Saturday, April 30, 2005

Widdle Waddle Fuddle Duddle

Palapas_003If you're going to Mexico and you're FARsighted, take my advice and bring about 3000 lenses with you. Hell, if you're traveling in the US and you're FARsighted, take about 2000 lenses with you. In Guadalajara, our first Mexican Costco experience, I was told it would take 8 days for the lenses to arrive. We could not get them sent anywhere but Morelia (where we were headed the next day) so off we headed to Cancun where we expected the same 8 day wait.

It only took us a month to go from Guadalajara to the Cancun area. The Cancun (IPalapas_011 keep wanting to put an accent on the "U" in Cancun) Costco says it will take 2 to 3 WEEKS for lenses to arrive and they only work with disposable contacts. The contacts are coming from DF and that's the reason for the delay. I should have asked where the contacts were coming from when we were in Puebla. So, it looks like I'll check the optometrists in Ciudad del Carmen (now that doesn't look right either) or whatever-del-Carmen is up the road. Palapas_009

Jamie seems to have come down with some nasty bacteria in his gut, and thanks to a wonderful Internet acquaintance, he is on the mend. He is taking the "cipo" type of antibiotics and has gone from no appetite, weak and feverish (for the past 3 days) to swimming in the infinity pool last night. He still REALLY does not like the heat, and I, who in California, so HATED the heat am really getting used to it here. I prefer the weather outside except in the absolute hottest time of the day.

The place we're staying at has really changed with the winds. There are cabañas, rooms, a gorgeousPalapas_013 pool, a dive shop, temporary RV parking and lots and lots of permanent RV parking. Of course, decades ago, the ocean spots were taken. :) Since this is a turtle sanctuary, no permanent structures can be built, but the palapas that are being built now are simply amazing. The old ones are beautiful too. I walked around a bit yesterday, when Jamie felt well enough to take the kids, and took some photos.

Once Jamie is up and better, we'll do some of the sights we wanted to in this area, but for now, the kids are in HEAVEN playing with other kids (from Louisiana) and have made amazingly fast friends. Even Ellen loves their 10yo (that the boys have been playing with).

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Resort Living in Paa Mul

Camp_009_1When we were in Baja, living on the beach, we really thought we'd invented hedonistic living. Here in Paa Mul, we realize we didn't know squat about hedonism. I spent about 15-20 minutes trying to talk the day manager down from 25USD/night to 200 pesos a night and then 250 pesos/night but he would not budge. We're paying an exhorbitant 25USD/night (converted to pesos at 11P/USD; he wouldn't go for 10P/USD) but it really is resort living. The bathrooms are absolutely first rate. The showers are hot. The toliets do not serve as mosquito breeding grounds. There are no iguanas in the bathrooms. They have a reportedly MARVELOUS restaurant right next to the infinity pool. The infinity pool drops into aCamp_001 nice little kids pool. There is a dive shop right next to the pool. There are lounges and palapas with chairs and just about everything you could imagine. We can run the A/C all day if we like and it won't interrupt the city power grid. It really is resort living at 25 dollars a night. So we can't complain.

Camp_003_1Pike went snorkeling this morning and saw "lots and lots of beautiful fish". He also built an amazing sand castle. We spent the morning swimming in the sea and pool; playing and then off we went to do errands. Laundry, propane purchase (we've been NEEDING propane since Puebla but have had trouble getting the tanks filled), attempt to order contact lenses and Mega and Costco purchases. I've been looking for a tape/CD player for the boys to replace the $10 tape player I got them in Wisconsin, but we mightCamp_008 have to wait for the states to buy one. They are just too expensive down here. I thought I found a good deal at Mega today, but had misunderstood the price to be P398 instead of P598. BIG difference. It was CD, MP3, tape and radio, and after checking the Internet for prices in the states tonight, we'll see how bad the price is down here.

I see Papa and Tata made it out of Mexico, but only due to the Datastorm map; we're still waiting for an update. We'll probably go home via the highlands and central colonial towns, but it is fun to see their journey also.

I had so much to post about - about nothing and sensless garbage, but the girls are driving me to distraction, so I'll have to try tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Today was a day of murdering butterflies, oppressive heat, our first peek at the Caribbean, once againRuins_014_1 stealing Internet bandwidth, and hordes of tourists.

Jamie was almost unable to function this morning, after a long night of no breeze and MUCH heat, so while the sweat trickled and ran into rivers, I hooked up the trailer and we were out of Cenote Azul by 9:45. I didn't even get COFFEE! I didn't do dishes! I didn't eat! I simply fed the kids, jury rigged a cotter pin that was missing from the hitch and got the trailer the hell out of dodge. Ever since we left Palenque it has been oppressively hot with absolutely no relief. We were able to swim at the cenote, but a few minutes after leaving the cenote we were hot and sticky once again.

Ruins_006I had a lovely surprise when using the campground bathrooms, I was "clothed" in my swimsuit, and as such, when using the toilet, had the maximum skin exposure possible. All too late, I noticed buzzing, flying insects. Unfortunately, they were very hungry mosquitoes. It seems that the open tank of the toilet was providing a perfect breeding ground as I was never able to enter the bathroom area without clouds of mozzys buzzing about. Unfortunately, we were really low on water, and the 100 pesos we paid to camp did not include electricity or water. It did, however, include a LOT of heat. And no wind. And more heat. And hotness. Not a breeze to be found except next to the lovely lagoon.

Ruins_003_1So, down the road we headed, and were expecting a 2 hour drive to Paa Mul. We figured it would be an exceptionally easy and short day. Hmph. I should have know better. We hit Tulum after about 3 hours and took a lunch and sanity break. We were fine as long as we were in the air conditioned car, but leaving the car was torture. The three hours from Bacalar were driven through hordes and hordes of butterflies. It was terrible to drive through them and kill them, and at one point Sissy broke down crying at the injustice of it all.

We took at break at Tulum and had lunch at the archaeological site. It was INCREDIBLY touristy. OurRuins_015 first exposure to ruins was Palenque and I think they have become the base for other ruins. Course, they're supposed to be some of the best. I really wanted to go to Cobá after Tulum, but I don't think I would have survived the responses had I suggested it. Everyone was about half dead, and were it not for the wind coming off the sea, we would have been dead as 6 little doornails in the sands of the Caribbean.

Ruins_017We made it to Paa Mul, just about 30 minutes north of Tulum and are in RESORT heaven! We can use the toilets without giving a pint of blood to mozzys! We have TOILET SEATS on the toilets! We have water and electricity! We have AIR CONDITIONING! We have a pool! We have the Caribbean! We also have.....a twenty five dollar a night rate. Ugh! I'm going to try to bargain that down tomorrow, but after the last week or so, having water, electricity, clean bathrooms, warm showers (for the girls, they HATE cold water showers), beautiful beach and swimming pool will most likely be worth it. We'll watch our pennies really closely and it will be SO worth it. We'll probably be here a week and OH! I almost forgot! We're stealing Internet bandwidth from someone's LAN. It seems to be slower than Dad's but life sure is sweet. :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Bakalar, Quintana Roo

Cenote_004_1We were up and out of the Four Hundred Peso Restaurant by 10am and kept the A/C during the entire drive. Our backpacker/hitchiker friends, Anabel and Marcos (Anabel is from Panama and Marcos is Austrian) kept the kids amazingly entertained and engaged during the drive. It was a rather short day; only 3 hours of driving and the "grassy field" we expected to find at Cenote Azul is apparently dry brown leaves in the summer. No matter; immediately after parking we were in swim suits and headed for the cenote.

Oh MY GOODNESS! I just remembered! Yesterday, on our drive to the restaurantCenote_002_1 (El Centenario for those following Church's book), we passed from Chiapas to Tabasco to Campeche states. On the last border, all our fowl and pig product were CONFISCATED!!! All eggs, all bacon, ground turkey, sausages - I was beside myself. They must have walked off with at least 300 pesos of meat. Ugh! So, BEWARE!!!

Cenote_008Cenotes are formed when the limestone that makes up the ground in the pennisula (Yucatan) caves into the ground water. A large or small lake/pond/pool is then formed and is blissfully warm with cold currents. This cenote is abnormally large and supposed to be 90m or 175ft (I didn't calculate; just reported the numbers I've heard) deep. It is deep blue and looks like Lake Tahoe. It is very surprising to find it so warm; you're expecting a cold shock. After a while, you're hoping for a cold shock. :)

This cenote has a restaurant beside it and thrills the customers with a jump off the roof of theCenote_006 restaurant. Pike, Jesse, Jamie and myself jumped and it was rather scary for everyone. It was a LONG LONG LONG way down from the roof to the water. We spent most of the afternoon at the cenote, cooling off and enjoying the water. The camping area charges 100 pesos to park and an extra 50 pesos for electricity, so we're using the generator. They will not allow us to run the A/C. Jamie is really affected by the heat, so instead of popping over to Belize tomorrow, we'll probably head up to Paa Mul so Jamie can have A/C (they'll probably charge us P250 or more a night). Course, up there, we might not need it as the breeze off the sea is supposed to be quite fierce. I hope to pop back down to Tulum from Paa Mul or camp at one of the "X" beaches.

There is an amazing laguna next to the cenote here; it looks like a Carribean beach. The water isCenote_009 tourquoise and blue and the land is white. There is an amazing breeze coming off the laguna that doesn't seem to make it up here to the Cenote (at least in the trailer park). The kids and I took a walk to the laguna tonight and they are DYING to swim in it. It seems to be surrounded by private property so we'll see what we can find tomorrow. Kind of up to what Jamie can deal with (heat wise).

10pm. Sweat trickling down our necks and brows. Tomorrow to the sea or Paa Mul. It is simply too hot for words... I think I fried my brain...

Monday, April 25, 2005

Sad news from Palenque

Yesterday we got the very sad news that Papa and Tata were going to head back toRuins_049 the states and leave us bored and lonely in Palenque. It was a bit of a shock; we knew that eventually we would split but we just weren't ready. We all had gotten very accostomed to being able to hang out with, talk to and share with them anytime it occurred to us. At the last minute, I remembered that I had presents for people back in California and stowed them in the folk's Lazy Daze. We then spent the rest of the day lazing about the campground (it was Sunday) and Jamie had aRuins_051 wonderful bike ride up to the waterfall at Misol-Ha. We really enjoyed the pool yesterday; the sun actually came out for the first time since we can't remember and the pool was quite necessary. I'm sure the sun has been out there; it has been enormously hot (enough to run the A/C all day that we're in the trailer and all night) but we simply can't see it for the haze and smoke.

Ruins_044That night the music coming from the restaurant (local, live folkloric) was even more enticing than normal and I dragged the kids over for a listen. I ordered a pitcher of Sangria but for the first time found out that THIS sangria was comprised of rum and red wine. I quickly changed the order to lemonade (limeade) and a dark beer. I don't know if the kids even noticed the music; they were running around (outside) and playing with a puppy. Those kids simply cannot resist a puppy. Unfortunately, the puppy's fleas cannot resist me. :(

Today we headed to town for some errands and the girls got long promised dresses (when I found aEllen_001 Ruins_045cheap garment store). I'd bought Ellen and Sissy replacement sandals (for the ones they've lost and the pair that Jamie left at a Pemex) and Ellen's had already broken. The duena happily replaced them, much to my surprise; I really expected her to say, "buyer beware".

More shopping; more heat; more frustration and we were back at the campground by noon. We sent the kids off to the pool and got ready to go. It was much easier to leave Palenque after a nice dip and cool down in the pool. We are really going to miss Palenque; the ruins, the jungle, the hippies, the food.

Cenote_001About 3 or 4 kilometers down the road from the campground I saw two hitchikers and without a second thought slowed down and opened the window to show them how full we are. I don't know why I stopped, it just seemed to be exactly the right thing to do and I didn't even think about it. They decided to give us a try and we managed to shoehorn them and their belongings inbetween the kids and on the floor. They were on their way to Chetumal (just like us) and I'm lucky the daggers coming from Jamie's eyes didn't do any damage. I don't know why I never consulted him; it was an pure instinctual reaction to pick them up. Luckilly, Jamie warmed to the idea and they proved to be most excellent travelling companions.

We had planned on going only as far as El Centanario and stopped at a restaurant that has aTowncamp_005 reputation of allowing campers to overnight. FOUR HUNDERED PESOS later (dinner) we're waiting for the heat to decrease to be able to sleep. There are turkeys, roosters, chickens, monkeys, peacocks and probably more here (where are the dogs?) and we're right by a lagoon. The breeze is AMAZING but unfortunately, the ass-end of the trailer is pointed straight at the breeze. We're trying to decide if I need to move the trailer perpendicular to catch some breeze (or not). Slide out; food out; everything out; but we NEED a breeze... This is absolutely The Hottest Night In Creation.

Saturday, April 23, 2005


Ruins_008While Palenque and the surrounding area is most definately a magical place, it alsoRuins_026 seems to be a place of parenting challenges for the extrangeros. I just watched a mother physically, and with much force, remove her son from the pool She had been ranting at him a few times and finally re-appeared at the pool and yanked him out. I can't figure out what language she is speaking; is it Swiss? Is it a Slavic or something all together different?

Yesterday, Jamie and I fought all day long with each and every one of the children. We resorted to punishment (for the second time in their young lives) as nothing seems to beRuins_012 "working". There seems to be little if any respect for our needs and I don't know if it is a maturity thing or simply somthing we're missing in instilling in the boys. We Ruins_023really wanted to go to the ruins during the morning, while it was somewhat cool (more on the weather later) but due to issues with all four, we didn't go til the late afternoon. We left the boys with punishments threatened and a list of chores. Papa and Tata graciously offered to babysit so we could see the ruins. It was amazing going alone and sharing it with each other instead of trying to cajole one or another or break up a fight or carry Ellen (who pretty much refuses to walk ANYWHERE). We walked a LONG 2km up to the site and we breathless when we got to the parking lot. I saw a sign for theRuins_020 "forgotton" temple and we decided to head over to it (as it was free and we figured it might be neat). It was a LONG hike to the temple and as we expected we were Ruins_011alone. Well, except for one GIGANTIC iguana that scared the crap out of Jamie.

We then headed over to The Ruins. And they were like nothing we've seen so far. They are so vast and so almost overwhelming it is simply impossible to describe. Today we made the kids go and when Pike saw the temples (when you arrive, you walk up about 4000 steps to a flat Ruins_029area and in that area you find the Temple of Inscripciones (where Pacal's tomb is found) and the Palace. Coming out of the jungle to the mostrosity of the temples is spectacular. Pike and yelling to me that I had to come and see (when I'd been thereRuins_034 the day before) - he was so excited. Everyone but Ellen enjoyed the ruins so we tried to take turns with her; one with her and the other with the other kids. We returned to the campground for lunch and a pool dip (the pool has been created by damming a jungle stream) and then we headed back to see Pacal's tomb.

Seeing Pacal's tomb (he is the King who created many of the temples) was a bit of a journey. First you find the Museum. Then you find the library. Then you find a certain librarian. She then asks you Ruins_028to write (however much you want to) why you want to see the tomb. I did it inRuins_009 Spanish. Then she decides if you're "worth" of a visit to the tomb. There is no payment; you simply have to pass muster. I guess we did. :) Mom and Dad met us at the Temple of Inscripciones (where Pacal is buried) to descend to the tomb. First you must ascend to the top of the Temple and then you descend into the bowels of the temple to his tomb. It was absolutely heart-stopping with the kids (who were scampering all over) and exhilirating.

Ruins_003This area is so different for us; once we left Mazatlán we found ourselves cut off from contact with other non-Mexican tourists and joined the Mexican tourist trail. Here in Palenque, we've found the Gringo Trail; we're surrounded by American, Spanish,Ruins_018 young Mexican and European travellers. Most all are backpackers and it is a very different flavor from the Mexican families we've been camping with. We could probably spend a week here; irregardless of the 80% or more humidity and the 90 degree temperatures. It is a testament to our incredible luck that we seem to have found the first place that the electrical grid supports our A/C and for the first time, we're using it! Tomorrow we head for the Carribean (though we're not sure if Papa and Tata are coming with us. They need to return to the Bay Area by the beginning of June; we simply need to be out of Mexico by the end of June.) and Chetumal.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

On Pyramids

Pyramid_021When I think of pyramids, I envision the Egyptian (though I've never been there) variety with emmense kilometers of flat desert interspersed with magnificientPyramid_017 pyramids. For some reason, even though we're in the midst of tropical highlands and lowlands, I was expecting something of the same here in Mexico. What was hard for me to comprehend was that these pyramids (at least the one in Cholula, and, I expect, most here in Mexico and Central America) have been covered with dirt and grassland and jungle and look like one of very many bumps in the landscape. In Cholula, for example, the town bustled (surrounded by 3 magnificient volcanos) and expanded. One day a mental hospital was being built. In the construction of the hospital, the pyramid was discovered. According to the guide (Jamie, the boys and mom and dadPyramid_020 went first to the pyrmaid and then I and the boys went again (with they as my guide)), this pyramid is actually 3 seperate constructions. The first pyramid was used 10 centuries ago, then that pyramid was used as a base for the second; the second was used as a base for the third. Finally, Cortes constructed a church on the top. Across from the pyramid (much of which is still covered with dirt and ground) you can see another hill. Very definately in the same shape as a pyramid. Probably is one. Underneath.

Pyramid_013Soooo....we walked from the trailer park, down through the little side streets and got to know the city. I haven't found many cities I could live in, but there is something about Cholula. Not Puebla, but Cholula. I really liked the people and the neighborhood we were in. You arrive at the underground part of the tour and walk through (underground) the first, second and third pyramids before coming outPyramid_024 on "top". You come out of the underground and into the excavated areas. You also get a lovely view of the mental hospital. I wrote down everything (about) that they boys told me and I'll post it when everyone wakes (or later in the day) but they were excellent guides. We walked and walked and walked and walked. Luckilly the clouds came and it looked like rain but only dulled the heat (which, sitting here in zero meters altitude and REAL heat) which really was Not That Bad.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Agua Dulce

sure there is a REASON this place is named "Sweet Water" but it sure ain't cause it is sweet weather. Ugh it is hot. Ugh it is humid. Ugh we are DYING of the heat.Mx180_006 Ugh Ugh UGH! On the way out of the Pemex, we saw field after field of sugar cane. Under each and every overpass we saw people selling fresh pineapple juice. COLD fresh pineapple juice. I simply had to stop. I love trying new things. I couldn't barter the vendor down one peso, so we paid 30 pesos for two small jugs. It was amazing though. No water had been added and it was pure pleasure. At one of the many stops for construction work (even on the cuota we don't really average more than 40mph) I got this picture of pineapple fields. I missed lots of pictures of pineapple being harvested, but we were going too fast.

Agua_dulce_001It was hot all day, and if it can be believed, the kids complained that they were too hot so we'd put on the A/C and then we'd have to get the girls BLANKETS because they were too cold! Can you believe it??? We were alternately turning on and off the A/C. Sissy got a glory ride with Papa and Tata in their RV today; when we stopped for a toll/pee/food brake, she popped into their RV and headed down the road with them.
Notice how boring the reports have gotten since we got on the cuota? I'm really starting to love the lovely road (when we get good road - even the cuota has crappy road, but we don't have tope after tope after tope after vibrator (speed bumps and several speed bumps in succession) so the going is actually much quicker.

Agua_dulce_003_1Once we finally found the campground (and found that Pemex has leased it and it is no more, but the rancho next door allowed us to camp in their front yard) Jamie about killed himself when he found out that there to be NO hookups AGAIN tonight; no A/C and sweltering heat. However, we gotAgua_dulce_004 amazing news that a restaurant nearby had POOLS. Of WATER! Where we could SWIM. And not melt into a pool of depressing limp skin. The heat and humidity is taking a LOT of getting used to. So, the spoilt, baby, Everything Has To Be Easy For Us, Americans dropped the trailer (and toad for Mom and Dad) and within about 15 minutes after parking, headed to the pool/restaurant. We spent the entire afternoon there and swam and ate and swam and lolled about in the water until it was safe to exit without heat prostration. I think I now understand why everyone comes here in the winter. Much smarter. :)

Boring update, but hey, we're on the cuota. Can't be adventurers EVERY day. :)