(El) Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico (April, 2002)

El Tule

While You Are There: The beauty of Oaxaca city is well known and one could easily spend weeks here and not get bored. It’s a very touristy city, but that’s not always a bad thing. The people watching, architecture, art galleries, and restaurants are worth the trip. Outside Oaxaca, there are plenty of day trips, including one to El Tule to see the widest and one of the oldest trees in the world. Also, the ruins at Monte Alban and Mitla are nearby and are a nice alternative to the more crowded ruins in Mexico. And if you are looking to buy textiles, a trip to Teotitlan is essential. Oh, and don’t forget the petrified waterfall of Hierve el Agua. Just get on a plane already and go to Oaxaca.

Why It’s On My List: It is, perhaps, the most beautiful tree in the world.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Las Pozas, Xilitla, Mexico (April, 2002)

Las PozasLas Pozas Xilitla - CopyLas Pozas Xilitla

While You Are There: Bring a sketchbook or a notebook and spend the day being inspired.

Why It’s On My List: The artist describes it as a Garden of Eden and I agree. It’s a surreal, magical, and romantic place that I stumbled across in a guidebook when I lived in Mexico and decided I had to see. Also, I had quite the adventure getting there. My friend and I got on a bus in San Luis Potosi in the early dark morning and then the driver told us to get out deep into a jungle road with no buildings or people in sight. I spoke Spanish well at the time but was certain I hadn’t heard him correctly. I asked again and he insisted, so we hopped off and stood there by the side of the road, in the dark, all alone waiting for guerrillas to kidnap us. Didn’t happen, but the connecting bus did come along after half an hour, true to the first driver’s word. Maybe it’s easier to get to now, but I hope not.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Cuatro Ciénegas, Mexico (June, 2002)

Cuatrocienagas

While You Are There: Everything! Check out the Visit Mexico site for what to do in this appropriately categorized “magical” town. The protected area is the main attraction, but you could easily spend many days here and not get bored.

Why It’s On My List: I lived in Mexico for five months and was lucky enough to be able to travel extensively and see a lot of the country. I adored all of Mexico and am saddened by how dangerous it has become. There’s so much history and beauty and culture. The trip to Cuatro Ciénegas stands out because it was one of the few that almost all of us teachers went on together. I taught second grade at Colegio Ingles and there were about 20 of us foreign teachers altogether. This was near the end of the school year when everyone would be leaving Mexico soon, off to new adventures. Cuatro Ciénegas was only a few hours away, so one weekend we rented three serial killer vans and all drove out there. I remember racing through the desert in the those vans like something out of a movie. We rented some cabins and spent a nice weekend hanging out with each other, reminiscing about the fun we had throughout the school year, and enjoying everything the town had to offer.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

eXpatriation

Yes, I’m aware expatriation doesn’t really begin with X. But what else can I write about for the letter X? I don’t think I had any big misconceptions in my younger years about x-rays, xylophones, or Xerses the Great. I’ve never been xenophobic either, obviously, or I wouldn’t have been an expat for so long. In fact, I love all things foreign – people, food, traditions, geography, climates, history, cultures. Bring them on! When I started travelling, I thought I would never return to the United States. I even contributed several segments to a book on leaving America. There’s just so much to explore and experience that it seems a waste to just sit around the same place all the time. But in some respects, Dorothy was right.

My longest stay in any foreign country was in Russia – I spent one academic year in Volgograd and two in Moscow. We were five foreign teachers at my language school in Russia and I was the only non-Russophile. I chose to teach in Russia because, well, why not? I had taught in Mexico first and then South Korea, so I was looking for some place that would be very different from both of those. Aside from Greenland or Vanuatu, I think Russia was really the best choice. Continue reading →