Monday, December 1, 2014

Made it!

No problema.  No problems at the border.  

Yes, there was a one hour wait in line, but sailed through once I got to the booth. 

The lesson here is clear.  If you live a clean life, and stay on the straight and narrow, good things will come to you. 

Sure hope you enjoyed the blogs as much as I did writing them. 

If you get a chance, let me hear from you.  I would be especially interested in which stories/blogs were your favorites.


Last day

Today, if all continues to go well, should be the last day of Neil's Adventure Trip to Baja California.

It has been one hell of a ride.

But it is not over yet.  Three more hours of driving to get to the border. 

Then the border!  Can't wait to experience both the US and Mexican sides.  We shall see what stories come from that experience. 

Stay tuned!


OYou all know that the plural of cactus is cacti.  Pronounced Kak-tie.

Did you know that a cactus is part of the cactaceae family (my father's college major was horticulture).

I am beginng to love cacti.  

You might ask why?

First of all, when you are in the desert and you see a cactus, you immediately know there is life.  Living plants and organisms exist in the desert. It is a good sign to see a cactus. 

Secondly, they are unbelievably well adapted to their environment -- the often brutal weather that permeates a desert. 

Third, they have their own beauty.  Have you ever seen an ocotillo in bloom?  Gorgeous!

Fourth, they are survivors.  

Fifth, they are environmentally conscious.  They require very little water and, to my knowledge, discharge no waste.

Sixth, they have many varieties.  They are not boring.

Seventh, yet they are part of a large family.  Why can't we all be friends?

Eighth, they are critical for man to survive in the desert.  Remember the earlier blog about how wonderful to eat was the cactus that Kelsey cooked? It was so juicy. 

And finally, they are a succulent, which to my way of warped thinking makes a cactus kind of romantic. 

Having said all of these positives, there admittedly is one big negative.  You cannot hug a cactus! 

Sunday, November 30, 2014


As most of you know I live part of the year in my Motorcoach.  It turns out that the subset of Americans (estimated to be over 2 million) that live in their RV's either full time or part time are a wonderfully interesting cohort who come from all walks of life and from many varied locales. 

On this adventure trip I did not take the Motorcoach.   Just the Jeep.  

However, I did see some signs of those that did take their RV to Mexico.  While the ameniities that I am used to (manicured lawns, multi colored plants, swimming pools, clubhouses, 24 hour security, 18 hole golf course, tennis and Pickleball courts, bocci ball courts, professional management, home owners association, cement pads for each Motorcoach, accessible food cafe, loads of activities, and a full time activities director) may not be there, the location on the beach is truly spectacular. 

The trip back #3

As noted in #2, here are some pictures of the road with nada (nothing) except Coco.

For those of you that are tracing the trip on a map the road connects the Bahia San Luis Conzaga on the Sea of Cortez with Chapala on Mexico's Route 1.

The trip back #2

Almost 12 hours of driving today.  But it does not seem that long. In part because of numerous fuel and food and picture taking breaks.  Not to mention the many stops to ask for directions or just to talk. 

I usually start with "una pregunta, por favor?"  Or "puede ayudarme?"   One question, please?  Can you help me?

The response is always very positive.  People want to help. Mexicanos are no exception. 

What made today's drive particularly interesting is that I took a different route from what I had planned and from the route I took coming south last week.  

Instead of following route 1 going north from Guerrero Negro to Ensenada and the Pacific coast, I turned east to return to the Sea of Cortez ending up in San Felipe on the east coast of the Baja peninsula.  Guerrero Negro is about mid point on the peninsula.  It is the town that is located on the border between the states of Baja California and Baja California South. It is also the town where the time zone changes from pacific to mountain time.  

To go east from there is a challenging experience.  There are no paved roads.  Only dirt and sand and rock.  There is only one road.  It is 45 miles long before it hits the Sea of Cortez. There is nothing on the road.   No towns, no houses, no ranches, no farming, no businesses, no parks, no attractions, no historical markers,  no gas stations, no automotive repair shops, no taco stands, no bars, no restaurants, no schools, no churches, no hospitals, no police, no fire services, no water, no sewer, no electricity, no internet, and no cell service. You get the idea.   There is nothing on this road but you and your vehicle!  (Pictures to follow in #3)

The one exception is Coco's Corner.  Located half way, this "oasis" is the brainchild of Coco.  Grizzled, missing one leg, can speak some English, and with a wonderful outlook on life.  Has been here 25 years. I asked him how many other people he had met today and his answer was one.  Not a lot of daily traffic. 

Yet he has been determined to have some fun with his life.  His fences are loaded with beer cans.  The ceiling of his open air outdoor rest stop is littered with underpants and panties of all sizes from all over the world. 

I will tell you that it felt awfully good to see another human being and to be able to talk and laugh and enjoy each other if only for a brief period of time. I will never forget Coco.  

Friday, November 28, 2014

Clayware of Candelaria #2

PGetting to Candelaria was not for the faint of heart as discussed in #1.  But the real experience was just about to begin. 

We stopped to ask where we could find Ms. Hanken, an American who was the person to see regarding the "ranchware" pottery we were seeking to learn about.  No one spoke English. We were told that she was not in town, but on a trip to La Paz and will be back on Monday.  

Oh no, we had come all this way to see her and now she wasn't even here!  

I asked if anyone else in town made the Clayware we were looking for.  She said Carmen did, and she lives just up the road.  

So we go looking for Carmen.  We stop at the first yard that is fenced - sort of.  Three dogs immediately come running to our car, barking like mad.  I call out from the car for Carmen. An older woman acknowledges my call out.  She nods her head. Haltingly I get out of the car and walk very slowly and gingerly up the path to a concrete slab that was outside of a hut/home seemingly made out of mud. 

I explained what we were looking for and why we were here. She said that yes she made the Clayware and that she could teach Kelsey and me. I called to Kelsey in the car and motioned for her to come up to meet Carmen. 

All conversations were in Spanish. I wish I could say that I understood everything that Carmen said, but we were able to communicate.  We started using our hands as we kneaded the pottery material into clay, and then we pinched, pulled and punched the material into predesigned shaped forms.  This took quite some time. 

Carmen was very patient with us, and especially me. She smiled several times as she watched us attempt to look like we knew what we were doing. 

The shallow bowls that we were making needed to have rims which required a coiling technique which was challenging.

Once we had the basic shape and rim somewhat finished then we needed to smooth the surfaces.  This was done with a little bit of water and tool made out of a cow's rib. 

We were finished with making the piece.  Now the bowls are left to dry naturally.  Carmen gave us small smooth stones for us to use to trowel and polish the bowls to create the aesthetic result one is looking for.  

While all this is going on outside of her home, we got a chance to meet her daughter, husband, and grandson Antonio. Antonio is four years old and just starting two hours a day of school.  He was so proud of his school backpack.  His favorite toy was a string tied into a circle with eight of the can openers from soda cans. 

We learned how this rustic pottery is made. But more importantly we got a chance to have a small but meaningful interaction with real people living in a very poor, rural environment.  And perhaps, even more importantly, we learned that the trip to Candelaria was worth everything we went through.