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Posts tagged ‘Mexico’

Exploring La Paz

October 16, 2010

We were awakened by the laughter and chatting of teams gathered for a race to Cabo San Lucas in buggies, motorcycles, and trucks. On my way to breakfast, a smiling ten year boy waited patiently at the elevator with a mounted tire nearly as tall as he was. When he saw a group of nicely dressed older ladies inside, he smiled even broader and took the stairs, bouncing that tire down three flights.

Breakfast was expensive but quite tasty at La Panga, a short walk up the marina. They serve octopus so I suspect we will be back. Next on our agenda was shopping. Somehow we didn’t notice that we needed sleeping bags, insect repellant, our own cups, and sunglasses. A taxi driver took us to the local Walmart. PFD’s were located prominently on the front of each aisle and we were challenged to remember the names of things we wanted in Spanish. The clerks tried very hard to be helpful although they directed us to the grocery section for our coffee cups.

Our taxi driver had waited for us, chatting amiably with someone on his cell phone; his English was quite good as he had spent several years in the U.S.

I went for a quick swim in the pool and then settled in a nice chair with my Kindle. Don and Carol arrived late afternoon, we ate a nice evening meal at La Panga with Glen having his octopus although it was not on the menu.

Our guide, Rafael was waiting for us in the hotel lobby along with Rob and Sue, a couple from British Columbia who were also part of our group. Each of us was asked what our expectations of the trip were—Sue wants to learn how to roll the kayak; Rob quickly responded not in a double. The rest of us were interested in scenery; Glen said he wanted to lose five pounds—Rafael laughed at that knowing what was ahead of us. Tomorrow we will pick up our gear—life jackets, snorkeling equipment, wetsuits, take the skiff out to the island and do a wet exit from the kayak. I am not looking forward to the wet exit.

No pictures today but starting tomorrow there will be plenty. Photos from the entire trip are at:

Sailing the high seas of Cortez

October 15, 2010

The beginning of our adventure

Mexico City Airport

Our day began early—at 2 AM and still very dark. No matter how much I plan, there are always last minute things—depositing a paycheck, paying bills, running the dishwasher, emptying the trash, and fueling up the truck. We made good time to the airport even though we stopped at Duncan Donuts for coffee and a donut.

Our plane was small, 3 seats across but it wasn’t too full. Immigrations & Customs in Mexico City is a bit challenging as there are few directional signs. We have a six hour layover, originally planned to allow Don and Carol ample time to catch up with us but they are flying Alaskan Airlines directly to La Paz from Los Angeles.

Glen just barely misses being arrested for taking photographs of me in the airport. The airport is spotlessly clean with a small army of folks sweeping or washing windows. The walls of the airport look like concrete perforated board with hundreds of tiny windows about ten inches across. Mexico City is in the mountains and is quite cool; I am glad I brought a jacket and the Café Americano is hot and strong.

We lunched at the Alfa Bar with the hostess doing an excellent job of inviting people in. Had we been a few minutes later, we could have ordered from the lunch menu, but breakfast any time of day is always good. Glen had eggs with machaca which is dried or shredded meat while I had panela which turned out to be squeaky cheese cut into slices and fried on a griddle.

The flight to La Paz was uneventful and I tried hard  (unsuccessfully) to take a photo of Espiritu Santos from the air.

view from the restaurant window at sunset

Our hotel is pleasant, right next to one of several marinas. We have a balcony view of the pool with huge bougainvilleas everywhere. Of course we were hungry for supper, and we sampled a fish sauce with chips along with great guacamole at the Dinghy Dock, the hotel restaurant.

Working in Series Topes #1

This is my finished piece for the first challenge of the year.  Fast Friday started as an off-shoot of the Quilt-Art list several years ago. The premise is for a challenge to be offered, and each member is to complete a piece within a one week time frame. This piece is not necessarily intended to be elegant or carefully and painfully executed, but more of a sketch but with fabric.


The challenge this month was to use line as a design element and complementary colors. In addition, all the pieces this year are to be part of a series. Other members have chosen some interesting topics such as phases of the moon, ports of call, trees, and so forth. I chose ‘TOPES’ pronounced ‘toe pays’. If you have ever driven in rural Mexico, you will have seen the signs warning ‘Topes’. These are either small bumps or troughs or both but act as physical encumbrances to fast driving through small villages. While everyone else was taking pictures of the burros or sheep or children, I was taking photos of the topes.


In addition to the stipulations set forth by the challenge, I also wanted to use my needle felter and work strictly from my scrap-bags. The background is needle-felted wool on a cotton classic batting, wool yarn, appliquéd cottons, and stitching with a variegated blue rayon thread and orange trilobar. The backing is a pieced cotton, the edges are finished with a narrow zig-zag over black wool needlepoint yarn.


Completed size is 7 by 8 inches.

Mexico on a Motorcyle and Home

back-of-motorcycle-next-to-last-day.jpgFinal Day


One of the Harleys has been making a funny sound—and of course there is probably a more official mechanical way to describe the problem. After a lot of tinkering and even more advice, the decision is made to put it on the trailer for the last day.


We are early to breakfast and somehow I am the only one who speaks Spanish. The waiter proudly announces the selections for breakfast and I translate for the group. Fortunately no-one is too picky about what they get if my translation is not quite perfect. We all enjoy the orange juice—it is so sweet.


Finally we get on the bikes for our final day. We are riding on the Pan American highway. The road is quite good and we pass many military convoys. They wave at us—but all of their machine guns are fully loaded and ready to use. I wanted to take photos but decided I did not want to chance explaining why I wanted their photos in my limited Spanish. I had taken my truck keys out of my luggage and placed them in a side pocket. I could feel them pushing up—and I wondered if they might be squeezed out of my pocket. Later I learned we were riding at 95 miles an hour—the fastest I have ever gone—unless you count airplanes.


We stop at a gas station which has huge aisles of candies and cookies. One candy looks like birdseed—but is actually a peanut brittle type candy with lots of different seeds and nuts.


Back on the bikes, we ride through large fields. Here the farms are clearly much larger. Tractors instead of the horse are used to work the fields. The fences are metal posts instead of the saplings stuck in the ground at intervals or the rock fences which climb up and down and around the hills.


The day is getting warm and we no longer fear getting wet. Reynosa is hot and dusty but we must complete paperwork to de import our vehicles. Glen did not get a receipt for his entry into the country and so we must pay again. Everyone is a bit nervous as they all know they are close to ‘home’.


The international bridge is stop and go traffic. Despite large signs warning against vending, people walk through the lines of traffic with large crucifixes or snacks in large bags that look like funny Cheetos with a dark red sauce added by the vendor at the time of purchase.


When we get to the US border, the border patrol agent asks us if we are importing any humans—or any ceramics—or liquor. We are more than a bit startled as it would be rather difficult to stow any such items aboard the motorcycle. As we are about to ride away, he sees the package of empanadas I bought at the last gas station in my pocket and asks what it is. I tell him they are cookies and offer them to him. He laughs and waves us through.


Right outside the border station, our leader’s bike stalls. We take the Harley off the trailer and put his bike on the trailer and proceed to the hotel where we find my truck patiently waiting for us.


We all say good-by to each—it’s been a great trip—but we’re all tired and glad to be back in the US.


Mexico on a Motorcycle Part Six

door-in-santa-engracia.jpgDay Seven


Today I decide I will ride rather than stay in the van. Our ride today is through some of the tropical part of Mexico and then through the sugar cane area. We also learn about tequila and see several fields planted with agave.


It is not easy to take photos from the back of a motorcycle particularly with a full face helmet on. I take a lot of sideways and otherwise strange photos of the back of Glen’s helmet or his jacket.


We stop at a sugar cane press and buy some treacle. I wanted to get some of the peppers but decided it would be awkward to carry them on the motorcycle and even worse to clean up if the jar broke.


We also stop at the Tropic of Cancer and take group photos. The marker is covered with grafitti—and it is probably a good thing that I do not understand exactly what is written there.


We drive past huge trucks full of oranges and everywhere we smell orange juice. Some of the other riders marvel at the quantity of the trucks and the sight of oranges piled high.


Our end destination tonight is Santa Engracia—an 18th century hacienda. The little town has narrow dirt roads and I wish I had more time to take photos. That evening is our final formal meal together. The dining area has dark ornate furniture and it does feel like we have stepped back in time.

 More photos are found here

Mexico on a Motorcycle Part Six




Today is the twisty day. Everyone is looking forward to this day with a mixture of apprehension and anticipation. It is supposed to be one of the finest stretches of road with spectacular scenery and fun riding.


The road is as promised. We wind through the mountains endlessly. The Harley riders notice their hands cramping from all the braking. The views are spectacular and I wish I was on the back of the bike. Even in the van, I slide around in the seat and although I take some photos through the window, I wonder how I would possibly get any at all from the back of the bike.


The mountains here are lovely, the small towns have narrow streets that are frequently cobblestones. Topes mark the towns; some of them are deep ditches while others are lumps. I find them fascinating and very photogenic.


We stop at a very rural school and toss more soccer balls to the children. I brought a bottle of bubbles, one of my mother’s favorite entertainment for children. I teach them all to blow bubbles—and the prinicipal is also entranced. This school is clearly much poorer than the previous one. The children are not in uniforms and range in age from very young to middle school age. The principal who is also the only teacher says he has 40 students.

 More photos are found here

That afternoon, we find a group of motorcycle riders at one of the gas stations. There is much discussion—even though neither group spoke the other language fluently. Our leader checks the quality of the road to a special sight—Las Posas. He comes back to assure us the road is excellent and we proceed.


This area is now very tropical with bananas and vines. The mountains were beautiful—and chilly—we all now begin to feel quite hot and some of the riders take off their jackets.


Las Posas was a surrealistic water garden designed by a fellow named Edwards who was good friends with Salvadore Dali. He began to build this area in the 1920’s. Much of it was overgrown until a private organization bought it and began to restore it. We have exactly half an hour to explore. People are everywhere climbing up and around on the various parts of the gardens. I take photos as fast as I can—and when we finally leave, I see another entire section that I missed. The other riders are hot and tired—-and waiting for me near the van.

 More photos are found here

That night we stay in a posh hotel with a large balcony, blooming mango trees, and a Mexican band that plays very loudly until about midnight or so.