Posts Tagged ‘Mexico travel’

What’s Been Going On

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Not to be confused with the Marvin Gaye song of a similar but slightly different title, I am obsessed with the Amos Lee tune (particularly the live version) “What’s Been Going On.” I can do a decent job with the guitar, but I can’t sing that low to save my soul. Which is fine in general, seeing as I’m a woman, but a bummer in that I really love the hell out of that tune. Oh well. Download’s Amos’ version. It’s worth the $.99.

Writing a novel in one month.

Writing. What else would I be doing?

Anyway, I’m just sitting here watching Old School and drinking some horribly sweet, overly dyed apple soda (Just a small bottle. I couldn’t help myself. I had to know…) and thinking about anarchy.

Not really.

I just threw that last part in to see if you were paying attention.

So anyway, as is often the case with me when I get myself into remote locales with very little human contact and even less English, I have been wallowing in my own habits and taking an excessive amount of self-portraits. Luckily, my habits tend to be pretty healthy and self-driven and I’m rather photogenic, but then again maybe I’ve already been alone too long to judge?

Mexican sunset

Me in front of tonight's sunset

So here’s a random smattering of stuff in my life circa 9:48pm Mountain Time:

My back hurts

I’ve been brushing my teeth with tap water since I got here on Thursday. I suppose I just like to tempt fate. Or prove that I have a superior immune system. Or lose five pounds the painful way. Time will tell…

I’m already sick of corn tortillas.

Mexican horses

Random horses.

I was sitting out front today and four horses just came randomly sauntering by.

My only tie to the modern world is a super flakey dial up 3G connection that occasionally makes the touch pad on my MacBook freeze up and stop working and which delays incoming emails as much as two days and isn’t even powerful enough to run a YouTube clip. I am completely cut off. With 25 days to go. But I’m still sane. Mostly.

I’ve written five chapters of the new book. It’s going pretty smoothly, which either means it’s inspired gold or total drivel. Time will tell here as well…

Todos Santos sunset

Tonight's sunset all by itself.

I don’t like the American landlord and his Mexican wife is really unfriendly. I could bitch about this at length, but a) who wants to hear me bitch and b) he knows about this blog, and I hate to be a jerk. Sufficed to say, he went to Stanford 25 years ago, and works it into EVERY SINGLE CONVERSATION. Whateves, dude. It’s ancient history now.

There’s a mosquito on my thigh.

I tried to take a bath last night, and got about two inches of hottish water into the giant tub before it started to come out of the spigot cold. So basically it was like splashing in a hot puddle. Not so much…

Todos Santos Las Tunas

Me in front of the only walls in this joint that aren't pink.

Special K is different down here than it is at home. It’s somehow kind of corn flakey or something. It’s not bad. Just different.

Topes are those giant, unexpected bumps in the road and totopos are what they call tortilla chips.

The ocean is literally 50 yards away (over a sand dune covered with some seriously prickly stuff), and I can hear it roaring all the time, which is super awesome.

It’s been cloudy and raining all weekend and barely 10 degrees warmer than back home…but tomorrow all that changes when the sun comes back out! (The sun had better come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’d damn well better be sun…)

I’m driving around in a 2000 Nissan Frontier with plates from South Dakota and expired tags. I’m basically begging to get pulled over. See “not so keen on the landlord” above.

Todos Santos beach

The beach here in Todos Santos by day

I am definitely in the early stages of Carpal Tunnel or some other forearm overuse problem, which totally sucks. I actually woke up in the middle of the night last night my right arm hurt so much. This happened when I was writing my graduate thesis a few years ago. And when I was finishing the first book. Basically, it’s like an overuse injury I’m still using. Ow.

I bought some bagels at the corner store and despite the fact that they were frozen, every last goddamned one of them was molding, and I just threw them away rather than drive them back and fight about it, because I don’t know enough Spanish to explain that “These bagels are molding, and I don’t want a replacement because I am now afraid of your food. Please just give me back my 550 pesos, thank you very much.”

Footprints in the sand

Getting all artsy.

Will Ferrell just said my favorite line of the movie, “I think I see Blue. He looks glorious!”

As mentioned above, there are 25 more days to my literary experiment.

And there ain’t much going on but me, my daily workouts, my writing, and trips to buy overpriced spoiled foodstuffs.

Happily, I have yet to go totally Ernest Hemingway, but I am pretty isolated, so I guess we’ll see what happens. I am half-Irish, you know.

Da da da da da da dum dum

Da da da da da da dum


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And We Wonder Why Everyone Hates Us?

Friday, March 5th, 2010

(The alternate title for this post was “Listening to the youth of today, I’m pretty sure we’re all doomed,” but once I realized that the subjects of said title were en route to a vacation in the Middle East, I realized that their shock and awe display of stupidity had the potential to break wide open and spawn an international incident.

Thus the new title.

See you during a hostage negotiation, boys.)

So, to catch you up, I’m sitting here listening to these two (American) guys in their early 20s talking in the seat next to me on the plane.

And I use the word ‘talking’ lightly.

Basically one is edifying the other on the glorious diversifications of alcohols and their varying and sundry drinkability.

Clearly, a young alcoholic in the making, he is also a poet and a scholar, as you will soon learn.

His traveling companion doesn’t say much, preferring instead to giggle his responses.

Only they were both overweight and the real Beavis had chin-length hair. Otherwise? Exactly.

The two of them first caught my attention as my ears picked up on the sound of the Wizened One (let’s call him Butthead) instructing the Giggling One (Beavis) on the best bang for their airplane-sized mini-liquor $7.00 buck. Butthead went on a lengthy discourse about how awesome Courvosier is (which Beavis seemed to have never heard of. Obviously he doesn’t listen to much rap) and became notably upset that it was only available on trans-Atlantic flights.

It’s a common stereotype – the hard-drinking, brain-dead young man from the States – but you rarely encounter them in the wild. Usually, you have to go to frat houses and sports bars and keggers and the weightlifting section of the gym or lay a trap with a copy of Guitar Hero.

However, today is your lucky day. No such field trip is required. Sit back, pour a glass of your favorite 90-proof whatever, and enjoy:

“My favorite alcohol is probably cognac. And brandy is not the same thing as cognac.”


“It’s called Scotch because it’s made in Scotland.”


“I don’t drink American beer at all. I hate American beer. American beer is gross.

Mexican beer is good.”

***Five second pause***

“Alaskan Amber is probably my favorite beer.”


Me working on, well, this actually here in Todos Santos, Mexico.

“What? Jungle juice?

Oh yeah, that’s fruit juice and 150 rum.

They call it jungle juice.

Do it in a five gallon bucket.”


“I had sake once. It was disgusting.

It gave me an alcohol fever.

Any alcohol hot is gross. And it gives you an alcohol fever.”

I have no idea what he’s talking about, but I loved the conviction with which he said it.


“There’s a big difference between Canadian whisky and bourbon. Yep. A big difference. There didn’t used to be. But there is now.”


“Spanish Fly is really good.

Especially with Thai food.”

Is Spanish Fly even real? I thought it was an urban legend or made up aphrodisiac like Funky Cold Medina?


Again, these guys were not remotely this thin. In truth, they were chunky monkeys.

Butthead: “A Mai Tai is like Chai tea.”

Beavis: “I don’t like that creamy stuff.”

Butthead: “Chai tea isn’t creamy. It’s like black tea with honey. And then you put rum with it.”


“Me and my buddies get a big old water bottle and put Everclear in it. Everclear’s like really strong alcohol. And pineapple. It’s really good. Strong. It’s REALLY good.”


And in the end, (despite the fact it was eight o’clock in the morning) and after much discussion about how to spend their $14.00, they ordered rum and Cokes. Hold the Coke.

So just rum.

Like pirates.

Ahoy, matey!

Shiver me timbers!

After deciding to save their mini liquor bottles as souvenirs, the rum kicked in and the deep thoughts really started flowing:

“There are plasma guns too. It’s the same stuff that’s in the TV. Plasma.”


Beavis: “What day is this?”

Butthead: “Thursday. But it will be Friday when we get there.”

Beavis: “So today never happened?”

Butthead: “Right.”


People were actually turning around in their seats in the rows in front of us to get a look at these jackasses.


Butthead: “I heard Japan is very expensive.”

Beavis: “I think to fly there, but once you’re there, it’s cheap.”

Thus proving the old adage that birds of a feather do indeed fly together. He didn’t speak much, but when he did, Beavis was every bit as misinformed as his pal.

As for Japan. Yeah. Good luck with that.


“Time is relative.

What that means is there’s only time with life. In heaven there’s no time.

And that’s just the beginning, if you can grasp it, that there’s going to be different flavors you’ve never tasted. And colors you’ve never seen.”

And – although he didn’t say it explicitly – booze you have yet to get stupid drunk on. Not  that God endorses that. He thinks you’re perfectly stupid just the way you are.

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The Tao of Travel

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

I was actually going to call this the yin and yang of travel, but the Tao of Travel sounds so much more svelte, dontcha think?

I know you kids like pretty and irrelevant pictures. I'm just doing my part to keep you happy.

I know you kids like pretty and irrelevant pictures. I'm just doing my part to keep you happy.

I once had (and probably still have in a box somewhere) some book called the Tao of Pooh and then the Te of Piglet – they came together – that I swear I bought because the titles were so damn clever. But I never really read the original Winnie the Pooh stuff, so the point was kind of lost on me.

At least that’s my excuse. As much as I think it would be cool to be a deep and enlightened spiritual guru, I tend to find that kind of reading crazy boring.

Anywho, due to my posting snafu on Wednesday and my icky tummy on Thursday, I am now a bit behind in terms of timeline. In other words, here are my thoughts and reflections from my journey back to the USA, which technically happened a couple days ago, not that I’m CNN or something such that it actually matters that you get my news in a timely fashion.

Today is a four-flight day.

Four flights, in my humble opinion, are four flights too many. First off, flying always makes me feel slightly pukey. I have never actually thrown up on a plane, but I always like to do an equipment check when I first get into my seat and confirm that there is, indeed, a barf bag. One can never be too careful.


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Have remote, will travel

Friday, July 17th, 2009

(Sorry about that, folks. I like to keep you guessing as to my alive/dead status.

Actually, I wrote an entire entry and *thought* I posted it two days ago. Then yesterday I felt really crappy and didn’t have the energy to publish the post I’d written. And then today Brad complained that I hadn’t blogged in a while – thank you, Brad, - and I was very irritated that ‘since when is two days a long while?’ and then it dawned on me that once again the blog had outsmarted me.

She’s tricky like that. Yes. It’s true. After a year and a handful of months, I’ve come to view the blog as a sentient being, one who is slightly interested in causing me pain, even though technically my pain is her pain and I have the power to destroy her. But enough about that…

Here’s the post you didn’t see but I thought you saw. And yes, I am still alive.)



I thought we were bad.


But it turns out the Mexicans have not one, not two, but THREE channels dedicated to 24/7 Michael Jackson coverage. One of them appears to be running the American memorial service in constant rotation (and subtitled). One of them seems to be playing constant concert footage. The last is focused on a mix of the two.

It seems to be they miss the King of Pop more than the Americans.

To get to the bottom of this, I went to Google and performed some searches and…nothing. Not a single thing.

However, I did find some theories that he was transgendered, which is kind of interesting…and not entirely out of the question.

I also found this photo where they did that aging thing they do on missing kids where there’s an approximation of what he might have looked like if he didn’t decide to go the space alien route.


Anyway, and in other news, there’s other TV to discuss!


Taking a little tour, on de pelicula:


The next time someone takes a picture of me, I'm going to attempt to make this face.

The next time someone takes a picture of me, I'm going to attempt to make this face.

Black and white film featuring Hitler sobbing and holding a baby in a blanket. Some lady is now outside the door trying to talk him down, and he’s listening and making a face an awful lot like Napoleon Dynamite’s Uncle Rico thinking about being weightless, in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by tiny little seahorses.

Now Hitler has opened the door and handed the baby to the lady. They sobbed together for a while, and now she’s walking away with the child.

Now she’s laid the blanket on a bed and it looks really long and odd, and I’m not even sure it’s a baby. Maybe it’s dead baby? Or a blanket-wrapped leg? Or a blanket wrapped around a log?



Jennifer Lopez’s husband is on channel 11. He has a funky chicken/frog leg dance, and a large old people following. The whole front row is full of elderly women swaying precariously.


Channel 10 is a talk show called Netas divinas, and they’re talking way too fast for me to catch much of it. Maxine Woodside – the queen of radio – is the guest. Trying to translate is giving me a headache…so I quit.


Channel 7 is the news, which I actually wish I could interpret. They keep cutting to scenes of the (scary) Federales marching around, and that can never be good. Plus, I’ve heard the country has been extra uncivilized since I got here…which is why I pretty much haven’t left the resort ‘compound.’

Let me rephrase that, since the harrowing 12-hour drive to the resort compound (which I was told would take five hours), I haven’t left it.


Channel 5 has some movie featuring Leslie Nielson dubbed over in Spanish. Leslie = not funny = not interested.


Harry Potter translated into Spanish on Channel 4. Enough already. Has no one heard of subtitles?

Young Harry really was a homely kid, eh?

Next up, we’ve got Alf dubbed in Spanish.

I’m actually a little stunned to see anyone on earth is watching Alf in 2009, but whatever floats your boat.


Moving on…Jesuscristo. I just realized there are 114 channels.


I guess I’ll quit while I’m ahead, and let you know that I’ve found something in English featuring Nicholas Cage (and before the really bad toupee years) at war, and I’m sticking with it.


With that, let’s take one more gander at MJ and wonder how it all went so wrong (I, for one, am looking forward to that movie. I think the alien from American Dad is a shoo-in for the role of the adult Michael.)

I'm sure this seemed like a good idea when he first got started, but you kind of half to wonder why no one ever stepped in and mentioned he no longer looked human?

I'm sure this seemed like a good idea when he first got started, but you kind of half to wonder why no one ever stepped up and mentioned he no longer looked human?

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Don´t try this at home.

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Sometimes I have to learn lessons the hard way.

Like the lesson that other people really aren’t my responsibility.


Case in point: The friend hosting the week in Mexico (at a timeshare owned by her parents) revealed to me that she was going to drive to Acapulco from Guadalajara (and back) by herself, about five or six hours each way.


Me the night before the big drive, looking surprisingly alert despite the fact that I was running on about two hours of sleep. Other members of my party have been cropped out to protect their identity!

Me the night before the big drive, looking surprisingly alert despite the fact that I was running on about two hours of sleep. Other members of my party have been cropped out to protect their identity!

Now I’ve driven through Mexico before, and let me summarize the experience by saying that when we got back across the border in Nogales, Arizona, I literally knelt down and kissed the ground.

America never looked so fine.


Nonetheless, some sympathetic motherly part of me was concerned for her safety and volunteered to come along. Two is safer than one and all that.

(Otherwise known as: “You’re putting yourself in harm’s way!? Well, let me do that too!”)


More than anything, my concerns centered around the current drug cartel activity (a.k.a. random killings) and Federales stops. In my previous experience, the Federales would stop us, separate us, interrogate us, and search the VW van end to end, followed up what looked like a oil check, but wasn’t. They’d have us drive over a big hole in the ground – exactly like you’d see at Jiffy Lube – and someone would inspect or do god knows what underneath the car.


A mob of horses (per Wikipedia, this is a legitimate term) just popped out and crossed the 120 MPH freeway. I spent the rest of the trip praying we wouldn´t crash into another mob of the giant beasts.

A mob of horses (per Wikipedia, this is a legitimate term) just popped out and crossed the 120 MPH freeway. I spent the rest of the trip praying we wouldn´t crash into another mob of the giant beasts.

In hindsight, the VW van was the equivalent of wearing forehead tattoos that said “we’re drug smugglers” (although we weren’t), and something of a magnet for trouble.

Thanks to the fact the rental car was some kind of tiny Chevy, we at least had that going for us.


In any case, we set out from Morelia around 10am, and within two hours were in the middle of freaking nowhere.




Now, nowhere is one thing, but Nowhere, Mexico is quite another thing.


Nonetheless, not wanting to add stress to the situation, I held my tongue and didn’t ask to double-check the directions or scrutinize the map. However, when my friend inquired if I thought we’d pass a town with a gas station soon (as we were nearly out), I broke down and spoke the three fatal words: “Where ARE we?”


She informed me that we were somewhere on Highway 14 or 14D, and when I asked if I could take a peek at the directions, she handed me a notebook in which she’d scrawled “14D to 37 to 200.”


I just realized all the pictures of the dirt roads we had to go down are vertical shots, so here are the musicians at the very cool guitar bar in Morelia from that first night.

I just realized all the pictures of the dirt roads we had to go down are vertical shots, so here are the musicians at the very cool guitar bar in Morelia from that first night.




Feeling my stomach sink to the floor, I realized we didn’t have a map. Or Google directions. Or even (sometimes terribly inaccurate) MapQuest directions.

We didn’t have distances or landmarks or, well, anything.

And barring the generic answer of “Mexico,” we didn’t know where the hell we were.


Truth be told, although I admired her devil may care/just ask for directions from the locals approach, all could imagine was my dad’s reaction when he learned I’d be murdered somewhere in the middle of rural Mexico and we didn’t even have a friggin’ map in the car.


That stated, when we finally came upon a gas station, I went inside and acquired a Mapa Carreteras immediatemente. Thank god for the thing, too, because we weren’t just off track then…there were several other ‘where the hell are we?” and “which city do we head toward?” moments to be had before it was over.

Three cheers for the mapa!


Meanwhile, apparently the male Mexican sense of time/distance is different from that which I like to call reality.

You see, it doesn’t take three hours to go from Guadalajara to Morelia, it takes four or five (depending upon traffic). And it doesn’t take five hours to go to Acapulco from Morelia…it takes TWELVE.


That’s right, we rolled up to the resort, sore-butted, bleary eyed, and road weary just around 10pm.


Needless to say, I have wizened up, and I will not be returning to Guadalajara via motor vehicle. Nope. Tim has wonderfully, graciously, kindly booked me a flight, and my friend has a Mexican friend accompanying her back to Morelia, if not Guadalajara, so I’m not abandoning her to the elements.


Moreover, I’ve learned a valuable lesson about trusting your gut and cutting corners to save a few bucks.


Never again will I go against my own instincts in the interest of ‘going along to get along’ or being a good friend, so if you’re planning a big road trip through the Middle East later this year, you can count me out.


I’ll be in my own house, knitting a ‘home sweet home’ pillow, with an American flag in one hand and my life insurance policy in the other. And grateful for every minute of it.

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