Colonial cities, authentic Mexican villages, we cruise South through the central highlands taking in the delights and hidden treasures: striking it rich with three 1910 Mexican revolution parades and festivities celebrated November 20 each year. The towns and villages virtually shut down with main roads closed and every child under the age of 16 involved in perpetuating the memories of the struggle to free the country from Spanish oppression.
A wonderful celebration of music, dance and color every way you turn. The colonial towns scattered throughout the cooler mountains are a far cry from the tourist jammed, blistering hot coastal cities. Yes, Mexico can still be a cultural experience if you venture away from ‘resort central’ along the coasts.
Dropping elevation it’s time to make adjustments to Pumpers carburetors and timing as we descend from the rarified mountain air, digesting on route the volcanic landscapes enhanced at sunrise and sunset. Hmmm, things aren’t sounding so good, backfiring and generally running rough. Not only that but after making the decision not to carry extra fuel we find ourselves on a very long lonely highway driving for hours without seeing a gas station.
Night is upon us and we happen on a tienda where we’re able to buy 10 litres from a plastic bottle to keep us going the next morning after sleeping out front serenaded by tractor trailers engine braking all night. There is no fear of bandits carrying us off in the night… These are just honest to goodness hard working Mexican’s. We feel privileged to be among them, awaking to the cockerels, another amazing sunrise, and a truck load of coconuts parked beside us!
With just enough gas arriving at the coast near Ixtapa / Zihuatanejo, one of those tourist jammed resort areas, we are relieved to do our favourite thing… walking miles of flat firm sandy beach with the ocean greeting us with every wave. But man is this hot! The contrast is overwhelming,… not so much fun camped out in Pumper, you might as well jam us in a Sardine can and fry us!!!
Rolling into a new destination, becoming familiar with the area, and finding suitable digs is anything but a relaxing experience. We promised ourselves we would take a few days to sort this all out but with Pumper sounding like the engine is about to fall out and the prospect of sleeping in her for a week in these temperatures was not going to work… Snap decisions are made at times of stress!
The problem with an apartment that is $400 a month. It comes with issues that need to be sorted, no vacation there! We moved in to the chaos of the place needing painting and cleaning.. BIGTIME!!! Fridge not working, no gas to cook with or heat water. Then we find out some condo owners haven’t paid their fees and the water has been cut off and we could be out of water when the holding tanks run dry. Our new neighbors are kind enough to allow us to bum their Wi-Fi while we get ours arranged, which entailed hanging out the door to get the signal. Nothing like putting the welcome mat out to all the little critters hanging out in the Hood!! No cockroach sightings yet, or for that matter scorpions… Phew!!!
If all those things weren’t enough stress, Pumper is well and truly out of action with no clear solution at hand as we work with mechanics through the language barrier attempting to figure out the fix. Just 3 months ago we dropped $3000 to replace the cam shaft and valves among other things, so being at this point is not a happy place. Let’s leave it at that, and if you are really left brained and want the gory mechanical scoop, you should follow ‘Living The Dream’ on Facebook.
Ixtapa / Zihuatanejo isn’t a bad place to be broken down and without wheels… The beaches are beautiful and we are managing to get our daily sometimes twice daily walks. Our apartment is close to the beach, less than a 10 minute walk, 5 minutes if we ride the old bicycles we purchased from a rental store. The local bus is super cheap between the mega tourist area of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo the quainter more authentic Mexican town close by. That’s where the yoga studio is… back into a healthy routine.
Leaving home in a white blouse was the first big mistake… we head back to the mechanics workshop. 5 minutes later… sweat and dirt seems to pour from everywhere! Heat and humidity that leaves you wilting in a grungy garage with oil, parts and dirt oozing from everywhere… compulsively checking that I haven’t touched or handled a thing… having just sat on a public bus opposite some guy that has obviously urinated in his pants. Desperate not to make contact with any surface if at all possible. but knowing I carry the essential survival equipment… disinfecting wet wipes!
Steve is again in full discussion with a handful of Mexican mechanics with no English, about parts and specs for dear pumper… it might be super cheap to get the work done here but it sure ain’t easy!! Lordy Lordy!! Thankfully we had decompressed earlier at yoga with a million door view over the ocean… there is no beating that for $10 a pop!
While pumper gets herself sorted and back on the road we travel via local bus…. Always an experience: as riders get on the bus they say Buenas Dias to their fellow passengers… you don’t get that in N.Y.C. Or Toronto! The disco music blares out. Is the driver even old enough to vote? And we pray for a seat near a window where one might gasp just the occasional whiff of fresh, breezy ocean air! Hey, I know that song but not the Spanish lyrics, as Steve serenades along karaoke style!
Fascinating, challenging, invigorating: to survive in this culture … we are for sure not sitting back living a conventional life. This nomadic, vagabonding can be nerve wracking and frustrating and no end of craziness… you question the sanity of it all almost every minute. Yet you can’t help but fall in love with it. It takes a somewhat unconventional person… open to life’s diversities, and for sure flexible. No expectations, an open heart and giving soul, a love of life, and a desire to soak up the cultural differences, to make it all click. A little meditation and yoga helps a whole bunch to get through the rougher moments.
“You are your own master. You are your own teacher.”
Emma. (Our newest Yoga instructor in Zihuatanejo.)
Amor y paz…. Ohmmmm