November 26, 2004

Dia de Gracias

November 25, 2004
Giving Thanks.

As it is the season, I will now bore you to tears with a list of the things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for:
Being born to the means that I was, just enough to feel secure, and not enough to make me lose appreciation for the small things.

I am thankful for:
The friendships others continue to build with me. To my friends, I love you and I would do anything I could to bring joy or comfort to you.

I am thankful for:
My parents, for the two best gifts a parent can bestow upon their child, independence and common sense.

I am thankful for:
The path that lead me here; to a year of exploring, learning and appreciating.

I am thankful for:
The generosity shown to us by strangers and new friends, and the opportunities we have had to show generosity to others.

Finally, I am thankful for:
Every single, solitary day that I get to spend with the love of my life, Daniel Lawrence Goddard.
Coco Loco
Tis the season to cut down the cocos at Sayulita Trailer Park. Here is the groundskeeper David climbing and pruning the palmas. Really it is a sight to behold, her climbs the tree in about 10 seconds, using no protection whatsoever. Once up top he climbs over the cocos then chops them out from under him. When he is done he wraps the rope around his bottom once, then self-belays to the ground. He earns about $20 per tree, there are almost 50 trees on the property. He hates climbing the trees anymore, loses sleep for weeks before hand, but the money is good and he says it is just part of his job.

David's children practice climbing like their Papi.

November 21, 2004

The Mexican Revolution

November 21, 2004

Yesterday was Mexican Revolution Day.
Sayulita celebrated with a big parade and the entire town came out to watch. While in Mexico I have lost many an hour of sleep to the roosters and dogs down here. In Sayulita the roosters aren't bad but the elementary school's bugle and drum practice has woken me up a few times. We often joke about how the bugles sound like dying roosters. Yesterday as the band "played" the rooster flocked to the familiar wailing of the injured sounding caws, only this time it was a flock of eight year old buglers showing their patriotism. I feel for my poor parents who were subjected to band recitals for years.

Seemingly every child in the community was in the parade. The youngest ones were dressed up as hombres with guns and cowboy hats, the girls as damas with flowing gowns and braids. Older kids were drummers or dancers or flag bearers. The town was one big fiesta for the remainder of the day. From here I'll let the pictures tell the story.

Our friend Eddy from Crested Butte, Dan and Kale from Juneau, Alaska.

The announcer signaled the end of the parade and children ran in every direction to reunite with their parents.

This kid looks like he's had a bit too much Mexican hot chocolate.

My parents headed back for Ohio Friday morning. This is the first time I can remember that I have not known when I will see them again, it's a strange feeling.

November 18, 2004

Home Sweet Home

November 13, 2004

The locals invited us over for a cocktail at Jim and Rose Marie’s house. Their home is right in town and the view is of the entire town. The locals were playing a game for the evening. Each one was to pick a restaurant to have an appetizer at; you picked up the check at the restaurant you chose so there was some incentive to pick a cheap one. Unfortunately the game fell apart as the beers flowed and they became hungry. Fortunately for us this meant they never left the first restaurant which is where we and the family were eating. We had a very nice dinner and laughed freely at and with the locals.

This morning there were no waves, in fact it was the flattest we have seen water since the Bahía de Concepcíon in Baja. Alan and Liz, a couple staying at the park, told us about another nearby break. We all loaded into our recently freed pickup and headed off for Los Burros. This is a really mellow and nice right break. I was in heaven after the shallow left break we have been surfing the past few days. While in Punta de Mita we inquired about a boat ride to other surf breaks and we may return early next week for a full day of surfing breaks only accessible by boat. Cost to hire your own private surfing taxi for the day $60 for up to 6 people.

I am writing this from the local fish taco stand while sipping an agua fresca. Isn’t technology grand?

November 15, 2004

Yesterday we hung with the Midwesterners all day. Dad came over early and joined us for breakfast, then we entertained him with our lack of surfing prowess. My father’s main goal for the day was to watch the Bengal’s game, the poor man still holds out hope for his home team. We spent many hours at the local gringo bar trying to facilitate dad’s wish, he was finally able to get the game on the TV, but by then he was engrossed in conversation with the locals and I bet he couldn’t tell you what the final score ended up being.

Dan and I are finding our way around here very well now. We know which Super Mercado sells the coldest beer, which loudspeaker denotes the shrimp truck is coming our way, which Internet Café is the cheapest and which one is run by the scariest guy in town. We have managed to locate the Panaderia (bakery), the Helado Shop (ice cream), the cheapest fish tacos and the best beef tacos, the right and left breaks, and even the man who sells gas in milk jugs since there is no Pemex station here. We figured out that the RV Park keeps a supply of chairs and tables around for dirt bag RV-ers like us to use, and Dan got a $2.50 palm frond rug for the patio. So now we have a real outside area for eating, sitting and entertaining, not just our folding couch and cargo carrier. I even got to set up a reading area for myself; we are in full nesting mode.

Today we are all headed into the big city. Dan and I have managed to avoid Puerto Vallarta on this trip up until now. Alas the Midwesterners want to do some shopping and we still have a few X-mas gifts to procure.

Post PV:

This is the Mercado in Bucerias, halfway between P.V. and Sayullita.

Ahh yes large touristy Mexican cities are not for us. Apparently we needed a reminder of this so we subjected ourselves to a full day of shopping. We managed to lose the Midwesterners in the first hour so we got to spend the next hour sitting by the car hoping they would eventually come back to us. From there we did a big city grocery shop and now we are back in the comfort of our happy little RV Park. The Midwesterners will be keeping us very busy for the next few days. Tomorrow morning we go out fishing, then a local friend of Bob and Sherry’s is coming over to cook for us. I don’t know if people are aware of this, but often here when you rent a house, the maids will cook for you if you request it. They earn some extra money and you get a fantastic meal for a fraction of restaurant costs. Also since she will usually make it for you at your house, you can watch and learn or just enjoy the aromas coming from within.

This guy is called the Mouth Painter, Dan and I bought one of his pieces for my folks for X-mas. Don't worry we already gave it to them so you don't need to keep it a secret.

I need a nap now, the parent’s are running us into the ground ;)

November 17, 2004

John "There's a reason they don't call it catching" Roberts, my Papa.

Me catching a tan.

My father, Dan and I went fishing yesterday morning. Our fishing guide was named Nacho (really, that is his name). The guides around here build palapas to fish around, so you are racing out to what seems to you to be the middle of nowhere and then all of a sudden you come upon four milk jugs floating. The jugs are attached to an elaborate series of palm fronds, then sardines are introduced to the palapa habitat where they stay and act as a semi-permanent chumming station. We went from palapa to palapa, yet even with the ocean equivalent of a salt-lick we still couldn’t catch a fish. Finally dan landed a nice-sized Dorado (Mahi-Mahi) so we didn’t look like total gringo fishermen. The highlight of the trip had to be getting back into shore. Nacho waited for the biggest wave he could find and then gunned the motor sending us flying into the shore, it was fantastic.

Nacho, Dan and his catch


Sayulita as seen from the water.

I could live in a place like this :)

We cooked up Dan’s catch for a nice fish taco lunch and then settled in for a lazy afternoon. Lazy is not what we got. Have I mentioned yet how I don’t know how I ever had time to work? I have never been so busy in all my life. Finally at 6pm we all ventured over to Bob and Sherry’s house, where Bertha (pronounced Bear-ta) their housekeeper was cooking a feast for us. By watching Bertha and asking a series of never ending questions I have learned how to make chili rellenos, this was one of my goals while in Mexico. Tomorrow I get to learn how to make chicken mole and flan. Dinner was fabulous and we all had a very nice time.

Also at dinner were Jeff and Caroline Morehouse, who are dear friends of Brother Pat, we keep running into people we know down here, we joke that this is Colorado south. Every license plate here is from either Colorado or British Columbia. We may start telling people that we are from Ohio just to be different. Since we entered Mexico we have met probably 10 other couples from Southwestern Colorado. Colorado is a very seasonal state, many people work at the ski areas in the winter and construction or river guiding in the summer, so they end up with a month or two off every spring and fall, now we know where they all go.

Today Mom, Christine and I are going horseback riding and then I fully intend to be a vegetable for the entire afternoon. Dan and I can’t seem to find time to be on vacation yet, even five months in we are still in working mode. We have set a relaxation/ enjoyment goal and we hope to start the new plan this afternoon.

November 18, 2004

The horseback ride was wonderful. I got to see the south end of town, where I had not been yet. We all got to gallop along in the surf and climb through thick jungle trails. Our guide taught me about several edible plants and fruits that I had not known of before. We ended up riding for two hours and boy can I feel it today! On out way home from the ride I spotted someone who looked familiar to me, it was Dave, the English gent we befriended in Pescadero. He came by the RV Park for about an hour and then joined us for lunch before heading south for a few days.

I did manage to get some relaxation time, but not for the reason I previously stated, it seems I am sick and I needed a three hour nap. After my nap I felt a bit better and rallied to go visit the Midwesterners. We took our buddy Eddy up to the house with us and he and my father played guitars for a captive audience. Last night we all went into Sayulita proper for an Argentinean feast. My mom has been a very good sport, she doesn’t like spicy food or beans, or really anything that is typically Mexican fare, so this meal was more up her ally.

Today the waves are still not up to par, they have been blown out for five days now. Seems we may have to take up another hobby soon.

A Queen Iguana we saw oalong the horseback trail.

Dan attempting to repair a blown-out flip-flop.

November 13, 2004

Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico.

Bienvenidos a Sayulita.
November 10, 2004

Monday we succumb yet again to summit fever. Teacapan had been such a treat, but were in a nesting mode and the lure of six weeks in one place proved too much for us. We rolled into Sayulita around 5:30, missed the turn to the RV Park and were immediately made fun of by our friends who live here and had been tailing us, wondering where in the heck we were headed. Bob and Sherry Daniels are from Durango. Bob was our dentist way back when. They bought a place here more than five years ago and have been converting their American friends ever since. We came here about four years ago with Dan’s family and liked it so much that we planned our trip to Mexico around this town. We even went so far as to buy surfboards, because Sayulita is a surfing town.

The RV Park here is very nice and is right on the beach. Literally we can take 20 steps from our campsite and be in the ocean at a nice left break for surfing. Our first night we went over to Bob and Sherry’s for dinner and conversation, we had a very nice time and low and behold we actually stayed up until 11pm! The next morning we awoke early and Dan started making breakfast for our guests. On the road to Sayulita we passed the girls who are biking to Chile. Remember the ones we met on the ferry? Any way Dan invited them to come visit. They showed up right on time, no easy feat since they had to cycle about 10 miles through the mountains and get here by 8am. After breakfast we said goodbye to Christen and Suzanna.

Christen and Suzanna.

Later when we returned to the Park their bikes were still here. Christen had forgotten her lock in another town and hitch hiked back to get it. The detour made it too late for them to cycle to their next destination so we were treated to their being our neighbors for the night. Also we got to enjoy our first surf in mainland Mexico.

Today was move in day. We moved to our new spot, which is ours for the duration. Then we unloaded the camper from the truck for the first time in five months. Our truck immediately became 6” taller and you can tell she is a happy truck having been freed of her burden. We laid down our new carpet, set up our couch and erected a table using crates and our cargo carrier. Dan hung a tarp for shade and we have effectively doubled our living space. It feels very nice to be settled here, to know that we aren’t moving for a while and that we can leave things on counters for example.

Now we are off to our favorite fish taco stand in the world. Yet again I wonder how I get to be so lucky.

November 11, 2004

Our camp.

Today we began what I assume will be our routine for the next month or so. Get up, surf, return to the camper, make breakfast, eat breakfast by the ocean, spend some time cleaning or organizing or reading, surf, eat lunch, go to town to buy groceries or beer or use the Internet, surf, make dinner, watch the sunset, play a game and go to bed. I feel so busy. However this particular day our routine had a couple of extras thrown in. After our noon time surf we decided to take the truck for a spin. Dan says she handles like a race car now. We went over to another pueblo and bought some provisions while making sure our guests who were arriving later would be able to follow the directions we had given them.

Back in Sayulita we busied ourselves with a few housekeeping errands and then sat down to wait for Ma and Pa Roberts to show up. My parents are visiting for nine days. They made record time and got in around 3pm. Once they were settled in their rental house we went out for a nice dinner and waited for our final guest to arrive. Christine is from Chicago and she and my mother went to college together. Christine had missed her flight, while awaiting her next flight she managed to leave word for us at the rental car desk and the property rental agency, which greatly impressed us all. Sure enough Christine came rolling up in a cab around 9pm and we headed right back to the bar so she could be properly welcomed to Mexico with a margarita.

November 12, 2004
Dan and I headed out for our morning surf only to find no waves. Just as depression was setting in the pan lady came by (not pan like a skillet but “pon” as in freshly made breads), and we were distracted by still warm banana bread and pastries. We didn’t have true breakfast fixin’s in the camper so after a few pastries we mounted the bikes to ride to the grocery store. We never made it out of the park though because Bob and Sherry met us at the gate. They introduced us to their friends Jim and Rose Marie. The six of us chatted for about an hour. Dan and I are ridiculously early risers, so even after the visit from the pan lady and our friends it was still only about 8:30. My parents are professional vacationers; they know how to rest when they get away. They stay up late and sleep in. It was a risk showing up at their house before nine, Mom doesn’t take kindly to having her sleep disturbed. Lucky for us Christine seems to be on a clock similar to ours and everyone was up when we arrived. After we had successfully mooched breakfast of the parents we went surfing.

Later we all ventured into Sayulita, my Dad was looking for cigars from a certain communist island nation, Christine for a certain liquor made from agave, and my mother for another bathing suit. Seems my personal vice of having a bathing suit for every mood was earned honestly. Still later we all had a beer on the beach with our local friends. The Midwesterners (that would be Ma, Pa and Christine) returned to the comfort of their pool. Dan, myself, and the locals had a few more beers and then retreated for siestas.

Today Dan actually worked a bit. Ramone, the Park manager needed a camper moved, so we bartered a few free nights for Dan’s hauling services. Unfortunately what was supposed to be a few steps forward ended up being two backwards. Perhaps we saved about $28 in camping fees, but we had a bit of an accident during the move. Our right front blinker cover suffered a blow from a cement wall, as you can probably guess, the wall won. Goodness knows how much a light cover would cost, I can’t imagine that we’ll find out until we return to the states, but my guess is more than $28. Dan was putting on a good face, even though his beloved truck is no longer perfect, Ramone brought him a 12 pack of Pacifico to ease the pain. Dan seems to have made peace with the cracked light and his fractured ego. All is well again. I was just corrected while reading this aloud to Dan, seems he is not quite done pouting over the light. Men and their trucks!

November 09, 2004

Cabo to Teacapan

November 1, 2004
Dia de Las Muertas -Coches.

Sunday as we were preparing to pull up camp at la Playa de Cerritos when I realized that the truck was dead, fue muerto. We got a jump from a kindly neighbor and everything seemed to be fine. However, we had not left any lights on, nor had we left anything plugged into the power outlets, so we were a bit stumped as to how we had drained our battery.

Halloween evening we met up with Troy and Rebecca and enjoyed a dinner out and some holiday festivities. We spent the night at El Litro Trailer Park in Todos Santos. El Litro is a simple park which seems to be in a constant state of disrepair. We opted to park on the side where the water worked but the electricity didn’t and showered where the water was warm but the toilet was broken.

In the morning we loaded up to head for one more surf at Cerritos before returning to Cabo, but alas the truck would not start. After an hour or so of charging and jumpingit, it still would not start. We found the only mechanic in town and he came to the park to try and help. Using his extra battery to jump our truck finally got it to start, but we had to actually put that battery in our truck, and then swap it out with our dead one once the truck was running. Over the course of the next few hours we drove all over southern Baja, mindful to never turn off the truck. We checked with every mechanico until we finally settled on the Cabo Chevrolet dealership, who said they’d look at the truck after their siesta.

To make a long story as short as possible, it took us ALL day to figure out that our batteries were totally dead, and that we needed two new batteries. We don’t know if there is something draining them or if they simply died of old age. What would have been perhaps an hour long fix in the states took all day. This was because the dealership did not have the correct batteries in stock, then we bought the right amp batteries at a nearby store only to learn that the negative and positive hookups were on the wrong side and so on, problem after problem, until all we could do was laugh to keep from crying. Finally at around 5:30 we had two new, correct batteries installed and the truck was running again. Still, however, we don’t know if there is a further problem which killed the old batteries, also we hadn’t budgeted for $210 worth of batteries and mechanic’s fees, so we are officially overbudget.

This experience taught us a few valuable lessons. #1 When you get the slightest bit away from the realms of language you can function in, e.g. restaurants, where is the bano etc., the language barrier is as wide as Copper Canyon. #2. Mexican mechanics are nice, and in our experiences, honest guys. Sylvester, the Parts Manager at the dealership, felt so badly that they didn’t have the correct battery that he gave us his Costo card to buy new ones with, and when that didn’t work he arranged a ride for Dan to other battery stores until we found the right ones. All of this at absolutely no profit to him or the dealership. When we were all done we tipped the mechanics $30, there was no official bill. #3. What is a minor problem at home can become a real event down here.

We camped at a swanky campground in Los Cabos last night and enjoyed a fine farewell dinner with Marc. The highlight of this meal was that the waiter came to our table and made fresh salsa for us right there, to our specifications, “lots of cilantro and five jalapenos, por favor”. It is the Mexican equivalent of bananas flambéed tableside, with all of the showmanship required.

Much to all of our dismay there were no waves this morning so we were denied a final surf before Marc flies off and we head for the mainland. But as a consolation we had a very nice breakfast beachside and got a bit more tanning in for Marc before he returns to Durango, where Wolf Creek Ski Area is already open for the season.

Election night.

We are currently in La Paz at the Casa Blanca RV Park, which is otherwise almost deserted. Aside from the woman who came to collect our money, there are only two other people here and my guess is that there are 40-50 spots unoccupied. Seems Day of the Dead is not a big day for tourists. Tomorrow we resume the ferry ticket game. We need to get our tickets and the pricing squared away, as well as securing our auto permit. There are normally two ferries to choose from, currently though, only the older, slower and more expensive one is operating. We don’t think it runs on Thursday and we don’t hold out much hope that we could get everything squared away and get onboard before the boat sets sail tomorrow afternoon. Probably we will spending a few days here in lovely La Paz.

La Paz a Mazetlan.

The ferry terminal is 19km out of town, we got there right as things were opening up at around 9am. This is of note because I had sunken into a very deep depression that morning after hearing the election results and the fact that I could rally to deal with Mexican officials is remarkable.

I promise not to preach here too much, but here is the primary reason I am in mourning. During our travels we have met many foreigners. The resounding consensus among the people we have met from Germany, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, England and so on, is that they are very upset with America’s preemptive war and dealings with the Middle East. But because G.W. didn’t really win the last election they cut us, the populous, some slack. Basically the people we have met hate American policy, but can separate that from disliking Americans. Wednesday morning that all changed. Now we have voted this crazy man into office, we as a nation essentially just gave our cowboy leader a big old thumb’s up. By electing him this time, Americans said, “George the war’s fine, strong arming our allies, it’s all good, making us the self-proclaimed policer of the world, no hay problema”. Today I mourn for the American traveler’s place in the world. In truth I am hard pressed to come up with one redeemable quality within this administration, but I promised not to preach so I will move on, perhaps to Canada.

Back to the ferry. Things went remarkably smoothly. By 10:30 we had secured our Permiso de Vehiculo por Immagracion Temporar (the sticker that promises we aren’t selling our rig), and our ferry tickets. Departure time 3pm, but we would have to be there to load by 12:30. Mexican time is a bit different, so we loaded around 2:30 and set sail at almost 5pm. The ferry is not a tourist ferry; primarily it is a commercial one for semi trucks and workers. The cargo hull was packed so tightly that we were sure the semi next to us was going to rub against our rig the entire time. Also they don’t seem to pay much mind to balancing out the trucks, so we had a decided port side list while afloat. Our rig was on the portside, hence the rubbing fear. Our cabin was also on the port side so we slept on a downward slope.

The ferry bar.

Our cabina.

Our tightly fitted rig in the hull.

Particulars: it was impossible for us to figure out the true cost of our ferry ride until the moment we paid. They measure and weigh your rig to determine the cost for it and the driver. A passenger is sold a ½ price ticket and since we chose a cabin my ticket came to $75. Total cost was $432 for the ferry and $34 for the permiso. We took the Sematur ferry because the faster, better, cheaper, Baja Ferry is broken. Both ferries have web sites, in Spanish only and they don’t speak English at the ticket offices. If you are in the market for a ferry ride, I would strongly suggest you fork over the extra money for at least the tourist class, which affords you a room and a bed. Cabina class, which we took, gets you a private bath as well, and Classe Especial gets you a TV and VCR. Salon class is akin to a greyhound bus seat for 18 hours, complete with crying babies and smelly, shady looking men.

Once onboard we enjoyed a brief visit to the cantina and had dinner at the restaurant. We saw a phenomenal sunset and enjoyed playing cards and chatting with some of the other passengers. During the night I had a really hard time sleeping. The boat is loud, and small enough that it rocks about quite a bit. Every motion made me worry about our rig and every noise made me wonder if Brook’s prophecy wasn’t coming true. Our dear friend Brook (you can see her pictured in the Grand Canyon posts) sent me an email not long ago. Brook is one of the funniest women I know, especially when she is writing. She sent us a note about the rain in Colorado and how she was almost overcome with loathing and jealousy for us, but when those feelings came she just went online and checked out Not a real site, a joke, and a very funny one, except for when it is 2am and you are somewhere in the middle of the Gulf of California.

Since this is written in the past tense I am assuming you have already guessed that we survived the crossing. In fact it was very comfortable and we met some really nice people. Most notably were two women who are bicycling from Alaska to Chile, to follow one of the girl’s along check out her website

Today is a first, we are visiting people we met along the way. Many people write and offer us a place to camp for the night, and we still intend to take you all up on the offers, but to date we haven’t been in anyone’s neighborhood. You may recall that we attended afternoon tea while in Victoria, B.C., well during our tea by the dump, we met Duane and Dianne. They have kindly invited us over to their RV here in Mazatlan for dinner and we are taking them up on the offer.

Dia de el Mercado
November 5, 2004

Dinner was fantastic. Duane and Dianne have a space in a private campground; they have made their spot very homey, filled with art and plants. We enjoyed an easy and interesting conversation, you know the kind where everyone participates and has something of interest to add. It was truly enjoyable. They told us that the market here is not to be missed and per their recommendation we decided to stay another day. This morning we caught the tourist bus into town, and spent the day shopping in the public markets. We bought our nieces and nephew Christmas presents and managed to avoid buying any of the things we wanted for ourselves. In our home in Durango I had decorated our kitchen in bright Mexican colors and had displayed there my collection of Catrinas. Catrinas are Day of the Dead statues, sort of elaborately dressed skeletons. Here is a picture of them since they are hard to describe without making them sound scary or morbid.

To pass up some of the Catrinas we saw today was almost physically painful for me, but really where on earth would I put a fragile porcelain sculpture in our camper?

Dan forced me to go into the millionth hardware/ carpet store so far, he is on the eternal mission to find a decent piece of outdoor carpeting to help keep down the sand in our camper. You might think that trying to describe Astroturf and decipher meter lengths in our limited Spanish would be fun and that I would never get tired of it, but you would be wrong. Somehow shopping for day-glow green plastic carpeting doesn’t do it for me. Never the less, the eternal sand v. Dan struggle is exhausting to watch, and I pray that somehow, some day very soon he will settle on a piece of turf and this quest will be over.

After our shopping expedition we opted to take the local bus, as opposed to the tourist bus. This was a very fun decision, the local bus drivers are muy loco! The return trip was more akin to a rollercoaster ride than a bus trip. We made it home in under five minutes, it had taken us 15 to get into town on the tourist bus. We got off at Duane and Dianne’s stop, one stop before ours, and dropped in on them. They invited onto the patio for a beer and then they bestowed upon us one of the nicest gifts anyone has ever given me. A perfectly sized square of Astroturf. They have replaced it with a very nice mat-type rug and they were happy to unload their old rug on us. What to them was a easy way to dispose of unwanted flooring, is to me freedom from having to stop at every God forsaken hardware and/or carpet shop in Mexico. I think that we failed to convey to them how fabulous this gift was, even though we openly gushed for about ten minutes. For goodness sake it even matches, no day-glow here, this Astroturf is tan, like our truck. Duane and Dianne, thank you.

Tonight we are camped again at Playa Escondida. This park had a heyday, it has long since past. Now it is very run down, but functional and near our friends, so it works for us. Most notably there is a huge caravan here. We haven’t seen a single caravan before this campground, but we have heard all about them and were intrigued. Our first intro was a bit rough. One of the guys in a big Class A screamed at us to slow down when we drove through the park, we were racing down the road at a whopping 5mph. No one has ever accused Dan of driving too fast, he even drove the ambulance slowly “how can I help someone if I wreck getting there?”. He has the opposite of a lead foot, perhaps a feather foot, so this warning made us both laugh. That confrontation aside, we were pleasantly surprised at how welcoming and cordial the other members were. Dan is currently borrowing a water funnel from a member he met in the pool, and filling our tanks with agua purifcado. Another member is trying to help us figure out our isolator/ battery problem (also thanks to Curt from the Forum for your guidance). And still another has invited us over to tour his Lance camper with a slide, he is convinced that we need to upgrade.

So far we have been very pleasantly surprised by Mazatlan. While it is a big tourist city, it still feels like Mexico. The bus system is fantastic, and we were only accosted once by a member of the time-share mafia.

Later that night.
Duane, dan and I went to watch the Venedos de Mazatlan play the Naranjeros de Hermosillo in Baseball. We love the menacing team names, the deers v. the orange men/ pickers. What a great way to experience Mexico. Duane has heard that the stadium was built as a training camp for U.S. teams who have since donated it to mazatlan. As a result it is very modern and clean, it even has a jumbo-tron, which is constantly displaying spectators in various embarrassing acts, like eating or talking on their cell phones. Even more so than U.S. sporting events, there is a complete feeling of sensory overload, everything is loud and flashy, vendors sell everything from beer to ceviche and they outnumber the spectators. The tickets were a whopping $6.50 each and we were perhaps 15 rows off of the field along the first base line. Bleacher seats in the outfield are only a dollar, and box seats are $9. We stayed until 10pm, the 8th inning had just begun and the home town team was down 5-0.

Duane and Dan.

This morning we are packing up to head south yet again.

November 7, 2004
Teacapan, Sinola, MX

Duane told us to go and spend a night in Teacapan. He said that the town was charming and the estuary filled with birds. What he failed to mention was that we would fall in love with the place and especially the people. It is with trepidation that I write this. You know when you love something so much that you want to keep it just for you? That is how I feel about Teacapan, alas I promised McCoy that I would tell people about this place, because he and his people want to share it with others.

The drive here was breathtaking. Row after row of coconut groves align the road and pools abound filled with beautiful birds. Since we had never been here before, we passed by the campground that Duane had recommended just to visit the town before camping for the night. We liked the town so much that we wanted to camp closer to it and ride our bikes in to explore further. So instead of the campground we had heard of we decided to try Isla Paraíso, which our camping bible, Mexican Camping by the Church’s, said had been allowing a few rigs to park, but they weren’t sure if the situation was permanent. Well because I promised I would, I am here to tell you that it is permanent. They have set up an area for probably 15 RV’s complete with electricity at every site (the sites are marked by palm trees, since this place too was a coconut grove) a central water spigot and dump, palapas and restrooms are being built right now. The plans include a restaurant and in the coming years a 60 room hotel, currently there are bungalows for rent, but only four or so. Camping here is $10 per night. Word of warning, do not park under the palms, our neighbor had a coconut fall on his truck last year.

It just so happens that the owner is here visiting this weekend, his son McCoy runs the place. Don Camote is the owner, his name is actually Rudolpho, but everyone calls him Camote, or sweet potato because he is an old softy. Don Camote and his friends insisted that we join them for a meal about an hour after we had arrived. We went over to the main palapa which ajoins the pool for what we thought would be a quick snack and an introduction. Instead we had a multiple course meal of freshly caught and smoked fish, homemade salsa and tostadas. We were showered with cervesas and got to practice our Spanish with everyone. McCoy lived in Atlanta and is bilingual, so he was a huge help when we needed to know how to say something in Spanish. McCoy invited us back to his home, which is in this complex, and we were fed even more food and beers. Their friend Pepe let us try some Sotol, which is his own family’s label. Sotol is akin to Tequila, but it is as smooth as the finest Tequila. Pepe swears it will not cause a hangover and as an added bonus it is and aphrodisiac. I don’t know if I believe Pepe, I woke up with a headache and my purity intact. It was an absolutely fantastic evening, they welcomed us into their home and entertained us with the stories of their lives, while tolerating our often painful attempts to speak to them only in Spanish.

This morning Dan and I awoke slightly hung-over and immediately started laughing while recounting the conversations of the night before. Neither of us could believe the generosity that had been shown to us. At 9:30 Aaron, the manager, came to take us for a boat ride and tour of the estuario (estuary). First he took us out to the big dredging boat which is clearing a path for big boats to be able to access Teacapan. The night before we learned that there are many changes in the works for this place, a big marina, a golf course, an airstrip and hotels are all either begun or completed. The ride out to the dredger was really interesting, the estuary mouth is a turbulent place, with very shallow spots, strong currents and waves. After that we toured the estuary with is filled with birds, and sea life. While we didn’t see any today we have heard of crocodiles and dolphins in the water. Aaron navigated the boat up a very narrow mangrove corridor to a large shallow lagoon filled with white birds.

The narrows on our boat ride.

Dinner with the Don and his family.

We came back to the pool and were greeted by Raphael the security guard. We spent an hour or so speaking with him, he also speaks English and he corrects our Spanish for us which we really appreciate. Raphael told us where a surfing spot was so we rode our bicycles up to scout it out. The waves were very small, we hit it at the wrong time, but I can see how you could surf there if the conditions were right. The ride there and back was beautiful, it seems like the entire area is one giant coconut grove.

Upon our return we found another fiesta was underway. This time we were fed ridiculous amounts of freshly caught shrimp, crab and more smoked fish. I feel like I am half shrimp right now, the other half is Pacifico. Once again we were treated like honored guests and we spoke at length with each person there. The only other camper here is a guy named Bill from Alaska. Bill spent last winter here and we asked him if it is always like this. He replied not always, but every Saturday and Sunday. I think we have found Paradise.

The pool.

This was a special weekend because Don Camote was here, so I am not saying that you will be fed fish and beers during your stay. However, not to worry, you can go into town, buy a kilo of prawns for about $3 and have your own fiesta, just be sure to invite Aaron, Raphael, McCoy, Bill and Don Camote if he is here.

We are both sad to have to leave this wonderful place, but we have a very important date in a few days.