Leslie Answers Jill Crossland’s Interview Questions. September 2013

Could you briefly describe what La Mula Mil is? 

La Mula Mil, (literally The Mule 1000) is an extended mule packing trip along the entire length of the Baja Penisula.  We will be riding from San Jose del Cabo in the south to Tecate in the north.  We anticipate spending four, possibly five months riding on mules; sleeping and living in the desert.  We decided on this particular trip to celebrate the almost unheard of Meling Expedition that did this 50 years ago.  

 Who is participating? What do you each of you bring to the journey? 

There are three main riders on the trip.  Leslie Pringle, Trudi  Angell and Olivia Angell who will be riding the entire length of the Baja peninsula. At various times others will join in as paying guests. 

We have:

Olivia-24 years old-almost the same age as Eve Ewing when she did the trip 50 years ago.  Eve is the inspiration for the recreation of the Meling Expedition.  Olivia will be doing the pre-trip “gopher work” and camp chores when we have paying guests as well as handling a lot of the filming end of things for our adventure. She will have a bilingual blog about La Mula Mil and assist with the Spanish entries on our Facebook page. She is fully bilingual and bi-cultural.   She has also ridden extensively with her mom from a very young age, completing a 6 week “long ride” when she was just 9 years old.

Trudi-58-has lived in the Baja for 30 years and has run an adventure company the whole time.  She is the logistics queen.  She knows all the right people to make this happen.  Without the locals as guides, not just for the trails, but more importantly for the watering holes, this trip would not be possible. She is also a wonderful organizer-on-the-fly, camp hostess, cook, singer and person.  There are very few people I can imagine doing this type of trip with. Trudi is one of them.

Leslie-51-is the documenter of the trip. Her vision is to create a coffee table book of the two expeditions, overlaying the changes that time has wrought, good or bad.  She will be visually journaling the trip and interacting with the paying guests when they join in on select portions of the trip.  She will be the main photographer and will assist with the filming in order to produce a documentary on the trip.  Social media sites such as Facebook and blogging (under “wrrldgrrl”) will be her responsibility.  She is also the fundraiser for the pre and post trip portion of the planning. You can find (and fund!) the Indiegogo campaign here (the campaign has now closed). And on behalf of Coins for Classrooms she will also be dropping off some school supplies at various schools enroute. 

Would I be wrong in saying that there is a physical, mental and even spiritual preparedness needed before embarking on an expedition of this nature?

You are completely right in saying that.  One needs a certain level of physical fitness for this journey, yes, but the mental fitness is the most important. We are talking about a 4-5 month trip, over a thousand miles on mules. We will be looking for camp spots and/or beds each night, preparing food, interacting with the natural environment and the locals but also with paying guests, researchers and everyone else en route.  Riding to the various missions on a pilgrimage of sorts is a common undertaking at this time of year, we will be sharing the trails with a lot of people at time, and then with no-one at other times.  One of the most challenging aspects will be to move in and out of the headspace required to successfully navigate the needs of the people involved with each situation.  We will also be blogging and uploading to social media when the opportunity presents itself. This will be one of the most psychological of the challenges as we will be in a very rugged physical world that requires a certain mindset, then we will have to jump back into the 21st century and out again.  We could just “fall off the planet” for four months or so, but we would like to raise awareness of safe travel opportunities in Baja California as well for the NGO’s each of us has chosen to work with. Trudi and myself both have businesses that need to be run while we are gone, and Olivia will be waiting to hear back about her thesis application, so from a mental standpoint we all have things to keep us tied to the world we are in some ways, leaving behind for a while. 

As to spiritual preparedness, that is a personal journey so I can speak only for myself.  My  experience with travel has been very spiritual, which is one of the reasons I keep doing this rugged form of exploration. The more I go “outside” into the physical realm, the more I discover of myself “inside” in the spiritual realm.  My connection with the earth grows each time I immerse myself in remote areas.  This is one of the most exciting aspects of this trip for me. 

Every expedition has its realistic goals and also a few ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if we ……….’ goals. Can you share some of each?

Realistically we all fully expect to ride the entire length of Baja peninsula in four, possibly five months.  Trudi and her daughter Olivia both think it is be amazing that they will be wrapping up unfinished business in that they have already ridden a good portion of the Baja in bits and pieces over the years but have talked about riding it all in one go as well. Trudi is truly hopeful that the recent rains from hurricanes will provide enough feed for the animals so that we have to bring in a minimal amount for them. A little more winter rain would help, but as it can go years without raining we will just have to wait and see.

Olivia hopes that Eve can ride with us enough to fill in some of the blank spaces of her own map from back in the 60’s. She joined late and had to leave early.

Trudi and Leslie both wish for people to see that the world is not as scary as we are led to believe it is.  It is our hope that humans can recognize each other’s humanity and learn to enjoy the world outside their own boundaries, both physical and emotional.

We all have hoped for the enthusiastic support of our remaining riders from the Meling Expedition.  After spending the majority of a day, with three of the orignial riders, we  are relieved to have been sent off with hugs and well-wishes and offers of places to stay anytime we are around. 

As exciting as this journey is it is not without risks. What are some of your concerns/fears as you venture forth? 

We are all extremely experienced and comfortable in this setting so our concerns are simple: will there be enough food and water for the animals, will something happen in the outside world to pull one of us off of the trip or could we have a falling out that is too big to fix. 

Many people have expressed their concerns on our behalf in regards to drug runners.  There may be some activities of concern around the border, but we are finishing up before planting season, and will use knowledgeable, well-connected local guides to make sure we stay out of anyone’s territory. We will be notifying the authourities as we approach these areas so that it is well known that we are passing through.  This is simply a precaution-there are even parts of our own country that we know to avoid. 

What are the dates for la Mula Mil? Is there any way the readers can support your efforts? And how can they follow you? 

Our ride will begin November 3 2013 in San Jose del Cabo.  We will take a break for Christmas and New Year’s around San Ignacio then continue in January so we can finish up inTecate in March of 2014.

Our La Mula Mil Facebook  page has been active for a short time so we could really use some likes and especially shares to build our number of followers.  We are just launching our Indiegogo fundraising campaigns as we need more resources to get through the entire trip. We already have a sponsor who will be paying the guiding fees for two months but we do need to organize some more patrons. 

This adventure will be blogged about, addresses are just being finalized. (Olivia’s blog. Leslie’s blog.)

We each have a favourite non-profit that part of any excess funding will go to, Coins for Classrooms Living Roots Baja,  and Mujeres del Golfo.  

We have an email address,  lamulamil@gmail.com  if you need to contact directly and aren’t on Facebook.  As we will be mainly off-grid, please be patient until we can get back to you.

One thing I would love to share that doesn’t fit into the questions you have asked us Jill, is how honoured we were to help orchestrate the reunion of Eve Ewing, Andy Meling and Joanne Alford. It was the first time the three of them had been together since they said good bye in La Paz in 1964!  But to say we organized that would be such a stretch, it was synchronicity that allowed it all to fall into place.  There were a number of people who ended up in the right place at the right time just by coincidence!

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