Tuesday, January 30, 2007

El Fuerte

Hello from El Fuerte! I crossed the Gulf of California yesterday in a grotty but comfortable 5 hour ferry, then hopped on a school-like bus to the town of Los Mochis. (Makes me hungry for Japanese rice cakes! Ok, nevermind, Japanese language joke) Then today bussed 2 hours to El Fuerte, a cool town where the Spanish used to have a giant fort to protect them from the local indigineous people.

Last night I ordered the most yummicious cheese quesadillas in the hotel restaurant. The TV was on to ESPN to which a group of men was watching an international rodeo. And they were really IN to it! There are a lot of "cowboys" in the area. At the moment I can hear a donkey beying from outside the cyber cafe. (Do donkeys bey? Maybe it's a mule?) Pretty cool stuff.

Tomorrow I catch the great Copper Canyon Railway to the town of Creel.

So far pretty safe, people are nice, and I'm staying in a $15/night spic and span hostel run by a woman from Sacramento---so don't worry, parents!

Pictures are up! (see side)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Baja California

I've been a little more chill about flying lately, but after the tarot reading in New Zealand that doomed my health for January, I was pretty sure this flight was very possibly going to be "the one". As soon as the plane touched the runway without bursting into flames I thanked God, Buddha, Mohammad, and all the other gods that I arrived in Los Cabos alive.

And it's COLD!! Dad and I arrived during the coldest weather they've ever had---mind you to North Dakota standards people would still be wearing shorts. With 40-50 degree (F) temps I have been wearing my one "cold" outfit everyday this week. I am wearing my winter jacket as I type.

We started at the bottom point of the penninsula and have been driving up in an old rented Nissan "Tsuru". From Los Cabos to Todos Santos, to La Paz and up to Puerto San Carlos where we hired a little boat to see the grey whales off the Pacific coast which was pretty cool. Then up to Loreto. I especially like this little town with its beach front "Malecon" where people constantly cruise main street in their pumped up cars. It makes me so happy everytime some slick cruising dude drives by with tubas blasting from his stereo.
(L) Trick picture, only my feet. Too COLD! (R) Cactus and beach
(L) Mummified manta ray??? (R) San Javier mission

(L) Poncho blankets (R) This morning's breakfast: huevos a la mexicana

I think the funniest thing in the trip so far was in the middle of the desert on a scary dirt road on the way to a 300-year-old mission where Dad was video-taping his eyeball because he couldn't figure out which end of the camera was which. Classic! (to give him some credit, the camera is all in Japanese) It was that same drive that I saw a spider so big, SO BIG that I could see him crossing the road from a distance and actually had enough time to drive around him. (What would YOU have done, huh huh?!) I stopped to check him out but Dad wouldn't let me get out of the car.

Tonight we are in a little pink hotel filled with bikers. There's a courtyard with chirping birds and plants, a cricket hiding somewhere in my room, the beds are covered in poncho blankets and the toilets leak. Dad would usually refuse to stay at a place like this, but the alternatives weren't much better. I like it, it feels like Mexico.

P.S. A big HURRAY! for sister Sam and her CPR skills at the Olive Garden restaurant, we're proud of you!!!!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! I haven't updated lately because I've been living such a normal American life. But what is normal? Come to think of it, this is all still pretty novel to me. Here are some of the highlights:


It was a brown Christmas this year, but I truly enjoyed overdosing on Christmas cookies and pigging out with my family and hanging with the newly extended family! Presents are always a treat! Home is without doubt the best place to spend Christmas!


We got a good 12 inches in a matter of days. It was beautiful, and I actually enjoyed shovelling. I was impressed by the way Mom and Sam and all drive through it, plowing and sliding and spinning without even breaking a sweat. This is normal North Dakota stuff.

A picture of me shovelling from last year

New Year's

Sis took me out to a few parties and it was fun, but for me the best place to spend New Year's will always be Japan. I missed eating mashed chestnuts and rice cakes with cheese, visiting a temple in the middle of the night, and getting a slew of New Year's postcards on the 1st. Sigh.

Japanese New Year Mashed Chestnuts---YUM!


I crammed to full cerebral capacity. My weakest subject is---and having been an English teacher for so many years this is a little embarassing---English. I studied a panoply of erudite vocabulary which never showed up on the test, but I have since discovered that they appear regularly in crossword puzzles. Thank you, Kaplan Study Guides, for boosting my crossword ability! Much more useful in life than a measly test. I have no regrets.

33 Hour Amtrak Ride

I found a ridiculously cheap ticket to Seattle on Amtrak. I thought I would enjoy the ride, leisurely viewing the mountains and scenery, but it was way, way too much time in a box. The guy next to me was a young east coast environmental studies major who was in awe of the North Dakota landscape. He thoroughly interrogated me on what North Dakotans do for a living, the main cash crops, dont they get lonely out there in the plains? Do they like living here? And everytime we passed a butte jutting unexpectedly from the middle of a flat prairie he would gasp in awe---! So to those of you who think ND is boring, its all a matter of perspective!

Off to Mexico!

I leave to Mexico on Jan. 18th, ¡Olé olé! More on that later!

P.S. Tired of checking for new updates? I can send you an e-mail notice, kind of like a subscription, when I update my blog. Let me know and I will put you on the list! -Shannen