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.
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.
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.
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.
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!