Mulege Mexico: NOLS-Dinner Time



I meant the food people! Get your minds out of the gutter!

I got a ride out to the NOLS compound from a really sweet couple from Oregon (Hi Earl & Cindy!). I met them at Equipales restaurant in Mulege proper a few days ago and they offered me a ride out to NOLS when they came back in town to do laundry a few days later. The ride out to Playa Coyote is about 25 minutes along a winding coastal road. There are alot of people that spend the North American Winter on the beaches down here in RVs right on the beach. Earl & Cindy are semi-retired and world travelers extraordinaire. They’ve done stints in Africa and Europe and South America in various educator roles. They refused my offer of gas money and wished me well on my adventures before heading off to their little slice of paradise two beaches south, loaded down with fresh drinking water and even fresher laundry.

I arrived in time to get a tour of the eco-friendly grounds from Nate, and get a not too welcome greeting from Uli (oooh-lee) the house dog who looks like a Husky with extra sharp teeth. This dog “has bitten people before” but everyone assures me that she’ll get used to me (wait, is that BEFORE or AFTER she decides to try out dark meat for a change?).

I showed up just in time for dinner which Roger and Marcio (above) fixed for the 6 of us that were around. We had cheese quesadillas and huevos rancheros and pacifico beer (noticing a theme here?). They are the cutest things aren’t they? Roger is from Spain and Marcio is from Brazil. The rest of the staff is equally cute and welcoming and are a well traveled and talented group of outdoor enthusiasts. These guys love what they do, because from what I can tell there is no money in it and it is hard to hold a relationship together when you are out in the field weeks or months at a time. We had a great discussion on diversity within the NOLS organization (I’m on the Board of Advisors and went to Africa with the group in 1997) and in the world in general. It was political and intellectual without any intensity or offensive tones. It just seems damn hard to get riled up in such a beautiful place. I’m interesed in seeing how life is on an eco-friendly compound with composting toilets and an outdoor shower.  There are no phones but a phenomenal internet connection.

Now if I can just find some way to keep my eye on that dog with the sharp teeth I might be able to fall in love with this place! Oh wait, and where am I sleeping exactly?

Baja Mexico: Mulege


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Any traveler knows that there are essentially two truths that you will encounter if you vagabond for any length of time:

1) you will get ripped off at some point (even if only for a $1 or $2)

2) you will get sick

Fortunately, since my life’s valuables are taped inside my underwear (thanks for the advice H), I haven’t yet been hustled. Unfortunately, I had a stomach bug that wore me down a bit.

I hopped off the Green Tortoise trip in Mulege Mexico so that I can continue my travels from here. Mulege is an oasis in the desert, a little sleepy town set in a valley with a river that runs through it which means nice breezes and lots of greenery. Mulege weather reminds me alot of San Diego in that the temperature can vary between a chilly 60 degrees and a balmy 80 degrees during the day, but you’ll almost always want pants and a jacket at night. The people are friendly, the pace is slow, there is no ATM, one internet cafe, and the cutest elementary school you can imagine with Disney characters painted in a mural on the exterior. You can walk around the whole town in under 20 minutes.

I decided to recuperate here at Hotel Mulege ($32 US/night incl. TV, 2 bottles of water daily). After weeks of travel and camping I was so happy to stand in a piping hot shower, roll around on the two beds and brush my teeth with running water.

I got some meds from a mexican doctor who only charged $25 to see me and the farmacia (pharmacy) was right there at the clinic. For the most part I needed rest, the last 4 months of prep and packing and partying and then traveling fast and furious wore me out. It has been nice to sit, stare out the window, watch television (which those who know me is really, really rare) but mostly I slept, I walked around the town and slept some more. Restricted to a diet of bananas and water and juice I longed for tacos and oranges and a diet coke but was happy with the scenery and the quiet, a soul deep quiet that echoed “rest”. People around town began to say things like “oh I saw you at the taqueria yesterday” or they’d start asking me (in spanish) if the dog following me was mine, etc. All in all a nice place to recover for 5 days. The funny thing is, as nice as it has been to be in a hotel w/ a shower and t.v., I find myself missing the rugged adventure of “roughing it”.

I donated my tent, snorkel gear and life vest to Cortez Explorers and am now down to my main pack (30lbs) and my daybag (9.5lbs). So with renewed strength, increased confidence and lots of Mylanta, I am ready to begin the motion of traveling again.

It occured to me that one of the reasons that travel is so personally transforming is that it infuses you with confidence. That confidence stems from realizing that you CAN adapt to a harsh environment, that you CAN deal with hygiene issues without running water or a 7-11 store, that you CAN navigate a foreign medical system. You then believe that you CAN go further, delve deeper, risk more and if all else fails, try again. The dream of the traveler is that you CAN explore far away places, seek untold adventure and return home safely to tell the tale.

*for a truly harrowing tale of adventure on the high seas, check out this post by Megan!

Travel: The Green Tortoise

That was at once the fastest and slowest two weeks of my life. I highly recommend taking a Green Tortoise trip at least once. You won’t regret it. We laughed from San Francisco to Cabo Pulmo and back.

Most days started with the sunrise, wether we were en route or camped out, the sun pretty much set the start time of the day. We all chipped in and prepared 70% of our meals so the morning would be consumed with laying out food, chowing down and cleaning up. From there we’d either jump into whatever activities were available or hit the road. We would drop everything about 2 hours from sundown to start dinner prep. The meals were amazing, from fresh fish and scallops to mushroom stroganoff, I never knew you could eat so well out of the bottom of a bus. After dinner we’d typically sit around a campfire and do what you do around camp fires. Only once did things decend into a rather scary game of “Truth or Dare”. There were lots of cards played, Scrabble throwdowns and Cribbage and Chess matches to be had. We were lucky enough to have an astronomer on the trip and Dan brought a modified telescope and gave us lessons about the heavens on the beach most nights. Magic.

Best Moment: Whale Watching at Ojo de Liebre

Best Sunrise: Tie between Agua Verde & Cabo Pulmo

Best Meal: Fresh Tiger Shrimp & Pesto Pasta

Best Hike: Down to Agua Verde

Craziest Meal: Goat meat tortillas

Best Feeling: Showers whenever you could catch one!

Best Piece of Gear: Headlamp, spare roll of TP at Cabo Pulmo

So, I dare you to check out the Green Tortoise webpage and tell us where YOU would go?




A Shout out

Actually, if you don’t count Bush, Mandrell or Streisand (whose parent’s were startlingly phonetic with the spelling), I only know four “Barbara’s”. One Barbara is a mentor, another a colleague and the last two are me and the woman I was named after. I usually just call her “Mom” but, whatever. My parents will never be renowned for their creativity (I’ll give you one guess who my brother is named after), but they have a bevy of other traits that make up for it. My mother is the typical familial matriarch. None of us were ever under the impression that we were living in a democracy. “Her way or the highway” wasn’t a playful turn of phrase, it was the eleventh commandment. Continue reading A Shout out

Baja Mexico: the good, the bad and the ugly

we hit a few more places on our journey. i know that all of my posts seem like everywhere is a little slice of heaven so i will temper that with some of the places i wasn’t so fond of:

[1]bahia magdalena for more whale watching if you wanted. i wandered around taking pictures and practicing my poor excuse for spanish skills. bahia is also home to a fish processing plant so there were thousands of birds and a smell that i couldn’t describe if i tried. it was a little decrepit (?) but another great whale watching spot. bahia is on the pacific side so we were startled to wake up to cold winds and cresting waves.

[2]i can’t say i liked todos santos (home of the original Hotel California) too many gringos building 2nd homes. and finally,

[3]los cabos is a beautiful spot that has become a totally overdeveloped, water sucking playground for the wealthy. i feel somewhat hypocritical in that i probably would/would have enjoyed playing some golf at one of the cabo resorts, but seeing how they use the water which is in critical short supply, makes me cringe. so i’ll leave you with a picture of a hermit crab.

Baja Mexico: Hot/Cold Springs


the only solace for leaving Cabo Pulmo was that we headed to some secret hot/cold springs known only to local families. we paid a guide to get us most of the way there via truck then had to walk about a 1/4 mile over some really slippery rocky terrain. i had on flip flops so i was moving real slow since the nearest medical aid was 3+ hours away, but it was worth it.

there were 4 pools. the one pictured above is the smaller of the two mid-temp pools, perfect temp and depth for me so this is where i hung out. the water was amazingly clear and you could see the gold dust (micah?) on the sandy bottom. the big pool had a couple of places you could jump from and the youngins ate that up. i went down into the hot pool and then the very cold pool and back a couple of times. i wasn’t feeling too great so it took it slow. most of us were sun-weary and probably borderline dehydrated but it was a nice way to spend the afternoon. and my feet were the cleanest they had been in weeks!

after that we stumbled across a mexican circus and were attacked by mosquitos! after almost 10 mosquito-free days on the beach, i finally remembered what was missing! we had to go inland to a circus to find the bugs, or rather they found us.

Baja Mexico: La Paz


my favorite city by far. this place is beautiful in a way that i don’t dare try to articulate. from loreto we headed into La Paz which is a must see. it is also a waterfront city and the weather was amazing! unfortunately we rolled into town at 7 am and i spent 2 hours walking around looking for a hotel/hostel. the coolest one was out of single rooms and i needed a mental health day so i declinded sharing with 2 others though they were very chill and it would have been fine. the lodging scene is pretty skewed between skanky hostels where i would be uncomfortable putting my head on a pillow, and the 7 Crown which was $130/night with the rooftop bar, moonlight sauna and wireless. i couldn’t check in until 1pm but I got into Los Arcos which had the best.pool.ever. and had a clean double room for $85 which i justified after a week of not sleeping in a bed with another week to come.

Continue reading Baja Mexico: La Paz