technical stopover". We didn't have to leave our seats. Passengers disembarked, the cleaning crew came in, quickly swept up around us, and new passengers boarded. Within half an hour we were off, heading directly to:
Surprise! We were not done traveling yet, we had one more technical stopover. It was stormy as we traversed the Sierra Madres over Oaxaca and Chiapas. We drank another beer and ate cookies for dessert as we watched distants clouds clash in lightnight streaks.
Finally, at 9:45pm, we arrived in Mérida. The Customs Agents took one look at us and saw we'd been through some kind of hell and let us pass through without inspection. Big deal, I smuggled in one bag of yellow split peas.
It was the perfectly bizarre ending to a perfectly bizarre adventure. Two days earlier, we cruised the northern coast of Panama on the Atlantic Ocean, crossed over the entire country, got a look at the Panama Canal, and then found ourselves staring at the Pacific Ocean. So why not see ALL OF CENTRAL AMERICA AND MOST OF MEXICO in one single day? Life is an Amazing Race and sometimes you just have to WING IT!