Around The World in Soccer Mom Mobile

Following our emergency evacuation from San Blas, in the middle of Semana Santa, we headed north along the coast of Sea of Cortez. About four hours later, we arrived in Celestino, a small fishing village right off route 15D. Quite surprisingly, there were several campgrounds, right on the beach and we were lucky enough not to settle in the first one we’ve came across. Celestino RV park, owned and operated by Chris and Marissa is a US style gravel campground, offering all hookups, electric service, clean bathrooms with hot water showers at the lowest price we’ve seen so far. We decided to stay for three nights, especially as we only needed to pay for two…

Celestino RV Park doesn’t have much to offer in terms of tourist attractions. It’s just a gravel beach front lot with amazing sunsets and very decent star gazing opportunities. Doesn’t have a pool, not even an Internet connection, just the bare necessities for motorized campers. What it does provide is peace and quiet. Even in the midst of Semana Santa, all park guests are in their coaches right after sunset, all you can hear at night is just the sound of waves crushing on shore and you wake up in the morning to the singing concerto of exotic birds flying all over colorful bushes and palm trees bordering the campground.

When we arrived Chris, the owner welcomed us at the entrance. Hearing that we are from Poland, he mentioned that a couple from the Czech Republic pulled in the day before. We found them without problem and parked right next to their shiny, fully armored Toyota Land Cruiser, covered in maps of the World and hand written marks showing the route they’ve covered. Our neighbors started in Europe and after conquering the African off roads shipped the car to Southern America, where starting from Cape Horn were already more than half way to Alaska. From there, they plan to continue their trek through Russia back home. Their vehicle, rather plain in terms of modern day technology, looked quite impressive with weld-on aluminium containers, roof-top spare tires, stainless steel plates covering the hood and countless devices mounted all over the car. Our dusty, soccer-mom mobile wasn’t quite a match.

That made me think how ill equipped we really were for this journey. We did fairly well in the States where the National and State Parks provide all amenities to weekend camping warriors like us. Every camp site has a fire place, a picnic table, water and electric hookups, sometimes a grill and even wi-fi internet coverage. There are laundry facilities, clean bathrooms, hot showers and camp stores if you run out of supplies. In Mexico, most campgrounds offer just the basics: mostly run down, incomplete and not very clean toilets, showers with occasionally warm’ish water and… that’s about it. Those handy propane bottles fueling our camp lights and portable stove are not available in Mexico, so our cooking abilities are severely impaired. Even a morning cup of coffee becomes quite a challenge and turns into an hour long hunt for a nearby coffee shop (usually ends up on a gas station). Our portable cooler doubles as a picnic table, even though it really gets messy when we forget to pull something out of it ahead of time.

Despite being on the road for quite a while now and spending considerable amounts of time putting up and folding down the tent, we still didn’t quite figure out the routine. Somehow, on the travel days, we can’t seem to get our act together quickly enough to cover some distance in the daylight. Usually we can’t leave the campground before noon. True to our motto, we sleep longer, then struggle for a shot of caffeine, mess around with breakfast, clean after ourselves, dress up and eventually start packing. And even though we’ve done it hundreds of times already, some of us are still standing clueless faced with the complexity of few poles and a piece of fabric.

How did we make it so far…?

The Journey Isn’t Over Until It’s Over

We are out of San Miguel de Allende and on our way back to reality, looking for a job, exploring different options. That however, does not mean the adventure is over. The way I look at it, we are starting yet another episode of this Family Sabbatical Road Trip. Tonight I’m sitting at a picnic table at Los Cocos, a campsite in San Blas, small coastal town in Riviera Nayarit. In the rare and very short moments of truce, between treacherous attacks of some kind of midget mosquitoes, I find just enough clarity in my mind to realize that excluding our European episode, this surfer’s paradise is probably the most distant from Rochester during our trek. We are far from home and it took us nine months to get here. Granted, five of them we’ve spent grounded in the most picturesque of Mexico’s colonial towns, but it means it will still take another four before we truly get back. And we don’t plan on taking the shortest route either…

As much as I liked it in San Miguel de Allende, I think I’m also the most content that finally we are moving (…and we’re grooving) again. We started to feel very comfortable there, so before we got too attached, we decided to hit the road.  We left on Friday heading south towards Ixtapa and the first stop was… Roca Azul, a little dated resort in the town of Jocotepec, on the west coast of Lake Chapala, about 20 miles south from the outskirts of Guadalajara. Because of a failed arrangement, at the last moment we decided to skip the beach resort town and head directly West instead. Well, I guess this blog isn’t called Wanderlust for no reason…

We stayed in Jocotepec for three nights, enjoying the pools, getting re-adjusted to sleeping in a tent and making friends with a very nice family from Puebla. We liked it there and despite fairly low temperatures at night, got some decent rest – must be the fresh air, coupled with the tranquility of the neighborhood. That’s a welcome change from the constant fiestas of San Miguel.

From there we kept on pushing West, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. We arrived in San Blas on Monday afternoon, planning to stay for two nights and escape the Semana Santa (Easter Week) craziness using a ferry from Mazatlan to La Paz on Baja California. The plan backfired, when we tried to make a reservation for the Sea of Cortez crossing. There are two companies (that we know of) that offer the service – Baja Ferries and Ferry TMC. The first one is an overpriced tourist carrier, the second is a freight shipping company that can accommodate some tourists at significantly lower rates. Unfortunately Ferry TMC doesn’t allow young children on board, and Baja Ferries is booked until mid next week anyway. Since we need to leave Mexico in about two weeks, it means that we’ll have to skip Baja and instead head north towards US border in Nogales.

A little disappointing, for us who already failed once, 12 years ago trying to get from Baja to mainland Mexico, and for the kids who were thrilled about the idea of a sea passage. But that isn’t necessarily all bad news. After traversing Baja we were planning on a “side trip” back East to Grand Canyon, Zion, Brice, Las Vegas, etc… before returning to California and continuing north to Oregon before turning east on the final descent to Rochester. Skipping Baja means going straight up to Arizona, saving a fair amount of money on gas and the ferry tolls. Money which converts to additional weeks in Yosemite or Yellowstone. Baja can wait – maybe when the kids get a bit older we will do the peninsula on motorcycles…. and maybe we’ll finally get to cross the Sea of Cortez on a ferry…

That’s why today, we decided to extend our stay in Riviera Nayarit for a few extra days. We don’t need to hurry anymore, there is no “train” to catch, we will be beach bums again. We can relax on the beach, take a few surfing lessons, eat marlins, langustas and other seafood treasures at bargain prices. The beach is much nicer then Costa Esmeralda, although nowhere near as beatiful as Riviera Maya. Los Cocos has free WiFi Internet, so I can spend nights drawing maps of our future adventures (or these boring updates). Agnieszka and kids are sound asleep, only midget mosquitoes, giant iguanas and chihuahua size cockroaches keep me company. From a distance I can hear that San Blas has officially kicked off Semana Santa festivities. The whole town is singing aloud (and not necessarily clear)…

So, to paraphrase Yogi Berra’s words: The journey isn’t over until it’s over! Take it with a grin of salt..;-)

Las Puertas de San Miguel

Architecture of San Miguel de Allende is stunning. There are several gems that form the ambiance of this beautiful town. Amongst them libraries, government buildings, restaurantes, hotels, houses and churches of course. Most are colonial style with neoclassical and neo-gothic details. Combining all that with cobblestone streets an achitectual jewel was born, loved by tourists but impossible to walk on in high hills:-)

When I got to San Miguel de Allende, the focus of my camera was on doors. Some old, labouriosly carved of wood, others simple made of metal or intricately decorated, all very beautiful, eye catching and tempting setting the tone for what’s inside. This gallery is 5 moths old, patiently waiting to be published, I finally decided it is the right time. To say goodbye to georgeus San Miguel that will stay in my heart forever:-)

Spring is officially here!!!!

Yes, to confirm that all the Jacaranda trees are in full bloom with gorgeous purple flowers. They are all over SMA just in time to start Semana Santa, very important time for all the catholics here in Mexico. The view is just breathtaking, see for yourself.

The monarc butterflies are waking up to start their long journey up North pretty soon. Hummingbird nests are popping up here and there but due to their size visible only to the most observant.

Our tree, that was once a Christmas Tree got transformed to welcome new season. It became a home for owels that were made of… Yes, you guessed it, from toilet paper rolls.

With help from my beautiful children, we painted the rolls different colors, then we shaped the roll and used black marker to draw the features of these gorgeus birds. Very easy, cute and fun even for the youngest ones. The shape is also great to make kitties, but we do not want any of them in our tree, especially with the eggs just about to hatch:-)

This is a great recyclable project because all you need is a tree branch, old paint bucket and some paint. This could easily be a permanent exposition in your house or a daycare, the docorations would just be changed to reflect changing seasons. Let me know what you think:-)

 

Hit the Road Again

In Poland, people often say, that everything’s good ends quick. We have been living in San Miguel de Allende for the past five months, almost half a year. The kids went to school, the adults worked on their own little projects. We all learned a bit of Spanish (some more then others) and made a lot of good friends. On Friday we will hit the road again. Our Mexican visa expires by the end of April. In order to see a bit more of the country we got to love so much, we’ll set off three weeks before that deadline and head towards the US border using roads less traveled. That is, hopefully less traveled by the drug and people traffickers…

Some time ago we visited Morelia, where we stayed with a wonderful family we’ve met early January in Los Azufres. They showed us their beautiful town, took us to Patzcuaro and offered a free stay at their summer house in Ixtapa. Taking advantage of that offer, we’ll leave San Miguel at the end of the month, just when the kids would have started their two weeks spring break. Through Morelia, we’ll head south to Ixtapa, where we plan to stay for about a week of “well deserved” vacations. Then, along the Pacific coast, we’ll travel north to Puerto Vallarta and on to Matzatlan, where we plan to embark on a ferry, that will take us across the Gulf of California to La Paz. On the Baja, we’ll make a little loop to visit Cabo at the Southern tip of the peninsula, then turn North and through a little village called Guerrero Negro (very dear to our memories), head towards Ensenada and Tijuana. I’m not sure exactly when we’ll cross the border, or what we will do on the West Coast, but that’s not important right now.

What matters, is to prepare for the trek and to tie a few loose ends. It’s end of March, which means even homeless, jobless souls like us have to get their act together and file their US tax returns. That’s priority number one. Second thing is to decide what we are going to do comes August. That’s when the lease on our house expires and our travel fund dries out. That means finding a new job, and a place to live. Time to update that resume and send out a few letters. And finally, we also need to prepare for the next part of our trek. It will be definitely longer than the first part. Both, in terms of time and distance. For that, I’d like to spend some time in the library and prepare an interesting route.

Why in the library, you ask? Well, some time ago, I came to the realization that we spend way too much time in front of our computers. Don’t get me wrong, they proved useful at times. Even often. But that doesn’t change the fact they’re mostly evil… You turn them on to find a campground near Ixtapa. It only takes Google a fraction of a nanosecond to return three billion, highly relevant ads, and a few loosely related results… That’s impressive and makes you feel highly efficient. You start browsing through them, and suddenly – three hours later – you know what all of your friends back home had for dinner, but you still don’t know where you are going to sleep next week. You start over and another three hours pass, while you read irrelevant nonsense, that leaked into your “highly efficient” workflow. The library on the other hand, is about 10 minutes from our apartment. It takes roughly 5 minutes to find the right guide book and about 30 to do an in depth research. An hour later, I’m back home with a (hand written) trek plan in my hands, and… plenty more time to kill!

For we have designated Thursdays computer free days! I have to admit, I’ve been the biggest offender. Even though not addicted to following other people’s lifes on Facebook, I’ve been constantly tinkering with yet another programming project or another “great” idea. Last two computerless Thursdays helped me realize, that except for the few important matters I need to attend, there isn’t much stuff we need computers for anyway… First there was anxiety, almost fear and panic attack. How can I put the computer away? There’s so many things I need to do! But then, after a few computerless days, a certain calmness and clarity started to take it’s place. Matters got prioritized, life simplified and somehow the days became longer and more enjoyable. Our kids are thrilled! They love the idea, and when I first proposed it, they immediately countered with Saturdays and Sundays be computerless as well. Since recently I’ve managed to fry my computers’ hard drive, I’m seriously considering institutionalizing a few more analogue weekdays in our schedule. I only wish I fried that hard drive much earlier!

For the past five months we’ve been living in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We’ve met wonderful people, made friendships and learned a few things. On one side, I wish we could spend more time here – the weather is great, the town magnificent, almost magic. On the other though, we realize that although rare, such places are all over the World. And if we want to see them all, it’s time to hit the road again…

What to do when you have a sore throat?

Last week I found myslef lying in bed, not even able to go to the bathroom. I was sick. It wacked me out of a sudden, without any warning whatsoever, no prior signal. It was Friday. My husband had to take the kids to school since I was afraid I might just fall on the ground and not be able to get up. My children were petryfied, they have never seen their mother so incapable.

I had a fever 104 F and a sore throat. Not a good feeling at all. Shivering fully clothed under the covers in my bed I could not even sleep. When Robert got back I asked for aspirin, just to get a break from the fever for a while so that I could take a nap. I slept most of that day. Later on I decided not to fight the fever anymore. Fever is actually a good thing, the high temeperature helps your body fight off all the microbes. So I continued to rest in my bed with a wet towel on my head.

The next day I officially won the battle, the fever was gone but……my throat was milion times worse!!!!I could not eat, drink, swallow, talk….even breathing hurts.

So I made myself salty water to gargle my throat with. My mother tought me that trick long time ago, when I was a kid. She knew it from her mother of course:-) I mixed 1 cup of water with 1 tablespoon of salt and gargled my throat 3 times that day. I swear, it must be as salty as the water at the bottom of the saltiest ocean. Who cares, right, I am not swallowing it and I would do anything to feel better:-) I also took oregano oil just in case the infection was moving down from my throat.

The next day it was considerably better. I could feel my energy coming back.

Salt gargle works because it sucks moisture out and promotes osmosis. This is why salting eggplant or tomatoes makes them give up their liquid so they’re easier to cook with. In your throat, it draws moisture out of any bacteria who have „just moved in”, and it draws moisture out of your own swollen tissues, relieving inflammation.

Salt also cleanses out post-nasal drip and other bacterial material, a salty environment prevents bacteria from growing. That is how the meat was kept from going rancid in the medival ages, salt is a bacteria-fighter.

Next time when you are coming down with a cold try it and there is high probability that you will feel better afterward. For some, it might be too ancient but for me it is worth trying especially in today’s antibiotic resistant world.

Spring is in the Air

Here in Mexico it is sunny and worm all year round. Yet all of my Mexican friends can not wait for spring…?!?!?! What it means is that it is going to get significantly hotter. For them it is a blessing, for us… not so much. Anyway, we decided to welcome the new season with a flower project. It is cute, made from recyclable materials and easy, because even our almost 4 years old Alexander could do it:-)

Here is what you need:

  • egg cartons (preferably white)
  • toilet paper tube
  • bottle cleaners
  • paints
  • scissors

Cut up the egg carton into 12 cups. Shape up with scissors if needed. They are going to be the flowers. Paint them different colors and let dry. Paint the paper tube as well. This is going to be your vase. Once everything is dry, make little holes in the bottoms of the egg cups and insert the cleaners, the stems. Put your flowers into the vase, no water needed:-) Enjoy!

Girls Best Friends… Weights

Diamonds are too but they do not have any proven health benefits:-)

Today’s post is going to be about lifting weights. And I am taking serious weights, not some 1lbs pink dumbbells. There are many benefits, but I am going to list just a few main ones, that made me swap my cardio routine couple of times a week for some serious lifting:

  1. Increased metabolic rate – what it means is that your muscles are like engines burning more fat much longer after your workout is already over. While cardio is a great way to increase your metabolic rate only weight training can permanently do it. With every 1 lb of lean muscle you simply burn 35-50 cal a day, so with 10 lbs it is between 350-500 cal a day. How much cardio do you have to do to burn 500 cal ?
  2. Improves and restores bone density – regularly putting weight on your bones improves their spinal bone mineral density, add an adequate amount of calcium and you have a formula fighting osteoporosis.
  3. Increased strength – it is a great feeling to find out how strong you really are, not to mention all the request from your husband to open a jar:-)
  4. Injury prevention – you body is getting stronger, so there is less possibility for injury.  It becomes even more important as we grow older so take care of yourself… now!
  5. Looking better – it is no secret, that we all want to look our best and why shouldn’t we? It does not take long to see results, only few months of regular training and your self esteem arrow is gonna go up:-)
The above is what the science has to say now the following is my personal experience and observations.
Having 2  almost 9 lbs kids via C section and then nursing them for over a year each left my body far from perfect. I was thin but my boobs looked like deflated baloons, my butt was flat and my tummy …och well I got a lot of “Are you pregnant again?” questions. Everything was hanging:-(I shortly convinced myself that a tummy tuck and a boob job is going to be the only way. The problem was justifying the cost to my cheap husband who said he loves me no matter what:-) I did cardio but only when I switched to training with weights I was able to reshape my body. All I needed was commitment and hard work. My body is not perfect and it will never be because there is no such thing. That was not the goal. I just wanted to feel good in my own body again and I acomplished my mission. I like the way I look but I LOVE the way I feel. It was not only a physical change it was mental, far more important. And the fact that I did it MYSELF makes me feel even better.

The one complaint I hear over and over is „ I do not want to bulk up and look like a man”. It ‘s simply not possible because women do not have enough testosterone to develop such big muscles. Most of the women bodybuilders get testosterone injections and workout 6 hours a day so unless that is what you are planning to do there is nothing to worry about.

I have been on the road for 9 months now and could not take my weights with me for obvious reasons so i made my own:-)

I use plastic beverage bottles and milk jugs instead of dumbbells.

I also use my own body weight doing push-ups and pull-ups on a regular basis. You do not need gym memberships and fancy equipment to workout, you just need to be creative. Be sure to check out older posts: “Playground fitness routine” and “Fitness on the Go” to get more ideas.

Here it is Ladies, lift havy to be healthy, strong and lean.

 

Chocolate and Cinnamon Mousse

What comes to your mind when you think of dessert? I bet it is ice cream, cake, pies, probably cookies etc.,  but not… avocados, right? Wrong! What I am about to show you is going to be a big surprise for many as it was for me the first time I ate it. This dessert is not only delicious, but nutrition packed and healthy so you can enjoy it without any guilt.

Ingredients:

  • medium, ripe avocado
  • tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of raw cacao
  • tablespoon of raw honey
  • ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • coconut flakes for garnish

Place first five ingredients into the food processor and mix well until you get an even, creamy consistence. Put into a nice glass or a bowl and sprinkle with coconut flakes. Enjoy and let me know how did you like it!

Avocado…the Fattest Fruit of All

A recent conversation prompted me to write about one of the best, nutrient dense and fattest fruits of all- Avocado. With 31 grams of fat per medium avocado, they are an exception among the fruit family. How can this be good for me, you ask? That is exactly what prompted me to write this post.

I felt in love with avocados many years ago when I came to live in America. In Poland avocados back then were almost unknown, now they are in every major supermarket.

The taste of a ripe avocado is a fiesta for your taste buds. Like nothing you had before, incomparable deliciousness.

Avocados are a “superfood” that EVERYONE should include in their diet. Most people do not realize the benefits of them nor have any idea how to eat them. Some also got brainwashed thinking that fat is your enemy, so they exclude avocados on purpose, „to maintain healthy weight”. I can not even begin to tell you how many times someone said” You eat avocados on a daily basis?!!?What about all the fat content?!?!!?”

Well, there needs to be a better education in regards to nutrition because an average person does not realize, that we actually need fat to absorb all the necessary nutrients and vitamins such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein. Without fat our body and all the processes are out of balance! And let me assure you, most people actually are seriously deficient in healthful fats. Avocados are a prime example of an excellent source of healthy, raw fat and provide many essential health-boosting nutrients including fiber, potassium , vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid.

Please do not worry about your weight, you are not going to gain any eating avocados. They in fact are proven to help loose weight especially in the abdomen area.

Here in Mexico they are a staple. They have been eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner for ages and people never had problems with obesity and diabetes, until soda and junk food were promoted.

My family have been eating them for many years now and „unfortunately” we are all addicted:-) Both my children have been eating avocados since they were 7 months old, in fact it was their first solid food shortly followed by banana. We eat it as guacamole, cubed in a soup, spread on bread with sardines, in a salad, mixed in a smoothie or simply by a spoonful with a squeeze of lime juice.

Avocados tend to be expensive so as a tip I can tell you that you do not need to buy it organic. Their thick skin protects them from pesticide buildup, you only eat the meat anyways. In Mexico the vendors always ask „Para hoy o para manana”, which means „for today or for tomorrow”. The difference is the ripeness of the fruit. „Para hoy” means that it is very soft to the touch and needs to be used as quickly as possible. Avocado „Para manana”is firm and can be used within few days. They ripen very well in room temperature so be sure to leave them out of the fridge.

Within the next few days I will be posting recipes using avocados ranging from deserts to drinks so please be sure to check them out………often:-)