A Travellerspoint blog


by bus to baja california

from Los Angeles

sunny 30 °C
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Tuesday 20th August
Up at 5 a.m. shit, shower, shave, and catch the first 33 bus downtown to 638 Main Street ticket office to pickup my 730 bus.
Office staff advise me not to wait in the street outside.

Three hour high-speed coach down the free way to Tijuana, sleep most of the way. Spend several tedious hours wandering around car parks, tourist offices, and bridges trying to get my Mexican tourist car sorted out. A free piece of bureaucracy I need. Vast numbers of people cross the border here on daily shopping sprees so the actual border is a bit vague. I’m not really sure when I entered Mexico.

Get a bus out to the coach station and buy ticket for the 6 p.m. departure to La Paz, a 1500 km 22 hour trip for 7900 Pesos, about 25 dollars. I have seat number three first-class. Three Californian surf boarders are also heading south in search of the big wave.
Manage to sleep most of the trip. Small taco for supper, 80P

Posted by 1985 trip 11:01 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

22 hours on a bus in blistering heat

on a plastic seat

sunny 38 °C
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=Long bus journey= down the length of the Baja. Blistering heat. Even if you open the window it blows in hot air like form an oven. Dramatic rocky scenery with tall cactuses all around. The gulf is quite narrow, mountainous Mexico easily visible form the road. We stop about 5 times. A freaked out yankee girl tries to bum a ride on the bus but starts to recite strange incantations which puts the driver off and he puts her off. ? Mescal.

I nearly get left behind at Loreto. I had bought an excellent Taco Carne for 450 Pesos (1 USD = 320 P) just outside the bus station in Loreto. The bus tried to leave without me, the only gringo and I had been sitting right behind the driver with my luggage still on board, I had to chase after it furiously.

Arrive in La Paz at about 4pm and catch bus into town 30P. A china man from Aberdeen Scotland shows me the way to the Tourist Office in exchange for a good read of my South American Handbook. Get map. Find my way to 4 Casa de Huespedals, but no huy! Back to Toursit Office, open late and they get me into the Youth Hostel. Dorm bed 740P

Posted by 1985 trip 12:25 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Horchatas and Borretos

sunny 36 °C
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Thursday 22nd Agosta 1985

Desayunos mexican style and gratis. Excellent. Major laundry session at laundromat opposite hostel, 200P including tumble dry. Lunch pollo & bean soup, cabbage chillies and pig knuckle.
Wander down to the front, a quiet harbour with beaches and a few yachts. The ferry terminal is 15km up the coast, drat. Work out that a ferry to Topolobampo, my planned route, went yesterday afternoon, and the next one is on Sunday. Not ideal. Snooze on a park bench after large glass of some exotic fruit juice ? Horchatas 70P. Woken up by someone shouting Will! Not me.
Striking sunset. Large pelicans flap ungainly across the mauve and orange sky. Suddenly they plop clumsily into the sea, jaws agape.
Get mad keen on the the freshly squeezed juices from very busy industrial style juice bars. It is seriously hot here. Pomegranate, lemon, orange, tamarind, melon, mango.
Buy some sandals as my shoes are starting to stink in the heat. Make my feet sore walking all round town in them. Eat borretos again - something wrapped up in a tortilla. Settling in.

Posted by 1985 trip 12:44 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

ferry sold out - stuck in La Paz

sunny 32 °C
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Friday 23rd Agosto
Ferry sold out for Sunday! Aaaargh.
End up with a 300P ticket to Mazatlan for this afternoon. Get too hot and sweat gallons trudging back in a hurry form the ferry office. Return some money I had borrowed at the hostel pack and leave. Paid for the extra night.
Endless queues for bus, customs, ferry etc. A large vehicle ferry. Fixtures and fittings very worn out, hope the hull and engine are in better condition. Fortunately my seat has both a bottom and a back. Most are missing one or the other. My neighbour gives up on hers in favour of a blanket on deck. Chicken dinner 600P
16 hour trip across to mainland ==Mexico==.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:02 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

500 km to Guadalajara

sunny 30 °C
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Saturday 24th August

An exceedingly tedious, very hot, sunburnt day, wandering aimlessly around Mazatlan waiting for the overnight bus out of town. Even my small parcel of belongings, 11 kg, starts to drag. Grateful I don't have a big backpack of stuff. A segunda class ticket costs 2315 P for the 10 hour trip. The seats reclined and were comfy. Several attempts to bump me up to first class on a earlier bus for a few extra dollars, but it gets into Guadalajara too early.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:09 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

beautiful Guadalajara

semi-overcast 26 °C
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Sunday 25th Agosta 1985

Arrive early by bus from Mazatlan. Walk up Av Colonia to the centre of town and eventually find Hotel Gonzalez (behind the cathedral one block from the market) Actually its at 77 Ortega Gonzalez street. Get a room on the inner courtyard with private shower and loo for 1100 P. Very pleasant climate and the town is still quiet.

The climate in Mexico depends on altitude not latitude. We are at 1650m so it is warm but not hot. Still get sweaty if you go walk about in the midday sun though. Obligatory siesta.
The beautiful pedestrianised colonnades of the old colonial centre come alive with people in the evening. Old ladies selling slabs of nougat, grubby fingers. Indians selling boiled corn on the cob, mime artists, a brass band in a fantastic wrought iron art nouveau bandstand. Strolling mariachi players hassle the out door diners. Each group consists of a few guitars, violins, and trumpets, so they make quite a racket. Each set piece usually includes a bit of singing. Most of them manage a smoke and a drink during their brief recital before moving to the next table. Some marvellously ugly faces, and some grand sweeping moustaches. I peep inside a church. Its packed.
Beautiful architecture, most of it several hundred years old but battered and repaired since earthquakes. Plenty of roses and fountains, murals and sculptures. The main building material is a mottled volcanic stone, pock marked and scarred by long escaped gases.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:45 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

fiery Orozco mural

sunny 25 °C
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Monday 26th August 1985


Museums all closed. So spend a dreamy time in the grand courtyard of the Palacio Gobierno, all arches and huge terracotta pots of palms and geraniums, shining marble floors, fiery Orozco mural and the quiet clatter of local government typewriters. I quickly imagine I live here. Escape up onto the roof and see the secret side of the building with all its pipes and vents. Grand views of the cathedral etc. It is a very attractive building.
Pop around a few churches too. Elaborate chirrugueresque altar pieces, all gilded and carved. Miserable looking saints peer from every niche. The churches have reliably spectacular interiors. The main cathedral is a peculiar mishmash of buildings, spires and stones. The paved streets clatter with horses and carriages. Every tree has a shoe shiner lurking in the shadow. There are hundreds of them. Also a lot of indians selling crisps, chewing gum, or failing, that begging.

Posted by 1985 trip 14:18 Archived in Mexico Tagged guadalajara Comments (0)

buy a new camera

sunny 26 °C
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Tuesday 27th August 1985
Plod down Independance street to the railway station. Stand in line for 40 minutes. No especial primera tickets for tomorrow so buy for 29th at 8.55 am for 2198 P. Its about 628 km I think, arrives late in the morning.

I also buy a Kodak V4 camera for 11,000P the cheapest 35mm with flash I could find. A necessary expense but painful for a boy on a very tight budget. Lost original camera on the great barrier reef. Take a lot of pictures and post film back to Norwich.

Do washing.

Posted by 1985 trip 14:35 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

some rich bishop built this

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28th August 1985
Visit the state museum. Well laid out, small prehistoric section and interesting ethnology section with old presses, carts laths , fish traps etc.

Meet the son of the British Consul to Belize in the bank. The bank clerk pointed him out as he is staying in Hotel Gonzalez too! He is a student at the LSE and is travelling for 6 weeks with his girlfriend Kathy.

Do the Cabana de Hospice. Another grand building. It is at the far end of the pedestrianised promenade. Built by some rich bishop as a hospice, it is all on one level and contains numerous plazas inside. Splendid Orozco murals and accompanying display of work ups sketches and plans. The large chapel is adorned too. There are some art galleries as well. Enjoy some paintings by an artist from Hong Kong called Barbara. She does watery landscapes, silhouetted mountains with a small amount of foreground detail, subtly simple, very chinese. Reminds me of the fish prints I saw in Sydney.

Several of the cloisters are academic institutes, dancing, musicians, performing arts. Classical piano music drifts around the conclaves. It is completely delightful.

I photograph the cathedral from the Gobierno roof with the new camera. The sun was shining through the dome.Mexico00320.jpg

Beer and pollo con mole with Ben and Kathy. He invites me to Belize, but have to get there before 18th Sept when he returns to Uni.

Posted by 1985 trip 01:41 Archived in Mexico Tagged orozco Comments (0)


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Thursday 29th August 1985

Catch a bus to Tlaquepaque. A small town on the edge of Guadalajara specialising in crafts. Plenty of cheap stuff, but also a lot of very fine work, glass, leather, metal, papier macho, also expensiveantiquues and fine furniture. All displayed in cool rooms, verandahs, and open courtyards. Very pleasant to stroll around.
Market unfriendly. Have a cold seafood spicy tostada. Legs crossed. Enjoy Sergio Bustamente's gallery particularly. His papier macho, and brass and copper sculptures are startling and lively. Mostly animal forms with a surreal twinge. Kitch but exquisite and about $1000. He is a master of his craft. Buy a colourful papier mache jungle parrot from nearby, unfortunately not a Bustamente, then worry about getting it to Tony and Lyndsey for their wedding.

The Parrot

The Parrot

Arrive back v tired early to bed early but late to sleep because of lots of noise in the hotel.

Posted by 1985 trip 03:07 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

lose a day

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Friday 29th more or less

Think its the 28th and realise it is the 29th. Pack and vacate room swiftly. Wash a shirt. Telegram to Bridgend. 4500P ! Feel rather aimless most of the day. Send off a few faded postcards but fail to get parrot wrapped and posted. Walk down calle Indepencia with parrot in hand to the estacion de ferrocarril. Greeted by enormous long train, most of it ex Canadian Pacific rolling stock. A mexican built carriage is Especial Primera, coach type with reclining seats plenty of leg room with air con. The old pullmans are still full of character, lots of buttons and curtains and signs in english. One hour late departing...

Posted by 1985 trip 03:22 Archived in Mexico Tagged trains Comments (0)

Mexico City

altitude 8000 feet

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Saturday 30th August 1985

... and four hours late pulling into Mexico City train station. See very little of the scenery on the journey as my double glazed window is steamed up on the inside. Picturesque glimpses though. Man in sombrero on a donkey, maguey cactus hedges and fields of maize.
Get in at 2pm . Catch Metro, 1 peso (almost nothing) and make my way to Uruguay street and check straight into Casa de Huespedas las Asturiana, luxury of own room with loo and shower, but no hot water, 850 pesos. 17th century building around a cool courtyard. Frighteningly rotten staircase. Hotel regulations are framed on the back of the bedroom door, dated Octobre 1950. Restaurant on the premises and stuff myself for 450 P. Several courses, one of which was fried battered brains (seso). Finish meal to find Ben and Kathy checking in! Mutual surprise. They have just arrived by taxi but were on the same train! They had a single berth in the pullman. I thought they had left yesterday, but have lost track of the date lately.

Make my way by rapid and cheap metro to the British Embassy. Big thunderstorm and embassy closed when I get there, but man on the door lets me in as I look like a drowned rat. Next man, behind glass panel, says they don't keep mail, they're closed, come back monday. Feel miserable and go back to bed. Prospect of a letter emotional. Dinner later with Ben Kathy and beer to cheer me up.

Sleepless night tormented by mosquitoes.

Posted by 1985 trip 03:29 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Museum of Anthropology

fabulous stuff

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Sunday 31st August 1985
Up late after mosquitoe torture and off to the museum of anthropology at Chapultepac park. Get thoroughly lost in the park. Lovely museum. Enormous free hanging concrete roof with water pouring down into the middle cooling the whole museum. Well laid out galleries with tombs to discover. Take a guide for 1 hour 40P. 'and now we see something else' not very useful. The pottery and stone artefacts are particularly impressive. There are dramatic reconstructions of Tenochitlan.

Dinner and a beer back at Asturiana with Ben and Kathy.

Posted by 1985 trip 03:48 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Army everywhere, escape to Teotihuacan

Mexico City

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Monday 1st September 1985
Some sort of political fiesta in town today. Army everywhere. All roads around the zocado blocked. People flocking in. Take the metro to Indos Verdes and coach 260 P to 'Piramides'. Bright sunny day and hordes of people all over the ruins. Difficult to re-imagine the colourful life and prosperous city of Teotihucan that flourished here for a 1000 years and outlived the roman empire by 300 years. Enormous ceremonial complex, unfortunately can only guess what the various structures were used for, some of it certainly not pleasant. The inhabitants lived in walled compounds connected by narrow streets, middle eastern style. Each compound probably contained several extended families, perhaps a hundred people. Several hundred compounds were obsidian workshops. The whole city was built with stone, the walls plastered and painted with bright colourful religious frescoes. Everything full of symbols. City had a violent end. Pre aztec. Huge site. Exhausted.
Miss dinner. Dine off street food. Lauugh at indian girl playing over powerful air vent. Goes further than marilyn Monroe and flings her blouse joyfully in the air stream where it bounces for a while 20 feet above her head.

Posted by 1985 trip 04:01 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

post the parrot

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Tuesday 2nd September 1985
Spend the morning posting the parrot, 9000P. Job done. Hope Tony and Lindsey's wedding went ok.

Visit British embassy again. Unhelpful again, they close at 1pm although the advertised closing time is 2.30. After posting the parrot I know many post offices well and choose the most helpful to cash some travellers cheques.

Visit the palacio Gobierno and enjoy Diego Riviera's huge colourful and detailed murals. Much easier to look at than Orozco's.

The large cathedral built on and with the ruins of the aztec temple has an extraordinary and accurate mosaic reproduction of an old painting. The altar is elaborate chirrigueresque, an uphill struggle to reach it seems as the whole catherdral leans alarmingly, having survived several earthquakes. In retrospect pyramids would appear to be a better idea, more earthquake proof.

After the cathedral I wander round the corner a stroll into a curious institution. dark mahogany and marble, authorised people only allowed in, seems to include me. Its like a gentlemans club with large worn armchairs, newspapers and a couple of elderly mexican snoozing in the dignified gloom.

Buy bus ticket to Oxaca.

Violent hail and thunderstorm in the evening. Hailstones pile up outside my room and I am the only one at dinner. Ben and kathjy had an exciting day at Teotihhuacan. They got a ride home in a taxi that had lost its fare, bet the cabbie was angry.

Posted by 1985 trip 04:41 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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