Sunday, February 22, 2009

Blood, sweat and beers

So if you haven´t already, I recomend reading Aurora´s last blog entry... It pretty much sums up the nature of our working lives lately. After all of our travels we have parked it for about a month in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. It is an interesting place... Oaxaca its self is one of the more impoverished regions of Mexico. There are many influences of the indigenous people here, the foods, languages and customs are all particular to this part of Mexico. From what I understand there was almost no tourism here untill very recently (2002 ish) when the surf scene blew up here in Pto. Before then it was a small town, excessable by dirt road, only known by the surfers who were in the know. But don´t misunderstand me- this is no Acupuertovillarmazatlacancun... There is a small section of town where most exteranjeros stay, and then there is the rest of the town where the people who work in the hotels and restaurants live. We are working for a young man, Cesar, who is an environmental lawyer, born and raised Oaxacan, who is doing something most Mexicans may never understand. He is trying to preserve the integrity of the people and the area in the midst of all of the changes taking place here. His family owns a peice of land just outside of town where they have planted the fruit orchards that we work in. The land is part jungle, part swamp-jungle, part orchard, part beach. Cesar´s goal is to expand the opperation to be an ecotourist resort type thing... I´m not clear about what that means exactly, but it is clear that he will need more support. Right now Aurora and I are the only volunteers. We literally get paid in frijoles. .. and a place to stay of course. The other morning on the way to work I realized how hard it must be for Cesar to explain and try to help the communty comprehend his mission. We get on the colectivo ( a pick-up truck with a canopy that drives people around town) and a man questions us about what we´re up to. In our best spanish we try to explain volunteering and organic farms. Blank stare. El no entienda. So yeah, we are miles and mountains and oceans from the beaten, trash strewn, pot-holed path of business as usual in Mexico. I am happy to be here to help with the effort, but I am begining to realize first hand that conservation is a priviledge not a right.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Las Libres Radicalas

As I sit and type this, I am sweating into the keyboard, my mouth is sticky, I am dehydrated but do I dare to drink the water? Cerveza is the perfered beverage here, even if its only 11am. We have made it to the beach, once again, just on the other side of Mexico this time. If you are wondering, the distance to cross the width of Mexico is only about 300 or 400 miles, but takes about 20 hours to drive. We have had a mishap or two since my last post, but I didn´t want to write about it until the situation resolved... On the very steep climb into the mountains of Veracruz the water pump (agua bomba) blew, causing us to spend the day on the side of the Mexican highway (not recomended). We were able to limp it into town... long story... and get it to a mechanic who thought he might be able to fix it. The problem is that we drive the only Subaru in Mexico. The town we broke down in, Xalapa, was full of generous people, many whom offered to take us in, let us camp in their yards, etc. So five days and six mechanics later the new water pump is installed. I turn the key to start the engine and- nada. After many turns it starts, but we decide to stay an extra night incase it won´t start in the morning. We slept in the garage in the back of the car, and were ready to get the crap out of there in the morning. She started up in the morning, and we made a decision to not turn her off. We then asked our selfs, ¨if this is the last journey the Subie makes, where do we want to be?¨ The answer: Oaxaca. 11 hours of driving hell and we are there by midnight, car intact, minds lost. By some miracle the car has started and worked well everyday since. Like always everyday is a new adventure. Oaxaca is beautifull. We start work on our first farm tomorrow, outside of Puerto Escondido, ¿conoces? Many more tales of beach life to come.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Since my last post we have covered some miles and transcended a few levels of culture and consciousness. After the arid heat of northern mexico, we climbed the heights of the Sierra Madres and descended down into the lush green valleys of estado de Guanajuato. We arrived in the city of Guanajuato just as the sun was setting. It gave the cities twisted, tight, colorful construction an even more magical glow. Almost immediatley trafic sucked us into one of the cities underground tunnels. Made of cobblestone and ancient brick, random lanterns hanging at intervals, it was a wonder we made it out alive. Perhaps one must understand the driving circumstances in Mexico to fully grasp the odities we have incountered. Everyday the little things like yeilding to farm animals, accepting burros as a fully valid form of transport, buses and taxis driven by el Diablo himself, become less shocking. But I am digging it none the less. I digress... Guajuato is a crazy city built in a steep valley. There are many churches, museums, monuments, universities. We spent two days here before heading to our next stay with a dude named Carlos in Celaya, about an hour south west. Carlos and his family took us in whole heartedly to their beautifull mexican mansion for the next three days. He showed us around San Miguel Adellande (gringo-veijo ville), gave us lots of food and the last shower I had in the past week. Then off again, following a ambiguos lead to some waterfalls and camping somewhere outside of a village in estado de San Luis Potosi. By the gracious hand of Dios we found the spot at night fall. Here we passed the next two days swimming in a beatufill clear blue river, as warm as bath water and as sweet as pie, and hiking in the misty jungle covered hills. And on again, headed east to estado de Veracruz, our destination losely based on ending up somewhere around some ancient ruins called El Tajin. We made it to the ruins by mid afternoon and circled the parking pasture a few times, wondering if we could camp. We stopped and asked two men on bicyles if they had any ideas, it turns out we picked the right people. They are Josh and Ignacio, they have rode their bikes from Austin south. We spent the night in the pasture, in our own self-made tent camp, amognst curious cows and random trash heaps. We made a little fire, and passed around a pot of sh%& ( a delicious dish constisting of what ever is on hand, cooked in a pot) and a six pack of Tecate while Josh played his Trumpet for us. The next day was Sunday, free day at the ruins, so we hit it up. I didn´t take any pictures here, I have been to some pretty amazing Mayan ruinas in Guatemala, and may be a little pretencious about the quality of these sights. Anyway, there were some pyramids, some carvings, some bones. We continued on to the coast, this time with our new friend Ignacio in the back seat, his bike on the roof. We found a wonderfull place to camp on the coast, turn right at the green shack, follow the dirt road to the gate, don´t let the burros out, set up anywhere along the miles and miles of uninhabited beach. This is how I always want to remember Veracruz. Small, small towns, full of curious, generous, friendly people, beautiful beaches, not a gringo in sight. If you are looking for genuine Mexico come here, but don´t tell anyone else.