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Journal - 22-Feb-2001, Thursday, Mexico City, Mexico
(Trip: Baja California, Whale Watching, Copper Canyon.)

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Click for larger image! The gear. Keywords: Mexico,Mexico City,Ciudad de Mexico,bus,terminal del norte,travel,overland,sinaloa,Mazatlán
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Click for larger image! Goodbye sweet home. Keywords: Mexico,Mexico City,Ciudad de Mexico,bus,terminal del norte,travel,overland,sinaloa,Mazatlán
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The gear
Goodbye sweet home
Send to a friend! Send to a friend!

Day One. The mission: To spend several months traveling, without income, at the lowest cost possible.

17:00. Mad panic trying to finish packing up house. Store boxes. Phone to make bus reservations to Mazatlán. Pack backpacks. Way too much stuff. If it wasn't for the digital camera gear it would be great. Unfortunately traveling with a laptop, CD writer, Digital Wallet (http://mindsatwork.net), metal-bodied (1kg) camera, 1.45x teleconverter, and a mass of cables/power supplies, is not the most comfortable way to 'back pack'. Maybe I should shoot film - might cut down the weight!

We leave the car at Monica's parent's house and go by taxi to 'Terminal del Norte', one of the biggest bus terminals in Mexico. The taxi driver is the husband of a friend. He tells us he's been driving since 1940 - a Chevrolet in those days. Today he drives a VW sedan (bug/beetle/vocho) like 90% of Mexico City's taxi drivers. In fact he tells us a lot of things, in his low, scratchy, barely audible, voice, but I miss most of it. Must ask Monica to explain.

The bus terminal is huge - bigger than some airports! We kerb crawl till we find our bus company and disembark. Almost immediately we are approached for money. Monica offers the young, uncombed, man one of our homemade sandwiches. He says 'un peso' ($0.10) would be better but takes the sandwich anyway. I wonder if he ate it.

Inside the terminal, buses are leaving to every point in Mexico. The setup seems to be a successful case study of private services using public infrastructure, with hundreds of independent operators vying to meet the public's transportation needs. And doing a good job of it by the looks of things. Our tickets are executive class - only 24 seats in the whole bus. We leave at 20:15 and won't arrive at Mazatlán till 09:00 tomorrow morning. Can't wait to get to the beach. At Mazatlán we have until 15:00 before we take the 16 hour ferry to La Paz in Baja California. From La Paz it will be another bus journey of 9 hours north to San Ignacio. That's assuming a bus service even exists! Let's hope so. From San Ignacio there's a 60km dirt road to the lagoon where we'll see grey whales and their new-born calves. The lagoon is a nurturing ground for the young whales and they double in size over the winter before braving the Pacific ocean. It seems a number of lodges/campsites have been set up on the shores of the lagoon. We plan to camp in what is apparently the only Mexican-owned site.

In the meantime, let's see if we can get some sleep on the bus. Monica seems to have managed already as I write this (in the dark on my Palm Vx). The seats are about the equivalent of air business class. We've just finished watching the mandatory movie (speakers not headphones), Air Boss II (!). What can one say? What the film lacked in originality and budget, it made up for in predictablity. Maybe they'll show Air Boss I on way home?

Now three hours into the journey, time for me to try to get some sleep. Maybe I should have taken one of Monica's travel-sickness pills - they listed drowsiness as a possible side effect and it seems to have worked for her!

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Cuba - Rotorua, New Zealand - Christ Church, Dublin - Monument Valley, Arizona - Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico - Staffa, Scotland - Huamantla, Tlaxcala, Mexico - Costa Rica - Tule Tree, Oaxaca, Mexico - Fiesta, Mexico City - Making Lacquer, Olinalá, Mexico - Talavera Ceramics, Puebla, Mexico - Mata Ortiz Pottery, Mexico - Lebanon
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