Tag 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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Oaxaca City, Mexico…mucho culture

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Oaxaca City, Central Park

A walk through the park on a Wednesday afternoon looking for our friends and we stumble upon this lovely orchestra performing.  This city was beautiful and full of handicrafts of all kind.  However, by the time Christian and I arrived we were over crowded cities.  We just didn’t have the energy to explore more while we were here, so we looked for a camp spot nearby.

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Wednesday afternoon in the park in Oaxaca.

We had two choices here in this area for camping.  We could park in a gated gravel lot in the middle of the lively city with no shower or bathroom.   The other option was a campground twelve miles outside the city that had WiFi and a bathroom however it was located between abandon buildings and in the middle of nowhere.  We chose the latter.  The next morning with our WiFi we found out there was a small public water park within walking distance.   PERRRRRFECT it was 100 degrees with no wind, and we were in the dessert.

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On top of Monte Albán, alone!

Now that we are seasoned tourist of Ruins, we got to the top of a small mountain range where we found Monte Albán before it opened.  Monte Albán sits 1,300 feet above the valley of Oaxaca and it’s City at an elevation of 6,400 ft.  This humdinger was inhabited for over 1,500 years by at least three different civilizations who literally chopped off the top of the mountain, almost as it stands today.  This site contained tombs, temples, inscriptions and it even had a ball court!

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friends buying crickets-snacks at the market

This is Josh and Jenna (from Travel Amateurs) they are our overlanding friends that we met along the way.  So glad we did.  While in spanish classes in Guanajuato they heard that crickets are a greeeeaaat protein (as Tony the Tiger would say).  Some really took this info to heart, like Josh and Jenna.  On the other hand Christian and I decided that if chicken or any other food was more accessible that we would choose everything else.

The next day six of us overlanders went up a 10,000 ft mountain for the Oaxacan experience.  The six of us hiked for four days and did 35 miles at 10,000 to 8,000 feet depending on the next town’s destination.  I wish that I could say that hike was glorious and maybe for some of the other five it was. My experience was…”Stay alive, don’t fall it will hurt, eventually this will end!”  One day for about 1,000 ft we slid down a “trail” with 40lb packs on our backs.  Tons of Fun.  This hike wore us all out so much that we never had the energy to check out the waterfalls, caves, and view points.  Pro-tip: Drive to the small Eco-towns and hike to the cool stuff.  Ex-pro Tip: Anything tastes better than crickets, like CHIPS or peanut butter or real trail mix.

Retreat for a quiet Easter weekend.

It was Good Friday and we thought that we should skip Mexico City because it would be way too crazy during Easter weekend.  So we headed southwest to look for some water to cool off and a quiet place away from the crowds and craziness of Mexico’s biggest holiday of the year.  We found out later that the best week to visit Mexico City is Easter weekend because everyone leaves the city and heads towards the beaches.  Pro-tip: Visit Mexico City on Easter weekend, perfect we wanted to come back soon anyways.

We got another pro-tip from fellow travelers that there was a quiet swimmable river on the way to Oaxaca City.  It turned out that we made a right instead of a left at that quiet river, however we only paid 50 cents per person to enter the river area to camp during the holiday.  Sweet, that’ll work!  We nestled in a perfect corner of the river and improvised some slow-cook rib recipes in our dutch oven that Christian would tend to for four hours.  After an hour of rib-nurturing a large front and backhoe loader crawls over our campsite/home for the weekend.

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Let’s slow cook some meat

We love cooking in our dutch oven and just cooking in general.  The night before we fit an entire chicken in this dutch oven and had an awesome kick-ass meal. Saturday we had slow-cooked ribs and potato salad very “‘Merican.” We shared a plate with locals parked next to us.

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INCOMING…!!!

However the river and its tractor conductor had a different plan for our Easter.  The regulars and tractor conductor decided that in front of our site was the PERFECT place for a new hole, GIANT HOLE!  At this point we spoke very little to no spanish, the conductor of this machinery said little to us and laughed.  A kind family walks over to us and says “he is going to dig up this area and put it on top of your dinner, you should move it.  He wants to put a giant hole right here.”  It felt intentional and we weren’t  sure if we were intruders at this point or if they were trying to force us out or not.  By this time the river was packed with a hundred or so people who came here every year for this weekend.  We had set up camp in the prime spot and also the place where everyone wanted a large swimming hole placed.  Not going to lie, guilt started to swell.

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The Aftermath 1/2 way done.

So, they got their swimming hole and fifty people ran towards it as soon as he finished and were jumping off large rocks into it.  On the plus side he made us a wall so we didn’t have a view anymore but it lead to a teeny bit of privacy.  We manufactured a new fire for our slow-cook dutch oven ribs and continued our own celebration among our fellow Overlanding friends (Here Until There) all while laughing at the situation. The family next to us brought us a “typical Mexican dish” for us to try which consisted of rice, beans, mole and chopped up hot dogs.

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.

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