Category Archives: Mexico

Our Last Bit of Mexico, Chiapas

 

We left the insanely hot beach of Oaxaca, Mexico and headed straight for the Aguacero Waterfall in Chiapas.  It’s 742 steps down in 98 degree weather to a creek bed.  We walked through and across the creek bed and looked up at a breathtaking waterfall.  It pooled in several places covered in moss, plants and purple flowers.  The water was crisp and cool.  “We found Fern Gully!”  Christian gave me a hand and helped me up the slippery moss covered boulders to make our way to the bottom of the cascada.  We played under the chilling fall until our feet went numb.  Okay Chiapas, you got our attention, you are beautiful.

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That night we took a short drive to find the Sumidero Canyon.  We arrived after dusk and when everything was closed so it was diffilcult to find secure parking right away.  After an hour we found a locked gate fence where some guys where chatting under a street light near possibly the opening.   They figured out what we needed through some rough spanish and whislted for the night guard to let us in the parking lot of the canyon because we wanted take a boat ride the next morning.  We read other overlanders had done the same in the past and it seemed like a safe camping option for the night.  The next morning we headed down to the dock for a giant speed boat tour through the canyon.

The walls of the canyon were towering above us at 3,280 feet in some places.  This canyon is thought to be as old as The Grand Canyon.  The canyon was started by cracks in the earth’s crust and the Grijalva River dug its way for 35 million years.  Flying through the canyon our captain would abruptly stop for wildlife and the first stop was “Vulture Island.”  I don’t know, but to stop for a hundred vultures at once was probably the least appealing thing for me.  Moving along our next stop was a tree where two monkeeys were wrestling and showing off.  This was our “first monkeey sighting of the trip!”  Half way through the two-hour tour I notice that all of our life jackets have crocodiles on them and we haven’t seen one yet.  We get all the way down to the dam and pull up to a boat that is selling fruit, chips and soda.  Latin American culture “never miss an oppotunity to sell something” I believe is their moto.  For the return the captain speeds back through the canyon and then all of a sudden we come to an aggressive hault and a sharp turn.  I’m thinking “Hell yes, this must be it, the Crocs!”  This captain has laser eye sight or something?!  He pulls the boat right up alongside the croc so we all can bend over the side and take a million pictures, and nicely enough the crocodile stays motionless.  “How cool, it’s like he is posing!”  Them we speed off and head to another favorite spot for the captain where the next croc is out of the water and is also posing for more pictures.  A few minuets later a crocodile is actually moving and he swims by our boat for 10 seconds and then poof, gone.  The group is now satisfied and we head back to the dock.  When we got back I couldn’t let go of how strange our crocodile show was and I mentioned to Christian ” Do you think those crocs were real or staged? ”  Oh well if they were fake, they were really good ones.  Weeks later we ran into friends who had also done the tour a week prior and we compared our photos and had the exact same two crocs, same spot, same pose, same same.  However they never saw a crocodile swimming, Yea we saw a real one.

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Our last stop in Mexico was a spanish colonial town called San Cristobal de Las Casas.  It’s set way up in the mountains so the air was a lot cooler, and less sweating for us.  It rained a few hours every late afternoon, just enough to cool you off.  We found a campsite a mile outside of town and took the scooter back into town for sightseeing, groceries, chocolate and beer runs.  Our campsite was underneath tall evergreens, I absolutely loved it here.  I loved being in the woods but also only a mile to town, five days here flew by.   Chocolate shops, cheap decent wine and coffee everywhere, my little heaven and not a bad spot to spend a few dollars and a couple of days.

Next stop…Guatemala here we come.

Zipolite, I can’t quit you

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We rolled up to this mystical beach late one hot mexican night.  Looking for a perfect spot to set up shop for maybe two or three days we lucked out and found Habana’s Cabanas.  Ok, sounds kinda cool let’s go talk to the boss.   For $7 USD a night, you can park behind the cabanas 100 feet from the Pacific Ocean, a few feet away are the bath/showers, WiFi incl, cold beers and water in the office and shade underneath the cabanas.  That’s not all, our hammocks hung underneath the cabanas and fresh food will walk-by you just in case you’re too lazy to move to get snacks or dinner.  A margarita guy will pass-by, the ice cream man delivers and chocolate croissants show up at just the right time.  Pizza calzones, taco lady, herbal pastries  you name it, they make it and deliver to your hammock all day long.

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This place made it feel like we were on vacation, not a trip that takes a lot of work; straight-up, kick-back.  We took long walks on the beach, starred at the sunsets, laid in the hammocks for hours reading, telling jokes and stories.  Oh did I mention this was a clothing-optional beach, we may have tried it out or not.  We planned on two nights and it quickly turned into ELEVEN awesome days.  Friends were made here and other friends joined the scene a day later.  With nothing but time on our hands I decided that I would try making almond milk from scratch, after ton of messy work it turned out great.

Christian loved catching happy hour everyday and taking a walk down the beach for a brick oven pizza or a plate of Al Pastor tacos for about $1.  On semi-windy days he would bust out the kite and attach the go-pro to it for our make shift version of a “drone shot” along the beach.  It’s been a few months since we were here but this is a place we will return to.  We still talk about our time in Zipolite, in our six months of traveling this ranks as top 3 favorite moments.

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A few times we took the scooter out for great adventures and sightseeing, why not.  We headed out on the scooter for a gorgeous twenty minutes ride towards a lagoon called La Ventanilla Mangroves where we tour a small boat tour to check out some crocodiles, birds, Iguanas and turtles.   The next day we went to the Turtle Sanctuary in Mazunte the town over from Zipolite with our friends in a teeny tiny taxi and 6 of us crammed in an almost clown car while it was around 100 degrees.

The rest of our day was filled by sitting in our hammocks and people watch.  Naked old  guys would wear flip flops and a back pack, nothing else.  One occasion a chic was holding hands with two guys one on each hand and making the men walk backwards naked the entire length of the beach.  So as you can see we were entertained sitting on the beach for a short eleven days.

 

 

 

 

Teotihuacan, our first Pyramids and ruins.

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Pyramid of the Moon

This photo was taken from the top of the Pyramid of the Sun (third largest pyramid in the world) looking across the way towards Pyramid of the Moon which mimics the Mountain Cerro Gordo that rests behind it.  The Pyramid of the Moon (151 feet high) is actually seven pyramids built on top of each other which kept growing and growing and now is filled with tunnels and human sacrifices laid into the walls.  Hundreds of years separate each stage of construction.

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Early birds, get better photos.  Behind us is what remains of the Plaza of the Moon.
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Behind me is part of the Avenue of the Dead and The Moon Pyramid.  8 days sick here, still worth it.

This was when I first got sick the first time.  The nights before leading up to this day were awful and many rough days and nights followed this moment.  I was so weak here, climbing this pyramid was no easy feat.  I suspect I picked up salmonella or E.coli from the town before this and it lasted about ten days.  The morning of and the night before Christian and I were trying to figure out our plan of action in order for me to not miss this opportunity.  I decided I wasn’t going to miss these pyramids, I would suck it up and do as much as I could stand.  I climbed both of the Pyramids and then headed straight to bed which we conveniently parked right outside the gate.  I’m glad I did because I get to keep that memory forever and soon I’ll forget being sick and the terrible feeling.

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Pyramid of the Sun (246 feet high) and the Avenue of the Dead.

Teotihuacan

A beautiful Mesoamerican city located just outside of Mexico City was thought to have been built here around 100 B.C.  Some believe it was the sixth largest cities at its peak with a population of around 125,000 people up to 250,000.  This site was around thirty sq miles, we had to drive twenty mins to get around to the other side to get more exploring in.  We arrived before the gates opened because of a couple of reasons; One, this site will bring in thousands of tourist just that day and also to beat the extreme heat at midday.  We arrived there an hour before it opened and we were still the tenth car in line.  At this site there are two overwhelming-monstrous pyramids that will have you gasping at their incredible size and beauty.  Our imaginations ran wild standing in the middle of the Avenue of the Dead just conceiving how busy and lively this place was just a few short thousand years ago.

 

A tale of two cities, Morelia y Guanajuato.

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Our dear friends who are traveling faster than us mentioned that the city of Morelia is beeeeeautiful!  With their advice The Globe Trol hastily heads towards the gorgeous city that fell straight out of the 17th century Europe and place perfectly in the middle of Mexico.  This city is as far from home as I have ever been, I love it and it’s only been fifteen minuets.  We rushed to find a hotel and park the van-haus so we could get the skooter detached and start exploring ASAP.  We drove into a hotel where you park inside their courtyard and pull up next to your hotel room door.  We backed the kitchen right up to our room, how cool is that?!  A hop onto the skoot and we were off, off to tour this historic and enchanting place.  Morelia has the facade of a city and the heart and pace of a small town.  I was prepared with my guidebook covered in highlighted notes of every place on a long to do list.  “Ok, Christian get your game face on, we have a lot of skooting to do!”

First the Chocolate Museum for tons of treats, down the road a walk hand-in-hand along Lover’s Alley, and a stroll through the Garden of Roses where local artists were displaying their work.  All of the buildings were well preserved and some with new purposes.   The Cultural House used to be a former monastery established in 1593 and now houses multimedia artwork.  We found churches on every single block and corner and on Sunday at 5 o’clock we found ourselves at The Cathedral that was built in 1577 at the start of mass.  The Cathedral has a working organ of 4,600 pipes, however we weren’t’ fortunate enough to catch a song.   We drove the skooter the length of The Aqueducts while waiting for the sun to set and light up it’s 253 arches. Christian spent hours trying to capture its beauty in a photo that we were blessed to witness.

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After an awesome weekend we headed north to meet up with some fellow overlanders in Guanajuato.  We were told it’s a “must-visit” type of town like no other.  We navigated ourselves through the hills and tunnels of Guanajuato to find our new home for a week.  The Globe Trol forges up the narrow, steep and winding road before arriving to Morril RV Park.  We exercised the skooter daily here like it was training for a marathon along a road called The Panaramica.  Our fifteen minute ride on the skoot to spanish school started the very next day.  That night Christian was concerned, “I can’t believe we are setting an alarm for school!”  “C’mon, our classes down start until 10am.  I think we can make it” I said.  He lasted ONE day, I may have finished an entire week.  At school we learned that we arrived on a fantastic week in a few days begins Dia de la Flores (Festival of Flowers).  This festival is significant solely to Guanajuato and is also the kick-start celebration for Palm Sunday and Semana Santa (Saint’s week/Easter).  A group of us head to the center of town to observe mesmeric chaos that unfolds the night before.  On the hunt for Mezcaleria’s we find the streets to be packed with baskets of painted eggs in every color filled with confetti.  Children were running around smashing them onto each other’s for colorful explosions.  Hundreds of vendors lined the streets and flowers real and fake filled in the gaps.

I dragged Christian to visit a gory mummy museum, which was a mistake.  I pictured a place out of classy museum like ones I have been to before where you visit ancient Egyptian mummies.  Instead it was a dark place where the towns people dug up their late townsmen to make room for more.  What they dug up were mummified people and babies and they placed them in a building for people to pay money to see.  The Mercado (market) was located in a train station that was never used for trains and instead housed a place where you could get a tasty cuban sandwich, buy a chicken, t-shirts, crickets, fruit and veggies and hear the locals giving speeches who were I assume running for office.  The day before the festival of flowers the locals arrived early in the morning to the Mercado buying as many flowers as one could hold to decorate their home with.   Pick up trucks would deliver flowers stacked ten feet high and drop them off to vendors and return with another load thirty minuets later, an incredible site.  To say the very least Christian and I felt after spending a week here that we got a sampling of rich community that was tough to leave.

Our Adventure to the Butterflies

We start the week off at a warm, beautiful place before a long drive to get to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in a tiny town called Jocotepec off of Mexico’s largest lake Chapala.  We had another 7 days or so before the Monarch Butterflies were to leave and fly off to another land.  Seeing the butterflies was one of my top 5 things that I put on my to-do list for this trip.  Couldn’t wait!!!

After a seven or so hour drive we arrive to one of the more secluded and natural Butterfly Reserves just before sunset after it closes.  We drove up the heavily wooded single road to camp for the night and decide to catch an early tour the next morning.  It starts raining and the wind picks up immediately while we are trying to park.  We quickly make dinner and jump into the van for shelter for the night.  Neither one of us can sleep because we found ourselves in a extreme winter storm.  We are on top of a mountain at 10,000 ft in a closed park, seemingly alone during a hail and sleet storm that is rocking the van.  The temperature drops increasingly and we take shelter under the covers as fast as possible.  To drown the howling winds and current conditions we binge watch some tv shows until we can fall asleep.  Neither one of us can sleeps throughout the night.  We decided since there would be no tour that day that we would head down the mountain for better weather conditions.  We found out that the single road is blocked by at least a handful of  gigantic fallen pines.  The wind is howling so the road is too dangerous to stand still so we reverse about a mile back to the open parking lot.  There was no cell signal so we look for an emergency phone, nothing.  We check the small huts near by and find nothing.  Eventually we see a small native woman in a garbage bag roaming around and we scream for help.  She speaks no English and her dialect of Spanish made it nearly impossible to understand.  She takes us into her hut for some fire, coffee and tortillas.   We were cold and frozen so anything sounded like a dream at that point.  She lives at the butterfly sanctuary by the support of the government along with 40 other locals who sold either trinkets or tacos to the visitors.

With our broken Spanish and her mountain dialect we tried asking if help was coming to clear the road, she said yes or tomorrow.  She gestured that she had made a call for support.  Our cell phone was not getting a signal, I was so stressed.  However I enjoyed sitting in front of her brick oven drying my clothes and warming my toes no matter if we could communicate or not.  We met several of the others who lived in the Butterfly commune, everyone seemed to be checking on each other.  The gringos were throwing them off though.  I would tell them that they needed to speak slower and instead they would scream faster in my ear as if that would help me understand their Spanish.   Meanwhile huge pine trees were crashing to the ground too close for comfort.  I couldn’t take anymore of the screaming so I told Christian I’d rather sit in the van for the night.  Our kitchen is outside and in the rear of the van so in wind, rain or a winter-storm it does us no good.  We chew on some bread and cheese for dinner for the night and split a beer.  The inside of the van reached at least  28 degrees while we were awake so we cuddled as much as possible to stay warm.  We shiver throughout the night as temperature continues to drop, I wake up and start crying “What the fuck are we going to do?!”  It’s a saying that came up at least 20 times between the two of us.

After a very long and cold forty-eight hours a pick-up truck pulls up to our van with fifteen people in it.  We start screaming in joy, “the road is clear! thank god!”   Diego tells us “We leave in about twenty mins, follow my tracks down.  Do you want something to eat?”  He tells us that in a town a few hours down the mountain  he heard two people were trapped up at the top and freezing in their car.  In a pick up truck full of people they brought up a chainsaw and clear the road, hours later we happily meet them.  Diego and his girlfriend Ame take us to their hometown where we get a warm hotel, shower, food and a beer.  “Now that we are safe, I’d still like to see the butterflies tomorrow!” Our new friends tell us “I’m sorry they died in the storm.” I can’t give up that easy, I just sat in a three day storm scared as hell, freezing my limbs off just to see the butterflies.  And that’s it.

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Needing of mention:Snow has not hit this part of Mexico in at least 12 years. The luck we have is immeasurable, after all those days not one butterfly.

Next chapter…Mainland Mexico

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Things have been anything but dull on the road with The Globe Trol.  Our first week on mainland we spent in Mazatlan with some of our favorite fellow overlanders who we traveled with for about a month and a half.  We feel so lucky to have met so many great travelers and locals on this trip so far.

While in Mazatlan we camped on a beach that for the most part we had to ourselves in front of a “pizza” place that only sold coconuts.  At night it had a different vibe, it was an open air place where people sat in the dark with piles of weed in front of them while they rolled and smoked joints all night.  We were never offered any, but we camped there for free.  One person per vehicle was sick for most of those days, strange odds.  We took a golf cart taxi tour of the city together that promoted day drinking.  Since we camped on an island while in Mazatlan we would take a water taxi back and forth to the city for 43 cents per person.

We finally move south down the coast and end up in a tiny fishing village called Santa Cruz/Miramar.  We found a beautiful resort like grounds to camp at for four days.  This place was originally built a few hundred years ago for German miners who stole the land and the natives eventually took it back by force or so the legend has it.  We stayed there for four days, a gorgeous garden with five small pools looking over the ocean for $11.  Awesome.  Time to find some free camping again though.

Strolling down the coast a little further we stumbled upon San Pancho just north of Puerto Vallarta.  The RV camp spot tell us it’s 300 pesos for a dirt lot and cold showers, no thanks!  Well what about the town plaza and for free?   Yes that’ll do.   We end up hanging out in this swanky town where we find 50 cent killer tacos, a free music festival all weekend in our new backyard(great timing), bathrooms and showers at a near by fish house!  What a blast.

We came to Puerto Vallarta to get some major errands taken care of.  Our fridge still isn’t working properly, recharge the a/c and pick up a new credit card because ours was compromised.  Lesson learned: Dont use ATM’s in dark alleys. It’s also been pretty warm here so we decided to get our A/C recharged and find out that the compressor had a leak and needed to be replaced.  Luckily for us we met a mechanic named Jair who spoke great English and had tons of recommendations for destinations while traveling in Mexico.   Jair is almost finished with his law degree and then he said he was going to take the same trip to Argentina was he is done.  He gave us bottle of Don Julio to take down to South America after he fixed our van.

Christian is screaming “I love Mexico, I never want to leave and if that clown Trump is elected I’m buying a house here!”

Still in Baja, we could stay forever…

These are from Baja California (the northern half)

He tested out the AWD…

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After Cabo we took a dirt road for an hour to a secret beach thanks to “Here Until There” to meet up with a few Overlander buddies (Travel Amateurs and Kocovnici Kocovni).  It was an awesome FREE place to camp for a few days.  I rode the skooter on this rocky road to soft sand cliffs while Christian drove the van.  As soon as we pull up to the camp Christian tests out the AWD on our Astro through the soft sandy beach, don’t worry I grabbed the camera immediately.  With a little help from a few friends, boards and shovels we were dug and pushed out in no time.  We set up camp and found Josh and Jenna (travel amateurs) were in deep with a Hermit Crab Coliseum getting ready for a big race.  Everyone picked out a crab to race, however our crab took twenty-five minutes to come out of his shell and move.  We were disqualified based on our crab seemed more like a rock than a racer.

The next morning we were greeted by a heard of goats and it’s herder, a puppy we called Goat.  Goat left his heard and hung out with us for most of the day, maybe because we provided shade or more than likely because we fed him steak.  To pass sometime Josh decided to go into battle with what he thought was a few wasps and bees but turned into hours of war.  Christian and I took a walk down the beach practicing our spanish and watching whales breach.

On the road and on to the next, Los Barriles where the term “active at any age” thrives.  Our newest neighbor 70+ was doing sit-ups for an hour or so, before he went kite surfing for the rest of the day.  Right now we are trying to figure out how to fix our fridge, it’s inefficient and sucking the life out of our house battery.  Tomorrow we will head back to La Paz to search for a new fridge just in time for Carnivale.  Should be mayhem for the next five days, stayed tuned.

mucho amor and until the next wifi -tgt

Baja California Sur

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It’s been awhile since we have had decent internet in order to update the site.  We’ve been on the road now for over two weeks and life has been great.  Tonight we are in Cabo San Lucas which is at the southern tip of Baja.  We’ve seen great sunsets, sunrises and shooting stars.  We have been traveling with other overlanders most of this trip, and meeting more almost every night.

I love seeing so many different towns but my favorites are the small beach towns, today driving through Cabo was kind of a nightmare.  Cabo so far is my least favorite and I wouldn’t mind skipping all of the tourist traps from here on out.  We just spent a few days camping on the beach with no facilities with a few new friends and had a great time.  In the morning vendors come by the remote free beaches and sell tamales, water, fresh juice, bread and blankets.  Uhh that’s awesome I guess I’m having a tamale and tangerine juice for breakfast before I go swim and do nothing for the rest of the day.  The following day Christian whittled a Hawaiian-sling from a stick and I started weaving a paracord survival pouch for my emergency fishing tin.

The scooter-adventures that we have been able to do is well worth all of the bitching and belly-aching I hear from Christian.  It’s a pain to get it on and off the hitch in order to get to the kitchen every night and it’s a lot of weight in the back.  Sometimes I get to drive the skoot and Christian will sit in back, he’s brave.  Guys in pick-up trucks pass us, honk and give him the thumbs up right before I hit soft sand and almost lose control.

until the next wifi- tgt