1/4/01: TJ - Los Mochis: After Scott's 2 hr train ride from LA to San Diego on the 3rd, the Wander Boys begin thier adventure at the TJ bus station. With Swiss watch precision, our 7AM bus leaves at 8 to make it to our Copper Canyon train the next morning, 21 hours later, with 20 minutes to spare, just as we planned. Stuart Little in spanish, Mortal Combat II and Steve Segal at his worst entertained us along the way.
1/5/01: Los Mochis - Creel: Still with no pillows in sight, we boarded our 10 hour train through the Copper Canyon. This train ride meanders in and out of tunnels, along ridges, over gorges as we played the longest game of spades ever. In Creel we met up with two random people who claimed to know us from Del Mar, Stephanie and Byron. At Casa Margarita we had our first glorious shower of the trip, 36 hours since our last one. A game of hearts ensued over a few beers with Byron and Stephanie before the night was over.
1/6/01: Creel - Los Mochis: Attempting to keep in shape, we woke up at 7am and did some exercises. Our next years exercise routine consists of push-ups, sit-ups, and rubber band curls. Realizing our electricity was out, and thus had no water to shower (no electricity for the water pumps), we headed out on a nice walk to the San Ignacio Mission. We were treated to some beautifull scenery of the Tarahaumara countryside and some more exercise. We returned to our hotel, enjoyed a brief rainstorm, and boarded the train back to Los Mochis. After checking into our hotel, which is home to some nice wildlife Stephanie discovered, we got a bite to eat and decided to get a few drinks. We found an entertaining hotel bar where Byron got hit on by an old lady, but the discovery of the night was the Morrocan night club (with the self proclaimed title of the most beautifull women in the world). Expecting nothing, we got to see a cool band play in a well decorated club.
1/7/01: Los Mochis - Mazatlan: We began our day with a guided walking tour (courtesy of Carlos) of beautifull downtown Los Mochis as we searched for our bus station. Once in Mazatlan, 6 hours later, we walked up to El Faro "Light House" where there is a beautifull 360 degree view of the surroundings. The hike up the hill is quite a climb and nowhere near the 30 minute stroll we were told it would be. We set up shop in the old part of Mazatlan, far from the hustle of tourist Mazatlan. However we did partake of touristy Mazatlan for the evening activities at Valentinos and Bora Bora, two night clubs.
01/8/01: Mazatlan - Puerto Vallarta: We started the day at the Mazatlan bus station in our attempt to get to Puerto Vallarta. With no direct busses, we boarded a bus to Tapic where we would connect with the "culture class" bus the remaining way. The "culture class" bus stopped at several points to pick up vendor who tried to peddle their merchandise. Despite the crowd, stops, and less than comfortable accomodations the Elite busses got us used to, we arrived in Puerto Vallarta in one piece. We checked into Hotel Yasmin, a block off the water and dined at Cafe de Olla where we had the best meal of the trip thus far. The evening festivities concluded with a visit to the Malacon with some drinks and cage dancing at the Zoo Club and Carlos O'Briens.
01/9/01: Puerto Vallarta: Today was our first no travel day of the trip so far. We spent the entire day in Puerto Vallarta. As luck would have it, our beach day was cut short by a rain shower which turned the streets into rivers, washing trash into the bay. During the evening, we played a heated game of reverse casino over a few pitchers and had a tasty meal at the Asadero, all you can eat meats for eight dollars. Once again we headed to the bars on the Malecon where we met many Canadians and worked out some bilateral trade agreements to supplement NAFTA.
1/10/01: Puerto Vallarta - Guadalajara: The day started in a hurry after getting little sleep. We caught a late morning breakfast at Cafe de Olla and squeezed in a quick shower under the dribble we were fortunate to get. For some reason water pressure has been an issue thus far, while non-existent at times. We enjoyed a few hours of sun on the beach that the previous day had not provided and then caught a luxurious (for real) bus to Guadalajara. We spent a good portion of time wandering desolate streets in an attempt to find a hotel. We finally found a decent place but, unfortunately, with more wildlife.
1/11/01: Guadalajara: After eating some ¨pan dulce¨ (sweet bread)for breakfast, we walked all around downtown Guadalajara, visiting its many plazas and impressive Cathedral. Quite unique was our visit to Hospicio Cabanas where the murals of Orozco and his artwork convinced us he was no happy camper. We had luch at Restaurant Sin Nombre in Tlaquepaque, a very picturesque artisan neighborhood where Byron, Scott and Carlos relaxed in the plaza while Stephanie roamed around wishing she had female companionship to shop. We updated our website and headed out for an amazing dinner at Santo Coyote with our hosts Carlos and Edith, courtesy of Carlos´ father´s company. Later that evening we listened to mariachi music at Bar Bariachi before calling it a night.
1/12/01: Guadalajara - Guanajuato: With another breakfast of assorted breads and muffins, we boarded our bus to Guanajuato. This was a truly first class ride. Food and beverage, fully reclining seats and headphones. The likes of we will probably never see again. We arrived in Guanajuato in style and cabbed into town. After a hiking adventure into the hills, we found our hotel Casa Bertha. A pleasant homely place with small rooms but with a terrace and view to make up for it. It was run by a friendly couple who gave us every possible bit of info we could ask for and more. ¨Mira Carlos¨. We walked into town and took in the sights before eating dinner at Truco 7. Some card games and forties were enjoyed on the terrace before getting ready for the evening. We decided to partake of the local tradition of following a singing group ¨Estudiantinas¨ through the small alleyways of town. A few beers, some singing, some story telling, and a nice walk led into a late evening at El Bar where there was some salsa dancing.
1/13/01: Guanajuato: Our first museum in Guanajuato was the Mummy Museum on the outskirts of town. To Scott´s dismay we saw the mummified remains of a couple hundred men, women and children on display dug up from the local cementery, not for the queasy. We walked back into town and after lunch climed the hill up to the Pipila monument for a magnificent view of all of Guanajuato. On the way back into town we visited 433 Churches. Fortunately the afternoon was not as streanous as we took advantage of our rooftop patio at Casa Bertha to watch the sunset and play cards. Being Saturday night, we went out to take advantage of Guanajuato´s nightlife and meet the locals.
1/14/01: Guanajuato - San Miguel: Whatever luck we had with buses had apparently run out. We boarded a somewhat empty bus to San Miguel only to stop every couple minutes to pick up people along the way. When we finally arrived we were quite sure there was not enough space for another body. We checked into our hotel and quickly made our way to a bar to catch the end of the New York-Minnesota NFC championship game. Much to Byron´s dismay we quickly learned the game was already decided at halftime. We spent the rest of teh day enjoying the plaza in town, catching parts of the AFC game, and hiking up to the vista of the town. Then it was time to wish farewell to Byron and Stephanie, our first visitors and travel companions for the last 10 days.
1/15/01: San Miguel - Queretaro - Mexico City: At the San Miguel bus station we were faced with an episode right out of the Twilight Zone. We showed up to our 8:40am bus to find out that the bus waiting was the 9:00 bus and the 8:40 had not yet arrived. Two minutes later the 8:40 left and we were told that it was the 8:30 one and we were then stuck with the 9:00 bus where the driver was tired of my questions and told us to get lost and go get a refund. As luck would have it we got on the 9:00 bus which arrived in Queretaro a 1/2 hour early before the other two, go figure. Here we met Carlos´Grandma Lucila, Eduardo and Aunt Nena who gave us a ride to Mexico City. We spent the evening with Carlos´ Grandparents and went to sleep.
1/16/01: Mexico City: After a good night of sleep in teh security of a home, we headed out to tackle the giant, Mexico City. We started at the Zocalo with a visit to the sinking Cathedral and the Diego Rivera murals in the Presidential Palace. After a brief Mexican history lesson by Carlos in which he explained the progression of characters from one end of the mural to the other, we began our trek down ¨Reforma¨. In what seemed like just a few miles for seasoned travelers we covered about 7 miles with stops at the Angel of Independence and other sights. Our trek ended at the Museum of Anthropology, where the exhibits were only slightly more entertaining than Scott dashing through the ringed water fountain. We concluded the evening at Bar Karisma with owner Alex and Carlos´friends Jordi and Jorge. The tequila flowed well as did the conversation.
1/17/01: Teotihuacan: Carlos' friend Luis led us on a Mexico City driving odyssey from the City to the Pyramids at Teotihuacan. Once there we tackled the enormous pyramid of the Sun first. After also climbing the pyramid of the Moon we walked along the entire length of the Avenue of the Dead, reminiscent of our Reforma walk the day before. After a full day of climbing pyramids we had a late lunch at Las Grutas, a restaurant inside a very big natural cave. We got back in the car for a tamer version of the mornings driving odyssey and went to Luis' house to update the website and drink purified and boiled water. Luis then drove us to Carlos' Grandparents house where we had dinner and bid farewell to Mexico City.
1/18/01: Mexico City - Oaxaca: If we were drowsy from getting up at 5:30am, our ride to the bus station sure woke us up. The bus ride to Oaxaca offered great views of canyons, valleys, and rivers. Upon arrival we checked into our hotel, Casa de los Muertos, and headed into town. At this point, we got the routine down: check out the plaza, look at a few churches, and find a museum that we find interesting. We started the night off with a few tunes in the room and then to a local watering hole. It was time to party, being that it was Malaria Thursday, our first occasion to take our weekly Malaria pills. Our first Mezcal led to .... (If anyone out there can fill in the .... please e-mail us and let us know)
1/19/01: Oaxaca: There is a nice bench in the main plaza in Oaxaca which probably still bears the indentations left by our behinds. That is all for today.
1/20/01: San Cristobal de las Casas: An all night bus ride from Oaxaca left us in San Cristobal early in the morning. Grabbing a quick nap at our hotel, we then headed into town to take in our usual dosage of churches. We even hiked one of the town's hills for one which also gave us a good view of the town. By far, the most important purchase of the trip was made when we got our hacky sack. Watch out for us at the 2004 Olympics, when it is a demonstration sport. Carlos' friend Amy arrived and we grabbed a bite and a few drinks.
1/21/01: San Cristobal - Palenque: Today was not quite our finest hour. At the bus station we made a quick decision to go to Comitan and from there go to Palenque because the only bus with available seats from San Cristobal to Palenque was at 5pm. Upon arrival in Comitan we found out that the only way to get to Palenque was to have a meal, turn right around and go to San Cristobal to make that 5pm bus. Once in Palenque we proceeded to stay near the bus station and had a miserable night's sleep because of a bunch of kids whooping it up.
1/22/01: Palenque - Comitan: Fully recharged from our few hours of sleep, we took on Palenque, a jungle site of Mayan ruins. We were quite impressed by the several palaces, pyramids, and other structures. We even were the audience to a pack of howler monkeys. Following a Russian tour group, we managed to find our way out of the ruins to catch our bus back to San Cristobal, the city worth visiting three times. Warm soup was the highlight of our meal in one of the coldest places we have been so far. Another bus to Comitan got us in bed around midnight.
1/23/01: Comitan - San Pedro de Atitlan (Guatemala): Since we can't even come close to describing our entry into Guatemala, here is a recipe that you can try at home to get a taste of our worst day yet: take 2 buses, 2 other overcrowded school buses, 2 taxis, a boat ride, a walk around a dark lake, add a crazy cleft lipped bus driver and slurry seal, a flat tire, lots of dust, beer spilled on our laps, a filthy room with shared latrines, pot holes and mix for 12 hours without meals and voila, enjoy.
1/24/01: San Pedro de Atitlan: Since more traveling was not an option, we decided to stay put at the lake. First order of business was to check out of our filthy hotel and into a much more respectable one which was amazingly the same price. Then to take full advantage of our relaxing non travel day, Carlos and Scott decided to take a hellish three hour hike up a Volcano while the wiser Amy shopped. The view and sense of accomplishment was rewarding in the end, althought the steep bus ride down requiring three point turns down the tight turns was not necessary. We finaly relaxed the rest of the evening on our hotel deck with some tunes and a beer.
1/25/01: Atitlan - Antigua: We began our journey to Antigua with a very rough seas crossing of Lake Atitlan. Then we opted for a private shuttle van to Antigua, thus avoiding Guatemalan bus drivers. Once in Antigua we visited a few churches, monasteries and walked around the very quaint cobblestone streets. For dinner we experienced Guatemalan Chinese cuisine and then updated our website after buying our plane ticket to go relax for a week on the island of Roatan in Honduras.
1/26/01: Antigua - Roatan: Looking forward to a week on a tropical island, we learned that it was going to take 4 flights to reach our paradise. Somehow seeming easy after our Guatemalan bus adventure, we were in Roatan before we knew it and miraculously our backpacks made it too. We checked into the Sunset Inn where we would be staying and diving the next week or so. We quickly adapted to the island lifestyle and watched the sunset from our hotel's dock with cold drink in hand.
1/27/01: West End, Roatan: Today we began our process towards PADI Open Water Diver Certification. Surprisingly, we found ourselves watching videos and reading materials, believe it or not we were studying. We have to admit though, it is a bit easier than the last time we studied together for a class, Econ 52, Macroeconomics at Stanford. The remainder of the day consisted of having Pizza for dinner with Chris, our new divemaster friend from the Bay Area.
1/28/01: West End, Roatan: All is well. Island life is quite a departure from our usuall routine of buses and hotel hopping, but we are adapting well. There are only three questions here: to dive or not to dive, green or brown beer (there's only two brands to pick from), and turn left or right from our hotel for food. After two quick quizes, we finally got in the water for our confined water dives (not so confined) where we get to practice all sorts of skills, like not drowning. We may not be able to use the phone here, but we can watch the Super Bowl on a big screen at a fabulous bar on stilts in the water. Go figure. The rest of the evening was spent at Loafers with the locals where we played pool and volleyball inches from the carribean sea.
1/29/01: West End, Roatan: Today we had our first open water dives. We dove Half Moon Bay at 12m for 40min and Mandy's Eel Garden for the same depth and time. A nice long nap followed, then the sunset ritual, dinner and then sleep.
1/30/01: West End, Roatan: Two more quizes and an 18m dive at Turtle Crossing were the day's activities. If watching the Super Bowl here seemed strange, watching Gladiator at a brick oven, open air pizza parlor in the backwoods of the island raised the bar. We ended the evening at a party down the coast that involved a pleasant well light stroll along the beach as we returned home.
1/31/01: West End, Roatan: Our morning began with our final exam where Scott scored a near perfect score and Carlos got points for creativity. After that was our final dive at a spot called the Green House at 18m for 40min. The highlight of the dive was our interaction with a big turtle in one of the coral canyons, we are not so sure it was the highlight of the turtle's day. Back on land we became Certified Open Water Divers and celebrated with a nap. We took a trip into lovely Coxen Hole to buy our plane tickets to the mainland and left as soon as we could before the loveliness overwhelmed us and became too much for us to handle. For dinner we chose to walk right and for beer we chose mostly green.