Monday, May 05, 2008

The Mexico I Experienced -- 15 Cities In 6 Weeks

Woooooooo, got the Spanish soundtrack for this latin-style'd article.

So. Yes.

Just jammed back into Honolulu after 3 months of straight travel.

Nice little jaunt around the continent. I've got mixed emotions about being back.

First few weeks it was all "Get me the out of here I wanna go home!!" but by the end it was like "Keep. Going. Bitches. MORE."

Excursion started in Los Angeles and then off to X-Games in Aspen for RSD Executive Retreat.

Hit that up with the crew, it was amazing.

Watching Ciaran and Toli stuck up on the hill the whole day, classic!! Carving down the hills in Aspen I felt like a happy little kid again.

Next up was Ottawa to get the passport renewed.

Damn that thing was in need of replacement. Every time I went through customs they laughed at me asking if I'd put it in the laundry.

Good thing I know how to talk.

Social dynamics, Luke Skywalker style: You WILL let me into your country, this passport is JUST FINE.

While in Ottawa it was 20 hour day workmode leading up to The Blueprint launch, causing me to get sick for the first time in a long while.

Got up in the middle of the night and remember feeling the "life force" draining out of my body -- thinking melodramatically that my heart had just randomly stopped.

Then it was drop, thud, and kiss the floor. New horizontal position much better. Feeling the blood slowly trickling back in my brain.

First time I've ever fainted. Interesting experience. I think one time is enough.

Lay there around an hour gathering the strength back and then crawled downstairs and to start pounding water. Yum yum.

Next day laid in bed staring at the wall totally still thinking I could somehow heal myself, which apparently actually worked.

Got up for the final 24 hours leading up to the launch and wrapped it about 1 minute before the noon deadline.

Blueprint is in orbit. The rest is history.

Thus the trip began. Definitely the hardest travelling I've done so far. Fifteen cities in six weeks.

What follows is an assembly of maybe 0.0001% of the experience.

Fully loaded with pictures. Click them to see the full sized versions, many are much cooler that way.

With The Blueprint wrapped I hit the Ottawa airport and flew out to Toronto, linked back up with my girlfriend in Mexico City, and headed down to Acapulco.

What did I expect?? No expectations.

Toli the genius lends me his oceanfront double-story penthouse in the heart of the main strip which was the bomb.

Thanks Toli!!

Apparently Acapulco was a mega classy hotspot during the 1960s when Elvis Prestley and Elizabeth Taylor used to visit.

Now it's more of a cheesy Spring Break type deal -- like Tijuana on steroids.

Still, easy to enjoy when you've got Toli's kickass pad.

Main tourist strip is absolutely fine, although very funny with all the little "Herby" style 1960s taxis buzzing around.

One of this proud fleet even had blacklights and music and a strobe inside, creating a mini-danceclub for this insane taxi driver to blast around town in.

Boom, boom, boom, ayyyyyyyyyeeeeee!!!

Learned how to drive Mexico-style very quickly. Not by choice but by necessity.

Driving Latin America is like playing a mini game of "Chicken" with every lane change. Fun!!

Rule: Do NOT use your turn signal or driver behind you will jump in and take your spot.

No, no, no politeness allowed. Polite people will be chopped into bite sized gringo-chunks and used as street-meat in the roadside taco stands.

This is about showing you're willing to crash and destroy your car more than the other driver is. No fear. Point and shoot style.

To the victor goes the spoils of the lane and then you're off to duke it out with the next road warrior.

Anywayzzzz, restaurants up on hill overlooking the ocean were fantastic. My favourite was this Thai-fusion place called "Zibu".

Good to relax and unplug from the insanity of the previous month.

Found myself thinking about work constantly at first, which I later learned to turn off and just chill.

Was also a very cool earthquake while we were down there.

Girlfriend and I are in the gym and hear somebody drop a big rack of weights. Except it keeps going and going. And going. We realize it's an earthquake.

Mexico though. Expected. Whatever.

From there I grab the girlfriend by the hair, caveman style, and drag her kicking and screaming to Taxco.

Or maybe we just pleasantly decided to go mutually. I can't remember.

Taxco is a little silver mining town about 3 hours outside of Acapulco. Pulling into this place was like going back in time.

Felt like a Hayao Mazaki movie.

Night time arrival, we see the old town laid up against the side of a mountain.

This is the first experience of the "real" Mexico. The trip will have many more.

Hotel is up on a massive hill.

We drive and drive, up, up, up, until we eventually reach the top. Amazing view of a mysterious city with bells ringing and energy buzzing down below.

Check in and drive back down the hill. I'm nervous and inexperienced in this type of environment.

Find a great restaurant and view the city from atop the roof.

There's fireworks going off, with sounds of booming and the bells echoing off the mountains -- burned into my mind for hours afterwards.

Next morning we wake up and look out to a to view that's entirely different during the day.

Blast down the hill and check out the city. So cool. So interesting.

Different cars, different houses, different ways of life.

Their lives seem smaller, more connected to community. Maybe bigger in that regard, you know, surface VS depth type stuff.

They're visibly happier than most in the surrounding region, probably because of the thriving silver industry.

Money can't buy happiness, true.

But sustenance is absolutely vital and these people have achieved it.

Driving back home it's all about the "free highway" as opposed to the pay highway. Poverty is visible and very painful to see.

State of Guerrero -- extremely poor, extremely ill-maintained.

Random animals all over the streets and garbage framing every inch of the highways.

Entire state of Guerrero smells strongly of ash from farmers clearing their fields...burning sides of the roads to clear the trash.

We run out of cash to pay the toll roads. No credit cards accepted??!! Uhhh, woops.

It was the final tunnel through the mountain, and I know we're in a sticky situation because the toll is nearly $10 for a short little section of road.

What mayhem would it have allowed us to avoid?? Let's find out.

Back up in reverse and weave through oncoming traffic on this latin american highway. The other road warriors are thrilled.

Take the route through the "non-tourist side of the mountain" of Acapulco to get back home.

People hustling to make a few pesos everywhere you look. Some who can't afford clothes walking around aimlessly.

Get home, plan the trip for Puerto Escondido the next day. Wake up, and we're off.

Drive is literally 8 hours of endless "ejidos" shanty towns -- shacks on small-scale subsistence farms that produce for local markets.

People seem malnourished and stare at you as you pass. Government controlled Pemex gas stations are like little slices of Beverly Hills to stop in every few hours. You realize as you pass through literally an entire state of these conditions that this is not just isolated, but how most people in the world actually live.

Finally we get into Puerto Escondido which was priceless.

Puerto is one of the premiere surf locations on the planet.

You drive through town until you get to the "Playa Zicatela" -- the strip where all the hippies and surfers live.

A whole culture there. It's still off the beaten path to an extent so it's got an authentic vibe.

Until you've been to a place like this there's really very little way to describe it. You've just got to experience it for yourself.

Explore the city for the day, eat in the restaurants, talk to the people, generally screw around.

The girlfriend has a big allergic reaction for some reason that night, breaking out in hives.

At first we notice it on her arms. Then we look and it's "Damn it's on your entire body!!"

Walk downstairs, ask "Where's the nearest hospital??" and they laugh like "Uhhhh, you don't want to go to the hospital in Puerto Escondido senior."

Jump in the car and head into the super shady downtown area in the middle of the night. Wonderful.

Locate some Benedryl type stuff in a streetside pharmacy and luckily it gets rid of the hives overnight.

It's the first time it occurs to me that many of the basic securities I take for granted in North America are not always available.

Next day is fantastic.

I teach myself how to ATV along the ocean and up in the hills. Comes in handy later in the trip.

We watch a few pro surfers getting dragged around on Jet-Skis into 15 foot hardhitting waves, then bounce for Oaxaca City.

Trip to Oaxaca is through the mountains and a challenging drive.

Just like the the Puerto trip it's filled with poverty and random animals on the street you have to watch out for.

These people live without our comforts, appear to find happiness in their familial and communal bonds.

Maybe they are happier than us. Maybe just frustrated. Who knows??

The endless curves are nauseating for the first few hours.

Brakes on the van are starting to wear out so I have to make sure that they last until we reach the next town -- otherwise take a fun roll down the side of a cliff.

It's all good, all a part of the fun.

Views up in the mountain are amazing. Total freedom.

Eventually we come out of the mountains into a more desert type region.

Beautiful, relieving, great to be out of the mountains with those shoddy brakes.

We start seeing little cities as we approach the main Oaxaca City.

I have no idea what to expect or what it will be like.

All I know is Oaxaca has many natives and some who speak in native tongues.

Keep driving with Oaxaca City just past this last horizon.

A mix of natural beauty and ill-kept towns as we approach.

Mexico is ultimately a different world just beyond the man-made Southern border of the United States.

Always love roads with trees tracing them like this. Don't know why.

Finally hit Oaxaca city. Outskirts.

A day's driving has paid off, and the brakes on the vehicle have held up to boot.

Can't believe it.

The hotel is simultaneously a government congress building. It's a giant stone mansion with gardens and green dining areas in the middle.

Makes any American hotel look like....whatever.

Hit up the night time entertainment.

Whole time I'm thinking "Man I should be in my hotel watching TV". Ummm, no.

Head downtown, walk around, check it out.

Going to bed that night CNN is on the television.

All the driving of the past few days, it occurs to me on a deep level for the first time in my life that all the crazy shit you see in the news is actually real -- or at least about real places.

Tripped me out, I'm texting back and forth with Tim who's back in Los Angeles.

City looks different in the morning. Nice.

Ever wondered what the widest tree in the entire world looks like?? I hadn't.

Well this is it.

Not the tallest. Not the biggest. But the widest known tree on the planet.

Uh huh.

Oaxacan natives. Zapotec, many speak a native language and do not speak Spanish.

Wonderful people. Mostly dirt poor, after the tourist-deterring violence that broke out due to union strikes in Oaxaca the previous year.

Some are successful, many create income for themselves by crafting exotic rugs and beautiful hand-painted figurines.

They appear to work much harder than we do. Didn't sense that any of them had any issue with it or complained.

BAM!! Hit the first ruins.

Monte Albán. Very important historical/archaeological find.

Amazing city. Amazing that an entire culture thrived before wiping eachother out, the remains being mopped up by the Spanish.

There are stone carvings of disfigured people up against the walls.

Royalty used to inbreed and created them to research the cause of the birth defects. Keepin' it in the family!!

Water channels run underneath the city. It was elaborate.

Amazing to believe it's just gone, makes you wonder about the fragile nature of our own civilization.

Back to Oaxaca City centro.

Known as "la Verde Antequera" for being mostly built in green tinted stone.

Then out for another night in the Plaza de la Constitución.

Local entertainers spot me as a gringo with a latin girl and decide to tool me relentlessly.

Backing up into me yelling in Spanish that I'm grabbing them from behind. Saying I'm a gringo and it's not my fault I don't know any better.

The whole crowd is laughing. Hilarious. Awesome vibe. People are connected to one another, having fun.

None of this faceless chode in the crowd on his way home to watch TV nonsense. It's a community and it comes across healthy and good.

Done with Oaxaca, off to Puebla.

Driving is amazing. The toll roads are easy and smooth. Minimal road-warrioring.

Gotta enjoy the journey, no??

Big chunks of the trips are spent driving so you learn how to have fun with it.

Love the winding roads. I want see the whole world, every city, and everything in between.

First time I've seen big landscapes full of cactuses. Kept looking at it curiously while I was driving.

Do not crash, do not crash.

Yup, made it to Puebla.

What a city. Wealthy. Cultural. Historical.

Inventors of the great Mexican dish "Mole Pueblano" -- what more could you want??

Puebla is a mix between New York, Montreal, and Mexico City -- all fused together in a big happy threesome.

From being there a few days it felt like a model of a city in Latin America that absolutely works.

Loaded with hundreds of historic churches, you can hit up a different church-venue every day of the year if that's your thing.

They're everywhere. Mexico is a very Catholic country. Gives the city a European feel.

Big volcano on the way out.

Used to be covered in a giant glacier, up until this century when it retreated and exposed the mountain as a result of accelerating climate change.

Passed through a city unexpectedly on the way back to Acapulco. Cuernavaca.

Outlying areas were stellar, fresh weather, rolling hills, and blue flowers in the trees.

City of Cuernavaca itself was, well, a city.

Stayed a few hours and then bounced. Wonder if I'd have found anything interesting had I been around longer.

Pay highways on the way back were of stark contrast to the free highways.

Mexican tolls are among the highest in the world, usually costing fifty to a few hundred to get from Point A to Point B.

Benefits include road that's nearly free of traffic, minimal pot holes, and far fewer psychotic drivers (ie: people who actually care if they die or not more than they care about dominating the road).

Found these bridges to be interesting for some reason.

Wonder what it takes to build these roads cutting through the mountains, it must be insane.

Back to Acapulco, fly out during sunset to Mexico City -- AKA Mexico D.F. (Distrito Federal).

Heard nothing but horror stories about it up until this point. Travellers I come across seem to have no love for the D.F.

Supposedly endless traffic, scary motherfuckers trying to kidnap you, yada yada.

True?? Doubtful. Second largest city in the world, most important economic and cultural centre in the country -- it's gotta be cool.

Most people on airplanes look blasé about it, sitting there watching Rush Hour 3 or Kung Fu Panda on the screen.

I find air travel mindblowing and often stare out the window most of the trip if there's anything interesting.

Get into Mexico City. Drive from irport feels like coming into LA or NYC.

We're at The W Hotel in Polanco, where Papa and co. come to meet me for RSD stuff. Good to see friends again.

Next eight days it's like living back in the US.

Zocalo in Mexico City is wicked -- one of the largest squares in the world.

For me it's a more evocative and inspiring capital than any I've seen in my travels so far.

Art gallery off to the side is surrounded by a big labour strike.

Gotta love how they strike down there, so dramatic, makes American strikes seem tame.

Remember waking up last year in Argentina with the apartment spray painted "Fuck Bush" by protesters wearing ski masks and burning American flags.

Inside the gallery is a corridor-long painting depicting the entire known history of Mexico -- from the times of the natives to the Spanish conquerors and beyond.

Makes you think about your own life, your place in history, what false beliefs you might be under, and how people will see the lifestyle you lived in years to come.

Crazy how much European influence you find in Mexico compared to the rest of North America.

Never know what to expect down there.

Was surprised to find a building similar in appearance to Empire State -- Torre Latinoamericana.

"Hey bro -- what's down there??!!"

"Oh yeah, that's the ruins of the Aztec city we destroyed and built the D.F. on top of back in the 1500s.

Figured it was nice real estate, naw mean??"

"Yup, yup, it used to look like this. All, like, happy and stuff."

"Now it looks like THIS.......Wooooot!!"

Whatever, a lot of shit happened back in the day.

And modernity does have it's conveniences. Mexico City is pretty glorious, like a NYC or LA that's off the radar of most people in North America.

Maybe we could avoid repeating this though.

At least we've got these cool archaeological finds to check out in museums.

Apparently found in lakes and various hiding spots.

Few remaining pieces that weren't destroyed when they realized the economic viability of wiping the culture off the map.

Outskirts of Mexico City contains some of the most exclusive real estate in the world.

Move there, and YOU TOO can own your own shanty shack.

Only trouble is trying to figure out which one is yours when you drive back home from work.

"Uhhhh, I think that's me up in the top corner of the mountain....The faceless grey one."

"Oh wait a sec....They all have that....Hmmmmmmmm."

Gotta see it to believe it. Nothing can really prepare you.

First time seeing this type of situation was on the way in from the airport in Rio De Janeiro last year.

Every country and major city in the world has it's own socio-economic problems.

It's the endless ocean of it here that's so flooring.

Too large in scope for the average person to make any sense out of, so you just look at this and shrug your shoulders and get back to your life.

"Hey wasn't there a new Paris Hilton video on TMZ??"


Jump over to Teotihuacan, an hour outside Mexico City.

Pyramid of the Moon.

And of course, Pyramid of the Sun, third largest in the world.

Imagine being a native living in a village out in the jungle and walking in to see this place??

You can imagine these types of constructions, and the resources required to build them, were likely so outside people's realities back then that superstition was the only way to rationalize their existence.

Easy to connect the dots between this and the Vatican City from last summer.

Awe-inspiring but also obviously designed (whether intentionally or unintentionally) to bring folks into submission to their system of beliefs.

On the drive back from Teotihuacan there's the Lady of Guadalupe --- cultural and religion icon in Mexico.

From Wikipedia:

"According to traditional Catholic accounts of the Guadalupan apparition, during a walk from his village to the city on December 9, 1531,[1] Juan Diego saw a vision of a Virgin at the Hill of Tepeyac.

Speaking in Nahuatl, Our Lady of Guadalupe asked him to build an abbey at that site. When Juan Diego spoke to the Spanish bishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, the bishop asked him for a miraculous sign to prove his claim. The Virgin asked Juan Diego to gather flowers, even though it was winter when no flower bloomed.

He found Castillian roses, gathered them on his tilma, and presented these to bishop Zumárraga. When he presented the roses to Zumárraga, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe miraculously appeared imprinted on the cloth."

Interesting to see the girlfriend's reaction, as a girl with a fully traditional Mexican upbringing.

Zoooom, Mexico City wrapped up it's off to the second largest city in Mexico -- Guadalajara.

Downtown is very historical and fascinating, city itself is seems more or less North American.

People in Mexico often fill your head with warnings to be careful, especially at night.

Downtown is supposedly dangerous at night, true or not I have no idea, so that's solved by throwing on the hoodie to appear like a trouble-maker.

Oftentimes in supposedly dangerous cities you just dress funny -- walk around shirtless to appear homeless or grow long hair and a beard to look like a broke hippie.

Easter weekend in Guadalajara so the city is ghost.

Everyone's headed off to Puerto Vallarta about 5 hours off.

Getting there you drive through the town of "Tequila" where the world's supply of tequila is created from blue agave plants, which you see growing in vast fields on the sides of the roads.

Funny driving by the town that's the source of the drink so many people around the world pump into themselves year after year.

Imagine growing up in the town of Tequila??

You'd probably either love drinking or think it's the most boring thing in the world.

Rest of the drive has some great moments.

Love blasting through valleys, up and down hills.

Fascinating to see lifestyle contrast between local economy and American tourist dollars.

Hmmmmmm, are these pics from the same region??

Yes the two neighbourhoods are about fourty five minutes away from eachother.

One is the tourist area, the other is the community that lies beyond.

Tourists, mostly who've flown into the tourist area of Puerto Vallarta directly from the US and Canada, enjoying the authentic Mexican experience.

Hahahaha, to each their own... :)

One night out clubbing. Streets were going crazy. Had a great time.

Wake up the next morning and definitely ready to bounce -- like Vegas it's an in-and-out type vibe.

Drive past the clubbing area in the daytime's so funny.

Street was GOING OFF just the night before, chill and mellow during the day.

So the deal is this.....

Gotta make it back to Guadalajara for the flight to Cancun by tomorrow morning.

Highways are packed bumper to bumper with Easter weekend wrapping up, so plenty of time to kill.

What's cool to do in Puerto Vallarta during the day??

Hearing rumours that the set of Arnold's classic "The Predator" is half an hour up the road.

Gotta be kidding.

Hit the road, locate a dirt path we follow up into the hills.

Thought this was a really innovative way of babysitting the kids -- who needs parenting when you can leave the little bastards in a chained up trampolene??


The Predator. A true honour. Feeling so blessed.

Alright, so here's what gets me.

Arnold Swarzenneger........THE MAN.

Living his life and having a ball doing it.

Becomes a mega movie star, nearly a billionaire businessman, marries into the Kennedy family, gets elected by the people of California to govern one of the most prosperous economies in the world.

Meanwhile TWENTY YEARS LATER this little shred of his past existence, like a faint dream in his mind, is still going -- possibly the cheesiest tourist concept known to man.

Wonder if he knows about it. What would he think??

Open-air restaurant and surrounding jungle is pretty darned cool though, gotta say.

Thought I'd get this tee-shirt and hat for Jeffy cause he gets tickled by this type of absurdity -- but figured photo and appropriate posedown was probably equally bizarre.

Way out is nice.

Sun is going down and I want to make it to Sayulita on the way back before dark.

Had to first scramble down a semi steep dirt hill to get a good view of this interesting looking rock.

Perched up against a tree, gotta stop getting distracted and make it to Sayulita!!

Story behind it is this...

So my buddy Alex Allman hears I'm in Mexico and emails me about a mutual wealthy friend of ours who's left California and relocated permanently to this little surf town called "Sayulita".

Fourty five minutes outside Puerto Vallarta.

Gotta to be pretty unique cause dude could live almost anywhere in the world.

He's off to California while we pass through, we're fine to do our own thing.

Get into town just before dark -- miscalculated the sunset, but hey, at least we got to spend an extra hour in awe of the Predator. Woops.

Arrive in Sayulita and it appears like a typically low-income town from the outskirts. Shacks and all that.

Initially sceptical but driving in it's looking more and more interesting.

Slick, very slick. Love it.

Downtown is full of life and good vibes. Mexico meets the happiness factor of Disneyworld.

Everyone's walking around, surfers, tourists, co-existing happily with the locals from what it seems.

There's apparently big mansions up in the hills but can't see them at night.

Restaurants are the bomb. People are congregating at the Zocalo watching a dance troop.

Cool little stores, like this one with the sand floor, it's obvious why this place is addictive.

A few hours in and out, and it's back to Guadalajara for the flight to Cancun.

Figure it's some cheesy tourist joint. Really no idea what to expect.

Growing up in Canada you hear about the rich and popular kids going to Cancun on vacation. Travelling was outside my reality back then so stories always went in one ear out the other.

On the map it looks like some sort of crazy long peninsula. Hard to figure what it looks like in real life.

Flying at night you see the long thin lit up strips of hotels down below.

Stars are out and the ground is blotted out with jungle, the long runs of hotels extending out into the ocean.

Sounds funny to say about a spot like Cancun but from the air it looks mysterious and intriguing.

What the heck is this place??

Apparently it's a square shaped peninsula that's got rows upon rows of expensive resorts lined one after another.

The perfect setup for American tourists because allows them to enjoy the glory-times beach and weather without having to endure too many encounters with real Mexicans.

There's hotels like the "Grand Mayan" which are like an Americanized Mexican-bastardization that actually exist in Mexico. Like the classic Leo Dicaprio flick "The Beach" where the tourists fly all the way to the country just to do the things they do back home.

Regardless Cancun is a part of Mexican culture in that it represents the second highest source of revenue for the country.

So much so that when the peninsula was flattened by Hurricane Wilma it was rebuilt in record time.

And on the good side they've got an unbelievable blue to their ocean and perfect white sand -- all visible from almost every hotel.

Anyway asking around, asking around...

Keep hearing there's a much tighter spot called "Playa Del Carmen" about 45 minutes up the road.

Chill spot of choice for Europeans, let's see if it lives up to the hype.


Playa Del Carmen is loaded with super trendy & chill lounges similar to Cafe Del Mar in Ibiza -- literally perfect for bootcamp and playing a little POOOAH.

I will be back, to live. Next year 100% for sure.

No need to check out the local pyramids and ruins because I'm coming back. Gives me something to look forward to.

Anyway it's about that time.

Pack the suitcases and hit the airport for the final flight before heading back to the US -- off to Cabo Sans Lucas with connection via Mexico City.

Flying out of Quintana Roo in the daytime, jungle extends outwards as far as the eye can see.

Clean air, clean ocean, nice clear day. Beautiful.

Recommended: CLICK these pics to make them full sized and see how the landscape changes as you approach Mexico City.

Flying over mountains outside the D.F. it's harder to see the ground as the air becomes tinted with a slight grey.

There's miles of industrial excavations outside the city.

Human habitation starts a long way out from Centro because it's so sprawling, endless, and vast.

Sky is tinted with white/grey such that only the landscape below you is visible.

Try to look too far up, left, or right and you can't see properly due to the air pollution that's trapped in the "bowl shaped" city by the surrounding mountains.

Keep flying and flying, with endless urban sprawl.

As you land some colonias (aka -- neighbourhoods) are more visible because they've taken the effort to plant an unusually high number of trees.

The green parts of the city are very pleasant because so few metropolises are innundated with as many trees as the wealthy parts of the D.F.

What the local government needs to do is spread that out throughout the rest of the city -- or use some sort of vegetation that can grow all over literally every building from top to bottom and clean the air.

And there it is. Landed in Mexico City once again.

Like everyone I've got a love/hate relationship with the place.

Hot clubs, hot women, all the high society stuff you can ever want.

It's exciting and cultural and you could explore the place endlessly for months at a time.

Pros and cons, pros and cons.

Stay in the airport for about an hour and board the airplane for Cabo.

Fly past Guadalajara again...

Then over the Gulf of California (aka -- Mar de Cortés) to reach the deserts of Baja California Sur.

Rolling deserts with bright colors.

Overhead it looks different from anywhere I've ever been.

First time exploring this type of terrain.

It's not the lush green landscapes I've come to appreciate in Hawaii but equally beautiful in it's own way.

Landing in Cabo we're introduced to the trade that basically built a brand new economy in the middle of the desert -- timeshare sales.

The locals are all in on it, from the guy who helps you with your bags to the taxi driver to the hotel clerks to the waitresses.

Never have I seen such fearless and aggressive salesmen anywhere -- we could all learn something from the way they "plow" and have no fear of rejection.

Dodge and weave our way past them to the rental car and go for the convertible.

One hour drive from the airport to Cabo Sans Lucas is extreme happy fun times -- one of the most stunning of my life.

Wake up the next morning to a beach so bright I can barely open my eyes.

Los Arcos is the symbol that Cabo is known for and while in pictures it might look random in real life it is obvious why.

Time to hit the trails, see how far we can make it up the peninsula before it gets dark.

Driving there are many government housing projects.

To an American they likely look whatever, but they're a luxury in comparison to the standard ghettos I've been seeing through the rest of the country (particularly in the South).

Seeing the region by car is a lot like flying over by airplane, except close up and personal.

On the way up the peninsula we discover an ATV'ing spot, where I teach the GF how it's done.

ATV'ing winds up becoming a lifetime hobby of mine during this trip. Fully addicted.

Trail leads up to a vista of countryside.

Relax for a bit, then it's back home before dark.

And finally, after six's the final day in Mexico.

Can't believe I'm going back to the US. Mixed emotions. Gotta make it good.

Decide to head up towards the small surfer towns on the coast.

Pass through the "non-tourist" areas on the outskirts of the city (you know what that means) and make it through an ocean of cactuses.

Never seen this many before, blasting down the road to make it as far out as possible and then head back in before dark -- preferably avoiding traversing the non-tourist areas in a convertible on the way back in.

Towards sundown we spot a road sketchy dirt road down the to the ocean off in the distance.

Drive down the road and stumble onto a spot that rents ATVs.

These are not just regular ATVs. These are standard transmission, high powered beasts.

And the trail is leading off along the hills tracing the ocean. It must be explored.

It's closing time. Everybody's going home. Gotta convince the manager to let us take one last ride.

The owner agrees to offer a private tour.

Teach the girlfriend how to operate the standard transmission (years of living with my insanity -- she is hardcore), and we're off ripping into the hills.

Experience with the owner is really uplifting.

Barely spoke to the guy, but was not necessary. He comes across as a very enlightened dude.

Grounded, humble, value offering, and seemingly very at peace with himself. Simultaneously charismatic and respected with his employees and 100% in control of his world.

He's from the coast of Spain near Morocco, the business and surrounding trail sites he's entirely set up on his own.

He takes pride in his work and our enjoyment of the tour without wanting any credit for it. At the end he will not accept a tip, and gives the GF the sweater off his back so she'll be warm on the drive home.

For me it represented the type of peace that can be learned from spending your life working hard and in the outdoors, and also, a reminder that there are very good people in the world.

Turns out we don't make the drive home before dark.

Side of the road is covered in dead cows -- the GF spots about 5 or 6 on the way back to the hotel.

Farmers apparently don't fence them in, so every night it's cow happy time on the highways of Los Cabos.

Get lost for a while in the sketchy neighbourhoods, but after six weeks in Mexico it's all good.

Final night in Mexico. Gotta pack and get some sleep.

Can't believe I'm heading home. Mixed emotions. It was an adventure.

Next two weeks are to be in Los Angeles for instructor training.

Then it's Spring in Hawaii, Summer in Europe, and of course the upcoming Africa and South America trips.

Lots of travelling ahead of me in the coming months. Got a mountain of work to do in Honolulu to prepare.

Flying back into Los Angeles it looks like the entire city is paved in diamonds and gold.

How is it possible?? This money?? This opulence??

In the same way Mexico looked so strange at first, having been away from the US it now looks almost absurd.

(That's me reppin' Hawaii with the hang-loose).

Mexico was a tough trip for me.

At various points I slipped into a mindset of "What the heck am I doing here??" and considered packing up and going home.

There's something about that "reptilian brain" that wants to have a lair that's stable to go back to.

Travelling might seem glorious but it's also draining and throws a monkey wrench into all the daily routines that keep you stable and on track.

At times driving through hours upon hours of poverty between cities I felt like I couldn't look at it anymore -- like I just wanted to shut my mind off and pretend it didn't exist.

I'm the type of dude where I have a hard time just experiencing life passively.

I've learned to experience my emotions a lot more vividly in the past years and when I'm new to an environment my brain is soaking up everything like a sponge.

Driving through the outskirts of the cities in Guererro, with the burnt out buildings and garbage and lack of resources -- it felt like I was in a movie I needed to turn off.

It wasn't so much that it existed (social problems exist everywhere and always will) but rather the MILES AND MILES of it.

The social challenges in the world are so vast that most people just choose to ignore them.

Government is oftentimes slow to act and bogged down in bureaucracy, as we see with the education system's inability to stay on the cutting-edge.

As a business owner I look at the speed of implementation in these organizations and just cringe.

Privitization also comes with it's own sets of problems, and then of course, there's the cultural aspect that many people simply have no desire to elevate themselves because it's outside their existing reality.

Then you have the issue of globalization and consumerism where the question is whether our "advanced" society is even desirable in the first place.

I really have no answers to this and I doubt that anyone does at this point.

The more I learn the more I realize I don't know, and that many of my old opinions were pure "know it all" speculation.

To be a leader all you can do is experience the world with a fresh set of eyes, study study study, and become the type of competent and affluent person who has the ability to make things happen.

In the meantime you've gotta have a lot of fun, because if you lose sight of that, then you become myopic and the bigger picture becomes lost.

Mexico was a unique place and a profound experience because of it's highs and lows, it's vast cultural diversity, and it's amazing people.

I've spoken about travelling a lot after having so many intense experiences over the years -- and I've always thought about doing an article that opens up a window into my world.

Oftentimes I think people get put off with the level of enthusiasm I have for everything I do, and maybe that's because they've done similar types of things and didn't find them to be as climatic or profound.

For me it is just the opposite of that, maybe because I was never a guy who was supposed to make it this far, and it is just the most amazing thing.

Finally I thought I'd stop thinking about writing something up and actually just put the pad to paper (figuratively), which is what this long diatribe has really been all about.

Hopefully you've enjoyed it, and maybe found a source of motivation for doing whatever things in life it is that YOU personally want to do.

Thanks for checking it out.



Anonymous said...

It looks like you were having tons of fun. Did going through all that poverty make you feel like you shouldn't be having as much fun, or spending as much money as you did on traveling when so many people are less fortunate????

Anonymous said...

Looking fit bro!

Verona said...

Glad to see you had a good time. I think that's cool that you go out of your way to actually see some of the unfavourable aspects of a country.

Being from Ottawa myself, I find it inspiring the life you've been able to create for yourself.

Scott said...

Awesome Tyler. Thanks for sharing. Amazing how traveling out of the USA opens your eyes!


Anonymous said...

Awesome post. Awesome pictures. I really do need to see more of this world.

Anonymous said...

No Comment

Anonymous said...

Wow, I really enjoyed this.
Nice pictures!

doobie said...

dude, check out russia or eastern europe in general for that matter. You'll see the same kind of thing with prosperous cities and billionaires then you'll see people totally screwed by the aftermath of the soviet union. There's so much histoy behind all the socio-econ problems (easterneur) which makes it that much more interesting. If that's your thing Id highly recommend it.

Anonymous said...

Been watching Casino Royale on youtube while reading your blog.

Its like the double dosis.

I am so ready to go now man.

rico said...

wow wow wow!

Great narrative. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

NICE! reminds me of my trip to Mexico, I remeber getting the 2nd class bus from Puerto Escondido to Acapulco for the whole trip there was a woman sat infront of me with a parrot on her shoulder haha. guys came on a played the guitar trying to sell us tapes of their music and then i got dragged off at gun point with all the other men in a drugs search. good times. Did it with my gf at the time too.

Tim said...

good times....nice bro....

Anonymous said...

awww, the joys of travel. Thanks for sharing this, really inspired me to make travel plans of my own.


Anonymous said...

awesome.. great pics..thx for sharing

oris said...

Great article nice thing to see how you experienced Mexico.
I loved how you got to the meat of the driving that fast and how well you captured it, absolutely true, made me laugh too.

fullcrum said...

yeaaa, woo! Mexico happy times! Opened up my world. I'm gonna explore Pakistan, the world of my heritage.

Remember to tag the article for future reference :D

Dirk said...

Nice Owen; living the life!! Great read.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I read through all this, it's great to see the photos and read about it though. It's pretty inspirational to me.

Anonymous said...

Very nice article, sucked me in.

I often ask people what they would do if they won 100 million dollars. Most people talked about buying material things, but I would travel. I would just go and see as much as possible. First stop, Machu Pichu. I just love ancient ruins and those pics were amazing.

Unfortunately, I always feel I'm "stuck" in the sense that you need money to travel, so you need to work and if you work, you don't have time to travel (except for the typical annual-week-long-resort-type-gettaway everyone and their grandma posts pics of on thier Facebook, whatever)

I do what I can. I booked two weeks unpaid leave this Summer to travel with a few good friends from Eastern Canada all the way down to Louisiana. Being French Canadians, we want to experience how some of our ancestors evolved into the Cajuns America knows today.

Of course, the entire trip will be an adventure it itself since we've never been in the US before. We're each bringing nothing but a tent, and air matress a sleeping bag and a cooler to fill and refill with food along the way.

So yeah, as this article demonstrates so well, it's important to take time to get out of your comfortable day-to-day life and experience first-hand what's out there.

Marko said...

Makes me more inspired to go and check out all the landscape and scenery that Ottawa-Gatineau have to offer. I moved here 2 days ago for a 4 month co-op term. It's not as exotic, but hey :P . Good entry to read, the pictures definitely made it more fun.

Kurt said...

Goddamn man, you are an inspiration Tyler. GO AFTER THE LIFESTYLE YOU WANT - trip looked awesome and I bet it was a totally enriching experience. What I liked was that you experienced both the tourist area and the real life Mexico as well - very cool.

By the way, next time you get sick, drag your ass to a local drugstore and big container of Gatorade. Last time I got sick, I puked that night for an hour, went to a doctor the next day and she recommended me some Gatorade. It did the trick I was feeling 10x better in an hour.


Cordle said...

Wow, you really experience the world on a deep level. I'm like that too and I really appreciated this article. It gave me a small sliver of perspective on the world and you know, it is sometimes easy to forget just how good we've got it living in the U.S.

Kurt said...

"The social challenges in the world are so vast that most people just choose to ignore them."

This world can be so beautiful and yet so ugly at the same time. Enjoying the moment, appreciating what you have in your life, and living your life to its fullest is the only way for me to be able to cope with it all.

"To be a leader all you can do is experience the world with a fresh set of eyes, study study study, and become the type of competent and affluent person who has the ability to make things happen."

This took me a long time to learn and I struggled with it for years. At first, I was going to work for nonprofits and work work work - but I saw who had the most influence in our society and who actually got stuff done. And the fact that I had to live in poverty just to help people out of poverty seemed too ironic to me to cope with.

"In the meantime you've gotta have a lot of fun, because if you lose sight of that, then you become myopic and the bigger picture becomes lost."

There's a great Seal song that sums this up beautifully, "Crazy."

I'll say this here with the hope that people read it - I don't know if there's a God and I don't know if there isn't. I don't know if I'm going to go to Heaven when I die or if I'm simply going to rot in the earth. I don't know if I'm going to die peacefully in my sleep in my 80s or if I'm going to die tomorrow in a car accident. I don't know what is the truth and what is not.

What I do know is this - our lives are only a miniscule speck in the millenia of time. Why I would want to do anything else but live my life to its fullest, love and be loved, and do my best to help others do the same?

Okay, I'm getting verklempt. Keep up the good work TD. You're an inspiration.


Anonymous said...

Hey RSD! This more than made up for the long breaks in between blog posts ;)

Who is Hayao Mazaki ? Nothing showed up on google.


Alex! said...

Being a born and raised Chilango (what you call people born in Mexico City) living in mighty Austin, I have never read such an unbiased spot on travel review, term interpretation, and actuality reference as this one. Especially when you talked about how generally Americans or any other foreigner believes you'll get kidnapped and how crime is soooo bad.
Note: you don't get kidnapped because they don't know who you are. Therefore they don't know how much they could collect for having bothered.

Taxco is a really cool colonial place too. Silver and general craftsmanship is the reason to go indeed.

Cuernavaca is more like a place for people from Mexico city retreat to to de-tox from the pollution and general BS of the city. Great weather, and a couple of cool local things to do, and only 45 minuts away. Nothing too wowing about it. But definitely a fun weekend place.

Thanks for visiting.


Anonymous said...

Matt Damon Baby!

Great Article.

Can't wait for my adventures. ;)

ColonelBoyle said...

Beautiful. Thanks for that.

tffl said...

Really fantastic article, read it from top to bottom. Looks like you had an incredible experience. Really appreciate the time and effort that must have gone into writing this up. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

thanks to visit my country, sadly you couldnt visit Queretaro

Maybe next time??

the aqueduct and peña de bernal are waiting for you my friend.

Its nice to read about the reality of Mexico from another point of view, sometimes as you said I shutdown because theres so much poverty that it hurts, thanks to open my eyes. (again)

Dave Doolin said...

Two points stuck out, one in the post, one in a comment...

1. The highway between Tehuacan and Teotitlan really does have the most amazing cactus I have ever seen anywhere.

2. I actually have been kidnapped in Mexico DF. It was a taxi scam from one of the bus stations. Scary. We did eventually make it back to my car parked at the Laredo Airport (probably couldn't do that these days). Jerked the key lock out of the ignition with a slide hammer, used a screwdriver to start it.

Then again, I was mugged in New Orleans once as well...

Anonymous said...

Cool man I really got something out of this

Love it

J Atomik

Anonymous said...

looks like you got built, big time. man I need to hit the gym

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us.

RichBristol said...

"Damn that thing was in need of replacement. Every time I went through customs they laughed at me asking if I'd put it in the laundry.

Good thing I know how to talk.

Social dynamics, Luke Skywalker style: You WILL let me into your country, this passport is JUST FINE.

HAHAH yes me too. Mine HAS been through the laundry, a water fight at Thai new year, and a thunderstorm. Getting into the US should be interesting...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post! Loved it :)

RichBristol said...

Just read the whole thing... really cool man. Liked the part where you mentioned how they work harder and complain less. I noticed that alot in Thailand too.

I think maybe it comes down to being more in align with their values - like they really HAVE to make the the money for sustenance, whereas if we wanted we could probably just sponge off the government all our lives if it came down to it.

"working jobs we hate to buy things we dont need" - TD, FightClub

Thats not an option in 2nd/3rd world areas.

Bernardo Torres said...

It's awesome to look for uncommon views over old towns. The city is the same, your eyes are the one who change the experience of it.

Anonymous said...

awesome report and pics, Tyler. inspires me to live life to the fullest and see the world.

p1an0hands said...

This was a great read, your writing skills are getting very sharp. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

cool man, interesting report

Anonymous said...

Hey Tyler Durden, what´s up man? Yeah, I relate to what you are saying about how traveling is draining. That is definitely true. I am down here in South America on an internship. I mean it has been an awesome time, I have seen some beautiful places, done some awesome things, my view about what "normal" is has changed because the culture in Latin America is different than the US in a lot of ways. But man, being in a new place, with a new language, trying to do it all without all of your support system at your fingertips(your friends, your technology, your comforts, etc.)is hard as hell. I like the new direction of your blog, it´s interesting to think about what life is about and direct our lives in a better more refreshing way. I´d be interested to see what your religious beliefs are. Not that I am religious, but just wondering...alright PEACE!

Anonymous said...

Love it.. This article got me so grounded and motivated that I just hoped it would keep going..

But off to live my own adventureous life..! : )

The Duck

Mild Seven said...

Fantastic travelogue and photos. My mind expanded just READING it. I can't wait to go there myself.

Charles said...

Dude! It looks like you had an insane time. Quick observation: An interesting string of thoughts come to me as I was going through my Linguistics notes yesterday. The major thing that separates humans from other animals on the planet is language, which allows us to communicate those wonderfully intelligent thoughts our super developed brains produce to one another. Language and humans are so intertwined that they both shape one another. People learn to interact with the tangible world through language and the way in which you use language says something about you to others. In society there are many linguistic barriers; the cool people speak in a certain manner, the 'chody' people speak in another. Even the language that you speak puts you somewhere on the social ladder. Many people would rate French higher than isiXhosa for instance because they think it's “more romantic”. You do some travelling so you might have noticed that in countries where people speak relatively unknown languages they rate languages like English and French higher than their own language and the girls might even sneak away with you because you speak some language that they consider to be cool. I think the whole situation is fascinating and I'm astounded by how much presence language has in the dynamics of social interactions. Look into it and you might even find it useful on your travels.

P.S. I'm noticing that the world is filled with so many interpersonal systems that cracking one matrix is merely scratching the surface. Our society is made of layer upon layer of matrixes and acquiring “the sight” for one matrix opens the door into another matrix and you find that the rabbit hole goes pretty deep.

Brad said...

Good Stuff!

When you go back to live, go snorkelling in the caves that run under the peninsula. You should be able to find a company to take you to some great spots. It's a fantastic experience

- A Time to Thrill

Positive Man said...

Here is how it works:

Lot of real experiences -> [Tyler's mind] -> lot of great value.

[Tyler's mind] is money. It's so cool how you can generate value based on all your experiences.

You saw real poverty and you are really aware of it (while the average american is watching badTV like a zombie loool).

Go Tyler Go !

Brutha said...

Luke Skywalker style: You WILL let me into your country, this passport is JUST FINE.

Actually I think it's not Luke but Obi Wan that spoke in the film at the time.

Anonymous said...

Looks like fun.

It's amazing how travelling for a few weeks eventually just makes you forget work, school or whatever you're doing and just relax and have fun.

Piolo said...

Wow, amazing. It's always enlightening to watch our daily reality through other's eyes. It's a way of remembering how what we consider as beeing normal, for others, is a totally new experience. And also, is a way of remembering how much more we have to do in our daily lives to compensate for the lacking of resources for the common people here in Mexico.
I liked your attitude on looking to find the non common for tourist places, to have a real picture of the great contrasts our country has.
Also liked your interest in seeing how there are people here, whom despite their lack or resources, live day by day, beeing happy with simple stuff, without worring about superficial things. Living the present, enjoying simple things life brings to them. Despite their poverty, is people from whom we can daily learn the importance of beeing able to be happy without having expensive stuff (cars, clothing, houses, etc).
great experience, thnks for sharing!!

Nick said...

Heyy! Why is it that after finishing the Blue Print, I feel kind of morbid? I was sad that the class was over but wtf, I feel so wierd! Is there some other place I can go to talk about it?

Michael said...

Tyler, Just read this and I'm very impressed. You do have balls my man.

I've done Cancun, Puerta Vallarta, Cabo, the "Gringo Way" and to be honest, that's the way I like it.

For me to see the incredible poverty just makes me too sad.

I don't know why my life is so rich, and yes I consider that a very good thing, but I everyday have an attitude of extreme gratitude.