Posts Tagged ‘landcruiser’


We made it into Barre de Navidad just in time for breakfast and to meet a man named Tom. Tom offered to be an impromptu tour guide. We drove through town, looking at the nice homes and the unique marina layout. There were three roads that featured water front homes. A large lagoon made for some desirable homes sporting large private boats, docked right outside these homes. A particularly large home was distinguishable by the massive gates and security walls that surrounded the concrete structure. We were told that a local business owner had purchased it from an “alleged” drug dealer that had it built originally. We marveled at the apparent money that had been involved in building these architecturally appealing homes. Most of them sat vacant as they were seasonal second or third homes.

We spent nearly 3 hours touring the town and visiting a friend of Tom’s that lived out on the outside edge of town. To reach his house we traversed deep holes full of water, and gravel dirt roads. His family was friendly and inviting. In front of their home was a small family convenience store where one could buy an ice cold Coca Cola in a glass bottle. With the warning of drinking the water in Mexico, Diet Cole had become a staple. and you cant beat an ice cold glass bottle of Coke, when the thermometer threatens to blast past the maximum reading and burst.

Ice cold Coke or Diet Coke, actually

We told Tom we were looking for a campground preferably on the beach. He said, “there is one in Melaque, just 5 miles away”. He decided to take us there and get us set up. He warned us, “never pay upfront, you never know if you want to stay and then you are locked in”. We heeded his advice and checked into a nice beach side space looking over the ocean. The entire facility was fenced in and seemed secure, right in the middle of town. This would be great. We could set up the roof top tents and walk to the stores and restaurants. Tom hung around for a while and we chatted about life as an expat in Mexico, and our adventures so far. After a while he stated, “I should go, its starting to get too hot out here”! We dropped him off at home and made arrangements to meet for dinner at his “favorite place” later on.

Our tour guide, Tom, and the campsite

Ocean front with wifi at our tents!

The next morning, Bernard and I walked around town and took pictures after breakfast. Being interested in real estate, we were drawn to a building that looked like it had potential. Right next to a large concrete entrance to town, was a dilapidated two story structure boasting, “Se Vende” (For Sale). We peeked in the windows and wrote down the phone number. We headed back to the campground and fired up the computers. There was a strong wifi signal, so we wanted to update family and friends and see what was going on back home. We looked up just in time to see Tom ride up on a moped. He decided to pop in and see if we wanted him to play tour guide again and check out a cool little town up the bay. We gladly accepted and decided to call a cab instead of taking the tents down. And we were off!

We pulled into a little town that didn’t appear to have more than 50 residents, but it was right on the beach and their were several restaurants just starting to open. We wandered along the beach and enjoyed the ocean breezes, even though they didn’t do much to suppress the intense heat. There were many photo ops and we took advantage of them. The grand tour didn’t take long, so we were headed back to camp pretty soon. Tom hung around for a while longer and then hopped on his moped.

Beachside restaurant

Around 6 PM, the manager of the campground stopped at our site and said, “you need to pay for the four nights you stayed here.” I figured she was mistaken and I said, “tonight will actually only be our third night”. She became defensive and said, “No! you were here 4 nights”! I told her we would pay her for the actual amount of nights we were there (going on the third). She walked off, obviously upset with me. I didn’t think much about it that night and decided we would go to the ATM in the morning to pay for our stay.

Our campground. We un recommend them!

A great place for a nap at the campground

The next morning we got up headed to breakfast and then to the ATM. We were met at the gate by the manager of the campground telling us we needed to pay for four nights. I again explained that we were only there for three nights. She became argumentative and then walked back in the office. I was planning on working on the Landrover because it was still misfiring. We loaded up and headed toward the gate. I hopped out to open the closed gate and found it was padlocked. Dont tell me we were locked in! The gate always stayed closed, however this time, it was locked. I went to the office and told her I needed the gate opened. She said, “You must pay for 4 nights”. I began to understand that we were in fact being locked in. I became furious.

Caged like an animal!

I told her we would pay her for the three nights that we had stayed, but she needed to let us leave. She refused, and stood there glaring at me. Now I was angry. We were not animals to be caged up and locked away. I told her she better open the gate and let us leave. I said, “are you telling me you are holding us here against our will?” She said, ” I will call the police”. I told her she better go ahead and call them, so I could tell them we were being held against our will. I took it further, and said. ” I will also be calling the U.S embassy and letting them know we were being held against our will. Ironically, she all of a sudden said, “No inteindo”. I dont understand. She had been arguing with us just fine in English and now she doesn’t understand? How convenient. I said, spitefully, “well when the U.S embassy shows up, you will understand”. I was furious. She finally said, “Fine, you pay three days and leave”! I told her that would not be a problem, as we would not consider paying her for one more night. We packed our trucks, paid the bill and left.

Before we were kicked out

Well the truth is, it was a little bit of a problem as there were no other campgrounds in the area. We drove back to the restaurant that we had visited when we first arrived, to determine what to do. At least we had internet access there and we had made some friends there as well. As evening set in, we still didn’t have a plan. We walked the sidewalks and it began to come to us. In the center of town about a block from the restaurant, was the town square. The stage was in the center, and fortunately, there were electric outlets on the back side of it. We could park along the street, use the restaurant internet, and plug into the electric outlets on the stage. Breakfast in the morning could be had at the restaurant! We had everything we needed…..except a shower. At this point it was our best option, so we set it up. To avoid drawing unnecessary attention, we routed the electric cord up a pole, overhead to the balcony above, and then overhead to the plaza stage. It was genius if I do say so myself! Anyone walking on the sidewalk would be oblivious to the cord since it was overhead. We  hopped in the vehicles for a overnight stay.

Our makeshift power supply ran overhead

The next morning we woke to small  children walking down the sidewalk on their way to school. They were talking excitedly and chasing each other. All of a sudden a little boy yelled, “Connectodo” Apparently he noticed the electric extension cord running into Bernard s vehicle.  Bernard later told me that he woke up when he heard the shout and then noticed a small face and hands pressed to the window trying to see in. Bernard said, “Boo”! and the little boy ran off. Leave it to a small child to notice we were “borrowing electricity from the town square.

Our breakfast hosts

After breakfast we headed back to Melaque where we were to meet up with a “Facebook friend of a friend”. We were told by the friend if we needed anything while in the area  to look up their friend. With the Landrover running worse, we decided to call in a favor to find a place to work on it. After changing the spark plugs and wires and looking for vacuum leaks, and scratching our heads, we were referred to a local mechanic. That’s a whole “nother” story, so watch for it…….

Advertisements

Lo De Marcos Mexico, the surfs up?

Posted: September 4, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We left San Blas headed towards Puerto Vallarta with no particular destination in mind. We had heard of a few small towns that might be interesting to visit. One of those towns was Lo De Marcos. We rolled into town looking for a campground. After some challenging one way streets, we came to campground row. There were numerous campgrounds all promising similar accommodations. “Free wifi”, “beach front”, “electric hook ups”, they all boasted. We chose a nice location and set up camp.

Campsite under the fruit trees

We used the same campsite but were still charged for three people!

We walked down to the beach where there were many tourists and locals enjoying the 96 degrees. The waves were gently rolling in, much to the surfers dismay. It didn’t look like they would have a chance to display their talents today. However, as with many other beaches thus far, it was beautiful with lots of clear sandy beach. It was nice that there was not much sign of anybody peddling their wares. We dove in and took a relaxing swim, as Bernard looked around for photo opportunities. Now isn’t this what Mexico is all about? Sun, surf, sand, and locals?

Lo De Marcos beach

We noticed the beautiful trees scattered around the campground, and had chosen our spot based on the shade covering of a coconut tree and mango tree. We were able to sit around the trucks while enjoying the 10 degree difference in temperature the tree covering provided. All of a sudden, there was a loud thud and then a “splat”! What in the world was that? After some investigation, we found a large ripe mango had fallen on the other side of the truck. It smashed open upon impact gushing its sweet contents all over the asphalt driveway. The bees wasted no time attacking the pulp, and sweet juices.

Bernard went down to the beach taking pictures, while Angela and I sat in our loungers being lazy, reading and surfing online. It was hot even in the shade of the coconut trees. If you sat perfectly still, you might avoid having sweat trickle down your forehead, but mostly it was unavoidable.  Bernard returned to the campsite and said he had some exciting news. He had met some surfers that operated a surf school on the beach, and because Bernard promised to take some pictures of them, they offered free surf lessons. Learning to surf is definitely on our list of things to do while here in Mexico. The waves might be a problem though. If I am going to learn to surf, I need decent sized waves to propel me through the water. The waves that were rolling into the beach currently, barely resembled a ripple on an inland lake when a ski boat drives by.

Small waves on the beach

Bernard siesta!

We decided to head into town to find something to eat. We also wanted to pick up a fan for the campsite and tent. We drove around asking about fans in the area, but much to our dismay, were informed we would have to drive about 20 miles away to another town, called Rincon, that might have them. We decided it might be a good thing, because it would allow us to be in the air-conditioned truck for a little longer. It would be  a nice relief from the sweltering heat. We decided to wait until the next day to go.

We headed back to camp to settle in for the evening and had to laugh as we approached Bernard’s truck. A very ripe mango, half eaten by squirrels, had fallen from the tree above and landed on his fender guards. The “guts” splattered down the side of the fender and onto the ground. Of course this became another photo opportunity, so Bernard began snapping photos for memoirs. After some wireless internet time right at our campsite, we climbed up tour tents for the evening. It was still uncomfortably humid, and sweat was threatening to stream out our pores with any slight movement. We decided a shower in the shower house was in order. Fortunately, we found the bathroom and showers very clean and accommodating here, unlike the mediocre ones back at San Blas.

Splat!

Mango’d!

The next morning we closed up the tent on the Landrover and headed into town in search of a fan. Upon arriving in the predominately tourist area of Rincon, we did a little tour of the town and discovered many seasonally vacant homes along the ocean side community. From the markings and flags, it appeared many of the lavish homes were owned by Americans and mostly Canadians. These were very nice homes decorated with local flares, such as masonry, block and wrought iron work. Many homes had a concrete walls defining the property lines and offering access through large wrought iron gates. The architecture was very appealing. These homes would  fit in nicely in any upscale neighborhood in the states. I wonder if they need a house sitter to keep an eye on the home while they are gone…..?

Rincon statue in town

Cowboy in town

Some vacant homes

More homes in Rincon Mexico

We found a fan and a body board to play with in the water, back at camp, and headed back to find something to eat. On the way we stopped at a fruit and vegetable stand, so I could buy a whole, fresh pineapple. I paid 20 pesos, “venti” (or about $1.50), for a nice large one. I would put it in the cooler to get cold for a snack later. There were not many restaurants open, so we chose one that looked clean and the people were friendly. They were probably glad to see us, as we were the only ones there. After ordering from the menu, we enjoyed chips and salsa, with varying temperature salsa. My favorite was “Caliente”, which I enjoyed, but not sure how much of the taste I experienced as my tongue went numb after the first bite! Our food was brought out and we enjoyed the hot fresh fare, along with a Coka Light, and “botella agua” (Diet Coke and water), and Bernard, Pacifico, a watered down beer, common here in Mexico.

We arrived at our campsite, set up the fan facing the lounger chairs and enjoyed the breeze the fan offered. Angela decided to do some reading, and Bernard and I decided to go down for some surf lessons. Unfortunately, when we arrived on the beach, the surf instructors were standing around talking. The waves were still belemic. We talked for a while, and they offered to take us out in a boat to an island that has better waves, but it would cost $250 pesos or about $20. I had my body board or boogie board, and noticed the glee in the surfers eyes, as they somewhat discretely laughed at me. They said surfing is way more fun. We decided against taking the trip at this time, but told them we would get lessons later.

Lets Boogie! Boogie board

In the sand, on the beach, is a large truck or tractor tire that is buried half way. When the surf is down, the surfers use it to perform tricks. apparently this is common at most surf beaches. One of the guys began showing us his tricks. He would run up to the tire do a hand spring, flip in the air, and land on his feet on the edge of the water. It was purely acrobatic. Bernard began snapping photos, so naturally, the tricks became heightened, and his friends started joining in. It was a great show of athleticism and skill.

Up, up, and Away!

Great shot! And he landed it too!

We said good-bye to the surf crew and headed back to camp to try the now chilled pineapple. I went to the truck to get my Crocodile Hunter knife to cut it up. As I approached the table to begin surgery on the fresh fruit, I could not help but say, “That’s not a knife, This is a knife”, in my best Australian accent possible. Wow, fresh pineapple is nothing like the canned fruit back home! Well its similar, but so much more juicy and sweet. The cool pieces of fruit was just what the doctor ordered.

After dark, Angela decided to go take a refreshing shower before bed. Bernard and I sat waiting our turn checking emails, and surfing Facebook. It was really nice to have a strong signal right at our campsite. All of a sudden I heard Angela call for from the shower area. I was a little panicked. Was she ok? Maybe I had become too comfortable just letting her wander around alone, in a foreign country. I quickly made my way over to where she was. She was leaning over the sink saying she was dizzy and in a lot of abdominal pain. She said she could not walk out of the shower area because she was in so much pain. I didn’t know what to do. I wasnt sure that I would be able to get her up the ladder into the tent or if that would even be best. I just stayed with her trying to see what I could do for her. She told me she had to have a bed to lie down on. I hollered at Bernard who by now was just as curious as to what was going on. “Can you try to see if the camp host is still around? I need to rent a room”.

Family suite entrance from the beach

Of course, we were one of the few people at the campground, but for some reason there was only one room available. It was the family suite on the beach with 3 beds, a kitchen, patio and view of the ocean. I couldn’t argue, so we took it and got Angela laid down. She was still in a lot of pain as I helped her walk the 200 yards from the bathrooms to the room. There was A/C in the room, however, apparently you have to pay extra and they give you a remote. By this time, there was nobody around to get a remote from. I went and got our newly purchased fan and set it to blow the air on Angela. I didn’t get much sleep worrying about her and not knowing what was causing her the severe pain she was in.

The next morning, Angela was feeling slightly better but still in pain. We decided it would be best for her to fly home to see her doctor. It was too severe of pain to just leave unattended and travelling in a roof top tent might just inflame it more. We decided to head to Puerto Vallarta to get her on a plane as quick as possible.

Travelling south on Mexico 200 was slow going there was construction and it was common for us to sit for a half hour or more at a time, at a dead standstill. People were getting out of their vehicles impatiently looking to see what the hold up was. At one point just as traffic was starting to move, we noticed the vehicle behind me did not move. Then the yellow Nissan truck turned on its flashers. sitting right in the middle of the road. Bernard and I stopped our vehicles and ran back to see if we could help. We communicated the best we could and could see it was overheating. Bernard went back to his truck and pulled out a half full bottle of antifreeze and gave it to him. It was too hot to open the cap, so we just helped him push the truck off the road. So as not to hold up anymore traffic, we wished him well and jumped back in our vehicles to go.

Traffic jam

A little farther ahead we were stopped once again. I could see a Pemex gas station and a sign for Sayulita Mexico. I had read about the sleepy surf town online, and it had been recommended to us by DJ, a woman back at Stone island, as a must see. The campground book we had said very little about the town, stating, ” there are a few restaurants, a small market, and not much more”. It wasnt much of an appealing sales pitch, and anyway we needed to get on to Puerto Vallarta to get Angela on a plane. We continued inching forward for the next hour until we finally came to the intersection to turn or go straight through. Still wanting to make it to Vallarta, we inched forward some more. All of a sudden, I had enough inching! We can wait out the traffic while we look at the town of Sayulita.

Sayulita Mexico!

I made the turn, the sign said 3 km to Sayulita, Somewhere around 15 km, I figured we had missed it. We turned back, and finally found the one street that led into town. It was a little cobblestone street that ran off of the main road in a “V” heading in a direction difficult to see from the other direction. A small sigh hand painted on a post marked the turn. We had arrived.

We drove farther in and found a place to park right near the center plaza. We got out and Bernard and I just stood there in disbelief. This was an absolute amazing town! It was so inviting, we could see the beach from where we stood. We could not believe what we had just stumbled on. It is going to be difficult to spell out into words what we experienced next. Check out the next blog for the rest of the adventure!

Sayulita Mexico- What have we found here?

Check out our facebook page for pictures of these and many more pictures at Central America Overland Expeditions.

Mazatlan -We finally made it to the coast!

Posted: August 2, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel
Tags: , , , ,

We had made good time getting into Mazatlan, so we were confident we would be able to find our campsite before dark. As we drove up the highway, things began to take on the big city feel again. 3 lanes of steady traffic met us about 10 KM before we actually got to town. The traffic was slowing due to a military checkpoint. We had to laugh at the apparent cutbacks the military there were experiencing (check out his skateboard!).

Scary Military man

Mazatlan is a very busy town. It is tourist oriented so the streets are packed with people. As we drove in we were in bumper to bumper traffic 3 lanes wide. We were looking for the shortest route to Stone Island or isla de las Piedras, to be accurate. This was supposed to be a small rural island just off of town. It took nearly an hour and a half to make it to the other side. At one point there were 4 wheelers riding in traffic, one with 3 people hanging off of it with no helmets. Vendors jockeyed their way through the lines trying to sell their products. Taxis were cutting people off, zipping in and out of lanes as if they owned the road. All the while we were travelling along side the ocean. It was a beautiful view, the sun gleaming off the water. The beaches were equally over populated. The water looked like a shipwreck with heads bobbing everywhere.

Not the floating heads, but close…

We could not get through that area quickly enough. It was getting late and we just wanted to get set up on our campsite and relax after that long days drive. We asked directions to get to the island. After a few missed turns and stopping to ask yet another person for directions, we finally found our way heading down the road toward Stone island. After about two miles along the paved road, we passed an exclusive golf course community. Almost immediately the road turned to gravel. It was dry and dusty, and gravel stuck in our tires to be catapulted a minute later into the air. We were following Bernard as the night began to close in. Here we were again, driving to a destination unknown, in the dark. It seemed like we were driving for miles, as we could only do about 20 MPH due to the relentless chatter bumps. We were passing mango and coconut orchards, and occasionally seeing a tractor. On and on we drove, no indication where the end was.

All of a sudden, from nowhere, I saw Bernard turn his lights on high beam and hit his brakes. Coming straight at us was a herd of what appeared to be horses running right down the middle of the road. They did not appear to care that we were there. It was a sure collision if they did not give. Bernard had the stout ARB bull bar on the front of his Landcruiser, but surely it would not take the repeated blows of a frenzied horse stampede! Then from the back of the pack a cowboy on a horse divided the stampede by riding into the middle of them. This caused them to just barely miss us running by on both sides of our vehicles. I could feel the earth rumble as their hoofs pounded the dirt road. I thought I could hear the air pass through their nostrils in heavy breaths as they passed, but soon realized that it was mine that I heard. As the cowboy approached us, we waved and he tipped his hat and continued on. Did that just really happen? Are we getting so tired that we were all seeing the same mirages? No, it did happen, the dust was still thick in our headlights to prove it.

Stampede!

It was all but dark as we pulled into what appeared to be a deserted rural town, also known as Stone Island. All of the streets were sand or dirt, and the businesses had coconut branches as roofs. We stopped at a campground right on the beach along the main street where we had entered. The gate was closed and locked. There was only one lone light on in the corner of the property with an RV sitting for sale under it inside the fence. It must be another casualty of travelling during the off-season we speculated. Just about then a frail little old man walked up to us to see what we wanted. We explained we needed a campsite for camping with tents. He informed us this was a camper site, not intended for tents, but that there was another one just around the corner in the coco field.

We followed his directions but did not find any resemblance of a campground, the dark starless sky not helping any. Bernard hopped out at the only thing still lively in town, a bar, with loud mexican music blaring into the night sky, echoing off the ocean waves. He was given more directions, “You passed it. Turn by the big tree, and go toward the speed bump, but don’t go over the bump”, the local drunk said. We headed back the way we came and still did not see anywhere to camp.

Of course, tired and frustrated again about trying to locate and set up in the dark, Bernard tried one last resort. He walked up to a hotel that had their lights on and decided to ask  if they knew where the campground was. A minute later, Bernard rounded the corner laughing and talking with a muscular built seemingly, American. He said, “I know right where it is. I will take you to the lady that owns it.” He said, “follow me on my ATV”. A minute later he was back and said he could not locate the key. Bernard offered his passenger seat and we were off! Back past “the big tree” turning onto another sand road. At the end, next to the bar where we just were, we drove out onto the beach. Bernard and the hotel owner, Gary, jumped out of the truck looking for the lady to allow us to camp. A few minutes later they were back. They had not found her. Gary, said, “I will let you camp on my beach in front of the hotel.” This was welcome news, we were finally getting somewhere. Even though it seemed really late, because it was so dark and the town seemed to be asleep, it was only 8:30, due to a two-hour time difference from home.

On the very short drive back to the hotel, Gary and Bernard talked of the fact that Gary had been in the army some 20 years ago and when he got out, decided he wanted a quieter, simpler life. He married a local Mexican girl, and together they have built a beautiful hotel and bought a restaurant beside the hotel on the beach. He said he loves his job now living on the premises. The name of his hotel, is Stone Island Gardens, and the restaurant is Carmelita’s. We highly recommend both as they are so friendly and helpful. Bernard showed Gary his license plate “Desert Storm Veteran”. They became immediate friends!

As we pulled up to the entrance of the hotel, Gary said, “or I can give you both rooms for the night for a really great price”. We were definitely interested, since it was dark and it was still quite humid. He allowed us to park in the hotel parking area, a nice parking garage, that we just barely cleared with our roof top tents.The Discovery 2 was really close, with its high roofline, but we made it. He guided us into the spaces and asked if we were hungry. A resounding yes, since we had not eaten all day. We met his wife and they told us there were some nice restaurants around, but the locals go to the place back up the street, good food and cheap prices. We were shown our rooms. Yeah! They had A/C! We were excited, since it was so humid and hot still.

Beautiful ocean views at Stone Island Gardens

After settling in, we walked down to the small restaurant that was recommended to us, and sat down under a roof structure outdoors. It was open air, but the ceiling fans made it more comfortable, along with the fact that we had cool rooms waiting for us back at the hotel. Angela and I ate for $3.50 total! Bernard’s was nearly $6.00, because he ordered two full meals, since he was so hungry. We had been pointed in the right direction. I love these prices! We both had gorditas, salad and a coke, Bernard had two Cheeseburger dinners. As we sat there for a few minutes, all of a sudden people started coming out of the woodwork. The place was filled with what appeared to be local people, excitedly chattering in Spanish, largely oblivious to the fact that we were there, though they all smiled, and said, “Hola”, or “Buenas Noches”.

Filled from eating a great authentic meal, we headed to bed to sleep off the long day we had just finished, and marvel again at the seemingly chance meetings with people who went out of their ways to accommodate us and make us feel welcome. We were beginning to see a pattern here….

After waking up early the next morning refreshed, we met down at Carmelita’s for coffee and enjoyed the beautiful day and the ocean view from our chairs in the restaurant. “Man, this the life” we thought. Can it be any better? Coffee, the waves lapping in, vendors setting up for the day. This was my idea of paradise! We ordered breakfast, and hooked up our laptops to get online to let our families know we were ok.

Bernard having coffee at Carmelita’s

Headed to work

We explored the island, and walked on the beach. It was very clean with a gradual approach, so walking was easy. You could stand at the edge of the water and wait for a wave to come in. You could feel the sand erode out from under your feet like a mini foot massage. It was glorious, albeit hot! It was so nice being on the island away from the general population of Mazatlan. It was a small community feel. Though there were small boats to bring tourist over, it was nothing like the mainland. I don’t know at what point we began to look at “tourist” as “those people” as if we were local, but I think it was somewhere right around here. We began to really feel like part of Mexico and its beauty instead of just visiting for a few days.

Angela “testing the water”

Scott in the “surf”- Bernard in the background

We decided to stay a couple more days while we waited for my brake light switch to come in at Autozone. We got up in the mornings and ran on the beach early before the heat set in, began to get friendly waves from people recognizing us after being there a while. Even the guy pedaling horse rides was in a jovial mood. I guess you just stay in a good mood when you live in paradise everyday. We found lots to do and see, even driving the trucks out onto a rock barrier reef watching workers try to salvage equipment from a sinking ship.

The “Happy Horseman”

Siesta, while watching work in progress

The rock barrier reef

“On the rocks”

We took a boat ride to the mainland to visit Autozone and the bank. We needed to get more pesos as there were no ATM machines on the island. On the small ferry-boat, we met DJ, a “local” Canadian that had been there for two years already. She had rented a house and had made it her new home. She told us of her travels and asked us about ours. She had worked on several sailing vessels as a deck hand and made her way down to Mexico. She was definitely a free spirit and friendly to talk to, claiming to speak her own version of “Spanglish”. After arriving on the mainland, being so early, there was only one golf cart style taxi. Dj made her way there first. As we passed to find another, she said, “Where you going”? We told her, and she said, “hop in, its right on the way”.

We were dropped off at the Autozone and then we walked around to do our other errands. By this time we were getting very tired from the heat and walking. We stopped at a McDonalds trying to get internet access and an ice cream. We were only able to get one, the ice cream. The internet was down. If we had to choose only one, my choice is ice cream every time! So we waved down a taxi and headed back to the boat ramp to go back to the island.

We stayed in the hotel for 3 days. The fourth day, Gary’s wife Anna, said she had a group of tourist that had booked the hotel, so we wouldn’t be able to stay that night. We went to breakfast at “Lety’s” on the beach, meeting the owners son there. He told us we could camp on the beach in front of the restaurant/hotel for no charge and use their bathrooms and showers. Man, finally we got to pop the tents, ON the beach! We popped the ARB tent and Ironman tent with little effort. As you can imagine, we were quite the spectacle setting up our site. People stopped to look and see what it was that we were doing. We pulled out the Ironman awning for shade and set up the lounge chairs watching the waves roll in under the sunset. Just before dark, we noticed a couple of sand crabs popping out of their holes to see if all the people were gone. We watched them for a while before moving, of course which prompted them to shoot back to the protection of their holes in the sand.

Beach side accommodations!

Campsite on the beach

The next day, we made the repair, organized our vehicles, said good-bye to our new-found friends and we were off headed towards Teacapan, a little town on the beach that promised several campsites on the beach. Gary told us we could drive 6-1/2 km up the beach and avoid driving on the chatter bump road again. What? Drive nearly 5 miles down the beach? You didn’t have to tell us twice. We had a blast dodging high tide and keeping momentum to plow through the soft sandy beach all the way to the golf course. What an amazing place to find, away from the usual tourist oriented areas.

Driving along the beach!

If you enjoy these posts, please tell your friends and families to follow along. We enjoy having participation from you, the readers. If you have not done so already, please sign up in the box to the left. WE WILL NOT SPAM YOU! This is only an automated notification of a new posting. See you in Teacapan!

And we are off!

Posted: July 11, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel
Tags: , , , ,

It has been a trying past couple of weeks. You know from following our progress, all of the things we were trying to pack in with the trip preparations. The good news, we have completed everything that is going to get done. It seems, every turn there were three more things popping up that needed to be handled before going. At the last-minute, Bernard called me and said “I have some good news and some bad news”. Nothing much ever good starts with those words. So, he says, ” I got a discount on my tires, however, they will not be in until Monday,midday.” Yes, the Monday we were scheduled to leave on! One thing I have learned on scheduling a big trip, even life changing event, is flexibility. The flexibility to roll with the punches and even appreciate the delay offering more preparation time. So we took full advantage of the “extra day” as it turns out we needed it… My brother, Chad and his wife Ginny, printed our slogan and website on vinyl that we put on the vehicles.

image

It is a reminder to slow down and enjoy life, not rush it along.
Last minute packing was going well. I even naively, imagined I had room to spare. Boy was I in for a surprise!

image

Some how after staying up past 1 am, getting up at 6 am, a stop at the bank and the office, we were off! We met Bernard at the Pilot gas station in Augusta at 9 am. Only one hour after our intended departure.

image

image

We took off rolling down I-20 toward Atlanta to a nice sunny day, around 80 degrees. In light of my new-found desire to take it slow and easy, we settled in at about 65 mph to test things out. About 30 miles down the road in Thomson, Ga., Angela and I decided we wanted breakfast and a coffee. So we pulled into McDonald’s where my Aunt Gloria works. I decided we would get out and tell her “good-bye”. Well contrary to her telling me that they work her from sun up, she was not there!
We continued on again, putting our backs to the wind. When all of a sudden, we noticed a Toyota Tundra pulling a mid 90’s Mercedes on a UHAUL tow dolly. The reason we noticed it first, because having owned a UHAUL dealership recently, we tend to notice these things. But more importantly, we noticed it because the car on the dolly was whipping like a tail on a wood Pekkah, or at least that was the first thing that I blurted out when seeing it. Angela laughed at my analogy, and then turned her concerns to the car that was being tossed side to side behind the truck. We quickly passed it hoping Bernard would make it by before it let loose. Disaster diverted….at least for us. Sorry, I didn’t get a picture, as I was busy driving defensively. I wouldn’t be surprised if that guy didn’t make the news tonight.
Traveling on I was determined to enjoy the journey, forget about time lines, and just relax. I noticed the blue skies, the fluffy white clouds. They were almost 3D in appearance.

image

The trip was going great! We somehow found ourselves in the middle of a military convoy of Hummers on semi trucks. Of course we felt right at home driving our big rigs, even giving that knowing wave that only the military and big rigs share, like “yeah, it’s just us against the other four wheelers out here on the highway”.

image

Somewhere around 290 miles, in Montgomery Alabama, we needed to stop for fuel. I was very apprehensive about checking my fuel mileage. First of all, Land Rovers are not known for good gas mileage. Secondly, I had added so many modifications, weight and wind resistance, that I felt like I would be lucky to get 10 miles to the gallon. And to top it off, it requires premium gas. Well, to my surprise, we actually managed to get 13.5 miles to the gallon. I know this sounds terrible, but I was even a little excited. I packed every square inch of the vehicle and performed all of the modifications, so I know what is in there. So to get 13.5 mpg, I was happy!

All of a sudden, the skies turned gray and the opposite traffic began showing up with their headlights on. Not a good sign. Then the bottom fell out. It began torrentially pouring rain. It was so heavy, the semi truck disappeared in front of me. It is an eery feeling not knowing if someone has panicked and stopped right in front of you, or not. I slowed to a safer speed and continued forward progress. Checking my rear view mirror, I noticed Bernard had also disappeared. I searched with little success, just to see the white lines on the road. Everything was a gray fog and sheets of rain.

image

It was also with the first rain drops that I regretted not replacing my windshield wipers! It was more of a smear than a clear. Eventually it let up enough that I could see cars again. In checking my mirror again, I saw that Bernard was definitely not in my range of site. We pulled off to the side of the road and waited a few minutes. Fortunately, he came along and flashed his lights that all was ok. A few more miles ahead and we pulled into a rest area to compare stories and take a much-needed bathroom break.

image

After getting back on the highway, I began to feel a little hungry. I knew I had packed some chocolate covered almonds within my reach. So one hand on the wheel, I reached for the spot the can of almonds was. I felt it and began to pick it up from behind the seat. As I raised it up, it became wedged between the seat and the storage box I had built for the back of the vehicle. I pulled and tugged and twisted, to no avail. I tried again. No luck. I wanted those almonds! I wouldn’t let go until I had them up front. All of a sudden it occurred to me that I was no smarter than the monkey, when given a handful of peanuts through a hole, will actually trap himself by making a fist to grip the peanuts. And he will not un ball his fist to set himself free, because he wants those peanuts. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself for not letting the almonds go….

We arrived in Mobile Alabama around 4:30 pm to overcast skys, but no rain. We were determined to get wiper blades from the Land Rover dealership, as it required a special kind.
We first went to our hosts home. Bernard had been in contact with a host from http://www.couchsurfing.com This is an online community of people willing to share their “couch” or other accommodations with like-minded travelers. Genevieve, offered to let us park our vehicles in her yard and pop up the tents. As we were turning into the driveway, another couch surfing host, named Robyn that Bernard had been in contact with called and said “Hey! Where are you guys at?” She decided to stop in to meet us and chat awhile. This is a testament to the remarkable online couch surfing community. They are all friendly and enjoy meeting new people. After meeting our host, Angela and I excused ourselves to try to make it to the dealership, for wiper blades, before they closed. We made it with 15 minutes to spare. Ken, came out to look at the blades. He said “well here’s your problem, there is no rubber left on the blade”. They installed them for free, reduced the price even lower than they quoted on the phone, and gave me a large roll of paper towels free, just because. Now that is customer service. I highly recommend if you are ever in the Mobile Alabama area, and need help with your vehicle stop in and see Ken in the parts department.

image

I am lying here in our roof top tent typing all of this on my android phone. So please disregard any typos or incorrect grammar. I need to make use of the internet that was also graciously provided by our host here in Mobile. Wow! What a first day on the road!
Bernard’s in his tent, we are in ours, and our host went to pick someone up at the airport. She promised coffee in the am, and then we will be off to explore Mobile, before heading to Lafayette Louisiana. If every day of our trip consist of the roller coaster of today, we are in for a treat!