MEXICO: ADIOS AMIGOS – LATIN AMERICA UNFURLED

Of course, it’s entirely coincidental that the Latin American section of our journey should start by uncorking a few bottles in Argentina’s Mendoza desert wine-lands, and go on to terminate in Mexico’s Baja California, amongst the vineyards of the Valley of Guadalupe, a similar environment. After 3 years and 70,000 kilometres ( 44,000 miles) we have arrived at the northern frontier of Latin America – San Diego lies 50 kilometres across the Tecate border … the USA beckons. Continue reading “MEXICO: ADIOS AMIGOS – LATIN AMERICA UNFURLED”

MEXICO: BAJA BOUND – NOTES FROM THE JOURNAL

 

18th/19th March: I’m quite sure that guy the other day told me the Mazatlan to La Paz ferry was one of the most comfortable boat rides he’d ever taken…nice quiet cabin, good food, new boat. So how come I’ve crawled into this 1930s playhouse, with its greasy chairs ripped from a Pullman coach, the roof panels flapping like shutters in a gale, my shoes sticking to the carpet, a baby wailing in my left ear and the large speakers beside the cinema screen blaring the soundtrack from the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Continue reading “MEXICO: BAJA BOUND – NOTES FROM THE JOURNAL”

MEXICO: ONE TEQUILA, TWO TEQUILA, THREE TEQUILA…FLOOR.

After a heavy night of tequila slammers you’d be correct in thinking you’ve imbibed a cocktail of compost and spent fuel isotopes, condensed in a rusty radiator by a moonshiner wearing a floppy sombrero and a sweaty moustache. Though not all tequila is made this way…apparently. In ancient times the Indian tribes of Mexico believed tequila was a gift from the gods. Continue reading “MEXICO: ONE TEQUILA, TWO TEQUILA, THREE TEQUILA…FLOOR.”

MEXICO: 6 GOOD REASONS NEVER TO LEAVE SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE

There’s definitely something of the “Hotel California” about the town of San Miguel de Allende, ‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.’, or so the lyrics go. Some of the guys in the San Miguel RV Park, where we’ve slung down the door mat and unfurled the chairs, have been here for months, others for years. As each day passes we declare it’s time to move on…and then we discover the washing on the line is not quite dry enough, there’s a long email to be answered, a place we still haven’t seen…and so the list goes on. Continue reading “MEXICO: 6 GOOD REASONS NEVER TO LEAVE SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE”

MEXICO: THE MYSTERIOUS FLIGHT OF THE MONARCH

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MONARCH BUTTERFIES IN THEIR WINTER HABITAT ON CERRO PELON, MEXICO.

Butterflies feature in the carvings and friezes uncovered in the ancient Mesoamerican cities. Cultural myth honours them as a symbol of transformation. The Aztecs believed them to be the spirits of dead relatives, returning to assure them all was well. In Aztec lore the butterflies circled the bouquets of flowers carried by men of social rank. The perfume of such bouquets was always appreciated from the sides, the tops being reserved for the souls of the dead. Continue reading “MEXICO: THE MYSTERIOUS FLIGHT OF THE MONARCH”

MEXICO: A PAUSE FOR THOUGHT

Our arrival in Mexico City marks the end of the fourth leg of our trans-America journey. After eight months it is time again to take a break from the road and head back to Europe, to catch up with family and friends, see what surprises the postman has left, enjoy the latest episode of Homeland and 24, soak in a steaming-hot bath, sink a pint or two of Black Sheep down at the pub and move about our home without constantly knocking into each other. Whilst we’ve only covered 18,000 kilometres in the last eight months, we’ve come a long way. Back in February we returned from Europe to northern Peru, where we’d left our car on the beach beneath a tree, depositing it in the capable (though somewhat frantic) hands of Leon, the owner of the Casa Grillo campsite. To be honest I was never quite sure whether the whole of the car would still be there when we returned. Though I needn’t have worried. The only things missing when we got back were a few more of Leon’s teeth. Continue reading “MEXICO: A PAUSE FOR THOUGHT”

MEXICO: RESPECT IS A BEAUTIFULLY FITTED TYRE

The road sweeps left beneath the intersection for Veracruz. At the apex of the bend we flash past a motorcyclist hunched over his machine. His luggage and various paraphernalia stand abandoned in the grass verge. ‘Maybe he needs help,’ I say, slamming on the anchors and reversing back up the hard shoulder. I wander back to where the guy is fretting with the drive chain, his face already streaked with grease.

Continue reading “MEXICO: RESPECT IS A BEAUTIFULLY FITTED TYRE”

MEXICO: THE CRY OF DOLORES

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THE MEXICANS LOVE NOTHING BETTER THAN CROWNING THEIR HEADS WITH A ‘TORITO‘ WRAPPED IN A KILO OR TWO OF EXPLOSIVES…..AND THEN STRIKING A MATCH! (PHOTO BY CALVIN, WWW.OVERLANDEROASIS.COM)

Father Hidalgo was never going to be your run-of-the-mill Mexican priest. As early as his school days the wily teenager became known as ‘El Zorro’, the fox. And though he earned his degree in philosophy and theology in 1773, and a life of priesthood beckoned, across the Atlantic something far more interesting had gripped his imagination. Continue reading “MEXICO: THE CRY OF DOLORES”

MEXICO: ZIPOLITE BEACH – DON’T ROCK MY HAMMOCK, DUDE

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THE ROUTES TO ZIPOLITE AS PAINTED ON THE DOOR OF A BEACH BAR.

2nd September: It’s 10 o’clock in the morning when the two youngsters trudge down the wooden steps from their beach-side cabin at Cabana La Havana. They pause at the bottom to huddle over a reefer the size of a Cuban cigar. When the guy lights it he tips back his head and a cloud of marijuana carries on the sea breeze. I watch their progress as they chug up the beach like a couple of small locomotives, heading in the direction of Playa del Amor, a bay where the nudists are said to hang out. What a great place this is, the kind of place, if you ever felt the need, where you could nab yourself a bunch of weird tattoos, grow a thick beard, smoke a joint or three, drink a lot of beer, sleep way too much and, in a very short time, gently slip off the radar. Continue reading “MEXICO: ZIPOLITE BEACH – DON’T ROCK MY HAMMOCK, DUDE”

MEXICO: WAS “PAKAL THE GREAT” REALLY AN ALIEN?

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THE TEMPLE OF INSCRIPTIONS AT THE MAYAN CITY OF PALENQUE. THE ANCIENT NAME OF PALENQUE WAS LAKAHAMA, MEANING “THE PLACE OF THE GREAT WATERS”. THE RUINS DATE BACK TO 226 BC. EARLY EXPLORERS BELIEVED THE MAYAN CITIES WERE CONSTRUCTED BY THE EGYPTIANS, OR THE POLYNESIANS OR PERHAPS EVEN THE LOST TRIBES OF ISRAEL. OTHERS HAD EVEN STRANGER THEORIES.

Summer 1948: A flagstone on the floor of the Temple of Inscriptions has troubled the archaeologist Alberto Ruz Lhuillier for too many years. He cannot understand why it is the only flagstone in this room to contain these holes. And what, precisely, might be the reason for them, he ponders. Is it simply more evidence of the tomb raiders who have looted so much from these lost cities? Or could it possibly be….? Continue reading “MEXICO: WAS “PAKAL THE GREAT” REALLY AN ALIEN?”