Life can be a journey and a destination which is the case in my story as well as almost everyone else’s stories. When I was 27 my boyfriend and I felt like we were in need of a spiritual journey to get our lives back on track. It is not that we were totally off the rails, because by most people’s definition we probably weren’t, but most peoples’ opinions aren’t really the ones that count in the end. So based upon our strong work ethic that had been instilled in each of us at a young age and personal opinions about what we had recently been doing with our lives, which was that we were not living up to our own idea of what we should be and could be doing with our lives. It was not necessarily that we were anything wrong but then I guess that is really what we all have to live up to, our own personal expectations based upon the values we internalized while we were growing up. My boyfriend’s idea was to drive to Mexico to spend a month in a small fishing village my boyfriend had been to twice before I had ever met him to get our priorities back in order to our satisfaction. He was very enamored of this place and being he had already been there twice I trusted his opinion, I will say had I known at the beginning of the trip what I knew at the end I probably wouldn’t have gone but that really doesn’t matter because I didn’t know and I did go. I had only been to Mexico by way of a couple of walks into Tijuana from a parking lot in southern California to spend the day shopping and eating and then walking back to our car parked across the border, so my knowledge of the real Mexico was non-existent and my travel experiences were limited to mostly camping within two hours of where I lived, some three hours from where I lived visits to a few other places and a few 12 hour drives to a couple of places in western Canada and to three locations in southern California. So I would have to say my travel experience was very limited at that time. I will never call this trip a “vacation” but it was an experience I will never forget for a variety of reasons. This was my first time spending time with people living in a third world environment and it sure did make me appreciate all of the things I am privileged to enjoy living in the beautiful country of the United States of America.




The Adventure Begins

Greg and I left Eugene on the 15th day of January around 9:00 in the morning on a Thursday and even though it is pretty much the dead of winter the day still turned very sunny not long after we left. We got out of foggy Oregon and into sunny California about noon. We were in search of the Giant Redwoods we both had read about that were supposed to be located near the northern coast of California. I remembered that as a child our family had driven from Ashland in Oregon over the border to California and we saw some very awesome trees and there are home movies to prove it, but I was very young and was not driving so I really didn’t remember how long we drove before we encountered those very large trees. We stopped at several places along the way but never found the giant trees we were looking for. We saw a herd of wild elk along the side of the road that we were driving on and because they were a different type of elk than we were used to seeing we stopped at the “roadside” attraction that advertised a place you were assured of viewing these elk and even though we had already obviously had seen the elk we stopped at the tourist area for them. At this place that the elk were advertised to be at we found a map showing that there were some very large redwoods we should encounter on the the road ahead of us and they looked like the trees we had set out to see on this part of our trip. That evening we stopped in Eureka to spend the night. We stayed at a Motel 6, it was the first one I had ever stayed in, mostly that was because most all of the places my family went to were campgrounds in the woods, the trailer my parents had bought and placed on the twenty acres they had purchased when I was around ten years old in central Oregon which we visited a lot and that I also visited with my friends without my parents when I was old enough to drive my own car. About the only times we ever stayed in a motel was when we went to Ashland to see plays at the Shakespearean Theatre there and we always stayed at the “Thunderbird” motel that was within walking distance of the theatre and had a swimming pool to keep us children occupied. That was pretty much the only motel we ever stayed in, when we went to the coast my parents always went with friends and those people always had campers to stay in at the camp grounds we stayed at with our camper as well so I was sort of a rookie when it came to staying at motels. When I was 19 I drove my new car, that I had purchased at 18 with money I had inherited from my real father dying in a plane wreck when I was a three year old, to Vancouver Canada with my boyfriend at the time but downtown Vancouver did not have any Motel 6’s and we stayed at an very large and old and expensive Hotel – at least it was expensive for my boyfriend and I but it was a really cool Hotel and we could walk to all sorts of neat restaurants from it so it was worth the price of admission. Things have probably changed as far as how Motel 6 locations accommodations go but this was 28 years ago and the room was what you would call a very “basic room”, it had a bed, a shower, two chairs and a table, a black and white television set which cost us 99 cents to use and there were no frills and I think I the room cost us $19.99. We were pretty low on personal energy after our first day on the road after driving for ten hours and making tourist and food stops along the way. We went to a Round Table  pizza parlor a couple of streets away, we didn’t have this chain yet in my home town so it was sort of a treat and I was so tired I didn’t really care what I ate as long as I ate. We went back to our room after eating the pizza and I don’t remember watching much on our 99 cent black and white television before I was asleep and sleeping soundly, we didn’t need any more frills than a bed that night for sure.

It is now Friday and our second day on the road. We drove for about an hour and a half on a road called the “Avenue of the Giants” and it was the location of the enormous redwoods we had been seeking and there were a lot amazingly gigantic redwood trees on this road and we even got to drive through a giant redwood with my car. I even have a photo to prove it. We got to San Francisco about 5:00 and we spent two very frustrating hours driving around looking for Greg’s sister Robin’s house. We had written instructions she had sent Greg so that we could easily find where she lived but none of the street’s matched up with where we were and when we stopped at a couple of gas stations to ask for directions none of the people spoke English, they were all oriental, which was more than a little frustrating. When I was so frustrated I was ready to tell Greg to just leave San Francisco without staying there, Greg stopped at a flower shop to see if they could tell him why the directions to Robin’s house didn’t work and he brought me a bouquet of carnations back to the car. This was the first time, that I remember so it probably was the very first time, he ever bought me flowers (and I was thinking probably the last) because he could tell I was about ready to kill him for his incredibly bad sense of direction or utter stupidity which at that time made no difference to me which item was the case. He had found out the reason the directions he had been sent by his sister didn’t work were because he had told his sister we were coming into town on the Bay Bridge and not the Golden Gate Bridge which we really came in on. This explained why none of the streets on her map made any sense, it didn’t explain his stupidity but that is a different issue for a different day. He once again attempted to find where his sister lived after having received new instructions from his sister, and the owner of the flower shop, when he called her on where to go based on where we had actually entered the town and I assumed from where we were now officially located. He then spent another hour being lost once again and finally called his sister and she met us where we ended up, at a Safeway store that Greg went in to call her to meet us and buy some alcohol before I really did kill him (joke – ha ha – sort of) which actually was fairly close to her house. She met us within fifteen minutes as we actually had ended up fairly close to where she lived the second attempt to find her and she led us back to her place. We went out to a bar that night which was called the “I-Beam”, it was a new wave kind of a place and Duran Duran had just played there. It was fairly weird. Here is a little of what I found about it on the internet: The I-Beam was a popular nightclub in San Francisco that was located in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood at 1748 Haight Street. Inside the I-Beam was shaped like a giant cube about forty feet on each side. There were Mylar covered cardboard I-Beams hanging from the ceiling above the center of the dance floor. At the entrance there were framed pictures of various astronomical objects such as galaxies and planets put there by former astronomer Sanford Kellman.  From 1980 to its end in 1992 Michael Garrett was the primary DJ—he played modern rock dance music by artists such as Madonna, Prince, New Order, The Cure, R.E.M., Nine Inch Nails, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, etc. The temperature inside the I-Beam was deliberately kept as warm as possible in order to encourage people to take off their shirts while they were dancing; sexual encounters in the bathrooms were a common occurrence.The crème de la crème of new wave, punk, industrial, and indie bands played the I-Beam from 1981 to 1992. Many well known groups played at the I-Beam such as Siouxsie & The Banshees, Killing Joke, Gun Club, The Chameleons UK, Clan of Xymox, Billy Bragg, Tones on Tail, The Pursuit of Happiness, Duran Duran, Nina Hagen, The Damned, The Church, The Fall, Faith No More, Gene Loves Jezebel, Flesh For LuLu, New Order, The Legendary Pink Dots, The Lemonheads, Meat Beat Manifesto, Ministry, Motörhead, Big Black, The Butthole Surfers, 10,000 Maniacs, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Firehose, Soundgarden, Trouble Funk, Alice in Chains, Counting Crows, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Soul Asylum, Camper Van Beethoven, Gwar, Henry Rollins Band, Jane’s Addiction, X, Primus, The Slits, Sugarcubes, Bush Tetras, The Bangles, Fear, Flipper, The Wipers, Wilma, The Mermen, Meat Puppets, fIREHOSE, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, The Rosemary’s, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Primitive Painters, T.S.O.L., Curve, Social Distortion, Jesus & Mary Chain, The Lloyds, Buck Naked and the Bare-Bottom Boys, and Chris Isaak.The I-Beam closed in 1994 after a long battle with neighbors over sound issues.

But it was not as weird as it seemed to be when we first walked in the place. There were a lot of gay people and what I guess what could be called ”punk” rockers and some people who looked like us as well, whatever that means!

The next day, Saturday, we went to a place I was told was a well-known cool place to go, for brunch at a place called “Bloody Mary’s” and it did have good drinks and we did have hang overs. Then we went to the Fisherman’s Wharf for a while and then we went to “Golden Gate Park”. It was a pretty cool place and had a very cool aquarium in in that had a Manatee; it was the first one of those I had ever seen in person. Actually it was the only one I have ever seen. We went to an excellent Greek restaurant for dinner and I had lamb baked in parchment paper for dinner. We then went back to Greg’s sister’s house and watched TV for the evening. Greg’s sister was pretty strange, it was the second time I had met her but the first time was only for one evening at Greg’s house when her and her brother and father flew to Eugene for Christmas a couple of years ago.

January 16, 1984

We left San Francisco at 9:00 in the morning. I can’t say I was unhappy to leave this confusing city. Today was not our day, we kind of followed Murphy’s Law of anything that can go wrong will! It was a pretty boring drive to Las Angeles. We stopped for lunch in a town called Coalinga, we had to drive ten miles off the freeway to get to it. It turned out that it wasn’t very big and was recovering from a major earthquake that had occurred in this area recently. We ended up eating at an A & W right off of the freeway after we toured Coalinga and found no place to eat and went back to I-5. We went another fifteen miles down the freeway only to find there were four restaurants there that any one of which would have been a better place to eat at, oh well, live and learn. Such is the nature of traveling to places you have never been before.

Next event for the day was unfortunately entering Las Angeles at 5:00 and ending up spending two hours stuck in rush hour traffic. I called a friend we were going to go visit and he was just leaving his house so we started towards Anaheim since we had already planned on visiting Disneyland the next day. After an extensive search for a motel we discovered upon checking in to the one we finally located that we liked that in the winter Disneyland is closed on Monday’s and Tuesday’s which of course the next two days. Greg was going to try and find a guy who owed him a lot of money who was supposed to live in Anaheim and discovered when he called the phone number the guy had given him that is was a bad number. Our consolation prize for the evening was that the motel was nice.

January 17

Since Disneyland was closed we went to Sea World instead. It was a really cool place. We got to see Shamu, I was expecting him to be a “hoakie” act and instead it was really a trip. He was a big ham and you could tell he really enjoyed performing. The whole place was fantastic and I got to pet a small whale and a dolphin, I am glad Disneyland was closed. We spent the night in a little motel called La Mesa near San Diego. We were super exhausted.

Greg & I Starting our trip to Mexico

Greg & I Starting our trip to Mexico

Motel 6 in Arcata, CA

January 17

Since Disneyland was closed we went to Sea World instead. It was a really cool place. We got to see Shamu, I was expecting him to be a “hoakie” act and instead it was really a trip. He was a big ham and you could tell he really enjoyed performing. The whole place was fantastic and I got to pet a small whale and a dolphin, I am glad Disneyland was closed. We spent the night in a little motel called La Mesa near San Diego. We were super exhausted.

January 18

We started our trek into Mexico today. We (I guess really I-since Greg doesn’t speak it at all and I took Spanish in Junior High, High School and 2 years of College) are having a little trouble picking up our Spanish but it is slowly coming back to me. We an interesting time getting across the border once we arrive in Sonora. First we had to stop in the immigration office and show proof of our citizenship, a driver’s license and voter’s registration card were all that were required, and then purchase “Mexican” insurance for my car so we didn’t get thrown in jail if someone decided to run into us. After we got our official papers we were stopped about two hours into Mexico, something Greg had already run into the first two times he drove down here, and depending on how rich you looked the Mexican police would tell you that you needed to pay a certain amount of money to continue on. While we were at the side of the road where the police ran their “mordida” (bribe) operation we saw a big motor home being totally searched and torn apart because the people refused to pay the “mordida” because it was illegal. We were smarter than that and paid the sum they asked which was about $20 for us as we were driving my pretty innocuous looking 1982 blue Mustang II with a four cylinder engine, not an expensive looking car and we were not dressed like we had money so it was a cheap price to pay for easy passage. We spent the night in a town called Sonata at a motel called the Excelsior and ate at the restaurant of the same name next to the motel. We had “Pollos Fritas” which is fried chicken, not exactly like the fried chicken I grew up on but it was edible and I was tired and hungry. The motel was even more basic than the motel 6 we stayed at in California, it had tile floors, a bad bed and it was very noisy all night long. It was the first exposure to a motel where the bathroom became your shower, literally as there were no shower curtains to keep the water out of the rest of the bathroom and the toilet paper was kept inside a plastic container so that it didn’t get wet when you took a shower. I had never experienced anything like it.

January 19

We are truly in Mexico now. I’m having trouble adjusting to eating at places that look like a literal hole in the wall. I guess if I wasn’t worried about coming down with Montezuma’s Revenge I wouldn’t be so bothered. There are some incredibly poor people in Mexico. When we stopped in some of the small towns on our way from Sonora small children would run to our car and want to sell us “Chiclets” gum or offer to pour water on our windshield and wash it off for a penny. It was a very depressing thing to witness. We stopped at a place for brunch and I had Tacos de Pollo and they were pretty good which did surprise me given the appearance of the place. We traveled all day, there is not much to see in the upper half of Mexico, there is a whole lot of desert there. We stopped for the night in Hermosillo. We stayed in a pretty funky motel, the worst we have stayed at by far.

Jan 20

This day is not starting out very good. It seems as if none of the vehicles in Mexico, or at least most of them anyway, do not have mufflers and they roared past our motel all night long. I didn’t get any sleep. I managed to wake Greg up at 6:30 so we just got and hit the road. We had breakfast at a restaurant o some sort about half way to Mazatlan. I had huevos rancheros, they were not too exciting but they were edible, and of course they came with the always present refried beans, in one of the many forms they come in. We got to Mazatlan about 5:00. It is a really pretty place on the beach. After a bit of searching we found a place to stay for 2800 pesos.

Me on the Mazatlan Motel Balcony

Me on the Mazatlan Motel Balcony

It was pretty nice and it had a little patio off our room where we could watch the ocean. It was called Las Brisas. We had a wonderful shrimp dinner, wonderful because my food standards are starting to change, at a place called “El Neys”. It cost 3000 pesos, which is about $20.00 for the whole dinner for two.  We were both pretty tired this evening and we didn’t make it up very late.

Jan 21

I had a pretty good night’s sleep last night for a change. I’ve been having a lot of trouble sleeping in a different place every night. Today I felt pretty good. We had a strange omelette for breakfast and then laid in the sun for a while. Then we got a good room (once again my standards have changed), at a pretty nice place for 2 nights for $2700 pesos a night. The place we stayed at last night was more fancy looking – but it had tile floors which I hate. I started my exercise program back up today finally. It was called the Sands Motel. It had a bar and restaurant. We went down to the market place in Mazatlan today. It is quite a place, you can buy almost anything. We had Mexican style “Kentucky Fried Chicken” for dinner tonight. It was pretty good although the pieces were cut rather oddly and the mashed potatoes were a bit strange but not too bad.

Jan 22

I didn’t sleep so good again last night, I can’t seem to get 2 good night’s sleep in a row. I am feeling a little frustrated because I don’t know where anything is or how to do anything. I am also getting tired of eating out all of the time but there is no choice because we have nothing to prepare food with. I am also getting tired of having lots of people around all of the time, I long for a little peace and quiet. It should be nice when we finally get to San Blas and can relax awhile. My nerves are getting a little tense, I need to get somewhere so I can get into some kind of a routine. I want to be somewhere I can get familiar with so I don’t have to wander around like an idiot all of the time. I kind of wanted to go to a bullfight today but it didn’t work out, oh well, it probably would have grossed me out anyway.

Jan 23

We left Mazatlan this afternoon and headed for San Blas. We got there at 4:30. The drive from Mazatlan to San Blas is very pretty. San Blas is in the jungle so there are a lot of exotic looking birds and foliage. We stayed at a really beautiful motel called “Las Brisas” (the same name as the one we stayed at for one night in Mazatlan) and we had a wonderful dinner at a place called “Restaurant McDonalds”. Mexico is a funny place, you never know what you are going to experience next. I guess that isn’t so different from life in general but being in a foreign country is a very foreign experience for me. This is also a very loud country and there are a lot of bad odors due to a lot of pollution in the cities, part of that comes from the fact that they don’t seem to require mufflers on any of the vehicles they drive down here which is probably mostly due to the extreme state of poverty that I have already seen in a short period of time.

Jan 24

It was kind of cloudy today, it has been that way for several days, we tried to lay out in the sun for awhile but it got so cloudy we had to give it up. We tried to find an apartment to stay in for the month that we plan on being here but had no luck in finding one today. Mexican motels have a strange arrangement for showers, usually there is no shower door and the whole bathroom becomes the shower once you turn the shower on. You have to put the toilet paper in another room because it will get totally screwed up by the water once you turn on the shower. I wonder if it is the same way at a private house but I imagine I will never know the answer to that question. You also can’t have your towel to dry off after your shower in the bath room so after you turn the shower off you then open the door and grab a dry towel from outside the bathroom. We went and looked up a local Mexican man named Jose Moreno that Greg had met from the other two times he came down to San Blas and he couldn’t find us a place to stay at. He did find us a cheaper motel that we could probably afford to live in for a month if we have to, it isn’t particularly nice but it it’s livable. We went to the “Restaurant McDonalds” for dinner again and ran into a couple we met there last night and asked if they knew about an apartment we could rent. Tonight they said they did know of a place for rent and we had a few beers with them and walked around town with them looking for the man they thought had a place we could rent. We never did find him but they said to come by their place the next day and they would help us find him again.

Jan 25

Last night I had another bad night because of still fighting what is called Montezuma’s Revenge which really just means a bug you catch that causes diarrhea. There was a very loud Mexican party that started about 2:00 am and at around 4:00 am someone set of fireworks for about an hour. All in all I got about 2 hours of sleep all night long. We went over to David and Carl’s this morning and after a lot of searching we found Rafael, who spoke perfect English fortunately for us. He showed us a beautiful little place and only wanted $150.00 for a month and we took it. We were really lucky to get it we thought, it was clean and cute. We went out to dinner at a place called “El Torino”, it was good and they made a good bloody Mary. Our whole dinner including our drinks cost us around $10.00. We have had quite a few dinners for not very much money. We stocked up our kitchen this evening so we can quit eating every meal out at a restaurant, it is getting very boring.

Torino Bar in San Blas

Torino Bar in San Blas


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