Vaguely east – Day 101 ( 8891 miles)

After telling you in the last post that we had to get a move on we are trying to keep focussed and head east.  Oh but it’s hard, we’ve heard a few tales of those who come to Mexico for a month and end up staying a year and it’s quite understandable.

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Indeed.

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Flora and ……

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Fauna at our Patzcuaro campsite.  It’s a nice little town and our campsite is in a quiet spot a few Km’s out of the centre.  Little Combo buses (just like Juanita) whiz around all the time so easy to cover ground quickly for a few pesos.

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The town has a great market and we got carried away with fruit and veg purchases before realising we would be carrying them around for several hours.  Oh well we’re not getting much in the way of exercise!

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It also has a huge square one of the largest in the country and as it was a Sunday the area was buzzing with artists selling their work and lively entertainment to enjoy.  John and I both fell in love with some paintings by one of the artists.  But a purchase would  have meant expensive shipping home and doesn’t fit with a more minimalist lifestyle ethos we are trying to cultivate, eh Will?  Very pleased to say we resisted.

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Within minutes of the above photo the rain was pouring down and the square cleared as everyone dived for cover under the sheltered walkways around the edge of the square.

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I thought this scene was reminiscent of a Saturday night TV talent show with the panel of judges deliberating on the talents of a hopeful performer.  I think the outcome may have been “No the Gringo’s clothes are boring, he’s too tall and his dancing’s not up to much.”

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The rain kept coming, when we eventually braved it and crossed the road we were ankle deep in dirty water.

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The next day we boarded a boat for the small island of Janitzio.  First ones on but….

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Soon there was standing room only and the obligatory sellers of various confectionery plus live music complete with amplifier!

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Glad we weren’t on this one.

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Excellent repurposing, plastic bottles joined together to make a down pipe.  If we need new guttering when we get home this may be an option.

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This it’s the inside of a 40m statue of Jose Marie Morelos y Pavon one of the rebel leaders in the Mexican war of Independence.  The murals all the way around the spiral staircase depict the gore and drama of the war.  The climb took us up to a viewing window just below his raised fist in the pic below.

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Great views from the top of the statue.

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We been in Mexico weeks, there had to be a Chihuahua pic!  This little fella lived above the terrace of a hotel we stayed at in the town of Taxco.  A very pretty place,  which was established as a silver mining town in the 16th century.

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The view from our hotel terrace.  You may just be able to make out an illuminated statue at the top right side of the hill.

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The next day we thought we’d go up to the statue and check out the view.  Taxco is a town of narrow hilly streets and hundreds of Beetle taxis that chug slowly up the hills and seem to be able to turn the most amazingly tight corners and perform death defying hill starts!  All the Beetles are two door so the front passenger seats have been removed to allow access to launch yourself into the back seat.  The pic above is our view on our taxi ride up to the statue.

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Pretty amazing views.

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We also stopped at cascada, just to get our feet wet!

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The view up the hill.

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Above pics are of the Temple de Santa Prisca built and donated to the town by a bloke who made a fortune from silver mining in the 18th century.  Apparently it nearly bankrupted him, shouldn’t of been such a show off then, should he.

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Beetles everywhere.

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We had fun in a hairdressers with our poor Spanish and their non-existent English.  Lovely ladies and John came away with the cut he wanted, not a perm or hi lights luckily.

Bye bye xx

Need to get a move on -Day 96 (8603 miles)

This post’s title is two-fold.  1) We have about another 8 weeks in Mexico which sounds like ages but we have already been here 5 weeks and haven’t covered as much of the country as we thought we would by now.  2) I need to get a move on with the blog, I am always behind so this is my big push to get up to date.  It does cover a lot, hopefully no one will nod off before getting to the end.  Especially if you’re reading this at work, that could be awkward!  Anyway here we go…

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Another day another campsite, this time in the small town of Ezetlan in the region of Jalisco, probably most famous for the neighbouring town of Tequila and it’s alcoholic export.  This town may be small but the trees are big and it is still rainy season, oh well we’re not superstitious so fingers crossed (!!!) we’ll be safe enough.

This site is part of a ranch run by Bonnie and her daughter Samantha.  They were our tourist information, providers of tequila and just picked limes to sample and we got  to see Samantha’s horse being trained in traditional Mexican dressage.  Yet again we have met great people.  They were also providers of refuge for several local dogs that needed a good home.

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This one does have a proper name but we knew him as  Stumpy, he didn’t seem to mind!  Samantha found him injured on the road, after his leg was amputated he joined their other 4 dogs and runs around as quick as the others.

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Although not as well known as the archeological sites further east there is some really interesting stuff in this part of Mexico.  These are the round pyramids at Los Guachimontones which were temples that formed part of a settlement of around 40,000 people from 300BC to around 900AD.  It is now a UNESCO WH site but still pretty low key and not at all busy.  There was a really good visitor’s centre and even an info film in English which was brilliant.  Sometimes our guessed translations are way off!

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Obligatory church photo.

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Not sure what the drinking and riding law is here, can your horse walk in a straight line perhaps?

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4 Amigos

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16th September is Independence Day in Mexico and the festivities involving parades, dancing and fireworks seemed to start early and carry on for a few days.  This was an event we passed while on the road.

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Tequila in it’s raw state, fields of blue agave for many miles around.

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As we prefer it!

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Guadalajara is the 2nd biggest city in Mexico.  There was no way we wanted to stay in the city but  thought we’d have a couple of nights camping at Lake Chapala (the largest lake in Mexico) and nip in to Guadalajara to sightsee.  The journey took us closer to the city centre than we really wanted but it looked like we could get onto the Periphico and head south to the lake quite easily.  However, the junction we needed was closed……

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3 hours later we were still stuck in city traffic.  In total the journey we thought would be 1.5 hours took 4 and the thought of coming back into the city the next day did not seem so appealing so we can’t say we’ve seen Guadalajara!

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However, we did loads of laundry, there was good internet, clean hot showers and

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John learnt to do this, he hasn’t perfected the Taj Majal yet Lisa!

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We headed south from Lake Chapala to Tapalpa a really pretty mountain village at about 6700 feet.   It was cooler here than we’d been used to which was a bit of a shock in the evenings, we even had to get our padded jackets out.   As there wasn’t a campsite we found a hotel in a good spot with parking within the hotel courtyard so we could still save some cash and cook our meals, much to the amusement of the staff.  At £29 per night it was our most expensive accommodation in Mexico so we needed to economise.

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This was a great fishmongers but we thought cooking fish in the hotel courtyard was a bit too cheeky!

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A canine only congregation.

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Continue reading “Need to get a move on -Day 96 (8603 miles)”

Islands & volcanoes – Day 88 (8153 miles)

 

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We are ready to head inland, the coast has been lovely but now for something different.  We spent a couple of nights in San Blas, only just off the coast and a good spot to visit an island called Mexcaltitan. Do you know, it took me days to be able to remember the name of that place, as if it’s not long enough I would add an extra syllable or get the correct ones in the wrong order.  I have come to the conclusion there are too many syllables in many Spanish words, it would be so much easier to learn if they were shorter!

Anyway, back to San Blas, it is surrounded by mangrove swamps, which is interesting but to us just shouted EVEN MORE INSECTS!  We stayed in a small hotel as we’d been advised that the sand flies in the one campsite were vicious.

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We did risk a picnic lunch by the water one day, watching the Pelicans hanging around hoping for left overs from the fishing boats.

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There was torrential rain at night which left the cobbled streets a muddy mess each morning.  As always the locals just dealt with it and weaved in and out of the mess the best they could.

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Just some colourful street art.

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Had to cheat here and use a downloaded image to show you the classic shot of Mexcaltitan.  It is a man made island and legend says it is the birthplace of the Aztecs and from here they set out on a pilgrimage in  1091 which led them to the founding of the ancient city of Tenochtitlan.  It’s all there on Wikipedia.

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We braved the insects for a nice ride through the mangroves.

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It wasn’t too bad when we were there but at the height of the rainy season many of the streets do flood and the locals get about by boat.  The soil on the island is so high in salt that they cannot grow any edible crops but obviously they have access to a lot of freshwater fish!

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John took the above photo in the museum and asked me to include it in the blog.  I couldn’t really understand why? However always the engineer he explained the significance was that one of the roof beams was being held up, although not very well by the ladder!

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Waiting to sample the local fish.

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This is the Laguna del Santa Maria del Oro a lake within an extinct volcano.  We took a steep wiggley road that dropped 1300 ft to a campsite on the shoreline.

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It was a lovely spot, and we spent the afternoon relaxing by the lake.

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But the power of nature and all that.  It was about 4 hours later that we found ourselves dripping wet in a thunder storm and Juanita under a pile of branches!

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I caught this flamboyant caterpillar reading our Lonely Planet, must be planning a trip.

After fixing up Juanita we set off to visit the active Volcan Ceboruco although it hasn’t erupted since 1871!  Well we couldn’t stand too much excitement after the other night.

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We were visiting as a quick stop off on the way to another area so had a fairly long journey to do.  I had told John there was no hiking involved and it was up a 15km cobbled track.  All true but I suppose I had underestimated how long it would take to travel 30km on what was at times very bumpy terrain.  So there and back added 2 hours to our journey time that day,  oh well, it was interesting to see.

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Nothing too serious, sometimes when we are going very slow, over bumpy ground, for a while and the temperature is over 35c we can smell petrol inside the van.  John was looking for signs of a petrol leak in the engine bay and could see fluid of some kind.  To take a better look the battery had to come out.  Luckily what he could see turned out to be water, the engine bay was still drying out from the storm.  Some Googling that night revealed other Delica owners finding the same thing, something to do with the venting system.  I might have that wrong but John is asleep so I can’t check!  Maybe he’ll do a techie blog on it sometime!  Just for you Richard😉

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The view into the crater.

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See those little white clouds in the background that’s a steam vent.  I know it’s hardly Vesuvius!

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It was amazing lush in the crater considering it’s all growing on vocanic ash and lava.

Bye for nowx

Pacific coast Birthday – Day 80 (7413 miles)

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I can’t remember if I have said that in order to find places to camp in Mexico we are mainly using 2 sources, a book called Mexican Camping and the I-Overlander website.  The book is a self published labour of love by an American couple who have been travelling in an RV for years, they have also published books on campsites in other parts of North America and Europe.  Although it is now pretty old (last published 2009) it has been an invaluable starting point in finding nice out of the way places and gives great directions (helps reduce the navigation related domestics a little).  I-Overlander often gives more up to date reports from travellers and these 2 tools work really well.  The pic above is where we spent a few days either side of my birthday, it was wonderful and we would never have found it without these info sources.

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It is a little resort of holiday apartments and camping pitches in a village called Celestina Gasca, simple, quiet and as you can see not exactly crowded at this time of year!

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Ceviche Birthday dinner, very nice.image

Loving the lizards.

The owner Noe was and even though we have now moved on, continues to be a huge help with customs questions we have had from the company who will arrange our shipping from Vera Cruz to Cartegena.  They were telling us we had to get temporary importation documentation for all the contents of the van before they would be able to ship it for us but they could not confirm whether we had to get this from the border crossing we had entered Mexico through or at one of the many customs offices around the country.  We mentioned this to Noe and he offered to take us to the customs office in Mazatlan the closest sea port to check out the documents we have against what the shipper says we need.  As Noe is a native Spanish speaker it really helped us understand what we were told.  We were told there really should not be a problem we have a full list of what will be shipped, non of which is illegal or not for our use.  However, we were also told that Vera Cruz may do things slightly differently so we really should ask them direct!  Again Noe came to our rescue and called them for us.  We are now pretty confident that we won’t be leaving behind all our camping stuff or having to pay duty on it in Colombia.

Dealing with different countries Customs procedures always reminds me of dealing with the HMRC at home they have a way of telling you stuff that should be the correct process whilst not accepting any liability if you follow that process and someone else in their organisation wants it done slightly differently!

We were invited to Noe and Estella’s daughter’s 3rd Birthday party and enjoyed cake and a traditional Piñata.   Noelia is such a sweet girl and chats away in Spanish and English.  We had a lovely time with them all.

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Fab sunsets every night.

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We dragged ourselves away from the beach to do a bit of sightseeing in a pretty little town called Cosala.  Treated ourselves to lunch out and managed to order and get what we expected, the Spanish is improving slowly!

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Not a great photo but an interesting concept.  A mobile  phone aerial disguised as a metal tree.  Much less unsightly than the usual design!

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Bye for nowxxx

 

⛈⛈⚡️⚡️💨💨BLOGFLASH🌩🌩⚡️⚡️💨💨

 

It’s the rainy season in Mexico and spectacular thunder and lightening storms have been our entertainment on many nights. However until now the rain and wind haven’t been much of a problem.  Yesterday we were sitting in this lovely site enjoying the shade.

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Last night at around 7.30pm we were sitting under the awning eating cheese and salsa wraps and drinking tea, wild I know! We are on a great campsite, lovely grassy pitches, big trees for shade and overlooking a lake, a perfect spot to watch an approaching storm. It started as the usual rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightening and some spots of rain. But tonight was different, within a couple of minutes the rain was heavy monsoon rain lashing down and accompanied by strong winds. I opened the side door and jumped inside the van as the strong wind meant the area under the awning had become flooded in a matter of seconds. John was still folding up the chairs and getting soaked! Before I had a chance to shout at him to hurry up and get in there was a crash outside, John shouted at me to get out quick. It was obvious that something had hit the van but it wasn’t until we got out we could see that a large tree we had been admiring earlier from where we were sitting in the pic above was completely down and the front half of Juanita was completely covered. The tree was about 15metres tall.

We ran to a covered area to shelter from the storm. When it eased off we headed to a building on the site that was lit and a staff member contacted the owner of the site. John and I returned to the van to rescue some  stuff and take photos. The awning was damaged and there is a dent in the bonnet but there was too much debris to assess if there was any other damage. The site owner Carlos came and offered to get the tree moved immediately but we all agreed it was too dangerous and it would be safer in daylight. We moved to a bungalow on site, feeling bloody lucky but sad to leave Juanita.  We heard another crash, not sure whether another tree had lost a branch or fallen. The trees either side of us that were visible in the 1st photo must have been damaged by the large tree falling.

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The root ball of the fallen tree, of huge interest to the onsite dogs!

We settled into the bungalow and realised that although there was kitchen equipment there was nothing to light the gas stove and no kettle. John insisted on going back to the van to get our kettle and matches, while I stood outside waiting for another tree to fall and flatten him! He claims tea is that important in such a crisis!

We were feeling extremely lucky to both be here and in one piece but very sad and worried about Juanita, it was a long night waiting for sunrise and we hardly slept. 😟😢🤕

This is how things looked in the morning.

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We’ve been incredibly lucky, most importantly we are fine and although she looks a bit sad Juanita herself is fine apart from a couple of dents in the bonnet which John has pushed out the best he can.  The solar panel took a battering and there is water in the controller, today has been really cloudy so we are not sure whether that has been damaged.  The awning took the most force but luckily the canvas is ok and John has managed to straighten out the poles enough to make it work.

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The staff here cannot do enough for us, I think they would legally adopt us is we wanted, a couple of flattened tourists is never going to be good for business!

Anyway, we will sleep very well tonight and plan to head off again tomorrow.  Hopefully all future blog posts will just be us visiting nice places, meeting nice people and smiling!

Bye for nowxxxx

Copper Canyon, it’s massive! – Day 73 (6714 miles)

On a trip like this it is hard to justify the cost of organised activities.  After all, we’re travelling independently and we have Juanita so surely we should always use her?

Maybe, but it’s nearly my Birthday, the train journey to the famous Copper Canyon area is said to be spectacular and if we don’t take Juanita we get to stay in a hotel with amazing views!  Sold to the couple in the slightly grubby hats they seem to be wearing in most photos!

We had it on good advice from Tom and Rose that we should start the journey at El Fuerte as the 2.5 hour leg prior to this is not particularly interesting scenery.  El Fuerte itself is quite a pretty little town that we wandered around for a couple of hours.

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Looks like a project!

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and so does this.

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We arrived at the station in good time for the 8.15am train and tiptoed around trying not to wake the resident dogs.

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The train rolled in pretty slowly, lucky that as John had decided a photo from on the track was required!

Although we had chosen to only do part of the trip it was still a 6 hour journey each way, the scenery was beautiful but 12 hours in 2 days was definitely enough.  We may not have seen all 39 bridges and 86 tunnels but we certainly saw a good few.

The 2 journeys gave us the chance to chat to other travellers both local and international who were on all kinds of trips.  An Aussie couple who had bought a boat on the Pacific coast and were having repairs done before setting off on a sea voyage.  Brendan a lone Irishman doing a similar route to us and David and Lilly from Guadalajara, there’s a good chance we’ll meet up with these guys again along the way.

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This was our hotel, it is the only one where each room overlooks the canyon, worth every pesos!

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We even had wine with dinner as an early Bday treat, never had Mexican wine before, it was pretty good.

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The view from our balcony.

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While we were away we left Juanita in a motel in El Fuerte with secure parking, we stayed there the nights before and after our trip.  Perfect, still able to cook and make tea right outside our door!

Adios amigosxx