A Travellerspoint blog

October 2018

Exploring Our Surroundings in La Paz


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Hurray! The weather has broken and the cooler days and nights have come! 80's during the days and 70's at night and in the mornings. All things are possible now that we aren't stuck in the AC all day. And we're making the most of it.

There is SO much to explore here - hidden beaches, out of the way resorts, amazing little towns, and miles and miles of backroads.

We still head up to our favorite beach Tecolote many days just to relax but it's been fun to get to other places. Check out this movie of some of the best!

Driving in Baja Sur

We remember vividly the first day we drove into La Paz. We were so timid and so careful and so confused. We've come a long way! We have perfected defensive driving and the rolling stop. We know that after stopping at a red light, locals often proceed through as though it was a stop sign. A flashing green means stop, the yellow is coming and it's about a second long, after which it will be red. Passing is allowable anywhere, speed limits are advisory only, not all vados (dips in the road to let water cross often filled with sand) are marked, and - most importantly - the road can be washed out at any time. Hopefully, you will have warning and a bypass!
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Swimming with Sea Lions

We took our first paid tour last week out to the island called Espiritu Santo. It's an interesting boat ride - well maybe a pretty boat ride. It would have been interesting if our guide spoke ANY English at all. Ha! We had about seven Mexicanos on the boat and he spoke incessantly to them but in Spanish so fast I couldn't pick up anything. Live and learn. I suppose next time we should ask for an English-speaking guide.

In any case, the goal of the trip is to swim with sea lions and snorkel, which we did. Alas, I forgot that stupid little door that keeps the GoPro water tight so no video this time. But here are a few pics.
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Ok...see those black blobs? Sea lions!
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There was a very large colony and we did, in fact, see them swim by under water. There were also beautiful schools of fish and a lot of varieties of fish. I promise video next time!

The Snow Birds are Back!

When we first arrived here, it was rare to see more than a few other gringos a week. Now, we see them on every corner, every day. They come by boat and live in the marina, they come and reoccupy their homes, and they come and rent. It's fun to have more people to meet and hang out with but it's also a little sad because it means we don't have as big a language challenge to overcome and therefor practice less Spanish.

Tomorrow is Halloween and then two days of Dias de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). We're super excited to see all the festivities. Stay tuned!

And don't forget to follow us on Instagram @arrradventures.

Posted by mrb430 16:37 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Cabo San Lucas and the East Cape


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It's been awhile since my last post. We are very happy here in La Paz and enjoying living like locals. Last night we were marveling at how far we've come from those first days of uncertainty and wariness. It truly is a wonderful town and somewhere we would definitely come back to in the future. It is the most authentic Mexican city in Baja.

But we recently spent the weekend down in Cabo San Lucas, definitely not an "authentic" city!
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We'd been wanting to get down to check out what everyone around here calls "Crazy Town" for awhile and finally made reservations and went. It's a very fun town with tons of bars, shops, restaurants, and a great beach.
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On our way down we stopped off for lunch in Todos Santos. This is a town on the Pacific coast that's famous for its shops and classic Mexican architecture.
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Also for being the home of the Hotel California.
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As you can imagine, it's a big tourist attraction. They were having a festival the day we stopped so there were a lot of Mexicans in town but I think on most days it would feel overrun with Gringos. We stopped into the Gringo restaurant across from the hotel, thinking it might be fun to eat there and people watch.
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But when we saw they wanted $12 US for a margarita, we thought "we can by an entire bottle of tequila for that" and moved on to the local fish taco stand and had lunch for $50 pesos (about $2.50 US) and finished off with fresh, hot churros and a sweet plantain, both covered in sweet crema for $80 pesos. Yep more than the tacos.
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A small digression here on the price of things in Baja Sur. Food is by far the most expensive thing here. Especially fresh food as it is all trucked in or brought from the mainland by ferry. It's not too hard to spend about $30 US on dinner at the nicer places (still cheap). Of course there are the local stands and restaurants where a taco is $20-60 pesos. Good but not very healthy! Beer, wine, and liquor are cheap, too. A beer is typically about $35 pesos ($1.50 US). But the most amazing thing is that both Scott and I needed to visit the doctor recently for simple things so we went to the doctor next door to our pharmacy. For a basic office visit and a prescription, it out $45 pesos. Yep, about $3 US. Unbelievable!

Anyway, further down towards Cabo we stopped off at a beach to see the giant waves that were being churned up by the hurricane hitting up north.
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They were awesome and fearsome! Definitely no swimming there!

Cabo San Lucas

Most of the action in Cabo is centered on or near the large marina. The marina is surrounded by bar/restaurants of every kind although the selections are pretty standard. American or some form of Mexican with a heavy emphasis on the freshest seafood. Speaking of American, this place is really just an extension of the U.S. Dollars are the most prevalent currency. In fact, you have to ask to pay in pesos for most things. At a few places though you do actually get a steep discount if you know what you're doing. They will have the price in dollars and pesos but they aren't equivalent; the pesos price is much less! That's right, don't rip off the locals!

We stayed at a lovely little hotel with a pool set amid a lush garden that was up the hill away from the crowds. It was a great place to come back to and chill out and they served a great breakfast every day.
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Away from the marina, there are quieter streets with nicer, more laid back restaurants and beautifully maintained historic buildings and homes. It's a fun place to wander but really coming to Cabo is all about the "Spring Break for Adults" atmosphere and we did have a ton of fun.

The highlight of the trip was a sunset sail out to the rock arch they call the Arco.
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We even saw some sea lions.
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On our way back to La Paz, we took the long route home that goes up through the mountains and along the East Cape. We wanted to explore this area because we will be renting a house there in January and having family and friends down to visit.

East Cape

Our first stop was at San Jose del Cabo. Cabo San Lucas' sister city. It's a more "authentic" town but just as touristy in it's central area. It is much prettier though with most of the central historic district restored and turned into shops and art galleries. It reminded us a bit of Todos Santos but nicer.
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From there we drove into the mountains and across the Tropic of Cancer at which they have built a lovely little building and monument. It includes a beautiful outdoor chapel.
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Next, it was on to La Ribera and Los Barriles. Two towns on the Sea of Cortez south of La Paz that are known for fishing and wind surfing. La Ribera is smaller with only one paved road and a few restaurants. It will be a very quiet, authentic Mexican town for us and our visitors. Although we hear during the winter it picks up with lots of kite surfers in town. Los Barriles is bigger with more bars and restaurants and is only 10 minutes away so easy to escape to for more action.

Here's a quick clip of the beach at La Ribera. Towards the end you'll see the water tower that our house is just in front of.

From there we made our way back up into the mountains to the small town of El Triunfo. This is a very special place we definitely want to go back to and spend an overnight. At one point in its heyday as a mining town is was the largest town in Baja Sur. It fell on hard times after the mine closed and was almost a ghost town until a few people decided to renovate the old buildings and make it a tourist stop. The restorations are wonderful, including the old smoke stack that was reputedly designed by Gustave Eiffel.
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On an interesting side note, much of the restoration is being paid for by Christy Walton. She's a member of the Walmart Waltons and lives in Baja Sur. In addition to funding the restoration of El Triunfo, she apparently paid for all of the sculptures along La Paz's malecon! She owns a lot of property in La Paz and elsewhere but from all reports is very benevolent and a strong environmentalist.

Anyway, there is a great restaurant and apparently a bar that does paella every Sunday. A local rancher has opened a few casitas, there are two museums, and the ruins of the mine can be toured. Expect more on this gem in a future post.
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That's all for now. Be sure to follow us @arrradventures for more frequent updates.

Posted by mrb430 08:54 Archived in Mexico Tagged cabo la_paz_bcs Comments (0)

Public Art in La Paz


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One of the amazing things about Mexico in general is how colorful it is and La Paz is no exception. Many things make it so colorful, the blues of the water, the greens and browns of the desert, all of the amazing flowers, the vibrant colors of clothing and textiles, and the ubiquitous pottery and tile. One of our favorite, though, is the street art.

Murals

There are many formal and informal murals around La Paz. In fact, the paint store here, Comex (think Sherwin Williams), has sponsored murals all over the older parts of the downtown (Centro). Here are a few of our favorites.

All of these were sponsored by Comex.
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It really reminds me of all of the murals in Philadelphia that were so much a part of that city's personality.

These are more informal, just on walls or businesses.
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"Murals" as Advertising and Signage

All over the city, businesses paint their walls rather than buy signage. It makes the streets amazingly colorful. Many are just functional but others are really funny.
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And people paint their houses...
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And many restaurants decorate with murals inside, too.
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Sculpture

In a recent post I showed you some of the sculpture on the Malecon but if you didn't catch that one here they are again.
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We recently heard that a Walmart heiress paid for all of the sculptures along the Malecon. If true, it's one (more for some of us) reason to love Walmart.

Here are a few other cool ones we've run across.
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This one is made completely out of organic material.
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And it's just everywhere. On walls...
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and on iron window grates...
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No detail seems too small to decorate.

Don't forget to follow us on Instagram @arrradentures for more photos.

Posted by mrb430 16:48 Archived in USA Tagged la_paz_bcs Comments (1)

Feeling at Home in La Paz


View 2018 on mrb430's travel map.

We have begun our second month in La Paz and it feels like home. We know our way around, have a few favorite restaurants and beaches. We know where to shop and we are learning the language. It's a wonderful city. The people are so friendly and helpful and it feels very safe and comfortable.

The Malecon

Our days start with our walk along the Malecon. My favorite part of this other than the waterfront views are the statues that dot the way. Here are two of my favorites.

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The first is Jacques Cousteau. He spent a lot of time in the Sea of Cortez and dubbed it "the aquarium of the world".

Language School

Next, three days a week, it's off to language school, which is held in a converted home. It's a beautiful place to learn and study.
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Scott is doing well picking up the basics and I am enjoying an hour of conversation and an hour of private lessons. I am feeling pretty confident in basic communication at this point so I am excited for the progress I will be able to make in our remaining three months in La Paz! I'm finding that just trying to speak, even if it comes out "Spanglish" goes a really long way. And it's very nice to see the difference in treatment you get when you do speak some Spanish. People are really willing to be patient and to help you learn. and they aren't afraid to correct you!

Then it's off to the gym to lift some weights and do some yoga.

Shopping

Some days we need to shop and that is an adventure in and of itself. There are so many different kinds of stores. Of course there's a Walmart, as I mentioned but we don't really go there. The biggest store is the Soriana, which competes with Walmart. It's a really funny place because like Walmart they sell everything from Home Goods to Clothes to Food but they also sell motorcycles, scooters, and tires!
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Then there's the Ley, which is sort of medium-sized and mostly groceries. Next in size in our local Arambura, which is just a small market but has the basics including wine, beer, and alcohol and is close enough to walk to. Then there are the markets. There are two larger markets with many individual stalls. Mostly fish, meat, vegetables, and prepared food stalls.
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And finally there are the individual specialty stores that pretty much sell one thing. In this store's case spices and peppers!
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It's amazing how inexpensive some of these places are. Yesterday, we bought fresh corn tortillas from the Tortilleria (tortilla store). We bought a stack about an inch thick for about 7 cents! Handmade!

Restaurants

Like shopping, there are so many different options from large and fancy to neighborhood to small open air stands on the sidewalk to just a person in front of a store with a pot of tamales. We try to be very careful when eating at the smaller places as sanitation and cleanliness are issues, we've both had bouts of Montezuma's Revenge, but as long as you stick to food that is cooked it's really delicious. If we want fresh fruit or vegetables, we eat them at home. except, of course, at the nicer places and those on the Malecon that are run by Americans or Europeans. The fish and shell fish are, of course, specialties. I love the whole fried fish.
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Scott loves the tuna!
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And we're both big fans of the ceviche, sashimi, and coconut shrimp!
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But we've also found a great corner Italian place with handmade pasta and ravioli.
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And the best pizza! There are a large number of brick oven pizza places here but this is the best one! Crispy, slightly charred crust and the best toppings.
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I'm cooking a fair amount and really loving the fresh peppers, avocados, and fruit, not to mention the handmade sausages and breads, from the farmers market. I'm trying to cook like a local so we eat a lot of tortillas, chicken, and beans. I haven't quite mastered not putting cheese on my tacos, apparently that's sooooo gringo, but some things don't need to change. After all, we are gringos!

Tiempo Libre (Free Time)

When we're not busy with all of this you can usually find us at the beach or pool drinking something refreshing - like a cold beer, rum in a fresh coconut or a golden margarita.
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These were from our favorite beach, Tecolote.

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And these are over at La Ventana.

More adventures to come. Headed to Cabo San Lucas next weekend for a long weekend to check out "crazy town".

Make sure to follow us @arrradventures on Instagram for more frequent updates.

Posted by mrb430 09:51 Archived in Mexico Tagged la_paz_bcs Comments (2)

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