Extremely Cool

Planet Kapow 29 : Utila to the Bottom of the Sea

Fri 27, May 2011

Up until we got to Utila (Honduras) I can easily say that I had never had any interests in scuba diving.
Never ever.
I’d tried snorkeling a bunch of times, and couldn’t really see why everyone had been so excited about checking out fish.

Well things have changed.

We spent 3 days at Underwater Vision in Utila doing the PADI Open Water diving certification and had an absolute blast.

Diving is really amazing.

This episode of Planet Kapow is pretty cool – Lachlan went nuts with Dan’s underwater camera, so you can get an idea of what we saw down there.

http://www.planetkapow.com/1736

Guatemala: hike around Nebaj (Cuchumatan Mountains)

Fri 11, February 2011

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Ok, I’m jumping the gun a bit with my backlog of posts I should be getting on top of, but here is an update that I really wanted to get up.

A few days ago we got back from a brilliant 3 days up in the Cuchumatan mountains around Nebaj in the province of Quiché, Guatemala.

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Danielle & I headed of with our guide Asinto from Guias Ixil in Nebaj and spent 3 days hiking 40km up, down & around exploring the small Ixil Mayan communities whilst trying to get our heads around Asinto’s explanations in Spanish about the brutal Guatemalan civil war that he fought in.

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The folks up in these parts, especially the women and children, came across as quite reserved/apprehensive at first. We couldn’t work out why, especially after having found that most people in Guatemala are quite open and up for a chat. Later we heard that there had been a few incidents of foreigners “adopting” children (basically stealing them) which ended up with some unfortunate tourists being murdered after picking up one family’s little kid whilst walking through one of the communities.

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Also, I’d say that the civil war has left a lot of the indigenous people up here quite suspicious of strangers.

Most people are subsistence farmers as far as I could tell and fortunately for us we didn’t come across anyone who tried to sell us anything! There are chickens, roosters, turkeys, dogs, cats, pigs and all the baby versions of these running around the place.

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The women by far have the most interesting garb – purple, green and yellow pom-pommed hair braids, huipiles (blouses/dresses) and rebozos (shawls).

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Most of the dads & sons seem to leave in the morning for work in town, or farm, or head out into the forest to log trees and collect wood.

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The first day was some of the best hiking because we ended up walking from a hot sunny day up in to a thick fog on top of a mountain. It was beautiful.

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The second night we stayed with a family and ended up putting on a bit of show to about 20 kids who had gathered around staring at Danielle and I through the kitchen door.
What to do? I showed them how to make fart sounds with their arm pits, and we exchanged different whistling techniques and sound fx. It was one of the best cultural exchanges I have had! 🙂

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There seems to be a rather massive evangelical church presence up here too.
Both nights we tried to buy a beer or 2 and ended up having to go to the edge of each community to find the one family who sold alcohol. It was a little weird, but a lot of fun to be one of the outcasts drinking in the little watering hole.
With so many people living in cramped wooden houses with dirt floors I couldn’t see how it was ok for there to be so many reasonably sized churches built out of concrete/cinder blocks that had hard floors and electricity (to power the “jam session” that was blasted over the PA across the whole town & valley).
I have no idea what the medical facilities are like up there but we saw/met a lot of people with bad coughs and kids that didn’t look too healthy (one family had 3 kids who were all covered in what looked like hives, red eyes and sniffling noses). I felt really sorry for these little guys (especially when one of them nearly poked his eye out whilst trying to climb a tree).
It just seemed that the little money that is up there is kind of going into the wrong places (but i ain’t judgin’!).

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Our time up in the mountains was fantastic and I’d really suggest to anyone who is going near Nebaj to take a few days and go explore!

The Photos

The Route


View Larger Map

GPS track file (GPX)
http://adamteale.com/gps/Hike_CuchumataneMountains.gpx

Mexico.

Wed 19, January 2011

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I love Mexico.

Upon arriving in Mexico some 4 months ago I really had no idea what we would be about to experience.
The only references I had were from movies like Desperado & Nacho Libre, and I think I had seen The Mexican.

The history? Ha, I had no idea. I remember learning something about a fair chunk of the USA once being owned by Mexico. And maybe Aztecs & Mayans had something to do with Mexico too.

The food? Ha, yep nachos, burritos and Corona beer.

The music? Ha, mariachi of course.

The geography? Ha, desert. But I at least knew it was the country south of the USA, somewhere. Cancun?

The people? Ha, dudes with big mustaches sporting sombreros sitting around playing guitar.

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Mexico pretty much has it all.

When we crossed the border from San Ysidro into Tijuana I was slightly apprehensive after all the warning we’d had from people on the US side. Apparently we were going to either be killed or robbed by the narco folks within minutes. But after entering Mexico the only thing that looked like it was going to kill us was the heat. One day it reached 47C or so and you can see in the 3rd episode of Planet Kapow that we were wasted. We managed to spend a night camping under the stars with some friends we’d made in Ensenada, we swam at some beautiful beaches, and ate some tasty tasty food. Tacos pescados to be exact. Yummo!

There was a lot to see in Baja California but due to the heat it was just too damn hard to make the effort. I’ll come back to Baja one day, once I have learnt to surf, and will spend some months cruising the coastline in search of the perfect taco pescado, and of course the perfect wave.

A month or so in we attempted to reach a farm out in Yepachi, Chihuahua, to work on a farm for a few weeks. We were going to learn about Organic farming and hopefully pickup some Spanish. Instead we spent 24 hours or so lost out in the Chihuahuan’ wilderness getting chased by bulls, drinking water off the sides of mountains, and spooning during the cold night. We ended up walking 40km or so eventually deciding that we would postpone the farming idea until sometime later.

But it all worked out beautifully.

After the farm fail we got on the first bus we could to the city of Chihuahua where our love affair with Mexico started to fire. We befriended some students who took us out for drinks and tried to teach us how to dance in their kitchen until 4am.

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And Mexico only got better.

We found ourselves in beautiful Unesco heritage listed cities in the order of Durango-Zacatecas-Guanajuato, each one somehow out-awesomeing the last one, had coffees and beers around many beautiful city plazas, tried to learn spanish at a Spanish language school, found even more ways to eat cheese and tortillas (my favourite ended up being the quesadillas we had at a street eat in Puerto Vallarta), we road horses up the mountains around Real de Catorce, we climbed volcanoes that had grown out of some poor man’s farm around 50 years ago, we stood awe struck taking in the vastness of one of the biggest canyons in the world Barrancas del Cobre (Copper Canyon), we experienced the spectacle & might that is Luche Libre wrestling in Mexico City, we walked with The Dead during the dia del muerte festival (Day of the Dead), we scaled ancient pyramids and tried to fathom the design & engineering of ancient ruined cities, we froze our asses off and drank delicious hot chocolate up in the mountains of Oaxaca, we got dumped by the heavy world renowned surf of Puerto Escondido and hungout at beautiful seaside villages like Zipolite & Mazunte, and we continued to dig deeper into the history of country with more revolutions than a rotary engine.

And after the whole 4 months or so we never saw one burrito or plate of nachos, and never had any direct run-ins with any of the narcos.

But probably the thing I have enjoyed the most about Mexico has been the hospitality and overall kindness of the people.
No matter where in Mexico we were people would be patient enough to decipher our slowly progressing attempts at the Spanish language, and with a sense of humour, would help us out.

Mexico is beautiful.

Planet Kapow ep 15 : Morelia to Paricutin

Tue 28, December 2010

merry Xmas everyone!

This post comes to you from Cancun, as the Planet Kapow team waits with anticipation for their flight to …. Cuba!

Seeing as we probably won’t get any web access for the 2-3 weeks we r in Cuba, I would like to wish everyone a happy new year and thank all the folks who visited my site this year – thanks Grandma!

This ep Lachlan, Daniel (Lachlan’s younger bother) and I check out the day of the dead festival in Morelia & Parzcuaro, then head out to Volcan Paricutin that appeared on some poor fellows farm 50 years ago. Come check out the video, read Lachie’s hilarious write up, and see us get very sunburnt and slide our way up and down the volcano! And if you have the time please leave us a comment 🙂

http://www.planetkapow.com/423

Video: Planet Kapow 13 – Guanajuato to Bernal

Tue 21, December 2010

Hola amigos!

Yes it’s been quite a awhile since we got a Planet Kapow clip out! There’s been weddings, lots of travel and some terrible wifi connections to boot.

Here is ep 13, the video about the city that I have loved the most so far in Mexico.

Guanajuato!

Head over to Planet Kapow & read Lachie’s write up on Guanajuato & check out the video to see what we got up to:

http://www.planetkapow.com/415

Video: Planet Kapow 09 : Chihuahua to Posada Barrancas

Fri 29, October 2010

¡Hola amigos!

Here’s the latest episode from our adventures.
This episode we head recover from our episode in Yepachi and make our way to Chihuahua city, then south to las Barrancas del Cobre a.k.a Copper Canyon!

head on over to planet kapow and let us know what you think!

Video: Planet Kapow 08 : Huajumar to Yepachi

Fri 22, October 2010

Here it is folks, the video about how Lachie & I got led down the forest path in Yepachi, Chihuahua, Mexico.

I really enjoyed reading Lachie’s write up of the 40km hike we ended up injuring, and I am sure you will too!:

http://www.planetkapow.com/379

We’d really like to know what people are thinking of the videos so if you get a moment please drop us a comment over at Planet Kapow.

An update from Chihuahuahuahuahua, Mexico

Mon 27, September 2010

What an interesting few days…

After buggering around in Ciudad Obregon for 2-3 days, we finally got on a bus to Yepachi thinking we would end up on the farm later that day.

The journey was only around 200km I think, but it still took 8 hours.

And… we missed the stop and ended up an hour past Yepachi.

So we had to spend the night in that little town and got the first (and only) bus the next day to Yepachi.

We arrived in Yepachi around 12pm, then spent the next 7 hours walking to the farm – no one was there to pick us up and we had no luck finding a lift.

That ended up being 15miles or so! Yes, we are awesome.

We finally made it to the farm only to be defeated by a river – we were100m from the house, but no one was home and the big river was too hard for us to pass at 7.30pm.

We walked back up a hill and slept under the stars for 4 hours. I only had a tshirt and shorts on and Lachy had a jacket.

At midnight we decided to walk back to town, a pretty amazing feat considering that by the time we did arrive back it had been 24 hours since we’d last eaten.

Oh yeah, we are just that awesome that we only took 1L of water with us, so ended up having to drink the muddy water that was running off the mountains (filtered with our tshirts).

Oh yeah, it was raining a lot.
Oh yeah, it was quite hilly.
Oh yeah, we had to wade through streams.
Oh yeah, we were charged at by bulls.
Oh yeah, we are pretty fucking awesome we have decided.
Oh yeah… we had to spoon.

To finish off the fun little adventure we ended up gettign a ride back to town, in the back of a truck that had been carrying cow manure.
And then… we were asked if we wanted to buy dope from a bunch of dudes wearing bullet proof vests… carrying machine guns (they were nice folks though).

We decided that fate had really been trying to tell us something for the whole duration of this expedition, so we took a bus for 6-7 hours to the city of Chihuahua and crashed out – the most exhausted we had both been in a very long time.

In the end it looks like we walked around 35-40km based on the tracks I had going on my iPhone GPS.

Mosquito bites are gone, but now we are just rooted.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

So very happy to be back in civilisation ,sipping a beer, and using a half decent internet connection.

It is good to eat food again.

Video: Planet Kapow episode 03

Mon 27, September 2010

¡Buenos Dias Caballeros y Dames!

Here it is, Planet Kapow episode 3.

In this ep Lachlan & I make our way through Guerrero Negro, San Ignacio, Mulege and on to La Paz.

Come check out the video at Planet Kapow and feel free leave a comment about the ep!

http://www.planetkapow.com/351

The journey has begun

Wed 1, September 2010

We are off. Lachlan & I are in Ensenada, Mexico.

On the 26th of August we made some very sorry adios’s to our buenos amigos and spent 13 hours in the air to LAX.
The flight was quite ok. The entertainment system was good and there was reasonable leg room way back in the last row of the aeroplane. The food was even edible.
I was lucky enough to sit next to Luis, a cool dude from Mexico City who had been living in Melbourne for the past 2 years or so doing his MBA. Thanks to him we now have mas lugares y cosas to see in Mexico.

After the 1-2 hours in Immigration at LAX we managed to navigate the LA pubic transport system to Venice Beach and crashed at a hostel for the night (after a nice 6 pack or two of Fat Tyre beer). The next day we bussed it into Downtown LA, found the Greyhound bus terminal and proceeded to spend 4 hours or so in some heavy traffic on the way down to San Diego. Luckily the bus had free WIFI.

San Diego turned out to be a really nice place. We stayed 2 nights out on Ocean Beach at the hostel there and met some cool peeps from Finland & Canada and on the 2nd night we befriended some locals who took us to their place for some beers and were even kind enough to drive us back to the hostel in the back of their truck.

San Diego is a really easy city to get around and seems a world away from LA. The people are just as friendly but there aren’t nearly as many people trying to out crazy each other. Downtown (Gas Lamp) area seems to be where all the action is. Balboa park was cool, as well as the harbour that is home to some retired warships

From San Diego we took the trolley/train down to San Ysidro and crossed the border to Tijuana. Probably the easiest border crossing I have ever made. No immigration. No stamps. But it looks like we were meant to get some sort of card & stamp so will have to sort that out tomorrow here in Ensenada. This was our first attempt at speaking Español. “Dos boletos a Ensenada por favor”.

Ahh Ensenada. This is our first proper taste of Mexico. We are staying at “The Ensenada Backpacker”, a great little place run by a lovely chica by the name of Gabi. This is our second night here and I must say I am really enjoying Mexico so far. We’ve had some great tacos, met some friendly Mexican folks, washed some underpants and I bought a pair of pantalones.
Tacos so far have been about $12MXN ($1USD) and are muy delicioso! I am really going to enjoy the food here.

It looks like Ensenada has a few things to check out, then from here we might try to somehow make our way to Sierra San Pedro Martir Nation Park but it looks like public transport is going to be a little difficult.

Photos and hopefully the first Planet Kapow Mexico episode 01 video to come soon.

¡Hasta Luego!