ilove bonnie

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Creating Miss Margaret

The saga of an abandoned Cal 20 sailboat coming back to life.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bad news

Ok, so:

1. Sorry for being a jerk and not updating this recently.

2. We're leaving Mexico, stat. We're in Veracruz right now and we're getting the hell out of dodge as fast as possible. We're going to try to make the U.S. border in three days and get back to New Orleans in another two. It will probably be more like four and three, but hey man, I can dream, right?

2b. Ben is out buying us all the tunafish and crackers we can carry. This is serious.

2c. We've been wavering on whether or not to stay or go. We "evacuated" Mexico City two days ago, hoping to get a better idea of what was going on and to get out of the immediate infectious area. But in Veracruz, while there are still folks on the street, lots of them are wearing cobrebocas (surgical masks). Today was the proverbial 'nail in the coffin' (no pun intended) or the 'sign from God': we got an email from a Couchsurfing host we had lined up in the future that their current guest has just unexpectedly come down with flu like symptoms (unknown what it is yet, but very likely it is this swine flu). They are in Villahermosa, Tabasco. The flu shouldn't be there, and yet it seems like it is.

2d. Hence, we are getting out, ASAP. If you feel in any way that you may have flu, get yourself to a hospital, stat. You can take Tamiflu and you'll be ok--it's not the flu that kills you, it's the inflammatory doodads that your body creates that make your lungs explode and fill up with water, drowning you from the inside!

2e. Be safe; sorry this is bulleted.

3. Sucks that this is the way our trip ends. :'(

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tres Marias Motorcycle Rally

We headed out on Sunday with our host and fellow motorcyclist Garry and his wife Ivonne for Tres Marias.
Jen, Bonnie and I got a workout just trying to keep up with Garry on his 1000 VStrom:
but we held in and enjoyed the spectacular view:
and then these guys came along.
When we arrived we stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the crowd of high speed bikes.
We did find a big brother 82 xseleven on sale for 40,000 pesos:
The quesadillas with corn fungus didn't have cheese, but were tasty:
The quesadillas with Squash blossoms did:
Of course the usual suspects were there:
What do you think we should trade in for one of these:
and put Jen in one of these:
There were young riders:
and old:
and of course the slowest, but from farthest away.
We have a Taste of Mexico City Contest going on the blog, and a bunch of networking via, which will be landing us some paid travel writing gigs. More travel less work. Yeah!
Benjamin P.S. The parts have arrived. Time to get dirty!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Taste of Mexico City Contest!

My favorite photos from Mexico City have inspired two contests:

an incredible night of art and dance:

Jennifer's birthday party:

four legged friends:

two wheeled friends:

and twitter friends.

Tell me what these crafts adorn and I will send you a handmade postcard of Mexico City.

Tell me what contest I won, creating our new good luck charm, and I will send you a taste of Mexico City.

Post your guesses in the comment section.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Twitter Updates


So our computer is nearly dead; I am writing this in long-hand cursive on the tablet. It will probably be a while before the computer is working well again, so full blog posts are going to be rare. :(

I've been trying out new ways to integrate twitter posts into our blog; I am not 100% in love with the current format, so please feel free to give me feedback or suggestions. What I like about twitter is that it's another way/style of writing, different from the more "traditional" storytelling approach of travel blogging. It also appears to function better as a way to interact with readers, like-minded people, travelers and the world. Blog comments seem to me to be a kinda dead way of the past. R.I.P. Comments Section.

So, I recommend, if you aren't already, sign up on Twitter and type in 'follow @jenandtheart'. Then you can write something cute like, '@jenandtheart Love your blog'. We will totally follow you back and diligently read about the sandwich you ate for lunch today. We both love chatting, too. So feel free to chat is up on Twitter, because otherwise we have to make up our own conversations.

Or, if you aren't particularly inclined to Tweet, don't worry, I'll make sure the excitement keeps showing up on the blog. And you can always still comment on the posts if that's what makes you happy.


Thursday, March 26, 2009


You can't get dogs to pose like this.

Well, you can. But you have to be a dog trainer. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Changing & Daring: Sierra Gorda Biosphere

Goodness, I don't even know where to start. What do I write about? I want to tell you everything, and there are so many stories that haven't been told yet, and so many photos that are up, but haven't been shown. So this will be somewhat linear. Kinda.

I think there was a sea change in this trip, and it occurred somewhere in the Cloud Forests. Maybe it was the fact that I was feeling a bit mean after so many thousands of kilometers of desert and cactus, but being up on the exhilarating, curvy mountain roads of the Cloud Forests started to change things. 

Sometimes you forget how special an adventure is, because it becomes so mundane--you know: mountain, valley, mountain, repeat; mountain, valley, mountain... don't forget to brush you teeth between mountains! And perhaps, this sea change started even before the Cloud Forests when we were sitting in San Miguel de Allende with Max and Judith, and someone mentioned being silly and foolish and young, and I responded, "Oh, we're young? I forgot." 

So we got ourselves into days of curvy roads; the first ascent and drop seemed charming, and Ben had been dying to see something other than straight lines. Four days later Ben had had his fill; we had finally left the Sierra Gorda Biosphere and the mountain roads to exit out on the plains north of Mexico City.

But before that? It was beautiful. Desert mountains into rainforest into pine trees that reminded both of us of the American Northwest, and that damp scent of plants and dirt made it feel like Connecticut in springtime. Plunging in and out of four environments felt like an act of resetting. It wasn't another silver mining town, and we were finally back on the road in a regular way, moving everyday. 

Mexico is the picture of pastoral. I grew up in New England thinking that all the little folk art paintings in local museums, of apple orchards and cows and pigs was what the word 'pastoral' meant. But here, this place is something out of 'Sound of Music,' but with Spanish dubbing (and minus the Nazis). 

We went to Las Pozas, an architectural monument to surrealism, constructed by poet, bastard son of an English king and eccentric millionaire Edward James. 

Visiting it was straight-up life changing. 

Situated on acres of jungle forest, next to a gorgeous waterfall

which falls down into 'wells' or pools of water, giving it its name, Las Pozas. You can swim there, just like you can climb up to the top of the four or five story (depending on who's counting) cement catwalk that has no railings (Thanks Mexican Government!)


(Sorry for the swearing in the video, guys.) 

Climbing and crossing the top bridge is incredibly scary. There was at least a 50 foot drop and it is the first thing you come across when you enter Las Pozas.

James built Las Pozas not just as an intellectual exercise in applying surrealist design tenets and symbolism into architecture, but he built it to be his residence, too. As you explore, you find more and more rooms that aren't directly exposed to the air and were once living quarters. They are locked off now, and in such a manic place, locked doors incite a desire to climb everywhich way to get in (which you can't, unless you are very daring). It is an adult cement playground, hidden in the woods. 

You know those '1000 Places To See Before You Die' books? If Las Pozas isn't in it, then the book isn't worth buying. Las Pozas will change your life--no number of Dali paintings or Escher drawings hung on museum walls could ever change you like Las Pozas


Several days (and several ridiculous situations later), we're in Mexico City. And everything is sunshine and rainbows, despite the sky being cloudy and smoggy half of the time. While in fear of jinxing it, it is as though we walk, or maybe even skip, through the streets and literally pick up friends, as though we are in some music video about friendship and love and happiness. 

That is Simon, up there. He is a Twitter friend. We met Ido later that night, a friend of our hosts Eran and Keran, at a short fiction reading:

(Not Ido, but a photo of the reading.)

and then were invited to see his Volkswagon Combi and meet his brother and mother. But the real kicker is when we sent out Couchsurfing requests this morning. Later that afternoon, we're eating tacos (with habeneros, which we didn't realize until too late, because we are silly gringos and still learning) and sitting on the curb surrounding a garden and all of a sudden a guy just walks up to us, "Ben... Benjamin? and uhm, Jen...?" Turns out that as strangers in a city of twenty million (yeah, that's 20,000,000) people, you can just randomly come across someone who knows you. Or, if you're Ben, you can find someone who will curl up next to you while you nap, even though they only met you two days ago: