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Return of the Two Gringas

Posted By: MissLena

Return of the Two Gringas - 02/19/08 09:31 PM

Return of the Two Gringas

T minus 4 weeks -- Tuesday 19 February 2008 -- Vashon Island, Washington, USA

"The Two Gringas shamelessly solicit..."

That's right, and you heard it here first: Rumours of our disappearance beneath the waters of an unmarked blue hole are greatly exaggerated, aaaanddd--

We're doing it again!

The scheduled departure is Sunday 16 or Monday 17 March 2008, and we're actively soliciting meet-ups. Sooo...

IF YOU are anywhere near our projected route and would like a visit from the Two Gringas and a spot in the travelogue, then please post here or PM me or email themisslena ã gmail punto com.

The route map is posted below, and you can see an enlarged version here. A description of the planned route is on the blog here.

(And if you don't already know what the "it" is that we're doing again, or who the "we" is of whom we speak, please have a look at the first Gringa adventure //ambergriscaye.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Main/21746/Number/210064#Post210064 .)


So, are all the oldtimers still here??? grin

Cheers,
'Lena

PS Here's the proposed route map:

[Linked Image]

___________________________________________
MissLena is Galena Alyson Canada
Her email is themisslena á gmail õ com
Her blog is at [u]galenaalysoncanada.blogspot.com[/u]
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/19/08 09:36 PM

Hey Marty, love the new forum features, but...what's with the micro-avatars??? No one can possibly see how hot I am in 48px!

Marty, there is some now-incorrect info in the old travelogues which I'd like to fix, but it seems I am no longer able to edit these articles? Help please!

[Edit: The Two Gringas archives have been fixed. 'L]

Good to be back,
'Lena
Posted By: elbert

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/19/08 11:11 PM

Lena, so you want to look like you've put on a couple of pixels since you where here last?
:-)
Posted By: Luvinlife

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/20/08 02:53 AM

Awesome trip report...... keep going smile
Posted By: klcman

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/20/08 02:58 AM

Lena!!!! Welcome back........... smile
Posted By: ExOkie

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/20/08 09:08 PM

As a fellow "traveler", I have the utmost admiration for you Lena. What a great trip report about an incredible adventure. Good luck on your upcoming one! I look forward to reading all about it.
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/21/08 02:05 AM

L-bert -- It's not polite to mention a woman's surplus pixels... mad

Luvin'-- Thank you and fear not: I have not yet begun to blog!!!
Hey, I see you're in AZ -- any chance you're near our route?

KLCdude -- Good to see you again, really good to be back, y gracias para la bienvenida!

ExOk -- I appreciate the kudos, really I do, but do you really think it's wise to admire a madwoman??? crazy

Posted By: catdance62

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/21/08 01:35 PM

Hi Lena! I wrote you once a while back about the houses you were building (I think it was you?!)and you wrote me back. Well, I still have my land (Maya Beach) but have not built yet. Too bad you aren't coming across Texas way--you could stop and visit me!
have a fun trip and be safe!
PS I'll be in Belize in only 13 more days!!
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/21/08 06:49 PM

Hey Cat -- yes, I remember. How long will you be staying in Bz? Maybe we can meet up there...

Marty -- Are you ignoring me??? mad
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/21/08 08:47 PM

[Edit: The Two Gringas archives have been fixed. 'L]

'Lena
Posted By: catdance62

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/22/08 01:25 PM

MissLena, we land late on the 5th and will be in Maya Beach on the 6th. After we leave there we'll be be-boppin' around the country. I'll PM you my cell # when I get my rent-a-phone; maybe we can hook up!
Posted By: pookster

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/22/08 11:18 PM

OMG Miss Lena all I can say is that I was laughing out loud histerically while reading the blog on your first adventure! What an awesome description of your trip. You should really think about a movie. LOL! Unfortunately your route does not come through Los Angeles so I cannot meet you but boy would I love to. What a spirit. Thanks so much for sharing.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/23/08 02:52 AM

HEY LENA BIG HUG!!!! yeah lets fix it. didn't notice it got fouled up

been real busy, missed this thread somehow.....

Posted By: Marty

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/23/08 02:56 AM

let me know what we need to fix.... email me at [email protected], easier to catch me....

[Edit: The Two Gringas archives have been fixed. 'Lena]
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/23/08 05:59 AM

OK, I got the proposed route map posted. It's back in the first post //ambergriscaye.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/268416#Post268416 .
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/23/08 10:03 PM

Why is this woman smiling?

[Linked Image]

And just what does she think she's doing???
Posted By: Barnacle

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/23/08 11:04 PM

let's see,, from the key tag i'd say it's a rental, it's up on blocks, she can breath.
she was evicted from the motel in the back for lewd and inapropriate behavior, but she was thrilled to have a nice warm trunk to sleep it off. and no one closed the lid.
close?
Posted By: Leah-Ann

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/24/08 05:43 AM

Lena, hope you two make it for a stop in Auburn! smile
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/24/08 07:54 PM

Cat -- I look forward to the meet-up, but will you still be in Bz when we arrive at the end of March?

Pook -- Thank you for laughing laugh it is the biggest complement I could receive. Too bad you're so far west of our route...

Marty -- Thanks for the hug, now please stop pinching my butt. wink

Barny -- Not all that close. Hey, we'll probably be out Placencia-way in the first week or to of April; will you be in residence then?

Leah-Ann -- I sure hope so too. We expect to be up at Donner Pass, heading south; but may well make the detour down the hill to Auburn if the timing works out. How late do you serve dinner? laugh

Abrazos a todos,
'Lena
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/24/08 07:55 PM

Any more guesses on the photo?
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 02/26/08 08:33 AM

Return of the Two Gringas

T minus 3 weeks -- Monday 25 February 2008 -- Vashon Island, Washington

"The Compleat Two Gringas Chronicles..."

The scheduled departure for Two Gringas Adventure #4 is still Sunday 16 or Monday 17 March 2008.

But how did we get to the point of doing this a fourth time, fercryinoutloud??? How many wheels do these girls need?

The answer is: one economical car for general use and one working truck for hauling. When you add the three vehicles already driven down to a fourth bought in Belize, you may wonder that we currently have only one surviving truck in Bz, and that on its last legs. Of course if you have lived in Belize for any period, you will not wonder.

So, bring on number five...

We have been so happy with the performance of the 1992 Toyota Tercel, both in the States and in Central America, that we've bought another to replace the original Belize Bomber which, alas, failed to recover from its third totalling at the hands of the help.

The Belize Bomber on her first day in Belize at the end of //ambergriscaye.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Main/21746/Number/210064.
[Linked Image]


And three years, two months later...
[Linked Image]


(The lesson here, BTW, is something like "do not allow young Belizean men to drive your vehicle without you in it." Or maybe "at all.")

[The astute Two Gringas fan will note, at the right rear of the photo, the front grille of the venerable Beast monster truck from Two Gringas adventure #2 -- now a helpless lawn ornament thanks to the efforts of an over-confident Belizean mechanic. Belize is murder on vehicles. Belizean "breakanics" are worse.]

So we have opted to purchase our third 1992 Tercel standard. The first two were bought new in 1991 for US $8500 a piece. This one was bought as junk for $1000. Needless to say, we had to put a bit of work into her...


[Linked Image]


. . .

[Answers to earlier photo quiz:
Q: What is she doing? A: Checking for leaks.
Q: Why is she smiling? A: She's going back to Beeleez!]

. . .

Everyone -- We'd still like one or two more USA meet-ups. And we'd LOVE to get a couple Mexico meet-ups if you have people there. Please PM or post or email themisslena á gmail õ com. An enlarged route map is available here.

Cheers,
'Lena



IN MEMORIAM



[Linked Image]





The Beast
1978-2005



[Linked Image]















P.O.S. Truck
1991-2006







[Linked Image]














The Belize Bomber
1992-2006












In lieu of flowers please donate Belikins.

___________________________________________
MissLena is Galena Alyson Canada
Her email is themisslena á gmail õ com
Her blog is at galenaalysoncanada.blogspot.com
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/04/08 03:14 AM

Return of the Two Gringas

T minus 2 weeks — Monday 3 March 2008 — Vashon Island, Washington

"Fit to be tied!"

The scheduled departure for Two Gringas Adventure #4 is still Sunday 16 or Monday 17 March 2008.

I'm beginning to come unstuck.

Yes, I am looking forward to this adventure, and yes, I really want to get back to my southern home and away from the Culture of Acquisition. But creatures don't relish change and, as this creature ages, she likes change less and less.

Yesterday afternoon, as we were working on the Belize Bomber II, I realised I was about to start throwing things. It has been several decades since I threw things and I don't intend to resume now, so I packed it in and crawled under the covers. Brrr, it's cold here.

[Linked Image]


We are now two weeks from departure and the Bomber is just about ready: this afternoon we reinstall the front struts, and that should be about it.

We've been acquiring "road foods" for a couple weeks now (drinks, nuts, eat-from-the-can stuff, ...), and the pile to be packed is mounting. Next weekend we'll do a preliminary pack of the car; hopefully a major fraction of this heap will fit in that heap...

So many things to get done in these next two weeks and, like the pile to be packed, I'm just not sure how it's all going to fit in. Thus the pre-trip anxiety, which is beginning to render me into the state known as "fit to be tied."

___________________________________________
MissLena is Galena Alyson Canada
Her email is themisslena á gmail ó com
Her personal blog is at galenaalysoncanada.blogspot.com
The new Two Gringas blogsite is TheTwoGringas.blogspot.com
Posted By: Marty

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/04/08 05:15 AM

SWEEEEEETTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!
Posted By: Kgryfon

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/04/08 06:18 AM

I just ran across your tales of the first two trips last night, and today I find that you are on your third! I'm looking forward to reading of your latest adventures...how long are you in Belize this time? I'll be down in June!! Yes!!!
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/10/08 05:56 PM

Greetings Kat! So glad to have a new reader. smile I'll probably be in Belize in June, but might be elsewhere in the Mundo Maya. You can always find out where I am in the right-hand column, front page, of of my personal blog.

I have finally got the new Two Gringas blogsite (mostly) put together. The first Two Gringas adventure is up now with pix and slideshows (it's essentially an edited & formatted version of the same story //ambergriscaye.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/210064), and the current about-to-happen adventure is there, while everything else is "stubbed-in".

Please drop by and tell us what you think...

'Lena
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/12/08 11:45 PM

Return of the Two Gringas

T minus 1 week — Monday 10 March 2008 — Vashon Island, Washington

"Uh, what's that drip?"

The scheduled departure for Two Gringas Adventure #4 is Sunday March 2008.

OK, the Belize Bomber II *was* ready for the road...and now it isn't. And it all my fault for looking for trouble...

[Linked Image]


I'm under the Bomber hunting down an annoying rattle in the exhaust line. I find the offending clamp and Denise joins me to have a look. She brushes a hand across her forehead.

"Something dripped on me."

"What?"

"I don't know..."

I stick out my hand and catch the next drip — just one tiny drop, every minute or so. It's fluorescent green.

"Coolant."

Denise rolls out from under, saying "This is your fault, you know..."

"Yeah, I know."

[Linked Image]


So we're tearing into the motor assembly. Again. Or rather, Denise is. The bit we need to get at is, of course, at the back, under a manifold, between other assemblies, equally unreachable from above or below.

"Gee Neecie, I'd sure like to help, but it looks to me that there's only room for one pair of hands..."

"So why don't you plug your pair in here?!"

In fact, there is barely room for one hand, much less a pair.

"No...no... you know you're much better at that than I..."

So now there's an engine component sitting on the kitchen counter. It's a water pump. It's supposed to be attached to the engine, but it isn't. This is a problem.

[Linked Image]


The auto parts store promises to have the part the next day. The next day arrives, we call, yes, the delivery arrived. We go.

They do not have the part. What they have is an irrelevant part which goes on the other side of the motor. A part, which in fact, we've already replaced. One among dozens.

I stay at the counter to sort out the parts-irrelevancy issue with the parts-ordering wizard; meanwhile Denise roams the aisles in search of cup-holders, which the little Tercel lacks. She returns empty-handed and looks inquiringly at the nice man.

"Cup-holders?"

"No cup-holders."

She is clearly disoriented...

"Auto parts store...automotive cup-holders...none???"

"No cup-holders."

Turns out it's a "liability issue" — hot coffee, spills, hot groins, distracted drivers, lawyers, all that. Good grief.

We return to the Bomber empty-handed. Since she can't fix the car, Denise gives it custom cup-holders.

[Linked Image]


___________________________________________
MissLena is Galena Alyson Canada
Her email is themisslena á gmail ó com
Her personal blog is at galenaalysoncanada.blogspot.com
The new Two Gringas blogsite is TheTwoGringas.blogspot.com
Posted By: Kgryfon

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/13/08 04:15 AM

Took alook - th blogsite looks great and I look forward to living vicariously through your trip : )
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/13/08 06:46 AM

Return of the Two Gringas

T minus 4 days — Wednesday 12 March 2008 — Vashon Island, Washington

"How do you stuff a hippopotamus into a Tercel?"

The scheduled departure for Two Gringas Adventure #4 is Sunday 16 March 2008.

There is a hippopotamus in the living room. OK, not a real hippo, but a heap the size of a hippo, which is now supposed to go into the Belize Bomber II. A heapopotamus.

Unfortunately, there are already two large ruminants in the car:

[Linked Image]


(Yes, Dear Reader, that really is a standard-size air compressor and a large microwave oven. Before now you'vesuspected that we are insane. Now you're certain.)

So how do we cram the heapopotamus into the Tercel?

Simple! First we carry the whole mess out...

[Linked Image]


...and then you just put it all into the vehicle.

[Linked Image]


And it's just that easy!

[Linked Image]


Look! The doors even close!

[Linked Image]


___________________________________________
MissLena is Galena Alyson Canada
Her email is themisslena á gmail ó com
Her personal blog is at galenaalysoncanada.blogspot.com
The new Two Gringas blogsite is TheTwoGringas.blogspot.com
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/17/08 06:43 AM

Return of the Two Gringas

Day Zero — Sunday 16 March 2008 — Vashon Island, Washington

"Is that a nook or a cranny?"

At long last it is Day Zero.

Tomorrow morning we point the Belize Bomber II south towards Central America, never to return to this northern clime...

[Linked Image]


Yesterday we installed the new water pump, belt, etc. and changed the oil; today we took her for a test drive and rated her road-worthy. From here on down, anything else that requires replacement is officially "a problem."

[Linked Image]


It is the final packing day — clothes, toiletries, books — and the cats are confused and nervous. Something is happening, and they don't know what to make of it.

[Linked Image]


The Bomber is utterly packed: Denise took the nooks and I got the crannies, and I'm running out of crannies.

[Linked Image]


[Linked Image]


The weather was decent today, tomorrow we're off with the rain...a Two Gringas tradition we've never missed.

We'll see you all in Oregon...or maybe California...

___________________________________________
MissLena is Galena Alyson Canada
Her email is themisslena á gmail ó com
Her personal blog is at galenaalysoncanada.blogspot.com
The new Two Gringas blogsite is TheTwoGringas.blogspot.com
Posted By: Leah-Ann

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/17/08 07:28 PM

Can't wait! laugh
Posted By: tacogirl

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/17/08 10:15 PM

Safe trip - can't wait to hear about your new adventures
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/18/08 06:14 AM

Return of the Two Gringas

Day 1 — Monday 17 March 2008 — Washington-Oregon

"Live from the Dive"

[Linked Image]


We left Vashon Island, Washington about 9 this morning, and headed south through Tacoma, Olympia, and on south through Portland and Salem Oregon, then east over the mountains through Bend.

[Linked Image]


We are now nestled down for the night at the Bit-of-a-Dive Motel in Chemult, southern Oregon, near Crater Lake. Tomorrow morning we'll do a scenic loop around the lake.

I'll post a proper log of today somewhat later.

See you all in California...

[Linked Image]

___________________________________________
MissLena is Galena Alyson Canada
Her email is themisslena á gmail ó com
Her personal blog is at galenaalysoncanada.blogspot.com
The new Two Gringas blogsite is TheTwoGringas.blogspot.com
Posted By: colomojo

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/18/08 06:39 AM

Safe Drively Ladies - can't wait to hear of your adventures!!
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/19/08 12:21 AM

Leah-Ann -- check your PMs and call us ASAP!!!
Posted By: Leah-Ann

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/19/08 06:19 PM

I LOVE this message board!
Miss Lena and Denese stopped in at my place last night; we had dinner & drinks, talked and talked and talked, and finally crashed for the evening. Even though we'd never met, we instantly felt like old friends. I will say, there is absolutely NO room in that car for another thing, but they do look and sound like they're having fun. What a fabulous pair of gals and what a great pleasure it was to get to spend time with them.
Happy Trails, girls! smile

p.s. - Mr. Lunch seems a bit lonely now. wink
Posted By: LaurieMar

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/19/08 10:07 PM

Now that is what I call PS&MO (pack sh__t and move out!)
Posted By: colomojo

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/19/08 10:31 PM

How lucky are you Leah Ann! Their adventurous spirit is right up my alley! I wish they were coming through CO, I'd invite them in as well. Can't wait to hear about the travels!
Posted By: klcman

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/19/08 11:55 PM

Door is open in Maine too, if ya get lost Lena wink
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/20/08 01:09 AM

One would have to be lost, if they ended up in Maine.
Posted By: Leah-Ann

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/20/08 01:35 AM

These ladies won't be getting lost. That vehicle is equipped with all kinds of locating devices! laugh
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/20/08 03:47 AM

[Linked Image]


Just a brief note -- wonderful stay with Leah-Ann at her beautiful new home...drove all the way down through the Calif. gold country and landed here in Yosemite Valley for the night. The Ahwahnee Hotel -- pretty posh and waaaay over our budget (L-A, you made it possible!), but I don't suppose we'll be passing this way again...

Here's a pic Denise took of me just now as I write this:

[Linked Image]


Again, full reports as soon as I can complete them...
Posted By: Kgryfon

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/20/08 05:02 AM

The Ahwahnee - what a lovely place! I was just there last summer for the first time! Just visited, tho - didn't stay overnight. Keep us posted!!
Posted By: pugwash

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/20/08 07:35 PM

If my map reading is correct (I'm a guy...I don't ask for directions!) you should be nearing the bright lights of Vegas on your way to Hoover Dam about now.

We'll be on the north end of Lake Powell this weekend, so won't quite link up, but I'm eager to read your trip reports as I will be driving down and back twice this fall if all goes as planned, once with a boat and once with a Rhino (golf cart) and some household goods.

Watch out for Colorado City (take the northern route)...Warren Jeffs is in jail now, but there's a few of his relatives who would be only too happy to marry you off to some lucky guy who's running short of wives!

Safe driving....I'm looking forward to sharing your adventures
Posted By: Leah-Ann

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/20/08 09:15 PM

Yay for you gals! I love the Ahwahnee! What a beautiful treat! Keep that coffee cup full and those posts coming! smile
Posted By: pookster

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/21/08 01:39 AM

I have to say I am a BIG FAN of the Gringas now and am totally addicted to checking this blog everyday. This message board rocks and so does everyone on it. Go Gringas! C'mon everyone cheer with me. "Go Gringas Go, Go Gringas Go." Can't wait to hear the trials and tribulations once you get into Mexico. I am sure now that you have experience you won't be getting lost or disoriented right? smile
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/21/08 05:46 AM


[Linked Image]


We left Yosemite at noon and drove out and around via Bakersfield, then up amazing Hwy 178 (above) past Lake Isabella to 395 north (yes: north!!!) to Owens Lake, where we are now ensconced for the night.

[Linked Image]


Tomorrow it's Death Valley, Las Vegas, and onward to the Grand Canyon!

'Lena

PS Is this really the way to Belize?!
Posted By: tacogirl

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/21/08 05:09 PM

Great pics - safe trip what - a cool adventure
Posted By: azbob

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/21/08 08:23 PM

Gringas, I'm in Prescott Valley, about 100 miles north of Phoenix towards Flagstaff, off Hwy 89 & 89A. If you ladies need anything give me a call @ 928-771-3115 (cell).
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/21/08 11:13 PM

The Two Gringas are in ¡VEGAS! baby, and we're about to cruise The Strip!

[azbob -- we'll call!]

'Lena
Posted By: divingcowgirl

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/22/08 04:29 AM

Miss, Lena, are yall going to be passing through Texas at any point?
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/22/08 05:02 AM

Not this trip Cowgirl, sorry! We're crossing over from Arizona this time...

Whereabouts are you?

'Lena
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/22/08 05:32 AM

Denise writes the entry for Day 2...

Return of the Two Gringas

Day 2 — Tuesday 18 March 2008 — Oregon-California

"What happens if you plant a shoe?"

We left Chemult this morning and headed down to Crater Lake. At the turnoff to the north end of the road that runs through the park, we discover a sign that says the road is closed for the season, winter that is. Crater Lake is high and even last October when I was there considerable snow littered the ground. So we do a by-pass as the south end of the through road is a little out of our way.

As we head through southern Oregon toward California, we break out of the rain and start to enjoy a beautiful day of sunshine. We soon discover that there really isn't much air in our little car with the back seat packed full of stuff, and the slightest sun through the windows warms us up quickly. This is not a good omen for Mexico where the air temperature will not be a comfortable 60F, but rather more like 85F or higher. The AC that we plan to install in this car is currently down in Belize and will probably be one of our first projects when we arrive down there.

[Linked Image]


As we drive through northeastern California, we come upon an odd sight. A lone tree beside the road filled with something that one would not expect to find in a tree: lots of tennis shoes with the laces tied together. It seems that someone started the tradition and others have simply added to it. I'm sure the locals refer to it as the tennis shoe tree.

Passing by Reno to fuel up, we try to decide whether to drive by Lake Tahoe or head over to Sacramento to line up with the west entry to Yosemite. Just then we make contact with our first 2 gringas meet-up. So we head over Donner Pass and down to Auburn to find Leah-Ann's lovely townhome. We enjoy a very nice dinner, some interesting conversation and bed down for the night.

___________________________________________
MissDenise is Denise Louise Kolb
Her email is deniselouisekolb á gmail ó com
Her personal blog is at deniselouisekolb.blogspot.com
The new Two Gringas blogsite is TheTwoGringas.blogspot.com
Posted By: azbob

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/22/08 05:41 AM

I talked to MissLena tonight and they are doing fine and will be in Prescott Valley AZ tomorrow evening to stay with me and my son. I am really looking forward to meeting them and sharing the experience. Drive safe!
Posted By: divingcowgirl

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/22/08 06:51 PM

Miss Lena, I live south of San Antonio, TX.
Posted By: carbunkletrumpet

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/22/08 11:03 PM

I have to say that I really enjoy reading this. Go Gringas Go!
Posted By: lakegirl

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/23/08 04:45 AM

We are all living this great adventure thru you ladies, keep the stories coming!!!
Posted By: azbob

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/24/08 12:19 AM

Two Gringas Visit Azbob:
I'm so glad Lena and Denise could stay with me last night and share their experience. We had a great evening and morning before that had to be on the road. I learned so much about Belize and thank them for every "jewel". My cat, Scout, was trying to get in their bags this morning and hitch-hike to Belize. They would have let him too, being the "cat" ladies they are, but smuggling him in might be a problem with all the "meowing". May your adventure be free of problems and you return safely to your beloved village. I will be there to see you soon and continue my adventure in Belize.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

This is my first attempt at posting with a picture so don't laugh if I scew up, please!



Posted By: azbob

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/24/08 12:27 AM

Ok I didn't get it right! I'll study the process again:excuse - i'm old.
Posted By: azbob

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/24/08 12:35 AM

Let's try that again:
[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]
Posted By: belizegial

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/24/08 12:39 AM

You got it Bob!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted By: Tom

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/24/08 04:54 AM

I recently saw another Shoe Tree.
It is in Sherman, TX behind the City Limit Cafe/restaurant.
Didn't know there was more than one.
Kat
Posted By: deadserious

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/24/08 11:07 PM

I know of one more in Northern Nevada between Vegas and Tahoe as well as one in Northern Michigan on 131 between Kalkaska and Mancelona.

Posted By: PSSunshinegal

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/24/08 11:45 PM

Originally Posted by deadserious
I know of one more in Northern Nevada between Vegas and Tahoe as well as one in Northern Michigan on 131 between Kalkaska and Mancelona.


Small world Deadserious. I am from Grayling and you must know the area a little because Mancelona and Kalkaska aren't city names that most people know. Are you from that area?

There is also a shoe tree outside of St. George, Utah, and one on the backroad going to Route 66 and Highway 40.

Janice
Posted By: deadserious

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/25/08 07:05 PM

I figured I'd throw in some insider town names and see if anyone balked... wink

I grew up in Mancelona (go Ironmen!). Left Michigan for sunnier pastures long ago though.
Posted By: PSSunshinegal

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/25/08 07:08 PM

Originally Posted by deadserious
I figured I'd throw in some insider town names and see if anyone balked... wink

I grew up in Mancelona (go Ironmen!). Left Michigan for sunnier pastures long ago though.


That is so funny. I left Grayling 30 years ago for California, and now looking for at least half time in AC. Come January I hope to stay for six months. Busy winding up things around here so that I can start another adventure.

Janice
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 03/25/08 08:06 PM

We are in Creel, Mexico, at the head of Copper Canyon, about to head down into the slot...

Probably no internet until tomorrow or next day, so...see you soon!

'Lena
Posted By: azbob

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/02/08 05:28 PM

Has anyone heard from our two travelers? I hope they didn't have trouble in Mexico!
Posted By: Leah-Ann

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/02/08 07:28 PM

bit of update on their blog -
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/03/08 05:39 AM

I'd like to share this slightly edited version of a letter I wrote today. This should bring you up to date while new journal entries are still to come...
-------------------------------------------------------------

Dear _______,

It is our third day here, in the busy mountain town of San Cristóbal de las Casas, in the highlands of Chiapas, the southernmost state in Mexico. This area abuts the Guatemalan highlands and, along with parts of the Yucatan and southern Belize, is one of the last redoubts of the living Maya cultures. While Tuxpan is the government state capital, San Cristóbal is the original colonial capital, and the centre of the mundo maya here. (The "de las Casas" honours Bartolomé de las Casas, a Spanish priest who defended native rights following the Conquest; a role that would be reprised by another priest here in the 1990s.)

We were due to leave Cristóbal this morning, after a one-day layover for a business meeting, but Denise (my co-conspirator on this adventure) got hold of some bad food and she's pretty sick right now. The unscheduled down-day gives me a welcome moment to think, while I poke liquids and crackers into poor Denise.

This is the town that was made famous back in the 1990s when Maya here began the armed Zapatista uprising under "Subcommandante Marcos", a non-Maya former university professor. (Shades of Castro. Only here it's a pipe, rather than a cigar.) They successfully (but briefly) took over San Cristóbal and much of Chiapas and forced the PRI government to negotiate over the taking of Maya lands. Later, after Vicente Fox broke the PRI chokehold (a good thing)and incidentally, decided not to honour the treaty (a bad thing), there was a famous Zapatista foot-march from here to Mexico City (a very long walk). It's pretty hard to say if anything really came of it all. The Zapatistas are folk heroes. The gov't maintains armed checkpoints all around. Most Maya are dirt poor. Life goes on. That's about it.

I am here to talk to some folks at AlSol -- Alternativa Solidaria Chiapas -- a ten-year-old micro-lending institution (MLI) based on the Bangladeshi Grameen model, which works mostly with small groups of Maya women here. I discovered AlSol through Kiva.org in January and have been taking an interest in their work, along with that of Friendship Bridge in Guatemala. Unlike Friendship Bridge, AlSol is a grassroots organisation formed by two local women in 1998 (the year I first came to the Maya), more-or-less a result of the climate of change established here by the Zapatista uprising. They've been quite successful, and there is more of a feeling of "among equals" here, than is often the case with such organisations.

. . .

I've just now returned from one of my favourite things to do in an unfamiliar town. I went out and grabbed a taxi (you need only stand still a few minutes anywhere in town and one appears) and went to market in search of vegetables (travelling and eating in restaurants here, it is difficult to get enough veggies). This is a wonderful way to shop, as the driver knows where everything is and acts as a willing interpreter if I come up short a word or two or can't find something. And he carries the shopping.

Now I sit here with a bowl of mixed chopped vegetables, which were in dirt only this morning. Yum.

. . .

Back in the 1990s -- some while after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and about the time the Zapatistas were taking over San Cristóbal de las Casas -- I was involved for a year or so in an effort to assist Siberian women through the establishment of MLIs in several cities; Novosibirsk, Gorno Altai, and Irkutsk. I wrote a seminar in basic market and business planning, using dual-language materials and delivered in Russian through interpreters. We became pretty close to the women who were holding up the Russian end; women who were educated (doctors, lawyers, professors), and who had lost everything, sometimes reduced to theft and prostitution to feed their families. But now everything was getting better -- you never saw such an optimistic bunch of budding capitalists.

It broke my heart as, bit by but, the Russian Mafia took everything over. Some of our collaborators knuckled under, some gave up, some disappeared suddenly, some joined. I severed ties and turned away from Russia and from micro-lending. (By the way, the current top government leaders are essentially mafiosi, as Russia slips, once again, into totalitarian rule. It seems to be the only kind they're comfortable with.)

. . .

I have just come down from a short break on the rooftop terrace of the little posada where we are staying. The roof is the only place from which you can actually see the town for what it is. Virtually none of it is visible from the public street.

Cristóbal is an old colonial town, established by the Spanish in the mid-sixteenth century and originally administered from Antigua, Guatemala, which it somewhat resembles. Narrow masonry-walled cobbled streets originally laid-out for horse and wagon traffic, but now occupied by the brisk one-way files of vehicles which now occupy the walled courtyard stables at night. The high kerbs are so narrow that you can literally be run down while stepping out your front door. The electric and water metres are recessed into the masonry, as there is no room for them to protrude.

With the exception of the plaza mayor, public Cristóbal consists entirely in a gridwork of these hazardous alleys, while the life of Cristóbal is hidden away behind the bracketing masonry walls, visible only through doorways and from the rooftops. There are trees throughout the town, but you cannot see a single one from the streets. The streets are choked with the unregulated exhaust of the scurrying vehicles, which combines with the nearly 7000 foot altitude to burn the lungs. The cars move very quickly and most intersections lack any sign or light, but somehow everyone seems to know who has right-of-way. I've tried, and I have yet to decipher the system.

The buildings range from contemporary to several centuries old, but you can rarely tell which is which by simple inspection. Most structures here are a cacophony of recycled space and material spanning decades or centuries. Nearly anything that you can see or touch was a retrofit. Somewhere under the plaster and paint are the original stones.

. . .

It is early afternoon and Denise is sleeping. I am trying to keep quiet and stifle a cough. I am surprised to find that my lungs are still weak, two full months after a mild pneumonia which kept me mostly in bed for a month at the beginning of the year. I thought I was well healed until we reached the Mexico high country. We've spent much of the past week above 8000 feet, and I've been pretty weak and wheezy and have redeveloped a slight cough.

I spent the down-time in January listening to audio Spanish courses almost non-stop. Having been inoculated with Spanish in childhood, and with my background in French, I was able to cram a good year of Spanish coursework into my head as I convalesced. We've been in Mexico about a week now, and I've been surprised at how functional my Spanish is already. In the now, that is. If I stray too far from the present, I get lockjaw pretty quickly.

. . .

Just back from a vitamin-C hunting expedition for Denise. Apparently vitamins are rare here. I went to the farmacia around the block, and then to the one two blocks further, and...by the time I found some I had hop-scotched myself all the way back downtown and had to cab it back home.

. . .

Right now, my life is undergoing its next phase-shift, if you will. The next reshaping of values, redirecting of goals, reworking of the mind. I am subjected to another self-inflicted re-education.

After about five years of hard work in Belize, we ran out of money and credit for the Storm Engineered Structures start-up (http://StormEngineered.com), and I finally had to mothball it at the beginning of 2006 without it bearing any substantial fruit (business-wise -- in terms of personal value and value to the community, it was huge).

Disappointed, frustrated and broke, I took a six-month contract to help out a structural engineer friend with her excess of work. That has turned into far more than was originally anticipated and, at this writing, we have two new zoo projects going into construction, and we're beginning design on another mid-rise hospital.

This has meant spending about 3/4-time in the USA these past two years (which is not good for me), but that is about to change as I resume "permanent" residence in Central America. I've managed to get it all worked around to where I can do 2/3 of what's needed of me over the phone and internet, and we're working on electronic transmittal and FedEx for the other 1/3. In other words, I've got my "office" down to a backpack, and I can earn American consulting rates from anywhere I can get a cell phone and net access.

My "job" also only averages 20 hours per week, which means I now can pretty much do what I want, where I want. For me, this is perfect. My proposal to AlSol was to come to San Cristóbal for a few months and be of whatever use they can make of me for 20 hours a week, while I improve my Spanish and learn about their business and about the Maya in this region. No charge. I get a cell phone and use their internet for my engineering work. If they accept my offer, I am quite curious to see how this all turns out. It may become a lifestyle. Through Kiva, I also now have MFI connections in Guatemala, which I just might pursue in the future...

And all this within a long day's drive of my home in Belize. Pretty cool.

. . .

I am not much of a sightseer. I am interested in the people and the feel of a place, but not so much in the must-sees and must-dos and souvenirs. I do a lot of observing and photography, but it is mostly for the purpose of capturing and illustrating my impressions, not for postcards or cool shots.

I've actually spent the greater part of the past two days here, taking San Cristóbal in through the open door and window of the room and from the balcony and roof terrace of the posada. The old man who lives across the lane is sitting on the kerb in the sunshine. Yesterday I helped his wife get the sticky front door open. The butane truck rolls up the street accompanied by musical chimes: it has different-sized slices of steel pipe threaded on a chain which drags behind, announcing the presence of cooking fuel. The lady at the tienda where we buy our juice is leaning in her doorway. Peering down into the courtyard next door, I see a man check to see if his laundry is dry on the line; he decides to wait a bit longer. There is a polyglot babel rising from the courtyard of the posada -- Mexican Spanish and several flavours of French (none from France) and Israeli Hebrew and something else I cannot identify. And English, but not native-spoken, instead used as a kind of pidgin for negotiations between the owners of the other tongues...

Later...
It is dusk now and everyone is going somewhere. The street noise is a racket. Every third car is a taxi, crowding and gassing the alleyways. The women here walk arm-in-arm, which gives me a warm feeling to see. There is a middle-aged man who looks much older, blearily debating crossing the lane; he thinks better of it and wobbles off past a girl in tight jeans talking to a mobile phone. Across the way a young woman in western dress, purse and heels carries a baby on her back in a traditional Mayan kächbeeb. Young latter-day tourists arrive in a taxi and shoulder their backpacks and front-packs on their tan frames and pile into the posada courtyard. A blonde ex-pat from who-knows-where discusses matters with the tienda lady, in flawless Spanish. The tires of the vehicles provide a constant rubber-squeaking background as they turn on the polished stones of the lane.

. . .

Denise is up and looking a little better after sleeping all the day. I'll stop now and prepare some food.

I hope you are well. I haven't written because I haven't been writing. Sometimes I have the ability to communicate; sometimes I don't. I'm hoping this next phase of my life bucks me up a bit -- I need a happy time.

'Lena

----------------------------------------------------
Posted By: Marty

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/03/08 02:07 PM

you guys are amazing.....
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/03/08 03:02 PM

How so Marty? Just doing what comes natural...

Well, we are off in a few minutes to blast from Chiapas to the Belize border. The Bomber has developed an intermittant and worsening fuel or ignition problem, but we're making a run for it and hope it gets us there.

If we get through tonight we'll be jetting for home in the dark. But if we cross tomorrow morning (more likely) we'd like to make a meetup in Corozal -- we'll call in this case.

Wish us luck,
'Lena
Posted By: azbob

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/03/08 03:51 PM

Good luck you two and keep chasing that dream. Great report.
Posted By: Leah-Ann

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/03/08 09:18 PM

Great update, Lena! Hope Denise is feeling much on the mend. Stay safe you two!!
Posted By: tacogirl

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/04/08 03:37 PM

Good luck thanks so much for updates they are great.
Posted By: pookster

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/04/08 05:32 PM

Phenomenal. Miss Lena you could never be "broke". Your passion for living life now and involving yourself in giving back to others is a prosperity some never acheive. Really outstanding and inspiring if you ask me.
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/05/08 02:31 PM

Wow. I'm blushing.

Honestly guys, I only go after what makes me happy and feels right. Nothing more...


OK, so 2-1/2 weeks of driving, and home at last.

We're in Maya Centre village, getting settled and catchng up with family this weekend.

Starting Sunday night we'll be holed-up at a friend's beach resort for a few days writing writing writing.

And yes, Denise is well again.

See y'all very soon!

'Lena
Posted By: belizegial

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/05/08 02:54 PM

Glad to hear you made it well Miss Lena.

Posted By: Leah-Ann

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/05/08 10:36 PM

smile
Posted By: azbob

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/06/08 03:51 AM

I'm glad you made it home with no major problems. Relax and enjoy for awhile!
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/11/08 05:10 AM

Denise has posted new entries for the current trip on the blogsite.
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/21/08 08:42 PM

Denise has posted four more days on the Two Gringas blog -- thank goodness, because I have been in a crippling depression for the past couple weeks and seem to be incapable of putting two words together.

Denise, thank you so much.

'Lena
Posted By: Seachange

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/23/08 12:17 PM

Hey Miss Lena,
You just did (put two words together, that is). Sending positive vibes for your speedy recuperation. Self-serving, a bit, I love to hear your thoughts on life and your travel stories. Thanks to Denise also!
Lynn
Posted By: CeeSF

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/23/08 07:41 PM

Love the blog! Feel better, got chocolate? It worked for Harry Potter! wink
Posted By: MissLena

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/23/08 07:59 PM

Thank you Cee, thank you Lynn, your encouragement means a lot to me.
Posted By: colomojo

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/24/08 08:04 PM

Breathe deeply and smile. Oh and eat chocolate - lots of chocolate and ice cream too!! wink
Posted By: Barnacle

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/24/08 08:22 PM

i tried beer first,, then banana bread, then chocolate chip cookies,, still in a funk,,, hmmmmmmmmmmmm?
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/24/08 08:24 PM

Try more beer....
Posted By: Barnacle

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/24/08 08:28 PM

i thought i had miss leena writing after the beer,,
i bet your right. forget the cookies,, MORE BEER!! and spellcheck.
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/24/08 09:18 PM

What does spel cheque got to do with it?
Posted By: Barnacle

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/24/08 09:20 PM

i hav leernd that aftr many beers, speel chek is valubl,,
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Return of the Two Gringas - 04/24/08 09:21 PM

Now yer cookin'....way to go!!!!
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