Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Caye Caulker off the Coast of Belize

We finally made it past Mexico and into Belize! Last night we stayed in Belize City which was the sketchiest and most expensive place we have stayed yet. Things looked a little bleak for Belize, but today we took a water taxi to an island called Caye Caulker, which everyone agrees is amazing!

The island is 600 meters at its widest point, so you can always see water in two directions wherever you are! The water is a deep aqua blue and crystal clear. Belize is world renowned for its diving!

We're staying in this awesome guest house for $25/night. Internet is crazy expensive so I have to keep this short, and no photos or videos today! We are going to stay here one more night, then to Guatemala, then start heading back through Mexico!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Palenque and the Ruins

It is Christmas day and we have made it to Palenque, Mexico! This is our last stop before the big trek to Belize City tomorrow. I think Palenque is probably best known for the ruins which we visited today, but the city is actually really nice and has the best Intnernet cafe we have seen yet, so I am sold.

Last night (Christmas Eve) we stayed in San Cristobal and it was really wild. We heard a few fireworks going off during the day, but they were no big deal. We went to bed around 11:30, but at midnight all hell broke loose. I think every Mexican within 20 miles started setting off fireworks right at midnight. We stayed in bed for about 5 minutes before we decided it was a lost cause and we headed out to the roof of the hotel to watch the madness. The participation really put Americans on the Fourth of July to shame. One of the other hotel visitors commented that it seemed like we were in the middle of Baghdad!

Today while driving we encountered a make-shift road block. This is only the second we have seen, but it's basically a scam put on by local Mexicans. They hold a rope with flags on it across the entire length of the road, forcing you to stop. When you get up there they ask for change or try to sell you goods. It's no big deal, but kind of a hassle. HOWEVER, today a bunch of kids set up the road block and as we approached we heard them all screaming to each other and quickly dropped the rope allowing us to pass. At first, we were confused as to why they let a car full of (normally profitable) gringos drive through, until we noticed a Policia truck coming around the bend in the opposite direction who passed the block at the exact time we did. Lucky!

I just realized the sound is a little screwed up on all the videos. Sorry about that. I'll be able to fix it when I get home. More photos are posted to the Flickr account as well.

San Cristobal Street

Here is a video of the ruins of Palenque!

Video coming soon

Lost in a Cave Outside San Cristobal

San Cristobal Hotel Rooms

We stayed in San Cristobal two nights, first in a 12 dollar hotel room, then in a 40 dollar hotel room and I think these videos will help you spot the subtle but important differences. I can't edit any videos here, so you will just have to watch all three.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

San Cristobal

It's Christmas eve and we have arrived in San Cristobal, Mexico. It's a really cool town that is extremely different from the other Mexican cities we have seen! The streets and sidewalks are really narrow, and made of stone with buildings lining all the streets. It reminds me more of London than of a Mexican city! There are tons of lights and people selling things and excitement everywhere! We stayed in a pretty crappy hotel last night, but for $12/night split 4 ways, it's hard to beat on value. Yesterday we stayed at "Hostel Shalom" in Puerto Escandido (Hidden Port). Puerto Escandido probably has the most amazing beach I have ever seen! It was a fairly short beach, about 150 meters, but was kind of in this rock cove that extended about 300 meters out into the ocean. It created this amazing set of really smooth and consistent waves that carry surfers for 300 meters all the way to the shore! Hopefully there will be a video below of the sunset from this beach. Our plan for the next few days is to hit some ruins in Palenque, then cross the border to Guatamala heading for Belize City. We're going to stay in Belize city for a couple days, then head back!

Puerto Escondido Sunset


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Another Day in Acapulco

Richard, our fourth travel member, arrived late last night. His plane was about 2 hours late and lost his bag! After repeated phone calls, they keep saying it will be coming on a later flight, so we are going to stay at our camp ground one more night.

We said farewell to Tom, our hitch-hiking friend today. He and his guitar Betsy are on their way to Guatemala.

The weather here has been SPECTACULAR. It couldn't be any better. The waves on the beach we are on are HUGE. They are probably 8-10 feet tall and CRASH really close to shore. Sometimes they break so hard that the mist from the crash reaches hundreds of feet up the beach!

Our internet connection here is really slow so we might not be able to add any more videos or photos for a while.

We haven't been able to upload many photos yet, but the few that we have are here (future photos will be here as well):

Imagen 097

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Made it to Acapulco, Picking up Richard Soon

We made it to Aculpulco on the 5th day! The driving has gone extremely well with no major issue. The biggest problem has been gargantuan speed bumps that are randomly placed on the highway which you try not to hit doing 70. We have adopted a strategy of all the passengers getting out of the car as we drive over it to avoid bottoming out on the speed bump.

After the first day our car started making a "knocking noise" which was a stressful concern for all of us as we drove. After first inspection we couldn't figure it out, but after listening more to it we were able to identify the culprit. I pulled out some McGuyver skills and repaired it with nothing but a toothpick, two rubber bands and some chewing gum.

Jessica has been an absolutely amazing attribute and tour guide. I think every Mexican is DELIGHTED when a hot blonde American (who presumably has money to spend) comes up and starts speaking perfect Spanish. It is definitely the difference between this being an intimidating and uncertain trip and the trip being an absolute delight! Jessica is amazing.

Everyone we have encountered so far has been wonderful, helpful, friendly and no one seems to be trying to rip us off.

Oh yah! Today as we were about 2 hours outside of Acapulco we drove by a young dude holding a guitar and a backpack hitchiking. In a snap decision we decided we couldn't leave him behind and that was an awesome decision. His name is Tom and he's a 20 year old American who has hitched all the way from Seattle on his way to Guatemala. We're on our way to pick up Richard in a few minutes, so Tom will have to find a new ride tomorrow. He's sleeping in his hammock near our Tent tonight!

Military Stops, Spiders, More driving

Video is here!

Extreme Wind Noise!

Caution!!! Turn your speakers way down before you play this video... there is really loud wind noise at the beginning AND end of the video!

Video coming soon

Los Mochis Hotel

A short video of our second hotel room in Los Mochis!

Our videos are taking too long to upload on this connection so the others will come soon!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Arrived in Mexico!

Starting the Drive

Made it to Los Mochis

It´s Sunday night at about 7pm Cetral time and we have made it to Los Mochis, Mexico! Driving has been really great, and we haven´t had any problems with the authorities. The highways are actually suprisingly nice. They don´t, however have any shoulder to speak of... instead they have about a 2 foot straight drop on either side. Veering a bit off the road probably will mean that our toyota will rollover several times, so we´re going to do that as infrequently as possible.

Our goal for tomorrow is Tepic and Aculpulco by the 20th! The food so far has been amazing and increasingly inexpensive as we get into the heart of Mexico. I have only had solid poops to this point and that will be a continued goal of mine. Right now we´re in the lobby of a hotel which charges 10 pesos (about 90 cents) for an hour of Internet! Go blue!

Friday, December 15, 2006

First 3 Days Plan

Flying to LA

HTML Frames are the Devil

I’ve given this rant to everyone who has ever uttered the word "frames" to me, but much to my dismay there are some web designers who want to use frames on their sites! It is not ok. Frames are the worst. (You too iframe) Frames are the devil and this is why:

The MAIN problem is that HTML framed pages are not “addressable”. This means that each page in an HTML frame does not have its own distinct URL. Only the main “frame” page has a URL and all of the internal content does not. This might not sound SO bad, but it actually ruins everything that is good about the Internet and makes me cry at night. For example, when using frames:
  • Bookmarking pages doesn't work – A bookmark is usually just a saved URL and a title. If you're surfing around on a framed website then see something you like and bookmark it, next time you go back to the bookmark you won't see the page you saved, you will see the main frame page. Internet Explorer has pulled some trick to save the internal frames, but that's no excuse to make crappy websites.
  • Sending links to friends doesn't work - Again, if you're on a framed site and copy the URL and send it to a friend with a note like "Wow! The specific content on this page I surfed to is delightful!" your friend won't see what you saw, just the original frames. According to the US Census, frames are responsible for 6% of divorces in the US.
  • Frames annihilate your search engine traffic - Search engines basically follow links around the Internet and save each page with its associated URL. If you use frames, then all of the URLs on your site are the same, and the search engine skips them. This is the absolute worst thing you can do for your search engine rankings. It will basically prevent ANY traffic from finding your site through search engines. Alternatively, if you don't use frames and give all your pages nice, descriptive titles the search engine traffic will flow in.
  • Social networking doesn't work - You can't tweet, facebook, or otherwise share specific links inside of frames. If Sally sees a page she loves and want to share with her friends and posts it to facebook, the friends will see an odd page that's not what Sally intended.  Sally will get zero likes on her facebook post and will spiral into an unhealthy routine of self-loathing and binge-watching of Jersey Shore reruns.
  • Frames are not accessible - Accessibility on the web can be a intricate problem, but using frames is a sure way to hose your site. FOR EXAMPLE, I happen to be in the airport right now where they charge $8 for stupid Internet access. Instead of flushing $8 down the toilet, I tried to check my work e-mail from my handy-dandy web-enabled phone. But guess what, the web interface for my work e-mail uses FRAMES and my phone doesn't support frames, so I get no e-mail. I kicked a small dog just to make frames feel some of my pain. In addition to phones or PDA's there are many other types of alternative browsers (like a screen reader for blind people) that choke on frames. There is a <noframes> tag to address this, but instead of using that, why don't you stop sucking and stop using frames.
  • Frames produce non-standard behavior - When you use frames you risk having a user view one of your "internal" frames without the template around it. This makes you and your site look stupid. I know it's possible to use javascript to force the internal frame to appear in the correct frameset, but if you're coherent enough to do that, why don't you stop contributing to the political unrest in the Middle East by stop using frames!
So what do you do if you don't use frames? The answer is to use a server-side programming language like PHP or ASP.NET. This lets you get all the deliciousness of keeping your template code in one place, with none of the baby-killing involved in using frames! If you're integrating with another site, that site should provide a way to customize a template to look like your site, instead of being trapped in an iframe of your site.

Are frames EVER ok to use? Well, if you think you have some exceptional circumstance where frames is the only option, I encourage you to pour a bucket of ice water on your genitals and re-think that decision. HOWEVER, there are some respectable sites (i.e. Google) that do use frames for VERY SPECIFIC PURPOSES. Basically if you can decisively say that none of the points above applies to your task, frames MIGHT be okay. Google uses them with their image search to show the user the page the image appears on without "really" leaving the Google site. But Google makes damn sure to provide every necessary step to make the frame as innocent as possible (like a "Close this frame" link)

In conclusion, don't use HTML frames. Frames kill independent George. If you must use a frame, just put a picture in it and put it on your wall. (Although as a political statement, all the artwork in my house is nailed to the wall with no frame)

Monday, January 09, 2006

This is the first post

I'm glad you're here, because this is probably the most important piece of information you will ever come across in your entire life.