Archive for the ‘Mexico’ Category

Something Fun

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

I found this on Marlin Magazine’s FB page….it was taken off the East Cape in Baja (we fished there years ago, it was fab)….as they were returning back to the beach after a day of fishing.

That's a FAT Wake Boarder

That’s a FAT Wake Boarder!

I’ve seen porpoises surf the bow waves of boats many times, but I’ve never seen anything like this!  Ah….the wonder of nature in her never ending glory.  Enjoy.

~ Blonde Gator

Just Wow!

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Yet another amazing photo-essay from the UK Daily Mail.

Whale Shark ~ Cancun, Mexico

I have to laugh at the description, though…..giant beast swims by underwater as people on the luxury yacht are unaware.  ROTFL…..the people on this very nifty, compact sportsfisher are riveted on the shark….they can see his head and tail swimming by!

Anyhoo….a Whale Shark is one of the things I always hope to see whilst out on the briny blue….it’s been a long time, but I can hope!

Enjoy.

~ Blonde Gator

 

Why I Miss Mexico (and Why I Must Live There Someday)

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
We received an e-mail from our friend John, who lives in Oaxaca, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca (same state where my beloved Puerto Escondido is).  Since I don’t have too much going on right now (other than selling my t-bird, maybe I’ll put up some pics later if anyone is interested), I am stealing his e-mail word for word…and woo hoo, it came with pictures too!

It is GREAT to be home!

In Oaxaca, baseball takes a distant second place to soccer.  However, Mexican League Baseball (“MLB”) is a really good way to spend an evening for a baseball fan.  I would say that the game here is comparable to US minor league baseball.  It is wild and exciting baseball:  High scores, lots of hitting, and lots of errors.  And a LOT of fun!  Here in Oaxaca on Monday nights, 100 pesos (~8 bucks) gets you 3 of the best seats, 3 hot dogs, and 3 sodas.  Parking is behind Right Field and is free.  Compare that to $30 for the worst seats at PacBell park plus $30 to park your car 1/4 mile away.  Not to mention $7 for one churro, which is the cheapest food the Giants sell.  What a joke!  Here in Oaxaca, you get fresh tacos al pastor prepared over a charcoal fire and a comal (one order is 5 tacos) for about $1.50. 

Guerreros De Oaxaca

Last night, Luis and I went to a game with one of his amigos.  Check out the photos to see what kind of seats you get for 1/3 of $8.00!  AND…  Mexican baseball has CHEERLEADERS!  Our Oaxaca Guerreros (warriors) beat Veracruz 8-4, and the cheerleaders were scantily clad.  What could be a better way to spend 3 hours?

Guerreritas

Enjoy!

~ Blonde Gator

More Drug Violence in Mexico

Friday, January 28th, 2011

I weep for poor Mexico.  Yet another innocent was murdered in the out-of-control Drug War this week, in an attempted carjacking of a “preferred drug vehicle”.   The Mexican government is at war with the Drug Lords, and the Drug Lords are not sitting down.  I’ve read accounts of at least one hundred U.S. trained Mexican special forces troops going rogue….money is the motivating factor. 

The couple who were assaulted were on the same stretch of road we drove on our last day in-country, on our way home (point B on the map).  San Fernando is close to a big lake.  It’s a beautiful, flat stretch of land, where there were miles upon miles of rich farmland.   The article didn’t say whether this couple was travelling at night, but I’d imagine not, as they were “old hands” in Mexico.

The violence in that area of Mexico, and through the other “drug corridors” is spiraling dangerously out of control.  At this point in time, I’m not sure I’d repeat our trip…the violence has now become totally random and unpredictable. 

It’s terribly sad for Mexico and her people, who are the most gracious people I’ve ever met.  But we in the United States need to get serious about a couple of things.  Get the bloody border sealed up.  We have got to stop the flow of illegal drugs and human trafficking.   Furthermore, we need to get serious about stopping the export of this drug violence on our side of the border.  This administration pays lip service yet does nothing.   A big part of this effort should be to infiltrate and crush totally the distribution networks here in the United States.  Don’t fool yourselves, we in the United States are a big part of the problem, without consumers, there would be no impetus to smuggle the drugs.

And finally, we’re going to have to come up with a way to work with the Mexican government to assist them in conquering their criminal elements.  This is not going to be easy, and I seriously doubt whether this Administration is capable of it.   The Mexicans are a proud people, and SecState Hillary Clinton, along with the so-called foreign policy “expert” Joe Biden are as ham-handed a pair as I can think of.  I believe it’s going to take a more rational approach, and leadership….from our border governors to provide a solution.  Those of us in non-border states shouldn’t sit back and relax, though, it’s our problem, too…and we need to pressure our own representatives in Congress to work and support the border states. 

It’s time to get serious, people.

~ Blonde Gator

<edit> Iguana Man insists that this occured much closer to the border, and was not on the road we were on.  Just thought I’d add that in.

Thanksgiving…..Too Much Fun!

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
I shopped ’til I dropped today….and I’m ready.  As usual, I got a head start on the big day earlier….even though there are only three of us this year, everything must be perfect…..it’s just the way I rock. 

So…I started setting the table.  Here it is, as an early work in progress:

Too Cool For School...Best Buy of the Trip!

A lovely new tradition, yes?  Is that not the best tablecloth you’ve ever seen? 

Some background:

On our way home from Costa Rica, Iguana Man wanted me to see his old stomping grounds in Acapulco.  And to meet one of his very best friends….the fabulous Frankie.   Frankie is the go-to guy there, who is just amazing.  He can find it, finesse it, arrange it, all with a belly laugh and a smile.  We got to Acapulco late in the day, where Frankie had secured us lovely accomodations right off the main drag.  Once we were settled in, it was off to dinner, at a gorgeous spot right on the beach.

Ah…the beach in Mexico.  As Iguana Man taught me, before our very first trip to Costa Rica…when one is on the beach…there are “Hey-Joes”.  The Hey-Joes are locals who will try to sell you anything and everything, from cheap jewelry, semi-nice ceramics, tours to the local tourist attractions (like zip-lining, surfing, horseback riding, etc.), drugs (!), and if you care to ask…anything else one might desire.

The Hey-Joes are everywhere.  We bought a beautiful Oaxacan hammock in Puerto Escondido from a Hey-Joe….$20.  Actually, we bought two….one on the way down for us, one on the way back for a friend.  Also in PE, we were approached by a Hey-Joe selling a “pulpa”…a still moving octopod in a baggie…If I’d had a place to cook it, I’d have ponied up a few pesos.

Back to the point of this tale, however.  In Acapulco (a cosmopolitan burg that puts Miami to shame, absolute shame)….the Hey-Joes are so pervasive that the better restaurants actually fence them off from the customers.  That doesn’t stop the Hey-Joes, however.  They mass at the gates, attempting to storm them, with all of their wares and a full-throated pitch.  It’s funny and sad at the same time.

So…..here we were, newly arrived in Acapulco, Iguana Man and Frankie partying down at their reunion.  All of us enjoying a spectacular feast and adult beverages.  When one particularly astute Hey-Joe spotted me (perhaps the lone blonde gringa in the city?)….and for a multitude of reasons, I know not why….started hawking (I understand a bit of spanish so I knew what was happening) tablecloths in my direction.  ???

And what to my wondering eyes did appear….very first one?  A hand-made Mayan calendar cloth.  How did this Hey-Joe know my table is round?  No se!  Or that we’d had such a fabulous time exploring the mesoamerican ruins in Central America?  Again, No Se!  But I saw the goods…and wanted it!

Being a good Hey Joe…this one froze the target (moi)…unfortunately for him, though…I had Frankie as my ally.  Iguana Man and I had a blast as Frankie harrassed (hell yeah, we enjoyed the Kabuki beach theatre immensely) this particular Hey-Joe….who started with an ask price of $100….and Frankie had us in stitches as he negotiated, shook his head NO! and walked away…again and again.

I left the restaurant, happy to have made the aquaintance of one of Iguana Man’s best friends, in his old haunt…with a gorgeous remembrance of the trip of a lifetime.   What could be better?  Meet an old/new friend, enjoy some of the most delicous food ever tasted, laugh one’s ass off at something so fabulous…and walk away with a usable treasure that will always refresh those memories in a second? 

Oddly, when I hauled out this beautiful and unusual tablecloth last week (who else in the U.S. of A. has one, I must ask), in preparation for Thanksgiving, the Iguana Man had forgotten the whole silly and wonderful incident!  Must be a chick thing, LOL.

A new tradition is born!  And tomorrow, I’ll put up a picture of our newest tradition, laden with an older one (all of that delish seafood!).

Happy Thanksgiving, my dear friends.  All the best to you and yours…may you have a most wonderful day, with your family and friends (and may your football team win if they’re playing!). 

~ Blonde Gator

P.S.  I can identify the Big Mayan dude, a jaguar, a crab, a rabbit, and a monkey.  Maybe a butterfly and some hungry fish?   And those are just the motifs on the solid part of the table.  You know what?  My next table is going to be round, only twice the size it is now, so I can study all of my new “tradition” in detail.

Cheers!

Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

As of today, we’re about 2/3 of the way through the “mean season”…I always figure if we can make it to October 1st without a major hassle, we’re home free.  Although every once in a while we get a “bad” storm after October 1st (Wilma on October 26, 2005 rolled us at Cat 3).

There are currently 3 hurricanes out there….the fierce and “classic” looking Igor, which is spinning harmlessly in the middle of nowhere, but headed, possibly, toward Bermuda.  I hope it misses.  And Hurricane Julia, a storm which will apparently never bother a living soul.

And, unfortunately, between the Yucatan and Mexico proper, is Hurricane Karl, which looks like it will impact the Mexican mainland sometime Saturday.  It’s forecast to come ashore somewhere between Pozo Rico and Veracruz….an area which we travelled both on the outbound and homeward bound legs of our trip.

If you look at Weather Underground’s “WunderMap” (not sure how long this link will be good), and zoom in, you can see the map of the area.

On our trip down, we drove from Tampico with the idea of staying in Pozo Rico….alas, there were no rooms in town as it was a festival weekend…so we drove on down the coast.  And ended up along the “Emerald Coast”…as this stretch is known (in a tiny family hotel called, oddly enough, the “Hotel California”). 

Currently, it appears that the entire Emerald Coast is in the cone.  Bummer.

It is a beautiful stretch of coast, where the road is within sight of the beach for many miles.  The lots along the beach are very large, and there are many old vacation homes and small, family hotels, mixed in with agricultural pursuits.  It’s a vacation spot for the locals, not a big resort area like Cancun.  In fact, it really reminded me of the Atlantic coast of Florida years ago, before we were overrun by a zillion snowbirds. 

Flat land, smelly (and full of cool marine life) little mangrove brackish water estuaries, a couple of big rivers emptying into the Gulf of Mexico, a multitude of towering palm trees (Jamaican Talls, which all died off in Florida years ago from lethal yellowing)….and really cool shack-like beach restaurants.  Beautiful turquoise water.  Numerous roadside stands…we jumped off the road at one point to buy coconut cookies from one of the roadside vendors.  (These didn’t make it past Houston….where we were summarily relieved of said cookie/candy confections by a certain greedy young lady). 

Crossing a River, Southbound on the Emerald Coast, Looking Inland

Lucky calves...under a Pink Tabebuia Tree (apparently native)

Coastal Highway on the Emerald Coast of Mexico

Coastal Highway on the Emerald Coast of Mexico

As you can see from the pictures, the land is very flat for a few miles right along the coast, then the mountains rise up to the west.  It is an absolutely beautiful place (although that particular road was one of the worst in Mexico….but it was being repaired and was much better on the return trip).  As I recall, on the trip down it was citrus harvest, we saw hundreds of trucks full of fruit, and a zillion stands selling jugo de naranjo (orange juice), as well as many trucks full of harvested sugar cane.

I am pained by the thought of this beautiful place being directly in the path of a hurricane…it’s almost as if it’s headed right for me.  Let us hope that it’s a minor hurricane, and that the residents are well prepared and stay safe. 

I hate hurricane season.

~ Blonde Gator

In Puerto Escondido

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

And it’s hotter than the hammers of hell, here. 

I don’t know whether it’s just me, or a reaction to the stress of our little caper, but I haven’t been too eager to go walkabout.  Iguana Man, thankfully, has picked up the slack.

We plan to be here for another two weeks or so, I must get my game face back on and get motivated to get out and about.  But it is rather comforting, to be back in “our old room”, in a totally unthreatening place, with internet, and all the comforts of home.  

I guess that little border incident rattled me more than I’d like.  We’ve met quite a few interesting people here, we bid “adieu” to our French neighbors today, the husband a Cordon Bleu trained pastry chef…they’re ultimately headed to Istanbul!

Anyhoo….life is good.  Still working on videos and pictures….some of them should be stellar (I hope).  More later.

~ Blonde Gator

Screwing “La Systema”

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

Well…it’s been a week ago (yesterday) since I’ve blogged (although I wrote a nifty piece from Granada, Nicaragua, which I couldn’t get to upload)…and do I have news!

We left Costa Rica a week ago, and have had a pretty nice road trip thus far.  We had a bit of a whoopdee at the Costa Rican border, seems we were “missing” a paper (que’lle crap)….which took a hundred dollar+ bribe to fix.  Short letter to follow to Costa Rica Immigration, I have the name of the asshat who jacked us.    I’m convinced 95% of the border cops in Latin America are corrupt.

Before I go on my rant…let me say that my take on Nicaragua changed drastically after seeing the country during the rainy season…it transformed from a drab, dusty, awful place to a beautiful paradise.  On the advice of our friend, we stopped in the colonial town of Granada.  It was fabulous.  Unfortunately, we were once again bitten by the “festival bug”….we had a room in a lovely hotel for one night, but after that…no room to be had at the inn, nor anywhere else in town….some sort of “Eco Festival” was happening.   So, we just didi’d and went to Honduras (I’ll write more later about that).  If you’re dying for a preview, check out COPAN.

We had a bit of an adventure in Guatemala (sarcasm on full throttle)….First, we got lost, and found a nice postman who had a much better map than we did.  He directed us to go the direct route, through the mountains, rather than around.  At about 4,500 feet, and on dirt roads, we only got more lost once (but we did find a great camp ground) we managed to finally (2 hours later) find the road we were looking for.  It was actually pretty fun, but would have been alot more fun if I had been driving…but I digress.  I LOVE MY XTERRA.

As I’ve mentioned before, there is not a great way to “get there from here” in some of these mountainous countries.  On our first pass, we drove through Guatemala City….NOT NICE!  So we decided that was something to be avoided at all costs…which we did, by driving G-7, which was, as we were told, “terra for the first hour…paved after that”.

Well….”dirt” was about 5,000 feet, mountain roads, and the recent storms were apparent, with rockfalls and dirtfalls and washed out roads everywhere.  The scenery was awesomely beautiful…but it was a scary trip in the right seat.  Iguana Man deserves a Purple Heart for surviving my screaming.   I promise to post some pics and video (when I figure out how to do that)….you’ll not believe it at all.  I still can’t. 

Okay, back to my original point.  GOVERNMENTAL INCOMPETENCE IS EVERYWHERE!

When we tried to leave Guatemala on Wednesday, we were told that our car was not in their “systema” as having ever left Guatemala.  Never mind we had our paperwork with the exit stamp from Agua Caliente (Hot Water…I should have known!!!).   Further evidence of our car being out of the country would be like….entry Visa into Honduras (in my passport….I wrote about this earlier with the sisterly solidarity of the female immigration officer insisting the car be on my passport), Nicaragua papers, Costa Rican papers….and reverse the trip….CR, Nico, Honduras.

BUT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Iguana Man tells me there is a basic bureaucrat mindset (I think he’s correct, BTW)….a simple “yes or no” answer from a paper pusher has drastic consequences.  I was furious (!!!), but Iguana Man’s experience prevailed (thankfully)….and he didn’t go ballistic as I’d have done…and the Aduana (cop) let us leave the border with our car.

You see, in Latin America, they use “Napoleonic Law”….which means, mas o menos (more or less)….lock ‘em up now, and sort it out later. 

SOOOO….even though, we had transmigrated Guatemala the first time, correctly, and had all of the appropriate stamps, paperwork, etc…..some moron didn’t enter us into their computer system.  And the poor little government drone knew that, but didn’t have the authority to fix it…all he could do was say “NO….can’t leave”….and we found the one honest guy in the country.  Actually, he was very nice, as I said about the Napoleonic laws here, he could have impounded our car and been done with it…and sorry, American Tourist…you must pay 50% of the Blue Book value of your car to get it back…if you can find it?

SOOOO….we turned around, and went back to HueHue (I know, great name!!!).  We checked into a nice hotel I saw on the way out of town (after we’d earlier spent a night in a cute little hotel downtown, $12, but the water wasn’t turned on due to “issues”…LOL, it was just a fine place, more later). 

We called the American Embassy, got some advice (note to travellers, Embassy staff aren’t ALL morons, but most of them are).  We were referred to a tax guy, rather than an abrogado (shyster).  He was such a nice man, as was the fellow at the hotel who helped translate, a man who is married to a Nebraskan, but is properly waiting out his two years to get his green card, God Bless legal immigrants!!!). 

After two days of trying to get the paperwork fixed, our “fixer” suggested another way out….ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION!

So, this morning, we hotfooted across the Guatemal/Mexico border, down a back dirt road, where there were numerous trucks and cars coming and going.  Needless to say, I was scared out of my wits.

We got into Mexico…and with the good sense of our “tax advisor”….we were about 3 KM from a town with customs…where we presented our paperwork, and became legal once again. 

So….I suppose the moral of the story is never panic, never be rude (the Guatemalan customs guy was just as captured by his “systema” as we were).  NEVER BE RUDE.  If it had been me, talking to the customs guy, I’m sure he’d have impounded the car, because I’d have gone ballistic at the stupidity.  But the Iguana Man finessed the situation, and we are now in Mexico (did I mention it feels like coming home?  Because it does…the US media deserves to be shot over their coverage of Mexico…alas, I digress again).

Actually, it was kind of fun (and lots of scary) running the border.  But, when all is said and done, I feel like I just shot a huge bird at bureaucrats everywhere.  We’ll never be allowed to bring another car into Guatemala (like I care)….although I have to think their “systema” sucks so badly that it doesn’t matter one iota.  I have to give them a hat tip for trying to rip me off for $10 grand….but so solly, estupidos!

After all is said and done, I have to think, SCREW THE SYSTEMA is the right tack to take….sometimes it’s a little more scary than not, and sometimes, it just is what it is.  It’s been a pretty fine life lesson.  Do you hear me, Obama…and you stupid democrat Critters? 

~ Blonde Gator

OK – an Iguana Man Update ~ Traveling among countries – or How to Drive Safely

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Its about time, as I am reminded minutely.

Driving here through Guatemala has been fun to say the least. Guatemala does not have the $$ that Mexico has and when you cross over into Honduras there is another notch down.

Some observations.

We miss Mexico OXXO stores at the national PEMEX stations which sell KFREEZ drinks – mostly frozen cappacinos and they are good!

No KFREEZE in Guatamala or Honduras.

Notes to the wise. Do not pick up any ‘border’ officials and let them ‘ride’ in your car unless they are wearing a uniform or have guns.

Bad news for people crossing into Guatemala as these guys have a racket. I got taken but the good feeling is that a guy from Oklahoma who has lived in Costa Rica was almost taken. He let the guy hitch a ride to the border but was smart enough not to give him any papers. Do not deal with or give any of your paperwork to anyone except official Border Custom or Immigration people behind a desk or cage. Do not be taken.

‘nough said.

Anyway, once across the border from the beautiful town of Antigua, Guatemala to Honduras the change is like looking at the old ‘color’ puzzle map of the US. The border changed. So, did the scenery, the agriculture and the native dress.

Honduras is a small country that cannot build a straight road from the North Border to the South where one may enter Nicaragua. We are about 1/3 of the way there and hope to finish this leg tomorrow with a final run at the Nicaraguan border crossing before it gets too late. I think we will stay the night in Honduras and cross in the morning.

Roads deteriorate after Mexico. Guatamala gets a 6.5 on the scale, Mexico a 9.0 overall and Honduras about a 4.0 as of this writing. I’ll let you know if it goes up or down.

We are having a hell of a good time and wish everyone could go with us, but no room in the XTERRA. A good car and a great ride even when it is rough.

~Iguana Man

Greetings from Chiapas

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

We’ve reached our last state in Mexico, Chiapas.   Yesterday was the beginning of the Easter Holiday week, and apparently almost everyone has reached their destinations.  The roads were very empty, and much to our delight, we found ourselves on GREAT roads yesterday, where we had expected them to be difficult.  We were on autopistas and then a 4 lane divided freeway.  Life is good.

We navigated south and east away from Puerto Escondido, along the Pacific coast….although the road is somewhat inland.  We winded our way through the mountain valleys, desert one minute, lush, tropical valleys the next.  Once we left Oaxaca, Chiapas became more cattle country…although we passed miles and miles and miles of mango farms.  I have to think of the Mango king, oh how he’d have loved yesterday’s trip.  Tiny yellow mangos, big purple and green ones, and medium sized red ones.

Since it’s the Easter Weekend, we decided to try a little coastal village to see if there were any interesting rooms available, unfortunately, not….so we’re just off the main road in Mapastepec, about 2 hours from the border.  We met some Californians on the road yesterday, who had left Tamarindo CR (about 20 minutes north of our destination).  They’d done some exploring, and we have some great tips.  Oddly, after 3 years in CR, they’re planning to move to Antigua, Guatemala.  With young kids, they weren’t happy with the beach/school environment for their children, plus they had friends/family in Antigua.  Oh, and my across the street neighbor, Louis, will be visiting Costa Rica next month sometime, Blonde Mom is trying to get the details, but I think he’ll be close enough for us to visit him, too!  It truly is a small world.

I didn’t take very many pictures yesterday, but I was flabbergasted as we were driving, literally out in the middle of nowhere, and came upon a wind farm!  There must have been at least 200 windmills, at least half of which weren’t turning.  This is your future, stoopid warmers!

Windfarm ~ SNAFU ~ they should all be facing the same way & turning

This was apparently the Eurus Wind Farm, largest in Latin America, and cost $550M.

I’m having a hard time envisioning that on the beaches in Florida.

Eurus Wind Farm

Okay, we are soon to be off, headed to Antigua, Guatemala.  I’m told it’s pronounced An-Ti-Gwa, unlike the Carribean island of Antigua, which is pronounced On-Tee-Ga (which I was told repeatedly when I visited that lovely little place back in the early 80’s).  We’ve met a few people on this trip who raved about Antigua, supposedly killer leather goods, so I’m signing off.  The sooner we eat, the sooner we get on the road, the sooner I shop!

~ Blonde Gator