Home is Where we Hook-up

December 9, 2008

Reminiscing 2008

Some numbers from the last year:

12 months, eight countries, 27 states, two provinces and two continents. These are my travel stats, Keith’s vary slightly – add one province and a third continent…he’s off to Australia this week. I regret that I am such a chronological blogger, and that if I don’t write when travels are current…I don’t write. There is a lot of sharing to catch up on.

The first three months of 2008 were spent living in Belize. Having our our Visa’s in order meant we could stay for a year, and were considered Belizean. This last bit doesn’t mean much, but was fun to acknowledge. Such a beautiful little country, I fondly think back on the snorkel trips, Mayan Ruin exploring (taking us into Guatemala), jungle treks, trips to the islands, helicopter flights over the reef and life in general camped at the Cucumber Beach Marina. Most of what is packed into my journal from living last winter in the Caribbean are not details of the trips we took, or wildlife we encountered, it’s about the people we met, time shared with new friends, and things I learned from other people. That’s what I cherish most. We will return to see our friends and build our life in Belize. To see archived blogs, search Jan, Feb, March 08 on the right-side of the blog. For photos use the Webshots link, search Belize Album.

I get very attached to the people and places we visit, but when it’s time to roll I get anxious to move on. When it was time to head back to the U.S., at the end of March, I was ready. The drive up the west coast of Mexico was a rewarding 18-day trip in itself. The lessons we’d learned on the east coast in the fall made us feel like real pro’s, not cocky enough to get into trouble, just confident enough to have a nice time. We beach camped our way home staying along nearly deserted stretches of beach some nights, other nights we camped near Acapulco, Zihuatenijo, Puerto Vallarta (actually, Sayulita, a place that won our hearts), and Mazatlan. The days were long again, just like summer days as a kid. Beach combing, body surfing, meeting new friends and just working on our tans, ahhh a couple of lucky people. An archived blog in May 2008 has some photos of our camping spots.

The first week of April we crossed the border from Nogales, Sonora Mexico into Nogales, Arizona U.S.A. Immediately the fact that we had a schedule to keep sunk in. Our plan was to be in Gananoque, Ontario, Canada  by Mother’s day. Sounds doable. The catch was, we were not traveling directly,  but via some of our regular haunts, Las Vegas NV, Bishop CA and Tumwater WA to attend to the business of life that always awaits our return. At that time, we were paying $4.25/gal for diesel, on a truck hauling a fifth-wheel RV, getting 15 mpg. This 4500 mile cross-country journey we embarked on was likely to be the first (for me) and last time to see some of this country.

Our home for the summer season ’08 was an “ecological reserve” in the 1000 Islands, Landon Bay Centre. Knowing we would be away for a better part of the summer, the $7 a day camping rate was a better than average deal. One quick week after setting up our base-camp, we were on the road again. This time a “vacation”, spending 10 days in Virginia touring the Nations Capital. As I wrote in the June blog, this trip to D.C. and the area made me want to spend so much more time here – and as it turns out, we would return for 2 more weeks later in the fall. Yeah!

The majority of the summer was spent in Alassio, Italy on the Italian Riviera. Keith worked six out of nine weeks, I played, isn’t that how it goes? If you are keeping count, this makes the sixth country of the year. From here we hopped the train to visit Monaco and Nice, France – eight rounds the tally. This is the sort of summer that really puts life into perspective for me, how lucky a person could I be? Well, lucky enough to spend glorious days biking the cobblestone promenade from one village to another alongside the shallow waters of the Mediterranean, sipping espresso and eating gelato whenever I wanted. Unlucky enough to have a gigantic tree fall on our truck two days before leaving for Europe, only to have the wonderfully repaired truck stolen from the Montreal, Quebec airport not a month later – these things are all just part of life, taken in stride it makes for an interesting ride.

Our Ford dealer in WA was more than accomodating to help us replace our vehicle, without which meant our “home” was stranded in Canada, the winter clock ticking. Ironic to find ourselves making a repeat of a cross-country drive that we would take us through country we never thought we’d see so soon. Taking advantage of the opportunity, we changed the route from the I-90 to the I-94. We had some weather to out run, but enjoyed the last of the fall colors going back into Canada.

It was late October when we hauled out of the 1000 Islands, just ahead of the first snow storm of the season. Having decided long ago that since we are on the east coast we’d may as well stay, explore and enjoy it we spent November and December slowly making our way to Florida.  During the 2008 Presidential Election, we were camped in Maryland exploring more of D.C., where we stayed for more than 2 weeks. Now we’re hooked up in our home in Kissimmee Fl. where we’ll finish out 2008, and begin 2009. What’s in store? Not really sure, Belize and Mexico would be nice, spending more time in D.C., getting up to Newfoundland might be an option – we’ll let ya know.

June 25, 2008

Where’re ya from?

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Mexico — Heligypsy @ 2:34 pm

Sitting on a low antique sofa, crouched and leaning over the tiled floor towards the table where the laptop sat, I checked emails for one last time. Keith sat next to me in a proper high backed chair, also antique, upholstered in rich brown leather.  Another man was using the spacious lobby, lounging in the center of the room, on a cell phone discussing money, trades, deals. If that’s all you saw of this scene, you’d never guess this was Mexico.  The dimly lit Hotel Playa de Cortes in Guaymas, has an air of exclusivity. Indeed, it was originally built as a railway resort overlooking the Gulf of California in 1936, and was a getaway for the wealthy and famous. Still a classy joint today, and one we would have never just happened upon. One more thanks for Traveler’s Guide to Mexican Camping We were on the final leg of our nearly 3 week journey of the west coast of Mexico.

A tall man wearing biker leathers and a skull cap that covered his grey hair, sauntered alongside the dark wooden lobby desk. Putting an elbow on the counter, he turned his body towards us.

“hey, how ya doin’?”

We exchange greetings and fairly common one-liners about travel and the internet. He made some fun and flirty remarks towards me that made me giggle and blush, but that I can no longer remember. We had seen this guy sitting out in the RV addition to the hotel earlier when we rolled in. The plates on his vehicles, motorcycles included, were from Florida. Keith pays attention to these sorts of details, and being the geographic guru that he is, asks the man,

“So, where in Florida are you from?”

“Portland, Oregon” The tall man replied, completely straight-faced, never skipped a beat.

I just died laughing. What a perfect summation for full-timing. I never know what exactly to say to people when they ask where I am from. Do you want to know where I was born? What my mailing address is? Where I “live” now? Keith and I rarely give the same answer, probably makes us look like a couple of hack cons running from the law. I have a t-shirt, I’m wearing it now actually, it says;

“Home is Where You Hook Up”

And the truth of the matter is that Keith and I always figure anywhere we are together is “home”. Right now my Social Networking sites will show that I “live” in Gananoque, Ontario. But Keith is in Alassio, Italy – in 4 more weeks that’s where we will call “home”

April 3, 2008

Searching for Bimbo

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Mexico — Heligypsy @ 3:33 pm

Back in January, two months after Keith and I had been traveling through Mexico and into Belize, my friend Rich with Gadget’s Airstream Chronicles posted a blog called The taste that will melt your butter…uh huh. In this blog he posted an adorable picture of his girlfriend Sadira posing next to a Bimbo bakery truck. The two of them clearly had a great time with this companies choice of branding, slogans, and interpretation. Read his post, he looked it all up and laid it all out.

Why is this important to my blog? Well, it is a great example of how quickly I get used to my surroundings. Bimbo trucks and product are EVERYWHERE in Mexico, yet, until his post I never even gave it much thought. For the last two weeks I have been trying to capture just the right Bimbo picture, something unique to Mexico. I hoped to see one of these big delivery trucks jammed in on a tiny little dirt street in Acapulco or Puerto Vallarta, unloading it’s breads and cookies – I have yet to be quick enough with the camera.

As we left Zihuatanejo we stopped at the massive grocery center, Commercial Mexicana to stock up on supplies. At checkout Keith says “Paula, look behind you…”

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And in our cart was a loaf of wheat Bimbo bread and Bimbo hot dog buns. I can’t read the snappy slogans, so I have to leave that research to Rich. Good fun 🙂

April 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Keith

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Mexico — Heligypsy @ 12:37 pm

Yesterday, actually. The double nickel. Clever way to phrase it, I thought.

Saturday night we camped at a brand new RV park, Rancho Buganvillas in La Placerita, Mexico – the place is not even on Google Earth yet, they’ve only been open for 5 months. Beautiful hilltop park overlooking a nearly deserted stretch of beach. We were invited to a dinner that our hosts were putting on for friends. The idea of having a steak for the first time in six months sealed that deal – that it turned out to be filet mignon was even better.

Turns out it was a birthday dinner for a woman named Beverly from Ontario, Canada. Actually, all the guests were from Ontario, though Bob and Sherryl have been living in Mexico for the last 18 months. There were two other guests from Quebec, they left shortly after the meal. The owners of the property, Sandy and Cynthia, surprisingly, are from Catalina Island, California. Cynthia asked at one point (already knowing the answer) for everyone at the table who is an Aries to raise their hands.

Beverly (3-29), Sherryl (4-6), Bob (4-7), Me (4-8), Keith (3-31), Cynthia (4-14). The only two hands that stayed down were Sandy, and Don – they knew they were in for some trouble, ha ha. Actually, they both just stayed fairly quiet and the rest of us (except Keith, really) competed to own the conversation. It was a fun dinner, more new friends, and Aries to boot, this has been a great trip 🙂

Yesterday we had to put in a little bit of driving to get to the outskirts of Puerto Vallarta, our new little slice of heaven on earth. There was not much I could do for Keith for gifts or cards, I told him I’d take him to a nice dinner out (which is for the both of us). After setting up camp we went for a walk along the beach. It’s a steep beach, popular with the surfers. At times it gets extremely rocky, the sound of tide rushing out over the rocks reminds me of doing school projects cracking marbles in hot water.

Keith is a rock hound, and knowing I wanted a gift to give him, said I could find him a birthday rock for his collection, said he’s short of red rocks with black in them – they are very hard to find. Scanning the glistening pile of rock and shell was challenging, especially when it came to retrieval…I had to grab quick before the waves would return and wash potential scores back out to sea. I found a couple itty bitty red things, nothing spectacular, a few very colorful polished rock-looking shell remnants, and, though I was not looking for anything green my eye caught on an interesting shape and color that I managed to scoop just before the water could steal it from me.

The Birthday Love Rock –

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Keith says it might be one of my best birthday gifts yet. I laughed and said “Even better than the Ipod that I loaded some of your favorite tunes on?” He says yes, because this one was found. It’s meant to be, just like most everything else on this trip.

Dinner topped off another perfect day. The recommendation was to go to Don Pedros on the beach, Monday night is Salsa night! Well, we skipped the dancing, but had a fabulously fancy meal of seared tuna, ginger mahi-mahi, thick horseradish infused mashed potato, seaweed of some description, shitake mushrooms – you get the idea. Finished off with chocolate mousse, we were two very happy campers. We sat in the candlelit patio over looking the ocean reminiscing about other meals in other countries, grateful for the memories we share.

Yes. We do know how lucky we are. (That’s for you, Bonnie from Freddies)

March 23, 2008

Felices Pascuas – Happy Easter

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Mexico — Heligypsy @ 6:40 am

We left Belize two days ago to begin our 4,000 mile journey back to California. I am so happy that we left Belize when we did. Central America only has two seasons, rainy and dry. The only time the flowers bloom in mass is after a good long rain. There is no springtime, and I had no idea how much I would have missed it.

Yesterday morning we explored the ruins of Tonina in the town of Ocosingo, state of Chiapas. The morning was overcast and cool, with vistas of mountainous hillside farmland as far as we could see. Trees bursting with new growth and flower buds that were about to pop stood everywhere we looked.

“Que Bella!” I exclaimed, and realized….wrong country…how do you say ‘How beautiful’ in Spanish?

“Muy Bonita” Ahhh, si! Que Bella came to mind because this entire area, the topography, the climate, the season, the approaching holiday, even the language, reminded me of spending time in Monfalcone, Italy. I was having flashbacks of being on the train platform the day before Easter, an overcast and cool morning, waiting to take the train to Venice with lots of Italians dressed in their best, excitedly chatting about the next day’s holiday. As we left Ocosingo, the familiar feelings and images of Italy prevailed.

We are in Tuxtla Gutierrez on this Easter morning, getting ready for day three of our journey home. No, no Sunday Sunrise service for us, but we will enjoy what the day has to offer – and hope you all do too.

Happy Easter 🙂

February 1, 2008

Last day in Mexico

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Mexico — Heligypsy @ 7:17 am

Keith suggested that if we didn’t find a campground to our liking on the border to Belize, maybe we would find a nice resort-type place, you know maybe sleep in a real bed, take a real shower, have a nice dinner in a restaurant. Border crossings are always cause for elevated anxiety, so why not pamper ourselves a little the night before. Sounded like a great idea to me.

Why, then, did we end up boondocking in the storm ravaged Cenote Azul Trailer Park? Good question. The book says this campground is a “handy place to spend the night if you are traveling between Palenque and the coast of the Cancun-Tulum corridor to the north. It is also a good destination in its own right.” This has been written some time prior to the last hurricane, during which the clean restrooms with their hot showers had been completely annihilated. The electrical outlets were no more, and shelter palapas? Forget about it. By the time all the destruction was noted, it was too late in the day to turn back to Chetumal – and besides, there was a really good looking restaurant just a couple hundred yards up the road, we’d make do.

Our welcoming committee consisted of a flock of domestic turkeys that followed us around, lowering and shaking their heads with the laughable “gullaglogulgoo”, the beat down guard dog of the property, and the granddaughter of the owner who followed our every move with wide-eyed curiosity. That is, until I invited her inside the motor home and gave her a stuffed animal, that was the last we saw of her.

Parked and leveled among calf high weeds, we turned the generator on to run the a/c and left Zoe to guard the vehicle while we went for the “nice dinner in a restaurant” portion of our original plan. Now, you are waiting to hear how this part of the plan all falls apart too, I know. But, no, the restaurant was fantastic.

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The restaurant is along the edges of Mexico’s largest sinkhole, Cenote Azul. Fed by an underground river or “sweet spring” the water is crystal blue, clear – and deep. I’d read that we could jump off the roof of the restaurant into the refreshing cenote, and though we’d opted to pass there certainly were lots of people enjoying the offer. We had a variety seafood dish for two, and left it up to the chef how it was to be prepared. Another English speaking couple sat near us, and we quickly became acquainted. They are from Shelton, WA and were heading (via airplane) to Belize the next day. They would spend 2 weeks on Caye (Key) Caulker, and encouraged us to get over for a visit if we could.

The four of us sat until the sun had set and the mosquitoes began making meals out of us. We walked together as far as the field in which Keith and I were camped, said our goodbye’s and happy travels. I was energized for the border crossing the next day, looking forward to reaching Belize.

January 30, 2008

Palenque in Chiapas

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Mexico — Heligypsy @ 8:38 am

By now we have become accustomed to the men with machine guns. We no longer stare straight ahead as if – if we don’t look at them, they won’t see us – it’s a trick Zoe has taught us. No, now we are bold and will even pull over to ask directions, even though we know they don’t speak English (and they have machine guns). This was the case as we came into the park area of the Palenque Archaeological Site, at dark, looking for our campground the Mayabelle. As before in our travels, I point to the words Mayabelle in our book, as if reading English would be any easier for them. I’m certain I heard one of them repeat “Mayabelle” before waving his arm pointing down the road we were already on. They didn’t shoot us, they didn’t ask for money, and guided us in the right direction. Yeah!

Within 5 minutes we were pulling down the narrow, heavily treed driveway of the campground. There was light at the other end coming from the open aired restaurant and gift shop. At least 20 silhouetted individuals were enjoying dinner and live music. A truck was just ahead of us, the bed was full of backpacks and gear. Greasy haired youths in natural fiber clothing grabbed what was theirs and disappeared into the darkness. This is a place that kids who are “against the Man” and don’t want to “conform” to society find themselves hangin’ out in the palapas in the jungle doing mushrooms. In another 15 years they’ll realize they hadn’t broken free of anything, just conformed to the group of non-conformers. But, I digress, and you get the picture 🙂

We made a plan to take Zoey for a nice long walk the next day (which is getting shorter all the time for her) and head off to explore the ruins of Palenque. As I fell asleep to the live music coming from the restaurant, and distant bellows of howler monkeys in the jungle, I knew we would have to stay another night.

Of the reasons we chose the Mayabelle, the close proximity to the ruins was major. To be able to leave Zoe inside the parked and hooked up vehicle was such a bonus. To get in a couple miles walking there and back was nice too – gets hard sitting for such long hours for days in a row.

The next morning we walked the winding road on a pretty good incline, keeping an ear open for approaching buses so we could step off as far to the side as the jungle would allow. The final curve dumped us into the chaos of the parking lot and ticket area. Souvenir stalls overflowed with baskets, Mayan calendars, statues, masks, multi-colored woven handbags, belts and hair scrunchies. Men with badges around their necks lurked along the sides of the ticket booth, offering “tour guide” services. Small children held out small square cardboard with figurines affixed. It’s always hard to brush off the little kids, but we do anyway.

The way I read about Palenque was that it is an off the beaten path type ruin. Not on the typical tourist route, not highly visited. Well, that must have been back in the day, word has gotten out, visitation is up. We arrived early enough in the mid-morning to get in-between the large, mostly French and German, tour groups. Wandering between temples, through plaza’s, over an aqueduct and up ancient steps, we tried to absorb the history, antiquity, meaning and the mystery of it all.

Mayan feet didn’t come in size 11, so side-stepping the steep and sometimes crumbling stone stairway to the top of the Temple of the Cross was a little precarious. Once I arrived, I was happy to stay awhile and enjoy the view.

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The path laid out for exploring the ruins is such that we came in from the top parking lot, but would descend through a switchback set of paths and stairs, along waterfalls and pools. This allowed us to discovered yet one last set of ruins, and watch and listen to howler monkeys in the jungle before we were deposited just across the street from the museum and gift shop. A few hundred yards from that, and we were back at the Mayabelle with enough daylight to hang at the pool and visit with other travelers in the campground.

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Fully recharged after a day lay-over, we were back on track for getting to Belize. One more day of driving, we would be at the border of our destination.

January 28, 2008

Making up some time

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Mexico — Heligypsy @ 9:42 am

After a hearty breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs and sausage, we were on the road by 7:30 a.m. We decided to follow more advice and take a toll road north of Veracruz, completely bypassing both Veracruz and Catemaco. Yep, we were gonna miss out on the monkeys Miguel had told us about at the border, but we had to get to Belize sometime! So, bypass it was. The advice on following this route was to get an early start, and bring lots of money, the toll road is very expensive. After spending the summer traveling the Attiki Odos toll highway in Greece at $2.70 Euro per booth, we thought the statement that the Mexican toll roads were “expensive” was probably just a matter of opinion.

Our challenge for the day was to get beyond Villahermosa which had suffered major flooding on Oct. 31st. Finding reports of current conditions proved to be difficult, we were not even sure if we would be able to get through. If the roads were passable, there was no chance we were even considering camping in the area…not with 300,000 devastated and now homeless people.

After long hours on the wonderful roads of the toll highway, we decided to shoot for Palenque as our destination. Well beyond Villahermosa, it was unlikely that we would make it before nightfall, but we pushed hard.

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The tolls turned out to be very expensive, we were charged as though we were a semi-truck with multiple axles. The first toll we tried to explain that we were a single axle vehicle, but with dual wheels it was an impossible argument. By the end of the day, we’d collected receipts totaling $1000 pesos, or $100 U.S. dollars. Would we ever learn that the Church’s know what they speak of? Ha! But, just look at the beautiful road, it was worth it.

It was a scenic drive, abundant with pineapple and banana fields. Farmers sold pineapple along the road, beneath underpasses – which was a good thing since there was a lot of rain coming down that day. We arrived in Villahermosa to find the roads passable, and couldn’t escape the cliche that “everything happens for a reason”. Had we not been held up in Texas waiting for the vehicle title, we would have been smack in the middle of the nightmare and chaos of a city flooded equal to the devastation of Katrina. Well, no, we would have found an alternate route, but you know what I mean. For us, it was an uneventful passing through.

On to Palenque we pushed. I was nervous about the dusk coming on, with miles still to go. The warnings about not driving at night are not in reference to being held up by banditos, I can assure you of that. The warnings are because of free farm animals, broken down vehicles, rocks left in the road from said broken down vehicles, and on and on. Of course, you wouldn’t want to break down on the road at night, making yourself vulnerable to any bad egg that might come along. Keith carried on and we made it to our destination in Palenque under a full moon sky.

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January 25, 2008

The good thing about relying on guidebooks….

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Mexico — Heligypsy @ 7:47 am

…beyond that some things change, they are usually right on the money.

Our second day driving in Mexico, we anticipated getting to Catemaco, Veracruz. This plan was against everything we had read about the next 200 miles of road. Church’s book says “You may doubt that it will take you 7 hours to drive only 209 miles…”, we blow off the warning, making reference to the error in our book about the Campestre Altamira, and reminding ourselves they are different sorts of travelers. We should make it to Catemaco easy!

Instead of backtracking from the Airport to the bypass, we found ourselves as lost as lost can get in the heart of Tampico. Big no-no, according to anyone who’s ever done it. The city is a network of one-way narrow paths, that quickly deteriorate from asphalt to rocks and dirt. Our good start for the day had been eaten up in figuring out how to escape the city – took us about an hour. No, we did not stop for directions. Sounds like we were lucky not to get a ticket being down there with an RV.

After a series of fluke-luck decisions and general attempts to keep a heading near to the direction we wanted to end up in, we found ourselves on the correct highway, paying for a toll that we had been expecting to see. Wow! Back on track, at 8 a.m. hooray! After the toll, the road just went to complete hell, which made us laugh at first,

“And this is the road we pay to be on!”

But the miles wore on, relentlessly dangerous. We learned that some of the potholes were almost worth our life to swerve in front of on-coming Semi-truck traffic to avoid. Humor became harder to find. It’s funny again, now, to look back on – like the one bridge that had a pothole – it was actually a full-blown hole – and you could see all the way through down to the water. A guy on a motorcycle wouldn’t stand a chance! We’ll see how funny it is on the way back. It became clear early on that we would not be getting to Catemaco.

The drive was not completely without merit. Besides maneuvering through dusty little villages, trying not to hit dogs, donkeys or little kids holding plastic bags of peeled oranges for sale, the road ran through some gorgeous mountainous topography. Having never traveled around Hawaii, I can only imagine the similarities as we passed massive banana, pineapple and orange groves – some of them growing off steep lush hillsides.

This seems to be the best way to transport the oranges,

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And I laughed that we have traded the roadside veggie & olive oil stands in Greece for the fruit & honey of Mexico. These stands are always so picturesque, no matter what country.

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Checking our map & guidebook, I suggested we make a slight detour and have our lunch at the ruins of El Tajin. We gave ourselves about a 3 hour break. Once we arrived at the ruins we parked in a tree covered, grassy area. I made tuna sandwiches and Keith chatted up the local “parking attendant”, or the guy he gave a few pesos to ‘keep an eye’ on things for us. Of course, Zoey would help 🙂 This was our first exploration of ruins so far on the trip – and my breath was completely taken away. I called my mom to tell her “Happy Thanksgiving” from beneath the famous Pyramid of Niches.

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Most of what is visible at the site today was built around AD 600 or 700 and was unknown to present society until 1785 when an official found it while looking for illegal tobacco plantings. This Pyramid of the Niches is believed to have had 365 niches, suggesting the building was used as a kind of calendar. Keith and I wandered through the ball courts and pyramids, clicking away with the camera – ooooohh’ing and awwww’ing at the great discovery within this jungle. With our memory card full, and battery dead (both the camera and us, ha ha) we made our way back to the squeakster to hit the road again. We backtracked to get on the main highway, and headed for an RV park listed in our book, the Quinta Alicia – said they have internet!

As we made the final turn to the coastal road, we had our first and only encounter with a machine gun wearing bandito looking for a “propina for coffee?” I said no. Keith looked over at me and repeated, “No?” All the books say to say no! I stood firm, “No” I said it very politely, and the guy looked like his feelings were hurt, but not like he was going to shoot us. He waved us on. Keith asks me

“Did you really just tell the guy with the machine gun, ‘no’???”

I said “well, two things. One, I don’t even know how much a coffee costs around here. And two, if he’d have gotten out the squeegee and washed the windows like the kids at the stoplight, I’d have happily given him something.”

Keith says that in all his years, this was hands down the hardest day of driving he has ever done. We arrived in Costa Esmeralda around 4:45 p.m., a mere 209 miles from Tampico done in 6.5 hours driving. This is about when we stop second guessing the Church’s.

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January 23, 2008

The problem with relying on a guidebook…

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Mexico — Heligypsy @ 7:22 am

…is that things change.

From Matamoros we headed straight to Tampico. Now, the Church’s do this drive in two days, but we felt the need to get a move on after spending so much time in Texas, so we altered the route. Plus, it’s obvious they are a different sort of traveler than we are and usually start their day a few hours later than Keith and I do, 350 miles in a day is not unreasonable. It was a wonderful day of driving on excellent two and four-lane free roads, both of which would be conditions we would not see again for most of the trip onward.

When there were road signs we followed them, verifying as much information as possible with the guidebook. We also had the atlas, but never managed to find a real, good, road map. There were times I was frustrated by that, but it turned out not to really matter. Our destination was the Campestre Altamira Holiday Resort, and it was looking good that we would arrive in the late afternoon, perfect for a first days experience driving in Mexico. We followed the guidebooks instructions on how to bypass the city of Tampico, thereby avoiding a toll, and much publicized hassles to RV’ers by cops. The problem? We passed the 2 km mark as stated in the book and watched as we passed the Campestre Residential on our right.

Hmmmm. That did not look good. Keith flipped around, this time we pulled into the gated driveway of the new residential development. The guard approached and I held up the book, pointing to a drawing of a camping spot at this very location and asked “Campestre Altamira???” Noooo, no, Campestre Residential. “Ahhh, si….” I responded, with a gigantic smile. Rolling up the window I said between my teeth “we’re screwed”.

The very last line on page 267 of the camping guide said, in bold:

TAMPICO AIRPORT

I hadn’t even seen that before, but then, I was anticipating overnighting in a resort of sorts -so who needed any extra info. Page 268 of the book continues, “Many people spend the night in the Tampico Airport Parking lot…..the Airport is not hard to find” Sold! For $160 pesos ($16) we parked overnight in the military and police patrolled parking. I reheated leftover fish dinner on the stove and we sat in the cab of the squeakster people watching until dark.

Ok, so it wasn’t the perfect camping solution, heck, it was better than the night at Texas Springs, in Death Valley – at least here we could run the generator! Our adventure had definitely begun.

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