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Mexico

Oaxaca (Part 1 of 3): Sick in the Van

When we left Mexico City, Gregor had a slightly sore throat. We thought it was just the pollution, but when we got to Oaxaca state it had turned into a full-blown flu. I asked Gregor if he wanted to recover in a hotel, but his answer was “no”.

“The van is our home now.” Gregor said. “We can’t just run to a hotel every time we feel uncomfortable.”

After that weekend, I caught Gregor’s flu. We were both so sick, but neither of us had the energy to pack up and move the van.

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Ups and Downs In and Around Mexico City

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In Plaza de la Constitucion, Mexico City

Before we left for our Pan-American trip, my dad asked me: “Are you going to Mexico City?”

I told him that we weren’t planning to go because we heard that the traffic is absolutely terrible. There are over 21 million people in Greater Mexico City. That’s 21 times the population of Calgary. The traffic in Calgary can be pretty bad, so we figured that navigating through Mexico’s largest metropolis would be a nightmare.

“Papa, I don’t think it would be safe for us to drive there,” I said.

“Oh, ok,” my dad replied. Then he paused, looking pensive. When my dad has this pensive look, I know that he has something else to say.

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Colonial Towns of the Mexican Interior

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Storefronts in Patzcuaro

Efrain was one of the waiters at the beach restaurant where we camped in Bucerias. A Mexican raised in San Diego, he spoke perfect English with Southern Californian slang. “Where are you guys goin’ next?” he asked. I told him that we were heading for Patzcuaro, a colonial city located in the state of Michoacan.

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Bucerias

 

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We wanted to mark 50 days of living in the van by treating ourselves to a weekend at the Royal Decameron all-inclusive beach resort in Bucerias, located just north of Puerto Vallarta. Bucerias (pronounced ‘boo-seh-REE-as’) happens to be nicknamed “Little Canada” because tens of thousands of Canadian retirees flock there each year to escape winter. We simply wanted to escape the van’s tight quarters for a few days.

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Carnaval in Mazatlan

We arrived in Mazatlan by ferry just a few days before Carnaval (the equivalent to Mardi Gras in New Orleans). This 5-day fiesta of the libido begins the weekend before Catholic Lent and is celebrated across Mexico with parades, costumes, music and dancing in the streets. This year, Carnaval took place from February 12 to 17.

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All spruced up for Carnaval

Fun Fact: The festival of Carnaval is celebrated as a last indulgence of carnal pleasures that Catholics must give up for 40 days during Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. The word ‘Carnaval’ is derived from Latin, meaning ‘take away’ or ‘goodbye to flesh’.

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