A Travellerspoint blog

Last Day in LB

Monday 9th May

Very quiet, laid-back day, somewhat overcast which helps keep it cool. Went into town to say our fond farewells to el Viejo, as we’re off to Santiago tomorrow and got a lift from a friendly guy we’d met acouple of times before. We got to chatting and discovered that his father is also a Glaswegian and he actually visited Giffnock a couple of years back, the suburb where I was born – it truly is a small world!

Posted by suzeevee 13:49 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Just chilling - but sizzling!

Sunday 8th May

Mother's Day here in Mexico. We're taking it easy today as it is REALLY hot and the thought of toting our backpacks with laptops into town and back is just too much, so we're just reading and taking it easy in any available shade. It's cooled down a bit now (6.00pm) so have ventured down the road to find the little hotel that's about a kilometer away, Los Pescadores. It's owned by an enterprising and friendly gringa called Patti and we've walked into the middle of a Rotary function for Mother's Day, so the place is full of ex-pats with not a mexican in sight - pretty weird! Apparently they raise funds for the local kids to attend secondary school which is fee-paying - good effort!

Posted by suzeevee 09:24 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Water and water!

Saturday 7th May

Our drinking water had run out – we’d gone through 19 litres in three and a half days and would have to replace the big blue bottle. We set out early again, empty bottle in tow and deposited it at the closest shop, about a kilometre away. We would cross the bridge as to how we would get the full one home later!
No lift this time and we sank thankfully into chairs under the welcome shade of the palapa at El Viejo.
This morning we decided on omelettes, mine cheese and Roger’s chorizo, to be washed down by a glass of “Jamaica”. I still have no idea what this deep burgundy drink is made from, but all that mattered was that it slaked our thirst better than anything else I could have imagined! After our daily dose of the internet we headed off for the hotel and ensconced ourselves at the pool for the day – absolute heaven!
On the return journey, we collected and paid all of 17Pesos for our bottle of water, Roger staggering out to the road with it. Fortunately, the shop was situated at a speed bump in the road, so vehicles were forced to slow down – a fact of which I took full advantage, shamelessly waving down the first vehicle. The poor driver didn’t stand a chance and was giving us a lift home before he knew what was happening! The end of another perfect day.

Posted by suzeevee 09:22 Archived in Mexico Tagged water Comments (0)

Exploring Los Barriles, Baja California del Sur

Friday 6th May

In this neck of the woods, it pays to be up with the sun, even before it. It’s the coolest time of day and an absolute joy. By 9.00 when we set out to walk to town – a good couple of kilometres away – the sun is already biting. This morning we were lucky and had just reached the main road when someone stopped and offered us a lift – what bliss! We were deposited 5 minutes later at our favourite hang-out, El Viejo, where we ordered coffee and got our laptops out. This is one of the numerous places where you can connect for free, so we were able to catch up with mail and upload the latest on the blog. Couldn’t leave without more of the amazing tacos pescados, though!
In the blistering heat we sauntered from store to store where we paused to enjoy their air-conditioned interiors, before hazarding out to the next. We were both looking for hats and Roger had to go to the bank. Finally we ended up at the hotel, Las Palmas, where we sat in the cool of the open palapa covered lobby and once again took advantage of free wi-fi.
Eventually we decided to head back at about 4.00 when the sun had lost it’s zenith and were once again rewarded with a lift. The people, especially the ex-pats, are very friendly here.
Sue showed up not long after we got back to the camper and announced she would be leaving on Wednesday and would be early on Tuesday to fetch us and get us acquainted with her house in Santiago. She also mentioned about a friend living close by who may be in need of help after our stint with her. Bob and Liz had also mentioned Gabriel, so who knows? Things have a way of working out!

Posted by suzeevee 09:18 Archived in Mexico Tagged ex-pats baja_california_del_sur los_barriles Comments (0)

Cinco de Mayo!

Thursday 5th May

Today is a public holiday to celebrate Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla. Personally, I’m having a battle over my sunburnt feet and ankles, the only parts of me I couldn’t cover up on our long trek yesterday!
It’s really hot here. Roger has walked into town to send some letters and connect to the internet while I am hiding out in any available shade, not an easy task here in the desert with no trees to speak of. The heat comes in shimmering waves across the rough sand, so I run and jump under a cold shower every so often – what a life saver!
Sue planted a veggie garden – a real labour of love as it is really barren. She must have brought in truck loads of soil and horse manure. It’s really wonderful to have that resource, however, and we are eating really healthily for a change, which is great as I really need to lose these extra pounds I put on in NM!

Posted by suzeevee 08:45 Archived in Mexico Comments (2)

Blue on Blue!

Wednesday 4th May

This morning we woke well rested to brilliant sunshine, blue skies and blue seas, with nothing to do but relax and enjoy it – what bliss! We donned bathing suits and cover ups and headed off for the beach down the arroyo. The place was deserted except for a small caravan with a palapa and rough and ready bar set up for windsurfers. No people though. It was only when we had traversed the wide belt of blinding bone white sand that we spotted a guy coming out of the water in the distance – otherwise we had the place to ourselves. The water was crystal clear and not very cold, strewn with granite rocks so the going was not so easy. After we cooled off, we headed along the shore towards the town – a long, slow, leisurely stroll – watching the sport fishing boats with their lines extended out to sea. In the distance I spotted what appeared to be dolphins playing and shortly thereafter, close in to shore the blue started churning with silver and white as smaller fish leapt out the water in a desperate dance to escape their predators.
As we neared town, the size and opulence of the mansions lining the beach grew, as each tried to outdo the other. Most were boarded up as residents left to escape the heat of summer and we passed only 3 lots of people sitting under umbrellas in that entire stretch of beach! Cutting up into town, our eyes were assailed by a riot of colour – brightly painted buildings, bougainvilleas without restraint, to the colourful tablecloths of the many restaurants. We stopped at El Viejo, highly recommended by Sue, to have fish tacos. What a feast – wonderful crispy fresh fish with corn tortillas and a fabulous selection of salads and sauces – all for 15 Pesos ($1.50 US)!!!
In the shop next door, we met Paul, an ex-Canadian who was really friendly and helpful. He told us of local happenings and put us in touch with the Baja Pony Express – an online paper for everything going on in the Baja. Apparently the lady doing it spends about 4 hours a day and does it just for the love of it! It seems to be pretty tight community with people looking out for each other, which is great.
Tired and sun-weary, we managed to hitch a lift with another kind expat. It had been a long day, so after watching the magnificent sunset and the new moon, it was time to hit the sack!

Posted by suzeevee 08:42 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Los Barriles and the Beach

Tuesday 3rd May

After checking out the art studio and the pool, in the most stunning setting – the pool is actually built into the granite rocks, we swept the terraces and headed back to the cottage for a lovely breakfast of Mexican omelette and tortillas. Liz and Bob then drove us through to Los Barriles. We may be helping out at the ranch when their current helper leaves, depending on whether there is enough to do. Meanwhile, they arranged a house-sitting job with a friend of their’s, Sue. She has a camper near the beach at Los Barriles, which she has kindly given us the use of until her departure in about a week’s time. She lives in a typical Mexican village, Santiago, again up in the mountains, with only one other full time gringo so we’ll really be able to practice our Spanish again. Thank you, Arlene, for all the lessons – I don’t know where we’d have been without them!
Well, we have a camper, a tent and an outdoor bathroom, on an empty lot at the end of a street in a new suburb with really upscale holiday homes, all overlooking a huge arroyo and out to the distant sea. It will be wonderful just to kick back and relax for a bit after lugging our bags on and off trains, buses etc. There is not another person around as the ex-pats do not like the heat of summer, so the quiet is deafening. Just the way I like it!

Posted by suzeevee 08:41 Comments (0)

Rancho La Venta – at last!

Monday 2nd May

Liz was our first point of contact through the HelpX website. This is a great resource for anyone travelling on a limited budget – in return for 4-5 hours work (of varying kinds) a day you get free accommodation and meals. The Rancho La Venta, owned by Liz and her husband Bob, is about an hours drive from La Paz, up in the mountains.
Although it is desert and there has been no rain for the last 3 years it is still extremely beautiful. Arroyos are punctuated by dots of green trees, mainly Palo Blanco and Palo Verde and granite outcrops are interspersed with giant Euforbias. Where it has been watered there is a profusion of colour and flowers of all descriptions, the most predominant being the bougainvilleas.
Liz left us to our own devices before inviting us up to the house for dinner along with their present house-sitter who had just flown in from Lake Tahoe, so we had a very pleasant evening getting acquainted, helped by some of Bob’s own local red! Wine making is a passion of his and in addition to his grapes, he makes wine from mangoes and also honey mead. He is also a builder and built all the infrastructure of the ranch including their home which sits atop the highest spot looking out over the 350acres – not another soul in sight! We watched the sun setting over the distant mountains and the arroyo below. Liz runs guest cottages, in addition to being an artist and they also do horse trails with their 11 horses. Great place and people!

Posted by suzeevee 08:38 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Bahuichivo to La Paz - Hotel shuttle, train, taxi, ferry etc

Sunday 1st May

The balance of the train journey was most enjoyable and between the beautiful scenery and the sedate pace, our frazzled nerves were soothed. It was only an hour before we arrived that we had an unfortunate incident - someone threw a rock at the train window across the passage from where we were sitting. Fortunately it did not shatter, just craze into a million pieces. The on board policia came with his AK 47 or equivalent (what do I know about guns??!!) and moved our neighbours and us to other seats but nobody was really bothered - it reminded me of home in SA!
We pulled into the station in Los Mochis at 9.00pm, got a taxi and were deposited at the Baja Ferry terminal in Topolobampo about half an hour later. Everything was well organised her and our tickets to La Paz were cheaper than the website showed for a change. After a six hour crossing (which was 2 hours behind schedule) we arrived, had our luggage checked for some reason (there had been sniffer dogs on the other side, too) and caught the local bus for La Paz.
It was an exquisite morning and the drive along the coast with crystal clear turquoise and azure water contrasting starkly with the dusty dryness of the desert made us glad to be alive. There is a great deal of construction going on in and around La Paz, which is a typical tourist town with the beachfront promenade and restaurant after restaurant. It is more common to see an American ex-pat than a local Mexican! Our rendezvous with Liz was at Applebees and we also saw a Burger King – home from home, I suppose!

Posted by suzeevee 08:28 Archived in Mexico Tagged bus tourist la_paz beachfront baja_ferry Comments (0)

Urique – but alas, no “eureka”!

Saturday 30th April

Armondo of Cabanas Family Diaz took us through to Divisadero for a last look at the view and to catch the train at 1.00. The station there is worth a look in itself – the platforms are lined with vendors of every description. Fast food Mexican style is cooked over 55 gallon drum wood fires and laid out enticingly – chile rellenos, burritos, tamales and all kinds of unrecognisable tortillas filled with local produce fill your nose with delicious aromas ( pity we had just had a huge home cooked Mexican breakfast!). There are drink sellers with freshly made lemonade and a thirst-quenching coconut drink, as well as cups filled with chunks of seasonal fruit, all competing of course with the ubiquitous local crafts of the Tarahumara. It is a feast to fill all the senses!
After a 2 hour train journey through spectacular scenery, we arrived half an hour early at Bahuichivo, where the Diaz family had arranged for their friends to meet us and take us to Urique, 6000 ft below next to the river in the bottom of the canyon. We were to spend the night there and have a general tour of the area before returning to the train the next day. As we disembarked, we were greeted by the usual crowd of touts for all the local hotels and we waved the business card Armando had given us – unfortunately to no avail. Being early, we decided to wait patiently and took turns walking up and down the platform – the only gringos in sight, surely someone would spot us!
An hour and a half later the station had become much busier and I stopped to ask 3 bus drivers chatting if they knew of the place we were going to – one piped up “oh, Roger?”. He had been there all the time and it had not dawned on him that we were his people! Luggage and ourselves finally ensconced in his 4x4, there followed the most amazing feat of driving skill I have ever witnessed. Railway line on one side, vehicles ahead and behind, as well as on the other side of us, all that remained was a narrow gap. Jose proceeded to manoeuvre backwards and forwards till he had completed a full 90 degree turn through which he finally exited. The really astounding thing to me, was that the driver of the vehicle really blocking us was sitting behind the wheel just watching the whole performance – it never occurred to him to move and neither did it seem unusual to Jose that he didn’t!
What followed was a bone rattling ride along dusty, twisty and undulating roads at a speed rivalling any rally car driver. Three quarters of an hour later we arrived in Cerocahui, shown the old mission church and school, then taken to a little restaurant on the adjacent plaza where we were introduced to Mama and told we would be staying there. A lively discussion ensued, needless to say, with the end result being that Jose agreed to take us to Urique. We set off at breakneck speed again, only to get a kilometre down the road before there was a huge bump and the wheel literally fell off – in the middle of a narrow bridge. We blocked the traffic in both directions for about an hour, while Jose retrieved the wheel nuts, borrowed a jack from the blocked truck and put the wheel back on.
Meanwhile, Roger and I decided the prudent thing to do was say in Cerocahui, so we headed back to Mama and decided to check the entire booking, which is just as well, because they wanted to charge us double what had been agreed. An hour and an interpreter later we came to an agreement – stay there, have dinner and breakfast, no tour, no Urique – it was a 6 hour journey with a 6000ft drop in altitude (although we later discovered it was only 2hrs), and a return trip to the station the following day at a cost of 600 pesos ($60 aprox). Our original agreement for Urique and the tour was 600 pesos a piece, so it was a fairly equitable arrangement. We had a plate of chicken and rice soup thrown at us for dinner, despite being told there was hot water, we got to our room which was very comfortable, to discover there was no water at all and in the morning our breakfast of Mexican scrambled eggs, tortillas and instant coffee was again, literally, thrown at us.
After meeting some fellow train travellers who were staying at the very upmarket hotel, we arranged to travel with the hotel shuttle bus back to the station. I’ve never been so glad to leave anywhere – we were made to feel so uncomfortable and unwelcome and had to pay for the privilege, to boot! We’ll just need to come back another time to visit Urique.

Posted by suzeevee 08:27 Comments (0)

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