Monthly Archives: January 2020

Mexico City ~ Information Overload!

So we arrived in Mexico City on Monday and we have been running full tilt since – in a very good way. We had planned this trip with Shellie and Randy of s/v Moondance who are also applying for a long stay visa (LSV) to French Polynesia.  Shellie and Mary Grace have spent a lot of time together or via e-mail reviewing and preparing the paperwork for the LSV, and the four of us had appointments at the French Consulate on Wednesday morning.

Working together, Frank arranged for a private driver (thank you, Eduardo, for helping us!!) and Shellie and Randy arranged for a perfect VRBO.

Our first day was spent preparing the final pieces of our paperwork, getting the appropriate visa photos and checking against each other’s check lists one last time.

paperworkOh the paperwork, the paperwork!

Wednesday we arrived at the consulate and had the first four appointments. We were all thrilled that we had every document required and now we only have to wait four weeks to (hopefully) receive our LSV.

Once the paperwork was submitted, we spent the remainder of our time in Mexico City celebrating and exploring some of the historical highlights. Tonight, Saturday, we are suffering from information overload so we are chilling at the VRBO and taking advantage of the excellent wifi.

Here is just a glimpse of what we toured. By the way I read somewhere Mexico City has more museums than any other city in the world.

Right after a celebratory lunch we headed to Castillo De Chapultepec, which translates into “the hill of the grasshoppers.”  This castle was a summer home for Viceroy Bernardo de Gálvez, who, for our Texas friends, also was instrumental in developing the port of Galveston. We hired a guide who inundated us with this and other information including how the castle became a military school which was once over thrown by the US Marines.  For the “one minute” history of the castle, see this link.

IMG_9154Stairway entrance from the outside courtyard.

IMG_9212One of about eight stain glass windows of Greek goddesses.

IMG_9181  A balcony view of the Promenade of the Empress, now Promenade of Reform.

IMG_9220Upstairs garden with and observatory building in the middle.

After visiting such high falutin digs , we had sundown celebration drinks at Sofitel, a brand new French hotel on the Promenade of Reform and right next door to the American Embassy.

IMG_0468Cheers to finished paperwork and exploring Mexico City.

IMG_1099Looking down the Promenade of Reform toward the castle.

Thursday was a BIG day. We started at the Teotihuacan Pyramids which are about an hour from our VRBO, then we had lunch in a darling town next to the pyramids and we finished the day with a visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadeloupe.

At the pyramids, we again hired a guide and Joel was simply excellent! Plus his English was easier to understand than our guide at the castle.

temples  A model of the Teotihuacan City uncovered so far. (Museum of Anthropology)

Honestly, the pyramids were amazing and extremely interesting. For instance, Joel said that if you cut a bag of sand and let it fall, the slope of the hill it forms will be 45 degrees.

IMG_9322Frank climbing up that 45% slope.

The pyramids were built at a 45 degree angle and the theory is that in the event of an earthquake, relatively little damage would occur. (Architects might disagree.)

Frame-31-01-2020-09-15-57View from the Temple of the Moon down the avenue of the dead; Sun Temple to the left.

Another interesting point, the steps, seats and walls of the colosseum were built with a 37.5 degree slant to make perfect acoustics! Joel would whistle facing one direction and the sound would carry counterclockwise all the way around the arena.

IMG_9276The huge colosseum with a sacrificial alter in the center.

Joel told us that a game was played on this colosseum field and the winner of the game was immediately sacrificed to the gods. This meant his heart was cut out and the heart and his blood were offered to the gods. YUCK

IMG_9277Perspective: one part of the colosseum and the alter wall to the left.

Joel quipped that in Mexico they say the reason they don’t win Olympic games is that all their best athletes were sacrificed. Macabre humor.

IMG_9294Walls of the homes where the upper class lived.

We saw remnants of some of the noble’s homes which had running water, baths and toilets, plus aqueducts, collecting pools, all kinds of interesting conveniences.

IMG_9300Inside were some beautiful colors and pictographs.

IMG_9342The Temple of the Sun behind us…. yes we did climb to the top.

IMG_9361The view from the Sun Temple required some time.

LVLnWgr0SBOEh6BUajT4fA_thumb_aa2Another view from the Sun Temple looking toward the Colosseum.

So this is absolutely just a tiny bit of information about the pyramids which were supposedly built beginning in 100BCE and at its zenith had a population of 125,000. You can follow this Wikipedia link for a quick overview.

biBSVf+sRXKnkWyigf3u0w_thumb_abc.jpgTostadas, tacos and enchiladas – yum!

Walking the temples created an appetite so we went to a nearby town for some local food and we hit the jackpot! We sat at a local market and had delicious fare surrounded by locals eating and doing their shopping.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_aee.jpgColorful and clean, we walked the streets and poked about.

After all that pagan imagery, I was happy to stop at the Basilica de Guadeloupe. On this site, Our Lady of Guadeloupe appeared to a poor Aztec farmer, Juan Diego, who had converted to Catholicism a few years earlier. Long story short, on December 9, 1531 Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego and asked him to build an alter on the hill of Tepeyac. Juan Diego asked permission of the local Bishop who refused until Juan Diego received a miracle.  A few days later, Our Lady again appeared to Juan Diego and told him to climb the hill and pick the flowers.

This was December and the hill usually sported cactus and little else. But Juan Diego found a bounty of beautiful red flowers he had never seen before.  He gathered the flowers in his tilma (Aztec robe of sorts) and returned to Our Lady who arranged the flowers in Juan Diego’s tilma.

Juan Diego immediately went to the Bishop and dropped the flowers from his tilma at the feet of the Bishop. When the flowers fell out, an image of Our Lady Of Guadeloupe was imprinted on the tilma.

b34%yY2aSFWyIbLJD3o0zA_thumb_b17.jpg   Juan Diego’s tilma: I was stunned by the beauty of this image.

Since 1531, the tilma has been on display and we saw it in person. Honestly, I was stunned by the detail and vibrance of Our Lady!   A miracle indeed!!

And by the way, the Bishop recognized those red flowers as Castilian roses which were not grown in Mexico.

On December 26, 1531 an alter was dedicated to Our Lady of Guadeloupe.

BjCHJfjIRRSQmn69THQ_thumb_adaOne of the older churches erected on Tepeyac hill.

E8tSaZM1Tj6HGgqkMLzd7Q_thumb_adcThe interior of the oldest church.

Unfortunately I can’t find the reference but one article I read stated that after Our Lady’s appearance to Juan Diego, 9 million people converted to Catholicism!

Currently there are four churches on Tepeyac hill and I didn’t understand enough Spanish to determine which was built when but this appears to be the oldest, though it cannot be the original alter.

LMl1R+dyQw2KjrYAj%4iNw_thumb_ad5.jpgA statue depicting Juan Diego’s delivery of the roses and the image.

Sooo, that was our long and very gratifying third day in Mexico City.

Today we spent most of the morning at the Anthropological Museum which was recommended by no less than five different people.

The museum was beautifully done and filled with spectacular artifacts. However, my brain was overwhelmed from the prior days and the fact that all the information was in Spanish and I had to use a translator for every piece.  In the end I just looked for things that caught my eye.  Here are a few highlights:

mqcCNqD5Rp68CdqKregsEQ_thumb_a66  A picture from our visit to the pyramid colosseum and…

IMG_9438   A restored version at the Anthropology Museum showing how they looked long ago,

Perhaps the most fascinating city to me was the one built on muddy edges of Lake Texcono where the people built “chinampas” which are little artificial rectangular islands. The chinampas were made by planting aheujotes trees that were resistant to dampness at the corners. Then the edges were marked by logs and the plot created was filled with alternating layers of water lilies and mud which provided a fertile base for corn and other crops the Indians farmed.

IMG_9423   A depiction of the city built on Lake Texcoco.

This city had canals connecting the chinampas making this a waterway city similar to Venice, Italy. Today the lake no longer exists and Mexico City has grown up all around it.

Most of us have seen the beautiful embroidery and bead work of some traditional Mexican clothing and the Anthropology Museum had displays of old looms and the clothing created.

IMG_9441Such detail and bright color.

IMG_9439This work is all tiny beads individually sewn in place!

I read a few surprising things about the Aztec culture. The upper class would adorn themselves with jewels and precious metals but if a lower class person was found wearing them, the crime was punishable by death! I guess jewelry isn’t always a girl’s best friend!

IMG_9426    I thought COSTCO on Saturdays was bad, but 30K?!

Also, I thought this display of an Aztec market was interesting especially since I could see it closely and see the variety of wares on display.  But what really surprised me was that the information stated that as many as 30,000 people would visit this market daily!

After a few hours of brain saturation at this museum, we walked back to the Polanco area which is filled with high end shops and sidewalk cafes.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_9d7.jpg Ahh, the view from a sidewalk cafe!

IMG_9452Today’s lunch was upscale, fat-filled and very tasty!

So we have another half day tomorrow before we fly back to Ticket to Ride. It has been a whirlwind trip and we are ready to get home.  But we will miss Randy and Shellie. I cannot imagine two people easier or more fun to travel with and explore this fascinating, extremely large and diverse city!

If you have made it this far into this blog post, you are a champ! This really only covers a portion of our time in Mexico City.  Hopefully I can share snippets on the Facebook or Instagram so you can see the lighter side of our trip.

Thanks for digging in and sharing this land adventure.  We will let you know if/when we receive our long stay visa for French Polynesia. In the mean time, let us know if you have any comments.  All the best from TTR. 

 

 

Christmas, Family, Sharks and Kites

Having the kids home for Christmas is a wish come true, so Frank and I were thrilled when Hunter and Clayton decided to spend the Holidays with us on TTR.

Having a real Christmas tree is unrealistic on Ticket to Ride, but Frank’s mom, Jackie, made us a festive and pretty lighted Christmas tree mural that we hung up in the salon of TTR.  Although Jackie hasn’t been to this boat yet, she managed to make the tree the perfect size – and it’s easy to roll up and store!

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The Christmas tree Jackie made for us is perfect!

Initially we thought the kids might enjoy being in La Paz where they would have access to local restaurants, the Malecón and nightlife, but we were mistaken. The focus of the trip would be sailing, sports and family time…. the usual Stich agenda!

Christmas-4

Just one area of many festive decorations on the Malecón La Paz

Although we consider ourselves to be fairly energetic people, the activity level increased significantly with everyone on board; and it was a blast. 

We toured the local farmer markets in La Paz for some fresh food and dinghied to Magote for a kiteboarding session. We also strolled along the Malecón and had a delicious dinner at Mesquite Grill.

But then it was time to get active.

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Between us and the gear, the rental car was packed!

Kiteboarding is always a focus on TTR especially for Frank and Hunter, but Clayton is an avid surfer so we wanted to find a few good waves. Since the wind did not look  promising for kiting, we rented a VRBO in Todo Santos and drove there for a bit of surfing and boogie boarding.

Christmas-1

This Toto Santos beach was pretty and had good waves!

Toto Santos is a charming little town and the surf beach is really pretty! We spent two days and one night in Toto Santos enjoying the surprisingly warm surf.  In fact, the water in Todo Santos was a good 10 degrees warmer than it was in La Paz. 

IMG_8976My handsome Clayton waiting for breakfast at La Esquina in Toto Santos.

There is a turtle sanctuary in Toto Santos and every day in December they release hatchlings at sunset. I was excited to see the little turtles crawl to freedom and all my guys were surprisingly interested as well.  Apparently many other people wanted to watch the turtle release too as there were about 50 people mulling about! 

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A little glimpse into the incubation tent.

The turtles are hatched in a large incubated tent monitored mostly by volunteers. Just after sunset eight plastic containers holding a total of about 100 hatchlings were released near the surf.

I had no idea that only one in 100 turtles survive to adulthood!  Thinking about it though, I can understand why – there are predators at every step of the turtles birth.

Christmas-3

Look how small and cute these little babies are!

First the egg has to hatch before some animal steals into the nest and eats it.

Next the hatchling has to walk from the relatively protected grass across the open sand to the ocean surf, and it is exposed and defenseless to prey during that slow, awkward crawl.

Driven by instinct, turtles scrabble toward the light of the setting sun they see over the ocean waves. However, these days the artificial lights used by humans can disorient the baby turtles causing them to go away from the ocean instead of towards it, creating another obstacle to survival.  For this reason, flash photography and flashlights were not allowed. 

Christmas-2

That is a long, dangerous crawl for these hatchlings to the ocean.

Once the hatchling reaches the ocean, it must swim for three days without food and catch a specific ocean current that will carry it on its first journey.  And of course, many sea animals think baby turtles make a delicious snack, so again the little things are in danger! 

IF the turtle manages to reach the current without being killed, it can relax and eat the plentiful food also drifting on the current.

I also learned that sea turtles ‘imprint’ the beach where they hatch and will return every year to the same location to lay their eggs.  Researchers do not know how the turtles record their particular beach or how they navigate back to the same spot.

After catching waves in Santos, we headed back to Ticket to Ride in La Paz and planned on sailing to some local anchorages, initially Colita Partida.  We set out one calm morning before the wind had filled in.  The sea surface was a flat, mirror of steel gray as we slowly motored away from La Paz.

Whale Sharks

How beautiful is this giant creature?

But very shortly, the smooth surface was broken by whale sharks!!

Christmas-7

Clayton is a fraction of the size of this whale shark!

We shut down TTR’s engines and grabbed snorkeling gear.  Since Frank and I have already had the whale shark experience, we stayed on board while the kids jumped into the water.

We launched the dinghy so Frank could get close to the whale sharks to let the swimmers jump in, but we found the whales didn’t much care for the engine noise. So we dropped the paddle boards and the guys were able to paddle right up to the sharks without disturbing them.

They swam SO close to TTR!

Even though I stayed on Ticket to Ride, I had a perfect view. You can see from this video I took from the deck of TTR that the whale sharks swam very close to our drifting boat.

Seeing and swimming with these whale sharks was a rare gift!

Christmas-6

Their markings are distinctive and stunning.

It’s pretty hard to beat the excitement of seeing those whale sharks, but the weather decided to show her stuff and prove that she is worth respecting.  Nothing bad happened, but the day was interesting. The weather changed from flat calm to breezy, then to about 28 knots of wind and dark clouds.  We quickly realized that anchoring in our original destination of Colita Partida was not going to be comfortable and we set our sights on Isla San Francisco or San Evaristo.

DSC06089

A very vivid double rainbow one rainy afternoon.

After about 25 minutes the wind dropped off and the clouds drifted away. But an hour or two later, more clouds developed and another wind system blew through.  The wind shifted about 40 degrees in the blink of an eye and we decided the all around protection of San Evaristo would be a good choice in the shifty conditions.  Plus the wind was expected to be from the north for the remainder of the week and we could sail our way south as anchorages opened up.

DSC05859

Hunter pulls Clayton for a foiling session.

San Evaristo is a quiet anchorage with a quaint and usually active fishing village that was inactive due to the Christmas Holiday.  But we managed to enjoy ourselves with a mixture of foil boarding behind the dinghy, SUPing and snorkeling. 

And we celebrated Christmas by exchanging gifts and giving thanks for our blessings.

DSC05956

I love how Clayton is cheering for Frank’s successful foiling!

The wind forecast was showing excellent possibilities for some good kiting in La Ventana, a well known kite hangout around the corner from La Paz. Although a good place for kiting, La Ventana is not an ideal anchorage.  Instead we wanted to anchor TTR in Muertos and use a car to drive between Muertos and La Ventana.

So we sailed back to La Paz and dropped off half the crew who rented a car and drove to Muertos, while the other half sailed Ticket to Ride to Muertos.   We spent the next several days anchored in Muertos and split our time between Muertos and La Ventana.

DSC06014

Clayton checking out the mainsail and Hunter kiting in the background.

The days were filled again with kiteboarding, swimming, snorkeling, foiling behind the dinghy, bits of boat maintenance and having shore time at the only Muertos restaurant, Cafe 1535.

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Hunter kite foiling in Muertos

New Year’s was a WILD night…. exhausted from another active day in the water and wind, we sipped champagne at dinner time and went to bed by cruisers midnight – 9 pm!

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Once in a while there was some rest time.

All too soon vacation time was over and we had to sail back to La Paz.  All of us were surprised how quickly the two weeks passed!

In concluding this post, I must be honest and admit that saying goodbye to my kids is hard for me. Sometimes I long for the more ‘traditional’ lifestyles my friends have back in Texas, where their families live nearby and they see each other on a routine basis. I miss the traditions we had with friends and neighbors at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years – sharing meals and parties – but especially spending time reminiscing about our histories together and creating new ones for later.

But then I have to be realistic…. if we lived in Texas, Hunter and Clayton would still live in California and we would see them less often than we do now.  It is much more interesting for them to come see us in unusual places on the boat than it would be to visit in Dallas.  Over the last few years we have spent Christmas together in Bonaire, the Turks and Caicos, the British Virgin Islands, etc.  All of these places add a uniqueness to our celebration and because we don’t see each other very often, we relish and appreciate the time we do spend together.

Christmas

Just one of the gorgeous sunsets in Muertos.

So when those days pop up and I miss seeing family and friends on a regular basis, I stop those thoughts and remind myself that this opportunity to travel with Frank on TTR brings blessings of its own. We love exploring both well known and more remote places on this planet and we get to meet new friends with whom we also create histories.  And hopefully our long time friends will find time to come visit us on TTR.

We hope your Holiday Season was filled with the love of family and blessings from above.  As always, thank you for stopping to read our blog.  If you have comments, we would love to hear from you.  And if you would like a more regular glimpse into what we see, please check out our FB page.

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