Our journey began by flying into Cancun Mexico and heading down to Playa Del Carmen. Jeremy, Michael and I are not big bar stars or the typical spring breakers but we figured what the heck, lets go take in the party atmosphere for awhile. We met some cool Aussies at our hostel and within four hours of landing we were well on our way to having an amazing first night in Mexico. It was really exciting to watch and take in the excitement from Jeremy who was a first timer in Central America. We spent the night frolicking the beach and drinking lots of cervasas. The night ended around 4:30 for Michael and I. The next morning I found Jeremy swimming in the ocean still drunk.

DSCF4255

DSCF4267

DSCF4270

DSCF4282

Taking a mini bath in the public fountain!

DSCF4295_2

DSCF4300

DSCF4301_2_2

DSCF4302Street taco!

DSCF4308

S0044411_2

DSCF4415_2_2

S0134488Tulum beach

DSCF4515

DSCF4532_2

As much fun as Playa was, we decided to hop a bus to Tulum to enjoy more of a tranquil beach town vibe. We rented bikes and started calling ourselves the Tres Lobos wolf pack. Jeremy was struggling to deal with his North American food addictions that he could no longer service on the Mexican streets. He was a little cranky at times but we pushed through. The wolf pack took an adventure out to Crystal and Escondito Cenotes. The crystal blue water was incredible. Mike and I had been to a different cenotes on our last trip to Tulum but these two were totally different. Out in the open air where the sun could shine on you and equipped with a platform for jumping, perfect for a day picnic in paradise. 

 DSCF4534

DSCF4538

DSCF4540_2

DSCF4544

DSCF4576

We ended off our time in Mexico in a small town on the boarder of Belize/Mex called Bacalar. It is really unique because it is actually a lake that looks like the ocean. They call it the lake of seven colors and we counted at least seven shades of blue! We enjoyed camping at a sweet hostel called Magic right on the water. The most eventful tasks were looking for pizza for two hours, having too many cervasas in the sun one after noon, and hiking/hitch hiking to another cenote. Overall the Mayan Rivera and surrounding area was a blast and a good intro to the rest of our trip.

DSCF4578_2

DSCF4584

S0154589

S0234743

S0244775_2

DSCF4796_2_2

DSCF4798_2

DSCF4803

DSCF4804

Advertisements

For our return route back to Canada, we choose to take the gulf coast of Mexico. We had heard some horror stories about gang violence, decapitations, police corruption and everything else you could think of, but we heard that about West coast Mexico too! lol. But we made it through alive, with our necks still attached to our heads! States like Campeche, Chiapas and Veracruz are notorious for violence and there had been some recent cases of groups of 30 plus people being executed.

The first leg of the journey was a piece of cake. Quintana Roo province is practically the Disney Land of Mexico. With places like Cancun and Playa Del Carmen close by, you know you are pretty safe. They are the tourist bread winners for Mexico so not much funny stuff goes done there. We then headed due West, to hit the major ruins of Palenque. The ancient Maya sure knew how to live. The temples were enormous and breathtaking and very well preserved. There was a river that had been detoured through the ruins and had a beautiful waterfalls to go with it. The whole area was a monkey reserve but we did not get lucky enough to see any.  Read the rest of this entry »

Guatemala tomorrow!

October 15, 2011

Well we made it to the border town of Tapachula in Chiapas Mexico without any incident. Tomorrow we will cross into Guatemala! We met a canadian couple in Huatulco who live two hours away from the Guatemala border and we will be heading to their house to stay. They are missionaries and have four kids, seems like a safe place to get our bearings in a new country.

Today we explored a ancient ruin city called Izapa. The ruins are very old and some have been reconstructed. A lot of the stone face carvings are not legible anymore. There was still amazingly precise cuts into the rocks that are mind boggling. How the heck did they do it?

Investigations by the New World Archaeological Foundation show that Izapa was inhabited throughout the Preclassic Period into the Postclassic Period. It had a estimated population of some 10,000 people in 13 plazas. This would place the first human settlers in Izapa from about 1500 to 1250 B.C!

Amazingly there are still villagers living among the ruins today! The ruins are protected by their very distant ancestors, how cool is that! We got to check this place for free which is pretty cool considering everything cost money now a days. We also found a really cool ant colony which we were told was “peligroso” (dangerous). They has built a living road from the top of a ruin to their nest below. Some of them were as big as a dime! Good times

Error
This video doesn’t exist

Aca-POOH-co!

October 13, 2011

Acapulco…blah…

Just when you finish praising Mexico and how great all the people here have been, you drive through Acapulco and get ‘robbed’ by the Policia Vial (traffic police)! We were well aware of their tactics, as they had done the same to our friend Jeremy the day before!

We met Jeremy back in the Baja in El Rosario. He is overlanding to Argentina on his motorcycle. Despite his warning via email, we felt the detour north through the mountains would likely be more dangerous. We decided to chance it and drive through the center of Acapulco.

Everything was going great. The bay with all the hotels was impressive, and the strip was clean, but noticed there weren’t any other tourists around. We pulled up to a red light at an intersection and noticed the ‘Policia Vial’ at the light on our right. Our light turned green and we proceeded forward, along with everyone else behind us, and made our way up a long hill. The cop followed in our direction, only a few cars in between. I noticed another cop car in opposing traffic hit it’s lights and pull a u-ey just after we passed by. Seconds later, there was one car beside us and one behind us, and we were beckoned to pull over.

The officer came up to my window and shook my hand and introduced himself, then told us we had a problem. We allegedly drove straight through an intersection where we were supposed to turn left…so why did everyone else do the same? And why was there an arrow painted on the pavement that pointed straight ahead with a left turn arrow? But try explaining that to someone who is trying to scam you…damn language barrier!

He told us he caught us on video and showed me the camera on his dash, though he wouldn’t show me the video. He said we had over 5400 pesos worth in fines, which is just under $500, and said we would have to stick around Acapulco and pay it the next day if he issued us this ticket. He had our vehicle import permit and my International Driver’s License, but we refused to give him our Passports, so we showed him copies. By this time, I think he knew we were on to him and he said if we wanted to go free we could give him half the amount of the fine. Earlier, he was saying that he couldn’t let us go because he had us committing this horrendous crime on video!

In the end, he managed to get the 1200 odd pesos we had on us before he would give us our documents back. Shame on you Acapulco Policia Vial!! Because of you, we will tell everyone we know to avoid Acapulco!!

Peace out A-town!

M

Long road to Zihuatanejo

October 12, 2011


The road south of Puerto Vallarta is long and lonely. Besides two friends we met on the Baja, Jeremy and Andy, We seem to be the only foreigners on the road. The country side is very lush and tropical. It looks like the hills are covered in a living blanket of leaves and vines. We crossed many rivers and “towns” on route to the next big center, Manzanillo. When you can only go 40-60km/hr it makes for a long and slow ride. Most places you wouldn’t want to go much faster because you can never see what lies around the next corner. A goat, dog, donkey, person or boulder, you never know what your going to get!

We pushed past Manzanillo and drove right until dark, so we could make a small place called La Ticla. This place was invented by surfers looking for the perfect break. There are only a few huts by the beach and some palapas. We stayed the night to rest and saw our first live armadillo right in our camp! The surf was great but we didn’t have boards and it was a little out of our league anyways.

The next day we made it to paradise! Ixtapa is tourist strip located by the town of Zihuatanejo. The area actually has numerous bays with nice beaches.

We found a small casa called Las Azucenias which is a stones throw away from the beach. In retrospect, we should have stayed longer! We had the cutest little kitchen with a peekaboo window for ventilation. The pool was so refreshing and a great spot to hang out while it rained. We surfed one of the two days we were there and got our butts kicked but managed to ride some waves. I got a tiny shiner under my eye and a wicked sun burn. The waves were so aggressive that they were tearing our bathing suites off!

Luckily we were not hit directly by the hurricane in the area this week. There was some rain but it was great considering we haven’t had any rain since Oregon! These certainly aren’t the kind of roads you want to drive on during a storm. More mountain terrain tomorrow as we pass through some seedy areas towards Acapulco and further south. Ciao for now!

N

Chillin in PV

October 7, 2011

Puerta Vallarta is exactly what you expect, long sandy beaches, palm trees, beautiful high rise resorts and colorful market places. We stuck around here for a few day to catch up on mail and try to make some phone calls before we hit the road again for some long days driving further south. I must say the phones here suck and I hate them! It is impossible to find anyone who sells pay phone cards and once you do. you have to actually find a pay phone! The beach is awesome, if you can stand the constant stream of people trying to sell you stuff. Its tough to see them struggling to get by here, people aren’t splashing their money around as much as they used to. The jewelry and handcrafts are remarkable but you can’t buy it all.

Turns out PV is a gay mecca. Who knew? Our hotel is right in the Zona Romantic. Haha it pretty cute, Mike and I are the only hetero couple we have seen around. Takes the heat off me anyways. We got tipsy a few nights at the local gringo hangout , Margarita Grill. They have live Mexican music, an outdoor bar and they make your salsa right at the table.  They also have a cute disabled parrot named Juniper who tries to break into the sweet liqueur bottles on the bar. “Can I buy that bird a shot”? Hahaha.

We have been enjoying our fun but need to keep moving. We have roughly 1800 more kilometers to drive in Mexico before we reach the Guatemala boarder. Tomorrow we drive to Manazillo, and by we, I mean, Michael. He’s driven the whole way! But loves it.

See ya on the beach.

N

Paradise Found

October 6, 2011

Here are some recommendations for places to stay when you are in Mexico. We have found some gems that made us never want to leave! Ideas for our future home are always being collected!

The first paradise found was BAJA B&B in La Paz, Baja, Mexico. The owner Cecilia was a wonderful host and the only local owner of a B&B here. This place does not look like anything from the road but as you walk down the corridor you find an oasis at the end. She has hammocks, pool, bar, jetted tub, lounger chairs, and it’s only two blocks to the ocean! The rooms are very tasteful; white stucco with small colorful tile in the bathroom, and the sink and toilet were handcrafted porcelain painted with brightly colored flowers. It was about 700 pesos per night, which was reasonable considering Cecilia made us a homemade breakfast both days. If you want to hideaway in Baja Mexico, I would recommend this place.

Another one of our favorite stays was at La Hacienda Guesthouse & Inn in Todos Santos, Baja, Mexico. We ended up here after a wild goose chase trying to find hatching baby sea turtles. We had driven for an hour to get to the town, then one more hour trying to find a camp ground after dark. We were exhausted because we had gone on a 3 hour boat tour that lasted all day! Michael and I were at our breaking point, we looked at each other and said Hotel! We thought we would try the prices at the famous “Hotel California”, but it was costly, and it’s actually not even the real deal. Lol! These guys are making some cash thanks to that song! This lead us to find La Hacienda. It is set back in the jungle with lush gardens and blue pools. They have peacocks, need I say more. This is not the place for the frugal backpacker. We must have looked fried because we got a sympathy rate of $100 US. Our room was so incredible. It was a king bed with a stucco seashell head board molded into the wall. The bathroom was like heaven. The entire shower was colorful tiles and it had two windows. Did I mention matching sinks? It had a kitchen so we saved some money eating beans for dinner to make up for this luxurious spending. Haha. We soaked up every minute of this place! If you are headed to the Cabo area skip the all inclusive stuff and stay here!

Currently we are staying at the Bungalos De Janitzio in Puerto Vallarta. We wanted to check PV out, but not spend a fortune. It seems to be a pretty big tourist trap here. We just happened upon this hotel, and it’s only two blocks from the pristine beach and warm water of the Pacific. It is no palace but it is clean, has a hot shower, nice terrace and a full kitchen for 500 pesos/night for 2. We are having fun cooking our own Mexican meals. This seems to be the most frugal way to see PV and still enjoy the perks of the touristy areas.

R&R on the Baja

September 29, 2011

 

 



We have been enjoying the Baja for 5 days now. We have made our way roughly 1000 km down peninsula that darts back in forth from the Pacific Ocean side to the Sea of Cortez side. We have been driving through an intense dessert. You could fry an egg on the dash of the truck and the temperature outside is 40 degrees! The landscape is beautiful and harsh. There are cacti that are bigger than a car and hundreds of years old. We have passed countless amounts of skinny cows, donkeys, horses and goats that eat only inches away from the shoulderless highway. There are many military check stops, that so far have not been an issue. They are there for our safety and usually don’t hassle us much. Personally I think they only make us step out of the car to see what the “tourista blanco y hermosa” is wearing! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highlights so far have been the whale shark swim and camping in Palapas on the beach with the great group of peeps from Long Beach! These crazy kids worked on a tall ship together taking groups of adults and kids out to sea for up to a week to snorkel and learn about the ocean (what a job). Sleeping under the stars in the open air was a great experience, just mind the scorpions in your bed! The beautiful Bahia Concepcion was another beauty! We camped there last night and had a 7 a.m. snorkel for breakfast!

Tomorrow we will drive to La Paz. This will be the city where we get our ferry to the mainland. We heard there are Mexican wrestling matches here. If we are in luck we will get to see the real life Nacho Libre in action! Once we secure our ferry ticket and vehicle import we may take a few days and head further south, closer to Cabo. There are some hot spots for scuba on the way and some famous beaches. We probably won’t waste our money staying in Cabo unless its just for the day to look around.

Until next time……

N

 

 

 

 

“Rapido, Rapido”…

September 29, 2011

…Marco, our guide, shouts as we finally pull up alongside the breathtaking 20 ft Whale Shark! What an absolutely stunning creature. A bluish-grey colour with white spots all over it’s body. We all scramble to get our snorkel gear on as we were caught off guard seeing one, because we had been searching for one of these beasts for over an hour and a half. During that time of ‘patiently’ waiting for one to surface, we had the pleasure of viewing a pod of Dolphins and having a huge Sea Turtle come up for a breath right behind our boat! That was another first for me that day.

Scott, Emily, Johann, Deena, Mike, Andrew, and Dan, our new friends from Long Beach and beyond, all hopped into the water to get a closer look at the Whale Shark. The newbies, Nastaja and I, were too late, it had dived down to avoid the crowd by the time we were ready. We drifted around in the boat with Marco as he told us in Spanish that we had to be quicker…no sh!t. While we waited for everyone else to return to the boat, I thought we may have missed our opportunity. Luckily for me, I saw the Whale Shark right up close alongside the boat, only a couple feet away. Nastaja never saw anything but it’s dorsal fin, and she was bummed out. Within a couple minutes we spotted another one on the surface, and this time we made no mistakes and launched into the lukewarm water. Every time I looked up, everybody was going in a different direction than me following the Whale Shark, and unfortunately for me, I missed it again. As everyone piled back into the boat hooting and hollering, I somberly crawled back in. I was the only one who never saw it. Being a stand up group of people that I was with, they insisted that I be the first to go in for the next one, if another would show, that is. Sure enough, we spotted another one, and as Marco pulled up beside it, everyone cheered for me to jump in. WOW, what an experience!! I swam right over top of it for what seemed to be an eternity, as I admired it’s peaceful nature, and awesomeness, in the true sense of the word. I watched as Scott dove down and got right below it, then the creature turned slightly onto it’s side and I was able to look it straight in the eye. I can’t imagine what it thought of us as we all followed it with grins from ear to ear. In total, we swam multiple times with 4 different Whale Sharks, ranging in size from 15-20 ft long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enough of badgering the Whale Sharks for one day, we decided, lets go catch some lunch!! As we made our way to Isla Vendanda (window island), Marco dropped in a fishing line, and trolled over to our destination. Within minutes, he had a fish on the line. He motioned for someone to take the rod and reel it up, so I jumped up, but he said no, and motioned for Nastaja to take it. I grabbed the camera instead, and recorded some of the 10 minute battle. Finally she pulled up the 30 inch ‘Sierra’. What a beaut, with the perfect yellow dots on it’s long silver body. Marco was happy, so we knew it would be good eating.

Error
This video doesn’t exist

When we got to the island we all jumped in and did some snorkeling. The rocks and ledges were teeming with fish and sea life of all different varieties and sizes. Scott and Mike took their spearguns with them and wrangled 3 Leopard Groupers…tonight, we would feast!!

If that had been my last day on Earth, I would have died one happy hombre!!

M

Anecdotes From The Road

September 26, 2011

Here are a few little stories that will make you chuckle. They haven’t made it onto the blog thus far, but we thought we better write them down before we forget!

Sleepless Night: Back in Mendocino California Michael and I were driving through a foggy forest down a winding road at dusk. It was very beautiful but we both had an uneasy feeling about the place. We had to go so slow to navigate the turns that it felt like someone could jump right into the back seat. We both decided it was best not to stop for a picture. When we made it into the tiny town about 50 km away the bar tender (Justin) let us know that there was a murderer on the loose who had killed two people in the near by forest. WTF. No wonder we were scared. We coined him the “Mendocino Monster.” Here’s a picture of the perp. After a few drinks Justin thought it was best if we follow him back to his place so we could park our vehicle in a safe spot to sleep for the night. What he failed to tell us was that his house was at the top of a 5km hill. We climbed up the drive way for what seemed like 20 minutes in complete fog. Then we got to a locked gate which he secured behind us. I guess I should have felt safer but I looked at Michael and asked if we were safe?!  Long story short, Justin turned out to be a great dude and showed us great California hospitality and no harm came to us. BUT…it was a sleepless night. I was so freaked out about the Mendocino Monster that I clenched my teeth all night and had nightmares. I had a migraine for three days and also had some inner ear problems. Wow almost worse then meeting the monster himself! hahaha

Van Gough: Back in Dune City Oregon Michael and I had just finished breakfast at a local state park camp ground. We were going through our routine of cleaning up and loading Elvis back up to the tits when Michael started acting crazy. He was like ” there’s something in my ear! There is a buzzing in my ear!” He was shaking his head all around and then standing bent over with his ear to the ground. I looked in his ear repeatedly but could not see anything. I wanted to believe him but come on, there is nothing in there. After about ten minutes I started to go back to my business when he started flailing his arms around again and shaking his head. We got out the tweezers and I started probing in his ear. I was a little worried something disgusting was going to crawl out and I was going to loose it, but I tried to keep my composure for his sake. After countless probes and shakes we pulled out a little black fly that was buzzing around in there. hahaha

Travelers Dy-Ho!: Less then twelve hours in Mexico and one meal later, I was hit in the guts with what felt like a dagger. I ran to the bano as fast as I could but I never was the fastest runner. Luckily for me I was only wearing a towel at the time and there were showers in the bathroom. Don’t use the green towel.