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Jalcomulco to Oaxaca, Mexico, November 23.


On the way to Oaxaca to get some chocolate, we passed El Pico de Orizaba, Mexico's tallest mountain. Nice, eh?

Jalcamulco, Mexico, November 21-22.


In the town of Jalcomulco we met up with Carlos and his family, who run the rafting company Amigos del Rio. Carlos took us down his local river the Rio Antigua, on the Puento Pescado section. It was a mellow run, with some nice play features, and some spots that look like they might be fun in big water.

This is Carlos, surfing his Duckie:

Hereīs Jim adding style to the proceedings:

The following day we were on the Rio Actopan, a fun little run, none to taxing. It is encroached on both banks for most of the 10 km by vegetation of the green and tall variety.

This is Carlos at the put in:

Here's another random photo:

Rio Alseseca, Veracruz, Mexico, November 20. *********************************************************************************************

Some of you will no doubt at this point be wondering if there is ever going to be any mention of whitewater kayaking on this trip. Well, we headed to the Rio Alseseca in the state of Veracruz. A short run of about only 5 km, but all good stuff. Drop-and-pool in character, mostly boat-scoutable, and fairly much all good-to-go, with the exception of one drop that didn't have enough water on the day we were there. It was fantastic to be on the water after so much road, particularly in this kind of technical, drop run that reminds of home (except the water is warm and clear). Happy days.

Here are some photos:

In a brave, experimental move we have also got some video footage, which you can access at this link:

Rio Alsesecca video

Driving through Jalapa, Mexico. *********************************************************************************************

The town of Jalapa (sometimes written as Xalapa, but always pronounced 'HAL-apa') is funny in that the people there are called Jalapenos (HAL-a-p-nos). Well, at least I found it funny, sitting in traffic one morning. When the lights go green, all the little Jalapenos in their little VW Beetles zoom off to work

Coffee Problems. *********************************************************************************************

In the heart of the world's great coffee-growing region, and even in Oaxaca, the land of coffee, we are having trouble getting our daily infusion of the sweet, sweet drug that keeps us thin and happy.

Whenever you order coffee, they give you instant, and worse still, they give you Nescafe. With limited Spanish, it is difficult to explain that you need the caffeine, that you work in Dilbert-land and are therefore chemically dependent. The situation reached a low point one hot roadside cafe morning somewhere on the shores of Lake Chapala, when we were presented with a cup of hot water and the jar of Nescafe itself.

Not only having to drink instant, not only having to admit failing to boycott those dirtbags at Nestle, but having to add the substitute granules to the lukewarm water yourself. It's against God's law, it must be.

Random Orange Thing. *********************************************************************************************

By email, people have been requesting photos of random orange things. Here we'll start you off with a simple one. This is a pick-up, carrying citrus fruit, for making into citrus products and other citrus-related products.

El Tajin, Veracruz, Mexico, November 19. *********************************************************************************************

The next day and 600 km further down the road we decided to visit some more ruined civilizations. There seems to be a bit of a pattern developing here - we visit your town, civilization is ruined by a mysterious disaster, we leave - but enough about the odour from our sandals.

We spent the morning at El Tajin, the city of the Tolmec people. At its peak, it co-existed with Teotihuacan, but presumably not peacefully. These guys were also into their pyramids, but with a difference from the last place - this is Pyramide de los Niches.

It's called the pyramid of the niches because of the niches. That's on the exam at the end of the year: 'Can you cite one major differences between the Teotihuacan and Tolmec building styles?' Apparently there are 365 niches. Spooky, eh? The gods that the Tolmecs worshipped were as blood-thirsty as before, but in this case they sacrificed some of their own people, specifically, the guy who lost at their ball game - El Tajin has 17 ball courts and the stone carvings depict the loser of the game getting knived in the heart. And you thought KP played a tough game of football in Herbert Park...

Outside El Tajin, the indigenous indians stage their ceremony of the 'voladores' (or flyers) in which five loons climb up a huge pole, tie themselves off, rotate their little platform 13 times, one of them chants and plays the drums, the other four lob themselves off the top, and slowly unwind 13 times to the ground. Honours question: What is the significance of 4 times 13? Spooky, eh?

Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, Childrenīs Parade, November 19.


In the morning we saw the childrenīs parade in the town of Papantla. This photo is for the chicks to go īaw, cutie pie.ī Manly updates for the boys coming soon.

Teotihuacan, outside Mexico City, November 18.


With a somewhat downbeat mood in the camp after the events of the previous day, there was a some consideration given to shkipping today{s activity in favour of hitting the road. Luckily, we decided to go ahead with the visit to the Teotihuacan ruins. Strangely we arrived early, before the place was even poroperly opened and headed. The Teotihuacan civilization was building this amazing city and ceremonial site around 1,500 years ago. At the time, it was the largest urban centre in the world and also the most densely populated.

On the day we were there it was densely populated with Mexican school tours all eager to learn more about the exotic culture of the three gringos wandering around and to have their photo taken with us.

This is the Ferg and Simon fan club:

The main area (Avenida de los Muertos) is about 2 km long, reaching for the citadel to the Pyramid of the Moon, taking in the Pyramid of the Sun on the way.

It is an amazing place, as you can see, but perhaps not so great for the thousands of captured enemies required as blood sacrifices for the Sun God. A fairly miserable climb to the top for them.

This is the Pyramid of the Moon as seen from the Pyramid of the Sun. It's a great view, unless some Teotihuacan priest is about to slit your throat.

Valle de Bravo, Mexico, November 15-17.


Valle de Bravo is a world-renowned paragliding site, attracting pilots from all over the world, including, on the days we were there, Canadians, Nort Americanos, Swiss, and some local hotshot kids. The kind of 18-year-old future champion who lands on the road, just for laughs.

Ferg got some cool flights.

Simon got some cool flights.

Valle de Bravo was formerly a pretty hillside town until the construction of a hydroelectric dam and consequent lake made it a pretty lakeside town. It reminds me a lot of the lake district of Northern Italy. Local kids will fold up your wing for 10 pesos.

Outskirts of Mexico City, Mexico, November 17.


Mexico City has one of the largest populations and population densities in the world with over 20 millions VW Beetle-driving people living in one bowl-shaped valley, completely surrounded by mountains. As a result of the numbers and the enclosed geography, it also has one of the worst air-pollution problems on the planet. As a way of reducing the car pollution, the authorities forbid entry to the city to cars with registration plates ending in certain numbers on certain weekdays. This is called Hoy No Circula (Donīt Drive Today).

Mathematics problem for those of you with a knowledge of probability:

Now, pay attention, as this will be on the exam. If Mexico City forbids cars with registration numbers ending in 3 and 4 to enter on Wednesdays, what is the probability that three Irish kayakers attempting to go around the city without entering it will fail to do so and end up within the Hoy No Circula zone?

What is the probability that this will be on a Wednesday when 3 and 4 are the forbidden numbers?

What is the probability that their car is a 4?

What is the probability that they will be pulled over by corrupt cops and have a bribe extorted for this?

For bonus marks, try this extra question:

What is the probability that having being forced to spent four hours in a shopping center until the end of Hoy No Circula, the same car would be pulled over for the infringement of carrying īcargoī by different corrupt cops and have another bribe extorted?

We have no pictures of these events, in fact we are luck to have retained our cameras, which were demanded at one point. All in all we spent about five hours in Mexico Districto Federal and it cost us about Euro400. Easily the worst day of the trip.

Outskirts of Guadalajara, Mexico, November 14.


We had been warned that the big cities of Guadalajara and Mexico were terrible for corrupt cops pulling tourists over and extorting bribes. On the outskirts of Guadalajara we were pulled over by a corrupt cop and had a bribe extorted. Apparently the U.S. practice of only showing one registration plate isnīt allowed in Mexico and the scumbag cop did us a favour, apparently, by not giving us a ticket. The worst aspect of this encounter was the big, complicated handshake afterwards to seal the deal. Definitely the closest Iīve ever come to refusing to shake hands with anyone. A cop taking a bribe is a lowlife, and this one tries to pretend otherwise, but he knows it.

We bypassed the town of Tequila. Probably a good move.

We spent the night in the (almost) lakeside town of Chapala. I say almost, because the lakes in that area of central Mexico are seriously depleted by the heavy water demands of Guadalajara and Mexico cities. The jetty is at a remove from the waterīs edge. Worse again, the lake is overgrown with water hyacinths, flourishing in the overfertilised environment. The town itself is fairly cool, and there seemed to be some kind of fiesta wrapping up when we arrived.

Spanish ruins, San Blas, Mexico, November 13.


No surf in San Blas, home of the worldīs longest left-hand wave (1.7 km when itīs working), so we did the tourist for a while. Thereīs an old Spanish fort and Church on top of the hill overlooking the harbour.

Wo ist der Commandant?

Car Trouble on the way to San Blas, Mexico, November 12.

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Finally, it had to happen. Car trouble. Car goes chug chug, we stop, Ferg crawls under it, removes a grimy pot-shaped part, and replaces it with a shiny pot-shaped part. Car works fine again.

Instead of repeating this news item on a weekly basis, letīs just say that the problem is recurring and, slowly but surely, we are replacing various grimey parts with shiny ones until we get it right. At the moment, when the car goes chug chug, we stop for tortas and coffee and let it cool down for a while.