Friday, 12 December 2008

Sotano De Las Golondrinas a.k.a. Adventures of the Gringo

This has been one of the best experiences since I started my travels. I headed to Aquismon to arrange transport to head the 14km to Sotano De Las Golondrinas, a 300m vertical deep cave where approximately 10,000 swallows live and maybe 500 parakeets based on what I saw. People have also gone there to base jump!

There was no much sign on shared vans going up, so I started to walk the 14km, hoping that I would get picked up along the way. Although the walk was along a main road, it was beautiful. I eventually got picked up by this van, with all the hitcher hikers standing up in the back, it was a super bumpy thrilling ride up to my drop off point.

I got greeted by a young boy who took me to where I would be camping and where the big 300m pit was, we headed along this cobbled path,. Through someone’s back yard where they were drying coffee and up to the camp ground.

I saw some Parakeets slowly descend into the cave to there various holes in the wall, they descended by flying circular round the edge of the pit in about groups of 5 to 20. I did not see many swallows return, I was either too late or according to one lady, the day had been too cold for them to leave the cave. The swallows didn’t mess about, they just dived straight into the pit, I could barely see them, but could hear the swish as they dived past my head, was awesome.

The lady at the tourist office told me that I could probably get a blanket from the nearby town of La Union, as she said it was super friendly there. I mentioned this to the guy selling tickets at the pit, he told me I could stay with one of his friends in La Union, I didn’t fancy I cold night in a tent, so I accepted. When dusk came and the last of the birds had entered the pit, we made our way up the mountain. The night was lit by a full moon and we meandered up the mountain along a cobbled path, as we entered into the town, the church bells were ringing for the start of the religious festival of the Virgin de Guadalupe and I felt like this was going to be a fantastic experience, the hairs on the back of my neck went up.

The view at dusk from the village was awesome. We headed up to his friends house, and after a conversation with a young lad, where I heard him say Gringo (a person who speaks a strange language), we headed up to the church to find Philippe. A rather stoned looking Phillippe was dragged from the church and agreed to let me stay in his side room to his house. The room was locked and he had lost the key, so he lowered his screaming and giggling daughter through the window to let me in. I got settled and headed back up to the church, the church was tiny but beautiful, with colourful flowers on string hanging from the insides, the singing by the people was awesome, it was more like African music, with a few different people singing different sections. I got bored so headed off down to the local store where my friend from the pit was getting drunk wit his friends, I had a fews beers and watched a happy but slightly crazy guy play a home made harp, with flashing bike lights on it, he had a maraca tied to each knee and did a little jig while sitting down, inspirational!! The beer ran out so I got taken round the village, people seemed to find it funny there was gringo in town at night. Everyone was so good to me, and we find more beer!

This is why I travel, for moments like this.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Chai Tea Recipe

Well, it is a rainy day, so I am hibernating in an internet room, and promissed I would do my chai tea recipe that I found on the net and addapted a little.

Ingredients (provides 4 cups)
1. Water 3 cups
2. Milk 2 cups (50/50 cream is real good for this too, but use 1 cup)
3. Cloves 3-4
4. Cinemon sticks 1 or 2
5. Cardomen pods 4 (1/2 tea spoon if powder form)
6. Black Pepper 4-8 corns (dependent on taste)
7. Ginger (fresh) 8 pea sized amounts (I used way more just for personal taste)
8. Tea 1 or 2 tea bags or 2 tea spoons of black tea. (I find one tea bag is enough)

(If you can find the following ingrediants at an Indian Supermarket, Jhopadpattis, Tamasuic, Shree Ram, then add them! I could not find them)


1. Crush spices (items 3-6) together. I used a bean/soup can against the base of the pan because I did not have a pesstle and mortar.

2. Grate ginger into pan, I love to add lots but try just adding 8 pea sized amounts to begin with, approximately a table spoon.

3. Add water and sugar. Sugar is a must even if you generally do not have sugar in your tea. It brings out the flavour in the spices. Boil, then simmer for 2 minutes.

4. Add milk and tea and simmer for 15 minutes, although I got impatient and only simmered for 5 minutes but longer is better.

When I was a loner liveing in my caravan I would not add the milk but simmer the water for 15 minutes with the tea and sugar. Then I would put the tea in a flask, so that I could get instant chai by microwaving some milk and then adding some chai mixture from my flask. For some reason the tea tasted better when I left if for a few hours in the flask.

5. Cieve the chai mixture into cups and drink!

The spell check is in spanish, so can not find my spelling errors, I know there will be some!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Xilitla & Edward James Residence

Salvador Dali said of his friend Edward James, ´Edward James is crazier than all the surrealists put together. They pretend, but he is the real thing.´

Parakeet Cave

squwark, squwark, squwark! (sound effects for picture)

Actualy had a conversation of sorts in spanish, probably my first ever conversation in a foreign language other then school french, we covered such vast topics as england being cold and me being a civil engineer, that is about it!


Don´t have time for words at moment, as using most of my net time trying to plan my cycle trip for cuba, hopefully will add a few words soon : )

Copper Canyon Train Journey - Creel & Batopilas

Copper Canyon Train Journey



Saturday, 6 December 2008

Mexico - The Start - Mazatlan & Alamos

Leaving Canada

I reluctantly left Canada, my search for cash in hand work failed. Spent a fun week back in the good town of Nelson. Drank a bit with my good friend Ben and hastily booked a Mexico flight for a week laeter, thinking that would be enough preparation time. I got drunk for the last 4 nights I was in Canada, so I got very little done. I did manage to sell my car for $200, but I did not manage to post extra bellongs as the post office was closed. Gave a lot of my things away to Salvation Army and I am carrying some other things which is a bit of a pain.

I took a greyhound to Calgary, where my flight was from. I was a little tense about going to Mexico, everyone seemed to get me anxious about going, like my friend Bryce! I sat next to this nice but strange lady on the greyhound, she had me convinced that I would die out here, I had to text Chris for reasurance that I would be OK. I have found Mexico to be totally cool and safe, all the reports of drug killings are mainly just gang to gang killings in the North.


My hotel in Mazatlan, the cheapest place in town, which attracts the usual colourfull characters that decide to stay in a $10 a night hotel in a place where the rich stay on the sea front in expensive swish hotels. Our hotel was in the Old Town, which was super cool, loads of hustle and bustle, just enjoyed getting to know the mexican way of life and trying to speak spanish. Spent a few days on beach recouperating from my partying in Canada.

Some of the people I hung with at the hotel. Lloyd on the left was a legend, I loved chatting to him, kept me entertained. He lives in Mazatlan, but originally from the States. His girl took off with all his clothes as she wanted to leave and hoped that he would follow, but he just stayed put. He would ask me some funny questions:

'Where can you drive to from England?`
`Only Scotland and Wales, we are seperated from mainland Europe` so I went to get a world map to show him.
`Well I`ll be, that`s amazing!`. He was honestly surprised to see GB as an Island!

`Does everyone drive Bentleys and Mercades in England?`

`Do people plays sports in the UK?`
`Yeah, cricket, football and golf orginated here`
`Well I`ll be, but the UK is so small`

He was also obsessed with the Royal Family, and he must have ask me questions non stop for an hour about the workings and power of the royal family. Sure beats small talk, if only all people could be this cool!


Finally left Mazatlan after and early morning swim. Left around noon and arrived in Alamos near midnight, the cheapest hotel in town was closed, so I had to spend a cold night sleeping on a wooden bench in there porch way.

Unfortunatley there was a massive flood here about 4 weeks before I arrived, around 68 people died. The main people that died where market stall owners sleaping in the stree waiting to set up for the Sunday Market. It destroyed the nearby park which I intended to go to, hopefully if will recover as it is home to some rare species of birds. No other travllers here but the hotel was amazing, had it`s own courtyard, spent a good 3 days relaxing and reading and drinking with a couple of older people from USA.

Spell check is in spanish, so ignore my spelling!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The Whaleback Treck a.k.a The 'Cooler' Treck, Yoho National Park

I got recommended this treck from a hitchhiker I picked up. I found it more beautiful than the more popular Jasper and Banff National Parks. The park contains some of the highest peaks in Canada, it has 28 peaks over 3000m.

This is our final camp spot. We originally intended to camp at the site by the parking area, so we brought loads of gear and loaded it onto a handy cart provided by Parks Canada. When we got to the first site it felt too safe and not proper wilderness, so we decided to head to the next camp spot about 4km away. We originally intended to take the cart to the next spot, after 100m we got told by a friendly set of hikers it would be impossible, so we re-hashed our plans. As we were unloading the cart with all essentials and ready to take the cart back to the car park, a set of annoying hikers started giving us shit. Even though I told them we were changing plans they carried on rabbiting on, the most annoying 'perfect' people ever! Because we were initially intending to stay at this easily accessible site we went equipped with luxury items, most had to be left, but some remained, like our steaks and beers. The food was a little smelly, so we decided to keep it in the cooler and not transfer to our packs due to beers. So off we head with this massive cooler on our treck. We finally ended up at a camp spot

The camp spot was amazing, it was by an awesome little stream, the night was cloudless and you could see the stars and galaxies. Tried to stay up late drinking beer but then we got spooked by noises in the forest so headed to the tent. Pretty spooky when you can't see shit, I kept having visions of a beer bounding out of the darkness!

OK.....the cooler was a big pain, on the first section where the track was wide it was fairly easy because we could carry one handle each. Then when the track got steep and narrow it had to be carried solo. I tried to carry it on my back but it was too heavy and I felt like a mule. The treck wasn't the longest I have done but definitely the hardest just because of the damn cooler!

This is twin falls, we hiked to the top of it along a switchback trail, the elevation gain was approximately to the base of the falls is approximately 300m from the parking lot.

Lunch spot at the top of twin falls.

This was just by twin falls, from here we thought we had no more climbing but had about another 70m elevation to get past.

This is the absolute highest spot on the Whaleback Trail, an elevation of 2633m, the elevation gain from the base of twin falls was 350m. This photograph doesn't do the views justice. It was amazing, you could see nearly 360 degrees and too many mountains to count. There were no people from twin falls to the top of Whaleback mountain, which is weird as it was the best section.

The infamous cooler.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

The Helicopter Tour

Awesome!!!! Got a free 1 hour helicopter tour, one of the perks of my current job. Went and flew around the rocky mountains and over the icefield near where I work. We also landed for about 30minutes and did a small hike while our paying passengers got to eat a picnic.

Glacier flowing from the icefield.

The icefield.

Amys Birthday - Yoho National Park - Iceline Treck