4-5-2018 – Schadewijk, Netherlands
Today I am feeling completely at peace and so thankful for everything that I have in my life. Yesterday was the day that we picked up Eldo from the shipping company in Belgium. For me it was a very emotional day. It had been 41 days without our home. I know that it sounds completely silly and ridiculous that someone could be emotional over a Jeep Cherokee but I am living proof that it is totally possible. I guess when you decide to get rid of all your belongings except for the basic essentials and make a Jeep your home, you become a little attached to it. Eldo has played such a role in our lives. Last night as it was raining and cold outside, I plugged in my mattress heater and electric heated blankets and crawled right in. The safety and warmth that Eldo provided was priceless. I was warm, cozy, safe and back at home.
We woke up to a beautiful field, soft drizzling of rain, horses, birds, sheep, dogs and cats all around us on this working farm. There was a “cantina” that we could use, which is basically a small home with a kitchen, cookies, coffee and a beautiful singing bird. As we made up our hot oatmeal and fresh coffee we set our GPS journey for the day. We have 2.5 days to drive 11 hours north to reach our ship that we will board for 3 days with Eldo to Iceland. Loving every moment of the adventure my body, heart and soul is at complete peace and ready for more adventures!!!
-just another day on the road…
2-22-2018, Panama City, Panama
Wow, these last couple days have been a whirlwind. I am now in Panama City and have been here for awhile now. Feeling so fortunate to have this great deal with hotels here so have been enjoying the luxuries of a nice hotel right in the downtown of the city. Panama City is really nothing to exciting, a big city with all the same stores. They do drive a bit aggressive and crazy here. Some countries are just plain crazy like Guatemala but here they drive angry and crazy! Eldo has been doing great.
This is the end of the long journey down Central America. From here we cannot physically drive south anymore, it is the time to decide to ship Eldo somewhere. We were trying to decide which continent to go to. Normal overalanders all do the same exact route, from Panama City to Colombia and then drive south. Well, I had a crazy idea of not having to do the “normal” thing. Technically we could go anywhere in the world. Shipping is all about the same amount of money, no matter what continent we go to. So, we narrowed it down to Africa, Australia (New Zealand), Colombia or Europe (Iceland)! Hahahaha, some people would not call this narrowing it down, but for us, it was much clearer. We were kind of thinking that a change in culture and language would be nice, so we did not cross off but, well Colombia (which was our whole plan) moved down on the list. Africa, we did not really feel like doing that quite yet. So then it was Australia or Iceland or Europe.
And we started the whole process. Both of us viciously sending out tons of emails to all shipping companies we could find on the internet requesting estimates for shipping Eldo. Of course, we had perfect timing with it being a HUGE holiday here in Panama and NO ONE was at work, they were all at the beach! We had to wait 4 days before we got any type of response at all. We finally had a few trickles of responses. Most of them saying that they don’t do this type of service. Then we got one response and he seemed fairly reliable and responsive! We ran with it, he gave us a quote for Germany and we took it!! As optimistic as we are, we started the whole process and we were ready to go and ship out in 2 days! Then we got the email, stating that because of the holidays, it would be impossible to make the shipment with all the needed paperwork to Germany…….
So, no to Germany right away and we started all over again. We had a pile of quotes to Spain, Belgium, Germany, Amsterdam and Colombia. The thing that makes this even more confusing and expensive is not only do we need to find a shipping broker here in Panama, but we also must find one in the receiving country to pick up Eldo and help with the customs and paperwork. So not only are we emailing shipping brokers here in Panama but also in all the countries that we were thinking of going to. Every country has totally different requirements for entry and charges. We were emailing like crazy all different companies around the world and only getting very few responses.
Eldo is on her way to another continent on a big ship in a nice and safe shipping container!!! Just a few more steps to go and she is off!!!!
Can you guess where she is headed to?!?!?!
2-02-2018, MalPais, Costa Rica
Today I wake up to the sounds of congo monkeys in a tree close by and the waves crashing on the beach against the rocks and the smell of magnolia tree above me. I open my eyes and see the morning sun with the incredible beach just a few feet away. I lay there enjoying the morning sounds and feelings of full freedom. My mind starts to wander as it does with all the things that I am so thankful for.
Yesterday was a bit of a challenging travel day, although it was only 36 miles of actual travel it felt like hundreds. Through long, bumpy, dirt roads, so much dust everywhere that at some points I could barely see the roads of the cars coming towards us. Our destination was this small campground that we read about on ioverlander.
Upon arriving we look around at this simple place, right on the beach with everything possible available that anyone could possibly need. We spot out our perfect little area with some nice shade from the trees and back Eldo right up. Eldo feels instantly at home. Home is where we park it. We pop open an icy cold beer and watch an incredible sunset over the ocean. The sky fills with a vibrant pink color as I sit there on the old wooden seat by the beach.
After the sun goes down, I lay in bed for a few minuets to recoop from that treacherous drive. The congo monkeys are my favorite and they always get extra excited about sunset time, so of course they are talking. Then, its time for dinner. We pull out the whole chicken that we bought for like 4$ that we have been eating for a few days along with a full variety of veggies left over and make a huge pot of yumminess in our donde.cooker. Oh let me tell you how wonderful the discovery of this pressure cooker has been. Meals are easy breezy to make, super fast to cook and incredibly healthy. They all so far turn out to be this soothing hot stew like and we are adding ginger and garlic to everything! Thank you donde van for the wonderful suggestion!
With full happy bellies and happy hearts we walk back to Eldo, put up some of the curtains, adjust the fans and crawl into bed. I am feeling not that sleepy, so yes, I indulge in a little guilty pleasure of watching some Netflix. The internet here is really good so I was able to finish off the season with the sounds of the ocean waves and the congo monkeys talking.
I look back at my day and really wonder, how is it that I am so fortunate to be homeless and jobless. The simplicity in life is such a blessing. Every moment is a moment to be thankful for and enjoy.
-just another day on the road…
01-29-2018 Tulin, Costa Rica
The plan to drive 3.5 hours to Playa Coyote was abruptly changed upon rounding a sharp downhill turn through the cloud forest mist. Elizabeth made a patented split second right hand turn. She saw a nice looking restaurant with a huge parking area. “Let’s see if they will let us camp here,”she said. We were greeted by a friendly young woman who smiled happily when asked about camping. We were welcome to stay anywhere on the beautifully landscaped grounds for only $16 a night. Our host asked if we were local because Elizabeth’s spanish was too good for her to be a tourist. There were bathrooms and a warm water shower next to the restaurant. Eldo was now parked at the top of the hill and backed up to a small wooded area overlooking a small but mighty creek. The rushing water was a perfect way to relax while enjoying a couple cold beers that we bought from our camp hosts.
Later, while setting up camp, which actually is just our two folding chairs and a small outdoor rug, a friendly looking guy rode up on his bike. We were up a fairly steep hill that dead ended into an even steeper hill, so obviously he was not a through biker. He stopped, smiled, and with a classic English accent, introduced himself; talking a mile a minute. He was a fellow camper for the evening, and had been riding his bicycle through Central America. He was heading to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, and stopped for the night. We chatted awhile about our lives and adventures and when he set off to set up his small downhill camp, we invited him back for dinner.
Dinner tonight was another pressure cooker meal. Included with some leftover potatoes and onions, we found a local market and picked up some alien looking root vegetables, a hand of fresh ginger, and several cloves of fresh garlic. Crammed all this into the small 3 liter pot along with a couple pieces of leftover grilled meat from our gluttony fest in Esparaza. Always pushing the boundaries of safety and taste in the pressure cooker. We crammed the lid on, locked it in place, lit the burner, and held on for the ride.
After several minutes of steam hissing, pot rattles, and finger crossing, we remove the pot from the stove and set it aside to depressurize and cool just a bit. Next up, we take a dozen whole mushroom caps,cram them full of creamy tasty queso crema, sprinkle with some hot pepper, cover and cook until the crema is melted and dripping from the caps. Just as everything finishes cooking, our bicycle riding dinner guest arrives. We gladly share our hot nourishing meal, eat, tell our road and life stories, and laugh into the darkening misty night.
Somewhere in Costa Rica…..
01-25-2018 Jacksonville, Florida
All I can say is that it feels like it has been a whirlwind of a couple weeks. I sit here taking in a deep breath and the world starts to feel at peace all over again. The comforts of an airport air and a nice icy cold beverage never felt so good. First time, I , am not running across the airport but sitting and enjoying a moment before the long travel day ahead.
It all started at 6am, painfully awaking to a wonderful cup of coffee, an icy refreshing bowl of cereal and perfect company. Chatted a bit with a friend and hit the road. We had to drive from Daytona Beach to Gainesville, only to keep going to Jacksonville to catch an afternoon flight. Of course, all this is to be done in a few hours, including packing, eating, showering and of course a nice visit with my grandfather. Grampa is… well… where I got my blue eyes and love for travel from. Our conversations mostly start off with either a travel story/ plan of his or one of mine. I have always felt a special connection with my grandpa and we both get that special twinkle in our eyes when any mention of travel is around.
After a nice warm grandpa hug, we head off and hit the road again. I am starting to actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. Excitement starts to fill my body as we are driving towards the airport. I fill up on some wonderful homemade mom food. Happy belly, happy heart. Finally arriving to the airport I feel a euphoria cover my soul. We had to check in a few boxes this time which is not normal for us. Normally I just have a small bag on my back but this time we were stocking up our supplies for Eldo. Here is a list of some of the Eldo essentials that we felt were special enough to actually carry all the way to Costa Rica.
- 24 cans of chef boyarde ravioli/ beefaroni/ spaghetti
- 36 individual packs of mini pepperoni (perfect to make pizza everywhere)
- 12 tin cans of altoid mints (perfect for mornings, when you don’t want to brush your teeth in the middle of the city)
- Bbq sauce
- Squeeze jalapeno cheese
- Ramen noodles (good with everything)
- Bagged flavored tuna (great easy source of protein)
- 4 huge sausages (thank you Mr. Graham)
- Misc salad dressing packages (thank you Hampton Inn)
- Front and rear break pads
- Fuel pump relay
- Throttle position sensor
- Remote control car battery kill/ shut off switch (I’m super excited about this!)
- 2 oil filters
- Anti-seize brake pad lube
- Brake caliper compression tool
- 2- 12 volt fans for eldo’s ceiling
- Pressure cooker, 3 liter
- Butane powered brulee torch (to make some amazing eggplant parmasean
- Electric staple gun with staples (for a friend)
- Stickers for Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador (yes it is impossible to find stickers in these countries)
Well these are just a few of the exciting and well worth it staples for Eldo! We will be arriving in San Jose pretty late and the man who is watching out for Eldo is also picking us up! We are so excited to re-unite with Eldo. We plan to arrive to his place even later, its about an hour from the airport and crawl up into Eldo and pass out for the night. Until then, I sit here enjoying the “poor mans drink”.
Travel tip: buy a cheap $1 small bottles of your favorite alcoholic liquor, get a free refill drink and mix. At 20$/ drink in an airport you are saving approx. 15$/ drink!!!
It ended up being a really challenging flight, must have been pilots first day because wow, what a flight. Then on the second leg of the flight it was also pretty hard, there was some bad weather which made it a very bumpy ride and then when we actually arrived to the airport we just flew above making circles. Normally this is done when there is a reason that the pilot cannot land. Either has to wait his turn or something. This time it was a plane that had landed right before us that had caught on fire. There was like 90 people inside, with smoke all in the cabin. Ended up everyone was ok and got out ok, but made for a very long and bumpy landing.
After we landed and found our two boxes we headed out to meet Warren who was picking us up. Warren is a very sweet man who was watching Eldo for us. It was another 30 min or so back to his home. We arrived and gave Eldo a huge hug. We opened her up and crawled right into bed. It was so wonderful to be home again.
-just another day on the road……
10-06-1017 Somewhere in Belize
I sit here in peace swaying in my blue and green hammock with the breeze coming through the door. I can see the ocean and piggy is sleeping comfortably in front of me in complete peace. I can hear the sounds of the ocean which is a constant here. When you are on an island there will always be the sounds of the sea. The waves change with the wind so the sounds are also changing with the tides and wind. With no responsibilities except to feed piggy, which I do three times a day, I find a peace within my mind. Not many times in life where you can sit in complete peace, no obligations, nowhere to be and nothing to do. No tv or internet to fill your mind, just a few simple music pieces and some books to contemplate about.
It has been maybe around 6 days on this island in the cozy cabin. The waters are a beautiful blue and green colors and if we are lucky there is a constant breeze passing through. Some days with no wind and the sun beating down, you try to find any type of escape from the visious nosiums that attack any piece of skin that may be showing. Your mind fills with simple things such as, wonder what will be for lunch or I wonder what piggy is dreaming about.
Living on an island with a non castrated male piggy is not always the easiest. Lucky for me, he likes women a little more than men. It is sometimes a challenge to do even the simplist of things. For example, pooping. To go poop here you have to walk down a path on the side of the island which at times floods. You go all the way to the back where there is a collection of wood pieces stratigaclly placed together to act as a toilet. I clap my hands to hopefully scare away all the animals such as lizards, spiders and crabs. You find a nice spot to squat on the wood pieces. Now, this is the easy part. The scary part is the thought of piggy actually hearing you back there. Ohhh piggy would be sooo excited to join you for your pooping session and that would not be so pleasant. So we strategically wait till piggy is off putting his nose through something and we sneak away being very quiet hoping and hoping he does not hear.
Here I sit broken hearted
Walked all this way
And only farted…
12-17-2017- Playa Coyote, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Today was a simple day of getting things done. I woke up to the sounds of congo monkeys talking, birds singing and the ocean waves crashing through the mountains. We had just crossed the border the day before and had heard of this place through a fellow overlander. It is a small hostal up in the mountains by the ocean on the coast of Costa Rica called Hostel Alouatta. They have some luxurious tents available or just space to park your truck and sleep safely for the night. After a week sleeping in exotic other beds, we opted to have an Eldo bed reunion. It was great to be home. After waking up to some amazing hand ground coffee, we enjoyed a breakfast of an egg burrito with all sorts of goodies inside.
Knowing today is a day to get things done, we started organizing Eldo. When you live in such a small space it is really amazing how fast it can get all messed up. We are starting to plan our packing because we must go to the states for a few weeks to do some work. I have taken a job assignment in North Carolina for 3 weeks. I reached way into the long-term storage hiding spots to get out all of our winter clothes. Its kind of funny, here I am at a true paradise in the mountains off the coast of Costa Rica, packing winter clothes.
Since we will be gone for so long, we had to find a nice safe place to park Eldo. Upon our reading research we heard of horror stories of coming back and either the car was broken into and everything stolen, or the tag was stolen. Both horrible. We have found a nice man who owns a small family business of keeping cars safe for travelers. It will be 130$ for 4 weeks including drop off and pick up from airport. Can’t argue with that, he may also do some work on Eldo when we are gone. She is in dire need of some new tires and some shock work. Imagine that, lol with all the hard driving we have been doing. She will be all ready for south America when we come back.
We had gone to Wal Mart the day before, which actually was a treat for us. We had not seen a Wal Mart since Mexico, so we were able to stock the kitchen up with some of our basic kitchen necessities. I organized the kitchen up, taking all the perishable foods out, knowing that we will have to eat them all before leaving. The day seemed to creep right by, between organizing, getting car paperwork ready and cleaning, it was almost 4pm.
There is a little communal area here with bathrooms, showers, kitchen and hammocks and tables. We headed down there to do a little bit of computer work and enjoy a nice glass of good old Argentina box wine from Guatemala. Relaxing a bit and watching an amazing sunset over the coast the day was coming to an end. A wonderful dinner of all sorts of combination of perishable foods was enjoyed and I laid my head down to sleep listening to the sounds of the ocean.
-just another day on the road…..
12-04-2017- Rivas, Nicaragua
Today was a perfect mixture travel day. A perfect travel day includes, coffee, relaxation, a bit of adrenalin, amazing food, nice explorations, a bit of uncertainty, some city, some country, sunset over the beach and a safe beautiful place to sleep.
Woke up in a nice hostel with a super yummy breakfast and coffee. Sat in the common area enjoying the nice breeze and great wifi for a couple hours. Packed up our stuff and started to head out. Now, we had parked in a parqueo that was right next to hotel. It is 30 cordobas for 24 hours. We had parked there before without any problems. I went to go pay the man at the gate when he proceeded to ask for double the amount. Ok, so we are only talking about 1$, not a big deal, but I really really hate it when people try to rip me off. I explained that it was 30 for 24 hours and we are leaving way before 24 hours. He insisted that we had to pay for yesterday and today because it was overnight. I realized very quickly that this conversation was going nowhere. I told him I would be right back. I went back to the hotel girl (super sweet girl who had told us it should only be 30) and I told her that he was insisting on us paying double. Ohhhhhhhh, don’t piss off a latin lady. She locked up her desk and headed right outside to have a talk with him. She went on to say that we only needed to pay 30 and he tried to argue with her. She grabbed the money out of his hand, told us it was ok to leave, and she walked away. She was going to give the money to the owner of the parking lot, not this worker. She smiled, and I thanked her.
So, off we were. I had read about one of the best places to eat in Granada. With GPS set, we went straight to this restaurant. It was a nice place, on the outskirts of the town. The floor was made of ash/rock from Mombacho and we were to order something called “The Ugly Fish”. This is actually a type of seabass, the locals call it Cocibolca Guapote and it is found in Lake Nicaragua. We sat there all excited like little kids at Disney. And then, it arrived. It was the most Beautiful Ugly Fish I had ever seen!!! It was almost smiling at me all smothered in onions and peppers. As I sank my teeth into this fresh white fluffy fish my taste buds were fully satisfied. We destroyed that fish. It was by far one of the best fish I have ever had!!!
Afterwards, we drove to the central park of Granada. Granada is a nice city with a colonial feel to it. The homes and buildings are all painted vibrant colors with the cobblestone roads and horse drawn carriages everywhere. It was clean and very safe. A perfect amount of tourism and still a bit of culture mixed in. The weather was perfect with a slight breeze and a bright sun shining above.
It started to get a little late so we decided to head on towards an air bnb that we got for 2 nights. It is in a small beach town, a couple hours away so we wanted to try to make it before darkness came. The drive was an incredible drive with nice roads. We passed by volcanos, cows, horses, dogs, goats, pigs, cats and bulls. Made a quick stop at the grocery store to restock our kitchen and then on the dirt road towards the ocean. Of course, we get lost and are down a small dirt road asking the locals if they recognize the picture of the owners of the air bnb. We drive all the way to the beach and find a small hotel that let us use the internet. Ooooppps, I guess I had not read the directions, well we were close. As we went to drive away, I noticed an incredible sunset! We stopped Eldo and jumped out to enjoy and incredible sunset with bright shinning pink from the clouds.
Driving on we found our air bnb, it’s a small cabin in the mountains with a porch with 2 rocking chairs, a simple kitchen and huge doors and windows. Took a deep breath of relaxation and ate an amazing dinner with fresh vegetables. Laid my head down feeling a steady soft breeze coming through the open doors and drifted off to sleep.
-just another day on the road…..
12-03-2017- Nandasmo, Nicaragua
Today I woke up to a beautiful sunrise, opened my eyes and could see in the distance a volcano with the sun peeking over it. Laying in bed just a bit longer taking in the sounds of birds singing and the soft breeze on my face. As always coffee motivates me to get up, set up the kitchen and enjoyed a wonderful cup of coffee.
I am at a place, it is a small paradise in the middle of Nicaragua somewhere. The owners are Dutch and super sweet. It is 10$/night for us to enjoy this paradise. We have a plug in for electricity and a bathroom and shower that is by the pool. The pool is thoroughly cleaned till it sparkles everyday in the morning. There are two sweet dogs that live here, one that is old and a small puppy. We have been here now for 3 nights, the first 2 nights we were joined by some fellow overlanders who are also living on the road. We originally met them in Guatemala and we have seen them a few times within the different countries along the way. It is kind of like we are all a huge family on wheels traveling the world.
In these three days we had the chance to catch up on some Eldo decorating! After making a small stop at a dollar store in El Salvador we were able to get some Christmas decorations for Eldo! We have also been doing a little fun project of stickers on our roof from the different countries that we pass through. and a coin saved from each country. So I was super excited to be able to add Nicaragua to our small collection.
Today we decided to hit the road, so did some relaxing by the pool, enjoying the sun. Had some breakfast pancakes and a super yummy lunch of tuna melts and mashed potatoes. Our kitchen is starting to look a little barren, so we will restock when we get to another bigger town. The goal for today was to go and see the Masaya Volcano, it is supposed to be amazing. We normally don’t do a lot of tourist attraction stuff but this one is right down the street and seemed worth it. I think the last time we did a tourist attraction was a small Mayan ruins in Guatemala. That would be 3 countries ago.
To see the volcano, you drive to the national park, wait in a car line along the highway for an hour for them to open, then drive up to a lookout. So we planned to be there around 430pm. Tonight we will stay at a small hostel that we have stayed at before, its 20$ for a room with a fan, private bath with cold water shower and breakfast and coffee included! There is a parqueo next door where we can put Eldo safely for the night.
Upon arrival to the volcano as expected we waited for an hour or so and then on our way. We were driving up and up and up to get to the top of the volcano. You could see the bright red sky above the volcano getting more and more intense as we got closer. The last active eruption was January 2016. You can walk right up to the volcano with a small outlook that you can see all the way down into the boiling hot red lava down below. The clouds of steam were twirling through the deep crevasse in the ground. Standing there realizing how truly small I am in this world. We were allowed 15 min up at the top and then they start to herd the people back down to the bottom.
Truly amazing experience and back to the hostel we went. Of course, dinner still awaited, and we had no option but to enjoy a super yummy pepperoni pizza!! With a full belly, happy heart, headed back to our safe hostel, put my head on the pillow and passed out.
-just another day on the road…..
11-30-2017 Make Ur Dreams a Reality = Travel Ur Dreams!!!
Traveler at heart, wanderer in the mind, explorer within the soul…
-Day 100 since crossing border
-Day 174 living on the road
A true traveler finds peace within the unknown.
11-15-2017 – Playa El Zonte, La Libertad, El Salvador
Today waking up, I was a little nervous. Border days are always a bit challenging. Escuintla is the town that we were in. It is a big city with all the restaurants like McDonalds and Pizza Hut. We had found a place to stay for the night which was a bit challenging because everything was so expensive. Ended up staying at the Texas hotel, it had AC and 3 beds. It was hot outside but with a cold shower and a safe place to park it ended up being perfect. Waking up ready to hit the road, we splurged a little and enjoyed breakfast at McDonalds to use the free wifi and prepare for the day. Set a route on the GPS, packed up Eldo and hit the road.
There are a series of things that we do for border crossing. Here is a list of some of the basics:
Hide the bear spray
Hide the blow horn
Put my hand mace in my pocket along with both passports
Make Eldo bed as neat as possible
Put the sage in the back of the kitchen area
Organize our paperwork for all the necessary stuff and copies for border people
Dress in our cleanest clothing
Brush our hair and look organized and neat
Always wear my travel pants with plenty of pockets to keep stuff safe
Put all electronics and chargers out of sight so it looks barren inside
Set the GPS
Get rid of most fresh veggies or be willing to loose them
Put my fixed artificial smile on
It is never fun facing so many men with guns, but we started our drive, stopped at the grocery store to spend all the local currency we could and hit the border. There are always a couple steps to take and it seems like every border is so different. I always feel like I am pooping my pants with a smile on, hoping they just take some money and pass me on. We did all the stuff like get our vehicle import permit cancelled for Guatemala, pass over, get a new one for El Salvador and that was it. It all took probably 1.5 hours to pass with a lot of smiles and silence. This is the first border I think besides Europe that I have passed without having to pay a penny. I was not going to argue but just drive on!
We started driving on the road with having no idea what to expect. It’s funny because with all the years of my traveling when I was younger through Central America, I never went to El Salvador. I remember reading in my lonely planet book that this country is the most populated of them all. So, I really did not want to go to a country where there was sooo many people. I had imagined it was shoulder to shoulder of people all packed into a tiny country. Jeff had only remembered all the gangs and wars that happened here. So here we were driving into a country that we did absolutely no research on, thinking it was going to be shoulder to shoulder of gangs, war and guns.
As we drove in, I noticed that we were driving on a real road. Like a real road! Not joking, there were no potholes at all! We crossed the border and all the potholes disappeared, just like that. I felt like I was driving in a dream or something. It could not have been real. People were driving so carefully and respectfully, I felt out of place. I have been driving for the last 5 months in a manner of life or death, I guess you could call it “defensive driving”. Then here I am with an actual bus stopping to let me pass. I felt that we were both in a daze, was this real? I drove on with my best driving behavior and honestly totally exhausted. Border crossings just take everything out of you. We stopped at a gas station that was so nice, it had nice glass windows, a kind man with a huge gun and RECREOS!!!!
Recreos are a silly type of cookie that I used to eat in my early travel days, they were cheap, yummy and seemed to last forever. I was looking for them all through Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and could not find any. I giggled to myself and picked up the recreos smelling them and all the memories rushed through my mind, I could almost feel my backpack on my back again.
Driving on we set for a destination on the beach, only taking about 2.5 hours to reach this beach area we realized that we had literally driven half way through El Salvador in 2 hours. It’s a tiny country with really nice roads and recreos! We found this place on ioverlander and it was 10$/night to park and use their bathrooms and showers. As we went down a tiny road off the main road, straight to the beach area we find the place. A sweet boy comes out to meet us and show us around.
Looking from where we were parked, the beach was about 15 feet from us, we were in a safe locked area with a perfect view of the ocean. There was a nice huge balcony area where you could use the tables, view and hammocks and even order food or a drink. There were two pools, one on the balcony over the beach and one down below. There was a huge pet iguana lounging by the pool and several large birds around. It was a true safe paradise. We laughed, sitting on the balcony watching the sunset over the ocean, took a deep breath feeling the breeze and realized how wrong we were about El Salvador.
In our safe, private area to sleep with Eldo, I crawled in listening to the sounds of the ocean and closed my eyes. I could feel all the stress from the day being washed away one wave at a time.
-just another day on the road……
11-09- 2017 Chichicastenango, Guatemala
Some days are harder than others, I will call today a “challenging day”. We woke up in a parking lot right in the middle of the chichicastenango market. We had found a parking lot of a hotel that was supposed to be locked and guarded at night. We spent $4 to stay here for the night and they even opened some bathrooms for us. Besides the crazy young boy acting weird who had climbed the wall and trying to say something to us, which I could not understand. We slept peacefully and woke up to some nice coffee and a wonderful walk around the market. It is a huge textile market that is held on Thursdays and Sundays.
Found a nice little restaurant where we could relax for a little, get some lunch and see the market below. Figuring out which way we wanted to go, north became the decision. I set the gps to some town that looked like a windy road to little towns. We barely got out of the town squeezing past the booths in the market and hit the road.
It was a beautiful road out to the mountains, up the mountain and back down, lots and lots of windy roads. I had just wanted to explore the northwestern parts of Guatemala, where the tourists did not go. Driving on through several little towns, I saw a road off to my left and made a sharp turn. I wanted to explore the littler towns way back on the dirt roads, so here we go. Bouncing our way through sketchy windy, pothole roads for miles and miles. Lots of little homes along the way, we were getting deeper and deeper into the cultures. There were mostly indigenous people around with mixed feelings. Some of them welcoming with a warm smile and a wave and others with a straight untrusting look on their faces.
It was starting to get around that time to start looking for a place to sleep for the night. We passed this beautiful outlook out in the villages but away from the people, it seemed to be a perfect spot but there was just so much garbage everywhere. It is sad how much garbage is thrown everywhere, I guess the people don’t have an organized place to put it, so they just throw it in the forests. Deciding to move on, I took another turn. I had seen an area where you could drive out to a point/overlook area that looked nice for a place to sleep. We passed a couple locals and asked if it was safe out here, they all smiled and said yes, so safe, no worries.
I drove on until I saw this beautiful piece of land with some cows on it. I stopped to feel the area out and went to a small little local store that was held outside of their home. A sweet, quiet young girl came up to me and I asked if it was ok to park here for the night and she smiled and said of course, no problem. We found a perfect spot and double checked with the girl, who smiled again and agreed no problems. She said that her family owned the land and the homes, and it was nice and safe for the night. So, we got our chairs out, took a deep breath and started to relax for the night.
It was still a little uncomfortable because we are the only white people around and I am sure no one comes this far out. We got some strange looks, some people peeking out of their homes to look at us and others waving and smiling as they are walking by. And then it all started…….
We see a middle age man walking out of the home towards us. I get up to talk with him and he immediately asks us for money for a beer. He is a slightly heavy set, short man with food dripping down the right side of his face, zipper wide open and dirty. I suddenly notice he is drunk as a skunk. We share one of our cold beers with him from our fridge and he chuggs it without breathing. He sits down with us and proceeds to tell us about his family in America and how he used to live there until he got arrested for something. That he would come here to visit his sister because he liked to drink and the town that he is from is to angelica and he gets arrested for drinking there. It was a little hard to understand him with his slurring of words and Spanish. He told us not to worry, that this was his home where his sister lived, and we were plenty safe for the night. We chatted some more, he is belching and spitting, and I ask him, “are you going to vomit on me?” he laughs, sways a bit and spits a bit more. I am trying to figure my strategy to get rid of this man for the night, hoping he will eventually just pass out. And then……..
Up comes walking his sister. She is also a heavy-set woman in traditional myan clothing with a face as hard as a rock. She has that pissed off look, yelling at him from a far distance the whole way walking towards us. I start to get a little nervous, take a deep breath and relax. He warns me, here comes my crazy sister! She is talking with him in their local language and then she starts with me. She spends about 5 min going crazy on me. She was saying how it is not ok for you to even be in this area. This is an area of organized people and it is not safe for you to be here. If the people find out that there are gringos here, they will come to rob you. You are not safe to stay here. At 7pm there are men that will pass on their motorcycles and they will stop and question you about everything and they are not safe. She scolded her brother for hanging out with gringos. After I thought that she would either pass out from not breathing in between her yelling or have a heart attack from freeking out, she started walking away, still talking to herself.
The drunk brother, still sitting comfortably with us goes on to explain. Oh yeah, the reason why we don’t like Americans and even more the Europeans is because they come here to steal our children, so basically most the people here are scared of you. Ok, so this is a great time, to well hit the road again and definitely find another place to sleep for the night. I turn to Jeff smiling and explain what just happened and we quickly pack up and hit the road. We want to make it out of there before the sun goes down and we have a far way to go.
So, we battle the hard-bumpy roads for another hour or so and finally make it back just about where we started. Now I am tired, a little stressed out maybe with some post traumatic myan syndrome and just want a safe place to sleep. We find a hotel that is about 2 hours away, which is really the closest hotel from where we are and head that way.
On the way, we see another hotel with a parking lot, so we stop to ask if we can park there for the night. It was a weird hotel with a strange feel but safe. The young boys politely declined, and we headed back to Eldo to head on to the next hotel. We pass by an American man sitting by the pool and he stops us to talk. He is a thin white man with wakadoodle curly blonde hair with glasses on his head and glasses on his face. He proceeds to tell us he is from San Francisco California and his name is Thomas. We are not really in the mood to waste time talking with him, but he was really wanting to talk. So, in the first 5 min of our conversation, this is what we learned about him….his cherry was popped by a whore, he would rather just pay for it, he was going to be single all of his life, he hates America and never wants to go back, because if you try to love a child in America, you are called a pedophile and south of the border, there are no borders to love the children. He lives with a Myan family and pays the family 100/month to “love the children”, he is going to drive the Darian Gap in his minivan, and he likes tripping on mushrooms at the pyrimds.
Ok, so we are still shaken up by the whole myan experience, exhausted from an incredibly hard driving day, sun is setting and we are still at least an hour and half from the hotel. And now I have post traumatic pedophile syndrome!!!
We try our best to escape from this crazy man and hit the road. The sun has set and now we are driving through the northern Guatemalan mountains at night time. We do our normal ritual when we think there is a greater chance of getting mugged and he hide our wallets, get out a little bribe money, mace is under my seat right where I can reach, and we drive on. The roads are incredibly difficult now with darkness, windy roads up and down mountains and crazy drivers. Somehow, we make it to the hotel about 2 hours later. I park Eldo in their parking lot, he shows us our nice and safe room and I could have hugged him right there. Rested my head on the pillow and passed out!
-just another day on the road……
11-07- 2017 Bahia del Lago, Guatemala
Upon opening my eyes, I can see the sun peeking over the mountain behind me. It is shining on the tips of the volcanos in front of me. The scant clouds around are turning a bright pink almost red color. The beautiful flower tree to my right with bright big yellow flowers are stretching for the morning sunlight. I lay there all snuggled up in my blankets with the cool breeze passing my face. I lay there not wanting to move because my reality right now is surreal. I want it to last as long as possible. Two hours later, still all snuggled in bed and enjoying every moment of this wonderful sunrise, I start to get that urge for a nice cup of coffee.
I straggle out of bed, Jeff makes me a wonderful hand ground, fresh pressed cup of coffee and I continue to enjoy the moments of peacefulness for just a bit longer. The heat from the coffee cup comforts my hands and warms my soul. Life is truly amazing, and I have so much to be thankful for. Never a moment in life passes, when I am not so thankful for all that I have and all the wonders of this beautiful world.
After a wonderful hot breakfast of egg tortillas and a sweet pastry, we start to pack up Eldo. We do our normal daily rituals of checking the engine, tires and a nice saging of the truck for safe travels. Top off a few fluids and we hit the road.
Deciding to take a drive today around Lake Atitlan, we find a small road that circles around and passes through many small towns along the way. Now, this drive ended up being around 6 hours for 47 miles. Needless to say, the road was not in the best of shape. There were tons of potholes, places where the road just gave out to a cliff, destroyed from rain down the mountains and well some places where it ended up being a walking path and not a driving path, lol. This driving adventure is like no other day that we have had. If I even, try to begin to explain the beauty we saw it would never even begin to justify how breathtaking it really was. With volcanos surrounding us on all sides, the huge beautiful bright blue lake shining in the middle we traveled up to the tops of the mountains climbing and climbing. Sometimes we climbed so straight up, Eldo’s tires would spin just to try to keep up. Then traveling through the clouds and little villages of whole different groups of indigenous people. And, for every uphill there is a downhill. So, I would put Eldo in neutral and literally coast for 20 min or so downhill. We would then be in a little village along the water coast, completely different feeling here.
It was starting to get a little late, so we decided to start looking for a place to sleep for the night. Passing several villages, I did not see many opportunities of safe places to park for the night.
We went on ioverlander and saw a nice campground area with wonderful views and headed there. It was a long, strenuous road to get there but totally worth every moment. Upon arriving, a nice French man showed us where we could park. He had the perfect place for us, it is tucked away among beautiful trees and away from the other campers. It has amazing views of the lake and volcanos with hammocks to rest in. We paid our 10$ for the night, bought some yummy fresh beef, enjoyed a wonderful steak and potato dinner with a nice glass of red wine. We watched the sunset over the volcanos and curled up into bed.
-just another day on the road…..
11-06- 2017 Antigua, Guatemala
Today I woke up in the comfortable parking lot of a hostel in Antigua, Guatemala. We have been here a couple days and it is such a nice place. For $13/ night we got hot showers, bathrooms, use of the kitchen area and able to relax in their main middle area with hammocks, wifi and tables. With breakfast and coffee included I crawled out of bed to a nice cup of Guatemalan coffee. Settled in a little, did some wifi work and enjoyed my breakfast of fried eggs, black beans, bread and fried plantains.
It’s a journey day today, not sure to where yet but was thinking to explore a bit north and west. There seems to be so much to do and see here in Guatemala and I absolutely love the people and cultures here. I am not even close to being ready to move on to another country. So, we packed up, took a hot shower and hit the road.
Heading north we passed through a lot of cities, with tons of traffic. So, we moved about 5mph for about 2 hours. It was still nice being able to see all the little shops, cultures and people. It felt good to just be moving in Eldo again. We ended up staying a whole week in Antigua which is basically unheard of for us! So, feeling the breeze once again through my hair, hearing the sounds of the road and being in the driver’s seat felt so familiar, comforting and right in my glory. Stopping for some gas along the way, they offered to check my tires, oil and fluids, but since I have my own personal mechanic I happily declined. Deciding to move towards a lake called Lake Atitlan. It is a famous lake and known for its beautiful views. It is basically an inverted volcano with 3 other volcanos surrounding the lake. Driving in from the top mountains you could start to see some beautiful views below of the lake. The road was a well paved, very skinny road with huge drop offs on both sides and very very very windy. With buses racing down the mountains I tried my best to just keep at least a part of Eldo’s tires on the paved part.
Knowing that the town we are headed to, Panajachel, is super touristy, I was always looking for a side road to turn down to maybe find a nice view away from tourists. As we are coming down the mountain, I saw a nice side road, made an abrupt stop and turned down the road. It leads us straight to a lake and park. It was perfect! I found a boy to talk to who was working on the land, asked him if we could park here for the night and $13 dollars later we have a whole private park, right on the lake with the views of the volcanos all to our self for the whole night!
Headed into town to get a few things for dinner, it was like a hitting a huge wall of tourists! They were everywhere, and the people of the town are so different. It’s like entering a huge landfill and the vultures start attacking! We quickly found a small store, got our super awesome local cheese and some handmade pastries, icy cold beers and ran out of the town as fast as possible back to our own private oasis.
Ahhhhhh, set up the kitchen, had an amazing dinner of tortillas, fresh peppers and cheese while watching the sunset over the volcanos. Enjoying the moments of life, crawled up in bed while listening to the sounds of the guitar playing. I even crawled under all the blankets to protect me from the cool air surrounding us, took a nice deep breath, my soul was completely at ease and fell asleep.
-just another day on the road……
11-01- 2017 Antigua, Guatemala
Today is an exciting day here in Antigua, Guatemala because it is the “dia de los Muertos” or the day of the dead. All the ladies will wake up today working hard in the kitchen to make a special dish called Fiambre. This is a special dish that is only made one day a year in celebration of the deceased. People with come from all over to visit the cemeteries and their loved ones, to give them food, water and to paint the grave stones. Here all the graves are buried above the ground. It is a wonderful day of rest and celebration. I felt very honored to be able to be part of this day. So, on our list of things to do, was of course pass by a cemetery but also on this day is a huge festival for kites! It is called the “All Saints Day Giant Kit Festival of Guatemala”. This is a huge festival where people come from all over the world and people spend months building these huge elaborate kites out of tissue paper.
Upon waking and enjoying a wonderful cup of Guatemalan coffee made by our air bnb host, took a nice hot shower and packed my little travel sack for the day, put my hiking shoes on and headed out. Yes, we could have driven, it’s about a 30-min drive but traffic here is crazy at this time, so I had the crazy idea to walk. Set the gps to walking and it sent us through this nice path through the forest and mountains.
The walk started in Antigua which is a small bubble-like village in Guatemala. It is a nice village with a lot of tourists and a lot of ex pats. Its clean, and tons of little coffee shops, vegetarian restaurants and bars/pubs of all sorts. It is a very safe and protected area with cobble stone roads. It is in a valley surrounded by three volcanos, which one is active. As you walk through the town you can see different catholic churches and myan ruins.
A sign caught the side of our eyes saying breakfast for 14Q (2$), perfect! We walked into what looked like a small store selling kitchen stuff. In the back was a small table that we sat at. The young lady brought us out some fresh coffee, beans, fried eggs and fried plantains and bread. Perfect start to the day. We had about a 3-4 hour walk ahead of us. Passing by the town and following the line of cars we start our long journey towards the kite festival.
We passed several women selling Fiambre on the side of the street and lots of people selling kites of all sizes made of tissue and sticks out of their homes. I could not resist and had to get a tiny kite to fly along the journey. Walking and walking we finally came to the part of the walk where we would pass through the forest. And the uphill started, passed through a tiny village and into the woods we entered. It was a dirt road passable by motorbike but probably not a car. It was beautiful, we could start to see overlooks of the towns below and volcanos in the background. Peaceful, quiet and wonderfully serene we walked on. There was a pleasant breeze at all times that kept us cool in the mountains. We did not see anyone for about an hour or so and then off in the distance we could see a group of kids all dressed in the myan clothing running up and down the dirt road with their kites flying behind them. They looked at us with the same looks that we had at them. Trying to be mutually respectful but we were both so curious of the differences and similarities that we shared. With lots of gentle smiles and a couple giggles we walked on. I felt honored to have been able to enter their world, even if just for a moment. The children were all at peace and so happy and proud of their kites. My favorite kite I saw was being drug by a little boy running proudly and it had a beautiful tail flying in the wind made up of a black old garbage bag. It is really humbling the simplicity of life.
As we walked on through the mountains, we started to enter the town where the festival was being held. It was a dirty town with a totally different feel. I was becoming more alert of my surroundings and feeling not quite as safe and moving my small mace from my zippered pocket to my hand pocket. People were still kind and polite but a whole different feel. We walked by a huge garbage dump that they had put huge amounts of dirt over, leveled out and made into a parking lot for this event. The smell was horrendous, and I felt it lasted forever. Walking by we saw a bunch of young boys with huge automatic guns in hand. I guess that is our protection, although they looked like they were barely out of puberty with their fingers resting on the triggers. We passed on through the town, following now the massive groups of people all headed in the same direction.
We ended up in a cemetery where there were lots of people, sitting around the grave sites, playing music, eating and drinking and celebrating with flowers everywhere. We left there and kept on heading towards the festival which we still had not really reached. There were swarms of people now, shoulder to shoulder barely moving yet everyone was still so calm and not bothered at all. We packed through and now we could see the huge kites flying in the sky, it was a dark sky in the background threatening rain but so beautiful. I looked up and suddenly saw the woman from our air bnb, she was up in a building with the most amazing view. I headed straight there and went up the stairs and we hung out with them a bit. It was the perfect place to see everything from above. Crowds of people below trying hard to see these beautiful huge kites flying above.
It did not take long for us both to be ready to be away from these huge crowds of people and it was starting to get dark outside. We still had to find a way to get home. I was not going home the same way we came through the woods, would be way to dangerous so we headed towards the main highway. Ok so we had like 20 something miles to go. I started walking down the main highway, knowing I was not going to start hitching a ride until I got a little away from the main traffic and crowds. We walked along the road where all the cars were parked. I suddenly saw a family jump up in the back of a pick-up truck. Perfect! I asked if we could squeeze in and grab a ride and they welcomed us in. They were not going all the way to Antigua, but they would drop us off when the roads split. This is my total moment of pure ecstasy. For me there is really nothing better than the wind blowing through my hair sitting in the back of a pick-up truck. I took a deep breath and enjoyed every moment.
After about 30 min or so, they stopped, and we jumped out. It was a perfect ride, we were already half way home! We started walking and now it was dark, it is nearly impossible to hitchhike at night safely. There are a lot of factors that come into hitchhiking and staying safe and well darkness blocks most of those factors, so I decided we had to walk until we hit either a lit up area or a gas station. We walked for a while stopping for an icy cold beer along the way and finally ended up at a perfect gas station. Gas stations are one of the best places to find a nice safe ride. So, I started my surveillance of a perfect ride. A pick-up truck came racing up right to us with 5 young men all staring, drooling and barely able to stand. Ok so no! not going with them. Then I saw a nice Guatemalan lady and some guy sitting together in the front of a pick-up truck. Hmmmm I watched them for a while, they were waiting for the driver.
I normally wait until I can see what the driver looks like before asking but this time, I felt it was right timing to approach them. I ask them if they are headed towards Antigua and they smile and say yes. I ask if it is possible to catch a ride and they both look nervously and tell me I need to ask the driver. As I turn around the driver walks up to me and shakes my hand. He has a beer in hand and a friend with him. I ask him if we could ride in the back of the truck to Antigua and he accepts without hesitation. We jump in all excited to get a ride. Ok, so maybe not the best ride considering he was drinking but at least he was able to stand, which is a good start here. We chat a bit and I say to him “be sure to drive safe since you are drinking”. He smartly replied “ohhhhh no, no worries, relax….. I don’t drink and drive, so we will have to wait a few minutes for me to finish my beer and then we can go relax, relax….. I laugh a little and we end up drinking a bit more, his friend invited us to try a special liquor that was super cheap called Licor Rosa de Jamaica, he had plenty to share and he did. We chatted a bit more and then hit the road. Jeff and I said our last words, hung on to the back of the pick-up truck and took off. It really wasn’t a bad ride at all, I am sure that he has been practicing drinking and driving since he was like 12 years old.
We safely made it to our destination, knocked on the side of the truck, and jumped out. Thanked him and walked home. By now my legs were like jello, it was an insane day of walking and festivities. It was a day of pure enjoyment, loved every moment and experience. Took a long hot shower, watched some Netflix (yes, it works in Guatemala!!!!!) and fell fast asleep.
-just another day on the road……
10-28- 2017 Coban, Guatemala
Today I woke up with a beautiful view of the clouds covering the tops of the mountains. I went out to a little area where there were some chairs and a table overlooking the town below and sitting in the clouds. Last night was a very challenging night. We decided to splurge a little and pay a little extra 30$ to stay in an actual hotel. It was a nice and very clean hotel settled on the side of a mountain with beautiful outlooks. When we arrived, we were the only people to be seen. The owner was a very sweet man who welcomed us and was working very hard to make the place so clean. Got all settled in the room, a simple room with a small window, nice hot water shower and a small tv (with no remote). Later I found out that they were preparing for a wedding that was to be held there the next day. As the day passed we saw people busy working to prepare for the wedding.
Then they arrived…… yes them…… 4 Guatemalan men/boys. Omg, its bachelor party time. They sat outside drinking and talking through the night, which ended up not being too bad. I did not mind the extra noise cause well it’s a big day for them and so exciting. Then the night passed on and the torture began. There was a young couple who were sleeping in the room right close to ours and I have to say the walls must have been made up of paper! That’s not even the bad part. The horrendous part is that particular man and his girl had an accordion. Yes, a torturous accordion. This man must have thought it was romantic to serenade his girlfriend for 4-5 hours straight playing the same small part of one song that he knew. It was ok for the first hour, but then it kept going and going, she would giggle, and he would play the same small part of that one song. It felt like the accordion was placed right up to my ear. I tried so hard to ignore it and sleep but as 130-200 creeped up I felt that song burning in my soul. I could not take it anymore, I was going to explode!!!! Finally, I broke down, grabbed my pillow and ran to Eldo, cuddled up in the silence of Eldo and slept beautifully for the rest of the night.
Upon awakening, I was so so glad that they had finally passed out and were still sleeping in a drunken stupor. I had a few moments to enjoy the peacefulness of this place. We enjoyed a nice breakfast with the soft drizzle of the clouds, packed up and hit the road for another day of adventure.
I had found a nice air bnb that was a small cottage on a mountain side with some views of horses and forest. Perfect, booked it and headed there. I was not quite ready to leave the beautiful forests of this part of Guatemala so was looking forward to a little more relaxation in the forest and clouds.
We passed by a town called Coban where they actually had a real mall! I mean the type with air conditioning and real stores! They even had a pizza hut! Since I am a total pizza slut of course we shoved our faces with so much pizza I could barely move afterwards. Got a few groceries for the next couple days and headed on towards the air bnb.
The GPS was set to an area where it would bring us close to where we needed to go and then they were going to meet us at a gas station to show us where they lived. We stopped at a gas station close by to buy some cheese and email them. At that moment, as soon as I pulled up and turned off Eldo I heard and felt a huge explosion coming from our engine. Just then, I saw smoke swelling out of her hood! We jumped out and popped the hood with huge amounts of fluid spraying and smoke everywhere. This is our official first breakdown with Eldo.
As we looked it was obvious that the radiator hose had split right open and sprayed fluid everywhere. The attention brought a small crowd over to check out what was going on. I asked one of the gas station boys for their help and he brought me right next door. Would you believe there just so happen to be a radiator shop right next door! That’s when I met Minor, a middle age Guatemalan man with oil all over his hands with a slightly harsh look but sweet. I explained a little to him what happened. He came right over to help us, removed the hose and checked to see if they had one. You would think that a radiator shop would have a radiator hose, lol, that is assuming wayyyy to much! So, I hopped into his old junky truck with barely any metal in the floorboard and headed to a store where they may have one. We ended up stopping at one that had a hose that was too big, then to small, then to thin, then to thick. We went to probably 15 different stores, knowing everything would be closed in a little bit.
It gave me a little opportunity to get to know Minor. He has two children a boy and a girl. I am assuming not married. I assume this because as we were driving he almost broke his neck looking at this woman standing in a door half naked dressing as we passed. I smiled at him, with that look, I know you are being bad. He smiled back and said, you know what that is? That is an “all night house” you know? I asked, ohhhh hmmm prostitution? Yes! Apparently, prostitution is legal here and it costs 75Q (10.50$)/hour. Not that he would know…….
So, we drove on searching for this one part and he had the idea to try getting a used one. We stopped by a couple of his friend’s places along the way and then to a junk yard. We went through opening all the hoods of these old junky cars, even some buses! Finally, the man comes out from the back and pulls out an old, really dirty hose and the size is perfect! Sold for 45Q (5$)! We drove back to Eldo all proud for what we had found, it took about 2 hours of searching but thankfully for Minor, he was determined to find this for us!
All excited we placed the part, had to cut it a little but then it worked, perfectly! Ahhh Eldo looked so beautiful with her new part, she was one happy girl! We replaced the fluid and proudly went to start her. We hear her start and then she stalled……… grrrr… tried again… and again…. everytime just stalling. Agh, something else must have happened with the explosion. We check out all the other stuff under the hood in Eldo and we could not find anything. Once again Minor steps up, he calls a friend. He left to pick him up and in less than 10 min we had an electrical mechanic checking out our car! He checked all the electrical stuff out and like 40 min later he found some something that he cleaned, and it worked!!! Eldo started up like a champ! I did my little happy dance (which I got quite a few funny looks for) and let her run for a bit to be sure she did not overheat. We insisted on giving the 2 guys a little money for their time, however I don’t think they were going to ask for any, and we headed off to our little cottage in the forest.
We met the hosts at another gas station and followed them up into the mountains, it was all dark by now, so we could not see much but we felt so safe for the night. We sat in their home for about an hour, just chatting about life and then hit our heads to our pillows with my heating blanket on high and passed out!
-just another day on the road……
10-10-2017 – Somewhere in Belize
As the sun rose bright and early around 5:30-6:00, the heat of the pounding sun started to set in. We started to set up for cooking breakfast and already were dripping sweat. It was time to set up the parachute for some shade. I unhooked the strap from the top of Eldo, moved the nicely round cut of wood from the top of the tire and started pulling out the parachute. It has not been used in a while but was still in perfect condition. I found a couple trees, fence and tent stokes to secure it just right for a little shade and mercy from the beating sun.
Another conversation we had with Earl the night before was about this local woman. She was known for making cashew and blackberry wine. As he was headed to town he offered to bring us to the wine lady. Jeff went with him, I stayed behind to do a little relaxing. He returned with a tequila bottle that had a dark blackberry wine in it and 2 water bottles filled with cashew wine, for $10 total.
The heat here in Belize is even so hard to describe. You go to sleep sweating, wake up sweating and even after a shower you are already dripping sweat by the time you go to dry off from a cold shower!
We ate some breakfast, tried to enjoy the serenity of the area, but honestly the heat was so intense. Our only possible escape would be to drive Eldo and turn on the air conditioner. By now, it’s even hard to concentrate and starting to feel a little nauseated from the heat. We find the energy to pack up and hit the road.
We have the GPS set to a feed store that we already know is closed. Ok, so let me explain what our journey is.
We had accepted a pet-sitting/ island-sitting job on an island off the coast of Belize.
Due to the respect of the island caretakers desire to remain anonymous, I will not be stating any exact location or details of location to keep them safe and discreet. There are over 300 small islands of the coast of Belize each having their own story.
They had asked us to stop by the feed store to pick up some cracked corn for piggy. Unfortunately, it was a holiday and they were closed but well we went anyways to check.
We have been told several times while in Belize to trust no one! Seems kind of weird because all the people that we had met were good people, maybe what we took from that was trust no one who says to trust no one. Anyways, it was closed, and we moved on, passing through Belize City. We did stop at probably the only air-conditioned store in Belize city that had some food. It was sooo crazy expensive there, but we had to stock up on some food for the island. One bottle of Captain Morgan was 50$!!!
Belize city is not the capital of Belize but just a nasty, unsafe dirty city with lots of poverty. We drove through it and called it a day and left as fast as possible. Driving on we passed some famous temples called Altun Ha temples. Deciding to take a turn and check them out, we followed a nice paved road to the temples. Upon arrival, it was nice with no people around, but the mosquitoes were fierce. They followed you everywhere, were huge and bit hard! So, we raced through the temples, took a few pictures and ran out of there dripping sweat and eaten alive.
We drove on towards our destination along the coast of Belize where we would meet a man and he would bring us over on a boat to the island the next day. We decided that the coastal highway sounded like a nice way to go so we started the journey. HAHAHAHA there is nothing highway about the coastal highway. It ended up being one of the hardest roads we have ever driven, and it went on for hours and hours.
Making it to our destination late at night we were greeted by a very sweet and eccentric woman who was expecting us and welcomed us with a warm welcome and a wonderful bed. Rested my head down and called it a night.
-just another day on the road……
10-08-2017 – Sarteneja, Belize
Opened my eyes to the sounds of the fish jumping in the crystal-clear water. Laid there for a moment taking the breath of life in. Moved Eldo to a spot more in the shade to protect from the sun beating down. Enjoyed a nice cup of coffee feeling the soft breeze from the water passing by.
Then as always mother nature calls, this is normally a main motivator to move. We walked around town on a Sunday morning looking for any kind of toilet, coffee and internet. Finally found a nice place, the restaurant was in the back-garden area with a nice fan, soft music and an amazing toilet! We sat there for a few hours enjoying our fresh watermelon juice and coffee journaling.
Suddenly we see Abi, he was looking for us and saw our truck parked outside, to invite us for lunch. He said it would be ready around 12. We suddenly were like excited little kids to have a real homemade meal! I finished up my journaling, packed up my stuff and headed walking down to his home. As we entered the fence area, we met some of his family. His mother was covering up some fish that she was drying in the sun. She said that the cats will come and eat it if they don’t cover it.
We walked on into their kitchen, it had a warm welcoming feeling and you could see some food placed on the table. Ahhhhh heaven!!! We sat down and drooled over the feast in front of our eyes. Abi had cooked the barracuda and made the juice and his mother had cooked the rest. We filled our plates (more than once) as we feasted on this amazing fresh meal! It was one of those moments where your taste buds are so happy, your kind of just sit there in ecstasy enjoying the moments. There was fried barracuda, a type of salad with lime juice, cucumber, hot peppers, mashed potatoes, rice, beans and fresh juice. After I could not eat any more we enjoyed a nice conversation. The guys talked mostly fishing stuff and the topic of catfish sting came up. Apparently, a cure for a catfish sting that they use is based on his grandfather’s cure. You take a small amount of oil in a pan, heat it up. Then you take a live cockroach and some fresh garlic and you crush it up together in the heat. While it is still hot, you take the mixture and put it on the wound and this helps with the poisons and the pain.
His mother talked about how they don’t have any nurse or doctor nearby, so if anything happens they just use their homemade remedies. There was a nice clinic that was built, but the problem is they have no medicines. What good is a clinic, if there is no nurse, doctor or medicines. So that building just sits there for now. We thanked his family for the wonderful meal and hit the road.
We took a quick shower by the water before leaving from Eldo, it’s amazing how even just a quick rinse off makes a huge difference. Set the gps for the piggy food store in Belmopan and started battling that long bumpy holey dirt road. After driving a few hours the sun was thinking of setting so we started looking for a place to stop for the night. We found a nice spot, not too far from where we were that looked nice, safe and right on the water. We drove on to find this little Inn. It was called Jacana Inn and they had some camping spots to use. As we drove up we were welcomed with the friendliest warm smile. It was 10$ to park Eldo, and he let us use a bathroom and shower from one of the Inn rooms. It was perfect, we found the perfect spot for sleeping, backed right up to the water. I felt so safe and cozy for the night. We cooked up some tortillas with cheese and onions, but just a few because we were holding out for a nice hamburger for when his wife returned.
We sat outside his home in some comfy chairs watching the sunset and moonrise over the water. It was quiet, peaceful and just what we were looking for. When his wife returned she made a juicy, huge incredible hamburger, it even had fresh avocado on it!!! We sinked our teeth in and gobbled it right up without breathing and ending it off with a fresh cold beer. We sat there for hours just shooting the breeze, talking about everything from travels, dreams, politics, toads, cultures and wine. I was able to learn so much about Belize and the people and culture. It was a truly invaluable moment!
With a full belly and happy heart I curled up in Eldo, watching the moon shadow over the water and drifted off to sleep for the night.
-just another day on the road…..
10-07-2017 – Day 45, Border 2 Belize
Day 45, Border 2 Belize
This morning waking up in the love hotel, I knew that we had a long day ahead of us. Border days are always a little challenging. You never really know how it is going to go. So, I did some journaling in the morning knowing that I would probably lose my internet. Packed up Eldo, making her look as neat and clean on the inside as possible, thinking they would probably go through everything, taking what they wanted along the way. Took a nice long shower, enjoying the nice running hot water and set the gps for the Reimers Feed Mill in Belize to pick up a 50lb bag of piggy food.
We arrived at the border in no time at all. Following the signs towards the border we first stopped at the Mexican side. We had to get our stamp for exiting Mexico and cancel our temporary import permit at the bank for Eldo. We can get a 300$ refund….. maybe on Monday.
After exiting Mexico without any problems, we kept on driving following the welcome to Belize signs. We drove through the fumigation area, where Eldo put her windows up and we got sprayed with some chemical. Paid our 10dollars and moved on. Next stop was for our entry visas, filled out some simple paperwork and went to the man behind the desk. This was all so simple, people were fairly friendly. Kind of odd for a border crossing. Then on to the permission to bring Eldo in, there was a friendly girl who asked a few basic questions and after a while she came out to Eldo, looked over a few things, handed us some paperwork and we were good to go. Paid the parking guy another 15$ and drove into Belize. Next stop was for car insurance, which was a big white building on the right. As we entered there was a nice young man behind the counter. He was friendly also and talked about our travels a bit, gave us some car insurance for 1$/day, exchanged some money for us and we were on our way!
Wow, that was probably the easiest and friendliest border crossing I have ever had! We drove on following the gps, then I asked, “where are we going?”. I looked at the map and saw some pretty blue in the opposite direction, changed the gps and we were off to see what the pretty blue and tiny town was.
We drove down this small dirt road for hours with tons of potholes, maybe it only said 20 miles but, that could take hours on this bumpy holey road. We came to a stop in the jungle with a river. We noticed a hand crank bridge ahead. We waited in line for our turn. Eldo could not wait to get on that tiny little ferry. We drove up onto the small planks of wood and we were in between two other pickup trucks. It was a gentle ride across the river and on we went for a couple more hours of a deserted dirt road.
We passed a few dead animals along the way like an Aardvark and coral snake. Passed through a couple small towns and a lagoon where we saw some small huts with a couple girls brushing their teeth in the door of the home and passed some strategically placed speedbumps along a road that you could not speed on even if you tried.
Driving on we had 2 men dressed in overalls and large hats in a horse and buggy. It was the oddest thing to see. Then we saw some more horse and buggies parked in the front of their homes. This area had a very unique feel to it. I saw a small store/ gas station and of course drove right in. There were a couple of young men dressed all in their overalls. Oddly they were joking around and cussing. I was looking at what to buy, they were selling a lot of car parts mostly. I saw and onion, which I asked for and he said is that all? No ill take some of these homemade cookies, a hamburger from the cooler, a cold coke and a horseshoe please. 2.50$, and the hamburger was yummy! There was a very odd feel here, no women to be seen. The men looked at me, almost like what is a white woman doing in this shop, like they are not allowed to be out and in a store. Defiantly not a friendly feel, I had my alert feelers on. We ate our hamburger and cold coke and hit the road again.
Here is a little Wikipedia overview of Mennonites in Belize
Mennonites in Belize form different religious bodies and come from different ethnic backgrounds. There are groups of Mennonites living in Belize, who are quite traditional and conservative (e. g. in Shipyard and Upper Barton Creek), while others have modernized to various degrees (e. g. in Spanish Lookout and Blue Creek).
10,865 Ethnic Mennonites are white and 793 Mennonites are of other races (2010)
Mennonitism, a part of Anabaptism
The Bible, The Complete Writings of Menno Simons
Plautdietsch, Standard German, English, Belizean Spanish, Pennsylvania German
There were 4961 members as of 2014, but the total number including children and young unbaptized adults was around 12,000. Of these some 10,000 were ethnic Mennonites, most of them “Russian” Mennonites, who speak Plautdietsch, a Low German dialect. In addition to this, there were another 2,000 mostly Kriol and Mestizo Belizeans who had converted to Mennonitism.
Another couple hours of driving we approached the town. It was an incredible bright blue color! One of the most beautiful waters I have ever seen and I have seen a lot of beautiful beaches around the world. For as far as the eye could see was a light blue bath water. You could see straight down at the fishes swimming. We drove in and found a nice place in the shade for Eldo to rest. I was exhausted from the border crossing and driving those dirt roads. I went straight to bed and passed out for a few hours.
We were parked next to a building with a nice young man who worked for a company who are trying to start a local ferry business. His name is Abi and he is a fisherman as a side job. Sweetheart of a man and he gave us some local information, assured us this was a safe small town and we would be fine sleeping here for the night. He insisted that we join him for breakfast/lunch the next day when he got back from fishing.
He told us of a restaurant where he sells his fish, so he knows it fresh. Its name was Crabby’s. So we headed walking there through the town to try some fresh fish and conch. He said the conch season had just started. We ordered some conch ceviche and grilled fish and of course a couple icy cold beers to go with it. The ceviche was mouthwatering amazing!!!! After dinner we had to walk off the feast we had just enjoyed.
It is a small town with one main bar, couple of restaurants and a few little stores that people have from their homes. We saw a huge celebration that was going on, must have been a quincinera party. There was a young girl in a beautiful pink fluffy dress running around. Lots of food and fiesta. After walking off dinner, headed back to Eldo for the night.
Put up the screens, opened the windows, crawled in and passed out for the night under the stars and moon light.
-just another day on the road…..
10-06-2017- Chetumal, Mexico
Woke up this morning to the sound of my phone dinging at 530am. It was a warning that a tropical storm/ hurricane was headed straight for the Yucatan. As I open my eyes and look out at the beautiful sky right on the beach I start to attempt a search for where it is going to land. Lol, yup just about where we were. We thought to play it safe, make some coffee, pack up Eldo, a little journal, take a quick shower from Eldo and hit the road.
We set the gps to Tulum, there was some ruins there that I wanted to see. I was there about 23 years ago. I was traveling through Mexico with my backpack and no money in my pocket. I remember taking a local bus to the main road drop off and walking down a small road with a tree canopy and huge buses racing by me. I walked for hours and hours to reach the beach area next to the ruins. I suppose I could have taken a taxi (but preferred to eat) or hitchhiked (but had not learned that art YET). When I arrived at the beach it was a beautiful desolate beach. I found a nice little hut area and asked them about a place to sleep. They said that I could share a hut with another traveler and it would be cheaper. So, I slept in a hut on the beach with a fellow traveler in a hammock with sand floors. I could swim out to the ocean and look to my left and see the ruins from the water.
As we arrived the long road looked very much the same however the whole area had grown so much. So many tourists everywhere. We went to the beach and to my surprise my little shack place was still there!! On the beach there was a huge sailboat that had just run ashore with no one inside. The locals were surrounding the area with beaming curiosity.
I started to go towards the path that I thought seemed most appropriate which was up the old broken stairway, step over the broken-down fence and through the woods. There were so many huge iguanas everywhere, so I was doing my normal clapping to scare them away. I really don’t like lizards, in case you did not figure that out. Of course, when we got to the top of the hill we heard the security guard yelling at us. Golly, they are everywhere! We hiked back down and headed towards the main entrance to the Tulum ruins.
We walked around the ruins, they were ok. They had closed off the beach area to help to protect the turtles. It was however a little ironic because they spent so much energy to save the turtles but the beach was covered in garbage. You would think if they wanted to help the turtles they would clean the beach, lol. Got to see 2 lemurs hanging out searching for food and climbing the trees.
Afterwards, as we were heading back to Eldo we passed a nice restaurant, chill feel right on the beach. I could not resist. We splurged and got a coke, sprite, local fresh fish tacos, guacamole dip with chips and an amazing smoothie! It was a real treat, however spent almost half of our daily budget :/
Driving on to Chetumal which was our original destination. Chetumal is the border town with Belize. As we were driving Eldo made a huge milestone! She rolled over 201,000 miles!!!!! Eldo was so proud driving on, we passed several small towns and a man on his motorcycle balancing three kids, baby in front, boy behind and little girl behind him. I saw a beautiful blue area on the google maps and found a back dirt road that could reach the water. It was an abandoned area with old huts with an amazing dock, perfect crystal clear water and a really nice floating bar. It’s funny the silly amazing beautiful things you can find in this world if you just take a break and smell the air.
Upon arrival in Tulum we had some housekeeping to do. Walmart was first to restock up the kitchen pantry. Walmart is cheap and things are all more expensive in Belize. We went to 3 stores looking for some snorkeling masks and found some for 7$! Also wanted to find some fishing stuff, basic stuff like, hooks and maybe a fishing pole. Let me tell you, it is nearly impossible to find any kind of fishing stuff in a fishing town! Crazy I know! We stopped and asked several people and they sent us in all kinds of directions. Our last man we asked was a one-armed man and his worker. We spent about 15 min, trying to figure out how many street lights we must go, then left, then right. By the bank, no by the hotel, no at the corner…. Needless to say, we never did find this amazing place to buy fishing stuff.
Getting tired, we see those lights up in heaven shining down on us! I make a sharp turn and abrupt stop into Little Cesars! Hot and Ready!!! This time they accepted credit cards and we ate like kings and queens. Oddly, they have taken out all their tables and chairs from inside the restaurant and have put in a drive through. Which is smart! We just made our own little table area in the parking lot next to Eldo, realizing that we never even saw a drop of rain all day!
Full bellies, happy hearts we start to wonder where we will sleep our last night in Mexico. There is only one appropriate answer to this question. A love hotel of course!!! We had seen a perfect one with a huge red heart out front on our way into town. So off we go, we found the hotel called My House. For 25$/night I guess it was ok. But I am going to say, I wore my flip flops the whole time, used my own towel and put my own sheets on top of the bed. I guess for 25$ you can’t complain. The AC was heavenly and with the huge mirror in front with the bright red tantra chair displayed at foot of bed, I laid my head down and fell asleep.
-just another day on the road…
10-05-2017- Tulsayab, Mexico
With all the excitement of being able to wake up with such an amazing beachfront view, at the first sight of sun, I jumped out of bed. Put the hammock up in a perfect spot to enjoy the sunrise with my blanket and pillow and enjoyed the moment. Sipped on a fresh cup of coffee and some nice relaxing journaling.
Today was going to be a super super relaxing and lazy day. The goal for today was, well, no goals at all! Sat in the hammock for a few hours, till I stirred up the energy to go for a walk along the beach. There was a guy that we had seen walk by earlier with his heavy sledge hammer to go to work. I passed him and we struck up a conversation. I got all the local gossip of the area. His name was Luis and he was probably in his mid-30’s, of regular build with a large brimmed hat on and a gentle face. He told me that he was working to make the rock beach into a beautiful white sandy beach. His job was to break up all the huge rocks and coral and move them away. He completes about one rock a day. I looked down the beach and saw hundreds of rocks to go. He had a calm affect to him, he said to me, “I’ll do one rock today then go home and do another rock tomorrow”. Lol, what a life. He stared off into the ocean admiring the beach and the place where he lived. His boss is an Israeli man who is married to a Canadian woman and he comes once every 3 months to check up on progress. The Israeli man owns 4 more huge homes close by that he rents out and 7 in a neighboring town called Tulum. So, he gets paid not by the rock but by the week. A man comes by every week and gives him cash for his work. He asked if I like to fish, as I don’t but Jeff does and we were trying to find some fishing hooks. Luis said that there was a fat Guatemalan man who lived in a house close who has a lot of hooks, if he saw him, he was going to get some hooks for us. He also mentioned something about a hurricane/tropical storm headed our way. As the sun was beating down on us, I had to leave to get into the shade.
Headed back to our little spot and lounged some more in the hammock. I saw a tourist pass by, his name is Leo and he was from Belgium but grew up in this area. He ended up lending us some snorkel gear so we could go out into the water and look at all the coral and fishes.
I was a little nervous about snorkeling but of course did it anyways. The last time I snorkeled I was in the Maldives off an island in the Indian Ocean and I happen to swim right into hundreds if not thousands of tiny almost invisible jelly fish. I had called the boat over to pick us up and as I got into the boat they were hanging all over me, from my face, hair, bathing suit, all over!!!! I freaked out for a bit, pulled them all off and I looked like someone had taken a whip to me, huge long welts all over!!! I tried so hard to communicate with the other couple on the boat from …….. but their English was so limited they could not understand that I was begging them to pee on me!!!!! So, needless to say, I was a little nervous.
We walked out far into the ocean past all the sea grass and dove right in. It was beautiful, could see the coral and tons of little fish swimming and hiding all around and under the coral. There were some bright blue almost glow in the dark type fish and big yellow fish. We swam for a while, I only saw one tiny jellyfish that I turned around very quickly and swam away with no problems.
After the snorkel it was time for another walk, we walked for hours to a faraway point, it was so peaceful and fun. Saw some incredible rocks, water and fish. We were all excited to get back because we were going to splurge and buy a real dinner, thinking a local fish dinner. We thought about it on our walk back and went straight up the ordering desk and well they had just stopped serving food. Grrrrrrr. I guess it will be mashed potato pancakes and spicy tuna fish. It actually turned out pretty amazing!!!
Enjoyed a bit of the evening breeze, showered under the stars and full moon, snuggled up in Eldo and laid there listening to the sounds of the guitar being played.
-just another day on the road……
10-04-2017- Tulsayab, Mexico
Feeling nice and safe with my familiar surrounds as I awoke this morning, put a small smile in my heart. Looking out of the back of Eldo to see the beach water and a beautiful pink flowering tree. Excited for the new day, I got up and set up my chair. Enjoyed some yummy coffee and oatmeal as I did a little journaling.
I have always dreamed of having offices around the world in beautiful places and now my dreams are becoming a reality. Lol I guess, the only missing part is the income, hehe but as I was always told growing up. Do what you love, the money will follow. I have always lived on that philosophy and somehow, I really don’t understand how, but it works. I think back of my travels when I was 17, with maybe if I was lucky a few hundred dollars in my pocket and a backpack on my back and my familiar old hiking boots on, wandering through unknown lands of Central America. Anyways, somehow, I never went without food, shelter and safety. Maybe it was only a can of beans, tortillas and ketchup, but I always felt very fortunate for all three of these things.
I sat there under the shade of the pink flowers with the breeze from the water upon my face and coffee in hand typing away. There was an ambulance that came up and parked a couple spots down from us, so of course we made some coffee for them also. After some nice relax time, we started to pack up for the day. There was a really nice outdoor shower and bathrooms that opened at 9am, so as soon as they opened, I went straight down and take a shower. Wow that shower felt amazing with the strong cold stream of water. Nothing better and felt so refreshing.
Headed out on the road towards Playa de Carmen/ Tulum area. I have had enough of the tourist areas of Cancun. The one beach was amazing but there is so much tourism that you can’t even reach or see the beach unless you enter a resort. We drove for miles and miles looking for a spot to even see the beach and it is all blocked off. There is a certain behavior or maybe a loss of innocence that the locals seem to get in the real touristy areas. I don’t blame them, it is probably from years of dealing with some yucky tourists and getting burnt out. But, I prefer the outskirts or small rural towns where the people still smile and wave and you can feel the aura of their innocence.
As we were driving, I do as I always do and look for little side roads to the beach or to explore. I saw a beach area up ahead so we pulled off to check it out. We drove through a small little local town which felt so nice. We kept driving towards the beach and over the bridge until we hit a wall of tourists. It was the strangest feeling, like a whole village just for tourists and shops everywhere. The feeling was horrible, almost like hundreds of tourists that went to a huge resort that was right next door and they were told that the only safe place to go outside the walls of the resort is this little area. No one left this area, just walking around. Just did not feel right. The locals were not friendly but I just wanted to see the beach. So, I drove on, until I hit a little private housing area. The guard did not say anything to us so we drove on. It was a small neighborhood with tons of houses along the beach. Kind of reminded me of California coast and how it’s all occupied by homes and hard to reach. Finally, we saw a tiny little public memorial park. Perfect! We parked in a little parking area close and walked the trail. The beach was very rocky and well just ok. Pretty but not amazing. So, we headed back to get out of this area. As we were leaving, there was another security guard giving us bad looks with his clipboard in hand taking down our license plate number. Grrrrrrrrr. I gave him the biggest smile I could with a wave and an hola and drove on in search of private areas to relax away from tourists.
The gps was set to an ioverlander site that was between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It said that it was a beautiful quiet beach area. Ahhhhhh just what we are looking for. Directions were to go down the main highway until we see a restaurant called Milo and Lalo’s. There is a small dirt road right across from this restaurant that is a little hard to see. Turn there and follow the dirt road until you see a guard, he may ask you where you are going, just tell him you want to go to Chamico’s, then keep following the road until it dead ends. So, we did just that, drove down a long dirt road with tons of huge potholes and we saw the guard. But I think he was a little tired so instead of him asking us, he just waved, gave a smile and a warm greeting. We drove on until we saw it…… hundreds of beautiful palm trees and white sandy beach. There was a tiny shack with some tables and hammocks by the water and a couple of coolers with icy cold beer!
We have arrived at Paradise!!!! There were just a few people enjoying a drink on the water. We got a few icy cold beers, asked about sleeping here and sat by the water. Had to take a few minutes to shake off all the negativity of tourism. Then a wave of happiness and relaxation covered my body, mind and soul.
When I asked about sleeping here, they smiled and said yes, no problem. It was 100 pesos per person and that we could drive to this area past the cones, park anywhere we want, along that deserted beautiful ocean palm tree lined coast. I laughed a little to myself, kind of wanted to pinch myself. Did they just say, yes, this whole beach is all for you, no one else is staying here and there were even bathrooms for just 10$!
We finished the icy cold beer, headed back to Eldo to find the perfect parking spot right on the beach, tucked in between some palm trees. Put our hammock up, enjoyed a perfect dinner of a canned chef Boyardee ravioli and opened the back hatch to hear the sounds of the water. I could feel the breeze from the water and as I laid down and looked up, could see a perfect full moon shining down from above.
-just another day on the road
10-03-2017- Playa Coral, Mexico
Today was a literally “back on the road” type of day. Since we spent 7 days back in the USA doing some hurricane family stuff and 10 days at the Air bnb. It has been 17 days since we have slept at “home” in Eldo. I was starting to feel a little homesick, so this morning I woke up all excited to start back with the adventure. Starting the day right, with a little relax time with my fresh ground pressed coffee, only felt appropriate. After some nice relax time we started to pack Eldo up, with a little excitement in the air. Eldo was so excited, I could feel her gleam! We cleaned up the air bnb, as we always try to leave them nice and clean.
We had dropped off some clothes at a laundry place to get them cleaned yesterday so they were to be picked up today. We walked across the street to the local launderia and gave him our ticket. Looking in was a small privately-owned shop with one man inside and a small glass display case with socks and a few shirts for sale. Gave him our ticket and noticed he was still folding the clothes so we waited, we were in no hurry. He started to bag them up and said, under his breath, oh by the way you are missing 3 matches to socks. Now, living in Eldo we try to be as organized as possible but it does take a little effort. We don’t have a lot of clothes to start out with so every piece kind of matters. 3 pairs of socks are kind of a large loss and they were all mine including my super soft fluffy warm pink socks. At first, I said no problem and he told me to look in my home. Laughing to myself, I knew it was going to be a loss. Then I walked right in to caress my pink sock with a pathetic sadness, hoping he would feel bad and look a little better in his dryers or in the disaster of a whirlwind of clothes that were splattered all over. As I was caressing I saw a child’s sock in our pile of clothes, took it out and let him know, it was not ours. As I started to walk away in sadness I happen to see in the corner of my eye one of my missing socks on a side counter all wet and kind of with some garbage stuff! All excited I picked it up and gave the dirty wet sock to him! Then started looking on floor and found another one under the table on the floor!! Score!! All that was missing now was the pink fluffy ones. I walk away just excited to have 2 pair of socks and I hear it!! Found it!! He found the last pink sock on the ground in the back! Ok, so traveling lesson here, which I normally do but was feeling particularly lazy this day, is to count all the clothes and make a list of shirts, pants, socks, etc. before leaving. It was a success, leaving with all our clothes or well just not noticing the ones that are missing.
We head back to the Air bnb to keep on packing. We are starting to get a little hungry but we pack on, needing to be out by around 11. We have put Willis on a leash so that he does not tear up the clothes in the back of the jeep (which he did before when I left the top open). Put all the clothes away in the tire well of Eldo and I hear the door close behind me…. Grrrrrrr…… I locked us out of the house and inside the closed gate area.
Fortunately, we had a phone and we texted the Air bnb guy. Since there was really nothing we could do but wait, I crawled into Eldo, got a book out, dripping sweat in the sunny spot and relaxed. We waited and waited and waited. We thought about getting a pizza delivered, we could squish it through the locked gate. And just then Daniel drove up like an angel to save us in his little white car with a big smile on his face. Daniel was a tall, thin, well-dressed man who carried himself with a lot of pride. He had a gentle smile that you just wanted to be around. We chatted for a while and he was able to find the key for us to get back in. ahhhhhhh the air conditioner felt like heaven!!! He started asking questions about Eldo with a child-like curiosity. Listening to us talk about the adventures his whole body lite up. We told him about where we were headed (well with no real destinations). He has family in Chile so he shared a bit about Patagonia area which he had traveled to. Talked about Travel Ur Dreams and how he can follow our adventure. His face lite up and was so sincerely excited for us. It is these few human moments in life that are a real honor to feel and experience. Then it dawned on us, Travel Ur Dreams birth place is right here at this Air bnb in the small town of Puerto Moreles, Mexico!!! Daniel in some very small special way played a part in providing us with a comfortable, safe, inexpensive, great wifi spot for a welcoming beginning of Travel Ur Dreams.
Driving Eldo out of the parking spot she was a little squeaky, could hear her struggle a little. I knew she could do it and would be just fine. We started driving off all excited to be on the road again and realized we did not know which way we wanted to go. We knew that we were starving and inside really hoping maybe that great chicken place was open today. Driving by we saw the cloud of smoke from the corner chicken place, turning around and parking right in front we jump out to order a ½ chicken please! It smelled sooo good. We set the gps to Cancun area cause I wanted to explore that a little before heading south. Started driving and getting the chicken ready to eat we passed by the exact same location that we had slept in the night before flying off to the USA. Swerved off to relax, enjoy, and eat. We parked in the same spot as that night. Pulled our chairs out and enjoyed the amazing chicken with the breeze of the beach in our faces.
Now, this particular parking spot has a little history to it. The night that we discovered this parking area, we were getting ready to fly out that night. So, we were going to sleep until around 3am then head to airport. We spent some time packing and then cooking dinner. It’s a beautiful spot right on the water, clean with locked bathrooms and a wonderful outdoor shower. We were so relaxed and excited to have found this sleeping spot for the night. We got all settled into Eldo bed and drifted off to sleep. There was a security guard here that did not seem to mind us but made us feel a little safe so we slept with the back hatch open to feel the cool breeze from the ocean. We drifted off to sleep with our alarms set for nice and early. Hours later, suddenly, I feel a tight grasp of a hand squeezing my knee without a word said. I startle not saying a word but open my eyes. As I look up I see a man dressed in green army clothing with a bullet proof vest on and a HUGE gun in his hand right at my feet. My whole body does this panic shutter as I stay calm on the outside and poop my pants on the inside. I notice 2 other men jump out of a jeep parked with guns and run to the sides of Eldo. I try to focus on what he is saying, not knowing at this point is it better to pretend I don’t speak Spanish or just try to talk my way out of this. He asks a couple basic questions, where are we from and where are we going, smiles and walks off. I take a deep breath laying there with the fear still running through my blood. We laugh a little, relax and back off to sleep.
After lunch with full bellies we head off on the road again to find a nice beach in Cancun and maybe a place to sleep for the night. Suddenly, to the right we see a beautiful crystal-clear beach. I pull over to a small dirt pull off and we walk down to the beach with a blanket and in awe sit and watch the water. This is so much more beautiful that I had expected from a Cancun beach. After baking in the sun a bit, we head back to the road. Drive through Cancun hotel area and holy moly, the whole area is just filled with huge hotels, resorts and some parts looking very similar to Las Vegas! This is not really what I was looking for so we kept on driving, was getting hot and a little lethargic. I saw a pull off and headed towards a nice airconditioned mall area for a break. Walked around for a bit and then wanted to explore.
I saw a back-side road that looked interesting. Drove and drove until we found a perfect back dirt road, right on the water and totally private. Although we had to drive through a river to get to the beach, I knew Eldo could do it! I thought, this is a perfect sleeping spot. After knowing that we had a nice place to sleep, we headed out for dinner. We had been talking about how there is a little ceasars in Cancun, and that was going to be our dinner splurge! For hours we were drooling over the idea of this hot and ready pizza! We drove all the way through town about 20 min to reach this pizza. By now we were really hungry and could not wait to sink our teeth into this hot fresh pizza! We wait in the long line of people all excited that we were going to get bread sticks and coke!!! We get to the young boy behind the register and tell him proudly what I want. We go to pay with our credit card as we always do at little ceasars and he looks at us, shakes his head and says, so sorry “cash only”. Now realizing that we have only like 1$ in pesos on us. My heart drops, my shoulders slouch and my stomach grumbles at me. Grrrrrr. No hot and ready for me. We moved on to dominos and enjoyed a yummy pizza. We decided to eat the pizza in Eldo because inside dominos there were tons of screaming kids! With my window down devouring the pizza a man walks up to my side of the car. Startled me a little but then comforted me with the sight of a beautiful handmade flan cake. He was walking around with his 2 grown children trying to sell flan. We got chatting a little and he gave me a few missing teeth grins. He went on to tell me that if I was not hungry now, well I could bring the flan home with me. I sat there, looked behind me at my beautiful bed in Eldo and said, “I am at home”. His face lite up with that silly missing tooth grin and he said “really?!?!, you live in your car?!?!, so do I!!! We laughed a little and he moved on to the next potential buyer. We headed back to our sleeping spot that we were so proud to have found!
I had to do about 20 min of driving through the city to get to our spot, in the dark it is not the easiest thing to do. There are potholes everywhere, people walking and crazy drivers. Roads that go in directions that you would never imagine and street lights everywhere sometimes even in the middle of round abouts. As I am driving I see something ahead in the road, looks like a huge dead cat from my view but hard to tell, I don’t want to hit it anyways so I swerve a little. As I get closer I notice that it is actually moving! It was a HUGE snake, right in the middle of the city!!!! When I say huge I mean HUGE!!!! It was slivering so slowly across the street, must have just eaten something (maybe a cat, dog or even small child)!
We parked Eldo in a nice safe spot, started to get ready for bed and well, to make a long story short. After getting kicked out of the beach area to another parking area. Then at 11pm getting kicked out of the parking area. We found ourselves, tired, slightly annoyed at the overambitious security guards and back on the road. So, that is how we ended up back at this wonderful spot on the water. We pulled in and felt right at home. Curled up and fell fast asleep.
-just another day on the road…..
9-30-2017 – Puerto Morelos, Mexico
Today, awaking with the same comforts of 4 walls and an air conditioner, I feel the doom of routine start to creep in. I will have been at this Air bnb for 10 days total, which honestly I can’t remember the last time I was in one place for that long. Except maybe when I was part of the working society. Although there is a certain routine feeling as I look at the shoes next to the door and hear the sounds of Willy the dog outside, there is also benefits to that feeling in a small Mexican town such as this.
As I enjoy my freshly hand pressed and ground coffee, I fight the itch to run, and enjoy a bit of relaxation. When you stay in one town where no one knows who you are, it’s really quite comforting. You can walk down the street past the same little shops or street vendors and you start to get those familiarity smiles along the way. You start to make little relationships with the locals and many times you do this with only sharing a smile. You begin to figure out where is the best place to buy cheese, get a hair cut and who has the best tortillas. You get to try different street vendors (tacos, tacos, tacos and tamales) and see who is always busy which is probably the easiest way to find your safest places to eat at.
After my moments of relaxation, I feel like I have a lot to do. Somehow with absolutely nothing to do I have so much to do. Maybe it’s just part of my personality that I like to stay busy and moving or maybe its just part of the Travel Bug. I have been working on some different ideas for screen printing so I get my creative toys together and start making fun stuff! With the thought in the back of my head of selling some goodies on the road along the way, we have put together a printing section in Eldo. It includes some silk screen, ink, wooden box shape holders for the screen, squeegy and some liquid stuff that you can mix into your paint and it makes it stay on materials after washing. After everything is laid out we spend a couple hours screen printing. I have to say, some of the stuff actually looks pretty incredible. Cleaned up all the paint stuff with the water from the kitchen ,which is so nice to have when doing this, running water is key to cleanup. Not so easy to do with stored water from the top of Eldo.
I was getting hungry so we went out for a walk to the big grocery store to get a few goodies and I had wanted to get some water shoes for our next adventure. Walking through the town felt different today, all of the people were out and about walking around. Saturday everyone goes out on the town. It was a nice feeling with vendors everywhere and laughs and smiles all about. We found some shoes and also got the only good eggplant left and some bread. On the walk back we could not resist the smoke blowing in our faces from the huge grill with tons of chickens grilling. We decided to get some freshly grilled chicken, ½ chicken for 30 pesos (2.40$). I thought it would just be the chicken in the bag but then she kept on adding stuff to the bag! We got a half of an amazingly seasoned grilled hot chicken, bag of beans, bag of rice, and lots of tortillas, plate and napkins. And that is just the beginning. It also tasted amazing!!! The flavors melted in my mouth and as I am eating with juices dripping all over it was an incredible belly satisfaction.
Since we only have a few more days here I decided to start cleaning up Eldo and getting her ready for the next adventure. She has been sitting out front nice and safe. But well, not being slept in and I have to say, I think Willis has a thing for her because I saw something wet on her rear tire yesterday. We cleaned Eldo’s kitchen pantry, kitchen, bathroom and living room. It was getting way to hot outside so that was all we could do from the nice indoor air conditioning. Got a little computer work done and shewwww that was enough work for one day.
Time for another walk! So we went out in the cooler evening air and watched the people. The local boy at the small shop passed us a small smile as we passed. The corn lady selling from her bike had the same steaming yummy smells. Tonight we walked far, went out past the city limits to see a little of the local neighborhood feel. I could see inside some of the homes. One home had a group of people sitting around the table playing guitar and singing. Another was a small family sitting around the table eating and laughing. Its so nice to see this human side of life. The street dogs passed us mostly uninterested. Many different churches were going on, some really loud preaching, others soft singing, and others very quietly sitting with candles burning. We passed by the main sports center where there was some music being played and they had tables set up for free haircuts for kids. There were about 4 young hair dressers busy busy cutting hair with a line of excited kids awaiting their turns.
After the long walk it was time for dinner. Of course pizza is my favorite and we had now collected all the goodies to make some at home. Settled in, took a shower, ate some amazing home made yumminess and drifted off to bed.
-just another day on the road…..
9-26-2017 – Puerto Morelos, Mexico
Today I woke up in a nice, cozy and comfortable Air BnB. We splurged because we had spent the last week in the USA with family doing hurricane stuff down south. After we flew back to Cancun we rented a few nights at a simple home. We have all the comforts of hot water, running water, bed, air conditioning, kind of a shower (more of a trickle), and a kitchen. We will be here for a week, at $120.00/week, we just could not resist! Today was going to be a nail day, I am so excited to have been able to reunite with my one luxury of my UV nail machine, that I grabbed at my mom’s home during the visit. The first couple of hours was a nice and relaxing grooming, beautifying my nails. You always know when life is good when my nails are nicely painted. I enjoyed a nice breakfast of a yummy egg with oaxaca cheese, croissant with chocolate banana spread and grits with honey.
By the time I was done with my nails it was already lunch time. As I got hungry we headed out for our big outing for the day. We decided to stock up on some water, food and a full tank of gas, just in case another earthquake decided to hit a little southeast from the previous ones. So, we un-parked ELDO out of her perfect and protected parking spot. We could barely fit her into a perfect spot, it requires 3 locks for us to leave the home. One lock on the door, then one for the front iron door and then one to protect ELDO. We also are fortunate enough to have a super sweet guard dog named Willis who keeps ELDO company at night. Silly that there are so many locks in a small town that I actually feel safer in then my hometown of Gainesville.
We headed into town where there was an ATM, grocery store and gas station all so close by. We hit the ATM first for some pesos, then the grocery store for some water and food supplies and off to the gas station. ELDO was so happy to have a nice and safe full tank of gas and ready for some travels. On our way home through the pothole filled roads we notice off on the side of the road a small mutt dog munching on a huge animal head skeleton. That’s one lucky dog!
When home, I worked a bit on some journaling and computer stuff. It is also a luxury that we have fast internet! Before I knew it the day was over. I turned on the TV and figured out how to change the language from Spanish to English. I was sooo excited to be able to do this because at all the hotels, they put a block on this. We enjoyed some really cheesy movies and drifted off to sleep. Sometimes this down time is needed and wanted to regroup and catch up on some relax time. There is a true certain kind of freedom that comes with existing in a spot in the world, where no one knows who you are, no one knows where you are, and you are completely free from any type of responsibilities. Ahhhh, life is good.
Just another day on the road…..
9-12-2017 – Playa Sabancuy, Mexico
Today I woke up in the comforts of a Hampton Inn. I was feeling pretty yucky from this sickness and we were passing through a large city at night time. This is the good time to take advantage of a good nice hot shower and a bed and TV. Went downstairs to enjoy the free breakfast and had eggs, black refried beans, some meat unknown thing, lots of fresh fruit (pineapples, watermelon, papaya and plantains). We have been passing a lot of huge farms with all these fruits so we knew it was all super fresh! Got a cup of coffee to go, took another nice hot shower, packed up and set the gps.
We set the gps to chichin itza again knowing we would not make it all the way but figured we would find a nice place to sleep along the coast. Today we were going to pass on the east side of Mexico up the Yucatan peninsula and the water looked like a pretty light blue on google maps. We head out of town, made our regular stop to Walmart for some water and veggies and hit the road. It was actually a really nice drive, not too many cars on the road and we only had to pay 2 tolls today (10.00$). Man, tolls are a real killer, we spend so much money on just tolls and gas, sometimes our whole budget is wasted on just tolls and gas in one day. Several hours passed and several small little villages. The villages along the water have such a nice feel to them.
We stopped to get some stuff out of our kitchen for lunch and we decided on tortillas, refried beans, onion, tomato, lime and siracha. Omg, it was soooo yummy, I even had 2!!! We passed through a couple checkpoints today, most of the time they smile and wave us on. But, today we got stopped. The nice man in a green uniform surrounded by men with huge guns came over to our car. I gave out my biggest, sweetest smile possible and he reached his hand out to me to shake my hand. Weird, this is the second time an officer wanted to shake my hand, maybe it’s a Mexican thing, but boy I sure was thankful for it. I felt it was kind of his way to say, I am here in peace and not to hurt you (maybe find a way to get some money out of you, but not hurt you). He asked all the same questions, where are you going, where are you from and let me see your license. And then smiled and said safe travels. Ahhhhhh deep breath and another one passed without problems, thank goodness!
We drive on and now we are hugging the beach coast line and it is soooo beautiful. Starting to get a little late I start to look for a safe place to stay for the night. I see lots of turn offs towards the water along the mangroves but most of them have “private property or do not enter” signs. So I keep going and see a small turn off where the sign has fallen to the ground so technically there was no sign. I turned in, it was off the road a bit so very private and had mangroves on both sides of the property and was right on the beach. It was a perfect safe place to stop, we get out and walk around and notice a huge area of standing water… grrrr then we notice a swarm of mosquitos. Jump back into ELDO and keep looking. There is no way that we want to get eaten alive, it was perfect and far from perfect. We drive on along the coast knowing that we still have about an hour or so of coast to follow, and now there are not a lot of turn offs. It seems to be all protected or private land. Suddenly I see it, a tiny little side road. I make a u turn right there in the road and go for it. Driving down the small road with huge holes towards the beach it is looking perfect. We look right and left and we have total privacy and protected from the road. There is a perfect breeze on the beach to protect us from mosquitos. We get out, enjoy the moments of the beautiful sunset on the beach and set up our kitchen.
We had made plans to make tortilla PIZZA!!!! Yes, I love pizza and could eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner with noooo problem. We had some tomato sauce, fresh eggplant, tomato, onion, left over hamburger, red pepper, mushrooms, fresh garlic, cheese and Italian spices. I was in heaven, watching the sunset over the ocean with a cool breeze, eating my tortilla pizza with a nice tequila and sanpellegrino beverage. I am not really sure at this moment if life gets any better than this.
As we start to clean up, we notice a car pull into the road. They are not able to make it past the huge holes so they park and we see two people get out. Looks like a couple, maybe here to enjoy the sunset. They walk over to the water but staying at a distance from us. We see them taking some pictures of the water and then the girl goes back to the car. I was assuming to grab something from the car. About 10-15 min pass and the gentleman is still standing there. Now it is a bit weird. We watch him and he is waiting for the girl to return. About 20 min pass and we figure maybe they got in a fight or something. He starts to walk towards where the car is parked but as we look we notice the car is gone! She had left him there, and we are really, pretty far from anything.
We see that he is trying to do something on his phone standing a little bit in front of our truck. I am not getting a bad vibe but, definitely a weird one. I decide it is best to approach him directly instead of wondering. I put on my super bright head lamp with Jeff and I walk firmly over towards him. I introduce myself and ask if he needs any help. He said yes, that he was so scared standing there all by himself in the dark path. Lol, ok, his voice was a gentle scared voice. I asked if he wanted to join us and he did without hesitation. I asked if it was super dangerous out here and he said no but he was afraid of the dark path. We talked for a bit, he was waiting for some of his friends to come pick him up, the girl he was with just left him. He was 45 years old, a little heavy set, very docile affect and an elementary school teacher in a village very close to here.
We waited until his friends arrived and we could see the flashing lights down the road. He saw the lights but would not move from behind our truck. I asked if those were his friends and he said yes, I said well ok….. are you scared to see them. He assured me that he was only afraid of walking alone on the path through the dark to the car. I said don’t worry, I will lead you and off I went, we are walking towards his friends car and I am a little apprehensive. I say in very fast English to Jeff that, now is a good time to put the pepper spray from his pocket to his hand. Of course, he already had it in his hand ready. Just in case, preparation is the key to success. I walk apprehensively towards his friends and I say to him, if we all die from your friends it is going to be your fault. He is silent and walking. We arrive to the car and a young girl gets out and opens the door for her friend. She gives me a gentle smile and my fear is all gone. It really was his friends coming to get him, he gets in the car and they drive away. Ok, so that was a weird event, we laugh a little and head back to the truck.
We settle back into ELDO, screens are up for the night, I lay my head down, listen to the crashing of the waves and fall peacefully asleep.
Just another day on the road……….
9-9-2017 – Playa de Antón Lizardo
Today I woke up comfortably at the base of the pyramid. Listened to the sounds of loud pounding bass, so loud it was shaking the truck and loud what sounded like bombs going off. The mexicans love their fireworks and they make their fireworks sound like bombs. So I layed in bed with the roof shaking from a combination of bombs and blasting bass music, which I am assuming was coming from the festival at 0730 in the morning.
The overwhelming desire for coffee is normally the one thing that gets me to crawl out of bed. So we get up and start our breakfast set up. Fresh hand ground coffee to start with along with some pancakes with honey drizzled on top. One of the security guards started curiously wandering our way. I gave my welcoming smile and wave and he continued over our way. He was an older man of 71 but looked like he was in his 60’s. He started talking with us and he was so curious what our story was. He was a security guard for this park area. It was his job to be sure that people picked up poop after their dogs and did not allow adults to be in the childrens playground. He worked also 24 hour shifts, one day on and one day off. He talked about how he used to be a truck driver for 18 years working every single day and one time he drove for 48 hours straight with a huge trailer. He belonged to a guitar group that he liked to play with, he was proud to have been invited to be part of this group. So, we gave him coffee and pancakes and spent hours talking with him about really nothing too important, just shooting the breeze. He was excited because he wanted to treat us to lunch if we were still here, he always gets a big package of rice and chicken for 10 pesos.
It started to drizzle a little and I began to clean up the kitchen area. Our friend wandered off to do his job and we ended up packing up ELDO and starting to plan our day of adventure. We had decided it was time to move on and we found a jungle about 5 hours away that sounded like an exciting place to explore. There are monkies and lots of wild birds around this area. So we set the gps and headed out. We wanted to stop at a walmart on our way out of town to stock up on food for the next couple days. It was a bit challenging to get to wal mart, took a couple of wrong turns along the way. Traffic was pretty bad and aggressive. I was driving down this side road when jeff said, police….. stop….. they are waving us down….. GRRRR, so I pressed on the brakes as a huge bus swerves around me and the police come running up to our car. As soon as he sees my face, he smiles with his missing teeth grin and shakes my hand. He went on to tell me that the window tinting on the front windows that we had was prohibited. Ohhhhhh I did not realize this, I did not know what to do, so I just smiled and said….. ohhhhhhh. Then I said ok, no problem I will just ride with the windows down. I thought it was a perfect solution and apparently he did to. He asked for my license, looked at it, smiled and said safe travels. Took a deep breath to relax and drove on.
Eventually made it to walmart and stocked up on some food, water and toilet paper. 3 basic essentials. I have not been feeling well, starting to get a bad cold and today was the worst so far. Started driving out of town until I could not anymore. I asked jeff to drive and I hopped back into ELDO bed to rest my head. You know things are bad if I cant drive, because I always drive I rested in the back for a few hours while we drove through some beautiful mountain areas headed to the coast. I guess we were technically headed towards where the hurricane had just hit. I think we were a bit south of that because we did not see much damage.
We were both getting tired and it was getting a bit late to make it all the way to the jungle so we decided to find a spot to sleep along the beach. We saw an I overlander site at a restraunt that only charged 50 pesos, we headed there and they wanted to charge 200 pesos. I did not like the idea that they were trying to increase that much, tried to negotiate and decided to leave and find a cheaper or free place to stay. I kept driving along the coast knowing that there were a lot of little roads going off to the beach, felt out a nice turn, drove on the beach a bit, found a nice home that had a for rent sign up and parked right in front. It was a beautiful sunset to watch as we got the kitchen set up. This area has such a nice safe feel to it, definatley on the poorer side of Mexican cities.
We get dinner started and enjoy an amazing steak and potato dinner right there on the beach. I never imagined I could eat so much steak but had no problem polishing it off. I could not wait to crawl back into ELDO as I still was not feeling the best. We packed up the kitchen, made up the bed and I crawled right in, I could not rest my head down on that pillow fast enough. Since it was still pretty early in the night Jeff decided to stay up for a bit and keep watch. He got the guitar out and started playing, so nice to hear the strum of the guitar while laying in bed, feeling so safe with the sounds of the waves just a few feet away. I snuggled my head into the pillows, appreciated the moment and drifted off to sleep.
Just another day on the road……
9-8-2017 – San Andrés Cholula, Puebla, Mexico
Today I woke up in the sky suite at the best love hotel in Mexico. Ahhhhhhhh, opened the back doors to see the outline of the city, private jacuzzi tub connected to a small pool. Took a deep breath and enjoyed the moment of luxury. Finally found the energy to get up out of the massive round bed filled with soft pillows, to go down to the restaurant for some coffee and breakfast. Yea, I could have gotten room service but wanted the experience of this restaurant. And wow was it an experience, beautiful decorations covering the walls and private little cubies where you can go and eat in privacy. I sat right in the middle table of course, and enjoyed the most amazing breakfast ever. I know the rule of thumb is, you just don’t eat at stripper clubs or love hotels but this one was done with so much class. I just had to have a bite and was so pleasantly surprised. After a nice breakfast and of course one last bubble bath in the huge indoor jacuzzi tub, we packed up our stuff, set up our gps and hit the road.
I knew that it was going to be a difficult drive out of the city. Mexico City is so huge and so much traffic, it is really challenging to drive in this city. Followed the gps and without stopping headed out of the city as fast and safe as possible. We had set the gps to head in the direction of chitzen itza, which is a pyramid that is nice to see. With still like 10 hours drive to go we started to get out of the city and hit some of the mountains. Taking a deep breath and realizing the enjoyment of being in the mountains we drove on. We were both pretty tired today and 10 hours driving was just not going to be a realistic option. So, we started searching for a safe place to sleep for the night. We saw a nice spot from the I overlander website. We found a nice parking lot right at the base of a pyramid. I said sure, lets go sleep by a pyramid, sounds good. We set the path and an hour or so later we arrived. Cholula is a nice town, lots of small restaurants around with little bars. People walking the streets and enjoying the town. We head to the parking area and we have a few options, 3 different areas and of course, I go straight to the one right in front of the pyramid. I see a police officer and go right to him, asking about staying the night. He says of course no problem. We proudly negotiate the price for parking from $40 down to $5.60 for the night and get settled in for the night.
We decide to walk around the town and end up walking for hours. It was a nice university town with lots of street vendors. We get some elote, which is a cup of corn, mayonnaise, hot sauce and lemon, yummmmy. We walk on and get some tacos and find a nice little local bar to enjoy a draft beer and watch the New England Patriots vs. Kansas City football game, not necessarily cause we wanted to but apparently it was everywhere and the appropriate gringo thing to do. After a nice beer, nice walk we head back home.
We make friends with the police officer, make him some coffee and chat a bit. His name was Andreas and he spoke fairly good English. He told us about his years in the USA and how he used to “cross people over the border” and then he got caught and deported. He was married and has 3 children in the USA. He has been back to work now only 2 months because he spent 3 months in a coma in the ICU after a bad car accident where he was running from the police. And then some part of the story he talked about how he put two men behind bars and the gang came after him and 18 men attacked him. He had to have surgery and 25 stitches in his head. After talking a bit more and making another cup of coffee for him, because he worked 24-hour shifts, so it was going to be a long night for him. We pack up and start to get ready for bed.
We are getting all settled in, closed the curtains so that it is all dark inside, turn on my heating blanket and laid down. All of a sudden, we feel the whole truck shaking, at first I thought that it may be wind. Took a deep breath to relax and the shaking got worse. My second thought is, it was a group of people shaking the car to molest us or to rob us. I say to Jeff, something is not right outside and we are going to open curtains together to see what was going on. When I opened the windows ready to see a group of men trying to rob us, I see Andreas running frantically around our truck. I opened the door and he was shaking and could not talk straight. He asked if we were ok, and stumbled out the words “shaking”. At first not understanding however also feeling fear, because if he is scared then I need to be scared! He is looking all around nervously and I realize that it was a huge earthquake that had passed. He reassured us that he was here for us, ran to his truck with lights and siren and speeding off to help someone.
We sat there in fear realizing what had just happened. That shaking of the car was an earthquake. We took deep breaths realizing that we were as safe as possible in an earthquake. There were no buildings, no trees or anything around us and we were safe in ELDO at the bottom of a huge pyramid. Laying there in fear for another one not knowing exactly what was going on, I attempt to turn on my internet to see what had happened. Of course, the internet is not strong enough to open webpages but is enough to check facebook. Upon looking I see that a 8.0 earthquake had just hit southern Mexico and Mexico city. Considering we had just left Mexico City, we felt so fortunate to not be in the sky suite with floor to ceiling windows! There was news right after about possible tsunamis, however there was no specifications of where they would be, they just said tsunami alert in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Knowing there is nothing we can do, I text my mom to let her know I am safe, I turn off my phone, we take a deep breath, realize that we are in a safe place, and lay our heads down for the night.
Just another day on the road……..
9-7-2017 – V Motel Boutique Gran Sur, Mexico City
Sky Suite…….. Round 2…….
9-6-2017 – V Motel Boutique, Mexico City
Sky Suite, need I say more…..
Today I woke up comfortably in the Hampton Inn with a late checkout of 2pm. Enjoyed a free breakfast buffet after waking up so late. Did a little journaling and thought today was going to be a fairly easy travel day. All we had to do was go 250 miles directly to another Hampton Inn. This one is a brand new one for 22$/ night. Thought it was a good time for a little bit of splurging luxury.
So, we set the gps for a town called Celaya on all back roads to avoid tolls. It was a beautiful drive but the scenery was completely different. There were cactus plants everywhere, thousands and thousands of cactus plants. Beautiful huge fields of nothing but small greenery, cactus plants and lots of shepherds with their flocks. Weather was perfect with the windows down and breeze blowing in my face. After a few hours we got out our goodies for another lunch on the road. Basically, we take all the stuff we happen to have in our kitchen, put it together and make a magical lunch on the road. Today it was fresh cilantro, onion, jalapeno stuffed olives, tortilla chips, siracha, cheese, bananas, chocolate sauce, honey, crunchies, and peanut butter. Yes, all sounds like an eclectic mixture but then put together it was amazing.
Driving on down this very narrow road through the countryside avoiding the huge potholes and oncoming traffic it feels like I am playing a video race car game. With one very very close call, an oncoming truck was passing another truck coming right towards me. I search my side roads to see my options of going off the road and notice there is a huge drop in the earth to my right and it is not possible for me to swerve at all. I slam on my breaks, knowing this is not going to be enough and I see the truck still coming straight for me, I press on the horn and breaks and hold my breath. At the last moment the truck swerves back into his lane just in time. I take a deep breath, hands start to shake. That was a close call and I drive on playing with the potholes. Mexico is well known for their speed humps, they are hidden and HUGE!! They call them axel breakers, and that is a perfect name for them. I drive on we pass by a medium size town with a really nice feeling to it. I park at a local church and we walk around, all the people are packing up their stuff from a market that must have just happened. It was nice to walk around and stretch the legs out. We moved on and did some more driving, felt like it was forever and the roads were a full challenge the whole way. It was starting to get dark and the 250 miles that day felt like 500.
We entered into the town of Celaya and it was a huge city, lots of construction and we had to drive through the city in the dark with lots of cops all around with big guns. Not sure why so many police were out but they were out for blood, looking so eager to shoot those big heavy guns. We drive through an area of town that looked not so nice and new. We wondered that it was kind of strange for a brand new hotel to go up in this part of town. We were close to the hotel, gps said 5 min till arrival. I had this brilliant idea to find a dominos pizza and we could order and they could have it delivered to the hotel, this would save time and energy later. We turned into a wal mart parking lot that was packed with people. You had to pay to enter the parking lot, then we could not even reach the dominos. Taking care of the parking ticket and escaping that crazy parking lot we entered the construction area again to get to hotel. 15 min later we arrive to where the hotel was supposed to be but all we saw was broken down buildings and construction everywhere. I asked a few people and no one knew of a Hampton Inn. GRRRRRRR thank you google maps. I found a hotel close by and looked as pathetic as I could and asked for help. She shook her head and said ohhhh yes I know that hotel, its veryyyyyyy far from here. Aghhhhh. I take a deep breath and find another address for google map girl and hit the road again. Driving all through the construction, ghetto part of town, 11pm at night with the axel breakers we are starving. I see a Little Ceasars Pizza place, I slam on breaks and make a turn for it. Run in and can you believe they actually have Hot and Ready!!!!! I got a nice peperoni pizza and bread sticks and splurged and got a coke and marinara sauce!! We were starving and we devoured the whole pizza without breathing. Sitting there laughing about our adventure we hit the road all nice and full, refreshed and ready to find this hotel. We drove right to it, we were the only car in the parking lot, walked in and it was sooo nice. Being we were the only people here somehow she still had to search for our reservation, lol. I did as I always do and requested a higher up room, thinking that it was silly that I was even asking since we had the whole hotel to ourselves. She shook her head and said, so sorry I can’t do that for you because, well “just today we have a bad smell up there” so I have put you on a lower floor for now. I thanked her for not putting us in smelly room and asked if maybe we should be on first floor. Well for 22$ in Mexico you can’t really ask for too much. We entered the beautiful room and tumbled into bed.
Just another day on the road….
Today I woke up to a soft drizzling sound on the rooftop of ELDO, it rained all night long. We used the little shelter from the front porch of the abandoned home to make some fresh coffee and a little bit to eat for breakfast. Everything was wet and damp, relaxed a bit, saw my friend drive by with his sombrero checking up on us and waving to us. We set a destination of Durango which is a slightly larger town on our way southeast. We set the gps straight to a window tinting store in Durango that had a good review of a previous traveler. I really wanted to get the front two windows tinted as it’s a little safer and it would help with the extreme heat and sun beating down on us. Upon arriving in the town it had a really nice feel, a nice central park with lots of areas to walk around and if it was not still raining it would have been a perfect place to rest and walk around. So we found the window tinting place called Polarizados and there were a few boys standing outside, I drove right in and asked about pricing for the front two windows. They said it would be 200 pesos (8$) for both windows! Yes please!!! So they got right to work and did a great job, about 5 min later they were all done. I had seen some speaker options for sale behind the counter…. Hmmmmmm I have been wanting some nice new speakers for a long time, since we spend sooooo much time in ELDO a nice radio would be sooo nice. So, I ask about the speakers and one thing led to another and we have 4 really nice high dollar speaks installed. They turn it on and wow!!! It was sooo incredible!!! I never knew sound could come out of ELDO like that!!!! We buy a license plate cover for the back hoping it would hide our plate just a little since it is a Florida plate that stands out and 30 min later I am paying the bill. For a license plate cover, 2 windows tinted and 4 brand new incredible speakers and installation we pay 3,300 pesos (184.00$)!!! Yayaya, now I am in my glory blasting the radio as we drive out with a huge smile on my face!!! After leaving there we set the gps to Hotel Mexico in Fresnillo, lol supposedly only 250 pesos (11$) for a hot shower, free parking, nice beds, clean rooms and wifi.
As I am driving out of town I notice some commotion ahead in the street, people are running over towards a body that is laying in the middle of the intersection next to a motorbike that is on its side. Grrrrrrr, I do my normal dilemma of “no Elizabeth, you are not working, just drive on….” And then of course I pull over to the side of the road, get my purple flufftastic rubber gloves on, and walk over to the body (for all of you that don’t know about the flufftastic, ill tell you all about it later). Feeling nervous and slightly apprehensive I scan my surroundings to be sure I am safe, I see that it’s a young boy about 16 years old, laying there, helmet was already taken off. I scan his motionless body for any obvious injuries and he is not moving a muscle. I reach down to feel a pulse on his left wrist and I feel him softly grab my hand. I see some slight fluttering of his eyelashes. And I see that he is breathing. I take a deep breath and start to talk with him. Looking around, now there are people all around looking at him. I ask if an ambulance has been called and they tell me they are on their way. I ask the boy if he can hear me talking and he mumbled yes. I reassured him with some soothing words and soft touches to his forehead. At this point there is not much I can do for him except to tell him not to move and let him know that help is coming and that I was there with him. A few minutes later the Cruz Roja arrived and I slowly disappeared back to ELDO. A little shaken up, I rest for a few min and then drive on.
We found a McDonalds close by to go to. It’s a great place to go because they have free refills on soda, free wifi and air conditioning. Relaxed for a bit and headed on to Hotel Mexico. We finally arrive a couple hours later while taking the back free roads because we have spent so much money on tolls, we are ready to start taking the back free roads. It was actually a nice drive through several small villages. Beautiful fields of flowers and lots of horses and cows. Passing the herder with his flock of sheep and the cowboys herding their cows. We are finally arriving to the Hotel Mexico, it’s a little scary town, dirty, not the friendliest but we were counting on the good review. Lol, we see the sign out front and I think, hmmmmm not so sure about this. We park on the side street and notice that the free secured parking lot is totally full and really not that secure. We relentlessly enter, it’s getting late, dark, and still raining and we are tired. A nice gentleman reassures us that there is plenty of space to park, lol and I ask to look at a room. Ohhhhhhhh boy it brought me back to my backpacking super poor days. The bathroom was barely standing, the beds had torn covers on them and it had an odd smell. Nooo, I am not sleeping there, I would rather sleep on the side of the road in ELDO then in that room! So now we are tired, not smelling the best, hair starting to get some slight dreads, still raining and really wanting just a nice place for the night. We revert to the Hampton Inn and find one 30 min away, super good deal! Perfect we go to book it and boooo there are no availabilities. So we start our search for other hotels around and considering to drive back where we saw a love hotel on our entrance into the town, at least they are clean and cheap. I give the Hampton one more try and would you believe in just that moment a room opened up! I could not believe it, we booked it immediately and drove straight there! Arrived and walked into a beautiful fairly new Hampton Inn, took an amazing long hot hot shower jumped into bed and called it a night. Ahhhhhhhhh perfect!
Just another day on the road………
Woke up today a little tired, did not get the best of sleep with the huge storm that had passed. Opened my eyes and looked around. The whole resort was torn apart. The wind from the night had torn off pieces of the palm roof of the pavilion and a whole structure to my right had crumbled to the ground, palm fronds everywhere, fortunately we made it ok through the night. Drank some yummy hand pressed coffee, small breakfast, packed up and waited for the nice gentleman to come unlock the gate for us to be able to leave. He was surprisingly right on time, looked at the disaster area, smiled and said yes a lot of work to do today.
We headed out of the resort, did a quick saging of the truck and drove on. Now the roads were in much worse condition from the day before, now the dirt muddy roads were small rivers. I had never really pushed ELDO this hard before as I slammed through the huge puddles, so big that my front windshield was covered with mud and had to run the windshield wipers just to see. About a mile later and many huge puddles/ rivers I see a truck broken down ahead with a couple men outside trying to fix it, in between the broken truck and myself was a HUGE puddle that took up the whole road. I paused and waited to see someone tell me that it was ok to pass and a nice man waved me through. I took a deep breath, not really knowing if I would make it or not but knowing this is the only road out. Gained a little steady speed, since we are not 4 wheel drive, momentum is all we have to make it through and went for it. I went nice and steady and the windshield filled with mud so now was driving just straight where I thought I may need to go, turn on my windshield and realized that I had made it through the worst part! All proud of myself I took a deep breath and BANG!!!!!! The whole truck took a huge bang and jump!!! Apparently, there was a huge hole that I did not see and I could just feel the whole truck crashing. I hung on and kept on going. Not believing that ELDO was even able to move after that huge crash! I passed the men working on the truck, gave a calm smile and wave and kept driving, really having no idea how the wheels are actually turning. We are all proud yet hesitant and aware, listening for things to just start falling off the truck. Then all of a sudden, we get this extreme strong smell…. We pause and say, is that wine I smell? Aghhhhh one of our red wine bottles in the back had smashed open and went all over our clothes with broken glass everywhere! We stop and clean up a bit, eldo was totally covered in mud, wiped off the windshield a bit and moved on.
It was time to move on, we set our destination to Durango Mexico and found a nice little camping area a couple hours drive. We were headed for the mountains. We stopped at a water stop off the main road, basically it’s a huge bucket that collects rain water and semi washed the red wine out of our clothes and moved on. Stopped at a grocery store to get some food for dinner and some pesos for the road. As we started heading towards the Sierra Madre mountains it became so incredibly beautiful. The whole topography completely changed there was one windy small road that went through so many mountains and cliffs and so much rain and rain. We were driving in the clouds. There were even signs that said “warning you are entering cloud area”. Many different tunnels through the mountains and more cliffs. It was like driving through a dream. We drove for hours through a paradise, the air became cool and dry, the sky beautiful with all the plants and green everywhere. So basically, since we arrived in Mexico we started in the stark desert hot and dry, hotter than you could possibly imagine. Raced to the water where there was beautiful beach hot and humid but with a wonderful breeze. And now in the beautiful cool mountains.
Driving and driving it started to get a little late and we still had a little bit to drive to arrive at our destination. So I started to look for a turn off or a nice safe place to sleep for the night. My eye caught a small little sign off the main road on a small side road. I got a good feeling from it and made a sharp turn to check it out. There was a gate to enter almost looked like a really run down old neighborhood. It had a guard station at the front gate that I drove right by. I wanted to check out the place and get a feel for it. In the mountain area of Mexico it has a much safer feel, almost like a country folk feel. Driving down some really bad roads made of rocks and mud I don’t see anyone around. Then I see an older man walking out of one of the homes. I pull over jump out to go talk with him. I say to him that I am traveling through Mexico and I sleep in my jeep, just looking for a safe place to park ELDO for the night. He looked a little confused but then offered his driveway or well anywhere around was fine. He said all of these houses were abandoned and no one lived in them. I asked about the security guy and we came to the conclusion that it would be best I go back and talk with him, he would probably want some money but it was super safe in the area and for me not to worry. I drove back to the security box and knocked on the door, looked inside and saw a very old bed, chair and a few living things but no man there. It was raining and I went back to the truck not really sure what to do. I did not want to get all cumfy in bed and have someone banging on our window. So, we decided to just leave some money in the door and well at least we tried. So, we left 60 pesos (3$) in the door so he would see it when he came back. Went back to the area where I had met my new friend and parked in an area where there was a small front porch we could use as shelter to cook dinner. We set up our table and had a wonderful dinner of ramen noodle with onions, radish, olives and cilantro, a cucumber salad and cheese quesadillas. Packed up our stuff and called it a night. Crawled into ELDO and well it took a few minutes to adjust I was still a little nervous that the security was going to come and bother us. I finally fell asleep and the night passed.
Just another day on the road……
Today I woke up in the love hotel ready to hit the road, this is not somewhere to just lounge around and enjoy the scenery. We made up some coffee, breakfast and lunch for the road, packed up ELDO and hit the road. Today was a long long travel day, passing through many toll roads and it was so scorching hot outside, to stop even for a quick pee break was too long. Drenched with sweat and seats soaked even with the air conditioner on high we drove south. It is pretty much one road to get south and wow soooo much construction on this road. I set the gps to a place called El Dorado in honor of ELDO. El Dorado is where ELDO’s name originated from. It’s from a song that I like by Frank Black, named “End of Miles” And it has El Dorado in it. We also went to the El Dorado forest in California so it only felt appropriate to go to El Dorado, Mexico also. We drove and drove till we finally made it to El Dorado which ended up being a midsize town, very poor, lots of huts, mud, small shops and people walking the streets. We saw the local church, hit some very bumpy roads and moved on.
We had picked a semi destination on a beach close by. Had another hour of driving till we hit a small dirt road off the interstate under a bridge, I pull over and follow the dirt road, really having no idea what to expect. Drove and drove and now we could see the beach, it was a fairly desolate beach and pretty but not as pretty as the cove beach area we had just came from. Down a very muddy and bumpy road we made it to the destination. It is a locked fence with a sign to “honk” upon arrival. So I honk and wait, a nice gentleman came driving up in his truck apologizing but his place was closed, he had just sprayed poison all over the bathrooms and he was closed all week. Looking down the desolate road I wondered where I would sleep. He said there was another place about a km down the road that we could try but he was not sure they were even open. So back on the bumpy road we drive on. I see a sign for a hotel/ resort/ rv ….. ohhhh perfect. We drive in and notice all of the really overgrown RV sites and no one to be seen. I keep driving and see an older man come towards us, he had on jeans, long sleeve shirt with an undershirt and a sombrero on. He looked like a worker for the hotel. I drive up to him and explain that I am looking for a place to park ELDO for the night and that I did not need a room, only a spot to park. He looks at me kind of odd and offers me to park right where he was next to the bathrooms and light, I paused and he said or…. You could park up there pointing towards the ocean. I ask what is up there because I can’t see anything from where I am and he said to take a look but it would cost 2 dollars more to park up there. I drive on to take a look and I arrive to a huge pavilion area with a pool right on the beach with a full beach view and bathrooms and outdoor shower! YES I would love to park here! He insisted that we pull eldo right up next to the pavilion where we were given a beautiful view. Ahhhhh home for the night. I immediately asked about the pool which he turned on the waterfalls for me and I hung my hammock right in the pool. Ahhhhhh, opened a nice bottle of wine, offered our new friend some and he gently declined. However, if it was an icy cold beer he would have gladly accepted. I don’t think they really drink wine in Mexico. Laid in my hammock with glass of wine and enjoyed the beautiful sunset.
Our friend had asked us what time we wanted to leave tomorrow because no one would be on the property and he was leaving and would be locking the gate on the way out. Lol ok, so we are getting locked into the resort for the night. 11am sounded good so he headed home and we had the entire resort to ourselves! Relaxed in the pool, took a nice walk on the beach feeling the water splashing on my legs, passed a few stray dogs and back to the resort for a wonderful dinner of ravioli, cheese bread and a fresh cucumber salad. I was so looking forward to a wonderful restful sleep for the night.
Curled up in Eldo and rested my head. After a couple hours I was awakend by loud sounds of thunder. Opened my eyes and the brightest lightening filled the entire sky. It was so bright that it hurt to even look at it. The winds started and I knew that rain was soon to come. We closed up the windows, set up our fans, moved the truck to a little safer spot, tuckered into bed awaiting the huge storm that was creeping towards us. The rain started slowly and then the winds started. Then the winds became so fierce, I admit I was a little scared, thinking that the huge pavilion area would not be able to stand the winds. Laying there with my eyes wide open watching the palm trees barely make it through the winds and ELDO swaying in the wind. We had a few spots where the water started to creep inside which I filled with toilet paper. Trying to rest through the storm I finally close my eyes and off to sleep.
Just another day on the road…….
This morning I woke up to a cat crawling onto the top of ELDO, aweeeee so sweet. The fans were blowing nicely and I laid there for a moment totally taking in all of life, enjoying the feel of my pillow upon my face. Taking a short drive to the bathroom and changing spots to optimize the shade in the area. We set up our table, put a load of laundry in the washer and enjoy a nice cup of coffee. It is scorching hot outside and we put all of our fans onto the extension cords so that we can lounge in our chairs with the fans blowing on us. Starting to get a little hungry we make some yummy eggs and toast, I was wanting something a little gentle since it was soooo hot outside. Music playing, a slight breeze was starting, took a nice outdoor shower from our oil pan and enjoyed the morning. Now time to decide what is next,open maps and pick a spot and make a plan (kind of) so we picked a spot about 6 hours from here. Apparently, you drive 25 minutes through some corn fields and end up at a nice beach camping spot, we shall see what awaits. Cooked up some quesadillas with cheese, jalapeno stuffed olives, onions for the road. And maybe one with an incredible banana chocolate spread that we got for a dollar from world market. Will pack up an onto another adventure.Will pack up an onto another adventure.Will pack up an onto another adventure.
All packed up and I wanted to see the beach before we left so we went driving to a point, it was an area in a cove and the water was an incredible bright blue color. We drove and found a private beach and enjoyed. I wanted an icy cold coke so we kept moving, I was looking for the perfect place to enjoy a coke and the beach. I drove and drove and then I saw it….. a perfect condominium/ resort, I did not care that there was a guard at the front, I drove right up, took off my sunglasses, gave him a big smile and he let me right in without any questions. Hehe… I drove right up, we walked in and wow, it was amazing beautiful beach/bar/pool. Ohhhh and what a pool it was!!!!! We got our icy cold cokes and had the boy put it in a cup so I could lounge by the pool. Aweeee the whole pool just for us, no one else around….After much time in the amazing pool its time to move on, maybe to start that 6 hour journey we had “planned”. So we started driving and made a quick stop at the market for some veggies for dinner and then again on the road. Driving on with still lots of construction, painful construction we truck on. A couple hours later, the sun starting to set I start looking for a place to sleep. I see a side road and check it out. It ended up being a farm with a huge chicken farm close by, between the nats and the horrible heat and deathly smell of chicken shit we could not drive away faster. I thought maybe in the next town we could find a nice hotel parking lot to park in. We made it all the way to Navojoa, which well its somewhere in mexico is all I know. I see that there is a best western close by….Ohhhh perfect… I go in explaining that I just want a place to park eldo and cook some nice dinner, he smiles and says yes of course not a problem at all. I will let the security guard know not to bother you. And by the way that will be 450 pesos! I say what? 450!!! That’s like 25$ just to park the truck!!! Crazy! I say thank you and move on. We drive through the center of town and then past the bus station and truck stops, we keep going looking at all of our options until I see a Motel El Penon, take a sharp right into a slightly odd hotel suite place. I notice how all the rooms have a garage with a door that closes. I think ohhh perfect we can maybe park here and sleep and it felt safe! As I drive in I am welcomed by 2 young boys who tell me the price of a room, I laugh and say I am only looking for a place to park ELDO and sleep safely.They quickly half the price and offer a bed, bathroom, shower, air conditioner and tv for 280 pesos ($15.60). SOLD! We park ELDO comfortably in the garage and check out the nice and cool room with shower, tv and all! AHHHH life is good, we bring in the kitchen and food to start our nice veggie stir fry dinner. As I pass the garage wall I notice a sign in Spanish which I attempt to read, says something about 6 hours……eeeekkkkkkk….. The boy said if I needed anything at all, just dial 0. So well I dial 0 and ask for ice to go with a nice icy cold beverage. And it was actually delivered through a lazy susan in our wall!!!! Later looking at the menu in the room, we see that they have a restaurant among other things including sildenafil!!! What???? Only 5.57$!!!! So we cook dinner and well enjoy the rest of the nightSo we cook dinner and well enjoy the rest of the night
Just another day on the road….
Today with another late checkout, I lounge in bed and actually find the time to do my nails. Life is always good when you have nice looking toenails. Packed all our stuff up and hit the road. We make it as far as the mall across the street in search of a liquor store to buy some Don Alvaro Anejo for a friend. We make it there and realize there is no way a liquor store would be in this nice big mall and we hit the road again. GPS is set for the coast, the goal is to make it to the water where there is hopefully a nice breeze to soothe this extreme hot air. After driving for 2 painful hours through all construction zone at 40 miles per hour with me being the only one going the speed limit (I am sure not going to get a ticket in a work zone in mexico)! I have huge double semi trucks zipping by me.I put on my nice simply red music and jam away like a energizer turtle. Finally we make it to the water, it is a nice beach area, small town and we find a Mexican RV park. Lol yup they actually exist. We drive through it just to check it out and we find the only shade in all of mexico and it is in spot 57! Perfect, 20$/ night for a safe sleep and shade, and a little breeze, I really could not ask for more. Time for some yummy food!!
After a wonderful dinner I passed out, exhausted from…. really not sure what but took a wonderful nap in the back of ELDO. After waking we decided to take a nice walk into town. So we walked and walked through the local neighborhoods and along the water, it was an incredible sunset. We walked and walked until we hit a point area with a weird little restaurant/bar where we enjoyed a super cold icy coca cola. Best soda ever and the bar had air condition which was sooooo nice considering that we were soaked with sweat just from a short walk. After our icy cold soda we walked back to the RV park and once again soaked with sweat we passed the pool which had a huge pick up truck with a group of about 8 people blasting Spanish music, drinking a lot. Of course, I put my bathing suit on and went right for the pool party.We joined the group and they kept on offering more and more beer and sky vodka drinks. I mean really, how can you say no? We enjoyed the nice pool until I could not drink anymore and was basically a prune. Called it a night, put the screens up and fans on and crawled on into ELDO……
Just another day on the road…
It’s not easy but someone has to live it…
Today I woke up knowing that I have a late checkout, laying in bed and being super lazy. We look up for possibly staying another night. $27 is totally irresistible and yes one more night here at the Hampton Inn. I enjoy a yummy breakfast with sangria. Lots of movies, lounging by the pool and of course…. Pizza!!!!
Just another day on the road….
So today I woke up to an amazing sunrise, that I opened my eyes to, just for a moment and fell right back asleep. We made an amazing breakfast with coffee that we shared with tons of bees buzzing all around us. The desert was so quiet and desolate with no one to be seen as far as the eye can see. Took a nice cold outdoor shower, even washing my hair, got some clean undies on and cleaned up ELDO. Our shower design has several options but today we used the oil pan option. Yes, it is an oil pan that is on our roof which collects rain water or we fill with water when available. Then we use a tube connected to a nice small shower head, give it a good suck and out comes the nice refreshing shower…..We decided to put our special lug nuts on the tires, they require a special tool to remove them so it will make it harder for someone to take all of our tires off ELDO when we are out on the town or a hike. We picked a destination and decided that today was going to just be a really long travel driving day. Wow Mexico is much much bigger than I realized. From where we were to just Mexico city it is like 30 hours driving straight!!! That’s just crazy!!! So we started our drive all fed, bathed and feeling good. Put some nice music on and drove and drove. It was soooo hot there was no way that you could even roll the windows down, felt like you were in a heated box blowing hot air in your face. So we turned the air on high and still sweated till our seats were soaked. As you looked around all you could see was desert, desert, and more desert. Soo many cactus plants of all sorts, tall, thick and skinny. We followed the border to move east for miles and miles and you could see the border because it was outlined by a fence, yes a fence sometimes it was tall sometimes it had holes and sometimes it was just a tiny little metal bars that you can hop over. I guess I never realized that the border was all covered by a fence. Except where there was some rock mountains then it was just the rock. We passed by tons and tons of grave sites, probably well over a hundred following the border. It was a very hot, long travel day. Lunch was a yummilicious peanut butter with this amazing spread of chocolate and banana geeeeewy stuff. We discovered also that we are able to brew coffee with no stove, cold brewed coffee and it actually tastes good! So we drove and drove for hours and hours and the scenery never really did change, unbelievable how uninteresting this whole part of Mexico is. So you may ask yourself….. what is the key to maintaining sanity and maybe even still enjoying someone’s company after soooo many hours, days, months in a small Jeep Cherokee with the same person… and we have come to a conclusion that it is all based on the “reciprocal respect farting policy”. Basically if the fart is going to kill one or another a simple respectful warning of “do not breathe now!!!!” is in order. Yup it really is that simple… So after driving through several towns, sweating a lot and eating some yummy snacks we decided that we were just going to get some miles in and drive all night long until we hit water! Ok, so we make it another couple hours (to make a total of 9 hours of pure desert), we hit a big city probably the biggest city we have see so far in Mexico. It was difficult driving in the city at night and then we saw it, a real Hampton Inn!!!! So we immediately checked to see what the family and friends rate is (thank you Marion Campbell!!!) and yes!! It is really cheap, sold and quick turn around. Now with a fresh hot shower and cozy bed. Another day of adventure is coming to an end, with of course a free breakfast and late checkout!
-Just another day on the road….
Day 1, Border 1 Mexico
So the day started off not nice and early as planned but well sleeping in. we woke up in the home depot parking lot only because we got kicked out of the wal mart parking lot by a lovely security guard. We drove to a nearby park where we enjoyed a lovely breakfast of cheese grits, sausage, more cheese, jalapenos and toast and of course fresh ground fresh pressed coffee. We packed up ELDO, picked up a few things at the store and headed for the border. I have to admit I was just a little nervous about the massive bear spray that we were trying to sneak in but took a deep breath and put on my smile for the border day. We started the drive and found a smaller border to cross which we were excited about not having to battle the huge border crossing. So we drove right into mexico and kept driving and really I did not even know that we were in mexico, there was no immigration officers stopping us or anything. Shoot, well I drove right past where we needed to get our visas. Grrrrrr. Drove in circles for awhile, asked a couple of locals about how to get back and decided to park the truck and well yes walk back to the border to get our tourist visas. As we are walking back we were not allowed to enter the mexico side, so we crossed over to the American side and walked past a huge line of cars waiting to get into America and we were just trying to get into mexico. The gate was locked and we did not see any way to walk over so we aborted plan and walked back to the truck, paid for our parking and decided to try to drive back to America make a u turn and re enter mexico, this time not passing the immigration office. BORDER 2-We try to get into the huge line of cars but I see another road right next to it with no line at all! Im going that way as we get closer we realize it’s a Sentri line, apparently this is a special line to fast track your vehicle. Well I went for it and thought I could play dumb…. We got past the first guard who so nicely warned us that 3000 people have been murdered in the last 3 months just in the area that we were headed to and they were also targeting well, people just like us. Great… so we move on to the next check point, this one is very very serious. We get a young man, looked new at his job, thank goodness and he asked questions and got his supervisor. The supervisor comes over and sternly tells us that what we did going in this line is a penalty of 5000$ and if we can’t pay it right then, they just take your car. I look at him with the most pathetic eyes I possibly could…. Ok so he did not fine us but threatened a lot. Then the intense inspection started, I am thinking grrrrr the huge mace in the back. He lifted the hood of the car, looked under the car and lifted everything, went through our stuff and really ended up being impressed with the handmanship of the truck. He ended up passing us through but also warning us to never pass this way again. We drove off back to America where we made a U turn and came right back into mexico, except this time we stopped at the immigration office. BORDER 3- It was the easiest immigration office I had ever experienced, we got our visas and temporary vehicle import permit sticker which is crutial! Yaya now its time for some ceasar salad which was the first agenda for me. We already had the gps set for hotel ceasar which Is where ceasar salad was first invented. And I love love ceasar salad. We got there and splurged and got valet parking, sat inside and had an amazing ceasar salad made right at the table, relaxed a bit and headed on to get a sim card, needed for internet. The server led us to a plaza rio where it was fairly easy to get to and got a sim card, so now I have internet, which means I have access to google maps (one of my best friends). We set the gps not to baja as we had always planned. Actually the whole reason we went all the way to san diego was cause we were going to head down baja. Well change of plans, since so many people and tourists are getting killed and we had our border guy warn us (I felt this was a sign to change directions, and I always try to follow my instincts). So yes we drove all the way to California and now we changed our plans and not headed to baja but instead towards middle part of mexico. So I set my gps all proud cause now I have internet and I am following her route, I notice it is getting close to the border but well the new route is going close to the border and grrrrrrrrr….. yes we are back to the American border crossing…. Thank you google maps for re routing us to a faster way through the usa. There is absolutely no way to turn around except to pay this local 80$ to “show us the way” …. Grrrrrr so here we are again!!!!! BORDER 4- Passing back into the usa….. we try to explain to the border lady, yes we only had a ceasar salad and we are trying to get back into mexico, she said ok, she did a small little search of the car and then we drove through California back to the same small border crossing. BORDER 5- Only this time waiting in a long line only to go through another inspection site, we pulled over and got another young Mexican boy. As he looked into ELDO all that he could say is,,, is that your bed… lol I said it was a place for siestas. He waved us on and then we were not going to make that mistake again we were headed out of tiajuana for sure this time. Five border crossings in one day was plenty for us. We start our drive driving through a desert and some beautiful dead scenery with a really windy road, paid a lot of tolls and drove on. We were trying to make it to a town to find a place to sleep when I see a sign for the Guadalupe canyon. I make a sharp turn down a dirt road, look at my google maps and see way in the distance is a campground called the “Amor Ministries Campground”. That was perfect, I mean what better place to sleep for our first night in Mexico then the “love ministries campground” I start driving down this long long long dirt road realizing that it is much farther than it looked. We decide either way we are going down this road. We drive and drive down a bumpy deserted road. I am thinking about our tire changing and our jack, making sure we have everything, well just in case. We drive and drive and the sun starts to set, beautifully with the mountains surrounding us and the moon so beautiful around the canyon area. After about an hour of driving on this bumpy and some soft sand spots we arrive to the campground which is actually well no campground at all but a tiny little dirt road to the right. I slow down and of course turn right towards the rock mountain, we evaluate the road and keep driving. Find a nice safe feeling spot in the middle of nowhere with nothing around, park the truck in a nice safe position to get away if needed, and get out. We take a deep breath, release the hardships of the day and enjoy a wonderful glass of red wine as we watched the moon set.
– Just another day on the road….
Today is an exciting day of a whole new adventure! Today I cross the border of Mexico to start a journey through Central and South America. I will be driving and living out of a Jeep Cherokee (named ELDO). Goal is to be as self sufficient as possible and to travel until I run out of land, and then will ship ELDO to another continent! I hope to be sharing the adventure with you to inspire and entertain you with all the trials along the way.
TRAVEL UR DREAMS!!!