For the last 3 weeks we've had 4 different visitors! Carmen & Doug in Oaxaca, Cam in Barra de la Cruz, and Dave in Baja de San Diego. Carmen and Doug came for the Oaxacan food and sites while Cam and Doug chased waves with us on the coast. Visitors offer us a few things: 1) they feel like vacations from the worlds best vacation; we fall out of some of our routines and focus on making sure everyone has a good time (ie. Exercise went out the window, food and alcohol consumption increased, and our individual and mutual projects were neglected) 2) we get to real-time share our road stories and bask in our mutual extravertness (that’s a word, right?) 3) they temper any sense of homesickness. Nick and I keep expecting to miss "home" more but having friends visit along the way fills the void. (Read between the lines here: book a ticket and come visit us!)
I am starting to hit some semblance of a beginners stride with my surfing. Nick and I counted yesterday and I've had a total of 29 days out on the board now. There have been weeks when I've gone out and feel like nothing is clicking and I haven't improved at all, but this past week I started to really (and kinda consistently) catch and ride waves (like, actually ride down the face multiple times vs just basking in the shear accomplishment that is standing up and then immediately falling and summersaulting under water) and am starting to catch some of the bigger outside waves. Catching a really good wave is a high I can't quite explain. When you get it, it's this little hit of adrenaline that immediately makes you forget all the waves you've taken on the head, your sore shoulders, and the intense frustration you were having when you weren't catching anything. I've got a lonnnnnggg way to go, but my teacher is awesome and even throws in back rubs when we do triple session days :)
We are back to cooking again and are having fun with gourmet "camp" food. Our crowning achievement has been mastering octopus. Our favorite chef, from Nomada in San Miguel de Allende, told us to boil the octopus for an hour per kilo and then quickly char before serving. We were skeptical, but he was right. It was delicious and you should give it a try! We serve ours with a medley of fresh herbs, olive oil, and salt & pepper on top.
We have met a crew of fellow travelers initially via Instagram and now in real life: an Argentinian couple driving a converted big blue school bus, an Australian couple with a converted van, and two American buddies driving around in an ambulance. We keep catching each other in different places, overlapping in the same spot a few nights here and there. It's a funny and welcomed sense of nomad community; we all enjoy swapping stories, lessons, and necessities if someone has run out.
We are at an 80/20 ratio of camping and finding Airbnbs. We love our camper and feel like the organization, setup, and clean up is in a pretty dialed place, but we are also listening to ourselves and finding a place with AC, hot showers, and wifi when we really need it.
We have A LONG list of business ideas and spend a lot of our downtime thinking about market size, the kind of company that would feel good about building, the work-life balance we hope to create, the product/ideas details, etc. I tend to be theeternal optimist and Nick is the realist, which balances each other well. We have different, but complimentary backgrounds and can poke holes or add to the others idea in a meaningful way. For anyone who knows me, you know that I love bantering ideas and feel really grateful to have found a partner who has the same passion and enthusiasm for it.
Estoy practicando español todos los dias. And the practice is starting to pay off. Instead of talking like a kindergarten and throwing two adjectives at people, I am starting to practice full sentences - with verbs and conjugations! Like surfing, I have a long way to go but practicing daily is helping. A few of my favorite apps to aid my progress: DuoLingo, AnkiApp, and TinyCards.
We celebrated Nick’s birthday this week! We woke up early and watched the sunrise together, had a private morning surf session, shared a bottle of champs, an afternoon nap, and then had one of the prettiest sunset surf sessions. We couldn’t find firewood to properly make a cast iron birthday cobbler, but he seemed to enjoy the Oreo cookie mound with a candle on top. Per a special request from his friend Doug, after dinner I served him a shot of mezcal with hot sauce in it, after he drank it, I slapped him across the face. Friend rituals are weird, but you can’t break a tradition, right?
Our car broke down for the first time. It was a Sunday afternoon (why are all major problems happening on a Sunday when everything is closed!) and we were about to make an ice cream run as a nice reprieve from the heat. I turned the ignition, nothing. Nick got the jumper cables out, still nothing. Luckily, we were camping on a really nice family’s property and their husband immediately jumped in. He and Nick deduced that it was a starter problem and he offered to call his mechanic buddies to arrive in the morning. The mechanics arrived and after 2 hours of laying over our engine with his head out of sight (we heard a lot of f bombs in Spanish), he painfully located our starter. Apparently, Toyota puts them in a very protected area to keep them dry on this type of work vehicle. They took the starter to town, fixed it, and the car started on Tuesday. Hooray! Also, for 4 hours of hard work (2 hours in the pouring rain) and a 1 hour commute to get to us, we got charged $75. I love Mexico :)
Nick’s favorite surfing board went flying off the roof on our way to a new point break. The damage: the fins got pushed into the foam and was unrideable until we got it to a shop (which we did about a week later). The kicker, his other board was also broken on the top and unfixable (it was already broken, he just didn’t know from all the wax on the board) so when he went surfing he would come back with a very bruised chest. Our friend Dave luckily came to the rescue again (he and his wife previously visited us in early July and brought our new bike racks). In a last minute coordinated effort, Nick managed to buy a surfboard in SF, our friend Eric picked it up and delivered it to Dave, and Dave packed it in his surf bag about an hour before he left for the airport. We are grateful for our community and will owe a long list of people drinks when we get back. We are good for it, promise.
We have officially entered mosquito territory and Nick and I know how to attract them. Apparently, I scratch in my sleep. I’ve woken up twice to blood on my ankles because I scratched so much. Nick didn’t wear a shirt one night and it kinda looks like he has chicken pox on his back right now. We have double downed on bug spray and will start to setup our screened in room as we go.
We are still officially “stuck” in Mexico waiting for our camper title to arrive in San Clemente. We have done extensive research and there is no way to cross without it so here we are having to deal with warm, clear water, surf point breaks, and delicious food until we get it. Life could be so much worse :)
I have no toilet issues to discuss in this volume :)
Turtle eggs and guilt. Our mechanic friends broke for lunch after they found the starter. They called us over to give us an update and were eating an unrecognizable food. The man of the house offered us “huevos de Tortuga?” (Turtle eggs). The curious foodie in me replied, “sure!”, we eat chicken eggs, why not!? He taught me how to eat it and I tried one. With guilt, I will admit, it was delicious. Sigh. I have since learned that turtle egg poaching is a VERY big problem in this region and causing a decline in the turtle population. Luckily, the police are involved and actively try to stop the hunting. In our camping spot 2 nights ago, a truck of guys pulled up at 11pm and spent 3 hours with headlamps on scouring the beach for them. I found turtle egg shells where their car was parked the next morning. sigh. I DIDN’T KNOW! Moving forward, I will decline any offers and am trying to find a turtle organization to donate to in attempt to release my conscious.