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Theo drank the water in Mexico

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

By Matthias

Now that I finally remembered Allison’s bad ass password for her laptop, I can try bringing our blog “Travels of the Bay family and the Yoda Van” back to life. For those of you who are not familiar with this blog, let me try to bring you up to speed.
In 2006 Allison and I quit our jobs, bought a 1983 VW Bus (Yodavan) and drove from Seattle to Panama and back. We were on the road for 50 weeks with our 2 boys William (4) and Julian (2). To sum it all up, it has been the best thing we have ever done in our life. Not only all the sights, people and countries made this trip the best thing of our life, being able to spend 24 hours a day with our children for 1 year is what I consider pure luxury.
Now almost 4 years have been passed and the yodavan has been replaced with Theo. Theo is now 3 years old and a Yodatrip souvenir.
After returning from our trip the one thing happened that I was most afraid about: we just stumbled back into our old lives. We found new jobs and life was just as it used to be before our adventure. The upside to this is that we have proven to ourselves that we have done everything right. We had the great adventure and we were able to continue with our careers right away. We even got better jobs than we had before we left. The downside, we are no longer on the road and with a stressful job, I don’t always look at spending time with my kids as pure luxury.
Something else I consider luxury is being able to remember almost every single day of an entire year. If we look back at our trip or read through our blog we have memories of almost every day. Looking back at the last 4 years, what do I remember? Some things come to mind: Theo’s birth, William being expelled from school by an utterly unqualified principal, who luckily didn’t make it through the first year of being principal (it’s safe again to send your kids to school on Queen Anne). I remember the stress of moving several times this year and probably a few more things that happened here and there. My point is that most days of our post yodatrip lives are just about the same and blend together as a big routine.
Why now writing the blog again?
For one, we have time on our hands while the kids are in summer camp and we are on vacation, but the main reason is that we planned this vacation different from other vacations we have had in the past. While we honestly didn’t have time for a lot of preparation for this trip (since we moved into a new house 5 days before we left), we also knew that we COULD do it without planning every detail in advance.
Before we left we didn’t know where we were going to live, how to get around etc. All we knew was that the kids had to start summer camp on July 11th and we had to get them registered in advance. We knew we can do this, because we have learned it and we are good at it.
When we arrived in Mexico City we decided to go to the hotel we stayed at and loved 4 years ago. This time it didn’t work out so well. The beds were big enough for 4 of us, but now we are 5 people and it was extremely uncomfortable. The floor would have felt better, but it wasn’t very clean so we decided to look for a different hotel. We looked at some hotels in the area on the way to get breakfast and found a great one. Granted it was a bit more expensive, but turned out to be perfect for us.
Getting around the town also turned out to be a bit challenging at times. Our preferred mode of getting around was the subway. You have quick access to most of the city, it is cheap ($3 pesos = 25 US cents per person) and it can often be an experience. Sometimes we have been in situations where we have needed to take a taxi and have been quoted exorbitant prices. One taxi driver quoted us $120 pesos, but with a little persistence we found the same ride with another taxi for $35 pesos. Another time we jumped into a cab in haste since a torrential rain storm had just begun. When he quoted us a way high price ($140 pesos) and refused the turn on the meter we told him to pull over and jumped out. Luckily we found a covered spot to wait until a bus came by. We weren’t exactly sure where the bus would take us, but we had a good idea that it would bring us close to a Metro station. Actually we needed it to be very close to a metro station, because we did this during torrential rainfalls and all we had to wear were modified garbage bags. This bus also doubled as a boat since the rain (once it starts) is like stepping into a shower and within minutes that water level on the street was rising above the first step into the bus. Once in the Metro it was easy to get back to the hotel, so we thought. Finding the right train is a piece of cake, but when it starts raining like this EVERYONE heads into the subway and the trains were packed like you could not even imagine. No need to worry about pick-pockets because everyone was jammed in and pressed against each other that there was no way anyone could raise or bend an arm enough to lift a wallet out of a purse or pocket without everyone noticing. Getting in was easy, but getting out was crazy. The train was so packed that we had to plan our exit 2 stops in advance. Every time the door opened we had to struggle our way a bit closer and at our stop push with full force to get out.
While things can be stressful at times, travelling lite and not everything preplanned ahead can also be very rewarding. You get to meet a lot of people, most of them very happy to help out and eventually find the perfect place to stay.
By the way, Theo did not drink the water in Mexico (at least to our knowledge), but he has not been in the title of any of our blog entries yet.

Impressions of the USA

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

The first really amusing outing was our first dinner back in the USA.  Where else would we go than McDonalds?  It wasn’t that we had been missing it for the last 11 months – McDonalds are everywhere in the world.  We cruised the streets of San Bernardino looking for a McDonalds.  I was waiting for our food when a pudgy black guy with a see-through fish-net shirt, thick glasses, dread locks and a key chain with “Jesus Saves Lives” came in and started talking to me.  He bore a resemblance to a young Stevie Wonder and his belly rolls were clearly visible through his shirt.  He was very upset because they made us write our names on our receipt so they could call out our name when the food was ready.  “What if you are from a 3rd world country and can’t write?  And this McDonalds is really going downhill.  They are slow and the food is bad.” 

I guess what I thought was so funny about this encounter wasn’t really his outfit (although it did make me smile), but rather the eclectic mix of weirdoes this country has to offer.  People in Latin America seemed to be a little more homogenous in their outward appearance.  The fact that he also just started an animated conversation with a complete stranger was unusual for us.  Maybe it was just our bad Spanish, but we didn’t have so many impromptu conversations like this on the street.

[read on]

Up the Baja

Thursday, July 5th, 2007
It was tough to leave Ajijic – we had a great apartment, kids in a good school, a lot of free time and met some nice people to hang out with.  But our next stop was the Baja ... [Continue reading this entry]

About to Hit the Road Again

Sunday, June 24th, 2007
Our faithful readers will have noticed that we haven’t been updating our blog very much lately.  We’ve been in Ajijic for nearly 6 weeks and have only posted a few blog entries.  The first week we were here ... [Continue reading this entry]

Cenotes and Hammocks in Merida

Thursday, April 19th, 2007
Once we bid farewell to Jazzy-Fizzle we started driving west to Valladolid, where we spent one night in a hotel.  We figured out that we had been camping for a solid month without a break.  The kids had ... [Continue reading this entry]

Kamper’s Anonymous

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006
I have a new name for all the KOAs we’ve been staying at: Kamper’s Anonymous.  I didn’t realize until today, but there is a strange fact about all these KOAs and that is that no one talks to one another.  ... [Continue reading this entry]

Packing Light

Thursday, August 24th, 2006
One of the challenging parts of this trip was packing. Everything we needed to take with us on our trip had to fit IN, ON or UNDER our van. We need to bring a certain amount of tools and misc. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Does size matter?

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006
We never intended this blog to be a travel guide.  There are travel books that do a much better job than we do. It also is not supposed to be political (politically incorrect maybe).  I do however want to write ... [Continue reading this entry]

One Bad Cat, That Julian

Sunday, August 20th, 2006
Originally I wanted to make this entry all about what we brought with us on our trip to give you an idea of what it means to “travel light”, but this afternoon was such a crazy afternoon that I figured ... [Continue reading this entry]

My Man Wolf

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

From Bryce Canyon we made our way to Zion National Park. Our van was knocking the entire way. After Zion, we decided to head to St. George since there was a VW mechanic. We didn’t arrive until Saturday, and of ... [Continue reading this entry]