Archive for October, 2012


We packed up and hesitantly started down the road toward Puerto Vallarta first thing in the morning. We had such a good time in Sayulita, that it was difficult to leave, but the road was calling. My check engine light had been giving me some problems since the trip into the jungle the day before. Fortunately, I had brought my diagnostic scanner on the trip. The codes were indicating a misfire. I didn’t really notice anything too detrimental, so I just erased the code and hoped for the best.

Welcome to Puerto Vallarta!

We drove through Puerto Vallarta and were a little underwhelmed. The entrance to the town was inviting enough, but the traffic, businesses and tourist littered the small ocean front town. There were some interesting statues, monuments and views, however nothing drew us in to stick around. We stopped at the local Pemex gas station to fuel up and then headed out of town.

Many miles spent on this “highway”

Highway 200

We found ourselves quickly driving down Hwy 200, a two lane narrow road with overgrowth extending in to the driving lanes. Traffic was very light and we decided to put some miles under our belts. Angela had decided to stay home until her next doctors appointment, which meant we would pick her up later down the road. For now, Bernard and I were loners travelling the roads unknown. The light on the dash popped on again.  This time, I noticed some “fluttering” mis fires. Fortunately it wasn’t affecting the power, however, the fuel mileage was another story. Im pretty certain I could see the guage as it raced toward “E”. I was running premium fuel per manufacturer requirements, and even though Mexico has subsidized prices, it was still expensive. Darkness was rapidly approaching and we were still not close enough to Barre de Navidad, the next town we planned to stop at. Each “town” we approached was another missed opportunity for a place to stay. There was hardly a neighborhood convenience store let alone a hotel or camp ground. Darkness set in quickly as we tried one more small town. We stopped at a small roadside restaurant and ordered tacos. We inquired about accommodations. There were none. We decided to ask one of the restaurants if we might park next to them and spend the night, but this was a very small town and  nobody spoke English.

Home for the night in front of the arcade

After wandering around the few places that were open we headed to a side street. One lone house seemed to be lit up like a football field. As we approached we could see that it doubled for a small video game arcade. The owner peeked out his window as we approached and he met us n the front yard. He spoke some English and agreed to let us stay under the lights on the parking pad and plug an extension cord in. He wanted to make sure we would be gone first thing in the morning which was not going to be a problem. We gave him 20 pesos and set in for the night.

The next morning, sore from an uncomfortable night sleeping in the vehicles, we were off. The town we were headed to was about an hour and a half away so it was an easy trip. The night before it had rained heavily, however the sun was brightly shining, promising a new start. We were hoping to get into town, find some internet and then a shower! As we rolled into the quaint town, it was hard not to notice the ocean, the blue skies, the people walking around, and kids running in the park. Mexico just seems to do more outside, in spite of the heat hovering in the mid nineties. Straight ahead was the centro part of town.

Barre De Navidad beach

Busy street corner

We parked on the street and checked out the surroundings. It was reminiscent of a small town you might find in the States. Storefronts lined the sidewalks with signs marketing their products. There was a post office, a police station, a smoothie bar, and a small store offering beach items. The large sign on the front of the police substation said “Tourista Policia” or tourist police. They actually dedicated an entire force to the tourists here! We walked in the door a slender built officer with his feet propped up on the desk greeted us in English, “Buenas Dias, how can I help you?” We asked for a restaurant with wifi offering breakfast. Leaving our trucks in front of the police station, we followed the directions on foot to the next street. We walked into the open air restaurant and found a table under the ceiling fan, as the heat was picking up already. We were greeted by the waiter, ordered breakfast and set right into accessing the internet.

A guy walked up and said, “Are those your trucks on the next street over?”. Was it that obvious that we were the outsiders? Did something happen to them? “Yes, we are we are travelling around Mexico and Central America in them”, I said. The guy pulled up a chair and began talking to us, enjoying our accounts of the trip so far. Bernard showed him the newspaper article and pictures online. We learned that he was an American and had moved to Barre de Navidad 20 years ago. We enjoyed chatting for a while, and then he asked, “What are your plans today?” When we said we didn’t have any specific ones, he offered to ride along and act as a tour guide. We hadn’t even been in town 30 minutes and already we were onto or next big adventure. It is truly amazing the generosity of the people we have encountered. We found out the mans name was Tom. He was an expat, an American that has lived here 20 years! He lives in a one bedroom apartment above the restaurant and paid $300/month including his electric, water, and cable! He said he couldn’t afford to NOT live in Mexico. I see why! We loaded up and headed out for another fun filled day of pure unadulterated adventure!

Sayulita to Barra de Navidad……almost

Posted: October 29, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel
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We heard a lot of great stories about the next town we where headed to “Barra de Navidad ” said Scott to me, ” that’s the next destination”. Our plan also included a stop in Colima  see the Volcano,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colima_(volcano) .  All the while staying on the Mexico 200 Pacific coastal  route. Now, you see when you are talking to me and the word volcano comes up in a conversation, we are generally speaking adventure travel at it’s best. Yes, I must confess, I do love Volcano’s. You see I got hooked traveling though Ecuador, ( Volcan Cotopaxi) and had been looking to climb another soon. This sounded just like the ticket, and I was ready to get the trucks rolling.

I knew we where going to miss Sayulita and San Panco. And, I must admit, often I thought about will any other experience further into the expedition be as nice? I guess the Nayarit region just does that to you. It’s beaches, the culture, it’s the Mexico not many get to see.

Looking at the map,from Nayarit to Jalisco, it doesn’t look very far and even the mileage is not bad. We think we can make it in a day, but you see this is Mexico. It’s interesting people back home can run down the interstate at 90+mph at night and nothing happens. Here in mexico, things don’t operate like that. It is not advised to drive at night in Mexico, because of animals on the road, vehicles with no lights, people walking, no guard rails, huge speed bumps that will tear out your rear end and the list goes on.

It was sad but we tore ourselves from Sayulita and hit the road. But on the other hand we knew we came with a mission to find out what Mexico was all about! And, the only way to do that was to keep it moving. We hit the Pemex on the way out, had very little traffic and made good time to Puerto Vallarta, http://visitpuertovallarta.com/ . But once we got into town we lost the signs for Route 200. We asked around and got back on it quick and continued south. Once south of PV, we where met with a lot of road work construction and that really threw us behind time. We then realized we better make a planned stop before night fall, because we are not going to make it to  Barra de Navidad before night fall.

” Lets stop  in the next town” I called out to Scott over the radio. It was now dark and we where still over 2 hours away from our destination. But we knew if we continued to drive further into the night, it’s no telling what may happen and not worth taking the risk. However, we still had not looked to see if there where some camp grounds on this route. I knew this was going to be an interesting night trying to find a space for our rigs. Once we stopped  in Tenacatita, near the town plaza, we got out and walked around town looking for a suitable place. After a while, getting something to eat and still looking, we asked the owner of a video store could we park in front of his store and camp. He was kind enough to let us camp and use electricity, but told us we had to off  the lot by 8am. We ensured him of this and got some sleep.

Stay tuned for our arrival in Barra de Navidad

In search of the hidden Petroglyphs- Adventure awaits!

Posted: October 13, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

This will be the last story from Sayulita, so enjoy! We will be moving down the road.

The day started out like so many others in beautiful Sayulita. The sun was shining, the waves were lapping the shores of the sandy beach, and the chickens were making themselves known to the entire village. We did our daily exercise routine, along the beach and discussed what we were going to do that day. Bernard, said, “the college kids that we met at turtle camp want to take an expedition tour to see the petroglyphs”.  We decided that today would be the day we took them.

The adventure crew!

We Facebooked them to let them know we would be there before lunch. After a crash course on the location and history of the site, we set out to pick them up. There were 6 people total. With the way my vehicle was set up, only two people could ride with me and 4 with Bernard. We set out following the limited directions we had. Getting to the exit off Highway 200 was easy. After that, it became a little more challenging! The directions said things like, “turn at the steel post gate”, or “turn down the road next to the tree orchard”. The interesting part, was we were in the middle of an area with numerous fences and orchards. We turned into one banana orchard that appeared, to the best of my ability, to be the right one. We followed along the two-track path, through trees, over rocks, and finally came to a seeming dead-end. Several people jumped out for photo ops, as Bernard and I concurred on the path to take. Either way, this didn’t look much like ancient petroglyph landscape. Why couldn’t they have placed them a little closer to town? Use some foresight maybe.

Banana orchard

Back out on the road we decided to ask a local driving a pickup truck for directions. After canvassing the group nobody spoke enough Spanish to effectively communicate. However, one girl boldly tackled the conversation. After pointing, repeating phrases and lots of humorous sign language, the game of Charades was over.  He agreed to hop in and show us the turn. Up the dirt road not more than 200 yards was a sign on the corner pointing to turn towards the petroglyphs. So close! We thanked him and continued on our way. We got this, now we will surely find the ancient site.  On we drove and drove, following the dirt road looking for the next landmark, a “rebar gate” was the only clue.

After what seemed like hours, and backtracking, still no rebar gate was to be found, We drove through another banana field only to find another dead-end. Straight ahead at the end of the road, the two track, started turning menacing. The deep ruts, with rocks protruding out, and dense overgrowth, indicated not many had passed this way. Hey, we are on expedition, so a little fun was in order. I drove down the steep incline first with Bernard following behind. The trail became, steeper, tighter and more difficult with each passing moment. I felt the rocks beneath me shifting and occasionally bottoming out on the skid plate underneath. Slowly, meticulously, we trudged forward.  We had to straddle wash outs, where water had eroded what was left of the trail beneath us, exposing large boulder size rocks. The previous weeks rains left the path greasy with mud. This was fun. This is what expeditions are all about! Suddenly, my tire slipped and the Land rover slid down into one of the large crevices with a solid “thud”. We had bottomed out and caught the rear receiver hitch. Bernard called on the radio, “I think we should turn around”. I said, “I am committed now”. Maybe, I should have said, “I am commit-able” . I could not back up the steep drop off, and there was no room to turn around. I felt it was best to continue on and hope to find a clearing ahead.

Rugged rock trail

I dropped the transfer case into four-wheel low range, and locked the differential. A little stomp on the gas pedal and the engine roared as we pulled off of the rocks. Heading the rest of the way down the hill was assisted by the force of gravity and the slick, greasy mud. Finally reaching the bottom, I rounded the corner. Straight ahead was a mud boggers dream. Dark, rich dirt saturated in standing water. It looked like a mucky, mud pit that you might find in a back country field with rednecks driving their trucks with huge tires and engines screaming. I suppressed the redneck in me, deciding it would be best to return our clients safely back to their lodgings in a timely fashion, rather than bury the land rover. We did not need to test Bernard’s winch with trucks full of people, looking to us to return home safely. So with chagrin, I began a multi-point turn around in the middle of the trail.

Coming down turned out to be the easy part. Going back up the steep incline was going to be interesting. I told my passengers to hold on. “It might get a little tricky”, I said, secretly looking forward to the challenge. Choosing the best path to I started the incline, making sure to climb from rock to rock carefully. About half way up, I could see Bernard and a couple of the guys waiting. The tires were beginning to slip due to the greasy slimy mud. As long as I stayed on the rocks, it was ok. As I pushed the gas a little harder to climb the grade, traction broke and my front tire slipped sideways just enough to drop into a deep crevice. I began to rock back and forth. The only forward progress I could make was when the tire would grab the rocks. I asked Bernard to throw some of the smaller boulders into the deep ruts on the driver’s side front where the tire was spinning.

Adding traction

I was finally able to gain the needed traction to pull the wheel out of the hole. All of a sudden the passenger rear dropped about 3 feet into an even larger rut! I heard metal carnage and grinding. I looked in my rear mirror just in time to see the cover on the bumper being peeled from the frame. I stopped just in time to keep it from being pulled completely off. At this point, I felt the damage was done and it was do or die. I held the brake long enough to stop the rear from sliding back down the hill by gravity, before I gassed it! I heard scraping and popping as the frame untwisted from its near pretzel stance. But it worked! Hey, I was moving forward and running quickly toward Bernard who was standing in the narrow trail directing my steering.

Watch out Bernard!

He jumped out of the way, just as I gained more speed and momentum ,determined to make it to the top. Once safely to the top, I got out and accessed the damage. The rear bumper cover was laying back on the ground some 100 yards back, being retrieved by one of the guys, along with my rear tail lights  I looked over the body. Unfortunately, the passenger side quarter panel had several deep gouges in the side from contacting the rocks. The damage was nearly three feet from the ground, to put the depth of the ruts into perspective. But all things considered, it went pretty well. I strapped the bumper to the top of the roof and we decided to continue by foot to find the petroglyphs.

“Hey, you forgot some parts!”

After wandering around through the jungle, mud, weeds, swamps, and forests for nearly an hour, we determined that the petrogylphs couldn’t possibly be back there. It was a group effort to get everyone back to the vehicles. We had to wade through running streams of water, cautiously step through mud that would suction cup people shoes right off their feet. Two people lost shoes and one girl went in up to her knees. It was quite a trek, but our clients tackled it with enthusiasm.

On Foot

Headed back down the trails in the vehicles we finally found the unceremoniously unmarked corner at the fence that we had been looking for. We turned and drove as far as we were able. We then set out on foot for approximately another mile or mile and a half. The “road” had been severely washed out and not taken care of. It made for a beautiful walk as we again had to cross streams running with cool water, and through a couple of fields finally to the entrance to where the petroglyphs were.

Great opportunity to clean mud off

Each masterpiece was explained by a large bilingual plaque in front of the artwork. It was amazing to think that ancestors of the area had stood right here many years ago carving in the stone. The artwork was very detailed, telling different stories in each one. We walked further and further into the canopy jungle, lined by massive boulders and flanking the deeper running creek.

Stone carvings or petroglyphs

Beautiful rapids

All of a sudden the dark overgrown jungle opened up into the most picturesque view I could imagine. Deep in the jungle and past the boulders with their carvings, was a large waterfall, The fall wound up in a deep pool at the base that several people chose to jump in and enjoy the refreshing cool waters of . Words cannot explain the beauty of this wonderful place. All of the days trials and tribulations led up to the most tranquil setting imaginable. We couldn’t help but think we were special to have been able to find this place. It was definitely not a well-marked or visited place. The ground is considered sacred by the locals so they do not frequent it. There are no signs leading you here, so you must have been fortunate enough to have been on our expedition or happen upon it yourself, because it is truly a hidden gem.

The falls!

Pool at the foot of the falls

Everyone headed home with a spring in their step, excitedly talking about the adventure of the day. We were proud that we were able to actually provide such an exceptional outing for everyone, ourselves included!

If you would like to see more pictures of our adventure click here: Petroglyph pictures


After Angela left we waited in Sayulita. It was sad to see her go, but we knew she would be in better hands at home and could get the care that she needed. Meanwhile as we waited the next day or so to hear news about how she was doing and how long she might  be gone, we got the bright idea to look for some volunteer work. One thing that stuck out in our minds was the opportunity to work at the turtle camp we had been introduced to a few days earlier by our friend Virgilio Tamez Orozco. So we took the short trip over to the next town of San Pancho, met with the director and several other volunteers and offered our helping hands. Well, they where actually grateful to have us, and they got more work out of us than we ever thought. You see, working at the Turtle Camp http://www.project-tortuga.org/ proved not only to be hard work but a life changing experience. The hard work gave us a totally new-found respect for our creatures from the sea, the sea turtle. An average day consisted of getting up at either 2 or 5 am if you did not work the 10pm shift, driving a dune buggy out onto to the beach and looking for nesting turtles. Once you found a nesting turtle then the real work began. Retrieving the eggs, inspecting the turtle as she dig and lay the eggs, then digging up the eggs after she was done, marking the nest, bagging and tagging the eggs, taking all the eggs back to nursery and more and  more work. Usually a 4 hour shift for us would wind up being 6 hours or more. Now this may not sound like a lot of work to you or many hours, but trust me it’s the nature of the job that wears you out, plus we where sleeping in our roof top tents out in from of the nursery on the street. So when we where off we usually didn’t get much sleep anyway and before you knew it was time for your shift to begin again. Some nights we had more turtles laying eggs on the beach than we could keep up with, and the weather would just be awful as well. Over all though we have to say that this was one of the top ten experiences we had while in Mexico. We would like to thank Frank D. Smith, Director and Joslin Bertrand for the opportunity to volunteer and make a difference. Also while there I wrote an article about my experience and would like to share it with all of our blog readers, and also encourage any and all of you to volunteer and give back. Also if anyone is looking for a great volunteer adventure you can reach then via their website or http://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Pancho-Turtles/179273792083463.

This week’s article is written by guest columnist, Bernard Barbour, the newest Grupo Eco  Volunteer from Georgia, USA.

 “Turtle Camp There’s Nothing Slow About It”
Some how someway I had this thought in the back of my mind that working/volunteering on a Turtle conservation project would be all fun and relaxing while still enjoying my vacation. Well, hello and wake up and smell the sand dunes, this is a lot of work! Let me set the tone right now! I really don’t mind working and have been most of my adult life. I’m quite used to hard work and manual labor but this is very different.  And I might add that this is some of the most interesting and rewarding work I’ve ever experienced, saving the turtles. I guess it would best be explained like being in paradise but you get to work in the background. Remember in the movie The Wizard of OZ, when Dorothy, the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man got to meet the Wizard? Remember Toto, the dog, pulls back the curtain and they see the Wizard manipulating all the switches; making fire, thunder and lightning. Then he says, ” Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” well that about sums up my experience here. You just go about your job here making things happen because it’s all about the turtles. Up until this time in my life, whenever I saw a turtle release on the beach I had no idea what all it took just for that special moment. Now working behind the scenes,  it’s a very eye-opening experience. A magical experience that I will always carry with me for the rest of my life. Watching and waiting for a turtle to emerge from the sea, make her way onto the sandy beach and lay her eggs, lay there and listen to her in labor, and then watch her return to the sea is one of natures most precious gifts. I am so glad I got to labor for it and to participate in this creature’s survival. The work here is 24/7 kinda work with a few naps in between. As we go day-to-day, hauling sand from the beach to the nursery, maintaining our vehicle, painting, doing electrical work, working in the rain and thunder storms in the middle of the night, it’s all in days and nights work.  It’s funny how I think about it now. I never realized how much behind the scenes work went in to create that  Kodak moment of watching the hatchlings crawl to the sea at sunset.  I never imagined  that to get to this point I would have to move many 75 pound coolers full of sand and baby turtle hatchlings around in a hot nursery to get them down here for this photo shoot. That I would have to be up all night working on the beach in the rain and the lightning gathering eggs.   That I would be chasing poachers away from the nests at 3 am!  The odds of survival for the turtles of San Pancho would be almost zero if it were not for the volunteers and many people who donate their time, money  and additional resources to make this all happen.  I had no idea before, but I certainly do now!  It’s not slow work, it’s fast paced, interesting, fun, rewarding and most of all humbling. And lastly don’t pay any attention to that man behind the curtain.

Spanish Lessons and a poolside Barbecue in Mexico!

Posted: October 8, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

While staying at the Amazing Hostel enjoying all the amenities it had to offer, we began settling into a daily routine. Each morning we awoke to the sound of roosters across the street, the local gas trucks trumpeting their products across the loud speakers, and finally a morning workout including running on the beach and poolside exercises, followed by a fresh smoothie from the local vendor.

We decided it was time to put the luxury of staying in one place to work for us. Susy, one of the hosts at the hostel, was bilingual and offered Spanish lessons to the patrons of the facility. We found that for $40.00 US, we would receive a week’s training for two hours a day. We quickly added this to the routine and enjoyed the casual, however intense, teaching she provided. We were able to help Susy continue with her English lessons also (or so she says). We covered the basics and then quickly escalated into present, future, and past tenses. I didn’t care for English in school, so this was a challenge! However, it was a labor of love. I really wanted to learn to communicate effectively.

Spanish Lessons

We practiced all week when we were in town. I think the locals were humored by our attempts to expand our vocabulary. It was nice to be able to carry on more of a conversation than just, “Buenas Dias”, or “Gracious”. We were really learning Spanish! This carried on all week. During the course of our classes, each morning, Anhuar (Susy’s husband and co-host), would bring us a drink of some type, as it was hot sitting on the deck near the pool, taking lessons.

On the second or third morning, he brought out a particularly colorful concoction in a glass filled with ice. He explained that this was a traditional drink in Mexico and that we should try it. It was called Agua de Jamaica (the “j” sounds like “h”).  Of course being cautioned against drinking the water in Mexico, I was leery of drinking it, though it looked so refreshing, and it was ice-cold! What the heck, drink up! Man, am I glad I did! It was an amazing blend of cold, sweet, juice like tea.  Bernard and I, immediately agreed, this was great stuff. A real find, authentic Mexican tea! Anhuar explained it was a flower type leaf that is prepared just like tea, boiled in a pan and then added to more water. He brought some of the dried leaves for us to see. You can actually chew on the leaves and get the taste. What a refreshing drink! Apparently the boiled water, eliminated any side effects of drinking it.

Agua de Jamaica

As the week of lessons neared the end, we made more small talk with Susy who was disturbed that we had not heard of many authentic Mexican dishes. She said, “We are going to have an Authentic Mexican Barbecue on the pool deck for you on Saturday morning”. This was news to our ears. Any time you mention food and pool In the same sentence, its bound to be a good time.

Saturday morning ushered in the intense Spanish sun. Fortunately we got our exercise out-of-the-way early, and the appetite kicked in. We met Susy in the kitchen. Anhuar had been to the produce stand and meat market already earlier that morning. Susy put Bernard and I to work immediately, cutting up vegetables, mixing contents in the bowls. All the while she was instructing and explaining what we were making.

Guacamole!

Bernard making Cactus salad

After about an hour of prep time, the food was ready! The grill was fired up and Anhar taught us another grilling trick. He cut a fresh onion in half and after the grill heated up, wiped the fresh-cut side on the grate to clean it. It shined right up and smelled great too! The grill quickly filled up with all of the contents that were brought to the meal. The list was pretty extensive, and a feast for only 4 people to consume. There was thin slices of steak, cheese quesadilla’s, whole grilled onions, chorizo (Mexican sausage), Nopal with cheese on top (cactus leaves-minus the stickers), cactus salad (made by Bernard), guacamole (made by me), and tortillas, and salsa! Man this was one spread of food!

Getting the grill started!

Nopal and Queso!

 

We sat talking for several hours over the incredible dinner. We learned that the couple had lived in the U.S. for a few years, and that their daughter finished third place in the Latin America version of Th e Amazing Race, and had built the hostel. We really felt a connection as we shared our families and life experiences. The day was definitely a day to remember. Anhuar and Susy, treated us like family and we enjoyed their exceptional hospitality. I certainly believe they enjoyed our company as well. This barbecue was an exception to the rule, it was not common, and other guests looked on with apparent envy at the site and smell of this Mexican meal.

From Beaches to Jungles- Mexico has it all

Posted: October 6, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

Still in Sayulita waiting on Angela’s return, we decided to take the trucks out and find some adventure. Not too far off of Hwy 200, there was a barely noticeable cut out in the overgrowth along side the road. The unpaved road, appeared to be more of a two track driveway. We didn’t know where it led, but decided we would find out.

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The winding uneven path seemed to go on forever. Driving up some inclines, around bends, under canopies of Coconut trees, we kept driving. Iguanas scurried across the path in front of us adding to the off road adventure. At some points we needed to turn on the headlights as the dense jungle overgrowth and canopies of trees blocked out the bright Mexican sun. We crossed a small water crossing at the base of what appeared to be power lines. We felt like true adventurers lost in the unknown jungle.

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All of a sudden, the sun began to shine brightly, and the canopy of trees began to open up, and out od nowhere, we were directly on the sandy beach! Who would have thought this overgrown jungle trail would have led to such a picturesque location. We drove right onto the beach and stopped to take in the breath taking view. It was absolutely amazing. A wide beach some 200-300 yards approached the ocean, where the waves must have been 10-12 feet crashing into the shore. Because of the fairly sharp incline from the water to the sand, the impact of the waves crashing into the beach was thunderous.

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We decided to body board (luckily we had them with us). After diving into the water, it was soon evident that the under current was very strong. The huge waves would come crashing over my head. I am 6’5” and was easily swallowed up in massive amounts of water rolling in. As the waves washed back out, the under current swept my feet out from under me, causing me to be caught up and taken off shore with it.

This was easily the most powerful waves, I had ever been in and I wanted more! I swam out a ways and began trying to catch one of the waves on the body board. After a couple of tries, one lifted me up and threw straight at the shore. It was a brief exhilarating ride until I come to an abrupt stop on the beach shoreline. Sand, water and who knows what else washed over me and through my shorts. I landed fairly gracefully in spite of my novice skills. I looked over just in time to see Bernard being swallowed up by the same huge wave. He disappeared long enough that I was actually worried what happened to him.

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A minute or so later, I saw him crawling to shore like he was injured. He said that the wave had picked him up and slammed him into the shore. He had a small bald spot above his forehead where he was missing some hair from the apparent impact. I couldn’t help but laugh, however, I am certain it did not feel good. He chose to lie out on the beach and enjoy the sun. I went back out for a few more rides, and experienced a headache after a few more bought with the waves.

We stood enjoying our find deep in the jungle again. There were absolutely no tourists, locals, or people at all. The beach was perfect, deep sand, and the largest waves I’ve seen to date. We were finding these awesome spots and getting to enjoy them without anyone else spoiling it. Mexico is sure a lot of fun!

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After lunch, The man from the beach, Virgilio, met up with us to caravan back to his house. We had no idea what to expect, however, after meeting him on the beach and receiving the invitation to his home in the Jungle, we couldn’t pass it up.

The short ride up the highway found us turning into a small beach town called San Pancho.  Due to heavy Federales police activity, Virgilio, led us to a side street, avoiding the posted stop in town. He pulled over and said, “I have a friend here you can meet. He is American too. He works with turtles”. This sounded like fun, and it also eliminated dealing with the police stop.

We got a brief tour of the turtle camp where people come to volunteer and work with saving the turtles. I was very interested to learn that the turtles lay eggs at night on the beach. The job of the camp was to gather those eggs and bring them back to the camp to safely store them in a nursery until its time they hatched. The interesting part was depending on the temperature the eggs were stored at, they could determine the gender of the eggs. Above 30 degrees would produce females, which was the preference in preserving the endangered species. We told them we would like to come back and volunteer soon.Image

We left the turtle camp and ended up on a dirt road that led off the beaten path and through the jungle. This was much more jungle than we had just experienced on the beach path. It was the true definition of a jungle atmosphere. There were exotic, unidentified birds, iguanas, spiders, and dense overgrowth. We drove on for miles deeper into the jungle until we came to an entrance gate, where Virgilio opened and let us go through. We drove what seemed like several more wining miles until we found his house. It was a spectacular site. Surrounded by palm trees, banana trees, and heavy dense green plants, the home seemed to be one with the surrounding. We crossed a small bridge which led to the side porch of the home and finally into the kitchen. The whole house was constructed of concrete and was largely open to the jungle canopy. The palm tree branches hung into the dining area. This home was a true jungle home that brought you one with nature.  You could hear the birds, crickets, iguanas, and many other undetermined animals as we sat on the open kitchen area enjoying conversation and the view.

 

We were given the full tour of the home, where we entered the living room/bedroom area. There was a nice canopy bed on one end of the room and a dome tent in the floor along one wall. It didn’t strike me as abnormal that there was a tent in the room, because he said his 9 year old daughter was visiting him. He said he keeps her in the tent, because the scorpions and tarantulas walk freely through the home, being that it was open to the outdoors. As we entered the bathroom, which resembled a large deck overlooking the lush, green, overgrowth of the dense jungle, we were intrigued to see that the shower and tub were both 100% exposed to the nature below. There was no wall between the bathroom and outdoors. This guy is hardcore! He had built the custom home some 20 years before purely for the enjoyment of the jungle foliage.

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Virgilio also shared many photos that he had taken in the jungle. Years ago, he had become interested in taking photos and preserving the jaguar. It was an endangered species in Mexico, and he has been instrumental in the jaguar returning to the area. The photos were spectacular! One particular one that comes to mind is the image captured in the dark of a jaguar, teeth clamped on a wild horse, presumable making a meal of him. He used the nature motion cameras to capture some of these. However, he said many times, he camped out several feet from piles of bait food, with the sole purpose of luring the jaguar into photo range, for the candid shot. He was an interesting man, that loved life and loved risk. He offered us fresh cheese from Guadalajara, it was similar in flavor to Gouda.

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We drove back into town again just amazed at the opportunities and people we were meeting. Everywhere we went just seemed to be another opportunity for a once in a lifetime event. This was by far one of our favorite destinations on the trip. It was such a great town on the ocean, overlooked by big business. What a paradise!

I would like to take this opportunity to say I am very behind on updating our blog. I apologize to those who are following closely. Without excuses, we have been having such a great time meeting people and enjoying this trip, that it has been difficult to slow down long enough to write our adventures down. Please continue to follow us on this blog, but for more up to date photos and stories, make sure to follow us on Facebook @ Bernard Barbour, Scott Woodhams, Angela Woodhams, and of course Central America Overland Expeditions. Stay tuned and please forgive me if you get multiple postings, as I try to get caught up! Ciao for now!