Updated: Dec 31, 2019
For three days and two nights, I had the opportunity to travel via my camper van, Samsāra, around northwestern Mexico for my first time ever. My friend Norma, who lives in San Diego, frequently visits her family in MexiCali. (Which is cleverly on the border of Mexico and California. The city right across the border on the U.S. side is named Calexico. If I could go back in time, I'd suggest that MexiCali be named Mexifornia instead. Where was I when you needed me?) Anyway... Norma was my tour guide as I drove her and her daughter and cousin to Ensenada and the surrounding areas.
What a great trip! For those who have heard stories that driving into Mexico is extremely dangerous and that you shouldn't drive there at night, we did both, and we did both frequently. We didn't run into a single issue. No marauders. No crooked cops (even with my Illinois license plate). No drug cartels. It was not only beautiful, but the residents were friendly and accommodating. The food was delicisioso, and the weather was about the same as San Diego -- warm during the days, cool at night.
Some areas featured roads that were in severe states of disrepair, gas stations weren't quite as plentiful as in the U.S., road signs were in some sort of weird foreign language (oh yeah! Spanish), and there were a lot of hidden stop signs and even some hidden traffic lights.
At one point we were in a higher elevation and it had gotten cold enough to snow. It was great seeing the people pulled over on the side of the road to create snowmen on the hoods of their cars and otherwise play in the white stuff. It reminded me of being in Colorado during the rut season (Elk mating) or Yellowstone National Park, where people would be pulled over on the side of the road to stop and observe wildlife. Instead they were just there to see snow -- many of them likely for the very first time!
Norma's cousin, Caty, who lives in Mexico City, had never seen snow actually falling until the previous day. She described it as cotton falling from the sky.
We spent a lot of our time on the beaches of Ensenada. Breathtaking!
While in Ensenada, Norma found Mexican Jumping Beans.
The vendor told us that they were a larvae state of a moth that eats the inside of the "bean" until it eats a hole through it and it transforms into the moth and flies away. Wikipedia confirms most of what he said, except it isn't a bean -- it's a seed.
Here's the full Wikipedia description:
After the moth-laid egg on the plant hatches, the larva eats away the inside of the bean (until it becomes hollow) and attaches itself to the inside of the bean with silk-like thread. The larva may live for months inside the bean with varying periods of dormancy. If the larva has adequate conditions of moisture and temperature, it will live long enough to go into a pupal stage. In the spring, the moth forces itself out of the bean through a round "trap door", leaving behind the pupal casing. After its metamorphosis, the small, silver and gray-colored moth lives for no more than a few days.
We also stopped and visited the large statue/sculpture of Princess Tara Blanca, which is essentially the female Buddha. She was built in Mexico by Tibetanese artists as a gift to Mexico and the city of Ensenada.
The imagery and filigree is reminiscent of Ayahuasca visions.
Thanks for checking out this installment. More stories to be told, more lessons to be learned, more opportunities to grow coming up!