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Old 10-24-2012, 09:57 PM   #166
AnjinSan OP
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Of people, cars and cities: 8-10 Octomber
We say “goodbye” to Blake after 2 days spent near Barranca del Cobre. He wanted to go to the bottom of the canyon and visit one of the Tarahumara Indian villages down there and we had to move on. The plan was to reach the ocean, the Pacific Ocean. But we were still in the mountains so we still had a ling way to go. So for now we are enjoying the mountain views on one of the routes recommended by Cesar.
The views remind us of Utah and Arizona. But things are different. People here don’t always go by car. Some of them are walking great distances.

And if they do use a car, they don’t really obey the maximum number of passengers allowed by design…

It’s nothing like Phoenix, for instance, where the special lane for cars with more than 2 passengers was almost empty while the other 3-4 lanes were jammed with cars having just a single person in them. To joke a little, Mexicans seem to be paying more attention to the environment as they try to use the cars to their full potential, and then some. The sad part is that they don’t do this out of environment responsibility but for necessity. If they could, they would all have a car of their own. We all would.
We notice that people here are proud. Proud to be Chihuahuans. And, talking about “media”, we’ve seen many hand-painted advertisements here on different walls (instead of huge printed posters). We would see them painting later on.
But what would be life with just work and no fun? Let’s not forget to relax. Mexicans know how to party. Road signs showing the directions for certain destinations may not be that present where you would need them but we found a sign for “fiesta”. Should we take a left?
Eh… the day is still young, it is not even noon and we only know how to party at night. So we don’t take a left, we continue our ride.
And we get another surprise. A very old memory seem to come all the way back from the Romanian Communist era…
This is a very old type of Renault and it was the “grandfather” of a car produced in Romania before the 1990s, “Dacia 1310″. Back then it was one of the only 3 types of cars you could have in the country. But they slow but sturdy cars. And this one, which is running after more than 20 years of life demonstrates this in fullness. We wave and I am sure the driver doesn’t know why. But he waves back. People are friendly here.
Talking about cars, things are strange here. For instance you see a Renault Clio Symbol. You could swear it’s the car you know from back home but when you look closer you notice it’s not a Clio but a Platina, not a Renault but Nissan. You see an Opel Vectra and it’s actually a Chevrolet. We even saw Dacia Logan but was under Renault logo here. It all makes sense though when you think of all the alliances in the automotive world.
Some things are still unchanged though. Jeep is still Jeep. Hmmm, but it looks a little bit… strange? What gets your attention in this picture?
We don’t judge the owner’s color preferences, of course. We stop for the day in a small town called Parral, once a mining town, now more of a touristic one. We find a cheap place to stay and go out for a walk.
There is a lot of people in the plazas and on the streets. Everyone is outside doing something…
… or getting ready for a “caliente” date…
And the milady arrives… riding!
We only stay one night in Parral and the next day we leave for Durango, capital city of the state of… hmm Durango. The road is atraight but doesn’t go below 1500 m.
We follow the gray tarmac through yellow flowers. Sometimes they are so tall that they become a yellow wall closer and closer to the road. Perfect stop place for drinking some water.
We can tell that Durango is a state capital. It’s hard to find a decent accommodation at decent price. Finally we manage to find something and quickly change and go for a walk in the central plaza. We find ourselves in the middle of a cultural festival. We don’t really know what’s happening but there is a stage, there is music and there are Mexican dances. Ole!
It doesn’t take long for us to get into the party spirit and try to learn some dancing steps. We first take pictures!
Everybody is having fun! And we are too!
Viva Mexico!
The map of trip covered by this post:

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Next time we are riding on a crazy road and we are crossing a line. Stay tuned!
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Old 10-25-2012, 05:38 PM   #167
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Crossing the line: October 11

I find a Suzuki moto shop the next day. Talk to the owner and manage to negotiate for the new tire for the old one and some extra money. We are now ready for some kilometers. From Durango we want to go to the ocean, at Mazatlan. There are not so many kilometers but we have to cross the mountains through a place called “Espinazo del diablo”. We were told it’s one of the most spectacular but also dangerous roads in the world. We start in the morning, prepared for a long day. Sun rise guiding our way on the curves.

We have breakfast in a small kitchen by the side of the road. I only wanted to warm up. Our limbs were kind of frozen.

The federal government is building a new road from Durango to Mazatlan, a payed shorter highway that will go straight through the mountains, with lots of bridges and tunnels. It is not ready yet. So far everyone has to use the old road although at times they go in parallel. The funny thing is that the new “highway” it’s only a two-lane road.

Instead of having one road with 4 lanes where you can easily pass the slower vehicles, you get 2 roads, a paid one, partially finished and a “libre” one where sometimes you get this:

It’s really really hard to pass other cars. And sometimes you can also have surprises, like trucks breaking down in the middle of the curve, uphill.


The road is spectacular. Hanging from the cliffs, going up to 2400 meters and the views are impressive.

But it’s also very dangerous. It happened not only once that I had to hit on the breaks hard to barely avoid the trucks that were entirely on our lane.

There is no picture that can express what we felt when we saw a few tones truck coming our way, in our lane, speeding and having nowhere to pull over on right side. I got used to hitting the breaks before every left curve, just in case, without seeing if there is something coming from behind the cliff but always expecting to see a truck. And if there was a truck , there was a good chance it wasn’t on his lane.
And so the ride was a constant fun. If there was no truck, there could still be animals. A cute veal for instance….

It probably felt threatened and trapped between the pavement and the cliff therefore decided in the last second to run on the other side of the road.

Therefore, low speed, eyes wide open and increased attention. And even so…. you can still get extra surprises. Parts of the road were under construction and traffic from both sides was using one lane. There were floggers directing the traffic. We got to one of those working areas and we weren’t stopped by any flagger. So we went on slowly.

As we advanced we saw cars coming from the other direction on the same lane, the only lane!! Obviously either us or them were supposed to be stopped by the flaggers but they somehow misscomunicate. In this kind of situation you follow the “big guy goes first” rule. So we had to pull over fast on the lane under construction and sit this one out.
You cannot get bored on this road. Yes, it’a a spectacular road but I wouldn’t do it again unless I really had to. Therefore we are very happy when we begin our descent to the Pacific Ocean. Once we are on the West side of the mountains the climate changes completely. We are in tropical climate for the first time.

Lush forests, big colored butterflies and…. damp. Very damp. We get wet instantly.

The side of the road is very interesting, we see all sort of flowers hanging from the trees. We hear crickets and birds from behind the green canopy.

We didn’t do our research before leaving for Mazatlan so we didn’t realize that we were to cross a very important line. We reached the tropics. Actually just one: Tropic of Cancer!

Right there, in the heart of the forest, by the small sign “Tropico de Cancer” I realized how far away from home we are. A thought that came out of nowhere. I’ve never been so far South before on Planet Earth. We stop. Romanian traditional costumes also reached the tropics.

I didn’t realize how much change a simple mountain crossing would bring. We don’t really care about traffic anymore, we are busy looking around and admiring. We follow a car that was carrying fruits (what else?) and here we are in Mazatlan.

We get lost in the city and end up in a plaza where people were staying in a huge line. We didn’t find out what it was for but my attemp to mengle with Gunnar between the 125 and 180 cc motorcycles failed completely.

We find a place to regroup under palm trees with cold lemonade. Only now we realize how tiring the road was. We left early in the morning, rode the crazy road with infamous name and now we couldn’t find enough energy to look for accommodation. I stall a little bit longer in the shadows.

We search for hotels on the internet but don’t find anything cheap. Mazatlan is a touristic place, where lots of Americans spend their vacation. That’s a good thing for the local businesses but not so good for two travellers coming a long way and going far away, looking for cheaper places to stay. I finally realize there is a solution. Mazatlan is a pretty large resort so there is a big change to find here one of the hotels from ICH or Hilton chain. If there is one, then it’s probably very expensive. But on the other hand I used to work for more than one year away from home. And back in the corporate days those hotels were my hone away from home. I still have some fidelity points left from that period. Yes, it’s been a long and complicated day, so let’s spoil ourselves. We find Crowne Plaza hotel. It’s not in the city but it’s right on the beach. Excellent! We reboot instantly thinking that we could soon be on the beach. We book a room using fidelity points and head there. Geting on the boulevard by the beach we end up in the middle of the party.

Many pick-ups, driving slowly with high volume speakers, balloons and people dancing and cheering. We don’t understand what they are celebrating and what is going on. But, does it matter? We join them, it’s fiesta time, let’s party!

We don’t usually drink Coca-Cola…. but we apreciate the… refreshing… presentation! Same thing with the TelCel truck!

Disclaimer: the pictures above are taken by the wife. I am completely innocent, paying attention to the… traffic only! Ahem…


We pass the party parade and reach our destination. This long day started at 1900 meters on a mountain plateau, continued up to 2400 meters, finding our way through insanely driven trucks, animals jumping in front of us, dust, construction works, then we changed the climate completely passing into the tropical zone and ended up on a beach by the Pacific Ocean. What a day!

Route map of this post:Harta traseului din aceast episod:
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Next time we are heading to Mexico City. This city’s population is bigger than the whole Romania. Stay tunned!
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Old 10-26-2012, 05:43 AM   #168
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Nice update!

You better remember that road once you get to South America... That's exactly how ALL of the roads are over in Colombia

Drum bun!
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Old 10-26-2012, 06:42 AM   #169
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Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
Nice update!

You better remember that road once you get to South America... That's exactly how ALL of the roads are over in Colombia

Drum bun!
Hehe, we've been told that indeed from now on it would be like this. So we only see one solution: slow down.

We are really looking forward for Columbia as well, but for now we do not know how we will cross the Darien Gap... Things yet to be solved :)

Multumesc! :P
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Old 10-26-2012, 11:43 AM   #170
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Hola Alex and Andreea,

The ride reports are wonderful as always, keep them coming.

The Romanian flag arrived yesterday is now proudly displayed. A bit late but it is flying proudly over our hotel.



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Old 10-26-2012, 05:47 PM   #171
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Hola Alex and Andreea,

The ride reports are wonderful as always, keep them coming.

The Romanian flag arrived yesterday is now proudly displayed. A bit late but it is flying proudly over our hotel.



Wow Tom! So nice to see it up there! Seeing the image with your hotel makes me nostalgic. Strangely enough the last month was so intense that it feels like ages passed since we were there. I hope you are well my friend. And please send all the best to Lynn from us!
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Old 10-30-2012, 09:10 PM   #172
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The New World III.6 – Mexico City and beyond

It has been a while since the last post guys but just now we got some time and stable internet. I hope you will enjoy the slightly longer updated:

Mexico City and beyond: 12 – 17 of October
When you are traveling for such a long time with a limited budget, like we are, you come to appreciate the simple things: having clean sheets on the bed (oh… having a bed is also a good start), having hot(ish) water and so on. The hotel where we were staying for 2 nights, thanks to the fidelity points, was way above our basic needs, being probably a destination for more luxuriant vacations. For example it has a very nice jacuzzi, set up just in front of the window, with a nice view to the ocean. Being the travelers that we are… we put the thing to some good, albeit rather questionable, use…
I know, probably the designers of the place had in mind a rather more romantic use of the jacuzzi involving soft music, bubble bath and some sipped champagne while viewing the sunset. But hey, we had to adapt to a more stringent reality of acute lack of clean t-shirts…
After 2 days spent there, we felt it was time to move on. While most of the guys who are doing a similar trip with us chose to go by the coast from there on, we decided to go inland in order to avoid the Acapulco area and also because we had an invitation in Mexico City. So we turn towards Guadalajara and we see on the side of the road a lot of places where you could buy “camarones” (shrimp)
A little further away we also see how the camarones are being dried. Dumped from a big truck on a thin fabric, directly on the side of the road.

We are getting close to Guadalajara, a big city and that it shows. On the road panels we see the sign of “western capitalism” right up there, side by side with directions and distances to different cities.
We plan to go around the city (second largest in Mexico) and avoid the 5 o’clock trafic and find a place to sleep on the outskirts. Even since Canada we’ve been hearing from other travelers about these auto motels (or love motels) that exist South of the border where you can get a safe place for you and your motorcycle and a nice sleep. We happen to see one and decide to get in.
Everything looks clean and very… discrete. With difficulty we manage to find someone that works there and is able to tell us a price for a room. We are asked if we want a room with a jacuzzi. Aaa. no thank you, we just washed our t-shirts, we won’t be needing another jacuzzi any time soon.
We find out the price of a normal room and it seemed resonable. I almost decide to stop but I have the inspiration to ask another question “The price is for the hole night, right?”. The lady makes some big eyes and says “Oooo senior toda la noche? entonces el precio es el doble”. Yeah, that figures. It seems in these places the room prices are for only hours. Hmmm… I still can not figure why… a good healthy sleep should be at least 7 hours. Could these places be for something else… mmm
We move on as the “double” price was too high for us and we end up reaching Lake Chapala and find a nice small hotel where I park the bike, for the first time in this trip, in the hallway of the interior courtyard.
We go out for a walk and we find the lake promenade full of people, music and noise. Everybody is trying to sell something (or to buy something) and if not that then it singing and dancing time. It is a nice atmosphere and we realize is the start of the weekend and people are out having fun. Somehow we feel a little bit outside all this. For us it is not weekend. For us it was just another traveling day, with new places to discover, with surprises and with a desire to relax at the end of the day, in a quiet place. Are we getting old?
There are quite a lot of motorcycles in Mexico. A lot of them are of small size. 125, 150, 180 and maybe 250 and people that travel on them usually do not wear any protection gear. Or at the most a helmet. For them these motorcycles are just a transportation means. And if your family is of 3 or 4, and you need to go somewhere then well, you put everybody on the motorcycle and just go. That’s why we are a little surprised when we notice the next day a shiny new BMW GS1200 on the road. Oh, and there are (only) 2 people on it. And they wear full gear.
We find each other in traffic and start talking. Then decide if we stop on the side of the road and talk without riding in the same time. That is how we get to meet Uli, a German living in Mexico and Alejandra. They were out, testing their brand new GS1200. We are happy that we’ve met. We shake hands and exchange stories.
Photo credit to Alejandra and Uli

We share email addresses and hope to stay in contact. Uli and Alejandra are great guys and they plan to go on a big trip as well, rather soon. We start our engines and ride together for a while. Thanks to them, we have an idea of how 2 Romanians traveling on a V-Strom in Mexico look like.
Photo credit to Alejandra and Uli

Photo courtesy of Alejandra and Uli

This day is mixed. We have very nice meetings like the one with Uli and Alejandra and then we end up totally missing the historic center of Morelia (UNESCO heritage) and due to our hotel’s wrongfully advertised location, we have a nice view of town’s periphery
Little boxes, little boxes… A view that will repeat itself on a much grater scale in Mexico City where we are heading today. There Alex and Dagmar are expecting us. Luckily for us, they are not expecting us in the city but some 100 kilometers outside the metropolis, in a nice and natural spot. Then they guide us through the madness of the traffic.
I remember with nostalgia the lane splitting in California, with Doug in Monterey. At least there, there were some actual lanes that you could “split”. This is another level. Here there are no lanes and if they are, there are 3 in a space for 2. Everybody is driving following some rules that are not always the known ones and it is a madness for an outsider. Dagmar and Alex have lots of patience with us and thanks to them we manage to arrive safely and easily to their home.
Then we have 3 days of the bike, just relaxing and “being a tourist” in Mexico City, which is a great and diverse place to visit. We even take for the first time in our lives the bus tour as it was the cheapest way to move around the city. A great and complex puzzle, with modern and spacy buildings
but also small and cramped houses
We’ve seen elegant office guys (even tough some of them were talking on the phone sitting outside of windows…)
and also people dressed in (Aztec?) national costumes dancing in the plaza for money
We also get to visit our Embassy and have a meeting with the Romanian ambassador in Mexico. Turns out that there are around 400 Romanians living in Mexico – not such a great number. The meeting is quite informal and actually we get a lot of good advice from Ms. Ana Voicu. She wishes us best of luck for the remaining of our trip.
After that we end up at the German Embassy (no pictures from there ) where a friend of Dagmar’s and Alex helps us fix our photo camera. Hmm a Japanese camera, fixed with German tools, by 2 Romanians, in Mexico. Things cannot go wrong!
But soon enough it is time to leave and we say good bye to Alex and Dagmar who have been excellent hosts for us. We wish them all the best in their Mexican adventure.
A morning which seemed to be an easy get out of the city turns out into a veritable struggle with the streets and the traffic. We had very clear directions from Alex. We had a GPS with a functional map of the city. So navigating the maze should have been easy.
And yet we manage to miss the right exit and then everything turned into a funny story which included some quasi-legal maneuvers on the green areas…
… and culminated with a 2 hour detour on some parts of the town which are quite far (in space and looks) from the central parts of the city and which I don’t think are visited so often by tourists.
Well that is not so bad. We get to experience this part of life here as well. And we get to see some extreme ways of using your car. For example this guy probably tried to see if he can move the hole planet with his truck. And each time he was deciding to change lanes it was an adventure for everybody around him. The picture is correctly aligned vertically. And you can see that the left rear wheel is off the ground…
Finally we find the way to Oaxaca. But it is quite late and we have a lot of miles to go. So we only admire the Popocateptl vulcan from a distance. Maybe it was better this way as it seemed to be with a mood…
The open road is good for us. No more traffic and the mountains are here again.
Here get to be to be stopped by some gathering of people which were demonstrating for something (or against something) and were asking for something. And they were just sitting on the road, blocking it and stopping everyone. I have to admit that I was happy that we were not the only vehicle around as the feeling was not an easy one. Fortunately we are let to move one quite fast. They were very organized. At the command of one guy, half of the human blockade moved to the side, letting us go and then immediately moved back on the road, blocking the next car behind us.
We get to think a little bit of what just happened and how this would have been such a crazy thing for Europe. Everyone would have beenoutraged that they stopped the road traffic and probably would follow up with a Police call and some very harsh complaints. Here, it seemed a normal thing and nobody seemed to care much.
In Oaxaca, we start again the dance of finding a safe, cheap and clean accommodation (the 3 Morganas of accommodation) and then we go out in the historic center of the town ( also a UNESCO heritage)
Again we end up well, meaning we end up in the middle of a fiesta. Some sort of employees day as everybody had the day off, there was music, there were candies thrown at bystanders (much better than tomatoes, eh?) and everybody was singing and having a good time.
Seeing this, we take our national costumes as well and join the party on the streets.
We are stopped and a gentleman is offering some drinks. He drinks with us as well. There might have been some alcohol involved in the drinks found in the bamboo glasses but I guess we would never know. What it can be known for sure is that we had a great time with the people from Oaxaca!
The map for this post:

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Next time we are, literally, in the jungle. And we find out how much Andreea likes the monkeys. Stay tuned!
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Old 10-30-2012, 09:26 PM   #173
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I love that you are wearing your Romanian costumes with the locals, a great photo
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Old 10-31-2012, 05:26 AM   #174
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Yea, I have to admit, you guys are some pretty interesting travelers.
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Old 10-31-2012, 06:25 AM   #175
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I love that you are wearing your Romanian costumes with the locals, a great photo
Yeah, we come to find out that our national shirts are not so different than some of the Mexican and then Guatemalan hand made shirts. It was quite interesting to discuss with one of the local makers... he thought at first that our shirts are from Central America and wouldn't believe they are hand made in Romania... a small country from the far part of Eourope of which almost nobody heard :)

@Merlin: thank you, you are too kind.
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Old 10-31-2012, 09:08 AM   #176
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great trıp and report

it is such a great (dream trip) trip and report to follow.
I wish the best for you during your adventure....
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Old 11-01-2012, 05:35 PM   #177
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Delightful pictures and your postings a treat! Looking forward to each one.

Your story telling has made me laugh and made tears well... The Ruskie in AK was one such tale.

My best to you both, Ambassadors of Romania.
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Old 11-03-2012, 10:17 AM   #178
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High in the mountains and back to the ocean: October 18
I know I promised you a story about jungle and monkeys but to get there we have to make another stop at the ocean. We leave Oaxaca dreaming about the beaches while others go to school dreaming about… vacation. School is almost ending here, soon the kids will be on…. summer vacation.
We crossed many military checkpoints since we travel in Mexico. Most of the time they didn’t stop us and once the soldiers were more curious about my motorcycle’s power than our documents or luggage. We see a military checkpoint and this time we can feel it that we are in an area with more foreigners. There is a sign explaining in English what these checkpoints are all about.
By the time we were admiring their concern for foreign travelers were are pulled over. And they find us a “parking” spot behind a truck that was carrying cows, also stopped for checkout.
Oh, what a scent! But we hope they let us go fast.I prepare the documents but the military guy ask me to get off the motorcycle ’cause it might take a while, they have to check our luggage. Great! I answer his quwstions patiently: where I am from, what I am doing here, what about the motorcycle. Keeping an eye on his colleague that started looking through our stuff. He opens the tank-bag, sidecases… Oh, please, don’t make me open these white bags also, it takes me forever to put them back on. The guy checks me out and eventually decides that I am not a drug dealer so he gives me back my documents and wishes us a “safe journey”. I get back on the saddle and (just in my mind) wish him good luck with checking the cows.
As we continue our route the road gets curvy, we got used to having to cross the mountains before reaching the ocean. This time there is not a lot of traffic. The road winds through green mountain tops from which you can see from time to time villages trying to hang on to the rocks.
Mexicans are Latin people. And Latinos have music passing through their veins. I don’t think there is a village without a band. And they learn this very young. We see kids coming back from school carrying different musical instruments. The future Mariachis.
And when there is a band, there is live music. The location is not that important as long as people are having fun. And passion!
We go higher and higher and life people have here seems very harsh.
It seems like nature is trying to make up for it by displaying luxuriant vegetation and great scenery. We share the ride with the white clouds. We stop for a while to contemplate the views.
As we get on the west side we can feel we are closer to ocean, we enter the tropical forest and thick clouds. We can barely see anything.
Through the heavy clouds we can spot unfamiliar trees and plants. Everything that’s more than a few meters away has an indefinite color, like in an old movie seen at neighborhood cinema teahter.
The only difference is that this is not a movie. It’s reality. And in real life you have to always watch the road.
We reach a village surrounded by clouds that looks like a ghost. But it’s real and so are the people living there.
Many of the places I’ve passed made me think of how grateful we should be for living the way we do and where we do. But this is another story… that maybe will be told once we finish our journey.
Now we have to think of less complicated things such as reaching Puerto Angel, our destination, before dark. Meanwhile we get out from the clouds and we are only surrounded by the forest and it’s fresh colors.
We get to the ocean and it’s hot and humid. We sweat instantly and don’t waste too much time looking for a hotel. We stop at the first “semi-hotel-b&b”. There is no secured parking but there is store at the ground floor and thw owner offers me a spot inside. I have to wait though, until 9 pm when the store closes. No problem, meanwhile we can change and go for a walk on the beach.
Hmm, I wonder if the owner has to girls? One is Mari and the other Juana. Sure…
Taking a better look I admit that God works in mysterious ways.
We don’t get too much into details. We have another earthly problem. We get hungry and we meet a guy satisfied with his capture. We would convince him that it would look great on our plate.
Our day has a peaceful ending, enjoying a fish diner right there on the sand.
The places seen only a few hours ago in the mountains seem a forgotten dream. But they are very real for those living there. The ocean waves seem to wash everything away and sun sets peacwfully taking with it all the worries of the day. Everything is quiet.
Route map for this episode: Harta traseului din acest episod:
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Next we make to the jungle and closer to Guatemala border!ata viitoare reusim sa ajungem in jungla si ne apropiem de granita cu Guatemala!
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Old 11-03-2012, 01:18 PM   #179
Turkeycreek
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Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Banámichi, Sonora, Mexico
Oddometer: 826
Another great report and great photos in the clouds. Thanks!
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Old 11-03-2012, 10:36 PM   #180
cyberdos
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Joined: Sep 2005
Location: Queen Creek, AZ
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Super stuff. Wish I was there with you guys.
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