Archive for the ‘North America’ Category

Car WasherThe day started well in Mexico. I woke up early to find this bloke cleaning my car. He was clearly after a few pesos, but I didn’t mind paying him because he did such a good job and the L.G.S.M. really needed it.

However it went downhill from there. Getting to the border was hard enough.

Lost TownAfter driving into one town I get completely lost there and the next town along too. It is boiling hot and my own temperature is rising by the minute as I scrape across each new bump. In the end I paid a taxi driver to drive to where I need to get to to get out, with me following him.

Eventually I get to the border and drive straight up to it because I was told at the USA/Mexico border that my temporary importation license of the car would be automatically refunded to my credit card upon leaving. However I am told that if I want the £1000 deposit I paid back, I must go back to the customs office which is not down the road or anything so sensible, but 30km away on the far side of the city I just got completely lost in! I reverse back over the security checkpoint and in the process of turning the car round wind blows through the car taking all my important car and visa documents out the open passenger window. There are then 20 locals and myself all running around like a Benny Hill sketch trying to catch everything in the wind. If it wasn’t so painful in the heat it would have been really funny.

Customs QueueI drive the 30km back thankfully without getting lost again, but by now I am so hot and bothered that I am steps away from ranting like a rabid man, so couldn’t care less when I get to the customs queue you see here and push right in at the front.

Union JackSafe to say that manouevre didnt go down very well with everybody else who had been queueing for an hour or more in the ridiculous heat, but I stood my ground with lots of ‘No Entiende’ and ‘I’m very sorry but I am from Her Britanic Majesty Quen Elizabeth II’s United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and I have no intention of queueing today because I need to cross the border.’ None of which was understood but helped give me the front to do it. I’m not popular but get my forms sorted out and then drive back to the border which was a bridge at a place called Talisman, stopping briefly to unload all my pesos in a shop a few kilometres beforehand.

I drive straight up to the border where the same official who sent me back previously thankfully waves me through, but only as far as emigration where I discover I needed the 300 pesos I just spent on water and some munch to get a stamp on some form or other! I dont have it so he waves me on wishing me luck with a smile. I cross the bridge into Guatemala where they want to see the emigration stamp which I couldn’t buy and they also want more cash to sort out imigration for me and a temporary importation permit for the car. They wont let me or the car in without it so I reverse back over the border for a second time to try and sort that out with the smug twat who is still smiling at me.

QuetzalesThe whole time I am anywhere near either side of the border I am set upon by about a dozen ravenous hawkers eager to bleed whatever they can out of me which is driving me crazy. Eventually with one rather over-agressive reversing manouvre they leave me alone long enough to find a civilised black market money changer who takes $100 of my emergency US currency to supply me with enough to get through both sides and hopefully enough Quetzales for a bed for the night. Of course at a ridiculous rip off rate.

I sorted the Mexican side then spent hours doing the entry paperwork on the Guatemalan side, thankfully managing a few laughs with the official there. However I first got to the border at 2pm epxting to arrive at my intended destination well before dark, but didnt leave the Guatemalan side at the thrid time of asking until gone 8pm, by which time it is pitch black, I am tired, about to have a major sense of humour failure and sweating like a guilty man waiting to be sentenced.

Safe SexI drive off into the night alomst immediately clattering over a huge unmarked speed bump in the darkness. To say I turned the air blue at this point is probably an understatement akin to saying that the sun is just down the road from earth.

I am really tired and have had enough of today so pull in to the first hotel I see. I haggle a reasonable rate for a room and take my stuff inside only to see it is again overburdened with mirrors and there are instruction on using a condom properly up on the wall. Lovely I have definitely picked another brothel! I had plenty of jabs before leaving the UK so think I am immune to everything, and am too tired to care so go to sleep once the air con and a couple of cold beers have cooled me down.

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North AmericaAdios Mexico, and also to North America, because I will be moving into Central America when I cross the border into Guatemala.

I have mixed feelings about my time in Mexico, a country which I underestimated in so many ways before arriving

Firstly I have to say the size of it, the long side I have driven down/around is at least twice as long as the Pacific coast of the mainland USA and the roads are nowhere near as good.

Copper CanyonIt is only the breath taking scenery down the whole of the coast which has kept me sane on my driving marathon.

How I ever thought I would drive it in a short time period I will never know, but a valuable lesson has been learnt for the rest of the trip too.

mexico-fanSecondly the people who have only been fantastic with me. If I had listened to any of the great many nay-sayers from around the world telling me not to go into Mexico I would not have been rescued by women in pyjamas, been given free meals by several strangers, had an overhaul of my car for £15, or had a fuzzy night with vague recollections of salsa dancing, dry ice, buckets of beer and great company with complete strangers.

To the nay-sayers, don’t knock it until you have tried it, both the UK and the USA have far too many of their own citizens looting, stealing, doing drugs and killing one another to be looking down their noses at their Mexican cousins just because the same issues occur here. (Even if that might actually be the case due to the physical difference in height!) Based on the Mexican people alone I would certainly come back. The only nation that has gone down in my estimation while here, is Australia as a result of the couple leaving me stranded in the desert.

Plus & MinusOther pluses have been my oustanding moustache disguise, Lisa’s birthday surf trip,  no angry fish, stroking the nose of a newborn baby whale, the best backhand waves I have ever surfed, all the wildlife and having a laugh with so many people, both locals and foreignors.

However as with even the shortest surf trip to your local break it is always about the waves you catch, and in a country which boasts some of the all time legendary righthand point breaks I have distinctly blanked to catch any of them. There are  many reasons for this:

  1. Driver error
  2. The weather – there really hasn’t been that much swell in the last few weeks, and when there has it has also been extremely windy
  3. The time of the year – most beaches are epic in the summer due to the storms in the South Pacific
  4. The pace at which I have been covering this huge country has meant must-see breaks have had to be dropped from the menu, or have just not been seen until it made no sense to turn around.
  5. I shouldn’t have dithered so much north of the border about crossing it, and allowed myself more time here.

Despite the good surf I have scored I have only added 4 waves to my tally whilst here for nearly three weeks, and have spent far too much time staring at a steering wheel (Lisa might argue otherwise!) with nowhere near enough at the ocean horizon.

Consequently I do feel a little short changed, so when I stop for a while in Guatemala I am going to have a rethink about how I go about things from here because I didn’t hang up my business suit for a year just to drive around the world. With my record with motor vehicles it isn’t a good idea.

topesHowever I must also add that if I never see another Mexican speed bump in my life, most likely as I go airborne off it due to no advanced warning, it will be too soon!!!

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marijuana_leafI figured this title should get through most people’s spam filters!

I have already lost count of the number of times I have been offered a supply of recreational drugs, which tends to happen about 10 seconds after they relise I am not Mexican.

I am not interested in playing that game on this trip, because I am satisfying my real vice which is surfing, and I think getting in to trouble as a result of using or being in posession of it would be a really rubbish way to ruin a really great adventure.

However some of the interaction which happens around being offered it is very amusing and my favourite episode to date was a waiter at a beach cafe in Zihuatenejo who said (Try to read this in heavily accented Mexican English) “Would you like some snow for the trip to keep you awake?”

I nearly creased up laughing it was so corny.

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LavandriaI have not been able to wash any clothes for weeks, and only have so many items with me in my bag. This has meant that I have had to go commando for most of the mainland.

Whilst in Acapulco I took an entire rucksack of smelly clothes down to the local launderette which I left with them to sort out.

The local lady who I will call Dot Cotton for convenience sake thought that Christmas had come early. I did too though because I got the whole lot washed, dried and ironed for about £6.

Result!

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OaxacaOr heading Eastward to be precise. I have done little more than drive all day again today but am past Salina Cruz ending it near the state border with Chiapas, and a few pesos lighter due to the toll roads.

I got completely lost in Purto Angel because a road sign at 45 degrees to the crossroad said all three directions other than the one I had just come from was one road! As a result I rolled into the nearby town unnecessarily with Saturday Night Fever blaring out my stereo, getting no end of strange looks in the process.

Lost TownTrying to shortcut my way back to the coast road resulted in me driving around ridiculously tight and twisting back streets in the town in the middle of the day, reversing back along many dead ends and getting very hot and bothered in the process. I also nearly got the car stuck on a pointless speed bump on a high and blind corner of a road that was barely wider than my little car. So much so that the car was nearly see-sawing across the top of it at one point!

The two beaches I hoped to surf on my way past were no good at all so I didn’t stay at either for more than about 2 minutes despite taking a round trip of at least half an hour to both to and from the main road.

Wind Farm9The only other thing of merit was driving through the largest wind farm I have ever seen. They are not everybody’s cup of tea but I think they are really graceful and to me they didn’t look too out of place where they were situated.

map chiapasI only have Chiapas state left before the border now and think I should be able to get across that easily tomorrow.

As you can see it is a straight road, but this section of coast is so sheltered from the storms of the North Pacific, which is where the waves are being generated at this time of year, that I think it unlikely I will be getting another Mexican wave.

🙁

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hot-sun-thermometerIt is scorchin hot here and I am going to cover up tomorrow to give my skin an in particular my face a break from the relentless sun.

I am already darker than many Mexicans so dont need to worry about a tan any more!

It was still 34C last night at 6pm and I find I am hiding for longer and longer in air conditioned spaces.

People who know me will be aware that I dont really feel the cold, but conversely I really suffer in the heat. It is almost certainly due to my personal levels of insulation, but my reknown exothermic powers are of no help at all here.

I am not expecting much sympathy from back in the UK on this. How is the winter this year?

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Ming The Merciless

My moustache is now so long that I am starting to share my food with it, which isn’t ideal.

I am also aware that I am increasingly looking like Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon, especially when I have wet hair in the sea.

Time for some grooming me thinks.

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Chacahua Beach4As soon as we have sorted boards for Lisa and Steven we all paddle out into the water. There are two rock breakwaters at the entrance to the lagoon and the waves are breaking off them. Thankfully there is no sign of any of the local salt water crocodiles, who must be too busy fishing in the lagoon behind the beach. I had enough things to worry about already with just the angry fish!

DCIM102GOPRO

Throughout a very weird session I only bag one right at the very start of the session, and then one left at the very end, both of which were nearly 30 seconds long.

This is my picture of the day on the left which is a fantastic shot as you can see, but the waves were very few and far between.

Chacahua Beach2At times it was a bit over crowded on the little peak that was working because of the crowd of international surfers who are staying there or like us visiting for the day, which seems ridiculous when you see how big and empty the beach was. The was also a horrible backwash going out to sea off the beach that kept ruining the incoming waves by alternatively cancelling them out and doubling them in size, which made the waves really bumpy.

Iguana Seller2However we all have a fun session and are enjoying victory beers and some local seafood, when this little cherub turns up selling something he has caught, cooked and prepared.

It is an iguana he killed using a sling shot and a rock. Lisa buys some and insists we all try it, so because it was her birthday I dive in and take a big bite.

Apart from the bones, and in particular the spine which he hadn’t bothered to remove during the cooking process, it tasted really good in the sauce he had prepared and the meat was a bit like chicken. I am just hoping I dont end up with Iguana-rreah after eating it.

 

Hammock NapThis wonderful meal, the earlier surf session and then a few more beers in the heat of the sun later is all a bit much for me so it is time for a nap.

Sweet Dreams! x

 

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Steven and Lisa 1I am up early to meet up with Lisa and Steve. Both have been surfing for years with Steve having done so for more than 50!

However it is Lisa’s birthday and we are following her recommendation to try a surf break she surfed some 17 years ago.

HeraldoWe drive to the lagoon where Lisa, as the only real Spanish speaker, haggles like a champion to secure us a little boat to take us across the Chacahua lagoons to the break.

Our captain for this journey is Heraldo, who you see pictured here.

Saltwater CrocodileHeraldo helps us to spot all th local wildlife including some of the many saltwater crocodiles which are in the lagoon. We dont actually get as close as this picture would suggest because they drop out of sight when you get close by, and because these remnants of the dinosaur era are the largest of all living reptiles are quite agressive and have lots of teeth I’m not too keen on putting my gopro or indeed my hand over the side of the little boat!

Board on the noseThe route to the beach is staggeringly pretty with so many beautiful birds living on the lagoon or in the Mangrove Swamps which we have to navigate our way through to get to the beach.

This is turning into a proper surf safari!

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Kabbalah BarAfter my stealth surf at Peurto Escondido I meet up with Lisa and Steven for a quick drink, where we agree to go surfing together the following day for Lisa’s Birthday.

I stay in the bar when they turn in and quickly meet up with Daniel and Pia from Canada. I have a great laugh chating with them in the Kaballah bar which has become my adopted home.

Wrestling MaskDan is proudly sporting his new surfer tattoo and I dont normally like them, but can admit to being more than a tad jealous of his ink work.

Pia even persuades me to have a go at salsa dancing whilst there. I wasn’t very good an thankfully there are no pitures of any of it.

You will have to make do with this one of me in the Mexican wrestling mask I picked up earlier in the day. I have wanted to go see the wrestling whilst in Mexico because it is huge here but have not seen anywhere to do so yet.

At £5 the mask was a steal though. Grrrr

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