Gringos

Six boys lined up at the bus station on Northbourne Avenue at 5:20 on a June morning. I had all of my warm clothes on and I was freezing, but I knew that pretty soon I was going to be on the other side of the world, where it was warm. Six weeks of Southern California and Mexico awaited, all the hours of washing dishes were now behind me and it was time to go. Soon, I would be a Gringo.

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Good old bus life. This was going to be the first of many, through the day, through the night, through the jungle, through the desert… If only we knew then.

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After we landed in Los Angeles we hot footed it to San Diego by train, Tom only just made it on too, there was a lot of cliche stressed tourist running going on.

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The only reason that we were in San Diego was me wanting to see the Zoo. It definitely lived up to our expectations, this is a baby Jaguar.

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The zoo was a good pit stop for our long slog, we had gotten off of a Sydney – Los Angeles – San Diego back to back to back. The zoo was a nice way to break up the trip, because next we had twenty three hours on a bus. This picture was taken somewhere in Arizona at sunrise.

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The USA – Mexico border. That bridge was our way across but we had to deal with the paperwork first. It was surprisingly easy to do, even in the forty plus degree heat at the El Paso Texas – Ciudad Juárez border. In 2009, Ciudad Juárez was declared “the most violent zone in the world outside of declared war zones”, and in 2012 it seemed much the same. It was almost deserted during the summer daytime, but there were camps in the surrounding hills that looked positively menacing.

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Our first night in Mexico was spent in Chihuahua, Chihuahua and the day after we were onto el Chepe. The 673 km train journey delved through the Copper Canyon, an amazing canyon system which divides Pacific and Central Mexico. The train passed over thirty seven bridges and through eighty six tunnels, rising higher than Mount Kosciuszko.

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We stopped halfway in Creel to see the Copper Canyon and surrounding areas, here indigenous Mexicans live in caves and huts, growing Frijoles negros or Black Beans and trading with the townspeople. The area was amazing, these rock faces were almost fifty meters in height.

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This is from the inside of an indigenous dwelling, these people are fully integrated into society, but like to do some things their own way. In the foreground is a Frijoles negros crop.

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It snows up here in winter but was amazing during summer. This spot was just outside of the town. Cusarare Waterfall was at its slowest during our visit, but is often inaccessible by car because of flooding.

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These two kids were our tour guides for a few hours at the waterfall, one was deaf and the other was about 5 years old but they new what they were doing. It was interesting to see how kids grow up here, extremely different than at home. I’m not sure if they were on summer holidays but I got the impression that they were the main masters at this waterfall. We spent about twenty minutes throwing rocks off the top with them and they were having more fun than us. The little dude told me to watch out for snakes…

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This whole town is higher than any point in Australia and we got really drunk off not a lot of beers because of the altitude, either that or we were just really excited to be in Mexico. While we were here we saw the Mexican Olympic Walking Squad training on the roads, and apparently the town is a popular location for cyclists.

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Luckily we had this place to sort us out in the morning.

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Creel was only halfway along el Chepe and the second half was famed to be better than the first.

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After another long stint on the train, we got onto an overnight bus and headed to the coast. This Volkswagen Dune Buggy was so awesome, these cars were everywhere but this one was unique.

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Mazatlán was beautiful and we spent a few nights here, we ate fresh fish, lazed around at the beach, ate more food in the plazas of the old town, and generally had an awesome time. You could even go para sailing for one US dollar, but it would cost you twenty four to come back. Mexicans know what they’re doing when it comes to tricking Gringos. I won’t say who it was, but one of us spent fifty Aussie dollars on some boardies…

We had a blast living a totally different way than we were all used to in our first two weeks over here. We were always on the move from one place to another, trying to see as much as we could. All of these photos were taken with my iPhone 4s, and link through to Flickr.

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