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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mexican Busses...From the Costalegre to Pochutla and back again.

This blog post is for anyone...and everyone... who could benefit from our experience with our massive bus trip down the mexican coast. There wasn´t a lot of information available to us, and as a result, we had to figure it out along the way...so, hopefully this helps someone out.

From Melaque, there is only one bus line that will go straight through to Ixtapa / Zihuatanejo. The bus line is called "Elite" and operates a direct first class bus service that runs only once a day from Melaque. The bus leaves at 5pm everyday and costs $400 pesos per person ( roughly $30- $35 canadian) The bus that we were on took exactly 12 hours to arrive in Zihuatanejo.

From Zihuatanejo to Puerto Escondido, you cannot take a direct bus, as one does not exist. You must first take a bus to Acapulco. The bus to acapulco is run by "Estrella Blanca" bus lines. We took the first class bus as it was only a few dollars more than the second class bus. The departures were at 4pm and 8pm. We chose the 8pm bus, as we were told that we would be able to transfer to a 2am bus in Acapulco going to Puerto Escondido, minimizing our wait time. The bus from Zihuatanejo / Ixtapa to Acapulco Ejido cost $133 pesos per person (roughly $10 canadian), and took 4 hours.

Unfortunately for us, when we arrived in Acapulco at around 12 or 12:30 and tried to buy tickets for our connecting bus, we were told that it was sold out, and the next bus would be leaving at 7:45am, meaning that we had to spend the night on the floor of the bus terminal. Note to anyone who is planning to do this leg of the trip that it would be in your best interests to pre buy your tickets from Acapulco to Puerto Escondido. The bus line that ran this bus was "Alta Mar / CosteƱos" The bus trip was first class and took 10 hours. It cost $303 pesos per person (roughly $25 canadian).

From Puerto Escondido to Mazunte, San Agustinillo, Punta Cometa, or Zipolite, you must take a bus at the OCC bus terminal bound for Pochutla...but get off at San Antonio and take a cab to you destination. This will save you about an hour of travel time, and money. The fare cost $30 pesos per person ( about $3canadian) and the taxi from San Antonio to San Agustinillo cost $50 pesos.

Some notes on bus travel in Mexico:
- First class buses do not really have a specific standard that they have to adhere to. Some are really new and fancy ( and we found the most uncomfortable) and some are extremely old and ghetto. The only thing that makes a bus first class is the fact that they will all have the air conditioning blasting you the whole time, a TV (whether it works or not) and some sort of toilet facility, which the second class busses do not have.
 - I highly recommend that you wear pants, bring a sweater, and a blanket on any first class bus ride. It is freezing on those busses, so much so, that it is impossible to keep warm and makes the trip uncomfortable. Someone told me i should bring a blanket, and i figured, im from canada, the AC on a bus cant be that cold....but believe me, it really is.
-Any time we got on a bus they tagged our bags and gave us a ticket. This lead us to believe that the ticket would be required to claim our luggage at our destination .Wrong. The tickets are basically just a show...nobody checks anything, so if there are people getting stuff from under the bus before your stop, i would recommend that you watch the bags coming off the bus to make sure yours isn´t one of them.
- You must stop in Acapulco, whether you want to or not. Acapulco is the end / starting point for all of the bus lines. The bus lines that run north of Acapulco only run north, and the bus lines that run south of Acapulco only run south, therefore if you are doing a trip such as ours from the northern mexican coast down to the southern part of Oaxaca, Acapulco is unavoidable.... which is good if you want to go there....but if you dont, it sucks.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mexico in a nutshell

Mexico really is an amazing country, and as a result, our time here has been just flying by....a lot more quickly than anticipated. We have been here for over 2 months now, and will be here until after christmas, at which time we will work our way south into Guatemala and the rest of Central America.
We started off in by stopping in Melaque, a quiet little town on the west coast of mexico just a few hours south of Puerto Vallarta. I had lived here for close to a year when I was 20 years old, and we decided that it would be nice to start off our trip with visiting our Mexican friends. We had originally planned to stay in Melaque for a month maximum, then work our way south along the west coast of and then across from Puerto Escondido over to the Yucatan Peninsula...however, after a month in the costalegre, we decided that we were not ready to leave, and that we would at least stay for the halloween festivites. In total we ended up staying in Melaque for 7 weeks...it was too easy. Life in Melaque is sweet. We have amazing friends that share their time and their food with us, take us surfing and are just overall spectacular people. Its sunny all the time, and we generally have no worries other than trying to figure out what we are going to do in the afternoon.  The end of our time in Melaque was to be marked by a trip to La Ticla with our good friend Benja for a week long surf trip, after which, Owen and I would continue south, trying to surf along the way until we got to Puerto Escondido...but.... that didnt happen....the going south part...we ended up going back to Melaque for a couple of days to figure out just where we were going to go, and how we were going to get there.  We departed from Melaque just short of 8 weeks after we arrived. We dedided that we were going to take the bus to Zihuatanejo, the fourth largest city in the state of Guerrero. It was a first class, 12 hour bus ride that went surprisingly well and cost us each only $400 pesos (roughly $35 canadian). 

We arrived in Zihuatanejo at 5 am, and waited at the bus terminal until 7:00 when it got light out. Before we left Melaque, i wrote down the name of 2 hotels in Zihuat so that we could have a bit of an idea of where we were going to go when we arrived. So we climed into a cab and asked him to take us to the first ¨budget¨hotel on my list. The hotel was in the middle of nowhere, and the cab just kind of dumped us off and took off. The place looked really sketchy on the outside, and when we rang the bell, there was no answer, so i phoned....also no answer. Then a guy from across the street told us that the hotel was no longer open...ugh... Luckily in mexico you can pretty much get a cab anywhere at anytime...so we only waited a few minutes before climbing into cab number two to take us to the next hotel on the list (which i first phoned to ensure that they could take us).  We ended up staying in Zihuatanejo for about a week. We met a cool guy that Benja recommended to us, named Sixto Mendez. He owns a surf shop in the centre of Zihuatanejo...really nice guy. He took us surfing everyday to a place called Playa Linda, a nice break that was not too big. From Zihuatanejo, we planned to go straight down to Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca.

Unfortunately, a direct bus from Zihuat to Puerto Escondido does not exist, and we were told that we would first have to take a bus at 8pm  to Acapulco, then connect with another bus departing for Puerto Escondido at 2am... meaning that we would only have a 2 hour wait between busses and arrive in the morning...perfect. We arrived in Acapulco on time, but ended up having to sleep on the floor in the bus station for 8 hours, as our connecting bus was sold out, and we had to wait for the next one...so that sucked....but we ended up getting on the next bus and arriving in Puerto Escondido the next day at 5pm. Puerto Escondido is a surf town known for its famous break at Zicatela Beach. It is known as the heaviest beach break in the world, and is second in size only to the hawaiian pipeline, so naturally, i was expecting something spectactular ( just to watch of course...not to surf...i would die) but...there was nothing spectacular about it. The water was flat...no waves...no gnarly surfers....no mind blowing, life changing experience....bummer... BUT, it was still a fun place....we just couldnt surf.... and that defeated the whole purpose of being there, so we left after 4 days to a destination just an hour south of Escondido called ¨Costa Chica¨which consists of 4 or 5 little fishing villages along the southern Oaxacan coast. We decided to stay in a town in the middle, called San Agustinillo, the only one of the towns that apparently had waves to surf. When we arrived, it looked amazing. A quiet little bay, with only a handful of local stores and guest houses, and a deserted beach with clear blue water and a nice wave to surf. Sounds too good to be true right?  Exactly.  The place is a complete tourist trap. Apparently lots of europeans go there...so as a result, everything cost an arm and a leg....it was rediculous how expensive it was, and nothing was opened after 8pm...and the nice wave....well, it wasnt so nice any time we tried to surf it... I wanted out of there after only a day...and so did Owen, so we hopped on the next bus outta there....back to Melaque....it would be a 30 hour journey.
This time, we took a bit of a different route. From Puerto Escondido we hopped on a first class bus for $500 pesos to Acapulco, where, we would connect with a direct bus 6 hours later that would take us straight through to Melaque. The differences in the first class buses between the different carriers is staggering. Some of the first class buses from one company will be complete shit, and so was the case with our bus from Acapulco to Melaque. When we arrived at the bus station to catch our connecting bus, we were joined by a massive group of native people....with more kids than adults (about 25 in total) all carting with them big rice bags stuffed with various oddities. The kids were wild children, and one of them infact, just decided he was going to take a shit in the middle of the floor of the bus station and dropped his pants and let it go....it couldnt believe it...so Owen jokes that they are all probably going to be on our bus...but i didnt think so, because our bus was a first class bus, and i couldnt imagine how this group of people would be able to afford the first class bus...but, when the bus arrived...they all piled on with us..joy oh joy...
Well, that was a bus ride from hell... the natives decide that they didnt need to use their seats and all decided they were going to sleep in the aisles, blocking anyone from using the toilet...and our bus driver decided that in order to make a bit of extra cash on the side, that he would pick up each and every person on the side of the road that wanted a ride, whether there was a seat for them or not....then, on top of that, just outside of Zihuatanejo, I felt a grinding jolt...and the bus wasn´t sounding too good... the bus stopped for about 2 hours, then carried on. I figured we had a flat tire, and that they had fixed it.... but when we got to manzanillo the next morning, they made us all pile off the bus.....turns out that one of the back wheels fell off, and they continued to drive for the next 8 hours with the wheel missing... well, they told us they were going to fix the wheel before we continued on  with the rest of our trip, so we waited another hour. Then the bus pulls up and the wheel is still missing!!! Seriously! so, we drove the rest of the way to melaque with one missing wheel, on the most ghetto ¨first class¨bus ive ever been on in my life....and arrived nearly 6 hours late. 

I am happy to be back in Melaque. We will be here until christmas, then will bus (yes, we will do the long journey once again) straight through to Guatemala, where we will be spending some time at a surf camp in Paredon on the west coast.
So, thats been mexico so far...in a nutshell....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

La Ticla, Michoacan

Originally uploaded by erin-sims

On November 9 Owen, myself and Benja departed Melaque for a week of surfing and camping at la ticla. La Ticla is located on Nahuatl land and therefor has not been overrun by tourists and hotels. It is a beautiful, relaxing haven with a nice break at the rivermouth. It was bigger than anything we have surfed and proved to be a challenge, but we both ended up catching some great waves. I love ticla. The camping is great and the people I was with even greater. The week flew by so fast. Now we are in zihuatanejo after a 12 hour bus ride from Melaque. I was super sad to leave Melaque and the AMAZING friends there, especially Benja, who helped us in so many ways. Today. We surfed a spot called Playa Linda in Ixtapa. It was fun, a small river break that was super easy to surf. The best part tho, was the huge sea turtle that popped up next to me in the water. SO COOL!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Catch Up.....6 weeks and counting

So, its been a while.....a bit of a catch up for you all!
Shortly after my last post I came down with a case of the Dengue Fever, a sickness that has become epidemic in this part of mexico, and is spread through mosquitos. In fact, within 2 weeks, 2 people in Benja´s family contracted the sickness as well, his oldest daughter Paulina, who contracted Dengue on her 13th birthday has spent the past 3 weeks in hospital, they weren´t sure if she was going to make it.  I was lucky, mine only lasted a week, and the downtime was minimized by my quick action in taking the emergency antibiotic that we brought with us from canada. There is no cure or treatment for dengue other than to kill off any bacteria in your body, and get plenty of rest. It is a brutal disease, killing many children and elderly people everyday.  Its nicknamed ¨breakback fever¨ as one of the symptoms is an intense pain in the bones and muscles of the body, mostly concentrated in the neck and back....it seriously sucks...my whole body was in excrutiating pain, even my fingernails were throbbing. The fever is the second worst thing compared to the pain...a constant high fever of 104F for 4 days straight....and thats with acetaminophen to keep the temperature down! Next is the inability to keep anything down, including water....ugh....so gross...so, Im glad that its over, and that I and the other people I know have managed to pull through alright. Damn mosquitos!!

Since being sick, we have been keeping rather busy. We managed to complete the ramp and have been skating in the evenings when its a bit cooler out. Still, due to the heat, we are only able to skate for about 20 minutes before we need to take a break and mop the sweat from ourselves. We have been surfing as much as possible, but the past week or two there have not been many waves, so we have been paddling out to an island and back to get our daily excercise and build up our muscles.

Last week we celebrated halloween with a small halloween party in the back of Benja´s place. About 30 people attended...it was a blast. Halloween here is so different than in Canada, prettty much nobody celebrates it!!! Everyone outside of the party was looking at us like we were freaks because we had costumes on. Owen dressed as a ghost with a huge sombrero, and I dressed as a native girl.
In mexico, they celebrate the day of the dead which falls on the 2 of November. The festivities are most extravagantly celebrated in Morelia, more inland, and unfortunately in Melaque, not much happened. The cool thing though, was that to try to keep the tradition going, the highschool kids have an alter competion, where they all build the traditional style alters to honour their deceased family members. The alters are elaborately decorated and contain items that the deceased person liked when they were alive. They also contain offerings of food and drink, and incense. Its really cool. I will post some pics when i can find a computer that will let me upload them.

As for now, our time in Melaque is almost over. We planned to leave yesterday to go to La Ticla, a small surf town on the west coast just past Colima, however, we have changed our plans and will leave on monday so that our friend Benjamin can join us for a week. It should be fun. After a week in La Ticla, we will move south along the coast, working our way next to Rio Nexpa, then on to Zihuatanejo and Puerto Escondido. Wish us luck!!! We´ll keep you all posted on where we are and try to put up some pics as soon as we can.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A day in the life

Ok, so, so far we haven´t really described our typical day in Melaque, so here we go...

First off, you would think that being in Mexico and not having to work, that we would take advantage of the luxury of a regular sleeping-in.....not so. 
On the days that we dont surf, we meet with Benja and his little dog Botas at 8am for our morning swim or paddle at the nearby beach.
On days that we do surf, we are up around 6 or 630 to get ready for our morning outting with Benja, Lupe and his wife Carmen, and any number of others depending on the day. We usually head for one of the regular spots: Ranchito-which is the closest, Boca De Iguanas - which is the most frequently surfed by us, or Arroyo Seco - which includes two separate beach breaks: Las Brujas and Las Brisas. 
After surfing (or attempting to...depending on the day) until at least noon, we head back to Melaque. Once back in Melaque, we chill with Benja at his arcade or work on the mini ramp for a few hours until lunch time. Here, lunch is around 3 or 4 oclock in the afternoon. We have been extrememly fortunate to have very generous friends here in Melaque, and have been invited to have lunch with Benja, Rosy and their two daughters every day since we´ve arrived in town. We have been treated to a huge (delicious) variety of traditional vegetarian mexican cuisine.  Thanks Benja and Rosy!!!After lunch its either back down to the arcade, work on the ramp or back to the bungalow for a siesta. Then around 6pm we go out for surf #2 and surf until its dark out....then back to town. Next is dinner time. Dinner is typically eaten at the restaurant of Benja´s family, its called Hacienda San Miguel, and is the BEST restaurant in Melaque, in my opinion...

After dinner, we always do something different depending on the day, the weather etc. Last night for example we ended up getting dressed up and driving to Manzanillo with Benja, Rosy, and another friend Alonso to start celebrating Alonso´s upcoming birthday. It was a lot of fun. The great part about it was that when we paid the $100peso ($8) cover charge at the night club, it included either 4 beers or 3 drinks of your choice. Not something that we see very often in canada. And the dancing!!! well! lets just say, the dancing is quite different than what I´m used to! It seems that people have a lot more fun at the clubs here.....from what I can tell!
So, thats a typical day in the life of Erin and Owen right now. Its tough I tell you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Crocodiles, surfing and rain.....whatelse?

We have officially been in Mexico for over 2 weeks now. Its amazing just how quickly time flies, and Im a bit sad to have to leave Melaque in a few more weeks. We initially planned to stay only until the 23 of October, but have since changed our minds and will stay for another week to join our friends in their halloween celebrations. So now, Owen and I must figure out our costumes and get them made in time.  The weather here in Melaque has been on and off....one day really sunny and hot, and then the next day really rainy and hot....so the humidity is insane. We had planned a big ramp party for yesterday to celebrate the restoration of the skateramp in the back of my friends old theatre, but due to a torrential downpour on Wednesday, it had to be postponed until next week, because the ramp ended up getting flooded and we had to wait for the rain to stop and for the ramp to dry up before we could continue working on it. Luckily, the new supplies (masonite and ply) weren´t yet on the ramp, so it wasn´t destroyed. We will continue to work on the ramp tonite as long as we can get a saw.... finding tools here is impossible unless you go buy them.
On the plus side, Owen and I ordered custom formed surfboards from a mexican brand called ATL....they form all the Squalo boards as well, and we went to Guadalajara last week to pick them up. They are beautiful. I recieved a 6'1 fish, and owen a 6'4 egg with a fish tail. I love my board, and have been extremely fortunate to be able to go surfing at least once everyday, if not every morning and every night. 

The most commonly surfed spot for us is a place called Boca De Iguanas, and is home to a break for surfers of every level. It is also home to some crocodiles, and in the wet season, to get to the beach to surf, it is necessary to cross the waist deep lagoon.......fortunately for us, its dried up right now, but the crocs are still there and very close. The other day we arrived for our evening surf, and the big guy, about 10 feel long was just strolling on the beach a few feet away from us. It was unreal!! I wish I had my camera for that. We watched him walk across the beach from his little lagoon and go into the ocean where we are usually surfing. Luckily for us he was heading for a place called La Manzanilla to visit his girlfriend and was not looking for lunch. We surfed up the beach from him....it was crazy tho.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oh mexico.......

Well, we finally arrived in Melaque, Mexico....a week ago!
Its been a great week so far. We managed to arrange through our friend Luis  (choko) to stay at the Bungalows Laguna Del Tule for $4000 pesos for the month...thats cheap, around $325. So thats where we are. Its pretty far from town, at the very far end of San Patricio, so we do need bicycles to get around, but Luis was generous enough to lend us those as well, so its worked out amazingly for us.
Its been really hot here, and the humidity is crazy. Averaging at least 35- 40 degrees out everyday, and raining for at least a half an hour everyday as well. Its like we are living in a sauna....but I cant complain really, now can I?
Owen and I have decided that due to the incredibly cheap prices here, we are able to purchase ourselves some  custom shaped surf boards and are looking forward to getting some waves (small ones for now) really soon. As for now tho, we are getting everything together for the miniramp. We have started taking it apart, and are heading to Guadalajara tomorrow with a couple of friends to try to find either masonite or skatelite. Keep your fingers crossed for us that we find it. Choko has aranged a big ramp party for the 9 of October, so we have a little more than a week and a half to get the ramp fixed and skateable.
Other than the ramp, we have been living a lazy life...we´ve been forced to really. Not much to do in this heat other than laze at the beach, have a nap or eat.... so we´ve been doing just that....repeatedly.
Anyhow, im off to go have a post lunch nap! adios!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Donkeys may not sleep in bathtubs...

Believe it or not, this is actually a current law. In Arizona, it is illegal for donkeys to sleep in bathtubs. This is just one of the many facts that we learned while doing a bit of research for a quick trip across the Mohave desert.
We arrived in Desert Hot Springs on Tuesday night, after a longer than anticipated drive from Los Angeles. Word to the wise: DO NOT take a flight into LA and plan to drive in RUSH HOUR!!! OMG!!  It was insane...it took us nearly 2 hours on the freeway to move a total of 20 miles!! Never again will I make that mistake. Anyhow, we got to Owen's mom's house after a lengthly 4.5 hour drive and a much needed stop at my favourite american fast food joint: Rubios. If you haven't had Rubios you are seriously missing out. Fish tacos to kill for!
After arriving in DHS and having a lazy day in the 45 degree heat with Karen, Owen's mom, we started to plan a quick 2 day excursion to go see the Grand Canyon in Arizona. We figured we would be able to make it there and back with only a one night stayover. We did it...but it was tight.
We departed from DHS at 5:30am on Thursday morning and started driving through the desert. We decided that we were going to take the scenic back route and make our way to the Grand Canyon then down to Sedona to camp. We ended up driving the old Route 66 highway. We were literally the only car on the road pretty much the whole way. We made a point of taking an extra few hours to drive through an old ghost town that "refuses to die" called Oatman.
Oatman is apparently famous for being haunted by Clark Gable, as well as for being over run with wild and not so wild Burrows (donkeys!) They are said to roam the streets of the old town to the extent that it is hard to drive a car down the road. As we approached Oatman, we were greeted with "watch out for Donkey" signs, and signs warning to not feed the animals, so I was just a litte more than disappointed when we arrived in the town centre without sight of a single burrow. We got out of the car and walked around. Still no burrows. So we decided to leave and continue on our way...We saw signs all over the town with a carrot with a cross through it, that read: "Do not feed the donkeys with this sticker on their heads, they will choke to DEATH. Do not remove the stickers from their heads!"  My guess is that too many people removed too many stickers and ALL the donkeys choked to death, so now Oatman has no donkeys.
So on from Oatman to the Grand Canyon. We drove for a total of 8 hours, and finally arrived at our destination. The charge for admission to the park was reasonable at $25 per car and was valid for 7 days. They give you a little map and let you do your thing. We parked the car (for FREE!) and walked towards the "south rim" really couldn't see anything except for trees, and I thought that we were still quite far from actually seeing anything, when all of a sudden (YES! ALL OF A SUDDEN!) the ground opened up into one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen. The grand canyon really is quite amazing. It is nice that the state of Arizona really hasn't let the beauty of something so unique be taken over by vendors and attractions. I was pleasantly surprised that the park layout was very basic, with a narrow paved path parallel to the rim. Owen and I found a nice little outcropping hanging out over the canyon, and upon further inspection, noticed that we could climb down to a small ledge about 8 or so feet below us. That was our lunch spot. It was amazing. No people, and only the view of the canyon. We were very soon joined by a curious little squirrel who no doubt wanted our food and was by no means shy. I swear he would have hopped right up on our laps had we let him get that near.

After a few hours at the Canyon, we decided to head 2 hours south to Sedona, home of the mystical red rock canyons. Our plan was to camp overnight along the oak creek, which is said to have mystical healing properties. That didn't quite work out. 2 of the 4 campground were closed and the remaining 2 were over capacity.Bummer. We ended up driving for about 4 more hours before finding somewhere to camp. We settled ourselves atop a long winding mountain road above the eerie town of Jerome. It was cold, we were tired.

I didn't sleep a wink, so we were up early, on our way to Las Vegas to try to find Owen some shoes...haha...yes, that is the ONLY reason we were going there. We detoured on our way to vegas to drive over the Hoover Dam, and let me tell you, it really isn't that spectacular. At least I didn't think so. We moved on quickly and arrived in a sweltering hot Las Vegas around noon. We shopped for a few hours then left for home... well... owen's moms home.
We again decided to opt to take the scenic route home. We drove down an old road through the middle of the Mohave National Reserve. Again, the only car on the road, for a very LOOOOOONG time.  The drive was really cool. We came across a random group of sand dunes, a volcanic crater, and a forest of Joshua trees.
Now we are back in DHS. 3 states, 37 hours and 2495KM later. I dont want to sit in a car anymore. Thankfully, we'll be in mexico in a few days, car free!!!

Until then, xoxo
(Hope my drawn out account didnt bore you all!)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Homeless and jobless....by choice of course!

No more countdown!!!
We are officially homeless and jobless...its a lot more work than I expected!
The biggest worry is over, and my darling cats have found a new home. Thank goodness!! I miss them so much already, but I know that they are in good hands. I was fortunate enough to find a lovely woman on Saltspring Island to care for Cola and Jebus. Last I heard they were warming up to her and becoming more social, which is a good thing, because the moved proved to be very traumatic for all of us. It took us 5 hours each way to get them to the island, all the while, Cola had her head burried in my armpit and wouldn't budge, and Jebus was a nervous wreck. They were super mad at me when we got to where we were going and as a result I had to leave them without a final snuggle, as I couldn't reach them in the far corner under the bed where they had stationed themselves.

After taking the cats to Saltspring, we had to bring our motorcycles over to Victoria to put into storage. We had a nice final ride in the sun with Corey Lekas then put our bikes away for the next two years. Boo....

Now we are in the Kootenays. We have been here for the past week and leave tomorrow to visit with Owen's dad in Victoria before heading down to Desert Hot Springs to visit with Owen's mom and her husband Wayne. Its been nice not having to work, and we've been taking advantage the leisurely life. Its nice to spend some time with our families, and they are sure going to be missed over the next couple of years.

Our bags are packed, and have been unpacked and repacked a number of times to ensure that everything fits. Owen actually had to return his backpack (as I had to do also) in exchange for a larger one, and even then, its a tight fit. Even after narrowing everything in my bag down to what I thought was the bare essentials, I still had to cut out some more clothing. The final count is as follows:

  • 2 Pairs of walking shorts
  • 2 pairs of surf shorts
  • 2 pair of pants
  • 2 bikinis
  • 3 t shirts
  • 1 long sleeved shirt
  • 3 tank tops
  • 4 pair of socks
  • 3 pair of underwear
  • 1 hoody
  • 1 cardigan
  • 1 summer dress

That's it. I had to cut out a pair of pants, 2 t-shirts, 2 tank tops and some socks. They were just taking up too much room. Hopefully I use everything I bring, otherwise, its getting left behind somewhere in Mexico.

As some of you may already know, while we are in Melaque, Owen and I will be rebuilding the skateboard ramp (mini ramp) that we started when we were there a couple of years ago. We have managed to raise about $600 so far to donate towards purchasing the materials needed for the ramp. We also have a Mexican friend who is a musician and will be holding a concert when we are there and donating all the proceeds towards the ramp as well. It should be amazing. The kids there are super excited, as are we!! We also received a large donation of skateboard clothing, which we will be bringing to Mexico as well to donate to the kids who need it. I am really looking forward to being able to help some people out. If any of you are interested in donating to the cause, you can do so through the donate now button on this page and just leave a note that the donation is for the skate park project. Also, check out the group on Facebook-A skate park project: fundraising to share the love worldwide. I will keep you all posted on the ramp progress and post some pics of it when we are finished.

Well, I'm off to see a movie with my dad...so next update will likely be from either California or Mexico.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Is this really happening??? REALLY??

Well, the official countdown is at 19days, 19 hours, 19 minutes......its unreal...less than 3 weeks!

We have been planning this trip for a long time, and it seems so unreal that the time has actually come for us to depart this beloved country that I call home. Everyone keeps asking me if I'm excited, and to be quite honest, at this point excitement is not something that I can say I am feeling...if anything...I'm nauseous...nervous...anxious....sad...scared....i don't even know....but certainly not EXCITED! No...not yet anyways. I am sure that once I have everything taken care of, and I'm sitting on the plane...that then, and only then will I begin to feel excited.... for now, there is still too much for me to worry about.

I only have 2 weeks! I am a wreck...I appear to be cool, calm & collected on the outside, but in my head.....its a complete mess right now! I am however very relieved that I may have (cross your fingers until its 100%) found a home for my darling cats on Salt Spring Island... but...until they are there and purring happily...I'm certainly not going to relax.... Even if it is 100% (again...fingers crossed please!) I still have to figure out when & how we are getting them there, have to purchase a 2 year supply of wet & dry cat food, and get the cats...especially Cola (the spaz) out of the house and into the car and onto the island in one piece....haha...should be fun right? That is my main concern right now...but certainly not my only concern.

So many people don't realize just how much stuff needs to be done to prepare for a trip of this calibre... in fact, I am just realizing it, and I leave in just over 2 weeks. For anyone planning a big trip like this...here's a checklist... if you can think of anything I'm missing, please...PLEASE email me and let me know!!!
  • Get rid of possessions - Check! well...most of them so far... a couple more yard sales to go!
  • Submit change of address form - Not cheap BTW.
  • Arrange to have all your utilities turned off - Make sure they send your last invoice via email so you can pay online once you are gone.
  • Buy travel insurance. - This one I researched A LOT! honestly, the cheapest travel insurance provider by a long shot was BCAA... oh, and you can only buy 1 year worth at a time....so make sure you know how to renew it.
  • Get all vaccines - . This part is the worst part....so many needles, but picked up my Dukoral booster dose the other day, and other than that, no more needles for at least 2 years.
  • Get a new passport - Although my passport was still valid for 2 years, you do need to have at least 6 months of validity left after your expected return to Canada, and...with us visiting so many countries (hopefully) on this trip, we wanted to make sure we had enough blank pages for all the visas we will need, so we went with the 48 page passport.
  • Renew drivers licence - My license would have expired when I was gone. Even though it was not time to renew my licence ( there was still more than a year to go), I learned that you can do a 5 year renewal early, they just backdate your licence...so it works.
  • Scan all documents and email to myself & family....just in case. Get extra passport photos taken for Visas etc.
  • Get an international drivers licence - BCAA is your best bet for that also.
  • Sew secret pockets in all clothing - This is a big job, not for the weak...haha...but saves having to wear an uncomfortable (not to mention predictable) money belt in questionable countries.
  • Get a physical exam- Better safe than sorry....after all, I will be gone for 2 years...
  • Eye Exam - Update prescription for glasses & contacts, and get a 2 year supply of contact lenses....which are going to be a total pain in the ass to carry around for 2 years...but what can I do...glasses just don't cut it for me.
  • Meet with the banks & set up auto deposit from my savings acct to my debit linked checking account. Also make sure all bank cards/ credit cards have the new chip, and that I know all the pin numbers, and that they will work over seas. Oh yea, and call the CC companies and tell them that we will be gone travelling so they don't assume my cards have been stolen and cancel them...which would suck.
  • Prepay BC Medical - I learned that if you don't prepay it, you can be denied coverage when you return to BC after being gone for 6 months or more. And you can only prepay for up to 2 years, and only on a special request to MSP. Bummer. Oh yea, and its REALLY REALLY expensive.

So...yeah... I know that I am missing some things...but I'm working on it, and hopefully can get it all together in time.

I would also like to give an update on my backpack situation. I'm going to start with everyone was right....and I was wrong. After packing all my stuff into my teeny tiny 42L backpack, I realized that I was at full capacity.... maybe even a little more than full capacity. Not a good thing. I even went through all my stuff to see what I could sacrifice to create more room, but truth be told...i need everything...it is the minimum that I would need to be comfortable backpacking around the world. So I had to return my backpack and settle on a bigger one. I now have a 65L backpack that will not be filled to capacity, and has a nice feature that allows it to compress down to just as big as I need it. However, if the room is needed, it will now be available... lucky Owen, I can carry all my own stuff now. Haha!

Well, I must be getting back to getting ready for our departure. Next update will be just prior to our leaving Vancouver. TTYL!


PS. I talked to my brother Dan the other day. He and his girlfriend Sarah are doing a similar trip around the world. They, like Owen & I, plan to be gone for about 2 years. They have now been travelling for just over 2 months. They have just finished Europe, and have recently arrived in South Africa. They have rented a place in Cape Town for a week, and have also bought themselves a 4x4 SUV vehicle, which they plan to drive through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana & Zimbabwe, then back down to South Africa and re-sell the vehicle. Their trip sounds amazing so far....cant wait to be in their shoes!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

So much to do...so little time...

The official countdown is at 44 days, 21 hours, 47 minutes .... just over a month!

Well, time is flying....quickly....I have a lot of stuff to do in soo little time.
A lot has happened since the last "update". Let me fill you in.

1) I quit my job at the Aveda Academy Salon. After being there for 5 years, I decided that for my last 3 months in Canada that I would like to just relax and be stress free...so now I am at a small little salon in Kits called Poppy Hair Boutique, where I have no worries other than my own.

2) Owen picked up a second job washing dishes 4 nights a week at Watermark Restauraunt on Kits Beach....he hates it, and has given his notice for the beginning of August.

Owen & I have almost amassed all of our gear for the trip, and our bags are pretty full. I have been getting a lot of comments from people that my 42L backpack is not big enough...and they have been questioning my intelligence based on the fact that I do not desire to lug a huge bag around the world with me. Granted, my bag is at full capacity, but as far as Im concerned, I will be getting rid of more stuff than I will be aquiring, so I have nothing really to worry about. Plus...Owen's bag is bigger than mine, so if need be, I'll donate some things to him to carry....haha..
I am going to post pics of everything that I am bringing, but will do so when my collection of items is complete.

Right now our main concern is still finding a home for my kitties...its a hard one, nobody out there is receptive to my pleas....it's a bit disheartening, but Im not leaving until the perfect home is found and they are rolling around comfortably on someone else's floor. The other priority has been clearing our apartment of all that we own. It is amazing how much "stuff" we've aquired over the past 5 years. So, to anyone that wants anything that I have: call me, you can take it (for a small fee)!!

My brother and his girlfriend Sarah were here to visit just before leaving on their ultimate world trip. They've been travelling for 6 weeks now, and although I haven't heard much from them, through the few pictures and updates from my mom, it is clearly evident that they are getting the most out of their trip so far. The pictures are amazing, and they look so happy....it makes the fact that our trip is upon us so much more exciting. I only hope that we have as much fun as they are (our savings are significantly less).

Dan & Sarah in Italy

Anyhow, these pre-trip updates are hopefully not as boring to you as they are to me...not to worry tho, one more, then the real good stuff will take its place. First stop: Mexico.... I can't wait!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


The official countdown is at 131 days, 13 hours, 43 minutes - YIKES!
Its crazy how quickly time is flying by...scary in fact, condsidering just how much I have to get done before we're gone.
Anyhow...a bit of an update for you all.

Owen getting Hep B shot #2

Erin getting Japanese Encephalitis Shot #2

Owen and I have almost completed getting our shots done, he is going on to his 3rd hepatitis B shot and has decided to NOT get the Japanese Encephaliltis ( a foolish decision in my opinion) so will be done his vaccines as of the end of this month. I have recieved 2 of 3 of the Japaneses Encephalitis shots and have one more to go. Of all the vaccines, this was the one that actually did give me side effects, although not too bad. The main thing was that it just made me extrememly tired and gave some stomach pains, but the first shot was worse than the second, so Im hoping by the time the third shot comes around that the side effects will be non-existant. I also learned that the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine is in short supply and will soon not be available in some places...also the price has gone up since I started my series of shots, so anyone contemplating getting this vaccine should be aware that if they choose to wait and think about it some more, that it may not be available to them. On the plus side though....no more needles for me after the last one!

My backpack is getting fuller by the day. 40 Litres is not a lot of space, and im a little worried that I may not have enough room in my bag....but, I have to make it work, there is no way on earth that I am carrying a bag as big as myself around this huge world of ours....not a chance. So far in my bag I have a few new purchases! After a lot of research I found the underwear that I will be bringing with me (and at a fraction of the cost as expected!). In all of the travel stores and online you see all this info about quick dry / wicking underwear that everyone recommends for travelling, but what they dont tell you is that it costs $30 a pair. So, I went and checked it out and yes, it does look very comfy...but a little outside of my budget for undies...seriously. So I checked out the fabric content on all of the labels and started browsing the internet. Every time we go to the USA we always stop at the outlet stores, and they have an underwear store there, so I decided to check out what they had in stock. Well, I ended up buying my undies!!! 4 pair for under $20 ! Exciting, I know. They have the exact same fabric content and feel as the expensive ones at MEC and also are seamless...which seems a bit better to me, so I'm happy about that. Owen has also FINALLY bought a backpack...pretty basic and rugged...just what we need. The nice thing about his bag is the fact that it is bigger than mine, meaning he gets to carry the tent...ahaha..

Jebus & Cola - My lovely cats

The scariest (saddest) thing about our upcoming trip is the fact that I still have to find someone to take my lovely cats....this is stressing me out sooooo much. They are my babies...I love them. If anyone knows of somebody who may be down for some snuggles, here's the deal: I supply 2 years worth of food + kitties to snuggle. In exchange the kitties must be kept together, indoors, and snuggled on a regular basis. Then, when I return, I get my cats back.

Cola & I

Well, thats it for now... until next time...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Yay for mexico!

The official countdown is at 157 days, 23 hours, 46 minutes

After recently talking with my mom, we now officially have 3 destinations confirmed...hopefully, it stays at 3 and we dont end up over planning where we want to be. After all...this is supposed to be a "go where you decide at the last minute" kind of trip right?

1) LA / Palm Springs, USA - September 14
2) Melaque, Mexico - September 22 - To rebuild a miniramp & visit with frineds.
3) Progreso, Mexico - December 24!!! For Christmas with some of my family!!!!!! YAY! I haven't had christmas with family in about 10 years now....

So we will make our way from Melaque (West coast) down to Progreso (Yucatan Peninsula) between September & December. Anyone who wants to meet us in Mexico during those times, just let me know!
After Christmas, we will more than likely be moving down into Guatemala as soon as possible.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Well, here we go! A little bit of catch up..

The official countdown is at 164 days, 2 hours, 24 minutes.

Welcome to my blog! I have been inspired to start a bit early, urged on by some of my guests at Aveda, so that they can peer into the process and preparations necessary in anticipation of us (Erin & Owen) travelling the globe for two years.

For those of you who do not yet know, Myself and my beloved partner Owen will be embarking on the "Ultimate World Trip of a Lifetime". We are starting in Mexico on September 22 and from there, we will travel to where the world takes us. No timelines, no specific destinations, just an epic adventure. We plan to do as much travel as possible overland, meaning that we wont fly if we dont absolutely have to. So far, the rough outline of countries goes like this: Mexico, all of Central America, all of South America, hop over to South Africa and work our way up Africa thru to the Middle East and into Europe. From Europe we will have to fly to India. After we explore India we will move on to SE Asia, the Phillipines and Indonesia. Lastly, we will journey over to Australia and New Zealand before making our way back to Canada. Should be interesting.

Those of you who know me well, know that I am a COMPLETE geek, so the preparations are right on track. I have constructed a detailed graph outlining the ideal months to be in each country over the span of approximately 2 years, I have compiled a list of every holiday and celebration and their dates for each country along the way, I have predicted our expenses pre and post departure, and researched the visa and immigration requirements for every country. I have also been spending ALOT of time on travel forums...afterall, the most important info has nothing to do with where we're going, but what we're taking with us.

Even though we still have some time until we leave, I have made the all important decision of purchasing my bag. I have read many posts of travellers complaining that they brought too big of a bag, so Im going with a wee little 40 Litre backpack. It will do tho, the less stuff I bring with me, the less stuff can be stolen..haha..
So, into this bag so far: 1 travel hammock with built in mosquito net, 1 silk travel sheet, 1 tiny sleeping bag ( we plan to do a lot of camping along the way), 1 waterbottle, 1 lightweight compressable, windproof/ waterproof jacket, 1 toiletries bag and a knife. So far the bag is only half full, which is good news considering I still have to pack my clothing. That list will be confirmed later, but for now I m thinking: 2 tee shirts, 1 pair pants, 1 pair surf shorts, 1 pair walking shorts, 1 pair flippy floppy's, 3 pair of undies, 2 bras, 3 pair of socks, 1 bathingsuit, 1 long sleeve shirt, 1 hoody, and a dress. If anyone has any feedback on this list, PLEASE let me know, I can use all the help I can get at this point :).

As many of you may know, I am, as well as a geek, a total hyper-condriac, therefore after many many hours of researching the possible side effects of each and every vaccine, we made an appointment for the travel clinic. Surprisingly, we dont need as many shots as I initially thought (yay!) so we got started.

Owen needs a few more than me, so he got his first 3 shots: MMR, Yellow Feaver & Polio. Turns out he never got the Hep B vaccine in elementary school either, so he has to get those 3 as well, and possibly may also be vaccinated for Japanese Encephalitis, which consists of a series of 3 more shots. I've yet to convince him that it would be a wise move to get that one!
I got my first 2 vaccinations: MMR & Yellow Fever. I am definately going to get the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine, I mean, why wouldn't I?
I also asked about rabies, and the doc told me that typically she would recommend that we be vaccinated against rabies based on the fact that we plan to spend a lot of time in rural areas, but at the moment there is a world shortage, so we cant have it....so...if we get bitten, make sure to get to a hospital within 24 hours or we will more than likely die.... nice.
Lastly, we talked about Malaria (yikes!)
Obviously nobody would choose to want to take anti-malarials for such a long term...especially with the side effects, and not to mention the cost. I was a bit concerned about what to do; do we take them and feel like crap the whole time or do we not take them and cross our fingers and hope we dont come down with malaria? I was talking with one of my clients a while back about this dilemma, and it just so happened that she was from Europe and did a lot of travel. What she told me was that in Europe, they do not prescribe anti-malarials on a preventative basis, that instead they prescribe a "treatment" or emergency dose of anti-malarials should you become sick. Sounded like a good idea to me, so I asked about that, and the doctor wrote me a prescription for the emergency dose which I will keep in my first aid kit. I also recieved a prescription for an anti-malarial for when Im in Africa and India (they have the highest risk) but may or may not take it...i haven't decided yet.

The all important Yellow Fever Vaccine!

Well, that should help to get everyone up to speed on our progress. I dont want to bore you with too many details, so if you have any questions, just send me off an email!