We are again set up just a few hundred feet from the beach at a lovely site, 75 km north of Mazatlan. This is much more remote than our previous stops but the beach is wide, the surf is intense and we are loving it.
We departed Mazatlan on Monday morning after another fun night at Twisted Mama's. It as a fitting end to our visit to Mazatlan and our last evening with Gary and Jane. Gary had promised that the Sunday night band would be better than on our first visit and we were not disappointed. The tunes were a bit heavier and the performance was spectacular. The two lead guitarists, a father and son (17 years old), were fantastic. Their rendition of Guns and Roses' Sweet Child of Mine was as good, if not better, than the original version. It was interesting to see Fran in awe of the two lead guitarists, the younger one, in particular, even when he was playing some heavy metal riffs. Now, a guitar player, she has a new appreciation of guitar talent and skill.
Mare Rosa, Mazatlan
Monday morning we packed up, said our good byes to Craig and Allison and drove north, passing through the Tropic of Cancer, just a few kilometres north of Mazatlan. We arrived at Celestino Gazca by late morning and found the RV site we were planing to stay at to be locked up tight. We retraced our steps and found the Villa Celeste site to be the only one open of 4 along that road. The manager said that there have been very few RVs staying here this year. The US warnings of drug activity in this area have seriously affected tourism here. The federal police ambush of a drug cartel gang a few years ago, at the highway exit to Celestino has probably contributed to the bad publicity. 7 cartel members were killed and within days all the parks along the strip here were vacated of nervous RVers.
Green flash was there but didn't get it on camera
The night we arrived we had a significant change in weather. Fran read about the weather warning on the net and by sunset clouds began to move inshore. During the night we had several showers and by morning the sky was dark and threatening. What better time to drive east into the hills to visit a 'magic town'..... Cosala was on Fran's 'trip home bucket list' and it had to be today or never. As we drove east into the hills the sky behind us got progressively darker and, by the time we arrived, the wind was blowing hard and rain was intermittent. It was a quick visit and we were not that impressed. After a few hours of wandering around town, a great taco lunch while waiting for a heavy shower to pass, we headed back to the beach. By the time we arrived back at the park it was blowing a gale with an occasional rain shower and temperatures in the mid teens (C), time to dig out sweaters and long pants. Back in Mazatlan Gary and Jane were pelted by walnut size hail and in Chamela, Kirk and Charlene observed 2 waterspouts in the distance, not something you want to tangle with in a sailboat. This morning the gale had passed and the sea was calm with light winds but still a heavy surf in the bay. As I look at the horizon now I can see heavy TC clouds to the south. Mazatlan and points south must still be getting hammered.
This morning Craig and Allison rolled in for the night. Their destination was a 7 hour drive away from Mazatlan so they decided to break it up by stopping here.
Tomorrow we continue our journey. We are aiming for El Fuerte where Zorro was reputed to have come from. Rosie will be upset. She has really enjoyed her time on the beaches. From now on it will be more controlled walks and less free rein.
Advert for a local band. Seems to be a pre-occupation with drugs and guns......
Ancient petroglyphs on the beach, south of Celestino
Lower one is a pelican.
15:30, Monday, 14 Mar, Playa Cortez Hotel and RV park, Guaymas, Son
We have had a few days of intense driving and are back to within a few miles of where we started from last November. This playa pales in comparison to the beaches we have become used to but we are here only for a few days while finishing business in Guaymas. We will be moving on to San Carlos on Thursday.
The drive to El Fuerte was quite pleasant but made for along day. We passed some of the best market garden areas of Mexico and the source of much of the vegetables sold back home. There were huge fields of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, peppers, watermelons, pumpkins (oddly enough, types we never see back home), beans and potatoes to mention a few. We also passed processing plants for some of the products where tomatoe sauces were made. As we approached El Fuerte we passed through ares of citrus orchards and where we saw some of the few roadside stands selling fruit. You would think that in an area so rich in produce there would be lots of stands but, up to that point, we had only seen roadside entrepreneurs selling potatoes and oranges but the huge sack. These stands had limes,oranges and grapefruit. We paid the equivalent of about $1.50 for a bag of 8 pink grapefruit. They are super sweet and delicious. Wish we could afford them back home.....
We arrived in El Fuerte by mid-afternoon, set up the trailer and set off for a recce downtown. El Fuerte (the Fort) is another magic town and worthy of that classification. It is full of charming old haciendas surrounded by walls but now many have been converted to hotels and restaurants. The fort/museum was closed for renovations but we had our sights set on the Hotel Posada Hidalgo, the original home and birthplace of Don Juan de la Vega who became Zorro. There is a very nice statue of him in the hotel courtyard and the bar serves a Zorro tequila, made by the Herradura tequila company in Guadalajara. We both agree that this was the smoothest tequila we have ever tasted. When we arrived back at the RV site we found Al and Sue, friends from the Rincon Flamingo park set up beside us.
The following day we took a sight seeing trip down the El Fuerte river with Philipe, a guide from the Hotel Rio Vista, who had been recommended by other RVers. The aim of the tour was to see many types of birds and some petroglyphs that had been discovered in the 1990's after the river level was lowered by upstream dams. It was a good tour but for the bugs. They have a black fly there that is voracious and Fran, who never gets 'bugged' and refuses to use bug spray was eaten alive and has since developed a reaction to the bites. We had to see Dr Sanchez this morning, the same Doctor who had treated her years ago. She will have to undergo a 3-day course of anti-biotic injections.
Our guide and bateau
A rare tiger heron
Kara Kara hawks
We spent that evening with Al and Sue who were leaving for the Copper Canyon in the morning and had supper at another old hacienda restaurant. This is probably a good spot to mention the cost of eating of eating out in Mexico. So far we have not spent more that $50 (for 2) for a meal in Mexico. This one was at an upscale restaurant and, with drinks, we still managed under $50. Local bass was the main item on the menu and it as delicious. In Mazatlan, at our favourite rib place, Fat Fish, we were all in for under $20. Yesterday, on our way here we stopped at a small roadside restaurant on the causeway and had a great fish meal for under $15. Ohh to have prices like that in Canada!
The roads along the route varied from poor to excellent. We relied mainly on the toll highways as they are supposed to be much better quality but along the 15D there are some new and some old sections that are being renewed. The new roads are solid re-inforced concrete 8 inches thick and made with a purpose built machine. Just hope their roadbeds have improved. This will make for a much better driving experience in the future. We found the tolls to be a bit exorbitant, but, then again, new roads are expensive. In total we spent about $135 in tolls since Mazatlan. Kind of reminds me of the prices on the BC ferry system.
The price of gas everywhere else in the world fluctuates with the price of a barrel of oil. Not in Mexico! The price per litre of gas has been a steady 13.16 pesos/li. since we arrived and it was close to that last year, similar to what we were paying at home last summer. There is only one fuel (automotive gas and diesel) company in Mexico, Pemex, owned privately but very well regulated and, undoubtedly, well protected by the government. They have a comfortable monopoly and must pay big bucks (pesos) to the higher ups to maintain that status. Fuel has always been the major expense in Mexico. Propane, on the other hand, fluctuates depending on where you are. Several companies provide for auto and home use, however, I am told that it really isn't the propane we are familiar with but butane.
We visited Ariana at her new ice cream shop, Good Choice, in Guaymas. Since being let go from the Fonatur marina and since her wedding last November she has resurrected her mother's former business and is making a go of it. She seems happy and is looking fwd to moving into their new house in a few days. We sampled some of her wares, delicious!!
Wednesday, 16 Mar 16, same location.
Yesterday we went to our old boatyard to pick up the dinghy we had purchased the day we left the yard last November. Bill and MIrjam, now the owners of Tigger, having had their old ferro-cement boat condemned and destroyed, were busy making Tigger their own. It will be a while before they complete the long list of modifications they want to do but their determination and energy is high and they are young enough to get it all done. What a relief it was to find that he dinghy fit on the back of the truck. It has an overlap of about 18" but will not interfere with the trailer setu
Once back at the park it was time to get the truck washed. When we went to the petroglyphs near Celestino we had gone through some muddy patches and the truck was filthy. Add to that 4 months of beach life and the sand and dust. There are several auto washer/cleaners on the road here and I found one that did a complete cleaning inside and out for 100 pesos ($8 ish). They did a very good job. The suspension of the truck had begun to worry me. With a full load in the back and cab and a heavy tongue weight the springs were overloaded and the ride was quite rough, especially over some of the bad roads we have been travelling. I found a suspension specialist garage in town that will install an extra leaf on both sides for less than $200. What a bargain. Hope it does the job.
PS. The entire job, with an oil change was about $200. The end result was a lift of 2 1/2 inches. That will solve the immediate problem. Now to see if truck and trailer will handle the extra weight We also took the timer to have one last feed at Compa Juan's, near Gabriel's yard. We have been having some of the best seafood at this small stand for the past 7 years and have been introduced to most of Juan's family over the years.
Friday, 18 Mar, Totonaka RV Park, San Carlos
This park is the most populated one we have stayed in to date. This is the time of year when many snowbirds are on their way home and this is a popular stop prior to heading north towards the border. After we arrived yesterday there must have been another 15 rigs that arrived, some to just stay the night before motoring on, while others appear to be long-term residents.
A few hours after we arrived Bill and Linda arrived, just in time to go out to a few pubs to celebrate St Patrick's Day. Linda brought the appropriated assortment of shirts, hats and other paraphernalia for us to stand out, and we did.
There is some Irish in all of us....