Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Thanksgiving dinner outside, in the cold.
It was about 45 degrees and windy.
Do we look cold and tired to you?

This evening Emlyn and I made a book about our trip to Mexico. I was very impressed with the words and sentence structure she used. I was a little disappointed, however, that she didn't mention the sightseeing or climbing. Mostly the whole book centers around the friends she played with while she was there, and the trips she made to Tami's Cafe where she would usually get cookies.

I thought I would write some of my impressions of the trip before I forget them.

The drive was not too bad. We didn't have all the proper papers for the border but we had enough to get through. It is always a bit of a culture shock because Mexico is after all a foreign country. One of the most interesting differences is the use of TP. In Mexico usually people do not have great plumbing, nor do they buy real TP. So in order to keep their pipes clear they throw all of their TP in a trash can beside the toilet, rather than in it. It takes some getting used to, mostly because there is an added smell that is associated with it.

It is always awesome to get to Potrero Chico after driving for 9 or 10 hours. The mountain is so tall in comparison to everything around it, and we got to camp literally right beside the mountain. Each morning, afternoon, and night you are within sight of it. Dusk arrives at about 3 pm at the campground because the rest of the day the sun is shaded by the mountain. It's a little bit spooky.

The climbing is so easy to get to and so nice. There are over 500 bolted routes and therefore enough climbs for everyone to share. Even when the mountain is the most crowded there are always routes open. The first day I didn't climb, but almost every day we were there I did at least one climb. One or two days I did more than that, and by the end of the trip I was climbing a 5.10a. To give you an idea of the ratings, a 5.4 is almost too easy to bolt. A 5.5 pretty much anyone can climb when roped in. It gets progressively harder up to like a 5.14 or something. After you hit 5.10 instead of going up one whole point it goes through a, b, c, and d to the next one.

Anyway after 5 or 6 days of climbing every day in a row I was in a groove and able to train my body to do moves that were counter-intuitive. It was nice to have an opportunity to try and get better and better. Last time I was there was a year and a half ago and I wasn't really in good physical condition for climbing. This time I was all about the climbs.

We spent a day in Monterrey with our friend who has lived there almost her whole life I think. She's a dentist and speaks fluent English, so it's nice to be able to chat with her and yet have someone who can hire a cab. She showed us a beautiful church. It was the time of year when Catholics celebrate the Virgin Mary's birthday, so we went to the basilica (I think that's what it was called) and waited. Every hour or so a group marches/dances in from another church to make their homage. They wear beautiful Aztec costumes.

Another day we went to the Termas de San Joaquin. They are natural hot springs which have been built up and covered by a hotel. With gorgeous architecture, these really are the most beautiful I have ever seen. It is all naturally lit with windows in the roof. There are benches all around and it's very romantic and just peaceful. I wanted to take a nap there.

I got lots of pictures and inspiration for my next painting. I am excited to get started on it.

The kids really had a great time playing and hanging out. On the days they came climbing with us (mostly staying at the bottom of the climbs and playing with sticks) we had to rent helmets for them. They were adult helmets so the kids looked a bit like WWII soldiers with oversized helmets. I'll have to post a picture cause it's so cute.

We camped in tents for this trip. Eight days sleeping on the ground could easily have been extremely uncomfortable (I'm so old now), but this time we upgraded our Thermarests with "Big Agnes" memory foam cases. They were extremely luxurious and comfy. Even though we pitched our tent in the dark in what seemed like a rock pit the sleeping was very nice.

Except I can't sleep. I have mommy ears. The kids were in their own tent for the first time, about 15 feet away, and I tell you I heard everything. They only woke up once in the middle of the night all week, but I heard the rooster that starts crowing at 4:30 am and doesn't stop till 8 am. I heard the rain. The wind. People up at the kitchen talking. The cats playing. Everything. It was lovely, let me tell you. If I could just get over the mommy ears I think everything would be fine.

The last morning we would have been tempted to climb again before leaving, but it was really cold and rainy. So we had to break camp in the rain, which if you've been camping before you know that is the worst. One of our tents still needs to be aired out before it molds...

The border on the way back was SLOW. The US side actually had all four lanes open at the Colombia Bridge, but it still took 4.5 hours to get through. Yuck. We were out of food and patience by the time we finally got through.

All in all it was a great family vacation. We will definitely do it again.

I wrote a few new articles about my experiences in Mexico. You can find them through my profile, here.


BP said...

Thanks for sharing about your trip. I was wondering about it! Glad you had a great time together. Have fun painting.

PJ said...

Sounds like a lovely trip!! It so reminds me that I need another trip to Mexico. But I'm a wimp (and MUCH older than you!!!!!) I go for a low cost hotel!

You're a brave soul to camp out in Mexico with young children!!!

I'll check out your articles in the profile!

Angela O. said...

That sounds like it was a lot of fun - tiring - but fun.

Great photo of your family, too.

T said...

sounds so fun... such great memories!