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Mexico

Where Would You Go?


View 2020 on mrb430's travel map.

Alas, it was not to be. We did our overnight trip over to Koh Samui to visit the immigration office and try to work things out but it was a non-starter so I am writing this from half-way around the world in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
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But more on that in a minute. First, before we left Samui, Scott indulged me in a visit to the Elephant Sanctuary.
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So much of our Asia bucket list remains empty but this was one item we could check off and we did. Along with an amazing "last meal" at Boudoir, an sanctuary of French Food on Samui.
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SAMUI ELEPHANT SANCTUARY

Thailand has a long history of using elephants as beasts of burden. I am always torn in these situations, whether it's the horses in Nicaragua or the donkeys in Morocco or Thailand's elephants, between the urge to apply Western standards and the need to understand local norms, traditions, and needs. In any case, it was nice to see that some of the ideas about animal abuse we regard as second-nature are taking root. This sanctuary rescues elephants from work and exploitation and gives them health care and a home. To pay for it, they let tourists come and interact with them. Koh Samui's sanctuary is very new and small compared to those in Chiang Mai and elsewhere so they only have four elephants right now but it was a special treat to get up close and personal with them.

We first said "hi".
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Then we made them food balls of potatoes, bananas, and a bunch of other stuff.
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We got to feed them - you have to put them right up in their mouth! They have HUGE tongues!
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Then we fed them some small bananas and cucumbers. It was hysterical. You put them in their trunks one at a time and they fire them into their mouth and are back for more in seconds. Check out this video of Scott doing the feeding.

After feeding, the real fun begins! Playing in the mud with them, washing them off, and then going swimming with them. Here's a video of me playing in the mud!

And some pics of the pool.
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It was an awesome experience and so glad we took a few hours to do it!

LEAVING KOH TAO

But back to the decision to leave. As we sat on our deck looking out at the water each morning, reading about the virus and its progression and watching the borders closing around us, we began to feel a sense of unease about staying on Koh Tao and in Asia generally. We were unable to extend our visas at the immigration office on Koh Samui because the US Embassy would not write us a letter to stay. When I called, they said "we don't have a policy on that". Ah bureaucracy at its finest. Our only choice was a border run and as all of the borders were closing that became less and less realistic. It's not expensive to overstay and there was an idea that they may forgive overstays but... In addition, Koh Tao, although they had no cases yet, has very limited health care facilities and the idea of being able to evacuate to Bangkok, if necessary, became less certain. Then the first case appeared on our neighboring island. We made the very difficult decision to leave. But to where?

We thought about the US but things were really getting crazy there and with our international health insurance we can only be in the US six of twelve months a year so we thought we better save that time for an emergency. We wanted to be closer to the US though, to my parents and our children, we wanted to have sun and sand and sea, and we wanted to be somewhere with not a lot of people. We have always thought we'd go back to Baja someday and, well, it seemed like that day had come.

Once we decided to leave, we debated staying through the end of our lease in early April but we felt like if we were going to "run" from this thing, we ought to run as fast as we could. Conditions were changing very quickly both in Asia and on the US-Mexican border. It's a good thing we did! We got a flight from Koh Samui to Singapore and on to LA on Singapore Airlines for the next day. Singapore was one of the last airports open to transit by US passport holders. We packed everything back up, leaving behind a pile of acquired items like yoga mats and coolers and dry bags and food that we had acquired thinking we were staying put for awhile and we hustled back to Samui to spend the night before our flight. Samui's airport, usually a bustling little area was deserted.
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We got to Singapore and had a layover there. For some reason this sign cracked us up and made us a little sad.
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Singapore closed to US transit the next day. Flights were cancelling in real time and there were long lines of people trying to figure out what to do. We felt incredibly lucky and incredibly thankful that we made the decision to get out when we did.

When we got to LA, we were amazed at the lack of infrastructure in place for the virus. In Singapore we got thermal scanned at least five times in the airport. At both Samui and Singapore, there were endless questions about where we had traveled and been - not one in LA. We did fill out a questionnaire on the plane but they never collected it. I have to be honest and say I can see why the US has overtaken everyone else in cases. The response is night and day in the US versus Asian countries. It makes us ruminate on the relative merits of more centralized governments and more compliant citizenry in times of crisis. Our independence is proving our undoing it seems.

In any case, even though the US-Mexico land border had closed the day before, our flight left on time. There were five people on our plane down but they said they were bringing 40 people home. Bad decision in our minds - we definitely felt like we were going the right way!

ADJUSTING TO LIFE IN LA PAZ

We arrived in La Paz and checked into our favorite hotel for the night. It's nice to come to a place you know and have that option. The next day was a whirlwind of looking at apartments, choosing one, renting a car, buying food, and unpacking. If I'm being honest, the next day it really hit us that we were really in Baja and not Thailand. And that we were starting all over. We had invested a lot of time in choosing SE Asia for our home for 2020. We had found Koh Tao and fallen in love. We had found the place we wanted to rent long-term and were making friends. We were getting yoga and diving and volunteering routines established. We had sat on the porch having cocktails imaging our future there. And life was good. We had found "home". And four days later we were halfway across the globe - trading tropics for desert, hot weather for pleasant (read cold at night, sunny and warm most days), daily swims in the sea for daily walks by it. We still have the sea and the sun and blue skies but the difference is - well - a world away.

And so we begin again. We feel extremely fortunate to have gotten here, to have a good friend to help us get settled, and to have the financial security to do it all. It's easy to settle back in and our favorite tacos stand, tamale lady, grocery store, restaurant...are all still here. We know our way around and we know how to live here. We love Baja and will be very happy here but it's just a really big adjustment and recalibration of the vision of our future.

COVID-19 IN BAJA

Baja is way behind the rest of the world on the "Covid-curve". It's just ramping up here with the first cases starting to be acknowledged. Social distancing is just going into place and masks are starting to appear as well as hand sanitizer. The streets are eerily empty now. But Scott did get one fishing trip in before it all shut down - something he never got to do last time we were here!

On his first time out, he caught a Rooster Fish. Considered a trophy fish and the holy grail of a lot of anglers down here (apparently some people fish their whole lives down here and never get one), it was one for the books and maybe a good omen of lots more awesome firsts to come!
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They also caught some Yellowtails - can you say Ceviche!
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And a Dorado.
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We have fish in the freezer so I guess we are real Bajaians now! And truly there is no where, other than maybe Spain, that I am happier shopping and cooking. The fresh produce is amazing and the hand-made tortillas delicious. I've made Pineapple-Mango salsa, Pork Chili Verde, Sashimi and Ceviche, Egg-Chorizo breakfast tortillas, Chicken tacos...We can't get enough! And don't get me started on our love of Tequila!

Of course the stores have social-distancing guides and we hand-sanitize in and out and wear our masks but there's no panic and no hoarding, which is a real relief.

La Paz has invested a lot of money since we were here last in their streets, parks, and the malecon - the walkway along the waterfront. It's just even more beautiful now and it's great to be able to get out of the house and go for a walk along the water. Since it's basically deserted, social-distancing is easy, though we still wear our masks. Heaven forbid we are the gringos that bring Covid to La Paz!
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For more on the public art in La Paz, check out this post.

We also got to celebrate Scott's birthday at one of our favorite restaurants, NIM. They closed today for lack of business and no wonder since we were the only table there for our two-hour dinner. Such a shame. Their food is awesome and they were going over and above on sanitization. They made us hand-sanitize on the way in. Sprayed and wiped our table in front of us - I assume with some sort of disinfectant, were wearing masks, etc.
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We even had a serene by a local musician. One of my favorite aspects of dining in La Paz. "Traveling" players come through and you pay them if you want a song.
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We're sure the virus will come to La Paz in bigger numbers but they seem to be taking the "flattening the curve" advice seriously - if not the test everyone advice. Testing here is next to impossible. Restaurants and stores are almost all shut down except for take away and for grocery stores and markets. People are staying home and with Semana Santa (their big Easter-based weeklong party) coming up, the military is being enlisted to keep people off the beaches and streets in big groups. For those that don't know, La Paz has a military post and also a marine military post so we have no shortage of military vehicles with men and automatic weapons cruising the streets even in normal times. Mostly it's reassuring, just kinda weird for us.

So not to worry about us, we have a roof deck for getting sun and watching sunsets without other people around.
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And the truth is, we're old hands at social distancing. We have spent two years mostly just us. We are used to long days doing nothing, to finding small outings to fill a space of time, to just being with each other. Of course we were hoping to expand our network in Koh Tao but life rarely goes according to plan. When we read about the angst and boredom and anxiety people are experiencing, we feel really lucky that we learned how to just chill out and be together a long time ago.

in short, when we look out over our new life in La Paz, the view is beautiful.
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Posted by mrb430 15:21 Archived in Mexico Comments (2)

East Cape BCS Adventures


View 2018 & 2019 on mrb430's travel map.

After all our family left, we found ourselves alone in a very small and sleepy fishing village with little to do but plop on the beach all day. Luckily, the East Cape offers some amazing day trips and we motivated to get out and see them.

EL CHORRO HOT SPRINGS

Our first trip was to the El Chorro hot springs. There are a series of hot springs in the Cañon de la Zorra below the waterfall (see our last post). The best, apparently, is Santa Rita but of course we went on a Wednesday, the only day of the week it's closed. So, not to be deterred, we headed on to another one at El Chorro. Finding it was an adventure in itself but it was worth it. We traveled along the canyon and were treated to beautiful pools in among the boulders.
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Once there, we lounged in the hot pools...
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The hot water actually comes up out of the ground so people build little retaining pools to capture it. The one I am in was also filled with the little fish that eat your dead flesh! Weird! Can't believe people pay for this!
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The main pool is not hot so it was a refreshing place to cool off.
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You can hike all the way up to the waterfall but we opted for a shorter hike just to the next set of pools. Of course, I had to test the waters. Not going to lie - it was COLD!
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It was a beautiful day and well worth the short trip out from Santiago.

SUNDAY FUNDAY IN LA PAZ

We decided to watch the playoff games up in La Paz so drove up and surprised our friends. It was a really fun time and capped off by the full lunar eclipse of the super blood moon! It was great to see La Paz and our friends James and Wendy again! Not to mention the great crew at Harker Board!
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LA VENTANA CLASSIC

Every year the town of La Ventana hosts a kite boarding, wind surfing, and mountain biking competition. There were competitors and fans from all over. The colorful kites and the fun competition made for a really great day.
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The highlight was the freestyle competition where they do jumps and flips and all kinds of crazy maneauvers!
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CABO PULMO MARINE PARK

Cabo Pulmo Marine Park is a national park protecting the last living coral reef in North America. It was a bit murky because of all the wind but it was a great trip out to the reef and we saw a lot of sea life as well as great birds.
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Finally, I had the Go Pro working to capture a sea lion!
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And we even saw a turtle!
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Definitely recommend a trip out here if you are ever in Baja.
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Speaking of birding, I finally started a life list and it's a great new hobby!

ATV TOUR FROM LOS BARRILES

After almost five months, Scott finally got me out on another ATV tour. We rented them in Los Barriles and started out up the beach toward the arroyos.
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The first arroyo is the largest in all of Baja. It leads to a side canyon that has a short hike to a waterfall. Very beautiful spot!
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The second arroyo is also really big but it had water in the arroyo and was really green and filled with large Palo Verde trees, cactus, and scrub.
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Then we took the beach road out along the coast to Punta Pescadero a historic hotel in the most scenic spot! Back in the 50s and 60s the hotel catered to Hollywood stars like John Wayne who came to this part of Baja for the exceptional hunting and sport fishing found in the area. The resort comes complete with its own private airfield so you can fly right into your room. A requirement back in the days before paved roads, or any roads in some cases.
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It was time for refreshment and food to fuel up for the ride back!
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EAST CAPE ROAD TRIP TO VIDASOL

The East Cape Road is a dirt track that runs the coast from La Ribera all the way down to San Jose Del Cabo for about 60-70 miles. We decided to drive it one day and it was quite an adventure. There are many beautiful stops along the way...
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But, truth be told, we got sucked in by VidaSol and didn't make it all the way. A stop for a late lunch turned into a party when we met these guys from Brooklyn and found out we knew people in common. Small world!
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And the party turned into a sleep over in one of the most amazing rooms we've had. Sunrise from bed included!
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TIME TO MOVE ON

At last, we said goodbye to our La Paz friends Wendy and James with a last visit from them in La Ribera. We had a great, relaxing day on Punta Arena/Playa Colorado and on the top deck. And we are very thankful to James for taking all of our surplus to donate to the La Paz Bombadero (fireman) Auction and to the needy of La Paz. Here are a few last pics of some favorite times in La Ribera - in no particular order!
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Leaving La Ribera, we are down to a few essentials, yes noodles are essentials!, in the back of Ruby and our packs in the backseat. If we thought we were minimalists before, now we really are!
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I'm almost caught up! Ha! We've been in Magdalena Bay (Adolfo Lopez Mateos) for the last two days doing some whale watching and exploring! Stay tuned for that! And don't forget to follow up @Arrradventures on InstaGram from more current updates!

Posted by mrb430 09:02 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

More Family Fun in Baja Sur


View 2018 & 2019 on mrb430's travel map.

SAYING HELLO AND GOODBYE

Continuing in the first part of this month, we were fortunate to have everyone together for one night before my parents had to leave. Scott's brother Carl and his girlfriend Diana came in on the 8th and my parents left on the 9th. Dinner at Restaurante La Providencia was just the ticket!
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The next day Scott took the rest of the crew to the beach while I drove my parents to the airport and in the time-honored tradition of nothing ever working exactly as planned in Baja, we got a text that their flight was delayed three hours but only after getting halfway there. Not to be deterred from having fun with it, we stopped in Miraflores for their famous Lobster Tacos and Pitaya Margaritas!
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For the uninitiated, Pitaya is the fruit that grows on the cactus after it flowers. They are sold along the roadside everywhere in Baja. Anyway, I dropped them off only to find out later that their flight was cancelled! But not to worry, the airline put them up in a beachside hotel in Puerto Los Cabos will all food and beverage paid for - not a bad last night in Bajahaha!

Was so good to have them with us!
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BEACH DAYS AND WATERFALLS

We had a beautiful day at the beach with Courtney, Morgan, Carl, and Diana the next day. A batch of orange crushes got everyone in a good mood and I got everyone in the water (well almost!). As per usual, the noodles were a big hit! Best five dollars at Walmart EVER!
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The McClures were styling in black...
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But Diana and I added the color!
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Cañon de La Zorra

We all took an adventure out to the canyon and the famous waterfall pools outside of Santiago. It's about 15 km outside Santiago on dirt roads through beautiful cactus lands until you get to the parking area. After a steep walk down a trail and rock stairs cut into the side of the canyon, you reach the waterfall. The hike down is spectacular marred only by the fact you know you have to go back up!
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The pools are cold but refreshing and so clear.
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Of course, a few of us had to do the jump off the big rocks into the pools!
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Carl looked a little skeptical but he did it!
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It was a fun, warm, and beautiful day.
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Cabo San Lucas

The girls had to fly out Sunday so we decided to take them for an overnight in Cabo before they left. We spent the day at Blue Marlin Ibiza beach club, our favorite, living like the rich and famous.
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The girls did the tour out to the Arco...
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...and we partied in the pool until sunset!
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After that, we had another day with Carl and Diana but unfortunately it was one of the four rainy days we've had in five months! It was a good excuse for us all to relax and unwind. We dropped them at the airport and were on our own again. It was so great to see everyone and to spend quality time here in little La Ribera.

We've made the most of these last two weeks and I have another post queued up all about Arrradventures. Stay tuned!

Posted by mrb430 08:55 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Wasting Away the Days Down in Baja


View 2018 & 2019 on mrb430's travel map.

I can't believe it's been almost a month since I've posted a new entry. Time has been flying by as we entered our last month in Baja and have had the holidays and family visits.

TIM TAKES ON BAJA

Our good friend and my "adopted" little brother from D.C., Timothy, came to visit us in La Paz for Christmas. We had a blast and it was a great excuse to visit our favorite beaches and places one more time as we shared them with him.
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Scott also shared his favorite nap spot!
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Christmas

A few nights before Christmas, La Paz had parades in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe. A lighted boat parade and a parade of decorated old Baja trucks!
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We spent Christmas Eve with our La Paz friends, James, Joe, and Wendy, and Tim having dinner (and let's just say more than one bottle of Tequila) at our house. It was an awesome night of great food (thanks Wendy) and great friends. We felt very lucky to have yet another "family" to share it with.
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Christmas Day we headed down to Cabo San Lucas to hang out at the beach clubs and eat dozens of tacos at Taco Guus!
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Then we said goodbye to Tim and headed back to La Paz to get ready for our next adventure.

GOODBYE LA PAZ

After four months, it was finally time to say goodbye. Last sunset and last view of our La Paz home.
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It was truly bittersweet. We learned its streets and shops and restaurants but also its people, its beaches, it rhythms, and we were enveloped in the warmth of its sun and its people. Saying goodbye was like leaving home all over again. A special shout out to James Williamson who showed us the best of Baja. If you're ever in La Paz, look him up. He is a genuine human being and a great travel guide.
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HELLO LA RIBERA, HELLO FAMILY

But on we went. We packed all of our belongings, minus a few we left behind with friends, back into Ruby and drove two hours south to our new home in La Ribera. Our last home in Baja. It's a big, beautiful home with a top deck that gives us 360 degree views of the town, the Sea of Cortez, and the mountains.
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It also is a great place for photos and sunsets!
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The weather has been off an on. If the sun is out and the wind isn't blowing too hard, it's still beach weather.
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If it's windy and cloudy, it's fleece and jeans.
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Apologies to Morgan for using this photo. As you can tell from the photo above she is neither overweight nor pregnant just had a wardrobe malfunction! It was windy!

La Ribera is a small, quiet fishing village and brings the charms those things provide. Roosters, dogs, and horses roaming loose in the streets.
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A deserted beach we have mostly to ourselves.
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A small but serviceable market and family run restaurants and small shops that sell fresh empanadas and burritos. It also is serviced by local farmers that bring their goods through the streets. We've had "the organic farmer" stop by with beautiful produce and the fruit guy come by with bags of local oranges and grapefruits. Fresh squeezed juice is a daily ritual since it's all in season right now. Alas there is also a mango farm nearby but they are not in season.

FAMILY ADVENTURES

Wayne and Dorothy Bondurant (aka Mom and Dad)
The day after we arrived, we picked up my parents at the airport and began the process of settling into two weeks of family visits. My parents are "off-roaders" from way back when they had their own little jeep in Colorado so we started out by doing the Baja Backroads (sand roads) to a remote lighthouse beach. The day was windy but it was sunny and warm.
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My parents drove the length of the Baja in their motor home 25 years ago so they are no stranger to it but it has changed a lot since their visit. I should give them a shout out for that because it was their experience that made me brave enough to do it with Scott. You know, "if my parents can do it..."

They wanted to see the "sleepy fishing village" of Cabo San Lucas again so we did a day trip down to San Jose del Cabo...
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...and Cabo San Lucas with them and needless to say they didn't recognize it. But we got out on the glass bottom pangas to see the arch and at least that hasn't changed since they did it on a jet ski.
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Of course there were many more boats along for the ride this time. Apparently they had it largely to themselves! And more tacos at Taco Guus.
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Morgan and Courtey McClure (aka our daughters)
Our daughters, Morgan and Courtney, came in the next day. We had a stretch of good weather so had a beach day and top deck days just enjoying the sun. We ventured out to the next, bigger town, Los Barilles for lunch, some shopping, and to watch the kite borders. Los Barilles is a Mecca for kite boarding with the big winds and waves and schools.
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Yesterday, we took a day trip up to San Bartolo to see the mango trees, the large arroyo, and the huge Sacred Fig trees.
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Then on to the mines at San Antonio and El Triunfo.
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The weather was cloudy and foggy but it was an interesting day. The new mining museum was finally open in El Triunfo and was interesting if still a little new.

Today we pick up Scott's older brother Carl and his girlfriend Diana. So here we sit, again, having a miserable time at the Cabo airport bar.
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Tomorrow Mom and Dad leave, then the girls, then Carl and Diana. At the end of the month Scott and I will have two weeks here on our own and then we ditch everything that doesn't fit into our backpacks and start back up the Baja for whale watching and then on to L.A. for vaccinations, saying goodbye to Ruby, and our flight out to Colombia.

Posted by mrb430 11:12 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Guadalajara Good Times


View 2018 on mrb430's travel map.

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We recently had the opportunity to spend a long weekend in Guadalajara, Mexico. We had been wanting to visit the mainland from here in Baja and when we found out flights were under $100 US round trip we jumped. Guadalajara had great reviews from people we've met here and it lived up to expectations.

As the second largest city in Mexico, it is a sprawling mass of humanity, traffic, and chaos. It is also a beautiful and historic place with many great neighborhoods and opportunities for day trips. Unlike other Mexican cities, Guadalajara's sign is not the typical colorful big letters you've seen in our other posts and below in Tequila and Tlaquepaque. This one, I think, must reflect the famous Mariachi song of the same name and how it begins "Guadalajara, Guadalajara". If you are unfamiliar with it, check out Elvis' version. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBy66bXeTSQ

MERCADO LIBERTAD

Our first stop after arriving was the Mercado Libertad - San Juan de Dios, the largest indoor market in Latin America and home to stalls selling anything you can imagine. There are multiple levels and multiple courtyards around which the shops are arranged.
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Best of all, it is filled with food stalls selling local favorites among which our favorite was the Torta Ahogada! I still stick to the rule that you shouldn't eat anything bigger than your head so Scott and I split one.
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CENTRO HISTORICO

The heart of Guadalajara is it's historic center. Here are the buildings that date back to the Spanish occupation in the 1600 and 1700's. It prompted us to take a look through wikipedia and refresh our memory, or perhaps learn for the first time, the dynamic history of Mexico. In many ways, it deepened our understanding of Mexico and it's peoples. Guadalajara was central to Mexican Independence as well as the Mexican Revolution/Civil War.

The main district is centered on the massive Guadalajara Cathedral. Construction started in the 1560's and took about 50 years to complete.
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The current towers were replaced in 1854 after an earthquake destroyed the originals in 1818. They dominate the views from all over the center.large_IMG_1836.JPGlarge_IMG_1841.JPGlarge_IMG_1846.JPG

Surrounding the cathedral are four squares that form the shape of a cross around the cathedral. Each plaza is fronted by other historic buildings and the entire area is closed to traffic making it a great pedestrian area in the very heart of the city.

Plaza Guadalajara is west of the cathedral and has a circular fountain and an outdoor restaurant where we enjoyed refreshments and people watching. It is fronted by the Palacio de Gobierno (Governor's Office). This is the historical center of the government of the State of Jalisco. Today it is mostly visited for the murals painted there by José Clemente Orozco, though they are not the best of those to be found in Guadalajara, in my opinion.
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Plaza de Armas south of the cathedral is fronted by the amazing Palacio de Gobierno (Governor's Office). It also has a French Ironwork bandstand bought by former Mexican president Porfirio Diaz that's quite beautiful.large_IMG_1824.JPG

Plaza de la Liberación is east of the cathedral and along with the huge Guadalajara sign it has a gigantic sculpture of Miguel Hidalgo, the man who signed the Mexican Declaration of Independence and ended slavery in Mexico. Also, the oldest surviving theatre in the city, Teatro Degollado, is at the far end. It has a beautiful frieze depicting the nine Greek muses.
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Rotonda de los Jalicienses Ilustres is north of the cathedral and serves as a mausoleum for important men and women born in Jalisco.
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(Note that the bird is real!)

Stretching away from the center, Plaza Fundadores is another beautiful pedestrian way that has a set of fountains running through it along with a huge fountain dedicated to the founders. large_IMG_1847.JPG

It leads down to the Plaza Tapatía and its soaring fountain and finally on to the Instituto Cultural Cabañas that is a cultural and art center decorated with huge murals by José Clemente Orozco. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.
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It started as an orphanage and hospital and is an incredibly beautiful building with many cloisters.large_IMG_1857.JPG

There are tons of great restaurants in Guadalajara and on particular the neighborhood of Chapultepec is worth a visit. It's a beautiful boulevard with a pedestrian park down the middle of it. On weekends, it's closed to traffic and open for bikes only. We biked over and had fun there a few times. Scott even got to watch some American Football! Definitely visit Cerveceria Chapultepec where everything on the menu costs $19.90 MXN ($1US)!
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TEQUILA!

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Guadalajara is in the state of Jalisco, the birthplace of Tequila and the eponymously named town. Although Tequila can be made in parts of a few other Mexican states, Jalisco is the only one in which anyone, anywhere can produce Tequila and call it that. Like Champagne, Tequila has a protected designation of origin. We decided to take the public bus to Tequila and it was certainly an adventure. It stopped pretty much anywhere someone hailed it or someone wanted to get off. At some stops, there appeared to be absolutely nothing around and we had to wonder how far the person's walk was back to their home. But it was a great way to see the local sights, towns, roadside stands, and of course the Blue Agave fields that make Jalisco famous.
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This is a statue of a "jimador" (Mexican agave farmer) preparing the agave heart by removing the leaves.

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Tequila is a beautiful town that is very well preserved and is one of the Pueblo Mágicos of Mexico, a series of towns around the country that offer visitors a "magical" experience – by reason of their natural beauty, cultural richness, traditions, folklore, historical relevance, cuisine, art crafts and great hospitality. As with most historic towns, it centered on a plaza that was not only beautiful but filled with Tequila stands that served Cantaritos cocktails.
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Normally served in a souvenir clay pot, alas that won't fit in my backpack!
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There were also many sculptures throughout out the pueblo that were very nice. These bronze and metal sculptures are pretty ubiquitous in Mexican towns.
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Of course while there we had to tour a distillery and do a taste testing and it was so interesting. We watched the process at La Rojeña, the Jose Cuervo distillary, from the loading of the agave hearts into giant ovens, through the mashing, to the final distillation. We even saw a "Tequila Tanker" on it's way to the bottling plants in Guadalajara.
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And of course, we tasted the four distillations (from youngest to most aged): blanco, reposado, añejo, and extra añejo. Extra añejo could really rival any good scotch or whiskey for flavor and color. It is aged in French Oak barrels and is known as the brandy of Mexico.
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Our guide was a young woman from Tequila who had just finished her university education and was doing tours until she got a job. She told us the story of the 400 drunken Rabbit Gods. "They were the children of the Goddess of Alcohol Mayahuel and Petecatl, God of Medicine. These 400 thirsty bunnies stood for the infinite ways in which people could intoxicate themselves. Infinite? Yes, in the Aztec numbering 400 was such a big number that it also meant infinity. So when someone got absolutely smashed, people would say he was ‘drunk as 400 rabbits’." Thanks Wikipedia for that explanation. Our guide referred to her as the Goddess of Fermentation and said she is closely associated with the Agave (Maguey) plant. She is revered in Jalisco because without her and blue agave there would be no Tequila! There is even a statue for her.
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And a very humorous plaque.
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On our way home to Guadalajara we were treated to a beautiful sunset behind the volcano.large_fullsizeoutput_1bc4.jpeglarge_fullsizeoutput_1bc3.jpeg

TLAQUEPAQUE

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Another Pueblo Magico, Tlaquepaque is located just 20 minutes by bus from the Centro Historico. It is filled with shops selling high end artwork and clothes and many beautiful churches. Of course, there is a main square, more sculptures, and quaint, narrow pedestrian streets.
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It is also where we had our first (and only) Cazuela. A relative of the Cantarito, it is also a citrusy Tequila cocktail served in clay but true to its name, in a flat pot.
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It was a really great weekend and we would recommend Guadalajara to anyone.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram @arrradventures for more great pics!

Posted by mrb430 14:42 Archived in Mexico Tagged guadalajara tequila Comments (0)

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