Monday, January 30, 2012

We have hauled the rig to Los de Marcos…and a road report!

Monday January 30, 2012

We left Mazatlan at 8:00am yesterday on our first journey south with the rig.  We had carefully checked the route so the trip wouldn’t be any more stressful than necessary.  The construction on the highway leaving Mazatlan has been partially completed (overpass done) and as well we took a short detour (Sam found this and it is a concrete road with very little traffic)to avoid the construction of another overpass. 


Diesel power generation plant leaving Mazatlan.  No wonder there is so much pollution.

We picked up fuel in Villa Union because we were taking the Cuota 15D (toll road) to Tepic and there are no fuel stops unless you get off in a small town and then pay another toll to get back on.  No Bueno!  The toll road from Villa Union to Acaponeta was very, very rough and they have no business charging you to use it!  In addition at every toll booth there was mass confusion because we have 3 axels on the trailer and they couldn’t figure out how to print out a ticket.  Much conversation, yelling back and forth, delay and finally a second had written ticket.  Not sure what the issue is as we have never had a problem in Sonora or most of Sinaloa.  Total tolls for us….1011 pesos or about $80.00!!  More than the fuel for the truck. 


Looking toward Tepic.


Estuary flats past Esquinapa.

From just north of Acaponeta to Tepic the road was much better which is good because the second toll we paid was 450 pesos!!!  We took the toll road for speed and the ability to pass if needed and we did note that the stretch coming into Tepic on the toll road was much less windy than the free road.  So….now for the issue.  When we left Mazatlan the controller for the trailer brakes was not working properly!  This has happened before but it was a huge worry with the hill from Tepic to Las Varas coming up. 


Coming into Jalisco on the south end of Tepic.


Beautiful building.


Every town large or small has a beautiful square.


Narrow street that you must pass through in Jalisco.  Fine as long as no one is illegally parked on the wrong side of the road!

Pemex on the south end of Jalisco to fuel up and have a quick bite.  We arrived there around 1pm and were out by 1:15.  It was quite cute that the young women pumping fuel wanted to see the motorcycle inside the trailer but when she looked in she was more interested in my petunia baskets.  Go figure!  We’d thought we might have to add fuel from our jerry cans but in the end we had 1/4 tank left and all was well.  Just like the Boy Scouts say”Be prepared!”   Now for down the hill.  We made the trip a little faster than we would have liked because we had to use the truck brakes and the transmission to slow us down which could only have been done because of the high compression engine on the diesel.   The portion from Jalisco to Compostela was not very steep but it was very windy and narrow.


P1020206  Road from Compostela to Las Varas.  I was holding on to the “ Oh F..k handles on the top portion and not taking pictures!”


Buses, cane trucks, semis….they are all coming at you.  I should say that no one honks…as they are used to slow traffic and for the most part they are careful to stay on their own side of the road.  This is the main route south from Tepic to Puerto Vallarta and we are all on the same road!



The trees are high enough to pass under.

Some people do continue on the toll road toward Guadalajara and take another expensive toll road back to Compostela to avoid the travel through the town of Jalisco (we did not think it was an issue) and also to avoid the very windy, narrow road from Jalisco to Compostela.  Not an issue for us but…..each to their own.  The road from Compostela to Las Varas is steeper but the curves are more sweeping and the road is a bit wider and better paved.  This part of the road is good.  The brush is not an issue on the hill.  We were happy when we are hit the bottom of the hill but we still had to be careful at stop lights without trailer brakes!

We arrived in the La Parota park in Los de Marcos by 3pm and were partially set up by 4pm.  Whew! 


Nice big pads, grass and plants along the patio.  Nice.

As we came through the small town of Los de Marcos we were happy we had scoped it out so we knew how to get in here safely.  I should note we had trucks of gringos stop and ask if we needed help getting to the park as we drove into town.  Very nice!

So here we are, almost set up and feeling proud of ourselves for leaving the nest in Las Jaibas, or the sailboat from the dock etc.  Eric is happy.  The weather is warm, humid and cloudy but lovely.  We are parked next to Brian and Sharon from Saskatchewan whom we met in Las Jaibas.  We chose a pull thru spot for unloading the Harley and we are the closest to the palapa, showers, etc. so no neighbor on that side.  We will stay a month and gain more new experiences.  Everyone here seems friendly so far. 


Saul’s son with the veggie truck delivering in the park.  That’s Brian and Sharon’s rig beside it. 


Door to garage in the rig where the motorcycle and all our crap is!  Queen size bed above the door behind the curtain.  There are two three quarter electric bunks in the garage as well.  Who the heck needs that much company! 


Big Red safely tied in. 




A view with the back gate down.  It all works great as long as Eric doesn’t ride the Harley through the wall into the kitchen!

P.S.  Eric thinks he has rectified the problem with the controller but we won’t know until we move again.  At least we’ll be going up hill next time!

We plan to travel back to Mazatlan on the toll road north from Tepic to Mex 54 exit to San Blas to eliminate the curvy free road at the Tepic end.  We will then travel the free road north to Mazatlan.  Mazatlan to Acaponeta have the two most expensive tolls while the last two are more reasonable.  We know that the pavement on the free road is better but all of this had been a travel time issue for us.  If this all seems long winded I do like to put as much info on the blog that is as detailed as possible for other travelers.  I hate it when info just says steep and windy…..okay but where and how bad!!!….and I won’t say until we have done it ourselves. 

Another footnote is that I have been asked what route we took from Mazatlan to Los de Marcos since we arrived and I must say everyone has their own idea as to which route to take, through Tepic and down the hill or through San Blas.   Eric suggested that if you were sitting here most of the winter you might drive your vehicle to San Blas to see what you might face on the drive if you wanted to go that way.   San Blas to Villa Hildago north wasn’t an issue but we felt Las Varas to San Blas was a tree problem for our rig.  Each to their own! 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ready to hit the road for Los de Marcos tomorrow.

Saturday January 28, 2011

Thursday, Friday and Saturday have been spent packing up the rig, loading Big Red doing laundry etc. etc.  We have picked up supplies at Soriana’s so we don’t have to dash into Walmart close to Puerto Vallarta right when we get south.  Fruits & veggies, bread, fish and small grocery stores are all available in Los de Marcos so no problemo!   We will leave here at 8:00am tomorrow and should be in Los de Marcos mid afternoon. 

Eric spent Thursday on the net searching out a new front tire for Big Red.  There was one in Guadalajara but they wanted $281.00 for it, plus shipping…..ouch!  The Harley shop in Scottsdale wanted $226.00 and it wouldn’t be practical (too expensive to ship to Mexico.)  In the end he found a proper Dunlop tire from Rocky Mountain ATV in Utah for $143.00 with free shipping to Yuma.  A great deal.  It will be shipped to Bill & Arlie (son in laws parents) in Yuma and George and Sharen from Oregon will pick it up on their way south.  Super!   Eric will have it installed here in Mazatlan when we return here at the beginning of March.  Eric just loves it when a plan all comes together.  Hope it all works out as planned.

Today we had a late walk on the beach today and it was quite lovely.  It is a wonderful beach for walking.  I have been meaning to take some pictures of the sandstone formations that appear at the edge of the shore.  Here they are.

P1020192 P1020195   P1020197 P1020193



Another beautiful day at the beach.  Tomorrow…..a new beach!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A really nice day and a ride to El Tigre.

Wednesday January 25, 2012

Yesterday Eric and I hopped the bus downtown to see Dr. Olalde for a follow up visit for me.  He and I had a nice chat and at this point it looks like my muscle condition is stable enough with the medication he prescribed.   Dr. Olalde pointed out that I should see a rheumatologist when I get home to find out what is actually going on.  At this point things are pretty good so no worries right now.  I should also mention with no slur intended to our Canadian Medical system that the care here is Mexico is great.  Kind, caring doctors who are readily available by cell phone or internet.  Very comforting!

The area that Dr. Olalde has his office in is in a an old and very beautiful area down town.  The area is filled with hospitals, clinics, labs and all things related.  We wandered through (sorry no camera with me) and were impressed by the beauty of the area. 

Here are a couple pictures of the local phone company raising the telephone wire in the park.  The palm trees have to do double duty around here!



A Ride to El Tigre!

Today we left the park in a small convoy with Sam and Rita and also Frank, Sandi, Dennis and Marilyn in the jeep.  We had wanted to go to San Javier on the way to San Ignacio for a ride an lunch but the drug gang issues have heated up in this area and Arturo (on our front desk) said it wouldn’t be a good idea.  We deferred to his suggestion!  So, another ride to El Tigre and I must say it is my favorite ride here in the Mazatlan area. 


Fuel stop for the Harley’s out by the airport.

  A quiet ride once you get through Villa Union along rural agricultural roads.  We led and Eric went quite slow so he could sightsee!



A lovely lunch at El Tigre although I did make a slight error when I ordered Pescado Frito and I should have ordered Fillete Frito so I got a whole small fish instead of fillets.  All delicious anyway.  Frank and Sandi had Pescado Zarandeado which they really like and they had leftovers for dinner that night. 




This very quiet, gentle Mexican dog scooted over to Marilyn for a pat.  Like all the female dogs here she is either, nursing puppies or pregnant.  What a life.  At least she wasn’t skinny. 

When we were ready to leave El Tigre’s after lunch Frank and Sandi decided to return the way we came and not continue out through Rosario so we decided to do the same.  Funny how the reverse of a route looks like a new route! 


Sam & Rita. 


Frank & Sandi stopped here to have a look.  This is a shrimp farm, not a greenhouse operation and you can see the vehicle tire sanitization wash just ahead through the gate. 


This beautiful estate on the beach is under construction.  It sits by itself, surrounded by a wall and is presently being landscaped.  This photo does not do it justice. 

We did realize that there were a couple of one way streets that we had to find in El Walamo and also Villa Union. 


One way street in El Walamo going our way.  You can see the Mexicans take that as “just a suggestion.”


Bye, bye El Walamo.

Villa Union looks like it warrants a closer look when you get off the main drag.  Villa Union is “Ramona’s” home town (Connie and Manny adopted her off the street there four years ago.  Lucky dog! 


One way in Villa Union. 


Beautiful building in Villa Union.


Pretty little flower shop at the side of the road. 



You  can just see the kids hands inside the back of this truck.  They were yelling and waving at us as we sped along the highway back to Mazatlan.  Lord knows how many there were in there. 

So another beautiful day and ride done.  Eric is now trying to find a new front tire for the Harley as it has deteriorated much faster than he thought it would.  He will try here in Mexico and also in the States as we may be able to get George & Sharen to pick it up on their way south. 

We had a beautiful sunset this evening, wouldn’t you agree!

P1020167 P1020168


Monday, January 23, 2012

We will go to Los de Marcos for a month.

Monday January 23, 2012

We have decided to leave Las Jaibas and take the rig to the La Parota trailer park in Los de Marcos for a month.  Eric will be able to swim to his hearts content and we will gain new experience hauling the rig.  I think we have done our homework correctly and will take the toll road to Tepic and down the hill through Compostela to Los de Marcos.  Bittersweet to leave our friends here but we plan to return for the month of March before we leave Mexico.

I will spend this week seeing Doctor Olalde, having a pedicure and haircut, shopping for groceries and getting a bike ride in before we leave on Sunday morning.  It will be busier in Los de Marcos and there are more bugs but we think it will be a good choice for a first move farther south.  This rig is not made for bopping around Mexico and we must be careful if we don’t want to damage it. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Finishing up in Los de Marcos and the ride back to Mazatlan through Tepic.

Saturday January 21, 2012

Sorry I have been so slow to update the blog but you know I have just been so busy!  I will point out that I give full marks to all my fellow bloggers for the time and effort they put into their blogs.  I know how much time it takes!

So what happened for the rest of the week?  Well, not too much.  I was still not feeling 100% from the La Tourista and having to deal with the muscle problems that have been plaguing me.  Tolerable now.  

We spent the rest of the week eating eggs for breakfast although we did manage to coax one Senora in a restaurant next to Tlaquepaque into  making us some delicious hotcakes but she didn’t show much enthusiasm!  The other restaurant next to us on the other side was hit and miss as they never seemed to have any regular business hours.  I know this is Mexico but they are from Colorado and must realize that if you want business you have to be open if you want people to spend their money.  It is the same hit or miss restaurant hours as the Queen Charlotte Islands off the coast of northern B.C.!

We ate our evening meals (no lunches) at the restaurants along the street….sometimes at Saul’s where his wife ViVi took great care of us and sometimes….at the new Pizza, pasta place that has just been opened by some English (England) people.  All good.

Afternoons were spent by me at the pool and then off to the beach at the south end for some swimming.  The water is warm 78F and swimming was good.  The swimming beach is right in front of La Parota where we hope to stay.  At this point we have decided to haul the rig south at the end of the month and spend February in Los de Marcos.  This will give us more of an idea of what we want in future years. 

Tlaquepaque was it’s usual noisy self over the last few days and although we got rid of the school kids on Saturday another bunch returned on Tuesday night.  Out with those wax earplugs again!  I will say that this bunch was older and they had them very well organized with lots to do so they were not nearly as loud as the last bunch.  In the end the really loud ones were the gringos who stayed up late at the palapa drinking, playing darts and yelling.  Grow up guys! 

We decided to head home Thursday and not continue any farther south on the bike this time.  With me being sick and the fact that Los de Marcos looks good for a first RV stop heading south we will leave it at that for now. 

We hit the road early 7:30am on the way back to Mazatlan and our route through Las Varas, Compostela, Xalisco, Tepic and then back on the free road home.  We ate a quick breakfast of yogurt and a Mexican bun before we left and decided to stop for lunch along the way.

The ride up the hill from Las Varas to Compostela is windy, steep and slow on the motorcycle.  It would be the same with the RV.  There are few places for people to pass and they just have to wait for the slow traffic that is ahead of them.  From Compostela to Xalisco the small town south of Tepic it was again windy, steep and slow but there was no overhanging brush to damage the rig.


Cane fields just south of Xalisco.


Just south of Xalisco this peak is in the distance.  Possibly Cerro Alto at 2,240 meters as it is the highest peak in the area. 

We stopped at the Pemex just south of  Xalisco for fuel and a short rest.  As we travelled north through the actual town of Xalisco we noted that the streets are wide enough for the rig to pass.  Some people take the toll road south towards Guadalajara and then back to Compostela to avoid Xalisco and the windy road from Tepic to Compostela.  Didn’t seem to be a problem but we haven’t taken our rig on it yet!  We did note that you have to be very careful to stay in the left lane at the north end of Xalisco so that you won’t miss the obscure left turn sign that puts you on the Libramiento ring road towards Mazatlan as you leave town.  If you miss it you are going downtown!  No Bueno.  At the north end of Tepic you have a choice of the free road or the toll road.  Free road for the motorcycle….toll road for the rig.  The motorcycle can easily pass slow moving traffic and needs fuel along the way while the rig can’t pass and needs less fuel stops.

The road leaving Tepic is downhill for a very long way and goes on for about 25 miles.  A long grind for the RV heading south up the hill.  From that point on it was flat and we made our lunch stop at El Mil just north of Rosamoranda where we had eaten on our way south.  While Eric was fueling up the Mexican at the pump made motions that he wanted to buy Big Red!  Eric said “No…my wife won’t let me!”  Everyone had a good laugh and Eric gave him 10 pesos for handing him the nozzle so he could fuel up.  “No fuel drips on the hot motorcycle engine!” 

We both had a delicious Mexican lunch… fried chicken with salad, French fries and beans….Eric….had two quesadillas (homemade tortillas) with beans and two drinks for 120 pesos or $9.60.  Cheap and yummy.  Back on the road and a good ride back to the park.  The free road is in great shape and you can easily do 70 but would be unable to pass with an RV. 


Coming into Esquinapa.  Much easier going north on the free road rather than south. 


Church in the centre of Esquinapa.

We made a “rest your bum break” at Rosario and then home.  We were back in the park safe and sound by 3:30pm and happy to be home.  Chico was really happy to see us and it wasn’t  just the motorcycle….I think he really likes us now….must be the cheese treats. 

Everyone was happy to see us back safe and sound and we were happy to be back.     

Monday, January 16, 2012

A ride toward San Blas and the report of RV vehicle theft.

Monday January 16, 2012

We set off this morning for a ride to the trailer parks along the Playa Los Cocos south of San Blas and Aticama.  We are still toying with a safe route from Mazatlan to Los de Marcos and wanted to have another look before we made a decision.  We had decided to look at the RV parks along Playa Los Cocos and see if there would be a possible stop over for our rig. 

Now for the bad news.  We received an email from Sam & Rita with some disturbing news about an incident at the Playa Amour trailer park on Friday January 13th.  Sam had spoken to an RVer who had returned to Mazatlan after a short stay at Playa Amour.  The RVer and his wife were walking their two dogs on the beach at Playa Amor and tried to strike up a conversation with two Mexicans on cell phones.  They spoke perfect English but were unwilling to talk and seemed very nervous.  As the RVers returned to the grassy area next to the park they heard a commotion behind them in the RV park.  It turns out there was a vehicle theft in progress.  The same two Mexicans had drawn a gun on an elderly RVer from B.C. and his wife and had demanded the keys to their truck.  They complied.  The park manager came running but the gun was turned on him and he stopped.  The truck was stolen and driven away at high speed for a short distance and then it was transferred to someone else.  To date it has not been recovered.  ….I am writing this after I returned to Mazatlan and have verified this information with the RVers who were there at the time.   When we passed by the park there were about ten rigs still there so I guess the panic was over.  A sad thing to happen both for the RVers and the park. 


On the road just out of Las Varas heading north.


Coming into Zacualpan which is one of the small towns that are loaded with those dreaded “Topes.”  Sam & Rita also reported they were exhausted from bashing over topes and dodging potholes on the coastal route north through Las Varas, San Blas and Villa Hildago before they hit the free road heading north back to Mazatlan.  


Mission control on Big Red!


A beautiful flower laden tree that we passed by.  All these pictures are taken as we are whizzing along so it is amazing you can actually see anything.  Panasonic Lumix ZS7. 


These trees would definitely hit the top of the rig.


The ocean appears.


These trees would whack us too!


A view from the road.


Lots of vegetation along the way.


Coming into Aticama.


School children look the same everywhere.


Every Mexican town has a square.


Inside the restaurant next to the square.  Eric had a coke and I trotted down the street for an ice cream cone.  There was a huge amount of food on the barbecue but we had just had a big breakfast and weren’t that hungry.  The “Helado…Ice cream store” was full of school kids and they were happy to help me pick flavors.  I didn’t understand most of it but they explained that I wanted “dos pelotas…or balls if I heard them right when I asked for two in sign language.   Fun!



A view of the beach from the square.


Big Red waiting patiently while we have a rest.


Coming into Zacualpan on the way back. 


We were waiting to pull out onto the highway at Las Varas when I spotted this add.  For most of my life I worked for an orthodontist and here was a sign showing the local rates.  Maybe I should go and see if I can get a job!!

We turned north at Las Varas and stopped at the Pemex that is on the way to Tepic for a short rest before we headed south back to Los de Marcos.



This fellow was cutting tile with the manual cutter and then trimming them up with grinder.  The tiles were going around the pumps on the commercial fuel island.  I might also mention that he had a huge butt crack….no photo! 

When we ride back to Mazatlan we will check the route up the hill from Las Varas through Compostela and through Tepic to decide on a preferred route.  This might seem like a lot of preparation for a trip south but our rig is maximum height 14’ and maximum width and we do not want any damage.