Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Oaxaca City

We have spent the last three nights in the city of Oaxaca in Oaxaca state. It is a beautiful town nestled in a valley surrounded by lush mountains. The main tourist attraction here is Monte Alban. The first urban style dwelling in all of America! Talk about historic! It was really amazing to walk around the ruins and imagine what life would have been like in 500 B.C.!! I definitely had a hard time imagining it. Our visit here was a little longer than expected as we had some minor van problems. At first we believed our fuel filter was all bunged up, but after changing it we discovered that it was not the problem after all. After a stressful day of googling and troubleshooting we were still clueless as to the next action to take.
We finally resorted to taking Kumu to a mechanic near our campground. Andrew and the mechanic took the van for a drive to show him what the problem was. Right away he seemed to know how to fix it, so we left the van with him for a couple hours while we explored the extensive markets in the city.
When we returned to pick up the van the receptionist informed us the mechanic had left for the day and we couldnt talk to him. That aroused our suspicions as the receptionist asked how we would like to pay. When the bill came to only 46 dollars canadian and the woman informed us that everything was bueno, we figured how bad can it be? When we started Kumu up she purred like a kitten, better than she has sounded for a few thousand miles! Hooray for Mexican skill. We have yet to take her on a long drive but today is the day! 
Never the less we are looking forward to moving on and hope to be in Guatemala in a few days! Yahoooo!

Andrew changing the fuel filter in the Auto parts Parking lot

Monte Alban

Seeking some shade from the fierce sun.

Chilling on the Mayan steps

Monte Alban

While waiting for the van we stumbled across a skating rink!! in Mexico!!! amazing!! It was highly entertaining and we watched for over an hour as people tried our Canada's favorite sport

I love this picture. Skating with a palm tree in the background while the medics waiting patiently for the carnage to eventually occur.

Good times in the mercados

An Oaxacan specialty: Roasted, seasoned grasshoppers.

Mmmm grasshoppers

The meat section of the mercado. Everyone selling the exact same thing. Maybe if they spread out a bit they would have better luck? Who knows?

Old school weaving in the Artesanias Mercado.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Feliz Navidad

irst off, Feliz Navidad to everyone out there. I hope that you all have a great day surrounded by loved ones and family. That’s what its all about right?
The last time I had a sunny, hot Christmas I was 5. Before that I was 3. Needless to say, this Christmas was a strange one. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but vendors selling likenesses of Santas, Reindeer and snowmen, was not it.
For a country where the majority of  its people have never even seen snow, let alone enough snow to make a snowman, it seems pretty out of place.
I also cant help but wonder what the words are to the Christmas carrols being played around the country. They are the  same tunes as ours only Spanish lyrics. Are they really singing about Juan the Snowman? Or Pedro the Red Nosed Reindeer? But then again, maybe we stole our carols from a country like Scandanavia and its actually Olav the Snowman. Something to google I suppose. I guess I was hoping that the people in this country would have put their own spin on the holiday that is Christmas.
But enough about that. We spent Christmas eve and Christmas morning in the extremely hippy town of Zipolite on the Oaxaca coast, just an hour south of Puerto Escondido. In a town where hemp is the fabric of choice, dreadlocks are almost a must (im working on mine) and nudity is embraced by many it was hard to get into the Christmas spirit.
Our big Christmas eve dinner was spent at an incredibly romantic restaurant on the beach eating pizza and beer by candlelight. As much as we miss our own family traditions at home, this Christmas eve was pretty perfect.
We walked back to the campground in the dark along the beach searching for phosphorescence and as we commented on the chilly night we spotted a fire convientienly located about half way back to the van.
We joined the fire with a couple of locals, and commented on how nice the heat was in the cold night. (the cold night being about 15 degrees)

Muy frio!! (very cold) I said.

Si!, Hace invierno. Was the reply. Yes, Its Winter. As though that fact should be painfully obvious. He also told us that there would be a band playing on the beach... starting at TWO am. I think I am getting old because the thought of staying up that late made me cringe

Christmas morning started with a traditional Rubens walk, although this was down the beach rather than through the snow. We cooked up a delicious egg burrito complete with orange juice and coffee and followed up with a quick dip in the ocean before opening the goodie bag of presents my mom kindly left with us before heading back to Canmore.
It has definitely been a strange Christmas, but one that I will remember for years to  come. We are now leaving the coast to head up to Oaxaca City, and get a little bit cultured. I think the surfing will be put on hold now until El Salvador.

Christmas Eve Dinner

Mmmm Pizza n Beer n Candlelight

Beach Bums in Zipolite

Opening presents from my mama!

Perfect. Men n Chocolate

Thank You!!

Checking out the view over the Sierra Madre

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

La Manzanilla

Our week in Sayulita was awesome apart from the lack of surf, but we did manage to soak up some pretty amazing sunsets.

 We bided some time by getting a custom painting done by a local artist. We were super stoked on the out come!

And some of the Frenchies in our campground allowed us to test out their slack line. I think I have lost some balance skills since retiring from ski racing!! But it was fun none the less!

From Sayulita we headed south past the crazy city of Puerto Vallarta to the mellow town of La Manzanilla. Thank goodness for friends as Craig Hill's (trainer from the ski team) father Gerry has an amazing little place here and was kind enough to let us borrow it for a few days. So for the last few days we have been experiencing the lives of the snow birds.

One of the huge crocodiles that live in the Lagoon in the middle of town!

 Dont want to get too close!

Snowbird Living

While having happy hour we discussed our next adventure we are dreaming of which is buying a boat and exploring the oceans!

Mmmm Happy Hour

My parents rental car has ATTITUDE

The fam in Melaque

 A couple days ago we headed to the mountains to check out a couple of volcanoes. This one is Volcan de Fuego (Volcano of Fire). It was amazing to drive around it and watch it smoke.

Volcan De Fuego

Delicious quesadillas in the shadow of the Volcano

On the way back to La Manzanilla, we stopped to check out some Mexican Horse Dancing (see video in the post below!) 

The Silver Spur!!!

Mexican horse dancing is for people of all ages!

All in all it has been a blast to have my parents here, but we are itching to take off again. Today or tomorrow we shall pack up Kumu again and search out some surf. Take it easy

Friday, December 10, 2010

Parental Visit Part I

On the 2nd of December my parents, Clive and Wilma flew down from cold, cold Alberta to meet up with us for a two week hiatus from the frigid north. We arrived in the ever growing surf town of Sayulita on the 1st to scope it out before picking them up at the airport in Puerto Vallarta. It was a strange experience picking them up, knowing they had had a quick 5 hour flight from Calgary to arrive there, while we were well into our 4th month of driving! However it was great to see them and we were glad that they didnt have to run the gauntlet of the vulture cab drivers at the airport basically yelling in your face, "Taxi! Cheapest price! Taxi!" That being said, it was highly entertaining watching the vultures attempt to capture thier prey, all the while sticking to some obvious unwritten code of the Mexican Taxi Driver.
We had an amazing stay in Sayulita minus the fact that there really were no waves. the first day we were there we actually had some great waves, but the ocean calmed down to almost snorkeling water for the rest of the week. We had a few sessions in the waves, but it was a challenge with sets rolling in only every 10 miuntes or so and every local and tourist going for the long sought after waves. We did manage to sneak away to the mountains for a great day excursion to the small, very spanish town of San Sebastion and the farming town of Mascota. If you are wondering where we are check out the updated map on the "Route" page!
A plash of color in San Sebastion
A meal fit for... Kings? All the bits and pieces that you don't really want to think about... I think I may pass on this culinary delight
San Sebastion was hosting a chicken farmers meeting and brought in all sorts of amazing looking old Mexican men. 
In Mascota we popped into a small corner store to check out their selection of Tequila. Amidst the rows of large bottles we spotted a glass Coke bottle on sale for just under five dollars. We asked the lady at the counter and she proceeded to take her bottle out that she had hidden under the counter and offered us a sip informing us that it was made locally by the farmers and was very potent! After just a sniff that statement was confirmed and we proceeded to buy a bottle. How can one resist? Its in a Coke bottle!

My parents sweet rental car. A Dodge "Attitude"... a very unfitting name if I do say so myself

 A wild perro (dog)

We stopped at the San Sebastion Tequila distillery and learned tons from Antonio about the process of making Tequila from the Blue Agave plant. It was a fascinating process and the bonus was tasting five different Tequilas including an Amaretto flavored one! Yum!

The Blue Agave plant from which Tequila is made.

Clive's sweet new toy!

Our cute little campground in Sayulita. It felt very strange staying at a real campground for so long. EIGHT nights! But we met lots of great people including Kristel from France (that is her sweet 70's westy in the background!!), Bradon and his girlfriend from Australia that helped us fix our boards! as well as Neil and Will from Liverpool.

My Parents living up the Mexican life!

Strange but true!
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Monday, December 6, 2010

New friends and New stories

The Mexican adventure continued off the Baja peninsula by taking the Baja Ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan overnight arriving at 730 in the morning. It was the perfect way to combine lots of miles with not having to pay for a place to sleep. However the ferry itself ended up being a cool 300 bucks, so its not a super steal. The ferry was fairly luxurious compared to Alaska and BC ferries. It was almost akin to a cruise ship equipped with nice bunk rooms (those were extra) and a cool discoteque. 

On the ship we met a couple from Kingston, Ontario, Kahung and Mel, traveling with their 4 year old son Dante to Panama and back. Check out their BLOG. We decided to travel for the next day or so together, just for a slight change of pace. It was great fun and I think Andrew became Dantes new best friend. We spent the morning after the boat trip exploring old Mazatlan, but quickly tired of the city so we headed to Noviellro about 150km south and spent a couple nights there exploring the beach, checking out all the creatures the ocean washes up on shore and enjoying good food, good company and great fires on the beach.

We somewhat reluctantly tore ourselves away from the untouched beach and headed to the crazyness of Sayulita.

The huge Baja Ferry with THREE levels for cars and trucks!
Central curch of downtown Mazatlan

Having fun at the market with Dante and Mel

Just one of the delicious dinner options!

Checking out the things that wash up on the beach. Observing the circle of life

Kumu and her new friend The Mule

Teaching Dante how to surf. Sorry for the poor quality of pictures, again the internet here is a big struggle! (picture credit to Kahung)

Dante's loving it (picture credit to Kahung)
 As with most kids he was a quick learner. Hang loose dude! (picture credit to Kahung)

The killer sandcastle crew.  (picture credit to Kahung)

 Dont mess with us (picture credit to Kahung)

Wild horses on the beach (picture credit to Kahung)

Unfortunately the wicked skull we found looked better on The Mule than it did on Kumu, so we sent them off with a new momento and a warning for any who come close!

Cruising down the endless miles of beach at Noviellro! Amazing, not a soul or a house to be seen.