Viva Vida Despacio (living life slowly)

Our intent with this blog is to keep friends and family up to date, to share some photos of the places we have been, and to capture some of our experiences and learning about the journey. Feel free to skip to the parts you are most interested in!

Living life slowly is becoming my (Penny) new mantra. There have been many adjustments to my thinking for awhile now, and here in Mexico the adjustments are becoming more and more a part of daily life.

When we began  this journey (back in January when we began the process of renting out our house), we had a loose plan and a number of commitments. The final ‘commitments’ were my (Penny) surgery and our celebration of Rachel’s 30th birthday. November 6th, as we headed south from Vancouver we were starting with a pretty blank slate. We had plans to visit friends as we drove south and we  had booked places to live in La Paz BCS and in Loreto BCS.

Between leaving Vancouver and arriving here in La Paz BCS, we travelled through Washington, down the Oregon coast, down the middle of California through Redding (where we stopped for a few days to visit our friends Gary and Diane) to Sacramento.


Always looking for good and unique coffee shops. This one (The Coffee Girls) is in an old and historic cannery overlooking the Columbia R. meeting the Pacific Ocean with the 4.1 mile long bridge to Washington in the distance. Good coffee!


Always spectacular, even in rain the Oregon Coast does not disappoint…

From Sacramento we veered east to Placerville and then followed Hwy 49 down the east flank of the Sierra Nevada’s, past Yosemite, and then back out to Fresno. From Fresno we considered heading up to the Giant Sequoia National Park before heading to Mexico however, when we get close to something like a destination we seem to lean towards getting there rather than meandering. We have learned, as we travelled across both Canada and the U.S., that we prefer the secondary roads. Unless we feel we need to make time, we get off the freeway and then just see what we come across. The Giant Sequoia are now  bookmarked for the return journey!

From Fresno we avoided L.A. and it’s unending traffic by taking Hwy 58 and then I 215/15 to Tecate Mexico. Our goal was to cross into Mexico before late afternoon so that we could travel the Mexican Hwy 3 to Por Venir (a small town just east of Ensenada).

Travel Tip: It was helpful that we were familiar with the Mexican Migracion process at the border. In the past we could get our visitor/ tourist visa (which is needed if you are going more than 30 km past the border) in Ensenada. Now this has to be picked up at the border crossing, for a small fee of $25USD each). We had previously bought our car insurance on line (through Baja Travel) (if you are doing this it is important to buy Mexican Liability AND collision and theft). ICBC will apparently reimburse us our Canadian insurance when we come back, as long as we submit all the needed documentation (copy of insurance and our entry and exit stamps).

Driving the Hwy 3 to Por Venir brings nostalgia– Both of us have driven this stretch with friends as we journeyed here to work and serve in communities in the area–All good memories! The Hwy has been vastly improved and the extensive road repairs and changes make the drive quicker and safer.

Arriving in the Valle de Guadalupe brought us into the buzz of evening in a small Mexican community. Picking up groceries at the new Mercado Liz, we carried on to the house we were staying for the weekend. It has been 4 years since the last time we were here and it felt wonderful to become re-familiarized with this place that we love.


Mercado Liz is the go to grocery shopping location in the Valle de Guadalupe. This area is part of the Ruta de Vina (wine route) is seeing a lot of government and private investment into infrastructure and wineries. The Mercado Liz previously was much smaller and the new one reflects the economic improvements that are impacting the area. So nice to see!

Early Monday morning we begin the ‘new territory’ part of these travels. We had driven a little south of Ensenada but never all the way to the southern tip of the Baja. Leaving Ensenada with cash in our wallets (a big change from traveling on bank and credit cards) and gas in our gas tank, we headed south. Mexico Hwy 1, south from Ensenada goes directly through every town and city that hugs the Pacific Coast of Baja Norte making the journey slow and requiring vigilance to see the topes (speed bumps on the outskirts of towns that are often not marked). Once past the final town of Lázaro Gárdenas the road travels through some relatively untouched Pacific coast and then climbs up to the Cerroes and into extensive vistas of cacti. Very empty. Undulating (up and down) roadway. Minimal shoulders. Mounds of giant boulder rocks. Occasional steep climbs with twisty curves (curvos peligrosos). And many signs saying watch out for cattle. Not a road one would want to travel in the dark!


Pictures do not capture the unique nature of this area. Everything is bigger and more expansive ‘in person!’


We are immensely enjoying our Toyota 4 Runner on these travels. We bought it at the end of March (2105) with 95,000 km on it and as of the end of November it is now reading about 121,000 km. That is a lot of time together in a moving vehicle!

Our destination for the night was Guerrero Negro. We had not pre-booked a hotel room as our internet search suggested a couple that looked good. We ended up at a newer one on the outskirts of town “Terra Sal.” We were now in Baja Sur and in MST.

The next day we planned a shorter day of driving as we wanted to check out a small town called Mulege to see if we might want to spend more time there on the return journey (initial impressions were ‘no’). This shorter day of driving gave us time to stop in San Ignacio (a community founded in the early 1700’s (at least that is when the mission was built), and in Santa Rosalia (great street fish tacos).

From Mulege we traveled straight through to La Paz (a brief stop for breakfast in Loreto – a town where we are planning to spend February and March). We have now been a week and a half in La Paz and are still finding our way around and settling into the gentle routine this lovely city offers to us.

To come in our next blog: the gift of living life slowly and learning (more) Spanish in La Paz! Here are a couple of pictures to give you a taste!


Jacques Cousteau gazing over the Sea of Cortez (the aquarium of the world) on the shores of the La Paz Malecón


Independence Day Parade, November 20th…


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