The Umbrella

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The freedom of traveling with your home is the opportunity to sleep at random spots. The sun had gone down and we were looking for a place to park. We took a side road and parked next to tall plants. The next morning we woke up to the sound the breeze blowing through leaves. The sound of the tall sugar canes hitting against each other, the sun hitting them and welcoming us up to a new day. As we ran through the field and played, I saw an umbrella that must have blown there. The umbrella had found a home between the sugar cane. I check it out and it was in working order. I played with it a bit and found that it had a few tricks to make it work properly. Since I misplaced my polka dot one, this was a great free replacement. Thank you sugar cane field.

Angela Arvizu

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Agua Azul

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Agua Azul translates to Blue Water and the name is well deserved. The water was blue and clear. Agua Azul’s clear blue water reminded me of Havasupai in the Grand Canyon, where the water shares some of the color. As we swam from one side to the other, I had a rush of adrenaline, when I felt the waterfall dragging me towards it, but I was already at the end and only had to swim a meter or so more. It’s all good. Since the day was cloudy, we only saw 1 other male/male couple in the water. I’m starting to think that people don’t like to swim. The water was only cold for 5 seconds after jumping in.

Angela Arvizu

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Agua Blanca

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With the windows open and our humidifier spraying us every few minutes we realized it wasn’t cutting it, so we turned onto a road with a swimming sign. It was time to cool off!  It was early in the morning, about 9 or 10 am and we knew the heat of the day would only increase. We went through a small town. We asked where the swimming was at, they told us about 3 kilometers more, so we went on. As we parked in front of the place, we realized we were the first there. We raised the top of Wiggles and decided to make breakfast burritos with eggs, beans, rice, avocado and salsa. After a few burritos, we got out of Wiggles and saw people coming in, the fee was 15 pesos per person.

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They informed us of some caves we could check out. As we climbed up towards the cave we didn’t expect to encounter a 3 exit cave that took us at least 3 hours to go through. The cave had its own bridge, an area full of sleepy bats, a cemetery of snail shells, and many places to investigate.

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After a long, amazing cave experience it was time to get to the waterfalls. The waterfalls were fed directly from the mountain, an area that was flowing from within the mountain and exiting into a cave then the water would fall  into hundred of small and medium waterfalls forming rock falls of many shapes and styles. It was play time.
Right before closing, we were ready to leave. Exhausted and our hearts feeling like those of children full of adventure we headed south, thinking that this place was one of the most filled with adventure and cheapest of the trip. Dinner was guacamole and chips.

Angela Arvizu

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A joke worthy of laughter

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Cemeteries are a common sight. The picturesque Mexican style of honoring and remembering their dead comes with a grandiose display inspired by their desire for emotional abundance. As we passed through a small town, I saw a cemetery approaching. I really enjoy looking into them, and admiring the unique style of Mexican cemeteries.

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Cemeteries resemble a small version of a colorful town. The houses vary in sizes most are the size of a man or smaller. Pastel colors flash throughout the small streets the size of two people side by side. The immense amount of flowers of different colors, material, shapes and styles, are in semi-strategic locations. The crosses of different sizes adorn the top of some of the structures, like a city where every third house is a church. The shrines are decorated with a random styles of candles, some with imagery depicting saints, the virgin Mary, Christ and many other religious symbolisms.

The beautiful display loved ones have created for their deceased is for the most part found unwatched, unseen. On a few occasions you might find a caretaker or someone cleaning the family grave. There is an exceptional exception, where the town cemetery full of color and beauty was highlighted by a group of 3 men hanging out, laughing as they hold their stomachs, rocking back and forth, creating a blurred connection between life and death.

The cemetery and the laughing men seem to make a perfect show of how frivolous life is. Not having fear of death they laughed in the cementery.

Angela Arvizu

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A refreshing river shower

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Playa Hermosa, we took a shower in a  beautiful clean river meeting the sea about 30 meters from where we were. The fishermen boats, the light blue water of the sea and a cold welcoming to a clean body. Life is just amazing!

Angela Arvizu

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Nature’s Melancholia

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As we drove toward the next waterfall on the itinerary, we were able to admire the beautiful rain forest with fog all around. If Nature could speak by create scenes with emotions, to me the mountains with low fog, the sprinkling continuous rain, the fields of corn and sagging trees would be Nature presenting melancholia. The scene pulled a heart ache full of memory and beauty.  We drove quietly listening to the wheels hit the road and the water being dispersed by the weight of Wiggles.

Angela Arvizu

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Tick, tick, tick…

The clock seems to move so slowly now – two more weeks of waiting. I make lists of things to do, to take, throw them away and start over. Let me introduce myself, I’m Jeff and I’ll be joining the Wiggles crew, flying in to Managua after spending a sleepless night – a 22 hour layover – in Atlanta’s airport, for a too-short 22 day stay in the jungles and on the beaches of Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

The skies are so gray here in Salt Lake City, the world so devoid of color, even the sunny days seem bled of life. Suffice it to say that I’m very excited to get my ass in that plane seat and head off to join in the adventure. I’ll see you soon Angela and Thad!

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The Ever-changing Meter

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We are often diverted toward places advertised as caverns or waterfalls. As we drove towards the Biosphere of Monte Pio, Veracruz, we encountered many such signs. The usual advertisement would say “Attention, waterfall 50, 100 or 200 meters ahead”. We realized soon enough that we had to ignore most of them, since every time we traveled the designated roads, after a kilometer or more without locating the waterfalls, we had to consider they didn’t exist. When we finally gave up and decided to get back on the road, we saw yet another sign for another waterfall. It said “Waterfall at 50 meters”, as we looked towards the road, we could see at least 300 meters ahead without any inkling of a waterfall, then a small rolling hill and the road continuing for at least another kilometer. It seems 50 meters is not what it used to be. I miss the old times.

Angela Arvizu

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Palenque

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Professor Paine would surely have had thousands of things to say about Palenque. I feel full of excitement to see the place, wishing I had more time to read and inform myself more about Palenque, a place taken out of a fantasy book. As we walked through it, I could almost picture the fires around the temples, the color, the smells and chaotic noise of a city at its peak.

They have only uncovered about 6% of Palenque thus far and there still are major temples and buildings covered by trees and soil. It makes me wonder what beautiful architecture Nature has hidden over the centuries. Nature, sometimes you are inconvenient. I asked for archeological information, finding out they don’t have any digs going on currently. They informed me that a new project will possibly start next year. I will check into this a bit more, the only downfall would be the intoxicating heat and mosquitos.

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As we exited the Archeological site, Thad was going to open the umbrella for me. It seems that the trick of opening it must not have worked because he was walking away with a completely overturned umbrella, a worthy project for a shady spot. Feeling overheated and hungry, we started towards a tree laughing at the funny scene.

A few of the things we learned about Palenque:

  1. The site is only 6% excavated.
  2. At the peak of the civilization, they had cleared the forests for many kilometers around.
  3. They made mortar from dirt and trees.
  4. The buildings were covered with colorful paintings.
  5. There is a building (still un-excavated) called the watchtower, this building has a small tunnel that goes from the highest point of the city to the lowest, presumably for messengers to carry information quickly from one part of the city to another.
  6. They had an extensive network of running water.
  7. Separation between male and female bathrooms. (different stone shape)
  8. The water network would run from the sauna, then on to the bathrooms, then exit. The water was perfumed by plants in the sauna, they assume the bathrooms were deodorized that way. These bathrooms were for royalty and other lucky individuals living in the main temples.
  9. Some of the reconstruction done by the archeologists is incorrect, but they did their best and it would be pointless to modify it.
  10. If the deforestation is true, then during the summer Palenque would have been unbearable.

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At the end of the hot day, we got to shower in a waterfall outside of Palenque, not a bad way to end the day.

Angela Arvizu

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Veracruz

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Veracruz City is a place with many facets. The people in Veracruz seem to cary themselves differently. I get the feeling that it’s because they have a different attitude towards life. Veracruz is the port city where Thad and I parted ways with Chihiro and Thomas. I feel convinced that their adventures will be epic. They will encounter many that will give them knowledge, time, and new stories to tell. Best wishes for Chihiro and Thomas.

After  leaving Veracruz, we asked a local  what the cool things there were to do in the area. The young man told us of a laguna about 2 miles into the town to check out. The laguna was next to a cow pasture and one cow got especially friendly with Wiggles (he even liked the driver mirror). We swam across the laguna, to the waterfall on the other end. Thad got to work a fisherman’s boat and we took a shower in a stream. Over all it was very refreshing and welcoming.

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As we were leaving the small town and enter the main road, we saw Thomas getting into a truck. He had joked about seeing us soon, but this was ridiculously soon, only one day. Chihiro got out of a second truck, and we said hello and laughed for a bit. We had to leave soon since we were in the middle of the road and we didn’t want to disturb the traffic. Anything can happen at every corner.

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Good Sleep & Encounter

We arrived at the first waterfall, it was dark so we decided to go into a restaurant, attempting to get some kind of unhealthy sugary desert. I am sad to inform that we were unsuccessful in this venture, they only had healthy choices of fruit and flan. We decided to not eat anything and go to sleep.

We parked and went to sleep, being cuddled by fireflies, howling monkeys, a waterfall, and rustle trees, and above us the stars shined and the moon created a hammock (crescent moon) to rock the night sky and put it to sleep. Sweet dreams.

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We woke up to a beautiful cloudy day and had breakfast at the restaurant, as we did computer updates and charged all the electronics we met a couple driving a car towards Brazil. They had swam in the waterfall and were very refreshed by it. The conversation was smooth, and it was refreshing to find a couple with inspirations, goals, desires and drive.  Mutual interests were shared, the conversation was fun and engaging. Thank you travelers, see you in Facebook, and I hope some time we get to meet you in Brazil or some other destination. It seems the only people that swam that day was the couple from Brazil and us. The tourists gawked at us, and pointed like we were a bit out of our minds.  I think we all should be a bit crazy, what fun it would be if everyone was the same.

Angela Arvizu

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Howling Monkeys

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I was under a calming trance, induced by our little humming electric fan and the feel of my pillow, interrupted by my need to undertake the early morning ninja session. As I opened my eyes, the where and when of my reality came rushing back to my consciousness. There would be no special ninja skills necessary this morning. We were deep inside a sugarcane field, surrounded by two walls of thick green towering above Wiggles. How relaxing.

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I find myself very comfortable in farm country. People that grow up with the sort of work ethic that is necessary to survive here rarely get bored enough to mess with others. Plus it feels more natural to be surrounded by plants and wildlife, where you have the freedom to pee whenever you need to. I’ve learned to appreciate this particular aspect of the backcountry much more lately. There have been a few disastrous town experiences that had me wandering cobblestone streets with a pocketful of tissue paper, searching for a private place among all the abutting solid cement walls, under the strict command of my upset stomach. Unable to find an appropriate spot, I was eventually forced into a few very embarrassing situations. During the worst of those (in Mascota), all I could really do was wave and smile as midnight drivers drove by staring at me hovering above my ankles. I’m still not sure why any town would keep all of their bathrooms under lock and key. It seems mutually beneficial to have at least one always-open free public bathroom.

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The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. I don’t have time to mention every notable experience here, nor do I have a complex enough grasp of language to fully convey the color of those experiences, but I will try to give the flavor of what its been like for those of you thinking about undertaking similar experiences.

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Beyond consulting our map, we have been following random tips from place to place, stopping in each new area and asking locals that look like they might know what sort of places for us to visit. It has led us to some amazing places. We’ve been over a rickety bridge that I was afraid would buckle under Wiggles’ weight, past a cluster of women washing clothes in a river National Geographic style, splashing through mud into a jungle of strange animals, ending up in the middle of a Little House on the Prairie looking field of cows. From there we hiked to a beautiful lake where some locals were on rickety boats casting nets to catch fish. Some of the creatures we saw I can’t identify. One of them looked like a cross between a lizard and a raccoon – that’s honestly my best description.

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One particularly special occasion was when we came across a wild pyramid/temple complex that was completely overgrown. We climbed through the thick trees and vines to the top of the pyramid and found a staircase that led straight down into the pyramid’s center. Going down that stone staircase was like entering into a tomb of untouched stone art. Inside it was dark, but a glimpse of jungle green stretched to us from the distance.  Following the light, we eventually exited into another section of the jungle. It felt like a real Indiana Jones adventure.

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We have seen people employ every technique imaginable to get us to buy their products. For example, the rope trick (where a chord of some sort is strung across the road with flags on it to get you to stop), or the tope hangouts (where people are selling EVERYTHING through your window (I’m still wondering who buys a calculator on the road? Food I get, but who is driving through the jungle thinking, ‘I could really use a cheap calculator right now’?) Then there’s the street kids that ask for 10 pesos to watch your car as you enjoy the hike, with the implied bluff that if you don’t pay, a break in might occur. For the most part this is simply a play on tourist expectations – an attempt to profit off of the fears that people carry here with them. That sort of malice is not natural here and it is easy to see right through the ruse. The eyes give it away. They have not hurt anyone before without making amends. They don’t have the dimmed eyes of true businessmen or the violent thugs I encountered in county jail. Except for the way our hearts go out to those that are in positions of relative poverty, all of this has been fairly simple to navigate

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We’ve been cliff jumping, exploring random beaches, finding rivers and waterfalls of all sorts to take showers in, and getting more and more used to this kind of travel. The showers are one of my favorite parts. I remember an episode of Sienfeld were Cramer installed an elephant showerhead that was superpowerful. I relate to the pleasure now. Standing in a waterfall that almost pushes me to my knees is delightful. Instead of worrying about getting clean I just try to stay on my feet and come away all smiles.

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Every now and then I feel bad for the older men in farm towns that have crooked fingers, the ones that never went to the hospital to straighten them – either because they couldn’t afford it, or because they were being “tough guys”. I suspect that the reason isn’t just money because the poverty level here isn’t what I was expecting and from what I’m told, there is some level of nationalized medicine. It is worth noting, however, that despite things like crooked fingers, the people here seem to smile far more than people back home. And from what I’ve seen so far, I’m a little jealous of the average childhood experience here – minus the lack of in-depth education

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To Mexico’s credit, exposure to natural dangers, to real life, is greater here. The adults seem to make very little attempt to steal their children’s curiosity from them via guilt, or to beat their explorer’s heart out of them. Just like the dogs around here, the children are far more-free than their compliments in my childhood culture (excluding perhaps those that grow up in Mexico’s big cities). The likelihood of physical injury is a bit higher, but at the same time they seem to do a better job at holding onto their humanity as they transition into adulthood.

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From my perspective, the dogs and humans here also seem to grow up with a richer/more healthy understanding of the complexities of social interaction. In the US many people, like I did, grow up to be very shy. By the time we are young adults we are technically dysfunctional when it comes to getting along in the world, crippled by our social anxieties. It takes a long time, if ever, for us to overcome those debilitations – to cast off the suffocating shelter/safety net that was handed to us “for our own good.”. Here people (and dogs) intimately learn what it means to be social. From an early age they are exposed to the scrapes and cuts that give them a complex understanding of how to balance interactions with others without sacrificing the need to be honest to yourself.  The dogs here are not owned by anyone, yet they never lash out at humans, or try to bite anyone. And although the humans are relatively poor, they value humanity in general far more that they otherwise would. At least that’s my take.

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So far my Mexico experience gives me much to be pensive about. As a child I was taught that my country was the greatest – that it was the land of the brave and the free. Then I watched as safety was propped up as the reason we should give away all of our freedoms. In mob fashion, and largely during my lifetime, Americans sold their potential to escape their fears. They have forgotten that brave and free go together. Now they have very little to fear and very little to live for. Depression is now the national state of being, promoted by commercialism, dogma, and nationalism. The more I travel the more I appreciate the good things that the US does have (beautiful landscapes, diversity, education, abundance, creativity…), but I am also beginning to more clearly understand the sickness that is hurting its people. Happiness has been drained from the people’s veins, replaced by nerotic pulses of sensory overload, video games, violent movies, the notion of instant gratification, etc. All of this has led to a shallowing of thought in general, which in turn has left millions with lives that are vacant of meaningful emotional interactions (a Twitter post now counts as a social interaction).

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Just before Thomas and Chihiro parted ways with us in Veracruz, we all slept at a beach together. In the morning we explored the beach and found some giant sand dunes jutting right up out of the sea. As we climbed to the tops of those dunes, jumping off the cliffs and flying down walls of sand, I felt almost weightless. I wondered how many other perfect places there were in the world, waiting to be explored. I found it amazing that out of all the people in this world we were the only ones there, playing in Nature’s sandbox.

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It was great exploring this part of the world with you Tomas and Chihiro. Such memories will always be with us. I look forward to your random updates and your fantastic pictures. Good luck on your journey. Thanks for having the guts to explore as you do. Until our paths cross again.

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After Veracruz the heat started to be unbearable. We spent a day at a mechanic shop trying to get our AC repaired. It worked for about 10 minutes, then another leak started whistling. This little upset cost us 2500 pesos, which was bothering us quite a bit, given our budget and the fact that we lost an entire day but didn’t gain a working AC. So the next day, just before we left town, we went back to the shop and Angela argued for some of our money back. To my complete surprise it worked! Evidently you can argue your way out of tickets from the police here AND you can argue for money back from a mechanic. Wow.

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Trying to escape the heat of the next morning we took a detour, following a sign that said ‘cascada.’ We ended up passing through a town with about 1000 people, half of which were hanging out at the end of the road at a place called Agua Blanca. This place was paradise. It was a five kilometer stretch on a gorgeous white rock river decorated with waterfalls and pools as far as you could see. At the top of the river there was a huge cave. It took us three hours to explore that cave, because instead of sticking to the regular path we went as far up each cavern as we could. We found sleeping bats, clutched to the rock celing, nooks and crannies that twisted into each other, and huge rooms with tiny entrances. The cave went all the way through the mountain, and it had three different exits. Near the last exit I slipped into a hole, almost breaking my leg, but limped away with just some deep bruises and a bloody shin. We spent the rest of the day in the river, exploring each waterfall, swimming into recessed caves behind the waterfalls, and showing the locals how to jump into the deep spots. The entrance fee was only 15 pesos ($1.20) for the whole day. What a day!

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Palenque was absolutely astounding. It was also exhausting as it was 95° F.  After seveal hours exploring the ruins, of which only 6% have been excavated, we cooled off in a nearby waterfall, which also had a cave behind it. Just behind the waterfall, at the mouth of the cave, we met a Canadian rasta guy and a beautiful Italian girl (who was trying hard to get with the Canadian guy), we asked them how the cave was. They said it was great. We hadn’t brought our headlamps, so we felt our way to the back, squeezing my chest through the tight spots. They followed us back, and then told us that they hadn’t actaully been back there. They were afraid to come back, but after seeing us they mustered the courage to try it.

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That night we drove half way to Agua Azul, delightfully detoured again by a sign for another waterfall. This was evidently a pay area, but we got in for free because it was so late. We parked in a random spot by the trees, popped the top of Wiggles and enjoyed the cooler mountain breeze. Leaving the light off we watched the lightning bugs flash all around us. The area slowly transitioned into a symphony hall. The frogs competed with several different kinds of birds for the center stage, and then in the distance a family of howling monkeys (we think) stole the show. We never saw the monkeys, but there was no mistaking the presence of deep howling voices  We lied in the top of Wiggles, with all the windows open saoking up the music of Nature.

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In the morning we met a really cool couple. John was an American helicopter pilot about my age, with a newfound passion for astronomy, philosophy and physics. Patricia was a robotics engineer from Brazil, studying to be a programmer, with interest in psychology. It was very refreshing talking with them. They are about a year into their travels (Wandaroundtheworld.com) and they plan to land in Brazil in about another year to work again. Both were very beautiful people, full of life. John made the comment that most people say, “I wish I could travel like that, but I don’t have the money.” Then he pointed out that nearly all of the people he has met traveling like this don’t have the money. Many of them just make it happen, stop to work here or there when they run out, or they just learn how to survive off of less. Couch surfing is free, food is cheap, and once you train yourself to collect memories instead of things, life is full, rich, and quite cheap. Good luck John and Patricia. I look forward to seeing you both in the future!

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Agua Azul – made me think of Josh. Josh you would love this place. The water is the color of the water in Havasupai, and the erosion of the rocks is reminiscent of that place too. Of course, the water volume completely dwarfs Havasupai. It is wide and powerful. And there is an extra surprise – there are a bunch of excited birds that live behind the waterfall. They fly through the powerful cascade to exit and enter their home. About a hunderd at a time come crashing out of the water, chase each other around overhead, and then they dart back through the waterfall into their home where they cling to the rocks. I’ve never seen birds flying through a waterfall before.

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I’m thinking of you (you know who you are) and the conversations that we still have ahead of us. Please learn as much as you can in the mean time, experience as much as possible, love each and every day, and then we will swap stories, lessons, tears, laughter, and hugs.

Many Loves,

Thad

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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.

Thad

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Mariposas

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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.

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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

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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

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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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Mariposas

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Loves,

Thad

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Tickle Turtle & Swarm

 

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Gilda & Manuel

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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.

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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 ;-).

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Thank you Gilda and Manuel!

Loves,

Thad

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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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Trolls

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Today we were christened into the kingdom of trolls as we woke up in the tunnels of Guanajuato. The constant dripping of water and the loud reverberating echoes of passing cars  kept us awake for most of the night. Perhaps this is  why trolls have a reputation for being grumpy. Every now and then Thomas would break out into laughter in disbelief that is was possible for those cars to be that loud. Still, spending the night in the tunnels was totally worth it. All of us are awestruck by this city. It is an elaborately woven together wonder of cobblestone streets, surrounded by vertical walls whose jutting grandeur is accented by colorful houses stacked on top of each other and angled braces that support them as they overhang the streets. There are mazes of tunnels all throughout the city, popping up here and there and disappearing with only a hint of their existence. This is definitely one of my favorite cities so far.

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Going for a run this mountainous town was exhilarating but very tiring. Up mountains of technicolor homes, down steep staircases, through underground tunnels, around the city square… it was beautiful!

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Come and join us!

Loves,

Thad

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Grandma

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DAY28 おはぁちゃんがなくなった。 2日間、携帯が壊れてインターネットを繋げていなかった私は何も知らなかったけど、 海外によく行っている私は大事な知らせを後から知る事がある。 父からのメール おばぁちゃんが亡くなりましたとても寂しいです。 92歳と81日の歳月を生き抜いて来ました。 戦争、子育て、夫の仕事を手伝い、不平不満を言わず、私たちを愛し続けてくれました。 私が今ここまでこれたのは、お母さんのおかげです本当にありがとう。ちひろ、人生精一杯楽しんでいこう。 お父さん、いつも私を信頼してくれてありがとう。信頼されていることがどれほど、前に進む力になっているかと思う。 「旅に出る前におばぁちゃんに会って行けば良かったな。。。」 良い日も悪い日もあるし、好きな人も嫌いな人もいるかもしれないけど、そんな時、「今、目の前にいるこの人と、あと、何回会うことが出来るのだろう?」と考えると、その人が愛おしくなったり、もっと優しくなれたりする。だから、私は誰かに出会う時、そう思うようにしてる。 ありがとう。おばぁちゃん。 My Grandmother died. I had no connection to internet last few days. I didn’t have any idea about this situation in Japan. I often go abroad. So sometimes, I know these things after the things happen. Email from Dad Your grandma died. I am really sad. She lived for a 92-year-old and 81 days. She always loved us no matter what. War, parenting, helping her husband’s work she have never complained. I can be here now ‘cus of my mother. Truly thank you, mother. Chihiro, Expose and Enjoy your Life. Thank you Dad. You’ve always trusted me. It encourage me to do a lot of things in my life. I wish I could visit my grandma before leaving to this trip… I try to think this way when I see people, “this might be the last time I see them,” so I will appreciate more the present moment with them. I think all of our relationships can change if we think this way, and for the better. Thank you so much Grandma. Chihiro 22 Jan 2013 Guadarajara

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La Tortilla

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Perfectly round Tortillas are taken for granted. Machines do them most of the time, their perfect round shape tortilla after tortilla, coutesy of technology.
It has been a long time since I have eaten home made tortillas, my mom used to make them when I was a child, but I never learned, specially how to stretch them with your hands. I was fortunate enough to try it in the city of El Triunfo, where we stopped to eat, the cook was out of tortillas and needed to make more. She started making the masa, I went towards the kitchen and sat down to learn and talk to Consuelo the cook and her mom Josefina. The kitchen was old style with a wood fed stove and a comal on the side, a big pan had refried beans and the other some kind of meat. She was working on making the tortillas, she would pour boiling water on the masa and she would knead it with out flinching.

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As she finished with the masa, she told me that creating tortillas and cooking took some art and asked me to try it, I went and washed my hands, and went on to become a tortilla maker. It was very hard, and the ladies loughed at me, but after some work and a lot of stress from not doing it right, I finished my first homemade tortilla, I shared it with Thad and we enjoyed it. Even thou it wasn’t perfectly circular, it was delicious.

Angela Arvizu

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Time Lapse

Here are some time lapses we have taken in the past two weeks 🙂
Loves,
Thad

 

 

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My precious!

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For those adventuring females out there, I shall make a list and some comments about what I have learned as a female traveler.

Best purchases :

The “Diva Cup”, used for your very anticipated days.
I was quite scared when I decided to use it, and I was a bit shaken, but after realizing the first time that I wasn’t supposed to insert it too deeply. Once re adjusted I went swimming, and forgot about it. The device is easy, and nothing to trow away, no extra use of toilet paper to attempt hiding it. Cheaper, cleaner, and more comfortable, the only thing it doesn’t do is help with cramps.  I highly recommend it.

Baby wipes :

Can’t live without them, sadly enough you will not find your favorite brand every time, but they are still incredibly useful and I seems to start depending on them.

Sunglasses:
Even if they are 5 dollars, get them, they will save your eyes.

Sunblock:
The sun is not a friend to your skin, I assumed since I can tan that I will be less damaged by it, but I feel like I didn’t put enough attention to my body. As time passes, I realize I still have a lot to learn about how to take care of myself for future years. Sunblock was one of those lessons that I wish I would have followed earlier.

Vibrams:
My toe shoes are my little vise. I find them comfortable and enjoy them deeply. Quite a few complements about them.

Floss:
Floss them teeth.

To end this post I realize my needs might not match yours.
That takings things for granted at different stages or your life is common. That constant change or constant monotony can create a comfort zone where leaving it might require unknown, sacrifices. Unknown can create fears, and fears are usually avoided by humans.

Angela Arvizu

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Updating!

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It was time to look for a place to sleep and we ended in Mismoloya, where the small beach provided much entertainment and lots of people to keep us busy.
During the morning Thad, Thomas and I went for a run, at first it was going to be a short and sweet one, but ended up being long and amazing. We started our run  though the small city across the main street and away from the beach, as we run up for a bout a mile or more, we saw a sign saying “Waterfalls 2 miles”. We decided to run for it, and make it to the waterfalls. We run up and beat the couple riding the horses, i felt proud of my 30 year old self for acomplishing that. Once we were almost ot the top we saw a gate that made us stop and take a pictures, we were saying that it looked like going into Jurasic park, and there were signs of “Predator”, altho we didn’t  know what it meant, we continued running, at the end we realized that it was the set for the movie Predator. The crashed helicopter was there, and a beautiful restaurant that was cleaned every morning.
And  we hadn’t seen the waterfall, when we saw it we realized it was a very small one. We realized that the waterfall could be used as a slide, and the fun started from there,, a slide and a swing rope that brought some fear into my heart before trying it, and some awesome feelings of accomplishment once  i went down on it, or swing from it. LIFE IS AWESOME.
We run back a lot faster then we got there, specially because it was downhill and we covered the 3 miles or more quite fast.
After the 6 or more mile run, we went back to WIGGLES where we met Chewey.
Our soon to be guide Chewey  very much fancy Chihiro and gave us a good deal to go snorkeling.
Snorkeling was so much fun, we got to see fish of all sizes and many colors, the water was a bit murky and it was difficult to take good pictures of them. But the fun was incredible, and we enjoyed the swiming and specially swiming through the cave, we did that a few times, just for the fun of it.
Full of smiles we got back on the boat and started on our way bac, when Chewey ( our guide) saw a big while jumping, and we stayed a bit longer to watch the whales at work. WHAT A DAY !!!   and it was not over.

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Yes, there was a shower waiting for us. It came with lots of espectators, but i really didn’t care, i shampoo and washed and felt refreshed. Went to wiggles and we relaxed and later had a night meal,  and served double for the two man that were starving in our car. It seems the calorie count was low and it was time for them to fill up. We finalized the day with massages, we all enjoyed a relaxing massage and we were ready to go to sleep.

The next morning the favorite word was “Gallo” (Rooster)  and something about killing it. It didn’t know when morning was, it just kept cooing over and over again. Even the locals were talking about it,  sometimes about killing it.
We got ready and prepared ourselves to go. Good bye Mismaloya.

We drove back to Puerto Vallarta, where we ate in a street stand, and enjoyed some conversation with the cooks. Were able to find a good map and the usb connection for the SD cards. All of these errands were done much faster than we had expected. Great cheers for finding the perfect parking area.
We drove around Puerto Valllarta less touristic areas, and I so impressed and exited about the architecture, and how foreng it looked in comparison to the city where i grew up, being Orem Utah.

Then we started to drive towards Guadalajara, going torugh the Sierra Madre de el Sur, and finding amazing views with strange pines, and layers of mountains, i counted 6 layers, and was sad to know that the camera wouldn’t be able to captures the beauty of it.   Next stop Mascota Jalisco.

Niceties out and straight forward ness in, Mascota Jalisco makes me think of a black hole, a place where a figurative sense of trapping can be possible and is almost palpable. It reminded me of all those times I heard of people that were going to pass by Utah, broke down and stayed. Mascota seemed to be one of those places. Thomas found himself broken down behind the main church, it was still running but it seemed that one of the pistons was out.
It was a good thing that Mascota offered free intent and many streets paved with stones, this made this place quite pretty at first.
Mascota withs it’s energy, vibe, disposition, circumstances, wherever you would like to define it as, left us with a bitter taste. There is not one thing I can point at that would be able to pinpoint why I felt awkward about the place, we left with some negativities. Car broke, camera broke, necklace broke, and Thad and I had an argument, that although we spend much time together it was not normal to occur in the fashion it did, we didn’t like it. We were glad to leave and head towards Guadalajara.

Guadalajara welcomed us with open arms and quick to fulfill the needs and errands we assumed would take a day or more to finish. Went to chillies to eat, since we had a melancholic moment to feel at home and had the worst meal of the trip. I decided to ask for a salad, and it was the worst one I have ever had without exaggeration. The salad was old, and the ends a bit brownish, the meat was incredibly weird, and very undercooked, I left the meat behind.  Say hello to MacDonald’s, the savior of the day, it tasted just like home, breakfast was awesome. We went on to take care of  the errands, and as I mentioned before, it was fast and efficient, we were done within a few hours and it was time to look around the city. The downtown was amazing, architecturally and culturally, streets small and mostly one way roads. Walked for a bit and found ourselves behind the cathedral. We went towards the park and enjoyed watching the people of Guadalajara at the main point of gathering. We sat until dark and until it was time to go and visit Thomas abut 10 minutes  away. Those 10 minutes turned into a much longer endeavor, the phone thought we needed to see more of the city and sent us on what I will assume was the scenic route., buy during the night it was impossible to tell. We finally found him and we decided to go to his cheap hotel to take a shower. The motel was less than appropriate for children, and…… thewater was hot and the shower needed, can’t complain, it cost 25 pesos.

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We found a wall with lots of beautiful murals, and decided that it was a good  place to sleep, since it was close to where Thomas was going to stay, but as we parked and started to talk and have some loughs, the cops stopped very quick next to us and got out of the car and flashed the lights inside the van. They told us that it not recommended for us to stay there. We said good bye to Thomas and went to look for another place to sleep, next to a park. The park was quite open and had a bar called “Mala Yierba” it seems that we were it the right place and set up wiggles to go to sleep.

The next day we went back to the center and found the most amazing breakfast at a place called “Las Palomas”. They had a plate of fruit with yogurt, with granola for 25 pesos. The plate of fruit was big and delicious, we had to come back the next morning, Chihiro and Thad agreed. Went around the museum, the governmental  building, the cathedral, and the mercado, it was fun to walk around. Went back to pick up Thomas, he had finally sold the car and decided to move in with us for an unknown amount of time. Welcome Thomas to wiggles.  We went back to the center where we found the best parking spot and were able to stay there for the night. I woke up during the night, and heard the cops talking outside wiggles and laughing, saying now wiggles had two levels and there were four people sleeping in the van, and how cool it was. I specter them to wake us up and ask us to move, but it never happened, it was a good thing because I was quite comfortable.

Angela

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Tangled

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What a strange twisty turny road this is. The cobblestones of this journey have a way of making parts of my past echo in my mind, making me fixate on the people I miss, the conversations I remember, how it felt to make discoveries together as we delicately danced through the forest of words that mask and tangle our meanings. It feels good to have loved ones, to know that our connection remains even though I am sailing across the Earth in the direction of away.

It is strange to be a traveler, but then again in many ways it feels like I am being me. There are only two elements of this experience that feel unnatural to me. I miss getting to share everything with all of my loved ones, and having them participate in a shared journey, and I long for far more physics time. On both fronts I long for more discovery conversation. We spend so much time a day taking care of just survival, food, getting to where we are going, cleaning Wiggles, staying organized, and absorbing each new place, that the only really meaningful conversations that soak through my skin are the ones that are about the feel of each new place – and these tend to be mostly wordless. I recall the old adage that lower minds focus on things, medium minds focus on people, and great minds focus on ideas. Every now and then part of me feels like the ideas in me are a bit trapped, and I miss having the outlet I used to have. All this focus on places seems a bit narrow to me at times, especially when it comes to the Cathedrals in each town. On the other hand, the newness, and the extent to which this trip has thrown me out of my comfort zone, does help stoke my creativity fire.

Still, I would love to talk with someone right now about the idea that the state vector in quantum mechanics might actually best apply as a description of an ensemble – a collection of the quanta that make up the local spacetime region and how those arrangements may evolve. This assumption would explain why quantum mechanics is restricted to statistical descriptions (so long as we remain restricted to four dimensional information, relying on the state vector). This is a beautiful idea because if space is quantized, then the ambiguity that currently plagues quantum mechanics collapses, and we gain a way to understand the math currently attached to its predictions.

I would also love to just be on a walk right now with one of you, talking like we used to, allowing our connection to continue to grow as we mutually learn more about ourselves and each other. I miss you. I wish you could all be here right now, sharing this adventure. Not having a home (structure) is perfectly fine with me, but not having my loved ones all with me is strange.

Today we drove Wiggles through a place that reminded me of Morocco, or at least what I’ve seen of Morocco from National Geographic. We were wading through people on streets packed with bright colored things hanging off the walls, bursting into every square inch that could be filled. It was amazing to me that we could still fit. The people seemed nearly oblivious to Wiggles pushing through the crowd at one kilometer per hour. In the center of town was another elaborate Cathedral. From all sides of town people were on some kind of pilgrimage to the Cathedral, walking on the highway into town. When they arrived they crawled on their knees up the hallway in the Cathedral. It was amazing to be in the right place at the right time to see into the lives of the people here, but that glimpse also came as a slight sigh to me, recognizing the pain and suffering that their myths are reinforcing. Such things always make me hope for the future, for a world in which people are not held down, where there are no class distinctions, where all people have the option to turn to truth, and discovery for inspiration, and have ready access to routes that allow this. Elaine and Phil have often remarked that they are surprised that I was able to come away from my time in prison hoping for a better future instead of fixating on the flaws of the present. For me understanding human suffering is the same thing as hoping for a better future. Humans will all take the better route if they are given the proper chance. Class restrictions, religion, dogma, crime, etc. can all dissolve if we simply learn to understand each other – which in the end amounts to learning to understand ourselves in a much richer capacity.

xoxo
Thad

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Feel the Wind

Thank you Marie and Johnny

DAY11 メキシコに入ってから5日目。マリーとジョニーと別れ、私たちはまたbajacarfolniaを引き続き南下していくと素晴らしい景色が広がっていく。私たちはその景色に惹かれるがままに車を走らせた。国道1号線を少し、西にそれるとそこは誰もいない、ただあるがままの姿の自然だけ、そこにキャンピングカーを止めて、少し休むことにした。 景色がきれいすぎて興奮した。旅をしはじめてから、ずっとキャンピングカーでの生活に慣れない私と新しい人々との生活に慣れない私のぼーっとした脳みそに新しい空気を入れてくれる感じだった。 目が覚めた! キャンピングカーの上で遊びながら、写真を撮っていると、アンジェラが「こうっやって体を動かして、風を感じながら・・・」なんか、少し恥ずかしい気もしながら、私もやってみた。目を閉じて風を感じながら・・・体が勝手に動いていく。気持ちいい。風にさえ乗れる気がした。今を感じた瞬間だった。東京のような大都会にいると「今」感じる瞬間が、どのくらいあっただろうかと思う。「今」というものは自分次第で感じる事ができるのだと思った。 It has been 5 days since we’ve arrived in Mexico. We said “Good bye” to Marie and Johnny, and we continue to drive down to Baja California. The wonderful scene spreads. We were charmed by the scene every moment. We just drive the car as we follow the scenes. We were in National Route 1 then we swerved the car west from road. Nobody was there. It was only the nature of a merely unvarnished figure. We decided to stop there for a while. The scene was too beautiful and I was excited. Since we began to have traveled, I felt out of it. I am not use to sleeping in a Vanagon and also spending 24hours with new people. It was like putting new air into the brains. I felt so good!!!!!! It woke me up! We were playing and taking photographs on Wiggles. Angela said, ” move your body and feel the wind… ” I tried it while also carrying out somewhat shameful thinking. I closed my eyes and my body started to move freely. It was pleasant moment. I thought I can even ride the winds. It was the moment to feel the present. When I was in a big city like Tokyo, how many times could I actually feel the present? I thought that ” the present ” could be felt according to myself.

Chihiro

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Trip trip trip

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In Mazatlan we gathered two other cars, one driven by Thomas, and the other one by George, along with his girlfriend. We wanted to travel the less traveled road and got to see some amazing scenes, and a tire station with a big display for the Virgin Mary. As we traveled though Nayarit, George recommended that we stay at San Blas, a beautiful town on the pacific side that made a point to say they are still part of the Sea of Cortez. We had dinner, and got to give some food to a kitty, but Thad was saying that kitties here are different than the United States ones, their attitudes are not as “I’m the master of my human.” We suspect is because of all the dogs that walk free on the streets. The cats must feel tormented and second class citizens, unlike in the United States, the dogs walk around with a purpose, and have their own social classes and agendas. Is not unusual to see them trotting with goal and possible bone or bitch on their minds. At least i’m assuming those two things would be of great importance to them. In San Blas we went to the beach and found a good place to park, and during the night we played card games and went to sleep with the sound of the waves crashing.

In the morning, Thad and I went on a run, and it was so relaxing and beautiful. We were able to see hundreds of birds hanging out, along with vultures, eating a dead sea gull. Thad got incredibly close, and was able to take close ups of the vulture flying off. The morning run was great, and by the time we came back, George and his girlfriend were going to continue on their trip, and we stayed for a bit longer, we had a quick outside shower and did some breakfasts. Went downtown and checked out the Mision, and the government building, also they had outside vendors and lots of people going around, I saw a 3 day old baby, and this made me realize that he will be part of the next generation of Mexicans. We ate some roasted chicken with very spicy jalapeños and went on our way.

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Bienvenidos a Puerto Vallarta, small streets, with lots of tourists. Went to “El Malecon” and went into a store where they sold art pieces from the Huichol Indian, they were very beautiful and colorful. I was glad that i had done some research about them and felt exited of the books I read, there was so much information in my head about them, but the situation made it a bit difficult for me to be able to share my knowledge of the subject.

Angela A

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Lover’s Beach

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Due to getting robbed last night, we are now in a McDonalds using wifi and looking for a way to replace our stolen camera for a reasonable price. Angela already superglued the screen back together. Surprisingly, that was the extent of the damage from the break in. I’m taking a moment to post about the spectacular adventure we had in Cabo San Lucas.

The very southern tip if Baja California is a wondrous place – I recommend it to every member of Team Death Punch! Just a few dozen meters before the end of Baja there is a beach on the rough Pacific side (catch the irony) called divorce beach. The locals say that it has that name because of its danger. They say that sometimes when couples go there only one returns. It is also said that every now and then the waves from divorce beach crash all the way up the beach, kissing the beach on the Sea of Cortez side. For this reason the beach on this side is called Lover’s beach.

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With or without history, this place was breathtaking. Cream colored sandy beaches separated by black jutting rocks that twist into interesting mountainous shapes, and at the end they come together to form a spectacular arch protected by sea lions. Best of all was the route to that arch. From lover’s beach we climbed through a small tunnel, followed the sandy shore, and then started to time the crashing waves so we could wade along the rocks to a safe sandy null on the other side. From there we walked through a dark cave, one that had waves coming into it from both directions. At the end of that cave we saw the majesty of the arch, a structure that literally divided the Pacific ocean from the Sea of Cortez. The waves were crashing all around us, filling the entire area with the echoes of a rhythmic melody and elevating our pulses. The arch was close in size to Utah’s Delicate Arch, but it was caressed by the tumultuous ocean. Its memory alone tantalizes my nerve endings.

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Cabo San Lucas is quite touristy, and it has a very distinct American feel to it. For Team Death Punch members I recommend not worrying too much about the city. But some day, if you get the chance, fly out to CSL with a small waterproof backpack, walk the coast line, sometimes wading or swimming, and make your way to the arch. On the other side there is a huge cave, sandy, with one of the best views in the world. You can camp there all by yourself and watch the sunrise through the arch. I don’t know how you would beat that experience – except for sharing it.

Loves,
Thad

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Mismaloya

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Yesterday we woke up next to the beach in San Blas. We were three cars of travelers that met on the Ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan. Thomas is now a formal part of our crew, at least for now. He is from France, speaks French, Dutch, English, and is a little ahead of me in Spanish. He’s 22, in great shape, full of energy, very positive about life and makes us laugh quite often. We met him on the deck of the ferry, returning from sneaking onto the top restricted area, exactly where we were trying to go. The captain came out just as we all met, and Angela worked her magic to get special permission for us to go up there with the captain. He tried to say no, that it was too dangerous, but I told him that Angela’s nickname is Curva Peligrosa, and she played along. It was a beautiful view from the top. Thomas joined us in our cabin, sleeping on the floor, but having a place to lay down.

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George and Stephanie joined us as we were driving off the ferry for the purpose of caravanning through the supposedly “dangerous” state. We had all heard the same rumors, and were heavily cautioned not to do certain things, to not be in states like Nayarit any more than we have to, etc. I have a feeling that most of those rumors are passed on by people that watch the news, and believe it. The information that seeded the rumors might have been based on real events, but the frequency and likelihood of such events occurring on any given day are dramatically exaggerated.

Angela and I went for a morning run on the beach. The run had a serene National Geographic feel to it. We found clam seashells decorated with several long and brittle spines and saw dozens of birds packed along the estuaries that stippled the shoreline. Pelicans, storks, vultures, gulls, the little birds that run up and down the beach as the waves undulate back and forth, some bird with a really thick beak, looking like it has a huge nose, and more. We ran to the end of the beach and back. I took a quick dip in the warm water and then took a Wiggles shower. George and Stephanie headed out to find a surf spot they had on their map. Then the four of us went into the town to check out the local scene and the Mission. Angela bought some super cheap local chicken, tortillas and roasted whole jalapeños. The jalapeños were really hot.

We took the back roads through the small towns. At a stop sign Angela and I were nearly accosted by 8 people who lunged forward to wash our windows and then ask us for money. They were using very scratchy rags, the kind that can permanently scratch your window. I drove off. It was like pushing through a mob with my car, and part of it made me feel bad.

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Down the road we starting seeing trees with fruits that we had never seen before. We stopped at a local stand to try some and learned that it is called ‘yaka.’ It’s a huge pod with sharp spikes all over its surface. Inside there are many slimy spheres of fruit, each with its own large smooth seed in it. It tastes pretty good, but its no lingonberry ☺.

As we pressed on, we came to a town where two cops on one motorcycle were waiting. This was the very first time in all of Mexico I had seen cops doing what appeared to be patrolling for speeding. Of course, as the speed limit dramatically cut in half in 10 meters, we were technically speeding for a few seconds. I watched in my mirror and saw the flashing blue and red lights come on. Thomas and Chihiro were behind us. Evidently the cops had decided to pull them over instead of us.

The cops drove into the middle lane alongside Thomas, signaling with their hands for him to pull over. Evidently Thomas didn’t see him. Then the cops pulled behind him and just kept signaling with their hands, lights flashing, and following. Thomas eventually moved over to the right lane, but just kept driving. Angela and I were talking about what the cops must be thinking. Then, surprisingly, the cops gave up and just let him go. So I guess Thomas successfully ignored the cops until they went away. I didn’t know you could do that.

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Later I asked him why he didn’t pull over and he said that he thought they wanted him to move over to the right lane, but didn’t know that they wanted him to stop. He said, “until I got the proper signal I wasn’t going to stop.” I asked what the flashing lights meant to him. He said, “well without the siren the lights might just mean that the cops wanted to go fast.”

We made it to Puerto Vallarta in time to watch the sunset from the center. Then we walked around saying “no gracias” every few seconds, turning down people that were offering us things to buy. It was already dark, but we needed to find a good spot to park for the night. So we got some advice from some locals and headed out. The spot we were told about wasn’t quite what we were looking for so we drove on, eventually parking at a place called Mismaloya. This was the best parking spot we had found yet. We were one meter from a freshwater river that poured onto the beach. A small wooden bridge stretched over the river to a dozen small bars and restaurants, and the river was packed full of colorful anchored boats. There was a freshwater shower right next to us and there were toilets.

In the morning I woke up are read some more from my book (Do We Really Understand Quantum Mechanics?), which is turning out to be a spectacular book. Then Angela, Thomas and I went for a run. Thomas was barefoot. The beach wasn’t that long so we decided to run the other direction. After crossing the main road we took random cobblestone roads and ended up on a dirt road that went up a canyon. When we were about to turn around we saw a sign that said ‘2 miles to the waterfalls.’ So now we set our sights on two more uphill miles. (It was listed in miles, not kilometers.) Along the was another sign said “Predator area.” I wondered what that meant. What kind of animal was it talking about?

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At the end of the road we found a delightful surprise. The movie Predator was filmed in this location. The crashed helicopter was still there and a beautiful elaborate thatch restaurant/bar had been built right next to it – with the best bathrooms I have ever seen! Best of all, the waterfall we were looking for was right in the middle of all of the action. It was a natural waterslide with a drop off at the end into a clear pool and it was absolutely delightful. There was also a rope to swing off of the structure into the pool.

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After playing around in the pool for over an hour, for free, we decided to start the run back. When we made it back we made breakfast in Wiggles, and then bartered for a deal (100 pesos each) to take a boat out to the arches and snorkel. It was more than we bargained for. What a great day. There were lots of fishes, and when it was time to leave we were visited by a whale. Took by best whale tale picture yet ☺ The evening was relaxing and comfortable and it was the perfect temperature. We made dinner together in Wiggles, mashed potatoes and soup that functioned as gravy, played some card games, and then went to sleep. I hope everyone can have days so wonderful.

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Xoxoxoxo
Thad

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Sunrise and coffee

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Pichilingue is about half an hour away from La Paz, and the place where the ferry leaves towards Mazatlan, Sinaloa. Chihiro and I had to go separate from wiggles and Thad, and the wait to get to the ship was much longer from what we expected. As we waited, I saw a couple playing cards, and speaking English. I decided to intrude and see if they wanted to include two more. They were nice and had flown from Japan to La Paz, and then take the ferry to Mazatlan for a wedding, later we met a Argentinian, that worked as a veterinarian, who was traveling by car and driving to Argentina from the US. We seem to meet travelers like us, or at least it seems much easier to find them – I assume because we congregate in specific points of access or information. As the ferry moved, we saw the land move farther away from us, good bye Baja California, we had good times and good memories traveling through you. As we were going we saw stairs leading to the top, where the antennas were and where the highest roof area was. We saw Thomas for the first time jumping over the gate, asked if we could go over there, he said he didn’t know and that he hasn’t asked. I read the signs of no transpassing, and personnel only area, we laughed. A person came out if the front and unlocked the gate, Thad asked if we could go up, he said it was dangerous, Thad replied with “Ella es una curva peligrosa”, that comment must have worked because we were able to go up and take some pictures. Then on to dinner and to the cabin, we invited Thomas to join us, and he did, he is from France and 23 years old, has an awesome sense of humor. We had decided to watch the sunrise, and the alarm sounded at 6:20. We went to the front of the ship, and were readily invited into the pilot’s cabin by the same gentleman that allowed us to go to the antennas level, we found ourselves watching the sunrise from the main cabin, talking to the first in command and at that point the captain, and drinking coffee from a French coffee maker. I couldn’t have Asked for a better way to start the day. I Learned a lot from the well traveled 37 year old.

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Angela

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Showers

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For those of you thinking of joining us for part of the trip… here’s how we take showers. Super cheap and way more fun than regular showers :-). This was in the middle of a cacti forest, but sometimes we have to take showers is less private places. So far we’ve been quite successful at finding free places to stay. Mexico is awesome!! Come join us xoxo

Thad

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Baby Turtles


We went for an amazing barefoot run on the beach and magically came upon these two baby turtles. They had just hatched and were making their way to the ocean and I was the first thing they ever saw. They were so cute. They were having a little bit of a hard time getting where they were going. I watched over them, and helped them get back on their bellies a few times after being knocked over and flipped over by the waves. Then I watched them swim off into the sea. I love baby turtles. This completely made my day. I hope I see those turtles again in 90 years 🙂 Sent from my iPhone

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Baby whale!!

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As we drove the main street of Guerrero Negro, our attention was completely captured by a pair of men putting gas into a truck that had run out of it. I regret not having the camera ready, because the man on top of the truck had the most beautiful, gentle, amazing smile. The smile was contagious and my heart was filled with hope towards humanity, his attitude and smile was so full of pure and beautiful human emotion. Sometimes my fatalistic attitude towards human survival tends to take over and forget how beautiful humans are, I know he will never know how much of an impact he made for us. I hope the next time I meet some one like him I can capture it with more than just my mind, so I can share the moment.

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That night we went for a Margarita at the local bar, got to meet some Americans that were traveling towards Cabo San Lucas. It was a very mixed encounter…

Have you ever seen foam made out of salt? I hadn’t, until we started to drive towards the campground where we would stay before we would go to meet the whales. I assumed the Great Salt Lake would be salt foam city, but maybe the lack of waves doesn’t allow the bubbles to form.

I will list what I have learned about whales

1. Baby whales are so dam cute…….. a four week old whale went “bump bump ” on the boat, and left splashing all around, happy to have given us a scare.
2. Baby whales sometimes are attracted to the sound of the motor, but only the ones that are 4 weeks old or older.
3. Baby grey whales are about 400-500 pounds.
4. There is a 9 kilometer area know to be where most of the mateing happens.
5. Grey whales mate two males and one female at a time.
6. The males help each other to achieve successful penetration.
7. The second male might lift the female and other male upwards, sometimes lifting a whale off of the water.
8. Females conceive every other year.
9. They only have one baby whale, no twins for them, good thing because…
10. baby whales drink 200 to 250 litters of milk a day.
11. Grey whales like to go into the Sea of Cortez because sharks don’t.
12. Sharks don’t like the area because is too shallow.
13. When a baby is born, it floats to the top, until they learn how to swim.
14. The high salt content helps the flotation of baby whales.
15. The depth of water where they give birth is sometimes only 9 meters deep.

This information comes from the courtesy of our guide.

As we were going back towards land, we were greeted by a dolphin. What a way to say bye.

As we drove towards La Paz we took a detour road and took a short with the portable shower bag we have on top of wiggles. What a refreshing feeling, it is to take a shower in a desert location with cactus all around and shampooing my hair was just ecstasy.

La Paz was the place for errands, and the lack of street sings allowed us to get to see the whole city. La Paz, has great food, beautiful views and amazing people. The people are incredibly nice and welcoming. Wiggles got a change of oil and filter, and we got to clean the air filter, I’m glad because it was pretty dirty. The mechanic was amazing, and taught me a lot. Thanks for the coffee and good conversation.

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Went to eat at El Vado where Thad was able to enjoy shrimp wrapped in bacon, and cheese. It was incredible, along with a big bowl of guacamole, and 3 different salsas. It was a succulent meal, and to finish the night in a good mood we played a joke on Chihiro. Thad started to joke about “dine and dash” and told Chihiro that we will be leaving. A while later she went to the bathroom, we to;d the waiter to tell her that we had left. All the waiters were playing along. Our server even took the already paid bill to her, that is when she said ” I don’t have an any money with me, can I work here? ”

We showed up and laughed for a while, she jokingly said “Is what you guys did racist?” we laughed some more and realized that all the other servers were also laughing. It was a good night, and the server really liked Chihiro and her attitude towards the “dine and dash”.

Lessons learned in La Paz

1. You depend on getting directions from strangers.
2. If you are attempting to mail a package internationally, go to the aduana first, if the item is of high value, go then to the DHL, otherwise the correo.
3. Auto Zone is exactly like the ones in the US. It was like being transported to the ones I have visited before. McDonalds was visible from there.
4. Most of the time people will give you directions even if they don’t know where things are.
5. People are very polite and nice.
6. They open things late, and close early.
7. You need to go to Banjercito en Pichilingue to acquire the car permit.
8. If you drive a campmobil, or an Rv, you can get a 10 year pass and no deposit necessary. Otherwise you need a $ 200 deposit and the pass will only be for 180 days. I like Wiggles.

Today we are driving to Todos Santos where we will check out the surfing, and spend a few relaxing days at the beach.

It’s time for me to finish the process of cutting my hair short, and me and Thad will be buzzing out heads. Thanks Thad for all the support you give me, words can’t express how I feel about you, but I hope my actions reflect it.

Angela Arvizu

The days seem to go so fast when you are having fun.

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Sands of Time

 

Traveling can make a lot of things happen to you, some positive and some a little less positive. There is some stress that comes along with traveling, for example the applications for grad school, preparations for what to do after the next seven months, and the somewhat unsuccessful keeping up with family and friends. I enjoy the moment I’m living, and its hard to stare at the screen when outside Wiggles’ windows the locals are moving about their business, and when driving trough the country side I feel like I’m participating in a visual treasure hunt. I enjoyed locating the colorful, individualized and stylized monuments dedicated to deceased individuals, saints, the Virgin Mary and Jesus. I would like to stop in each one of them, and measure them, photograph them, creating a well informed Archeological inventory. Right now is not possible to accomplish this, since gathering all the proper information would take more than 3 hours for each one and we don’t have time for this. For now I will enjoy them as we pass through them.

Endless Cacti

We traveled for a few day trough Baja California Norte, and for the last stretch of the road, before getting into Baja California Sur, we were fortunate to ride the less traveled, and much more bumpy road. We followed the Sea of Cortez down the coast instead of the more traveled Highway on the Pacific Side. We found the first few clusters of a beautiful but strange Dr. Seuss cacti and saw many breathtaking coastal views.

The road was nice and smooth, from Punta Estrella until Puertecitos. The pavement was fresh and WIGGLES was wagging along. Punta San Fermin had a sea front that we had to investigate, where a beautiful view of the Sea of Cortez was crashing shallowly against black rocks. The view was very meditative and what I consider to be a very clean atmosphere. I assume Thad and Chihiro will write about this experience, so I won’t carry on too much about it.

After this amazing adventure at the sea, the road turned from paved into a road very seldom traveled. Around Punta Final we found a military post, where we are usually brought to a full stop and requested to step outside of the vehicle so they can do a quick search and send us on our way. The military in Mexico have been incredibly polite, and helpful, offering places to go and see, road information, and allowing us to take a picture with them. Growing up in the States I assumed every person with uniform, or with a position of authority and power would be intimidating, but so far the military stops have been quick and helpful.

The saguaro cacti were everywhere and they came in all sizes and shapes. After about an hour of driving the mountains started to show long shadows. The sun went down and the road was the only thing visible due to the headlights. After driving for more than an hour there were still no signs of paved roads, houses, or any kind of human foot print other than the road. After two hours of driving we finally saw 3 headlights ahead. We were happy to see those three cars far in the distance, since they were the signal of a paved road, We relaxed once we reached Highway 1. The paved road and a place to sleep were something we appreciated.

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We went to a “Loncheria” inside a private house and asked for albondigas soup and a quesadilla. Before sleep we got out and looked up and saw and incredibly bright night sky. The Milky Way was clearly visible, it reminded me of the nights we’ve spent in the Southern Utah desert.

We arrived at Guerrero Negro and looked around the place. Then we got to do laundry at a laundromat where a lady shared some of her story with me. She was single and without kids. She enjoyed her freedom. She spoke of her family, I’m glad I spoke of the military in a agredable form, because she had a brother in the military, and she was very proud of him. She also spoke about how the weather has changed in the last couple of years, got hotter with heat waves that lasted months longer than usual.

After we went for a drive and found a perfect place to setup the GoPro to take a time lapse. The clouds were moving, the view was different and we were ready to have some fun. Me and Chihiro got on top of wiggles and posed, after many laughs we headed back to the city.

Angela A

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Whales

We waited 30 hours for the right weather, exploring the nearby town and trying to find wifi. Finding the right place out here in the Laguna Ojo de Liebre, considered one of the best whale watching spots in the world, was a bit tricky – mostly because we were looking for it at night.

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Now that we’ve driven at night several times, despite attempts to avoid it, I’m beginning to second-guess the advice that we “shouldn’t drive at night in Mexico.” When I first heard someone say that I took the inflection in their voice to mean that there was some bandito danger, that we had some high chance of being robbed or worse at night. Since then several other people have reinforced that conclusion. But I think this sentiment might be a bit like the claim that “the north star is the brightest star” – completely false yet everyone repeats and believes it. Maybe it was originally a warning about pot-holes or difficult driving conditions. Either way, I find it no more dangerous to drive here at night than anywhere else.

Overall the driving experience is better than what I’m used to. In the states I often find myself at an intersection befuddled by the reaction time of the drivers around me. Back home it is quite common that when four people come to a four way stop from different directions at roughly the same time, they will gawk at each other waiting for someone to tell them what to do. Finally someone makes a move and then the decision cascades. Meanwhile the cars pile up behind them and maximum inconsideration has taken place. Here that never seems to happen. People treat STOP signs more reasonably. They slow down, actually look both ways, and then go if it is clear. This significantly reduces congestion and it is quite considerate. Perhaps the difference here is that people aren’t worried about being harassed by the local law, so they feel free to drive courteously. Whatever the reason, it is rather nice.

Another thing that is nice is the gas is nationalized in Mexico. This means that there is no point in driving around looking for the gas station with the best price – they are all the same. It doesn’t matter if you are in the middle of nowhere or in a big city it is all the same. At first I didn’t know this, so I would look around trying to find the listed price of gas. In most places it is not even listed, which threw me off. Now I just have it filled up and then ask how much. Oh, and the best thing is that it is significantly cheaper than in the US. About $3.10 per gallon once we make the conversion. That’s a good thing because I’m eating a little more food than I calculated and Chihiro likes coffee, tea, alcohol and cigarettes. We calculated how much she would save if she quit everything but alcohol over the next 50 years and it was a quarter of a million US dollars. I think that’s a great argument for dropping those habits. You can pay for a whole house simply by giving them up and saving. Of course it would require actually saving ☺.

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On the water we searched for whales, which was surprisingly easy. They were everywhere, traveling mostly in mother and child pairs and about a third of them were single males. Most would slowly move away from us after surfacing, so we took pictures from about 20 meters away. After about an hour of darting around the lagoon we crossed paths with a mother and a four-week-old baby. Most of the whales up until this point had stuck the middle of their backs out of the water, every now and then bringing their blowhole to the surface and spurting up a geyser. Sometimes when they swam away we say their tales at the surface. In the distance we saw one whale trying to spot where our engine was coming from. He pushed his face high above the surface, but he was too far away to get a great picture of.

This pair of whales gave us a completely different show. The baby was full of energy and very curious about us. He began wiggling around. It looked like mommy was saying “no”, but he couldn’t handle it. He swam towards us and I reached down to try to touch him. Angela was giddy, trying to touch the baby too. Then the whale turned and bumped into our boat. The jolt was quite impressive. It almost threw us all out into the water. On the other side of the boat the whale was swimming like he was very proud of himself. He did a little dance and then returned to mom. We all instantly fell in love with baby whales!

Thad

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Wind and Dogs

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We pulled onto a small dirt path trying to find a way to the ruins I thought I saw. We parked a little past the end of the road on a rocky cliff, two meters away from a drop off that poured straight into the sea. The horizon was decorated with an endless shoreline of large rounded black rocks. As we explored we came upon the lower half of a whale’s skeleton. I have no idea what happened to the upper half, but I can imagine that someone might have fetched a decent price for it. Little crabs scurried into the cracks between the rocks as we walked. They reminded me of cockroaches. They might have even been cockroaches. Angela and I climbed back up the cliff face. My heart and I woke completely up for a small section of that climb that required me to just go for it without having a completely secure hold. It was one of those spots where one foot was in a good spot, but to get to the next hand hold I kind of had to trust everything to just that foot and then leap for the next hold. My knee bore the mark of my lack of grace by the time I reached the top. Angela seemed to have far less trouble than me, but then again she has quite a bit more grace than I do. All three of us climbed on Wiggles to take in the view. Chihiro was a bit nervous, but quickly came alive up there. “It is amazing” she kept saying over and over. I got excited because it was the first time that I felt that Chihiro was completely sharing the experience Angela and I were having, that she touched what we were out here for. As her confidence grew Angela had her stand up and grab the wind. She broke out into laughter as her coat danced and I tried to capture the moment with the camera.

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Another military check point, which means getting out of the car while a single soldier casually looks around for about five seconds and Angela jokes with the guy holding the M-16. It is still remarkable to me how unintimidating these encounters are. I can’t remember a single time when I didn’t feel intimidated in the United States around men with officially sanctioned power. In the states there is always good reason for my heart to quicken around flashing lights, or a badge, even when I know I’m not speeding, or doing anything intentionally wrong. There is a reasonable probability that at any moment I will be picked on, made an example of, or be at the bad end of some bully’s need to make a show of his power. Here the road is speckled with military personas carrying guns, but I’ve never seen any of them grab those guns like they were about to shoot me or anyone else just for asking questions. They just don’t seem to think of their job in the same way as their counterparts in the states. It is quite refreshing. I’ve never felt this sense of freedom to just move around with so little worries. The man with the gun told us that we had at least 70 more kilometers of rough dirt road ahead of us. From the Sea of Cortez side of Baja this road is the only way to where we are going – unless we want to backtrack a few hundred kilometers. Isn’t it cute, I’m thinking in kilometers already. J My Spanish is coming along too. I’m not really speaking much yet, but I’m starting to understand more of what is said around me and at this point I definitely know what “tope” means. I used to say that I can understand a lot of what people are saying in Spanish but I can’t talk back – like a dog. Now I think I’m surpassing the amount of Spanish that the dogs around here know. I can’t say for sure though because the dogs around here are a bit different from the US dogs. They are free and happy. Sure, they run the risk of getting killed by cars with all that freedom, but they also get to live a real dog’s life in the meantime.

Thad

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San Felipe

Chihiro

The drive from Ensenada gave us plenty of beautiful towns dressed in white plaster with the sea behind them, pictures can’t give enough credit to how beautiful it was.

We are now in San Felipe, where the food and the people are the best. I can understand why this spot is considered to be a must see tourist destination. We drove towards San Felipe, and found some incredible sights. Marie wasn’t able to contain herself when she saw the great boulders and she had to go climb them. San Felipe is a beautiful town and it is where I spent my 32nd birthday. Thanks Chihiro for being so sneaky and buying candles, it was an unexpected but very welcomed birthday present.

This morning we were going to go running on the beach but found a small ball and ended up playing ball as we ran. It was great exercise and afterwards I felt incredibly happy and tired. After walking around the city, we found the monument to the Virgin Mary with an amazing view to the ocean and an abandoned building that used to be called Boom Boom.

Now it’s time to meet every one at a karoke bar and enjoy some dinner.

Angela A

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Happy birthday

In many places the central desert of Baja Mexico looks a lot like Utah. As we crossed it I felt flashes of familiarity, of the comforts of being at home. As I’ve been adjusting to this new life I’ve had many different thoughts running through my head. It is strange to be completely uprooted, not having a home, blowing around so freely in the wind, and yet it is also exhilarating. I’ve planned for this transition as well as I could and now its time to face the unexpected.

Ive been thinking about something Lucas told me during our last hot spring trip. He told me about the fake documentary that National Geographic made about “me.” I haven’t ever watched it, but according to Lucas their aim was to reject Mezrich’s book. Somehow they had gotten the idea that he was glorifying my actions. In their view what I had done was a crime against humanity and anyone that attempted to see me as a human, or understand my actions, was to blame for the downfall of humanity. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. I know I shouldn’t care, but it bothers me that people push such an immoral perspective on the world and then turn around and claim their position to be moral.

I’ve spent a lot of time around people, and I’ve come to know quite a bit about human suffering, the troubles we face, the dilemmas, the difficulties that everyone strives to overcome. Through it all it has become quite clear to me that the seed of morality is found in the willingness to attempt to understand instead of judge, to help instead of condemn, and to embrace the complex and sometimes competing forces that drive our lives instead of pretending that they can be separated or pulled apart.

So I say this to the creators of that “documentary” … It is too bad you weren’t willing to be open to the real story. Humans have an amazing capacity for striving for their dreams, an unbounded willingness to seek love, and a very interesting ability to think outside of their socially encoded rules when the first two goals necessitate it. Instead of automatically condemning me, so you can buddy up with your right wing stiffs, maybe you would benefit from recognizing that you too wish you had the courage to risk living. Sure I broke some rules, and yes, because people were sent to prison harm was caused. But the rules you support are to blame for that hurt more than anything else. Perhaps if you were willing to challenge the system from time to time you would see that it is keeping you down too. Perhaps if you took a deep breath and tried to make a decision, without looking to everyone else around you to make it for you, you would realize that what you really want is to live and love. If you were fortunate enough to have the chance to make that happen I can only wish that you would have the courage to try.

Of course, these words will most likely fall on deaf ears. Such is the way of the world. Meanwhile, I will keep living, exploring and loving. I cannot imagine a life richer than mine or more full of love. This moment, exactly as it is, is perfect. Thanks to all of you who are a part of my life. And most of all – thank you Angela for having the courage to live and love every moment!

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Happy birthday Angela. Last year was in Hawaii, this year in Mexico, and next year??? We will see. xoxoxo

Loves,

Thad

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Yum

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I am extremely grateful that my family and friend plans were able to merge in San Diego to bring a wholesome soulful close to 2012. Aunt Sonja and Uncle Joe welcomed us to a home cooked meal and shared photos from adventurous vacations including visiting penguins from an icebreaker ship. After saying good-bye with heart to heart hugs to the family, our group of friends concluded the year looking up at the stars and relatively bright moon over the pacific. We found an unmarked dirt lot close by to park and retreat underneath a warm down comforter for the night. I was recovering from a cold and was grateful for the welcoming flat pull-out. Two hours later rasping on the window caused my pupils to reengage while waking into the reality of my location and surroundings. Once it hit me the cops were out to harass I stood my ground with snide remarks making it clear that nobody should mess with my REM, especially when my body is in recovery mode. Thankfully, once they realized we were a group of traveling geeks out for sober adventures, they decided to let us get back to sleep. Waking into the first sunlight of the New Year with close friends fills my heart with joy. We wrapped up errands and made it to Santa Rosa in daylight where we found a chill spot to park for a couple nights. Our first evening beach walk came with $1 tacos filled with delicious guacamole and salsa. The waves romped onto the shore while little snowball birds scurried up and down in search of their food. Food is one of the best celebrations in life and the meals we’ve enjoyed here are among the best, especially when accompanied with Thad’s stories. Time is catching up to my distractible writing and I will wrap up this session with a thank you to Angela… for being the incredibly vivaciously beautiful being she is whom I am extremely grateful to be able to celebrate her birthday with in San Felipe. *)
Marie Green
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Bienvenidos a Mexico

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Yoga at sunset (Angela & Marie)

Happy New Years, as we watched the waves crash against the shore and listened to the power of the waves we kissed and hugged and welcomed the New Year. A few hours we were woken up by the lights of police cars wondering why we were sleeping in an abandoned, quite open space with no visible signs of no trespassing or any kind of determent to pick that place to sleep. Talking with the cops wasn’t that bad, and after about 15 minutes, we went back to sleep. Lets just say that we slept until late and started heading over to Mexico. Bienvenidos, a Mexico. We took some side roads getting to Playa de Rosarito, and we got to see some of the country, getting an idea of why its important to not throw trash, but after all, it’s a cultural issue, and I am not a judge. We got to eat some amazing Mexican tacos at the beach, got to watch children play, and grownups hug and birds fly. The aura of the Playa is so relaxing, it made me feel like there was something too relaxing about it, its contagious, I relaxed, and asked for a beer. Then we got to see horses, and ride a horse called “Payaso” Later, as we looked for places to sleep, we found ourselves at a very local place. It seems that it was the fishermen location to sell wholesale, it was a very interesting experience. There’s too much to tell, but a highlight of the night was the visit to “Pizza a la Leña” where we were able to eat some gourmet food. I asked for “Camarones en Aguacate en salsa de chipotle” it was amazing, and every piece of food was a delight. Thad got to enjoy “Escargo”, and he gave me a taste, it was great. Tonight I shall say Good Night. Cheers Angela
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How long have you been here?

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Horseback riding on the Beach

Last night the four of us, Marie, Johnny, Angela and I, made it out to the beach in the dark in time for the stroke of midnight. The new year started and we were ready for our adventure. Shortly after we found a place near the railroad tracks to park for the night and sleep. We were all really tired. Around 3:00 am we woke to the tapping of metal on our window and flashlights invading our vehicles. Angela and I were too tired to react, so we pretended to still be asleep. Chihiro didn’t make a peep. In the other car Johnny and Marie were already talking to the cops. Marie was rather upset that they were bothering and interrogating us. I eventually opened the door and talked to the cop. He said that San Diego recently passed a law that no longer allows anyone to sleep in their vehicles. I looked at him like he must be making that up and asked, “what about motorhomes?” “They can’t either,” he said. I wondered how people sold motorhomes… “Buy this nice new motorhome, even though you can’t use it” – doesn’t sound like an effective sales pitch. Evidently the cop had no idea Chihiro was above us. Marie was answering the cop’s questions as shortly as she could. When he asked her, “How long have you been here?” she said, “Since last year.” That gave me a good laugh. After they gave us our driver’s licenses back the cops told us that we could stay there (I guess even they recognize some rules as ridiculous). The next morning we busied ourselves trying to get some errands done (printing out our insurance policies, trying to repair a camera part, etc.). By noon we were finally ready to drive towards Mexico. When we crossed the boarder we were all surprised to find that we weren’t stopped at all. We just drove through. Thanks to Jeff tweaking our phone plan we were able to navigate and we sailed on through until we reached Playas de Rosarito. The beach was a totally different experience. The atmosphere was full of freedom, the people carefree. There were taco and cerveza vendors on the sand, with their umbrellas, and grills. And there were horses :-). Angela and I got to ride a horse on the beach for the first time ever. We relaxed and ate carne asada tacos and cerveza. Then we walked the beach until sunset, which was full of deep colors and laughter. It was strange. My whole life I’ve always heard about how dangerous Mexico is, about how corrupt and oppressive the police are, yet already I can feel something completely different. Already it feels that there is less to fear from the police here than there is from the police in the US. Parked on a random street we played card games for a couple of hours, then walked around the town and found a wonderful French restaurant to eat at. The owner came and talked to us. He was quite friendly and the food was amazing. Escargo and Caesar salad for me :-). It is strange, I never really thought about eating anything but Mexican food in Mexico. I’m not sure why. It is awesome here. I feel safe and free. And in this random spot that we parked, we have a super strong wi-fi signal for free. I’ve NEVER experienced that in the states before. Come and join us. This adventure is just getting started. Loves, Thad
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New journey, Wiggles home, Dec 26, 2012

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Wiggles – our home for this journey.
あけましておめでとうございます!!!!! いつもありがとうございます!!!!! 今年もよろしくお願いします!!!! 誰かに今、お金も時間もなんでも自由にできるとしたら何をする?と聞かれるといつもドキュメンタリーを撮ると答えていた。ただ、毎日の生活をしていてそれにはいくら必要でどのくらいの時間が必要かなどは明確にはしていなかったし、どんなドキュメンタリーが撮りたいのかすらわからなかった。でも、やっと今、やるって言って2年もかかってしまったけど。ドキュメンタリーを撮ることにしました!!!「月の上でsex!?」ベストセラー書籍「sex on the moon」の題材にもなったThad Robertsとアメリカで育ちのかわいいラテン人、Angela Arvizuと新しい旅を始めます。7ヶ月に渡って、中米をキャンピングカーで駆け巡ります。まさに!ロード・ドキュメンタリー!!!!!!これから色々、アップしていきますので、お時間があるときに一緒に冒険してください。 Happy New Year Beautiful People!!!!!!!!! Thank you always!!!!! When people ask me if you have enough money and time to do everything you want I always answered I will make a documentary. But the days passed so quickly that I didn’t ever get around to finding out how much money and how much time I need to have to actually do it. I didn’t even know what kind of documentary I wanted to do. But now, I am finally truly making a documentary. It has been 2 years since I truly decided to make one. On December 26th 2012 Thad, Angela, and I started to travel from Northern and Central America to the Caribbean and it will be the 7months journey. I will tell you more story about this journey as we go. Let’s have adventure together!!!!! yes!! One of Main Charactor of this Documentary Thad Roberts, a former NASA employee whose ethereal crime caper inspired the book Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History. In 2002, Chihiro
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New Year, ready or not, here we come.

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Today we got ready and said our good byes to Chris, Chayton and Mike, then started driving towards San Diego from Tucson. As Chihiro and I took a nap, Thad drove. Once awake, it was time to see the scenery. There is something beautiful about the wind mills, something weird about the checkpoints, and something sad about the division wall between Mexico and the United States, the wall makes me feel like it supports and accepts differentiation between humans. Once we arrived to San Diego, we started working on finding the right Mexican insurance. Let me tell you, the process created some knots in my back, but finally the process was finished, thanks to the internet. Now we find ourselves with Joe and his wife in California and heading towards Coyotes for New Years, ready to drink and partake in Californian New Years festivities. For all of you making New Years resolutions, I wish you adventure. Angela
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New Years Eve

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Mike and Angela

I’d like to thank everyone who made this such a wonderful year. I’m sending my love to all of you. Whichever way our paths go, whatever this year brings, may we all remain close and willing to love. I’m happy to travel through time with all of you! Jeff and Dave we are thinking of you – as always. Elaine, Phil, Matt and Erin, thank you for having us in your family, best family ever!! Chris (Panties) and Tom you rock – we miss your wittiness already. Maria happy 24th birthday (a couple of days ago). Chris, Mike and Chayton thanks for kicking off our adventure. It was wonderful to see you again. We will be hoping for visits from many of you (Marcus, Jason, Josh, Marc, Rebecca, Eric, Georgia, Janneke, Dawn, Karly, Keith, Mireille, Andrew, Emily, Kimberly, Jeff, Elias, Jim, Heather, Pack, Jassi, Kimberly, Ingo, Steven, and everyone else :-)). Thank you Tomoko and Chika for the beautiful, unforgettable memories. Faye and Michael let’s keep working on our project 🙂 you two are wonderful. Colleen thanks for being adventurous and Katelin I wish you many future travels. We are now in San Diego with Marie and Johnny, who will be joining us in Mexico for the first week. I’m super excited for tomorrow, but first – tonight’s party.
Loves,
Thad
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Wake up. It’s time to go.

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Waking up on December 26 2012 didn’t feel any different than other days. I began finishing the preparations, making sure all the last minute details were finalized. The rooms become empty and the clock was ticking. Jumping into Wiggles (the Vanagon or commonly known as a Hippy Van), driving through Salt Lake City for what felt like the last time, brought out some nervous and funny jokes.

We met Chris, and she gave us some cookies that i think she stole from a homeless person. She called them “Hobo-Cookies”. Then we headed towards Jeff’s and enjoyed his company and sense of humor. Jeff is quite the cook. For our final stop we met my family for dinner. My family has always been incredibly supportive reminding me to shoot for my dreams.

On our first night we headed out during a snowstorm. We woke up to a snowy morning with very crisp air. The view was white, clean, a fluffy. A blanket of white powder was all around me. When I kicked it a puffy cloud spread all around, so I had to clean my shoes because they were covered with snow. Being a grownup child is difficult.

The next destination was Zion’s National Park. I love the wild beauty that is painted in red stone. Red rock is a must see sight in the west. I’m ready to experience other colors, the color of green of rainforests, and blue of the sea. I’m looking forward to traveling south, especially because the north is cold this time of year.

We slept under the full moon at Horseshoe Bend and woke up to hike in 25 degree weather to watch the sunrise. It was cold but worth it. Then we started driving towards Arizona and Tucson to visit with Chris and Mike, good friends of Thad’s, and people with impressive character. Mike has a son named Chayton and he is an awesome 12 year old.

We have spent two days with them and i learned many things from them. Chris showed us a multitude of gems and precious crystals, a space and air museum, how to bead, and we all enjoyed long hours of conversation.

It’s the beginning of our trip and I feel alive.

Angela

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The adventure begins

 

Angela, Chihiro and I departed on the 26th after saying our goodbyes, and dropping off remaining stuff. After Marie’s house, the Emmi’s place (where Chris met us and gave us a delicious bag of cookies that she baked), and Jeff’s we drove in the snow to Provo to have dinner with Angela’s family. All of the goodbyes were a bit strange. I didn’t expect to feel this strong pull to stay, as if goodbye meant we would never see these loved ones again. But I guess after the experience in prison, after seeing everyone I cared about disappear, the fear that the same thing would happen crept up inside me a bit. But the disappearance of all my loved ones in the past was partly my fault. I allowed them to define our relationship based on the expectation that I would always be there to give. So when I wasn’t, the relationship for them dissolved. Since prison my relationships have been much more adult and equal. We define our relationship based on emotional concern, mutual support, full acceptance, and without expectation for what will come. We simply accept each other in our lives and are happy to have the connection. I’m sure these relationships will continue.

As we race against the incoming snow storm, some words that Elaine shared with us at the Christmas dinner resonated through my mind. They were something like: “One of the most neglected advices is that we should live adventurously. Life is to be lived with warmth, openness, passion, and a bit of emotion that doesn’t mind making a fool of itself occasionally.” – Gerald Priestland. For me this trip is about living, it is about claiming freedom, acting with intention, self-discovery, exposure to new ideas, new cultures, and braving the new together.

I spent a lot of down time in prison. I made the most of it, still, I feel like there is so much out there to still discover, so many people to make connections with, and so many reasons to leave my mind in a state of suspension, open to discoveries and new ways of thinking. The surest way of opening your mind and making new insights is stepping outside of your habitual worldview. My goal is to swim outside of my comfort zone for a while. And now that I’m officially homeless, and have no concrete plan for what I’ll be doing in the future, I’m definitely outside of my comfort zone. Let’s see what opportunities come our way. Let’s see who we meet. Let’s intentionally discover the future that awaits us.

At the end of day zero we pulled off the freeway and parked for the night. In the morning we woke to the beauty of new snow everywhere. We made breakfast in Wiggles, got back on the road, and made our way to Zion’s National Park. While filming a time lapse there I slipped in the snow and discovered a cactus with my hand while Angela was making quesadillas. After performing minor surgery to cut the barbs out of my skin (most of them), and enjoying every bite, we hit the road again and made it all the way to the trail head of Horseshoe Bend for the night. The moon was only a few hours away from being full. It danced behind the spotted clouds, which blanketed the night and kept the temperature near 25 degrees.

On day 2 we woke early to catch the sunrise over the bend. My winter shorts were malfunctioning evidently, because they were having a hard time keeping me warm. But the uncomfortableness was worth it because we captured some beautiful pictures. Chihiro loved her coffee and wondered why we were having eggs again for breakfast. I like eggs every morning  – I guess that’s strange :-).

By the end of day 2 we made it to Tucson where my good friend Chris Miller met us. Chris is perhaps the most gentle and friendly person I’ve ever met. After going to dinner (Mexican food :-)) we went to pick up Mike and Chayton flying in from Hawaii to visit. Its a Florence reunion. I love how all of my best friends from prison are now really living life and not wasting a day. Mike just finished two degrees – in Astronomy and physics. He says he was inspired by my Astronomy class I taught in prison, but I he was always going to go back to college. He is just always full of questions.

Let’s see what today brings.

Thad

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