We are the Marincas-Bucy Family, Gregg (Daddy), Marlyn (Mama), Alex John (4.5 years old), and Gregorie Ann (3 years old). This blog will be the story of our 6 months spent traveling through Mexico and Central America. Please read along to follow us on our adventures, to find information about planning your own adventure, to get hints and ideas on traveling with small children, or to just daydream.
[Alex is now 7 and Gregorie is 5.5 , and our six months were spent. We are still reliving our adventures every day. And sharing them here. And dreaming of more... always dreaming...]

Monday, November 30, 2009

Looking on the bright side

PLAYA LAPA,  Carate, Costa Rica.  We arrived here to our home-for-week in the beautiful jungle of the Pacific Coast of the Osa Pennisula.  Getting here involved, first, a 1.5 hour drive on a mostly-paved- (and often being-paved-) road off the Interamerican to Puerto Jimenez, with one bridge 0ut (apparently a large crane attempted to drive across and...) -- the river wasn't bad there, just the grading on the river banks.  After a stop in P.J. for supplies and the keys to our house we had another 1.5 hours on dirt, rock, mud, water.  Yes, about 6 more rivers to cross, without bridges (not out, never had).  L.C. handled the drive fine and we arrived safe and sound and settled into our temporary home.  We had seared fresh caught tuna for dinner.  

Yes, life is generally good here.  Our gardens are gorgeous. We have seen, in our yard:  2 kinds of monkeys -- small, orange ones with white faces, and larger, black ones with orange faces; hundreds of butterflies; scarlet macaws; eagles; and, in our house rats.  Yes, rats.  Pretty tannish-orangish rats.  In our pantry.  Right after dinner last night.  We trapped one in a bucket and tried to drown him (as he wouldn't drown Gregg had to bludgeon him this morning).  Just after we captured him and thought we plugged the access hole, I saw another dart along the shelve.  We knew we were headed to the jungle -- we figured on the threat of snakes and scorpions (haven't seen any), mosquitoes (which are not bad), humidity, etc.  Not rats.

So, feeling somewhat "rat"tled, we are also struggling with what would otherwise be minor inconveniences -- mold, for one.  It is insanely humid here and the house is wooden and the smell of mold is pervasive.  Tomorrow I will mix of some vinegar, TTO, and lavender and have a go at that.  

And then each evening as the last orange streaks of sunlight disappear from the sky I hear in my head lines of a cummings' poem:

as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending

But it is not snow descending on my head in this house.  It is flying ants.  Scores of them.  They don't bite or seem to do anything other than drive me a little batty for about an hour.  They don't seem to bother Gregg (good, cuz the rats sure do) or the girls.  

Sooooo, as I head to bed with sounds of bright green crickets and aqua waves on graphite sands, I will try to forget rats, and mold, and ants.   I will focus on beauty.

O Gregg!

to come


to come

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Of duct tape and apple juice


We spent a month driving through the intensely mountainous regions of Southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras.  Verdant hillsides sloped up from both sides of the carretara, enveloping us in lush, expanding waves of green.  We passed through Tegucigalpa just as the sun was setting and descended toward the coastal plain of Honduras's Pacific Coast in darkness.  The next morning we drove the 30 or so miles to the frontera with Nicaragua.  After all those mountains, there were the volcanic lowlands of Nicaragua.  We entered Nicaragua at Los Manos, the horizon opening before us, grassy prairies dotted with geometric cones of ash.  Nicaragua welcomed me like an old friend, throwing her arms wide, saying,  "Here you are again, my friend!  I always knew you would come back!"

For me, time takes on a misty quality here.  My last trip, perhaps I could blame Flor de Cano and Victoria.  But I know that there is more to it.  Perhaps it is the mystique of the volcanoes, and their legends; or the spirits of the heroes and martyrs; or the infectious dimpled smiles of people who despite the pains of their past, look forward with such hope, who have as a national hero, a poet.  My hours and days slip away from me here and when it comes time to go, as it is tomorrow, I think, "How can that be?  I am not READY to go."

Three days ago we took a trip to a place where I spent a lot of time -- a beach/surf break called Popoyo.  I wanted to show my family where I was content to live in a backpacker's tent for months, without running water.  A place where I made some of the best friends of my life.  I wanted them to see the place, and meet the people who lived their.  When we arrived at the beachside restaurant, it was closed for the slow season.  It is an open air restaurant and we were able to walk inside.  There on the wall, still hanging on by one corner, was the picture of the Golden Gate Bridge I cut from the back of my Rand McNally road atlas of the USA and duct taped to the wall, as my "I was here."  Seven years ago.  Duct tape endures.

I inquired about the woman who ran the place and learned she was in town, Las Salinas.  We drove there and found her house.  Her daughters remembered me and welcomed my family to their home.  They called Gloria on her cell phone, but she didn't answer.  One daughter headed out on her bike and found her.  She returned out of breath and sweaty, saying, "Gloria viene!"  A neighbor jumped on his motorcycle and went to fetch her more quickly.  She arrived and walked up to me.  Throwing her arms wide, tears in her eyes, she said, "Male!  Welcome back!  I always knew you would come back!"  Friendship also endures.  

apples and apple juice [to come]

Sunday, November 15, 2009

If a picture is worth a thousand words...

...maybe some images will make up for the lack of blog updates!  Traveling with children surely does not leave much time for self reflection, journaling, blogging...  We are now in Nica.  Since the last post we left Guatemala and headed to Copan Ruinas, Honduras.

 After a couple days exploring the ruins, museum, and town,  we raced through the rest of Honduras towards Nica.  We spent a night near the Gulf of Fonseco before hitting the border.

Our first stop in Nica was at Playa Jiquilillo, at Nate's Rancho Esperanza.  The girls made friends with some local ninas.

We took a break from the beach and explored Leon...
...but quickly headed back to the beach at Las Penitas.

The morning we left we tried to help out some fellow travelers but couldn't get their car to start.
We drove past Managua and up to the rim of a volcano whose crater has filled with a lake -- Laguna Apoyo -- our favorite place so far.

We are now in Granada and are headed to Ometepe on the ferry tomorrow.  


Saturday, October 31, 2009


I'll try to get back later with a real post and some pictures, but in case not:


On to Honduras tomorrow...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Two posts in two days!!!

Today we had a lovely day! First a wonderful breakfast at the hotel then hours of play on the grassy lawns. Lunch and a little shopping. And THEN we met up with our friend Elena and went to her village, to her house. We met her family and tried on (and bought) some traditional outfits. Her mother, Juana, mom to TWELVE, is the same age as me. The oldest son is 21 and the youngest girl is 3. I cannot even imagine. Juana is beautiful, warm, and welcoming -- as are all her daughter. She told us that she only wants to have 2-3 children and that her husband is content with that. I think she knows how much her parents struggle to care for the twelve.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

So, then I turned around...

The blog is so far behind.  I'm sorry!

I had thought that once we got to southern Mexico (Chiapas) and surely once into Guatemala our pace would slow down, there would be more time for internet activities, reading, journaling.  We would be "stiller".  That has not been the reality.  In Chiapas we were able to relax more but we really didn't sit still.  And then Guatemala, as she is wont to do, has thrown down some obstacles -- she always prefers to reveal herself slowly, to make you love her before you know why.  Our first night was in the rather grubby town of Huehuetenango.  We had considered two nights there, with maybe a day drive to surrounding villages on day two.  Instead, we just hit the Zaculeu ruins 

and broke for Quetzaltenango (Xela).  We spent a comfortable but unexciting night in an upscale hotel there, and dined at Royal Paris, a French restaurant I visited 7 years ago.  The "plan" was to then spend two nights in nearby Zunil at the hot springs of Fuentes Georginas.  The drive out (and up) was spectacular -- through what is called the "garden" of the province -- with good reason.  The water flows and the food grows.  In neat plots of alternating crops and flowers.  Truly gorgeous.  The hot springs and pools and restaurant area were all lovely.  The cabin was more than rustic.  It was not a comfortable place for two nights with small children.  So, again, we moved on a day early.  Our plans were taking us to Lago de Atilan for four days, but not to the "main" town of Panajachel.  Rather to the less developed town of San Pedro La Laguna.  Because the "added" day was a Friday I feared that San Pedro, with far less lodging options, might not have availability so we headed to Pana.  We found a comfortable hotel and a couple good restaurants and did some shopping for artisan goods.  Saturday afternoon, after a visit to a nature preserve, we headed to San Pedro, opting NOT for the drive back up to the Panamerican and around but rather for the semi-paved track circling the north shore closer to the lake.  Thirty miles.  Two and half hours.  The map showed ONE road.  But NO, there were roads and roads and roads. We reasoned, "stay on the widest, most paved road."  No.  "Follow the trucks."  No.  We asked again and again.  We turned around.  And we turned around.  And then we turned around.  People laughed.  People smiled.  People helped.  And we turned around again.  Finally, San Pedro.  Checked into our mostly okay hotel room.  Out for a nice dinner.  Dark and raining outside, so into the hotel room pretty early.  We settled in and the bar across the street started up.  Music with a strong bass.  The girls slept and my earplugs blocked the annoyance for me.  But not for Gregg.  Ah, 1 am, bar closed.  And then our 6 drunk hotel mates stumbled home.  They sat out on the balcony two stories up.  First they blasted some comedy routine.  Then they just sat around drinking and yelling and....  At 20 to 3 Gregg went up to ask them to be quiet.  He was super polite (I know, I heard him).  They were rude and mocking.  Finally, around 4, they went to bed.  Four nights in San Pedro cut short.  We left this morning.  Back to Pana (the town that nobody ever wants to admit to liking -- but it IS likeable!).  We are in a quiet and comfortable hotel (with WiFi) for the next three nights.  We have made some friends in town -- Russ, a displaced Bostonian/world traveler, Elena, a beautiful, young Maya mother/wife (we have also met her husband and 9-month old baby girl and tomorrow go to their home), and, most notably, Marilla (9) and her Abuela (who only speaks Tz'utujil).  Marilla is enamored with Alex and Gregorie and plays with them every minute we spend with the pair.  Abuela and I speak, somehow understanding one another without sharing words.  I feel the power of the old woman's soul.  I am confident that meeting her, knowing her, sharing with her, nos ayudan on our safe travels. 

I promise pictures soon!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

No gracias

For months I have been trying to get the girls to learn a little Spanish.  Alex has been especially resistant -- "I don't speak Spanish.  I don't want to speak Spanish!"  Over the last couple weeks, I have watched her "resolve" soften.  Today we walked and walked around San Cristobal.  After lunch we started to climb to a church perched above the edge of the city.  We stopped to rest and check the map, sitting on a low wall.  A young Mayan girl, one of the omni-present street vendors, approached us with beaded necklaces and other handicrafts.  Before I could say anything, I saw/heard Alex wave her hand and say, "No, gracias!"  

Later today she asked the waiter for "la cuenta" and told him she needed "cambio". 

She is learning.  

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mejor tarde que nunca

Along the carretera there are frequently signs that say this: MEJOR TARDE QUE NUNCA.  In the U.S. the English translation, "better late than never," is mostly used sarcastically to mean, "Where the hell have you been???"  The meaning of these signs is however more literal -- drive more slowly and carefully or you may never arrive.   And slowly it has gone.  

We are now over 2000 miles into Mexico.  And it has taken us over two weeks to get here.  We have not driven every day but more than every other.  And the days have been LONG.  And we have almost always been late.  When I planned the itinerary, despite having driven the length of Mexico twice, I did not envision that 200-300 mile days could take up to 10 hours.  Topes, rain, the Bermuda Triangle/black hole phenomenon that happens to the carretera upon entering towns, topes, rain, topes, topes.  Did I mention topes?  And rain?  There was also the gust of wind that felled a tall, branchless pine tree one car length in front of us just as we found the disappearing carretera outside of Manzanillo.  But most of Mexico is behind us now.  There are some places where I would have liked to linger a little longer, or to someday revisit.  But traveling is better that way.  Though you may never get back there, better to leave wanting more. 

I didn't tell Gregg anything about Chiapas before we got here but it was not long after crossing the state line from Oaxaca that he said, "I think this is the most beautiful place we have seen so far."  Yes, that is what thought too.  I loved Chiapas on my last visit and so far it does not disappoint this time either.  We are in Chiapa de Corzo, for our second night at the comfortable, spa-like, Hotel Ceiba.  The town has fantastic artisan shopping, great food, and the Rio Grijalva.  Today we took a short boat ride to a small, family-owned, island.  We ate lunch and then buzzed around in the river.  Tomorrow we will take the launcha down river to view the majestic Canon Sumidero.  

Earlier in our journey, I asked Alex what she liked best so far.  Perhaps it was a day after a long drive or while we were staying in one of the less luxurious accomodations, but her reply was, "San Diego."  I chalked it up to the large pool, the 9-year old swim-mate, and the free flowing lemonade at the Loews Coronado, rather than general culture shock.  Tonight at dinner, thinking she may sense our more relaxed vibe, I asked her again.  She replied, "Still San Diego.  But I am waiting for PANAMA!  I think Panama is going to be really great!"   After two weeks of hearing, "Are we in Guatemala yet?" I found this interesting.  In two days, Alex, we will be in Guatemala yet.  And I think you're going to like it.

There are so many photos -- I need to figure a good way to share them.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Greggie can SWIM!

We are here at the wonderful, happy, friendly, eco-friendly Cococabanas resort in Isla de Navidad. There is a lovely, small pool and Greggie, who has been working up her nerve, chose today to swim!  She jumps in and swims, pops up for a breath, swims, pops up, swims, pops up!  All the way across the pool!  YEAH!!!!

I have pictures, and more to say, but no time right now.

We are happy and well.  

Love to all.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Under an almost-full moon

This afternoon we arrived in Santa Rosalia, a small copper mining town on the Sea of Cortez.  We are staying in the beautiful Las Casitas.  Our room has a fabulous terrace overlooking the sea.  Gregg and the girls are cozy in bed, with ocean breezes cooling their skin.

Today's drive was a pretty quick 5 hours.  We left Bahia de Los Angeles at just before 8 and were here in time for a tasty lunch (Terco's Pollito -- recommend).  The town was hit hard by the hurricane 5 weeks ago and is still cleaning up but is running smoothly -- a pleasant place for an overnight for sure. 

It was interesting to pass from from the very barren desertscapes through the region where the town of San Ignacio and its damn create an oasis.  The recent rains that have fallen in B.C.S. had already turned the landscape a shade of green we hadn't seen since San Diego but the huge palm filled oasis of San Ignacio was a sight!  Rivaled on our drive today only by the Volcan de Tres Virgenes, which looms over the Sea north of Santa Rosalia (at about 6000').

We had a nice time in Bahia de Los Angeles -- Alex snorkled, and loved it!  Greggie collected shells and tried a little swimming.  We ate good food and made a new friend in Roger, proprietor of Villa Bahia, where we stayed.  

In getting to B. d L.A., on our second day of traveling, we broke, slightly, our first rule -- to only drive during the day!  The drive took longer than expected and we finished the last 40 miles to the coast from the Transpennisular as the sun set and turned the desert pink.  A pretty full moon rose and shined on the sea to light our way!  That same, slightly fuller, moon is overhead now, bathing my cliffside view in lovely white light!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Saying Goodbye, Part 6

We are OFF!

Traveler says, "goodbye!"

Driving down Trophy:

And then down the Boulevard:
Along the PCH:
A little over two hours later, we arrived in Coronado!

Once more, on our our adventure, brave and new!