The Trip 2013 – Guadalajara to Mexico City

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Note: This is a condensed version of the pictures I took with some added narrative. The rest of the pics can be viewed in the album The Trip 2013 – Guadalajara to Mexico City. Each picture can be clicked to see a larger version and comment / like

Following on from the LA to Mazatlan, we began to head into mainland Mexico. The next stop on our journey was second largest city in Mexico Guadalajara. The first night there we hopped on the ‘party bus’ bound for the ever popular Mexican wrestling.

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Im not usually one for WWE but I totally loved this. It could have had something to do with the incredible energy in the place or the extra large beers I was chugging, either way I totally loved every second of it. I joined in the chanting even though I had no idea what I was shouting at the people on the other side of the stadium.

At times I couldnt work out what to look at, what was going on in the ring or what was going on in the crowd. Talking about the ring, there were some really strange things going on in there. There were men dressed as Predator, there was a bloke mincing around grabbing the other competitors asses, there was a huge fat guy wearing fairy wings, there was a midget / child that was was thrown around the ring at the other competitors. Unfortunately I didnt take my camera so couldnt get any pictures to prove any of this so you will have to just take my word for it.

Of all the competitors my favourite (and incidently the only one I could catch the name of because the crowd kept chanting his name) was Mistico.

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He was incredibly acrobatic jumping and flipping about all over the place. After the fight I felt that I just had to get a souvenir:

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After the fight the energy levels were high, we drove around in the party bus dancing and drinking while DJ Fantashtic (not his real name) spun out the marimba tunes

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The next day we hopped on a bus bound for Tequila (the place not the drinl). We took a tour around a distillery and learnt how the drink goes from the heart of the Agave plant..

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.. gets fermented…

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.. then distilled into pure Tequila

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After the tour we had a little tasting session and learnt about the different types of Tequila. Tequila Blanco comes straight from the distillery, gets watered down a little to bring it in the 38-40% range and sold. This stuff tastes most like the Agave plant and has a very strong pure taste to it.

The usual stuff you see in England is the gold Tequila that just the white Tequila but aged in oak casks for a number of years. The longer you age it the softer tasting Tequila you get as the drink absorbs colours and flavours from the oak. I personally preferred the softer aged stuff much more.

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On the way back to the hostel we stopped off in an Agave field for a group photo, these plants were much bigger and sharper than I expected, particularly when they are digging into your back:

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That evening a few of us took a trip to downtown Guadalajara.

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Many of the buildings have a very European / French feel to them, this apparently is largely due to the Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz in the late 1800’s who had a thing for everything French.

We also met up with Suzanne’s (our trek leader) friend Nerio..

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.. who was kind enough to donate me his Mistico keyring ..

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.. which is now attached to my backpack :)

The following day we found ourselfs in the incredibly picturesque town of Guanajato. Set onto the side of a hill with small streets winding chaotically between colourful buildings you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Italy or the south of France.

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While there we soaked up the atmosphere around the central Plaza or Zocaro..

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.. ate some great food ..

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.. and drank some cold beers

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In the evening we went on a tour around the city with a traditional band / theatre company. At the start they gave us small pewter containers that we had no clue to their purpose until near the end when they were filled with orange juice and we were told to long-arm them into our mouth as part of a ceremony.

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Kelsie and I decided to wake up a little earlier the next morning and go and try to get some good photos from the hillside of the beautiful city. Im glad we made the effort as the view was spectacular:

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Our final stop before Mexico city was a small colonial town called San Miguel. This place was like a lesser version of Guanajuato, a beautiful central plaza and colourful buildings but not quite meeting up to the same level as the previous destination.

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It did have some nice bars however in particular there was one on the top of a building near the plaza that had a braizier, good cocktails and house music, definitely my cup of tea

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The final destination for this part of our journey was the capital of Mexico, Mexico City. Here we said goodbye to two members of our group Madeline and Colette..

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.. and said hello to two new members Simon and Emma.

While there I had one of the best sandwiches I have ever had

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It was called the Milanesa Torta and was stuffed with crumbley beef that just melted in your mouth. Throw a few pickels, jalepenos and mustard on the top and it didnt last long. Infact it was so good we went back and had it again the next day.

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Before leaving for this trip I read a few lists of things that you should definitely take with you. One of those things was duct-tape. I was a little dubious at first but im glad I took it as it has come in handy from repairing sandals to securing loose plugs:

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While there we visited some of the Aztec ruins right in the centre of the city.

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The last evening of Mexico city we decided to go shopping in the biggest shopping mall in the city. After shopping we grabbed some food in TGI’s in the mall, all was going well until disaster strook

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A few weeks before leaving for this trip Kelsie had had a bad allergic reaction to something she ate. She was rushed to the hospital, the doctors had to induce a coma so they could get oxygen into her. She almost died as a result. They did a whole battery of tests but couldnt work out what had caused the reaction. The best idea was it was a sudden rection to the fish in the fish and chips she had eaten. She decided that rather than cancel her whole trip she was going to continue on but avoid any fish.

All was going well until she had a chicken salad in TGI’s (no fish) when the alergic reaction struck again. This time she was carrying an epi-pen with her so immediately jabbed it in her thigh before legging it into the nearest taxi and we motored at top speed to the hospital. Fortunately this time either the reaction wasnt as strong or the epi-pen lessened the effects but she made it to the hospital still able to breathe.

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It was and still is seriously scary though as we have no idea what could have triggered it this time, perhaps the salad dressing? She has bravely decided to continue on with the trip but is being very careful about what she eats. Rice and beans seems to be safe so far.

An interesting end to the first 14 days in Mexico. I have experienced so much already, I cant believe I have another 6 months to go!

The Trip 2013 – LA to Mazatlan

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Note: This is a condensed version of the pictures I took with some added narrative. The rest of the pics can be viewed in the album The Trip 2013 – LA to Mazatlan. Each picture can be clicked to see a larger version and comment / like

Its been a while since my last post, the past three weeks spent travelling across Mexico have been an intense non-stop tour of northern and western Mexico. The small amount of downtime we have been afforded has usually been spent catching up on much needed sleep.

That being said its been incredible so far, heres the highlights.

The trip kicked off from the Hacienda hotel in LA on the 26th of May.

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There I met the people I would be spending the next 32 days with. Kelsie, Colette, Madeline, Rosie, Jac, Ralph and one incredible shock, Dan Blackhurst.

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Incredibly I had met Dan about 10 years ago on a holiday in Lanzarote, he is a friend of a friend and I had no idea he was going to be joining us on the trip, its a small world.

It was a short drive from LA down to San Diego, then a hop across the border at Tijuana and we were in Mexico!

Our first night was in a town an hour or two south of Tijuana called Ensenada. There I spotted something Karl Pilkonton was searching high and low for:

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That first night we revealed some tension by going for a nice meal, sharing a beer or two and watching the Mexicans celebrate Mexico City América’s victory in the Mexican football cup.

The next day was spent in a town called Guerro Negro, south of Ensanada. There some of us took a trip out to a salt farm in the desert. This place was pretty other-worldly:

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I had a ball:

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Next up was a small town built round an Oasis called San Ignacio. We took a little trip out to see the oasis. The water was really warm and crstal clear.

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A little around the corner was a small rock that you could only access by a rickety ladder.

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There was no way that ladder was going to support us using it to get back, so there was only one thing for it..

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That afternoon was spent in the hotel pool, splashing about enjoying the sun. Kelsie, had an underwater camera which we had a play with.

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Had a great time that avo doing what I do best

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Next up was a town calld Loretto next to the ocean, this place was really cool. Not literally as the temperature was into the 40’s luckally there was plenty of shade.

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In Loretto a few of us took a boat out to a nearby island and nature reserve. We weren’t expecting much, perhaps some fish, the odd turtle. To our great surprise we stumbled upon a massive pod of dolphins:

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We drove up and down and the dolphins chased us, darting in and out, over and under the boat, I have never seen anything like it before:

After a little while I dived in with flippers and tried to chase them down with the underwater camera but they were too fast for me and I couldn’t get any good photos. Still, at times they were very close to me it was incredible.

After that we hopped back in the boat and headed round the coast where we came upon a group of noisy sea lions:

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I was really nervous about getting in the water with these things as they were noisy and smelly and looked a lot more aggressive than the dolphins. The boat captain assured me however that they were safe to swim with so I jumped in.

About 30 seconds after getting in I went under water and came up and this big bugger had disappeared:

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I couldnt see him anywhere, everyone the boat was pointing behind me so I turned around the next thing I know Rosie sneaks up behind me and grabs my leg scaring the crap out of me.

I spent the next 20 minutes or so chasing after the sea lions trying to get a good photo, they were all around me but the water was kind of cloudy and they were fast making a picture difficult:

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I eventually gave up when one of the ones I was chasing let go of his bowels directly in front of me, from then on I decided to take some pictures of more continent sea creatures:

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On the way back the captain let Rosie drive the boat:

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All was going well until..

Still I had a cracking time that day

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That evening was spend drinking beer and enjoying the gorgeous sunset:

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A few days later we found ourselves taking a ferry across from the Baja to mainland Mexico. Before hopping on the ferry however we spotted a big group of manta rays playing and jumping out of the water:

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Apparently they do this to clean gunk off themselfs (technical term).

The overnight ferry across was fairly uneventful and boring, there wasn’t much to do other than drink beer and take pictures. Here’s one of the highlights:

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When we finally arrived in Mazatlan we collectively exhaled as this was a place to chill:

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During the day we took a boat then a Mexican taxi to the restaurant / beach:

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The water here was super warm. We were meant to go surfing but apparently in the usual surf spot the chances of jellyfish was too high. Instead we all jumped in the water and hired bodyboards and rode some of the surf on our bellys instead:

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A coupple of the group hired horses and galloped up and down the beach:

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That evening we hopped in another Mexican taxi, picked up some beers and cruised around the town:

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We stopped up on one of the highest hills surrounding Mazatlan for a quick Pacifico promotional photoshoot:

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We polished off an incredible day by eating and drinking in the best restaurant of the trip so far.

Suzanne our trek leader (the one singing in the above video) got talking to man who turned out to be the ex mayor of the city.

I cant believe all that is less than 10 days of travelling, so much stuff crammed into such a short amount of time, I cant wait to see what the next 10 days brings!

The Trip 2013 – North Carolina

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Note: This is a condensed version of the pictures I took with some added narrative. The rest of the pics can be viewed in the album The Trip 2013 – North Carolina. Each picture can be clicked to see a larger version and comment / like

After leaving Chicago behind I was desperately in need of some time to R&R before the Central American leg of my trip began, fortunately I was heading to North Carolina where I would be getting just that.

I arrived into Charlotte early afternoon on the 18th of May, due to the flight being domestic I wasnt hassled at immigration for the first time. David Wilson brother of Martin (my travelling buddy and old friend whom I stayed with in DC) met me at the airport and we headed back to his place. Lindsay his wife was up in the mountains filming so we went out and grabbed a bite to eat and sampled some of the local beers.

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I was totally shattered so I went to bed early that night and awoke late the following morning. We had organised to go to Carrowinds, a theme park about 20 minutes away from his home in Charlotte.

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We picked a great day to go as the weather wasnt great but that meant that there were far fewer people there and we were able to go on the rides several times in a row often without queueing.

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One of the best rides was a giant swing that simulated free-fall / hang gliding. You have to wear special harnesses and are winched up to the top of a huge tower. After the count of 3.. 2… 1… you pull the rip cord and fall.

I had a great time. We had a go at some of the game stalls during the down time (thunder shuts the rides), David managed to win a basketball and I incredibly managed to remmeber enough of my scool rugby hooker position to throw an american football through a hole and thus win it as a prize.

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All in all a great day

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The following day we woke early, I had a 4 hour train journey to catch to Wilson North Carolina where Lorna (mother of Martin and David) was picking me up and taking me to Greenville, about an hour away from Wilson.

Lorna and Colin live in a beautiful house in Greenville.

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I had a great time there catching up on some much needed sleep and recharging my batteries. Peter (the youngest son of Lorna and Colin) drove all the way down from his home in the mountains (5 hours away) to come visit me. It was really cool to hang out with him again.

We all went out to get some traditional North Carolina bbq one lunch time. Pulled pork and sweet coldslaw with cornbread. I enjoyed the pork and the coldslaw though the bread was a little tough.

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Their house had a swimming pool out the back which they very kindly opened early so I could work off some of the callories I had accrewed over the past coupple of weeks of (a little too) tastey American food and beer.

They also still have their elderly gent of a cat Ashley which I remember from the last time I visited 13 years ago.

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After just a few days in Greenville I was off again, taking the train in the rain back to Charlotte.

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The next day was spent with Lindsay (David’s wife) wile David was at work. We decided to head down to the centre of Charlotte where hill billies were gathering for the NASCAR themed Speed Street.

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There was some interesting tens there where we managed to blag a load of free stuff. There was even a Tony the tiger where I managed to get a GRRRREAT thigh rub.

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I even tried funnel cake for the first time which tasted like donut but nicer.

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Unfortunately that was my last day in North Carolina, my flight the next day was taking me to LA where the Central American leg of my journey would be beginning.

I had a great time in NC and it was exactly what I needed, massive thanks to David, Lindsay, Lorna, Colin and Peter for letting me stay and showing me some of the awesome North Carolina.

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