Adi Alsaid, author of the upcoming contemporary YA novel Let’s Get Lost, will be touring the web with “Seize the Tuesday” posts to celebrate the publication of his novel.
Each piece will focus on a different, fun example of how Adi was able to Seize the Tuesday in his own life and how that can inspire others to make a change in their lives too! Seize the Tuesday not only gives readers a glimpse into Adi’s life, but also introduces readers to one of the key themes in Let’s Get Lost of “seizing the Tuesday” – of seizing a moment that can change your life forever.
About ‘Let’s Get Lost’
Five strangers. Countless adventures.One epic way to get lost.
Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most.
There’s HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love.
Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila’s own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you’re looking for is to get lost along the way.
Seize the Tuesday: Playing it by ear in Chiapas with Adi Alsaid
You could plan a month-long trip to Chiapas and still miss out on something. Jungles, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, ruins, towns nestled in the green mountains, volcanoes, coffee farms, canyons. The Mexican state bordering Guatemala is replete with options, and a meticulously thought out itinerary is probably the only way to fit everything in. On a six-day trip, the options are completely overwhelming.
So we didn’t plan at all.
Laura, Steph, and I raised our glasses and toasted to being okay with missing out on things, to seizing the Tuesday, one day at a time. We were at a falafel place in San Cristobal de las Casas, a town nestled in green mountains. Twenty years ago it was overtaken by the Zapatista army, but their only remaining vestige is in graffiti on the walls and t-shirts sold to tourists. The town is pretty in the way many Mexican towns are: quaint, cobblestoned streets, colorful buildings, impressive surroundings. There are plenty of sandaled Americans, and more dreadlocks per capita than maybe anywhere else in the world.
The night before we ate authentic Italian recommended by a travel book and friends, and which was hard to find, a trifecta that usually means you’re about to find a treasure. We had Chiapan coffee prepared at our table, quesadillas for dinner from a no-name former-stand that’s now an adorable restaurant, still nameless.
At five a.m we boarded a van to take us to the waterfalls of Agua Azul, Misol-Ha, and then the ruins of Palenque. It was put together by a travel agency, the kind you see so many of in San Cris. A dozen or so similar vans were at every stop. As everyone else on board slept (except for the driver, I think), one of the most spectacular sunrises I’ve ever seen lit up behind the steamed-up windows. Fog licked at the mountains and the curving, pot-holed road. After a few hours and a stop at a crappy breakfast buffet, we arrived at Agua Azual, a large waterfall that would be completely majestic if it weren’t crawling with tourists, even during the rainy offseason. The waters it empties out into are baby blue. A fifty peso per person fee got us a tour guide named Güero (blondie/whitey) to show us six hidden waterfalls in the jungle, all the more enjoyable for the lack of people. Güero was approximately seven years old, decidedly un-blonde, who traversed the trail barefoot and, when he saw me venturing into the waters, somersaulted into the waters wearing his trousers. He spoke to another child tour guide in Tzeltal, a native dialect leftover from older, Mayan times, which we would hear throughout our Chiapas adventure.
Misol-Ha was bigger and grand, but similarly overrun with people taking selfies by the waterfall. The ruins of Palenque were impressive, set in the jungle, but ultimately the same as other ruins: a relic you feel compelled to visit and probably bore of quickly, unless ruins are really your thing (they aren’t ours).
We spent that night in El Panchón, a small community of eco lodges set in the jungle and anchored by Don Mucho’s, a restaurant with live music, fire dancers, and a huge screen showing the World Cup. Done with tour groups, we talked about our next step, unsure of exactly how we’d get there, since an insufferable tour guide named Williams, back in San Cris, had tried to scare us into taking a tour to the remote parts of Chiapas with him for an exorbitant $9500 pesos, or $800 dollars. But, trusting our travel book, and, I guess, the Universe, enough to get us there, we ate and played cards and retired to our cabin to read.
The next morning we took a convi/combi (picture a hippie VW van with four rows of seats installed, each upholstered in a different cloth) along the Carreterra Frontera, the highway that runs along the border with Guatemala. It’s one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever been on, cutting through trees and mountains, valleys, jungle, everything green, green, green. Though I had the luxury of reading without getting carsick, the scenery kept begging me to lower my book. At the end of the three hour ride, in Benemerito de las Americas, as soon as we got off the combi, a little man barked at us in enthusiastic English, despite my attempts to pull him back into Spanish. He disappeared only to come back a minute later riding shotgun in a taxi. “My friend takes you,” he said, over and over again. A few furtive glances were cast between the three of us, but the little English barker went away and the driver was asking for a price we’d been expecting, so we hired him. It was an hour-long journey to Las Guacamayas, an eco lodge set along the Lacantun river in the Montes Azul biosphere, named after the macaws that inhabit the area. As we lunched in the heat of the rainforest, howler monkeys played in a nearby tree. At this point, we felt like geniuses, since the combi and the taxi were a hundred pesos a person, and we were making our way around not in a tour van with a set schedule but by the seat of our pants, one seized day at a time. We relaxed that evening, reading on the hammocks on the porch of our cabin. The next morning we took a two hour hike through the jungle, where we saw more monkeys, an eagle, toads, spiders, some sort of anteater thing called a tecojote. Macaws flew by on our drive back to the lodge, tucans hung out in a nearby tree during breakfast.
Another three hour combi ride through astoundingly beautiful surroundings took us to Lago Tziscao, which our travel books told us would be the only place we could find lodging in the Lagos de Montebello area, named after the colorful chain of lakes that mark the area. When we hopped off the combi this time, a tuk-tuk driver immediately came by to offer his services for the trek down to the cabins. We were expecting something nice. What we got was jaw-dropping beauty. The cabin was steps from the lake, the largest one in the area, which at the time was a shimmering greenish blue. I jumped into the water immediately, which was more fresh than cold. We watched the sun set, ate deliciously fried fish caught by the restaurant’s seven-year-old fisherman. I rose for the sunrise, which was gray and foggy, making the area look like something out of a horror movie (a few hours later, the tuk-tuk driver from the day before would drive us around the rest of the lakes in the area and inform me that a Mexican horror movie was in fact filmed there).
At the summit of Lago Internacional, which is split evenly among Mexico and Guatemala, we walked freely across the border, no guards or patrols or anything of the sort in the area, the way, in an ideal world, I think it should be. Four hours checking out the lakes on our first cloudy day of the trip, then we somewhat remorsefully packed up our things and took another combi to Comitán de Dominguez, which a fellow traveler had generously described as San Cristobal without the tourist infrastructure. More of the same beauty on the drive, listening to the Mexico-Croatia World Cup game on the radio, the breathless cries of Gooooooooooooooool interrupted by the driver chatting on his two-way radio.
The next morning I took a combi back to Tuxtla Gutierrez for the airport, somewhat exhausted, thoroughly satisfied by the six-day journey full of off-the-cuff adventures.
About Adi Alsaid
Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City. He attended college at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in class, he mostly read fiction and continuously failed to fill out crossword puzzles, so it’s no surprise that after graduating he packed up his car and escaped to the California coastline to become a writer. He’s now back in his hometown, where he writes, coaches high school and elementary basketball, and has perfected the art of making every dish he eats or cooks as spicy as possible. In addition to Mexico, he has lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas and Monterey, California. A tingly feeling in his feet tells him that more places will eventually be added to the list.