Sep 28, 2009

Health Care in Mexico

A lot of friends - knowing I spend most of the winter in Mexico - ask about the cost, the quality and the availability of healthcare down there. The short answer is that it's cheap, it's good, and - depending on where you are - it's also readily available. If you're in a large metropolitan area, like La paz, there's no problem finding treatment right away. If you're in a rural, out-of-the-way village, it could be more difficult.

There are also some real healthcare bargains in Mexico if you're not opposed to socialized medicine, which is so prominant a part of the healthcare debate in the U.S. For a good description of one option, click on the following link:

Mexico also has an excellent private healthcare system and medical insurance that is available at a fraction of that in the U.S. What makes it so cheap? The availability and competition from the "public option" described in the linked story above.

So, if the costs are less, and the care so good (American health insurance companies now send patients to Mexico for medical care), you have to wonder why we having such a big argument about the public option in this country. Do you suppose it's the $1.2 million per day the health insurance industry is spending to oppose it? Naw, probably not. My guess is that they are just spending money to illuminate the issue. And they are probably sending patients to Mexico for the cheaper treatment made possible by the socialized medicine system in order to keep from overcrowding American hospitals....

Sep 22, 2009

2600 Miles in 133 Days

(PCT Overview from Forest Service Brochure)

After more than a month without hearing from them, I was starting to get a bit worried about Alfredo and Alicia's big adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail. Fear not however, they just checked in with the following triumphant announcement. Great achievement for both of them, and I'm looking forward to the hearing the unpublished details when we get together in Mexico...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dear family and friends,

WE DID IT!!!!!!We arrived to Canada on Sept. 17, almost 5 months of walking 2600miles. If you remember we started April 23. I think actual walking days it took 133days. Anyway we were out of touch for most of the last 1000 miles sorry for no updates. It was a fantastic experience! At the end we arrived to the border, just a clearing in the woods, with the monument 78 and register, we were almost ready to walk back to Mexico, we were feeling great, the weather was perfect, and the mountains were so inviting. We had spent the last night on top the mountain at 7000ft and ran down the mountain the next morning almost 3000ft and then back up. Instead of continuing on to Manning Park, Canada we did walk back 30 miles to Harts Pass which had a dirt road back to civilization. The last day was a time to reflect on our wonderful experience and also see some of the other hikers we hadnt seen in months. It was sad to leave the trail after it had been our home for so long. We thoughly enjoyed sleeping in our little tent every night and we never got tired of our trail food. All through WA. we ate wild mushrooms and blueberries. I think we were a bit rough looking by the end and a shower did sound good.Now we are in Idaho visiting my family and my new little niece. We will be heading down to Mexico in about 3 weeks, back to our other life on the boat.

Thinking of you all,

Alicia and Alfredo

Sep 8, 2009

Back to California

Within a week, I'll be heading back to California after spending the summer here in the midwest. The past few months have been a nice opportunity to reconnect with old friends and relatives and even do a little teaching for the Sail Away Sailing School in Minneapolis. The weather has been wonderful this year, but the trees are starting to show some fall color, so it's time to head west again. I'm already scheduled to teach a couple of classes for Tradewinds when I get back, so it's going to be interesting to now contrast that with the lake sailing I've done back here. Have to admit, I'm looking forward to getting back on San Francisco Bay again!

Haven't heard anything from Alicia or Alfredo for quite awhile now, so I'm starting to get a bit anxious about their progress on the Pacific Coast Trail. Of course, they did mention that they wouldn't have as much Internet access once they got up into Oregon, so it's probably not too surprising we haven't had more email from them...

Will try to do keep more up-to-date on the blog once I get back to northern California next week. After reading the "Summerwind" blog of cousin Holly and her husband Alan, I'm a bit shamed by my inattention to keeping this one more current. If you haven't looked at their blog (on the Links list), I heartily recommend it. They've done a great job, and it reads like a high quality travelogue. Watch out Rick Steves!

Sep 3, 2009

Dodging a Bullet

Sea Story securely tied to the dock at Singlar Marina in La paz. Storm clouds from advancing hurricane Jimena show up in the background, as Susan and Dennis Ross prepare the boat for the possible arrival of the catagory 4 blow.

It looked bad for awhile. Hurrican Jimena was gathering strength and heading for southern Baja. Images of past hurricane damage to the La paz area were reminders of how devastating wind and wave could be from a storm this strong - at 155 mph, it was bordering on catagory 5 wind speeds.
Luckily, the storm turned just enough to the west to spare both Cabo San Lucas and La paz any major damage. The western coast of Baja, in the region of San Juanico, got the brunt of the storm when it came ashore, but by then it had weakened considerably, and I'm hoping this remote little community - one of my favorite stops on the way north - didn't get hit too hard.
So, it's so-far-so-good with respect to hurricanes this year. Of course, it's still early.....
On the positive side, Dennis and Susan Ross, of Ross Marine, are taking good care of Sea Story during this storm season. And, that's a big relief...

Approaching Oregon

The image shows, in the foreground, a rocky outcrop in the Klamath mountain range in northern California, USA known as Castle Crags. To the right in the distance you can see en:Mount Shasta.
photo made by Bob Walker in
en:Siskiyou County, California in 1991

Wednesday, July 29
Dear family and friends,
We are still going!!! We have made it to Etna which is mile 1606!!!! It has been over 3 months and we are still in Califoria. But we are almost to Oregon, only about 100 miles to go to the border. It has been HOT but yesterday for the first time in about 6 weeks we had a hail storm and were freezing cold and wet. We were pelted by hazelnut size hail mixed with rain and within the hour Alfredo almost got clobbered by a falling tree branch and then by a large rock which was falling down the mountain. And we just happen to be on the top of an exposed section of mountain about 7000 feet. No rain fell in the valley.We just went through another nice section from Castle Craigs, Shasta-Trinity Wilderness, Trinity Alps wilderness, and the Russian Wilderness. We have had fantastic views of Mt Shasta which is the looming 14,100ft volcanic peak. Also everything is so green now and wildflowers abound, the forests are full of life and endlessly tall pines. We saw our first bear, it was a black bear, not too big, we looked at him and he looked at us. I told him we were not going to be his breakfast and kept walking. There have been many deer on the trail, sometimes just resting or looking for food, and once we just walked 15 feet behind a threesome for about 10 minutes. So yes we are still hanging in there and we are feeling good. We seem to be always hungry, I think we need to carry more food. Once we get to Oregon we may not have too many internet opportunities but will email when we can.All the best to all. Time to go eat again.
Alicia and Alfredo

Mt. Whitney

Mount Whitney is the highest peak in the contiguous United States. It rises from the Owens Valley on the eastern border of the Sequoia National Park, where the majesty one would expect from a mountain of its standing is significantly abated by its position in a crowd of steeper, more formidable high peaks. Still, Whitney is a popular ascent, and its superior height becomes much more apparent from its summit. Interestingly, the highest point in the lower 48 states is only 85 miles from the lowest, Badwater Basin (-279 ft.), located in Death Valley. The distance is somewhat longer by scenic highway, but still requires little more than two hours of travel time. A trail leads to the summit of Mount Whitney, and a toilet has been installed to accommodate its crowds. Registration is required to climb the mountain, and daily restrictions have now been placed on the number of climbers allowed. There is a very popular 8.5 mile trail to the summit via the Pacific Crest Trail.

Friday, July 12

Dear friends and family,
Well I wanted to write that "we made it" but we didnt. I am referring to climbing Mt Whitney, which is the tallest mountain in the lower 48, at 14,497ft. The weather has just not been cooperating. It is hard to be prepared for everything. Anyway we leave Kennedy Meadows after a 3 day recovery, we had got caught in the terrible rain storm before that. The weather forecast did not look good. Chance of snow all week with highs in the 30s and lows in the teens. Winter advisory was sent out for the Sierras. But of course we set out. The first two days was fair and with donated long johns and a sleeping bag liner, I was quite warm sleeping at 9,600ft. Then we got a major snow fall, within 2 hours there was a whiteout making the trail almost impossible to find. We continued walking to stay warm. What peacefulness. The silence and serenity. We are now walking amongst beautiful mountain scenery that is so spectacular. Sequoia an Kings National Forest and Park. High snow covered peaks and ancient sculptured trees that look like the postcards. Because of the snowfall, we didnt make it to Crabtree Meadows the next day which was where we needed to leave from for the accent up Whitney. We hiked into this incredible meadow seeing a family of deer, marmot, many little chipmunks, and trout in the creek. We left the packs there and headed up the trail to Whitney, we made it as far as Guitar Lake at 11,000ft or so. The weather was moving in and we felt it was prudent to turn back. As soon as we got back to the meadow it began snowing. We would have liked to have waited another day but we didnt have enough food. The trail is all up and down mountains now. For the next 2 nights we camp at 11,000ft, quite cold. It sure felt like winter up there, as I sit here in a nice warm hotel. But the best is still to come. So the next day we had to climb the highest point of the whole PCT trail, Forester Pass, at 13,200ft. It was the most scenic and most difficult day yet. The mountains were all covered in snow and there was no trail to be seen only a few footprints. We have no techinical equipent, no ice axe, and no crampons. We were only hoping the weather would hold and in fact the day was sunny and mostly clear. It was challenging to say the least but it was such a high to reach the top that all the effort was worth it. We didnt stay long on this tiny pass between towering peaks since we still had to get down the other side which had even more snow. Of course there was no trail to be seen but we knew it was down. After hours of trudging through the snow the feet were rather numb so we really didnt stop to eat or drink because I was too cold. After the snow it turned into running rivers of snow melt. We were very happy to find the trail finally. It was a long day and we made it to the Kearasarge Pass Trail which leads us up and over another high pass into the town of Independence. So with almost no food left we start hiking this morning at 5:45am, reach the pass at sunrise, another amazing feat which brings tears to our eyes, and we see the lowlands far far below. Lots more snow on the decent but we catch a hitch into town and are now recovering.
Thats is all for now.
Alicia and Alfredo