Monday, December 28, 2009


Our way from Puerta Vallarta to Morelia was so slow, that sometimes we even went backwards. Just before we got to Guadalajara, we learned about a ¨shaman gathering¨ nearby. We went and witnessed a Huichol ceremony, ¨Raices de la Terra¨ complete with shamanic dances, sweatlodges and drumcircles. The latter two were identical to the ones of the indigenous people up in Canada. We did not take pictures out of respect, and this is the only image we got when walking to the highway after the gathering.
Then we went to Morelia, where we had a place to staÿ: a friend of ours, whom we met in La Paz, gave us the keys to her place!!! We stayed in this beatiful colonial town for a few days, rested from the road and went for walks in the historic town. There were clonial courtyards, huge cathedrals that took 150 years to be completed, and even an aqueduct! This is the view from our front door.
We figured it would take us a few days to get from Morelia to the Monarch butterfly sanctuary, near the town of Ocampo, but our luck was amazing: a straight ride, how would you like that!? We showed up at dusk, when the butterflies were getting together to spend the cold night. A park ranger took us behind the fenced-off area, where we could see an even denser clump of butterflies within an arm´s reach. Our lucky strip did not end up there, for when we asked that same warden where could we camp for the night, he set us up in a huge concrete ticket booth, where we slept soundly until today´s morning.
We are now in Zitacuaro, devising a way to get to the capital of the nation with minimum walking. We´ll probably hitch-hike again :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Crossing the Sea of Cortez

There are several ways to get from La Paz to the mainland, but most of them are really expensive and not a lot of fun. The best way to go it is to hitch a ride on a boat, which is exactly what we did! It took some socializing at Marina de La Paz, and after a few days we met Sam, captain of Alluvium, a 47 foot sailboat, bound for Puerto Vallarta. Sam is a great person, very attentive and easy to get along with. Anastasia at the helm:
There were two more people on board, Kenny and Jamie, a father-and-daughter team travelling to Guatemala. They are both experienced sailors, so we felt really safe in their company.
The crossing took two days, and as Sam predicted, the weather was perfect most of the way. It ramped up a bit during the night though, the swells were 6 or 8 feet tall, wind gusted up to 22 knots and the engine broke once, but there was nothing that our captain could not handle with supreme calmness.
This is how the cooking at sea is done: hold on and don't spill!
In the pleasant sunshine of the daytime cruising, we played with dolphins off the bow, saw a whale breach and spotted a few turtles, leasurly floating on the water.

We are now in Puerto Vallarta, a port with huge cruise-ships and a lot of gringos. It is a little warmer and more humid here than in the desert, but the change in flora is surely nice! We'll head out soon, in the direction of Guadalajara.

Baja California Sur

It is very easy to hitch-hike in Mexico, and riding in the back of a pick-up is an essential part of Mexican life. Everybody here travels like that - from heavyly armed policemen to 2 year old kids and construction workers. Our first ride in the box was three hours long, through a beautiful desert on a nice sunny day.
When we got to La Paz (peace in Spanish), we went to Carlos' house, whom we met throught couchsurfing. He had no room in the house for us, so we slept in his front yard, under a coconut palm. It was really warm during the night, maybe around 12 or 15 C, but Carlos and his family could not believe that we did not freeze sleeping outside.
Through couchsurfing, we also met Edgar, a marine biologist, who took us around town and showed us many different cactuses on the hills around La Paz (these little red fruit come off very easy and taste like strawberry!)
And this huge thing is called Cardon, it grows really slow, so you can say that this is an old-growth cactus:) Edgar also took us on a small roadtrip to a small village of Lopez Mateos, on the Pacific side of the peninsula, where he and his friends run a turtle project, Proyecto Caguama.
Our stay in La Paz was awesome, we picked up some Spanish and made a lot of friends.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Two in one


For the last couple of weeks we have traversed many climatic zones - from coastlines, old-growth ancient forests to uninhabited valleys and deserts. This is the largest tree in the world (by volume):
That's Anastasia in the tree there... After exploring King's Canyon and Sequoia parks, we headed down south... Just as we were leaving the mountains, we met Shel, who invited us to stay at his campground for the night, just outside of Three Rivers. Once in our conversation we mentioned that we were looking for a job to continue our journey, next thing we know - we've been offered one to take care of the flower garden that he built a couple of years ago and was slowly planning to add some perrenial flowers to its numerous terraces. We stayed for two days, working during the day and enjoying the company of our host in the evenings.
Afterwards, in our loose plans, was to head towards canyons of southern Utah that our good friends from Ontario have visited in autumn and were amazed by the beautiful shapes and textures. We chose to go there through Death Valley. We have never been to the desert so we were quite exited for our further route.
Catching a ride during Thanksgiving weekend in the Mojave desert is not the easiest thing. So we were stuck there for two days camping amongst dried out prickly bushes and blowing sand. We had to experience the desert somehow we thought, so that was our chance!
As we were leaving the desert, we found out that it is freezing cold in the canyons already -12C and snowing! Alright then, we are going south to Mexico. Decision is made and it feels good!

Dec 2

It's our third day in Mexico, we have covered about 30 km on foot and we are 1000 km south from Tijuana - in Santa Rosalia, on the east coast of Baja California.
People here are friendly and helpful, but our lack of Spanish is frustrating. Yesterday we got a ride from a guy who owns a metal recycling yard, and he offerd us an empty industrial office building to camp in for a day of two. We took him up on his offer and are now enjoying a warm sunny day without heavy bags on our shoulders.