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...]

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!


Robert Frost (1874–1963).  Mountain Interval.  1920.
1. The Road Not Taken
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;        5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,        10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.        15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.        20

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Saying Goodbye, Part 5

I started to do this post over an hour ago but got distracted by more than a dozen Facebook messages wishing us well.  I am beyond touched by the love and support!  Thank you lovely people!

So, here we are, T minus 10.5!  (Surely 10 flat by the time I finish!)  The mad rush of stuff is over.  There are still about a dozen things to do in the morning but they are not time consuming (save the final load of laundry!).  

It's a big goodbye.  Gregg talked to his aunt.  I talked to his mom.  I called my bro and SIL and talked to Danny and Sara (nephew and niece).  We'll call my folks tomorrow from Coronado, the last stop in the US.  

Goodbye figs!  (last year the little tree (3-ft tall) made ONE fig; this year, loaded!  I am happy to have picked half a dozen before we leave --hope that John and Diane like figs!)
Goodbye butternut squash that took me two years to grow!  Wonder if there are more of you out on the vine???

Goodbye kitchen, so long in the making, still not done, all labeled up!

Goodbye frig!  Hope somebody fills you soon!

Goodbye plants, all brought inside!  Sorry, it will be cold soon enough!

Goodbye closets.  I would love to keep you so free and empty!

Goodbye house.  I love you!

Goodbye sweet sweet kitty!  My little Traveler boy!  Be happy and safe!

Goodbye Barbies.  Yeah, not likely.  You KNOW she is planning on bringing those!

Can't load the music

But then, I'm all about the words anyway.  Sweet Thing:

And I will stroll the merry way
And jump the hedges first
And I will drink the clear
Clean water for to quench my thirst
And I shall watch the ferry-boats
And theyll get high
On a bluer ocean
Against tomorrows sky
And I will never grow so old again
And I will walk and talk
In gardens all wet with rain

Oh sweet thing, sweet thing
My, my, my, my, my sweet thing
And I shall drive my chariot
Down your streets and cry
hey, its me, Im dynamite
And I dont know why
And you shall take me strongly
In your arms again
And I will not remember
That I even felt the pain.
We shall walk and talk
In gardens all misty and wet with rain
And I will never, never, never
Grow so old again.

Oh sweet thing, sweet thing
My, my, my, my, my sweet thing
And I will raise my hand up
Into the night time sky
And count the stars
Thats shining in your eye
Just to dig it all an not to wonder
Thats just fine
And Ill be satisfied
Not to read in between the lines
And I will walk and talk
In gardens all wet with rain
And I will never, ever, ever, ever
Grow so old again.
Oh sweet thing, sweet thing
Sugar-baby with your champagne eyes
And your saint-like smile....

Monday, September 28, 2009

Saying Goodbye, Part 4

Less than 36 hours until our "scheduled departure time"!  Woo hoo!  I would be really excited if there weren't still 1000 things to do!  Today, in an attempt to knock off a bunch of those details, I made a sweeping loop around northwestern LA County.  I left home and headed up Topanga Canyon Boulevard, to Woodland Hills (to hit the bank).  From there I drove the 101N, to Calabasas (for a bikini wax! TMI -- LOL).  Then I headed back down Malibu Canyon Road, to Malibu (pharmacy and another bank).

The weather here has cooled -- wind is off the sea.  A light mist hovers on the mountains.  There were even clouds in the sky.  And the beach was hazy.  As I drove down Malibu Canyon, the to-do list buzzing in my head, I had to silence that buzz.  The mist put the hillsides into soft focus and I had to just breathe and marvel at the beauty of the Santa Monica Mountains.  In these moments, I KNOW why we live here!  I'm still ready to go!   But here, ain't so bad!

And then dear friends stopped by tonight to bid us goodbye one last time! Thank you Nikki, Danny, Ian, and Zara!  We will miss you!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saying Goodbye, Part 3

Tonight we had dinner with our dear sweet Topanga friends! Love you all! Journey with us; we will see you soon!  I am trying to add music to the blog but it is not working.  Hear:   Van Morrison singing "Sweet Thing" right now...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saying Goodbye, Part 2

On Thursday Gregg's mom (Gam) and niece (Julia) came down to visit with us a little before we left.  They went back to the Bay Area this morning.  We hugged them and told them "goodbye".  And they took Stella with them.  Stella is going to stay with Julia and her mom while we travel.  Goodbye sweet sweet puppy dog!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Saga of the Cargo Barrier

We bought Elsie, an '89 Land Cruiser FJ62, in April.  Gregg promptly made arrangements with a local Land Cruiser specialty shop for her restoration.  Her engine and transmission were perfect but nearly everything else has been replaced.  And one key item was ordered.  In April.  The cargo barrier.  The cargo barrier is the mesh/net attachment that in station wagons and SUVs keeps the suitcases and groceries and whatnot from flying forward and hitting the passengers in the head.  Kind of essential.  Well, April, May, June, July all passed without the arrival of the cargo barrier.  In August Gregg started riding the restoration company to make sure it would be here in time for our departure.  And it arrived, last week.  HOOORAY!  No, not hooray.  Gregg took Elsie in to have it installed and... it doesn't fit.  It's 2" too big.  The restoration company called the manufacturer to make sure the proper model had been shipped.  Yup, they all have the same dimensions.  But they don't fit.  So, what do we do now?  I don't know.  Somehow the thing has to be cut and welded and retrofit to, well, fit.  Cross fingers...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

One week to go -- Books!

And the Santa Anas have come early this year!

I have been asking all my friends for "ten songs" to take -- we want to have a diversified library of music on our iPod.  Meanwhile, I've been stashing books into the media box.  And Gregg has been taking them out.  I'm taking TEN (don't tell him!), some to trade at book exchanges, some that have to stay with me:

The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry (sure this is a trade)
101 Great American Poems (tradeable for the right thing!)
Leaves of Grass, Whitman (no trade, well, maybe for something great)
100  Best-love Poems (tradeable)
Across the River and Into the Trees, Hemingway (will trade once read)
Voices of the Earth, Danaan (will trade once read)
The Country Under My Skin, Belli (will trade once read)
Lovers and Comrades (probably not trading this)
The Death of Ben Linder, Kruckewitt (will trade once read)
And, what is for me, like a bible, e.e. cummings, complete poems 1904-1962.  (never trade!)

Don't tell Gregg but I have also stowed The Kite Runner in the beach bag...

And shhhh Sand in my Bra is somewhere...

Well, Gregg has packed books too.  Three large WWII non fiction tomes (don't compare to my hard back cummings unfortunately for the weight debate).

For the girls I have packed:

Oh, shoot, I just found Frost's The Road Not Taken.  ahem, not the girls'...

The Random House Book of Poetry for Children
The House at Pooh Corner, Milne
The Blue Fairy Book
Heidi, Spyri
Fairy Tales, cummings
and I gotta find the milpa book...

The girls will also have coloring books and DVD's (mostly for the long driving days).  We also have yoga cards!  A set for me and a set to do with the girls.  And the girls have Spanish language flashcards!  

Oh, and for all of us, guidebooks and maps!  The media box is pretty heavy!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Packing -- 9 Days Out

Today I spent hours mixing up all natural bug sprays and hand sanitizers.  I also mixed up some homemade all natural deodorant for myself -- to give it a try over the next week before I have to commit to not packing bottles of my beloved Weleda!  The house still smells like an experiment in aromatherapy!  Gregg washed our "jungle outfits" (basically linen/gauze long sleeve pants and shirts) in permethrin.  Let's just say, that stuff seems as toxic as DEET!  I think we'll launder the jungle outfits one time before wearing to reduce the concentration -- at this point I'm not sure what I fear more, mosquitoes/malaria or synthetic chrysanthemums. 

I also packed the girls clothes.  That was a task I dreaded.  We had planned on packing each of them into a regular "school size" LL Bean backpack.  How would I ever get everything they would need for 6 months into such a small bag?  Well, I laid it all out the bed -- the have-to-go's and the I'd-like-to-gos.   And I piled it up into two piles, one for each girl.  And I stuffed it in.  And it all fit!!!!  Yes, other than a rain jacket, fleece, and pair of hiking shoes for each (which are going into a mountain bag with the same for me), all that I wanted to take for them fit in the little bags!  YEAH!  I did realize that I left their two new suities (aka bathing suits), each, at the cabin.  HOW??? I went over that place a dozen times.  We'll live.  They have plenty of others.  

Gregg and I are still waging battles over the box of books (I need books, he wants to reduce weight on Elsie's shocks).  Stay tuned (or not, I'll win).  

I don't think this is a bad pile of luggage for a family of four on a six-month adventure! (Of course, it's just the clothes...)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Endless Summer

We live in Southern California -- legendary land of the Endless Summer.  But the legend is not really accurate -- we DO have seasons.  Maybe not the way Minnesotans do, but our own kind of seasons.  Right now, in mid September, the days are a little cooler than a month ago, and the nights are MUCH cooler.  This cooling down will continue for another month/month and a half.  And then the weirdest SoCal weather phenomenon will happen -- the Santa Anas will blow.  Very hot and very dry, they will blow up to over 100 MPH.  Humidity will be in the single digits.  As these arid winds blow across land parched from 6 months without rain  they will sweep dust and fire into the LA Basin from the inland high desert.  Then the wind will stop, and the fog will come, and the land will cool, and then:  RAIN!  Rain may come.  Southern California's winter is really it's rainy season -- the temperatures are cooler (and here in the depths of the canyon where we live, overnights are usually below freezing -- pretty cold for LA!) -- but the biggest change is the glorious possibility of rain.  The rainy season runs from mid November to mid May.  And, unlike rainy seasons in Southeast Asia or Central America, it does not mean that it will rain every day or every other day or even once a week.  It just means it could rain.  The year Alex was born it actually rained for 2 solid weeks.  But usually it will rain for a day or two, and then not for a few weeks.  

Spring comes to Southern California in February.  The deciduous trees leaf out and the flowers bloom.  The rain makes the world green again -- as a NJ native I am ever amazed by how summer here is brown and winter is green -- backwards of the East Coast!  By the time the rain stops for the final time in this earth-sun cycle in mid May, summer is on its way.  The days get warmer and warmer.  And the nights too.   And then, another SoCal phenomenon happens -- June Gloom.  A thick marine layer blows in and brings morning fog and all day haze.  The temperatures drop a little.  We wear sweaters!  Then the winds change again and July and August sizzle!  Crystal clear blue skies every day.  Temperatures reach into the 90's across the land and well into the 100's in the Valley.  The beaches stay a little cooler but often see 90's too.  The sun sets into the Big Blue as a sparkling yellow ball -- no pink and purple steaks because there are no clouds.  

And then by mid-September things start to cool off again, slowly, and the cycle begins again.

So here we are, poised on that change of season, about to head south for a truly Endless Summer.  As we get into Central America, we will be entering the dry season there.  The Panamanians consider December and January to be "summer" despite being in the Northern Hemisphere.  That is because for them too, the seasons are more about rain, and no rain, than temperature or the angle of the sun.  Previously I spent several July/August weeks in Panama -- oh, the rain!  I have never seen so much rain!  But not this time!  I hope though that we will feel, see, and smell rain sometime in the next 6 months -- we will be in lot of rainforests!

Here are some images from a late summer day here at our hometown beach:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lost words

In 2002-3 I spent about 11 months traveling from my home in San Francisco to my parents home in NJ to Panama by car and then back to San Francisco, back to NJ, and finally home to San Francisco.  I kept a journal.  A journal that has memories, poems, drawings, quotes, thoughts, dreams, worlds...  And I have lost it.  As our departure date draws near, I long to read the words I wrote "the last time".  I want to reread the poems that were inspiring me, re-create the mindset I had as I embarked on the "ultimate freedom", just remember.  But the words are lost.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Coming home to go away

Tonight we are back in Topanga.  For a variety of reasons, a trip to the cabin in Blairsden was necessary before we could head out on what is now called by the girls "The Big Trip".   The Big Trip is just two weeks, 14 days, away.  And we are back "home" to make the final preparations.  I jotted down a to-do list tonight -- it has 29 items on it.   And I know it's not comprehensive!  

Gregg is sleeping soundly after the 9-hour drive.  The girls too have passed out here on the couch.  The dog is asleep on her bed and the cat is snuggled between the girls.  Just Mama stays up to think about what needs to be done!  First order of business is to read/translate the insanely long confirm from Baja Ferries.  The ferry ride from La Paz to Mazatlan is an essential part of the first stage of our journey.  We will spend 3 days driving, 6 days total, getting through Baja.  Then we take a ferry to the mainland, where we have 13 of the next 14 nights prepaid in hotels and lodges.  If our ferry connection doesn't work out, the first month of our adventure will be in shambles!  Part of me, the adventurer, vagabond, that I've always been, says, "It'll be FINE!"  The mama/responsible wife, worries.  I glanced briefly at that long confirm and saw warnings about weather delays and vehicle permits to be obtained at customs at the border, things I expected, among a long list of other disclaimers whose legalese I can't understand (in Spanish) on cursory reading.  I KNOW deep inside it's all fine.  But I'll read and be sure!  

For anyone who is reading our blog because he/she had come across it while planning a journey, I'll tell ya -- info on the Baja Ferry in guidebooks and on the internet is often INACCURATE!  Many recently published books have the schedules all wrong.  Same with websites.  My best advice, go to the Baja Ferry website (which wasn't easy to find at first for some reason but now it loads right up  -- http://www.bajaferries.com/) and know what you want.  Then email ventas.lapaz@bajaferries.com.mx and explain what you want. Then call. I did the call in Spanish but at the end the woman spoke to me in perfect English. Or you can just do what I did the last time I took the ferry and just show up about 4 hours before departure. Worked out fine then too!

In other news, our faithful chariot now has a name; she is Elsie, or L.C. (short for Land Cruiser). Alex doesn't think she should have a name and Greggie voted for Truckee (as we passed through the Tahoe area this morning), but they got overruled.

Some images of home as our days here are numbered -- first a beautiful orb weaver and her web:

And my sleeping girls and their silly cat, whose name is Traveler, and who is anything but!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Saying Goodbye, Part 1

Over the past year, we have spent 1/4 of our lives up here at the cabin -- in Blairsden, CA, in the Northeastern Sierras.  It is not Home, but a place we call home sometimes.   I sit here on the deck now, gazing out over the pine- and fir- and cedar-covered mountains, under a Sierra sky (something you just have to see to understand -- a magical thing), saying "goodbye" to this place.  Seven months will pass before we are back here.  

I have been through the closets and drawers three times to be sure nothing we'll need or want in the coming months is left behind.  Gregg and I have cleaned the garage to park the truck up here for the winter.  Tomorrow before we leave we will winterize and shut down.  Hard to think of "winterizing" while the sun beats on my legs and the thermometer reads 89!

We spent Christmas here last year (and Alex's birthday, our anniversary, and New Year's Eve, oh and Thanksgiving too!). 

Thanksgiving this year will be spent in Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica.


Alex's birthday and Christmas will be spent in Bocas del Toro, Panama.


For our 3rd wedding anniversary we will be in Cahuita, Costa Rica.  And we'll welcome the New Year in a Costa Rican rainforest.  

For now, I watch the evening sun illuminate the wings of the myriad birds and insects that make a home in these gorgeous, forested mountains.  

And me here with no camera!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

17 Days Until Departure

As our departure becomes more imminent we are scrambling to tie up all the loose strings -- installing the bumper for the Land Cruiser, waiting for the cargo barrier to arrive, planning how to renew the registration in December, getting the Find Me Spot GPS tracker to work (and figuring out how to load the related map to this blog), confirming the all important Baja Ferry reservation, forwarding the mail and making plans for the payment of bills, closing up the cabin, making sure the health and car insurance are in place, packing up the house so our sitters have space for their stuff, and just plain old packing!

Our itinerary is pretty set -- we leave Sept 30 and spend a night in Coronado at the Loews.  Then over the border for a 400+-mile sprint to Bahia de Los Angeles, on the Sea of Cortez, where we will spend two nights.  Then a night in Santa Rosalia before we head to La Paz, where we will spend another two nights before the ferry ride to the mainland.   For the next two weeks we will continue down the Pacific coast of Mexico and into Chiapas.  And then onto Central America...

Come back often to see just how the Bubbles Go Bye!