The wheelchair access policy (above) at Morelia Cathedral more than hinted at a strong local belief in the healing powers of worship.
At this time of year many people turn their thoughts to matters of religious contemplation, but about the closest I get to evangelism is singing the praises of my Eagle Creek Pack Cubes to anyone who'll listen - over the past eight months they have proved themselves the single most useful item of my travel kit.
Anyone who's lived out of a rucksack will be familiar with the hassle of unpacking every time fresh clothes are needed, keeping laundry separate in plastic bags and of course the potential chaos of a bag search at the airport. Using the cubes with their clever floating panel which separates clean clothes and laundry, your clothes stay flat and folded at all times. It all makes for the easiest and quickest packing and unpacking imaginable
After carrying my rather large 65 litre pack around all year one of my objectives in LA was to reduce the size of my luggage - by swapping a couple of items for more packable alternatives I'd hoped to take my pack size down by 10 litres or so. So, you can only imagine than my delight at discovering the Eagle Creek ORV Gear Bag - a work of unparalleled genius, specifically designed around the Pack Cube system.
Not only have I been able to reduce my pack size by almost a third to a mere 47 litres, but my new bag is so well designed that I also added a super-warm down jacket in anticipation of some cold Andean nights over the coming months. Here it is all packed up alongside with a bottle of Sam Adams (purely for scale of course).
After testing it out on the road for the past three weeks, my enthusiasm for the Eagle Creek pack system has galvanised into a near religious fervour. As we head into the New Year and the final months of our journey I have ambitious plans spread the gospel far and wide ...
And no, I'm not on commission.
At least not yet anyway.
Our last few days in Mexico uncovered another strong contender for the Beer League - Noche Buena.
Only available at Christmas it is the final batch of the year before the brewery closes down for it's annual cleaning of the tanks. At 5.9% the translation of it's name into English couldn't be more appropriate - simply, Good Night
Finally I've decided the New Year deserves a new colour scheme - do let me know what you think ...
Friday, December 28, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
An expression they use in Mexico when foreigners get food poisoning is "la venganza de Montezuma" which translates to "Montezumas Revenge", or in other words payback for invading their lands. Descendants of European colonial types take note, I have settled your ancestral debt in full.
Posted by Mark at 19:26
Friday, December 14, 2007
Crossing the border into Mexico was a rather unusual experience. One that involved us watching a hispanic soap opera at maximum volume, on a portable TV with the cleaning lady, while we waited for the immigation official to return from the sandwich shop.
As the worlds most visited border town, Tijuana is the place where Americans come for cheap drugs (prescription and otherwise), while the Mexicans line up by the riverbank at night to play their own version of British Bulldogs with the US border patrols.
I didn't feel the need to take any photos in Tijuana. The only spectacle truly of note was the opportunity to have your photo taken with a Zebra for a couple of US dollars. Closer inspection revealed that some enterprising local had taken a few tins of spray paint to a regular a Donkey to create this tourist attraction. Not exactly RSPCA approved.
Not really having a plan didn't stop us jumping on a plane the very next morning to the laid back city of La Paz (we'd heard it is nice - so why not?) in Southern Baja California.
At the risk of appearing a little obsessed after my last post, beside an inexplicable statue on the Malecon (above) the absolute highlight of La Paz was a boat trip to a Sea Lion colony where we had the opportunity to swim alongside them - a much more authentic experience than the zoo, and one I´ll always remember. As much for the palpable sense of relief at not being bitten by one as anything else.
After La Paz we took a flight to Mexico's second city Guadalajara for the weekend. Incredible old stone colonial era architecture sits alongside some genuinely gritty neighbourhoods providing the starkest of contrasts. Most notably the town of Tequila lies just outside Guadalajara and while we didn't have time to make it out that far, it would have been incredibly rude to pass up the opportunity to sample a few glasses on home territory.
Let's just say I now recall all too well why I don't drink Tequila at home anymore.
I have to say that our first week in Mexico has been hard work covering so much ground, but absolutely brilliant. After spending the last couple of months in the English speaking world it's great to immerse ourselves in a completely different culture again. The food here is quite different to Mexcian food at home, offering a greater diversity of flavours and at prices that are very complimentary to our ever diminishing budget. Even the restaurant signs are a continual source of amusement as they play on the dual meaning of the word Burro (Donkey/Burrito).
One week into struggling along with my very rudimentary grasp of some basic Spanish phrases and we've decided it's time to go "back to school" as we catch the bus to our next destination, the city of Morelia for some intensive tuition.
Somehow my Tequila hangover isn't filling me with enthusiasm for our entry examination for the Baden-Powell Institute at 8.30am tomorrow morning ...
The other notable thing about Mexico is the remarkable ease with which they seem to have stormed my beer league, including a brand new No.1!
After a long reign at the top, Japan's Yebisu has finally yielded to Modelo Especial, and there are several other very respectably placed Mexican beers.
Of course it still remains to be seen what we´ll be drinking this Christmas so keep posted ...
Posted by Mark at 21:44
Sunday, December 09, 2007
We couldn't really pass up the chance to see their world famous zoo, which provided the opportunity to see gorillas and lots of other unusual animals close up. While the hairy apes are definitely the most impressive exhibit, the prize for most entertaining must surely go to the Sea Lion show. Here's a brief video from the performance.
Being our fifth animal park of the trip we found ourselves in the position of having recently seen most of the animals - so I think we'll probably skip the next one. It is possible to have too much of a good thing.
In the evening we turned to entertainment of a different kind as we said farewell to our host and chauffeur for the week Sean with a great Saturday night out in San Diego's party central, the gaslamp district.
There's plenty to keep the tourist entertained here, but you won't find our most enduring memory listed in your guidebook.
I'm almost ashamed I ever doubted.
Santa really is watching you kids. Wherever you are this Christmas.
Posted by Mark at 23:02
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Of course just because there are lots of beers available, doesn't necessarily make them easy to get hold of. Not only do you regularly have to present ID in bars (even if you're an octogenarian), but somehow an English accent can be very difficult for bar staff to understand.
We have decided to name this phenomenon cockney ryhming beer slang.
Sitting down to our first beer of the evening after a long day marching around the Getty Centre (above) we noticed the piano. Yet strangely none of us felt inclined to risk asking for the pianist ...
Posted by Mark at 07:56