Friday, November 2, 2012

Arrival to Mainland Mexico

Some things in life are meant to be lived, to see, to touch, to really get out there and feel the beauty of the natural world up close. As I sit in this picturesque place of Mexico, I look out and see the turquoise blue water, I hear the crashing of the giant cascade, Minas Viejas and I see flashes of white as water descends over a hundred feet falling to reconnect with travertine rock or to bypass the rock and fall directly into the beautiful pool of agua azul at the bottom of the falls. To add to this wonderland, hundreds of swallows are coming out of a cave situated about half-way up the falls and are circling overhead. Maybe they are coming out for the evening feed, waking from a rest in the cave or just maybe they are doing exactly what I am doing; Living in Beauty. I believe we were meant to experience the beauty that our world holds, and for this I live.

Good night sleep on the boat
How did the Tour de SueƱos arrive to such an amazing place? Well lots of traveling, with some fun over the past two weeks since we left Baja. From La Paz we boarded the ferry with the SuenosMobile and the ship left for our 18 hour crossing of southern Baja to Mazatlan on Mainland Mexico. The ferry ride was quite nice, featuring an array of movies in the lounge area, the “Hangover” series in Spanish and we woke up in the morning to the killing of Indians in the “Apocalypto”, along with a cartoon or two. To save some money we opted out on paying for a cabin and brought our sleeping pads and bags on the ferry and slept out on the deck of the ship.

We arrived in Mazatlan around 11:00am and drove the van off the ship with the other cars and trucks as well as one or two crazy cyclist on a journey to ride as far south as possible. As soon as we hit the road and were trying to navigate a route to head south, I drove through a red light and soon after a police motorcycle was pulling me over. I tried my best to talk him out of giving me a ticket, but no luck, and I was told to go to the police station about seven blocks away and pay the fine there. Part of me was thinking of just forgetting the ticket and continue on with our journey, but I did run a red light so I went to the station to get it sorted out. A hundred and fifty pesos later or about 12 bucks we were on our way to Aticama, Nayarit.

Quieres un chile picante?
Aticama is a small pueblo about five hours south of Mazatlan and three hours north of Puerto Vallarta. Most travelers would probably drive straight past the small coastal town not giving it a second look. But this small pueblo is home to some longtime family friends and it hold some of my earliest childhood memories of Mexico. Jose and Petra Perez are a couple my dad met before he was married with a family, during his vagabond days in Mexico. Over the last 30 years or so our family has stayed in contact with these great people through visits to Mexico and even having Jose and his brothers swimming across to Imperial Beach and to work and live with our family many years back. And now after about eight years since my last visit I am driving up that same old cobblestone street looking for Jose and Petra’s casa.

About three blocks up from the highway and a question to a local guy at a small store, “ Sabes donde viven Jose y Petra?”, we pulled up to the two-story house that appeared a lot nicer then when I last visited. We walked in the house with the television on, a couple kids playing in the living room, and three adults sitting in front of the TV. There she was, a bit more frail and weak from Arthritis, a lady who is a mother to all, Petra Perez. Jose was down in Puerto Vallarta for the weekend selling ceviche to local restaurants and would be back the following day. If there is one thing that this family has taught me over the years, it is the importance of family and friends and most importantly the act of “Mi Casa es Su Casa.” It feels good to be back.

Not much has changed in the town of Aticama. The young kids are now adults with children of their own and the elders are happy to have a few more grandchildren running around, life is simple in these parts. They work when they need to and they enjoy spending time at home and live the ultimate chorbel lifestyle. We adapted quite well to the simplicity of this Mexican way of life. Mornings were mellow with a few cups of Nescafe and frijoles con tortillas de Maiz to fuel us up for our wanderings about nearby attractions. We spent afternoons looking for surf at nearby beaches, made a day trip up to a waterfall for a fish BBQ and swim-time, took a boat ride through the mangroves of San Blas to the crocodile farm, attended Sundays three hour long church service followed by a community fish taco feast and most of all enjoyed being with long time friends and making a few new ones as well.

Fish bbq estilo mexicano

After about five days of chorbeling around Aticama we decided it was time to move on. Driven by a word that Puerto Vallarta could have some potential for some good kayaking we headed south looking for agua en los rios. We arrived to find not much on the side of water and only had a short afternoon running a small rock slide at the sight of where the film “Predator” was shot way back in the day. Chris and I took turns in a kayak going off this one runnable slide to dust off the kayak cobwebs for the next part of the Tour de Suenos, Kayaking.
Predator slide

From Puerto Vallarta we began the long drive across Mexico to the eastern state of San Luis Potosi. This journey took us a bit longer than expected, something that tends to happen in Mexico. After three days of driving we found ourselves hiking down to our first waterfall of the trip, “Puente de Dios.” For not kayaking for a solid two months this was quite the technical drop start off with. “Puente de Dios” means bridge of God, and this tourist attractions was pretty much exactly that. A low volume fifteen foot waterfall into a tight pool, which then required a ferry to the lead-in of a tight bouncy drop which had an undercut rock both on the top right and bottom left. After scouting and finding a good spot for safety Chris had a good run then I followed also making it down clean, and we were both stoked on being back in the RIO. Following those two drops all the water went into a big pool that seemed to end right there with no exit to the pool. But the water somehow form a natural bridge and had this underwater cave you could swim into and out the other side leading to the rest of the river.
The First drop of Puente de DIos

Underwater Cave Puente de Dios

When we all got our fair share of swim time we headed back to the van to make a drive to Ciudad Valles for the next river, Cascadas Micos. Los Micos is essentially a playground for kayakers, it is a series of about 7 drops ranging from 8-15ft of pretty basic travertine slides and waterfalls. Since we arrived in the evening we decided to wait until the morning for our first run. We awoke in the morning to a light drizzle of rain and after our morning chorbel of coffee and eggs we headed up river for our first of four laps of the day. This run could use a bit more water as it is hard to get a good boof stroke, but after a couple laps we got the lines a bit more dialed. Overall a good day of paddling and a bit of training for hopefully some harder runs to come.
Put-in Los Micos
Now as I am writing this blog in my journal, to be reposted when I come to some internet we are waiting for another day on the rio. We drove up the road from the Cascadas Micos to check if the run Cascadas Minas Viejas had water and we came to a river that was a bit to low to run. After a decision to stay and enjoy the beautiful falls for the day, Chris gets overtaken with a quick onset of Montezuma’s revenge and sets up his tent within crawling distance from the toilet. Hopefully shit gets better.
Never show signs of weakness en Mexico

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