Monthly Archives: February 2013

Cascada El Encanto

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I’m sitting in a cement baño with a door made out of loosely woven together vertical wooden slats. After an early morning session of wrestling the ocean’s rhythm, and soaking in a refreshing 10 peso shower, I’m enjoying being barefoot. I’m also quietly hoping that my four-day run without going the bathroom is about to end. A lot of ruckus is going on outside. I watch, waiting to resolve what the commotion is all about. Then through the spaces between the slats I see a man walking backwards, holding the back legs of a pig, then a pig walking backwards on his front feet, screaming for his life at the top of his lungs.

It turns out that when a pig screams in Mexico you quickly learn how many dogs are in the area. I’m often surprised by how many dogs occupy a single block around here. There are roof dogs, road dogs, dogs that beg stratagicially for food – positioning themselves in places that people are likely to be throwing out food scraps, societies of dogs, beach dogs, river dogs, farm dogs, and a few dogs that actually belong to humans.

Random thoughts pass through my mind. I recall the many comforts that are seeded by the single act of having a refrigerator. I remember Elaine and Phil’s nightly routine, and imagine Phil giving Elaine a foot massage. I think about the snow that is at their place right now, and fantasize about going to dinner with them again. I wonder what my friends are doing at this very moment. I imagine their laughs. Josh and Marcus would love this experience so much. I really wish there were here. It is strange not having the surge of intellectual discussions I’m used to. Phil, Marcus, Josh, Jeff – send me some emails! Marie and Maria are sorely missed, and quite frankly their energy is needed right now. And it’s been way to long without a dose Tom and Chris’ high quality wit. Every day I think about how sad it is that Marc didn’t make it on this trip. I miss looking up and seeing him trying to climb into the strangest places to get the right shot. Marc really knows what he is doing. I miss his passion. All of team death punch would really enjoy this. Deserts, pyramids, waterfalls, campfires, riding on top of Wiggles, butterflies, baby whales, newly hatched turtles, strange cities, tunnels, jungles… Yup this is like an extended team death punch excursion.

I feel a surge of excitement as my thoughts turn to the recent news – my request to participate in a very special “summer school” program in Germany has been approved! Lucas forwarded me an email telling me about the opportunity. Thanks Lucas. It is put together by about 10 of the 30 most influential minds in my field. It’s a concentrated whirlwind program titled ‘Physics and Philosophy of Time.’ Detlef Dürr (perhaps the worlds foremost expert of Bohmian mechanics) is an organizer along with Christian Wüthrich (a genius that I drove to San Diego once to meet, and then met again at the recent Philosophy of Science conference). Nino Zanghi (who often publishes with Dürr) is going to be there. And Tim Maudlin (one of my favorite math authors) is also going to be there. This is going to be great.

Although I’m in the middle of this excursion, I’m putting together a new interpretation of quantum mechanics. The crux of the new initiative stems from the insight that the state vector may represent ensemble states of the quantized vacuum. With that starting point all of the same math follows for quantum mechanical claims, but because the ensemble itself stems from a new set of axioms for the vacuum it provides a way to get beneath the formalism conceptually. I hope to get something formal written up before participating in Germany’s get together.

Success! The four-day streak is over.

Hours later we have made our way back up to the mountains. We are a bit lost and a bit sidetracked – picking wild oranges in a jungle. We have been searching for a waterfall that we heard about called Cascada El Encanto. Down dirt roads, through shallow rivers, past cows… We ran into a fence at the edge of another field. A Mexican was lying on his back sleeping near the fence. Upon hearing us arrive he stood up to greet us and request 50 pesos to pass. He also told us that when we arrived to the canyon we would have to rent a boat to get to the waterfall. We told him we didn’t need it, that we could swim there. He tried to convince us that it was impossible. Since we couldn’t afford the boat we knew it was possible to swim.

Arriving at the boat rental spot we locked up Wiggles and proceeded to enter the waters. Chihiro used her cold negotiation skills to rent a single lifejacket for 15 pesos – just in case the current has some surprises for us. Then we entered the wonderland. We began swimming up the slot canyon, with long jungle roots hanging from its walls. Everything about it was breathtaking. As we rounded a bend we saw the first waterfall, and as we approached that waterfall we caught a glimpse of the giant waterfall in the distance. Next up, rock climbing up the side of the canyon wall and over the first waterfall. Marie and Maria would have died for this place! Then we were back in the water making our way towards the towering wall of water. Our laughs we muddled and overcome by the loud roar of the water all around us. We couldn’t see anything as we tried to make our way back to the rear wall, water crashing all around us.

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A raft with a guide was carrying two girls up the canyon. He showed them how to climb the rock walls, and then the dragged the raft up the cliff so the girls could reboard and experience being under the falls while in the raft. After getting more than their fill of water in their face they were ready to depart. We all joined them for the ride off the first waterfall. I knew well before we approached the falls that I was going to be thrown from the raft. I was on the wrong side. No matter, I intended to swim back anyway. What better start the swim then to be thrown from a raft as I go over a waterfall? J

This place is being added to my list of favorites. I vaguely remember seeing it featured in a National Geographic article that I read in prison. It’s amazing to think that the fantasy that was once formed, from the inside of those walls, has now been lived. What’s more is that I got to live that fantasy with someone that is a permanent part of my life – Angela. Now I just have to convince all of you other permanent parts of my life to come live some of this with us.

Love to all of you.


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The “flutter byes” or more commonly known as butterflies provided an amazing day full of adventure.
We went to the location where the Monarch butterflies breed. Thousands maybe millions of butterflies flutter around showing their bright orange colors. I remember running through Provo canyon and encountering a monarch butterfly, as I run after it, striving to take a picture and exitedly returning to the car with a blurred picture, and a childish attitude renewed about the beauty of the butterflies.El Capulin made a fary land come alive with butterflies. El Capulin is located west of Mexico City, by taking a side road south of Zituacuaro, and east of the fountain of the “La Senora de el agua”. Yes, those are the actual directions.

By taking the back roads plagged with pot holes, and minimal butterfly advretisement or information.
After arrival Thomas and I went to wiggles roof and we were able to see the area from up high, thank you Thad for driving. As we dodged the tree branches, taking pictures of the area and small towns, we were able to see the surrounding towns. We camped at a cross roads used to guide the sheep and horses. We woke up ready for the hike towards the butterflies.


The place where the monarch butterflies spend their winters and mate, creating the next generation. The next generation has a safe place to sprout from their cocoons and fly south all the way to the great lakes. It’s still unknown how the next generation knows to fly north, and a generation later come back to Mexico.
Walking though the highest concentration of butterflies, it felt like walking in a tunnel full of movement and color. Above and to the sides the butterflies flight created a constant hum that was randomly disturbed by “Thud” due to the collisions of butterflies. When looking down on this fluttery tunnel, it became a colorful path of death, no longer having the rhythmic hum. It seems butterflies as well as humans are not able to flight againts time.

Getting back to our campground, we enjoyed a solar shower and a fire that was fed by Thomas wood findings and Thad took amazing photographs, the fire gave a glow and the oportunity to test the camera.
Good times, good food, and good people. We left too soon, and we all felt like an extra day there would have been nice, but we headed towards Mexico Distrito Federal.

Angela A

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San Miguel Allende


San Miguel Allende a city name after Ignacio Allende, a friend of Miguel Hidalgo.

Ignacio Allende was a member of a group working on a conspiracy towards the independence of Mexico. Ignacio Ayende was the man able to give warning about the Spanish discovery of the conspiracy and the involvement of Hidalgo. Allende rushed towards the city of Dolores Hidalgo, and informed Miguel Hidalgo of the danger he was in, forcing Miguel Hidalgo and the other members of the conspiracy to take action. San Miguel Allende is city that displays beautiful architecture, it’s busy and full of life. This city is known to be one of cities to attract retirees, and tourists.

We decided to run though the city, and Thomas and Thad discovered that it’s not allowed to run without shirts,something about the town not being a beach town, but it was too late by the time they informed us. We run back to Wiggles, he/she waited patiently parked in front of one of the busiest “Mercados”. We were glad to be back, and took the hose out and took a solar shower, between taxis, busses, and pedestrians. It’s quite surprising how some reservations are forgotten and we can live a more relaxed life, after all I feel that all humans have an excessive amount of reservations, making you stop instead of taking action. It seems I took the action of taking a shower infront of a mercado.

Angela Arvizu


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Historic Mexico


The city of Dolores Hidalgo, la cuna de la Independencia de Mexico. I have stepped and looked out from the place where Hidalgo, raised his voice and gave his speech for “El Grito de Independencia”. As I looked out into the city I pictured the people looking up at the cathedral where Miguel Hidalgo stared back at them and made the first movement towards the independence of Mexico. Miguel Hidalgo was a year later executed in Chihuahua. The head was then sent to Guanajuato and displayed among other notorious men. This act of displaying the head allowed the deceased to became martyrs, giving strength to the Mexican population to battle for freedom.

Angela Arvizu


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I’m on a braided trail that doubles as an endless staircase of loose rocks and powered dust. Left, right, it doesn’t seem to matter which trail we take, they all continue straight up the mountain. Our obligatory guide doesn’t speak a word as he races up the mountain. We are trying to make it to the top in time for the special hour, the time when we are told the monarch butterflies all start to flutter about in a large-scale social dance.


Out of all the places in the world, this is the prime place for Monarch Butterflies (or in Spanish, Mariposas Monarca). We could say that this is their mating ground, the place where the magic starts, but things are a bit more complicated than that. From here the flutterbys (as I like to call them) initiate one of the most complex migrations in the world. After mating they lay their larvae and die. New caterpillars are born, eat from the Milkweed plants that cover this mountain, spin their cocoon, and metamorphose into majestic butterflies. Then these brilliant mosaic wonders start the trek north, ending in the southeast of the United States. There another meeting place has been designated (by some unknown process or communication).  The flutterbys then mate, leave new larvae and die. Their progeny go through the same process and then fly further north to the Great Lakes of Canada for another cycle. The generation born in Canada then fly all the way back to this spot in Mexico, which is just a couple hours outside of Mexico city, and a steep two hour hike up the mountain from our current base camp in the woods.


The information booklet says to expect between 4 and 8 million monarchs packed in just a couple of acres, but so far I have only seen two butterflies. A French Canadian man joined our group, to avoid having to pay for his own guide. We all opted out of paying for a horse to save money (plus I’m not sure the small horses here could support me – especially up this torturous trail). Hopeful salesmen are following us with horses waiting for us to realize that this trail literally goes straight up the mountain for two straight hours. The French Canadian man eventually caved, and I was a little jealous of him. An hour into the hike my calves were burning, and I was getting desperate for a break, but Angela (who prefers uphill to downhill) was still going so I had to forego the much-wanted break. Our guide was now talking, urging us to speed up, saying that we would miss the show if we didn’t. At this point I still hadn’t seen more than a handful of butterflies.


When we arrived we became speechless, standing in awe of the spectacle and simply soaking it in. Entire trees were covered in orange butterflies, and the branches sagged under their collective weight. When a little gust of wind swayed the trees hundreds of thousands of butterflies all took to the sky, crashing into each other, and filling the air with a sound I had never heard before. Butterflies landed on us, perfectly content to share a little moment of their life with us. We asked them about their mystery, about how they know how to navigate all the way from Canada. We became their friends and delighted in their successful completion of their journey.




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Tickle Turtle & Swarm


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Gilda & Manuel


Gilda, my friend of 13 years, kindly invited us all into her home with her husband Manuel and their two children. I hadn’t seen Gilda since our dinosaur digs in Rincon Colorado near Saltillo Mexico. It was wonderful to catch up with her. The long warm shower was soothing, and the recharge (both of our bodies and our electronic equipment) was much needed. To top it all off Gilda made the best meal we have had on this trip yet. Just before we left Utah Jeff Chapple made us a spectacular Thanksgiving style meal. We have frequently fantasized about that meal. Now we have another culinary experience to add to our fantasy cravings.


On the second day Gilda arranged for us to go to her children’s grade school and give a talk. It was a very positive experience. The goal was to have them learn from my mistakes but also from my passion to chase dreams and to never give up. After the talk we went for a run around a local dammed up lake. When we returned to the white city (the name we gave the double gated community that Gilda lives in on the hill, which looks entirely white from a distance) we could see the entire lake down in the valley. The view made us feel like we accomplished something noteworthy. In the evening the five of us played scum as Manuel kept pouring vodka into our glasses. It was a lot of laughs, especially when Chihiro started trying to cheat ;-).

Thank you Gilda and Manuel!



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Guanajuato with love

My mother talked about visiting Guanajuato and about loving the place, she said she had fun, and her attitude towards the city was something that stayed with me and was in the top 10 things to visit during the trip. Mom, you were right it is beautiful.

Guanajuato the town where multitude of callejones lead you to steps that lead though mazes of multi-colored houses, music, “roof dogs”, and a mixture of good and bad smells. The “roof dogs” bark from the rooves of houses at strangers or possibly anything that might go though their steep neighborhood. We walked the downtown and plaza, and realized that there were so many young people, some sporting the same shirt, like members of a team. We has arrived at the same time as a gathering of different states to do a 17 mile walk towards a statue of Christ and 17 miles back to Guanajuato. Their shirts sported their schools and their state, and some kind of logo or motto. Young people from all over the country gathered at a multifaceted college town. We were able to enjoy some pizza with a group from Puebla.

It was time to be trolls, in mutual agreement we realized that we wanted to sleep in the tunnels, and this is what I learned from the experience: 1. Awesome. 2. Sound bounces off the walls and there are echoes at the same time 3. It’s hard to sleep with traffic in a tunnel 4. In the most noisy times, Thomas would just laugh. Thomas laughed a lot. 5. So worth it. 6. It’s cool to be a troll.

In the morning we decided to go for a run, and uphill we went. We ran around the outer rim of the city. The views would create a fiesta of colors and architectural individuality. A very beautiful city. Next stop was “Las Momias de Guanajuato” World rebound for the incredible fast conservation of cadavers. The cemetery was being moved, and as they opened the catacombs, they realized that the bodies were dehydrated and so preserved without the need of enbouldment. No need to prepare the bodies, and some were removed after only 6 years in the catacomb. The most impressive and well preserved bodies were those of the babies, they conserved the look of baby fat and looked almost like they were asleep. One specifically caught my attention, because they burried him with the outfit of “San Martin de Porras”, sporting delicately made sandals and even the broom.

Guanajuato, the land of color, flowers, steps, trolls, mummies and more. Highly recommend!

Angela Arvizu

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