Monday, February 22, 2010

Traveling Tamaulipas, MX

How would you like to have your dad own a pastry shop? Graham and Katia treated our boys to royal treats as we passed by on a rainy day. "Pick anything you want, come on! What would you like?"

Just the beginning of the day, Victor took us for a circuit of the town and we ended up in front of a bunch of news cameras - a bit much for this family of five!

The yellow cathedral in Tampico.

Markos sips down a Manzana Escuus.

A old woman prepares lunch for us in her tiny, yet packed kitchen, Tampico.

Markos tries on a wooden mask at Sandra and Ernesto's in Tempoal, part of the festivities of the four day Day of the Dead celebration in this town.

A Brahma bull stares us down, one of many in pastures beneath the purple-hued coastal range.
Camped out in the pasture next to Rojilio's race horse stable, nine or ten of his neighbour children came to make sure our tents were erected properly.
What happened to the "p" in Sampson?

Just another day at school, thanks to the generosity of Ejido Carmen, we had a dry home in an empty unused school room.

We did our normal research when charting a route through unknown territory, talking to locals, referring to travel guides like Lonely Planet, and sending out inquiries to our travel friends by e-mail. What came back concerning the area of Mexico adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico was inconclusive. What we discovered was natural beauty, good roads, easy riding, warm and gracious families, plenty of medium size towns to meet our daily necessities, and unfortunately, a lot of foggy, misty and sometimes rain-drenching days.

We crossed the border from Reynosa, Tamaulipas to McAllen, Texas yesterday. We said good-bye to Mexico, a country our friend Lanier describes as "a carnival every day" and look forward with interest to Texas. Fortunately the panaderias (bakeries) and cautious, interested and protective drivers will continue north with us. Mexico's influence on this part of the United States is clear. One thing Sampson knows for sure, "it'll be nice to have toilets that have seats, and the back part attached, and a door that shuts and toilet paper" as we travel through the USA.

Markos writes:
Feb 13. Today we had cereal and yogurt for breakfast. After breakfast we watched a little cartoon, then we left the hotel and biked 30 kilometres to get out of town. Then we stopped at a gas station to have a break and we had a cheese bread and dad filled up the fuel (we use diesel to fuel our cook stove) and I went to the washroom. Then we got on the bikes and rode an hour more. Then we stopped on the side of the road to have lunch and a two layer cow truck came and dropped off all of them and it was really noisy.
Feb 17. Today we had pancakes with syrup for breakfast. After breakfast we took the table back to their house and threw our trash bag in the deep hole to burn. Then we went back and got on the road and rode for an hour. Then we had a snack break and had a banana.

Sampson writes:
Feb. 17 Happy #9 Birthday Mason! Today we woke up and had pancakes for breakfast. While we were having breakfast a dog peed on mom's pack and while we were doing that (cleaning it up) dad put the frying pan on the frisbee that was keeping the pancakes warm and the frying pan stuck on the plastic frisbee and broke the frisbee. After breakfast we said good-bye and went. An hour later we had bananas for snack. Later we got to a little town that we bought some snack bars at. An half an hour later we had a snack bar. Later we had lunch. After lunch we road 15 km to a town called Soto La Marina. We got some water there and we looked at the back of a couple hotels (for a place to camp) but we didn't find any. Then we kept riding on and we saw a place just down a road with a palapa and grill and grass. We looked around and said, "Let's camp here." So we camped there. We had chicken and beans and rice for dinner.
Feb. 18 Today we woke up and it was raining. I read a chapter in my book "The Silver Chair" Narnia. Later we had oatmeal and granola for breakfast. After breakfast we packed up and did school and went. An hour later we had a snack bar for snack. It was still raining. That hour we talked about wives' tales and about holidays. Later we had a snack bar and now the road was big and nice. It is still raining. A couple hours later we had lunch. We had peanut butter and jelly and apples for lunch. After lunch we kept riding and checked out a couple dirt roads. Later we had a chocolate for snack. Next we got to a little store where we got water and asked if we could camp at the school in town and they said sure. So we went to look, it had a giant shelter and a washroom and dry space. Later we set up tents and made a concoction for dinner. It rained all day but we went 70 km today.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pachuga to Tampico, Mountains to the Sea

Markos and Tarn join the men fishing on Laguna Meztitlan.

Align CenterFlowing water...finally, and green, "Mom, is this a forest? It smells like moss." Our days in the desert have been replaced by a very different ecosystem.

A view out the window of comedor "Pesca Ilde", "Si! Yes, I am Ilde and you may camp on that island there, if anyone asks, tell them Ilde said it is okay. Have the girls in the kitchen fill up your water bottles."

A tree emerges from a rock on the valley floor near Meztitlan.

Sampson dries out, the sunny morning after a stay in a 500 year old church.

Morning studies next to 200 year old murals.

Snack break in the rain - how is it that this crew is oblivious to the fact that it's rained all day?

A change in climate,
A change in scene.

Mountain roads, granny gears or tight on the brakes.
An occasional tractor. Valley floors patchworked with fields of green and turned red soil.
Cactus walls. Grinding climbs.

Dense dripping forests, waterfalls and twittering birds.

Fushia bouganvilla, scarlet poinsetta, ancient root buttressed trees.
Adobe towns, local seniors walk down the road, old women with cardigan sweaters, old men carrying a sack, a machete.
Burros munch tall grass, staked by a long lead.

Old churches, claining bells.
Murals, barrel vaults, stonework. Ancient yet continuous. Local inhabitants filter in and out of the sanctury. Still, these buildings remain part of daily life.

Why did we leave the beaches and the sunshine? Change is good, there are roads to explore.

My favourite local reaction to the journey so far: "Que valiente!"

Markos' journal
Feb. 1 (leaving Mexico City) Today we had cereal and yogurt for breakfast. After breakfast we got a ride in a minivan to a big bus station and we got on a bus for an hour and a half and we got to another big bus station. I got a Hawaiian empanada and mom and Sampson got a meat and potato one.

Feb. 3 Yesterday it was raining. The rain was falling from the foggy clouds. Yesterday I saw lots of mud because it was raining the whole day. Yesterday we biked up lots of switch backs and on the otherside we went down a long down hill.

Sampson's journal
Feb. 7 Today we woke up and dad made oatmeal with dates and cinnamon and sugar on top. After breakfast we packed up and we got out of the fence and got riding to Molango. I heard cows running around our tents this morning. An hour later we had a fruit bar for a snack. We saw water falls and jungle all morning long. After a snack there was a fork in the road and they both went to the same place but one was muddy. We went on the other road. Later we got to Molango and dad bought some tamales and empanadas from an old lady for lunch, they were really good. I had two. After lunch we went down and then back up through the jungle. In towns there were people dressed up in costumes and asking for money for a carnival. I gave them a peso. It was a long, long afternoon because we had lunch at eleven thirty. Later we got to a trail to a big leafy, sluggy wet flat spot where we camped. We had vegetable scramble for dinner.

Feb. 11 Today we woke up and I read a chapter and got dressed before Tarn and Markos were awake. Lanier and I set up the stove and lit it for coffee. Later dad made oatmeal with raisins and granola in it. After breakfast we did school and played at the park a little bit and then we packed up and went. Later we had a snack bar. At that break there was a little road border where you pay for road improvements but we didn't have to pay. Later we had lunch at a river. We had avocado on tostidas for lunch and a candy after. After lunch we rode to Tampico. In Tampico we found a hotel that had one room with three queen size beds and another with two. I slept with Lanier in the two bed room and the others slept in the other. We're going out tonight and we might get some churros.

His journal reads: hook, cook, book, nook, pink, wink, drink, think, yink

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mexico City, District Federal

Temple of the Sun, Tenochtilan, a birds-eye view down towards the Temple of the Moon

underground in the subways, Mexico City at 22 million inhabitants is truly accessible - if you can do stairs!

Sampson holds a snake at the Serpentario, La Paz, Baja California Sur

Wall of Skulls, Temple Mayor, Mexico City

a woodpecker outside the window at Rancho Viejo, while waiting to meet Brian in La Paz

a youth orchestra rehearsal, La Paz

Sampson's journal reads:
Jan. 26 Today we woke up and had oatmeal for breakfast. Later we went paddle boarding on calm waves and later on big ones. The paddle board had a window that we could see sea urchins and puffer fish and I saw one star fish. Later we had sandwiches and apples for lunch. After lunch we did some paddle boarding and Dad tried to find a place to stay in Mexico City (We're flying there and then biking up.) We had fish and shrimp and vegetables for dinner.
Jan. 27 Today we woke up and Dad and Kenny made oatmeal pancakes for breakfast. After breakfast we packed up and said goodbye to Kenny and Joe. Then we rode up the high mountain and had lunch at the top of the hill. Then we went down, down, down, down to La Paz and then we went to the Serpentario and I bought a wood snake.

Markos' journal reads:
Jan. 29 Today we had fried eggs and bakeries for breakfast. After breakfast we went on a walk and got some boxes and some packing tape for Dad. Then we got the laundry done. When we got home Dad made some boxes to put the tandem bikes in and we left the tagalong aside to roll up to the airport.
Feb. 1 Today Mom and I went to get some bakeries for breakfast because it was Lanier's birthday. (Happy Birthday!) After we had breakfast we got on a metro train and after the metro we got on a bus for an hour and we got to the temples and we went to the tallest one there.

Tarn's journal reads:
Today we will ride to go see Joe. Lanier will ride with us.
We found a puffer fish. The hot tub was burning.
I want to take off my water bottle holder.

Tanya's recipe for super quick fish soup.
Chop and brown a bit of garlic. Add pieces of fresh yellow tail, brown in one or two minutes and toss a bunch of bite-size broccoli. Pour in a bit of orange juice, steam two or three minutes. Turn off heat and stir in a chopped tomato. Serve immediately. Yum!

We've played house in La Paz, BCS for a week, cycled a steep hill to La Ventana to play with Joe and climbed that steep hill back to build some boxes, take a flight, enjoy the art and life of Mexico City and we're ready to ride off into adventure tomorrow. Our friend Lanier has joined us on the road for three weeks. - It's super to have him travel with us.