Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Helping to safe sea turtles and searching for silver in Mexico's colonial center

Dear followers of VanBaelenGuillot,

We want to thank you for tuning in again in our blog and already want to thank you in advance for the comments, we love each one of them! And also they encourage us to continue posting!

Let's pick up where we left the last time: Puerto Vallarta. This bay of 40 km long is packed with hotels and is oriented at receiving Americans. We didn't like it to much as we were always addressed in English - not something for which you go to Mexico. We have heard that the place has always been touristic but that the main construction of hotels started only 8 years ago. So we were happy to leave this place, going south. Mireia had one dream, since she was planing the trip, which was to visit a Tortugario, a place where they try to help to increase the turtle population, which are currently endangered. Two options presented themselves and we decided to go to the first one we passed. Obviously, the road there was quite bad due to the recent storms. The place we go to is named Mayto and we almost missed it! Originally we wanted to stay there for a day or two, just to see what was going on, but we got persuaded to stay a week to help a bit and to be there in the weekend when there would be a group of school children. In return for our help we could put our tent or hammock (we decided hammock) in the palapa and use the toilets and showers.

The overall experience was great, we helped the team with releasing newborn turtles and joined them on the evening patrols to find turtle nests. These nests are emptied and the eggs are placed in a nest nearby the Tortugario. Like this the nest are not plundered by animals or others humans (who want to sell or eat the eggs). During the weekend we joined the kids on a boat trip where we saw more turtles, dolphins and a a large manta of two meters wide.

Apart from the animals the other great thing was the beach. After Puerto Vallarta it was great to be on such an isolated beach. On top the ocean was very cool here, the waves were very strong, which was a bit scary in the beginning. Afterwards going to the beach is like going to an attraction park: We go in the water to wait for the largest waves to come, then we try to go as close to the breaking point to jump up - free adrenaline. In addition we also met other travelers at the beach. In Mayto there is a ranch where travelers go to work, like this we met Joan, a Swiss who is travelling by bike for two and a half year. Also Myriam and Maximiliano, who turned travelling into their life and who are roaming around. As we do not see a lot of tourists, it is super nice to meet other travelers and to share experiences and ideas! We hope to meet them again soon!

After a week on the beach we decided to continue our trip. We didn't really want to leave as Mayto was such an idyllic place but we wanted to see some other things. We would explore the colonial center of the country now. First we visit Guanajato, the second largest city in Mexico, which we really enjoyed due to the pleasant mix of modernism and colonialism. It is also interesting to finally see the city life in Mexico, which is very much different from the life in the ranchitos (a ranchito is a Mexican village which is even to small to be called a village). From there we go on a whole colonial tour passing Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, San Louis Potosi, Guanajato and San Miguel de Allende. We are not going into the detail of all these places, as they are somehow similar. All are somehow mining towns that have a similar structure and a lot of churches. 

In Zacatecas we were very lucky to arrive during the international festival, meaning there were a lot of people and a lot of activities. We therefor enjoy a modern theater show of which we do not understand anything. Luckily there are fireworks involved so it was interesting.

Also in Guanajato we were lucky to arrive during the annual cultural festival, a true spectacle. The city was full full full on Sunday so we were a bit stressed, but we could visit it better on Monday morning. It is truly an amazingly beautiful city with a lot of squares. On top, the city is tunneled for a large part, which makes it interesting to drive around.

And the third interesting city was San Miguel de Allende, which is very different from the others. It appears to be a more pure colonial town, where they work hard to preserve the colonial atmosphere. All houses are painted in one of the three or four available colors (ochre, orange and yellow), there are view electrical cables visible and the center is free from traffic lights. Unfortunately, nice Mexican places have the tendency to be full with Americans (no problem with them of course - but we are in Mexico and we don't need a Starbucks) + the prices are increased accordingly.  

To conclude, we are really enjoying Mexico! After visiting the USA for seven weeks we were surprised with the natural beauty of the country, but we also saw that it didn't have much to offer from a cultural aspect. Here in Mexico, the culture is everywhere and it is easy to enjoy it (the nature on the other hand is less easily accessible than in the USA). Already here for four weeks, we don't think we'll be in Belize or Guatemala within another four weeks, knowing we still have Mexico City, Oaxaca and the Yucatan peninsula to visit!

Thanks a lot for reading! Enjoy the rest and feel free to leave some comments! We really enjoy them!


The road followed in the last 2 weeks

Our home for a week has a few hotels less than our previous destination, Puerto Vallarta

Sleeping in our hammocks for the week - after that sleeping in the car is like sleeping in a ***** hotel - Thanks to Olga and Pablo for the hammock +the book (diary)

At night we helped the team to find turtles: Mireia takes the eggs out of the nest while Mitzi from the tortugario inspects the turtles

Oeps! Unsharp! But you can see us, the turtle and the eggs which are going to be 're-nested' nearby the camp

Liberation day! 160 turtles came out of their egg today and are released simultaneously - at sunset to avoid birds, they can eat them!!

Magnificent views!The waves are quite large and are very very aggressive... 

...which makes a lot of fun with a boat! Here we are together with Joan (travelling by bike), Daniel (American having a rancho in Mayto),Maximiliano and Miriam (travelling couple)

Mexico is very strict on wearing a seat belt, but standing with 20 people in the back of a pick up is absolutely no problem at all

The cathedral of Guadalajara - Mexico's second largest city

Participant in sculpture competition

This building - the cabañas - is the largest colonial building in Mexico. It served as a boarding school and now it is a cultural center.

Matrix Art in Las Cabañas

One of the +20 courtyards in Las Cabañas

Additional art in Las Cabañas

The legendary 'La Fuente' cantina in Guadalajara where, stating our guide, old men get drunk to early on the day.
The bike has been left 50 years ago by a customer who didn't have money with him, he hasn't returned to claim it.

In Tlaquepaque, a part of Guadalajara, a Mariachi is preparing his instrument for action

While others are already giving the best of themselves

The main square in Aquascalientes: Mexicans do not have the tendency to put flags everywhere like the Americans, but when they put a flag they make sure that you cannot miss it

Arches in Mexico

One of the dozens of churches we have seen in the past week

We wake up at 6 to go to a mirador to see the sunrise. It was rather disappointing, but we luckily got a free souvenir

Beautiful Zacatecas!

We wouldn't like to be an electrician in Mexico, on top the cables generally really destroy the views

"Who put this aqueduct on the road?"

"Incredible, they are putting aqueducts everywhere nowadays! Now in the middle of my house!"

Zacatecas is mining city like most of the colonial towns. We took the opportunity to take a look at what took the Spanish here.

Zacatecas with some spectacular light from the top of the cerro

We were lucky to be here during the very spectacular show

A church in San Louis Potosi

Guanajato - probably the nicest colonial town

Large parts of the city are tunneled ingeniously, allowing for pedestrian zones in the centrum

Guanajato theatre

Beautiful colors in the streets

All trees are white in the bottom - this is calcium to keep some ants away

Great timing: We visit Guanajato during its annual cultural festival

White 'La dia de los muertos' approaching, the technicians took the opportunity to dress up

Left: Old mariachi waiting to play; Right: Old mariachi waiting to play; Middle: Creepy looking friend of them not intending to play music today

The festival is a great moment for the mariachis to play for people (a song can be more than 10 euro)

A rather funny performance

One of the tunnels below the city

A beso in El callejon del beso - we took the wrong step...bad luck for the next 7 years??

San Miguel de Allende is a very authentic colonial town and has served as an inspiration for Disney Land

In San Miguel de Allende you will only see houses painted in a few colors. On top the colonial atmosphere is also preserved by not allowing any traffic lights in the city.

Street views at night
Good night!


  1. wawww mexicoooo!!! andele andeleee!! us ha agradat??
    un bessito!!!

    1. andele andelee!! martaaa mexic es un país super bonic!! ens ho estem pasant molt bé!
      un petóoo!!!

  2. Wow, great pics + excellent comments - make for fun reading!groetjes, Annelies

    1. Thanks a lot! We were struggeling this time, as we pass a lot of similar villages. Enjoy Argentina!!

  3. Fijn dat jullie een kaartje van de route hebben toegevoegd.

    1. Maakt het inderdaad een beetje makkelijker om ons te volgen! Verwacht jullie hier maar elke keer aan!

  4. Thanks to share those beautiful pictures with funny comments with us. So we can imagine a little bit (5%) of what both of you go through may be for100%. Enjoy it!!! Kristine

    1. With a lot of pleasure mama/Kristine!

      Keep on enjoying!

  5. Mireia and Alex, how lucky you are, I know one small flea that is in love with turtels!!!!

    1. PABLOO!! how good to know of you!! ya ves que tus regalos son utilizados!! :) os echamos de menos! cuidaros mucho!

  6. De gangen onder de stad intrigeren mij wel.
    Zijn deze speciaal gemaakt voor het verkeer? Gegraven of is de stad er bovenop gebouwd?
    Als ze voor het verkeer gemaakt zijn, moeten ze al lang geleden zeer vooruitziend geweest zijn.
    Of waren ze bedoeld voor een soort van metro(openbaar vervoer?)

    1. De gangen zijn heel spectaculair. De bouw van de stad is iets na 1500 begonnen en de gangen zijn pas in ergens in de 19de eeuw gemaakt, dus is vrij spectaculair!

  7. I love your turtle story ! I'm happy you found all these wonderful places, looks great !
    I hope reading your next story soon.

    1. Guillaume! Great to hear from you and great to see you are still continuing your trip (we saw the pictures ;))! They look great as well! We are looking forward to hiking a bit more as we don't have a lot of opportunities here in Mexico. Take care and keep us posted!