The incessant and corrosive din of the daily news cycle in the US, now driven as much by the distracting imperatives of social media as by news itself, often leaves people feeling as fragile as eggshells. Personally invasive social and political disruption have become daily norms.
I am not advocating a move to a fishing village of 1,600 people as a cure, but perhaps simply recounting the events of the past week here in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, México can offer a kind of counterpoint that opens an alternative perspective. I am sharing back to back posts today and tomorrow that will recap my daily activities here for the week of Feb. 4 through Feb. 10.
SUNDAY, FEB. 4
I took a 28 peso bus from La Cruz to Puerto Vallarta to meet my friends Jerry and Ann at Los Muertos Brewing to watch the SuperBowl. Their house guest from Germany, Holger Franz, met us at Los Muertos but did not stay for the entire game. He said he was cycling around the world and needed to prepare for his Tuesday trip to Guadalajara across the coastal mountain range. My first impression was that he was one of the happiest people I had ever met.
Ann, Jerry and I drank great craft beers, ate too much pizza, watched the amazing game and laughed all afternoon, with Jerry also sharing serious stories and insights from his Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain.
MONDAY, FEB. 5
Out of the blue, I got a message from Ann just before noon asking if I wanted to join Jerry and her on an impromptu road trip to Sayulita, the next coastal town north of La Cruz that has been designated as a “Pueblo Mágico” by the Mexican government. I was dog tired but of course agreed.
They had Holger with them when they picked me up in their beat up old Ford van with their two dogs in tow. We made a quick 45 minute tour of La Cruz and it’s huge marina then headed to Sayulita.
Sayulita was so much fun. This Monday was a national holiday, so the beach and all the bars, clubs and restaurants were packed and the town was jumping. Jerry graciously treated us to lunch of fish and shrimp tacos and a round of beers. The shrimp were fresh from the Bay.
But the highlight of the day for all of us was Holger and his stories. He is now on the last two legs of his journey. He is first cycling from San Francisco, CA through México and South America to the southern tip of Argentina, then heading to South Africa by boat to cycle the entire length of the African continent, ultimately returning to Germany.
Holger has been bicycling around the world for more than three years, living on 10 euros per day. He has wonderful anecdotes, such as being rescued by a truck full of Tibetan monks after one of the tires on his bike was destroyed in the Himalayas. Or meeting a French girl in Canada and cycling down the coast to San Francisco with her. Holger loved cycling across Iran and related stories of a welcoming people with deep historical knowledge and an abiding belief in helping and protecting travelers from distant lands.
Punctuated by random philosophic insights and told in a unique and original voice, Holger added the elements of wonder and joy to every conversation this day.
Although he lives off the grid for weeks or months at a time, his sporadically updated website is here. His Vimeo channel is here. His Instagram feed is here. And most importantly, you can support Holger by donating here.
TUESDAY, FEB. 6
I slept late and went to Jardín del Pulpo (Octupus’s Garden) for coffee and a snack at mid-morning, working in their lovely outdoor courtyard next to the fountain until mid-afternoon.
The Jardín has a fascinating history. It was hand-built by a couple named Aruna and Wayland from England who originally came to La Cruz to explore the shamanistic culture of the indigenous Huichol people while sailing the world in a catamaran that they also built themselves with a wood frame and a skin of canvas, paper and tar.
The Jardín’s entire multi-level structure is built like a giant palapa, with a wooden, fully sprung dance floor on the upper deck. Wayland fell from the roof some years ago, fracturing a vertebra in his neck, but Aruna and he are still here. The Jardín is now run by a wonderful couple, Alfredo and Marichuy. Aruna still runs a gallery full of colorful Huichol art right off the leafy green courtyard.
I spent a quiet night at home, punctuated by a Skype call with my dear friend Jennifer in Los Angeles.
Jennifer has been a lifeline for me as I have traveled the world but now needs help finding work after running the historic El Portal Theater in North Hollywood the past several years. If you would like a copy of her resumé, send me a message using the web form here and I will put you in touch with Jennifer.
Holger checked in by email to say he had reached a small town in the mountains outside Puerto Vallarta en route to Guadalajara. A cyclist from Turkey has joined him, and they pitched their tents at the town fire station. See the amazing photo from a mountain pass in Jalisco on his Instagram feed.
Tomorrow, days 4 through 7.
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