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Calou's Blog
Cruising with the crew of CALOU on the Baja Ha-ha and Pacific Puddle Jump
02/23/2010, Diamond Peak, Lake Tahoe, CA

We had a nice last day skiing today at Diamond Peak. I skied Solitude
Canyon. Now I know why it's called an "Expert Area". It was very difficult
at times.

All of the route is forest and deep powder, with no evident trails to
follow. I fell three or four times, mostly as my skis got crossed trying to
turn in the deep powder. There is absolutely no one around, hence the name. I wouldn't advise skiing here without a cell phone.

The abundance of trees and rocks requires frequent turns. It's quite

At one point, I tried to turn, got my skis crossed, and landed face first in
the powder, and somersaulted. I was just glad no one was around to see me!

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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skiing at Lake Tahoe
02/22/2010, Truckee, CA

While the engine of our boat is being rebuilt, we've taken a month long trip to Lake Tahoe for some skiing. There's nothing like contrasts! During our stay at Truckee, CA, we've seen quite a bit of snowfall, including a lot of fresh powder

This photo is of Antoine, skiing in fresh powder at Tahoe Donner.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Pascale's journal - Oaxaca to Acapulco & back to Ixtapa

Jan 25

Today, we visited San Bartolo Coyotepec. This town has pre-Hispanic roots. It is principally known for the handmade black pottery which owes its color to the unusual technique used to heat and polish the pieces. The most common figures are rounded pitchers, pots, animals and lamps though you can find just about anything you can imagine. We bought 2 vases beautifully carved.

Then, we drove to Zaachila. We walked around the Central Mercado, where we found beautifully presented vegetables and fruits. The vendors were mostly women, who looked Indians probably descending from the Zapotecs. They were really gracious.

We had lunch at "La Capilla" in Zaachila on our way to Monte Alban. It's known to be the biggest restaurant in Oaxaca State (worth the visit ). On the menu, they had brain tacos and grasshoppers with guacamole... We opted for tacos de Pollo (chicken tacos ). I'm French, but I won't eat the grasshoppers ( Chapulines ).

We finished with Monte Alban. Only 15% of the site has been uncovered, and 50% of the uncovered part has been rebuilt. We bought a little statue of the Rain God of the Zapotecs ( Cocijo ).

Monte Alban situated on a mountain ( 400m-1315ft ) above the Oaxaca Valley. It was once the holy city of more than 30,000 Zapotecs.

People have lived in the Oaxaca Valley since about 2000 BC. Between 800-500 BC, there was an influx of new people, now called the Zapotecs. Around 500 BC, these people began the stupendous exercise of leveling the top of a mountain, where they would build Monte Alban.

They were influenced by the Olmec and Mayan. At its zenith in 300 AD, Monte Alban borrowed architectural ideas from Teotihuacan and dominated the cultural, religious, and economic life of the region.

Monte Alban declined in later years and by 800 AD was largely abandoned. Around the 13th century, it was adopted by the Mixtecs who added little architecturally, but left magnificent gold laden tombs for their royalty. The most famous of these is Tomb 7, because of its fabulous treasure. Unfortunately, we can no longer go in the tombs, because of vandalism. Open daily 8am - 5pm

We rested a bit at our hotel, ordered dinner for the boys in their room and went to " Los Chavales " an Argentinian restaurant Bar and Grill. We both had the Filete Lomo ( Filet Mignon ), accompanied with Spinach in creamy sauce. It was coming with 6 different sauces for the filet. It was delicious ! We also shared the salad " Capresse "- tomatoes, olive oil, mozzarella and basil ( albaca in spanish ). This restaurant is located on Netzahualcoyoth 300, open daily.

Jan 26

We left the " Mision de Los Angeles " Hotel in Oaxaca en route to Acapulco.

We stopped for lunch at Santa Maria Asuncion Tlaxiaco on the down the coast ( around 2pm ). We ordered an omelette with queso fondido ( for 1 person ), but it a was huge serving for 2. They brought a Flan for dessert. We were stuffed !

After Bruce drove for more than 7 hours on a mountain road with a lot
of topes ( speed bumps ), pot holes and a few trucks to pass, we
stopped for the night at the Hotel Costa Chica in Santa Maria Zapotepec ($300 pesos/night ) very clean with AC, King size bed. We had tacos for dinner and a Cerveza for $10 USD total ). Then we crashed in our bed.

We left Santa Maria Zapotepec around 11am. Bruce drove the all way. We stopped for lunch just before Santo Marcos. We arrived in Acapulco around 6pm. Just before entering the tunnel, we stopped at "Hotel and Travel " stand for information about hotel. They took us to " Las Torres Gemelas " at $600 pesos for suite with living room, kitchenette and 2 bedrooms upstairs ( 2 double and a king size ). The all building was dilapidated 60's era. The hot water pressure was less than a dribble (we're on the 30th, top floor). We swam at the pool before dinner. The restaurant of the hotel is buffet only and very expensive for what it is. However, the boys were happy to eat at a table there ( no room service ). Bruce and I had dinner at " La Mansion " which was an excellent and elegant restaurant a few blocks away. I had the tenderloin with sherry sauce with creamy spinach. They cut the piece of meat at our table and cook it at our table. As they brought out the raw steak and started slicing it, I was afraid for a little while that they would serve it to me raw. So, I asked : ' Este es cocino ? ',
they laughed and reassured me by bringing the cooktop by our our table. Meanwhile, I grabbed what I thought was a French pickle.... silly me it was a Jalapeno Pepper..... I gagged and coughed for a while regretting
not to have had my glasses on ! We had a good a laugh !

Jan 28

We woke up to the view of Acapulco Bay. The hotel didn't look any better by daylight...! We left the hotel at around 11am after breakfast. We're meeting the mechanic who is working on our engine here in Acapulco at Club de Yates. The Caleta neighborhood is much better than the Malecon and Centro. It's more tranquil with not too many highrises. The Club de Yates is part of the Caleta.

On the road to Zihuat-Ixtapa, we stopped for lunch at Alvarez, 168 km
to go. After lunch, I drove for about 2hrs. When we stopped for gas,
Bruce took over. We followed the coast viewing some beautiful beaches.

We got to Zihuatanejo at around 7pm. We stopped at Centro Commercial Mexicana to get food for dinner. We arrived at our final destination, our dear 'Calou", at 7:30ish. Everything on board was OK. I cooked Arrachera ( Beef ) with green onions, orange, Bell pepper, cumin, chipotle sauce, chinese spice, tarragon and salt.

We toasted to our wonderful trip and the boys thanked their Papa for the great time they had. The highlight for them was all the pyramids we visited and we saw many of them ! Beautiful people, ornate churches and a mixture of different cultures made our land voyage a memorable and educational one. Thank you dearly to our captain forever !

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Pascale's journal - Puebla to Oaxaca

Jan 21

I drove the next day to Tehuacan ( Bruce came down with a throat
infection and Francois too, but milder ). We stayed at Hotel Kaisers
Lautern at $800 pesos a room. Bruce and Francois saw a doctor who came to the room.

Jan 22

It's noon and we're waiting for our laundry to be ready. As they don't
have a dryer at the hotel, we left with wet socks !

We drove to Oaxaca, capital city of Oaxaca state, which is divided in 8
regions with 16 different ethnic groups. We stayed at Mision de Los

Jan 23

A guide came to our hotel and ride with us to see the biggest Tule
tree in Mexico at Santa Maria del Tule, a rug making place and Mitla's
Temple. The Tule tree was 2000 yrs old. It's a type of Cyprus tree. Near the city of Mexico where there are Tule trees people believe that if they bathed in the river where the roots are it will cure them from their diseases.

On the way there, we saw a statue and mural about Benito Juarez who
was president of Mexico from 1855-1872. Mexico is celebrating a
bicentinario because in 1810 Mexico became independent from Spain.

The rug making place was at Guelaguetza, which means HELP in Zapotec.
The children in the school learn Spanish and Zapotec.

At the Tapetes ( rugs ) making place ( Father and Son ), we saw the
process of dying the yarn. First, they use Amole ( root ) to wash the
sheep's wool in the river. When it's dry the card it. Then, they spin
it the old fashion way like Sleeping Beauty to make the thread. It takes 8 hrs to make 1 kilo of yarn.

The colors are made with natural ingredients :

Green : Pomegranate + limestone crushed ( at home baking soda
instead of limestone )
Ocre : Tumeric root ( Kurkuma )
Green gold : Pericon
Beige : Chamomille
Indigo : Amil fermented 2 months and works with oxidation
Orange : Paprika, Henna, achiote, cochinilla, pipil Huizache or
Dark red : Cochinilla ( a worm that lives in Cactus )
Dark Orange : Cochinilla and lime juice

They can get 350 different colors. They have different size looms. The
wider the rug the more pedals the loom has. They make the design first
on paper, then they paint the pattern on a paper template and they thread sometimes with the template under the thread ( made of cotton and wool ) in the loom. We bought a small rug for the boat with a Zapotec design.

We visited Mitla (950-1521 AD ). There was a beautiful stone design
Temple Zapotec dating from 1100 AD. They took many stones from that
Temple to build the church nearby. After that, we visited a small
Mezcal making place. Mezcal is a liquor made from agave cactus similar to tequila. It is about 80 proof. Francois had his first taste of Mezcal without knowing it. He filled his tasting glass under the spigot thinking it was going
to be sweet like the cooked fruit of the agave, but no was he
surprised !!

We bought Mezcal with the worm ( Gusano de Maguey ) in it.

We had dinner at the Asador Vasco on the Zocalo. Every Mexican town or
city has a Zocalo ( main square ). Oaxaca's Zocala : Plaza de Armas ).

Jan 24

I came down with a bug in my stomach, so we cancelled Monte Alban for
today. Instead, we took it easy. After I saw a doctor, we started with
the Basilica de Soledad ( Virgin of Solitude ) Oaxaca's patron saint.
The Virgin statue inside is decorated with 600 diamonds and topped with
a 4lb gold crown. Her vestments are encrusted with pearls. The
concave facade, projecting forward from the building is unique in Mexico religious architecture ( open 7am-2pm and 4-6pm ).

Then, we had lunch on the Zocalo (town square). After lunch,we went to the Cathedral on the Zocalo. The Cathedral was originally erected in 1553, had to be extensively rebuilt in 1730 after a series of earthquakes and fires, which explains its solid walls and asymetrical towers. It has a Baroque facade and a bronze altar which was crafted in Italy. ( open daily 7am- 9pm ). The boys wanted to buy Quetes (rocket fireworks), so we drove through Mercados for a while without any luck.

We finished our church tour with the most magnificent church of Oaxaca and possibly of all of Mexico : Santo Domingo. The majestic Mexican Baroque temple began being built in 1575 and was completed later the same century, being consecrated in 1611. The facade of the temple was started at the beginning of the 17th century in the Renaissance style right at the forefront of the Baroque era. In the uppermost part is the shield of the Dominican Order and the symbols for faith, hope, and charity. The towers were finished in 1660 and are 35m high.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Pascale's journal - Ixtapa to Puebla

Our Land Trip in Central and Southern Mexico

Jan 10, 2010

We left Ixtapa at around 1pm going to Patzcuaro. We got there at dusk.
We stayed at " Hotel Ricon de Josefa ", which was nice, but chilly at
night. Still, we had hot water to shower. The next day,
we moved to another hotel on the main square " Hotel de Los Escudos ".
We stayed in the Suite with KIng size bed on the lower level and 2
matrimonials on the upper loft. It had a cheminee and exquisitely
furnished ( $1000 pesos/night ). The town of Patzcuaro is beautiful
and charming. We visited the Island de Janitzio with the statue of
Lazaro de Cardenas dominating the Island ( Cardenas was
governor of Michoacan from 1928-1932 and President of Mexico from
1934-1940 ). We walked to the top on steep stepped streets adorned by
vendors and restaurants.

Jan 12

The next day, we drove to Morelia, gorgeous town with Colonial
architecture. We stayed in the ' Centro Historico ' at the Hotel
Catedral, an OK hotel modern rooms, but in a nice colonial building.
We took the tour bus of the city. We saw the aqueduct and other colonial buildings and finished by the ' Museum de Dulce ', where we tasted fruit paste.

Jan 13

We drove to Toluca, a very ugly town. We checked a hotel downtownand
it was scary and dirty. We then asked a taxi to take us to a more
decent hotel. After, we located a hotel, the taxi took us back to get
our car and we followed him back to the Hotel Del Rey Inn. Except for the
decor of the restaurant, it was a nice hotel outside of dowtown for
business people.

Jan 14

We were happy the next day to get out of Toluca and drive to
Cuernavaca. We had to go over a moutain on a very curvy road. We
arrived at Cuernavaca at around 5pm. We stayed 3 nights at "Casa
Colonial ", which is in an old colonial private mansion. The first evening, we had dinner at " Gaia " by the Palacio de Cortez. It was expensive, but
delicious and elegant. The day after, we visited the Mayan pyramids of

We found a guide , who was an archeologist on the site It was
magnificent ! For dinner we stayed at Casa Colonial our hotel with
excellent food and service. The next day, we hired a guide at the
Palacio de Cortez ( old residence of Cortez and Fort built by Cortez ). Alfredo, our guide, recommended having lunch at " Indian Bonita ", very good mole. We took the double decker tour bus. Except for the folkloric dance mocking the Moors (spanish with long robe, beard, mask and tall hat ), it was not really worth it.

Again, we dinned at Casa Colonial. I had the beef with a cherry sauce
sublime ! From Alfredo's recommendation, we went to Tepoztlan a few
miles away from Cuernavaca, where there is a pyramid. The streets were
so packed with people that it was hard to get by with our car. We
asked a local what was going on and he said every Sunday it was like
this. The Mercado was going on and visitor walking to the top of the
mountain where the Pyramid is. Some believe if they make a wish at the pyramid, their wish will be granted. We were all so exhausted after climbing the 900m elevation that cheked in at a Posada with a splendid view of
the cliff with the pyramid. Next day, we had lunch at " Los Colorines " on
main street.

Jan 17

We drove for about 2 hrs from Cuernavaca to Puebla with splendid views
of the volcan Popocatepetl 5465m. We stayed near Centro Historico main
square at Hotel Real Santander ( very nice, near resto, shops,

Cathedral ). We had dinner 3 nights in a row at " Mural Poblano " very
close to the hotel walking. It was excellent food and reasonably priced.

We went on the Turibus the next day sightseeing the city. ( very good
tour ). Next day, we drove to Cholula to visit the largest pyramid
ever built in the world. It's not been excavated because of the
Catholic church that has been built on the top in the 1600's. Three pyramids were built one on top of the other. Archeologists have dug tunnels to be able to study the pyramids under the church. There is a replica worth seeing in the little museum that really show the structures well.

We had a guide, who also took us to Tonantzila, where there is a
Mexican Baroque church that was just beautiful. The same afternoon, we
saw Santo Domingo in Puebla, which is European Baroque. The 2 churches
are very amazing to see and worth the visit. Puebla was called before
Ciudade de Los Angeles

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Monte Alban video
01/25/2010, Oaxaca, Oaxaca State, Mexico

This is a short video of our visit to Monte Alban

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Monte Alban
01/24/2010, Oaxaca, Oaxaca State, Mexico

Francois and Antoine admire the ancient city of Monte Alban, near Oaxaca. Monte Alban was built in the 5th century B.C. by the Zapotec indians, flourished for about a thousand years, and was finally abandoned in the 7th century AD, probably because of lack of water.

The early Zapotecs had no writing system at the time but left beautiful stone carvings.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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If it ain't baroque, don't fix it
01/24/2010, Oaxaca, Oaxaca State, Mexico

The incredibly beautiful interior of the 16th century baroque church, Santo Domingo, in Oaxaca City. Construction began in 1572, not long after the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mexico.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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