Better days and get aways

“Wow, you couldn’t have picked anyone further away,” Juan said.

“Yeah,” I replied.

My cousin is right. Sean is far away — 2,400 or 2,800 miles (depending on your mode of transportation).

We let seven weeks pass without seeing each other. That was tough, but unavoidable with a busy April schedule which included travel to Michigan and working a couple of weekends. Now that we can plan better, our visits will be much more frequent.

The trip was great, even when I mysteriously hurt my back in the middle of a play. I spent most of the next few days in bed with Sean at the ready to get me whatever I needed. He did a great job taking care of me. I’m lucky.

A few trip photos after the jump to prove I wasn’t bedridden the whole time.

Continue reading “Better days and get aways”

Clumsy in NY

Either I’m just clumsy, or New York hates me.

First, I hit my head while getting in to the cab. I tried not to look at it as an omen and just the result of misjudgment on my part.

Today, I smashed my finger on the gate of the elevator. It’ one of those old school elevators. It has a gate and a single door (like you’d use to open your bedroom or house). It’s a hassle, especially when you have your luggage with you.

I almost cried — form the pain, frustration and home-sickness — in the cab, but reminded myself that it would smear my mascara.

The past day and a half hasn’t been all bad. I presented a paper on UC admissions with my co-worker in a roundtable format, met up with some friends and didn’t get lost. Later, I had dinner with Sean, watched Lost and narrowly beat my host at Rock Band (actually, it was a draw, but I did beat him at the last song, Creep). I left Harlem for Union Square where the Hispanic Special Interest Group of the AERA was hosting a party. I saw friends I rarely (if ever) see at UCLA and met some new people.

I hope the next few days here are injury free.

Cross your fingers.

Austin postcard

I kinda really like Austin.

The weather — at least since I got here on Tuesday — has been perfect. The beer is good. The food is yummy. And most importantly, the people are awesome (hi, César and Rachelle, Erica and Soren, Victor, David and Jay).

My trip to Austin was cut short due to crazy weather on the Dallas end. I feel like I’m rushed trying to get in a minute or two with all the cool people I know and “know” (via the internets). I’ve “known” some of these people for close to 4 years. Four years! It’s a little weird to finally meet, but also really cool. You can just talk about life or throw Vulcan and Westside signs outside of a hipster East Austin bar/café (okay, I think it’s really weird to have a place where you can buy both beer and coffee… crazy!).

Some of the others on my list of awesome people are friends from graduate school. They were pseudo-mentors who helped me figure out how to do something using SPSS (a statistical program), motivated me when I really wanted to leave the program, or just listened to me blabber on about some guy. I’m really grateful for their friendship.

My host tried to recruit me to move out here like she did. I asked if she gives the Austin sales pitch to everyone who visits. She responded, “no, only the good people.”

I don’t know where I’ll end up after grad school. I’ve never ruled out moving out of California when I begin my professional career (not that I know what that will be), but I know no place will measure up to LA.

I miss home. Eight more days.

Mil palabras: Towel Bride?

Day two in Cozumel.

We didn’t do much this day. The group split up in two as the guys rested from partying late into the night. My parents, Lori and I went into town for brunch. The parents went off to rent a scooter and Lori and I wandered around the malecón and checked out some of the shops. Later, I met up with the guys to watch the Mexico vs. US soccer match. It was sad. It’s one thing to see Mexico lose on TV in your LA apartment, but it’s worse when you’re in a bar with a bunch of other Mexicans and the only white folks in the bar don’t even care about soccer. Mexico lost. Ugh.

We returned to our room to find this odd little towel creature. I think it’s a bride based on the veil-like shape above the head and flowers. The guys were upset that they didn’t have any towel creatures in their room.

Later that evening, we went swimming and snorkeling. We also had a family meeting to set the agenda for the rest of the week.

Mil palabras: Tripping out

Cozumel (or Playa del Carmen), Quintana Roo

I never got around to writing about my family’s June trip to Cozumel, Mexico. Part of the reason I didn’t write about the trip was because as soon as I returned to LA, my friend José died in a car accident and the next few weeks were spent in a bit of a daze.

The photo above represents the long trip my family took from LA to Cozumel. Check out our itinerary:

6:15 pm – depart from Palms to Hacienda Heights
7:15 pm – arrive in Hacienda Heights [only for me]
8 pm – depart from Hacienda Heights to LAX
8:40 pm – arrive at LAX, check in and go through security (all rather quickly)
9 pm – chill for a few hours at the terminal
11:45 pm – board our Mexicana airplane
12:10 pm – depart for Mexico City. Had a sandwich and stayed up to watch I Think I Love My Life. It wasn’t worth losing sleep over.
3:30 am – arrive in Mexico City at Juárez International, go through immigration and spend a good 20 minutes trying to figure out where our gate was for the next flight.
5:55 am – depart from Mexico City to Cancún, eat some yogurt, sleep a little, but not enough
8:40 am – arrive in Cancún
9 am – depart Cancún for Playa del Carmen on a bus. No sleep.
9:45 am – arrive in Playa del Carmen, buy tickets for ferry, board ferry.
10 am – take ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel. Sleep for half an hour.
10:35 am – arrive in Playa del Carmen, get a taxi to take us to our hotel
11 am – arrive at El Cid de la Ceiba in Cozumel and check in.

Overnight travel and layovers are tough on their own, but they’re more difficult when traveling with 7 other people. By the time we arrived in Mexico City, we were snapping at each other. When we got to Cancún, we had to deal with the heat and humidity as well as thirst and hunger. I don’t think we could even enjoy the nice view of the beach in Playa del Carmen since we were dragging out luggage along.

The best part of settling in at the hotel was getting some cool drinks, taking a cool shower, getting dinner and taking a much needed nap. We needed our energy for the rest of the trip!

Five days is never enough

On the way to Cozumel, we landed first in Mexico City and then changed planes to arrive at our (almost) final destination. I joked to my dad, that I wanted to leave the airport, take a taxi to the bus station and buy a ticket to Salamanca. He looked at me like I was weird. Why would I want to go to Salamanca, a pretty average city in Guanajuato when I could go to paradise?

Simple: family. I miss them.

Salamanca has become my “happy place” since I visited on my own three years ago for the first time in about 15 years. I was overwhelmed with the kindness and hospitality of my family out there. I ate great food and visited beautiful cities. Thankfully, I was there long enough to get to know all my family out there and I left with a melancholy feeling. I was happy to return to my parents, siblings and home. I was happy for the time I spent out there, but I was truly sad that I had to be separated by a border and hundreds of miles from such great people. Prior to my trip, I’d never given any serious thought to how immigration splits up families. I was lucky enough to grow up close by to my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. However, I felt truly sad when I realized that my dad didn’t have that opportunity and was separated from his family.

Now I go back every chance I get. I went in December 2005 for my cousin Teresa’s wedding. I was only there for two days. I returned in August 2006 for my cousin Beatriz’s quinceañera. The trip came in the middle of a rough summer.

I had not planned to return to Salamanca this summer. The trip to Cozumel was pretty expensive and my work schedule only allows me to be away 5 days tops. But then my parents decided to go to be padrinos for a quinceañera. That was all the motivation I needed to ditch work for a few days and buy another plane ticket.

Five days wasn’t enough last year, and it definitely was not enough this time around. At least I didn’t forget my big memory card and got plenty of photos.

Short photo essay after the jump. Continue reading “Five days is never enough”

Live and direct from Cozumel

My sister looked at me like I was weird for packing my laptop.

“You’re going to take it? Why?”

“Well, I can add photos to it as we go and charge my iPod.” I added something else that might have made sense to someone else besides me, but I didn’t say that I was hoping the hotel would have free wi-fi or that I could easily find it somewhere in Cozumel. That would make me seem like an internet addict. Which I’m not. I swear.

It was actually a pleasant surprise after having a not-so-great welcome to el Caribe Mexicano. Don’t get me wrong, the people were nice and helpful, but that didn’t matter when they were dealing with 8 hungry, cranky and hot people who had been traveling since 8 p.m. the evening before (check the itinerary here).

However, once we all showered, ate and napped we got back to enjoying our vacation in Cozumel. So far, we’ve been pretty low key. The guys went out and partied while my parents, Lori and I stayed in and just enjoyed the warm water in the pool. Today, we had breakfast in el centro, shopped a little, my dad rented a scooter and we took some rides with him. Later, I watched the final of the Gold Cup game with my brothers, Cain and Mike at Margaritaville. We were all cheering for Mexico (except Mike). Adrian really did look that excited when Mexico scored its first and only goal, but he didn’t get to make that face during the game. Instead his face looked more like one of those looks fans make when their team gets close to scoring and barely misses. I hate when Mexico loses to the US, but I think it sucks even more when you’re in Mexico.

Later in the day, we had a family meeting to plan out our week, went snorkeling and had yummy tacos.

Three cities, seven days

I arrived in Chicago last Wednesday afternoon and returned to LA on Sunday morning. It snowed one day and was cold and damp for the remainder of my trip. As soon as I left, I’m told the weather got “nice.”

I returned to LA on Sunday morning and found mostly sunny skies, a few wisps of clouds, and 60-something degree weather. I left this nice weather on Tuesday morning.

I arrived in Washington D.C. on Tuesday afternoon. It was cold and cloudy, but not rainy.

Can anyone guess why I love LA?

Off to Chicago

Dear Chicago,

Why can’t you be warm for my visit? I understood the 19 degree temperature in February, but it’s officially spring. I hope by the time I leave on Sunday the snow and rain has stopped ’cause I want to like you, but how can I get to know you if I’m miserable and cold.


P.S. Don’t blame it on Canada.