Posted by: glenswatman | December 2, 2008

200811-2-USA Texas MEXICO East Coast

SUNDAY 16 NOVEMBER – We sleep well, even
though I have to get up and put a second duvet on when it gets really cold, and
don’t wake up until almost 8am.  I do a
last minute stock up of things that are hard to find in Mexico such as strong
cheese, beef and bacon.  Kevin has a
problem with Sherman and needs a new alternator.  Drive him across town to pick one up as he can fit it
himself.  By mid afternoon he has
figured that the new one is faulty and that another must be ordered.  Whilst it’s a very convenient place to park,
and shop, you can’t exactly set your table and chairs out so we play cards in
Sherman in the afternoon and again at our place after I have cooked us a roast
dinner.  Steve’s taking this very
seriously as he has organised a league table for the time whilst we are with
Kevin & Ruth

BROWNSVILLE 2, WAL MART

 

MONDAY 17 NOVEMBER – A bonus of being parked
here is that every time I think of something we need I can nip in the store and
buy it.  Reckon I am averaging a visit
every 2 hours so Mr Wal Mart will be pleased. 
Steve also cashes in and buys and fits Harry with a new air filter.  There’s a motorhome parked next to us and a
ticket in the window says it has been unattended for a work.  Security are getting a bit concerned, we
hope there is no one dead inside it. 
Police and other people are called to assess the situation.  We miss the outcome, as Kevin needs taking
to collect the new alternator.  Call in
at Staples to do some photocopying. 
We’ve been advised to get good colour copies of all documents and to
laminate copied drivers licences to avoid handing over originals.  Staples are not allowed to do this but you
can use their self-serve machines to do it yourself.  The results are really excellent.  Arrive back at Wal Mart when Kevin asks for their driver’s
licences back.  We beat a hasty retreat
to Staples to find them all still in the machine!  The alternator solves Kevin’s problem so we are mobile again and
head to host Shawns place where he has said we can park in the street.  Behind his house is a network of canals and
a picnic area.  Pull up and Steve checks
with the neighbours opposite that we are not going to be a problem.  Everyone in this area is Mexican looking,
very laid back and not the least bit bothered by us being there.  Ruth, Whiskey and I take one of the many
walks around the canals and it is really pleasant.  Unfortunately Shawn never arrives home, we think this is a second
home, but we stay the night anyway as one of the neighbours works for the
council and says it is OK.

BROWNSVILLE 3, HOUSING ESTATE

 

TUESDAY 18 NOVEMBER – The news from England is
good.  Steve’s Dad had a pacemaker
fitted today and is back on the ward drinking tea.  My Mum is now walking on just one stick and physio is down to once
a week.  At 7.45am we head to the
Veterans International Bridge, $7 (£5) motorhome toll.  Good parking by a redundant gas station
enables us to walk back to the American immigration to hand in our visas.  On the Mexican side we are flagged over so
they can check the 10-year permits for the vehicles that we got last year.  We stay in line and walk to the office for
the tourist visas.  A few yards further
we are stopped for another inspection, this time just a walk around by armed
guards.  Drive into MEXICO in the city
of Metamoros.  Immediately join the ring
road and using the “Mexico Campground” directions connect to the main Mex 101
road south towards Victoria.  It is
obvious we are in a Mexican city, poor and congested roads, haphazard traffic
and people actually walking around!  There
are lots of places to get propane (could have saved ourselves quite a wild
goose chase on Saturday) so we top up and head off.  Roadblocks are frequent but the guards are all very courteous.  The final one is more thorough as we have to
step out of the motorhome whilst a guard and dog go inside.  The dog bounces round on the bed then the
guard lifts the bed to check the storage underneath and does the same with the
sofa.  Reckon I should have put
newspaper on the cream bedspread as well as over the new carpet.  The guard asks where we are from and
associates Great Britain with London. 
He then goes to Kevin & Ruth and asks if Great Britain is connected
to Canada!  They try to explain whilst
Whiskey barks at the guard who then decides not to enter their motorhome.  We’re in flat farming country, traffic is
light and the driving is easy once we get into Mexico mode of pulling half onto
the hard shoulder to let people pass. 
Stop in the first largish town of “San Fernando De Presas” to use the
ATM.  Last year we were getting Pesos 22
– £1 this year it is down to just under Pesos 20 but that is not bad compared
to the drop in the USA $ from over $2 to £1 down to less than $1.50 = £1 this
last few days.   Where we turn off to
Tampico on the Mex 180 there is a gas station with huge parking area and this
works well for lunch.  Too early to stop
for the day we press on into hilly country. 
Unfortunately the RV dry camping by Lavanderos Lake, mentioned in
Sanborns log, no longer exists.  A few
miles South we cross the Tropic of Cancer marked by a crumbling small yellow
ball.  We only have a couple of hours
daylight left so at the next Pemex station, about 15 miles south, we ask if we
can park overnight.  The friendly owner
leads us to a grassy area round the back and he and his mate seem very happy
with a couple of beers each as payment. 
There’s a big American coach here and Steve & Kevin chat to the
owner.  Kevin Mayo owns a fishing camp
1/8-mile from here and invites us to walk over and visit tomorrow.  Sitting out on the lawn Kevin cooks up
hamburgers for us on his BBQ then we round of the day with cards.

15-MILES SOUTH LAVADEROS. PEMEX STATION

217 MILES

 

WEDNESDAY 19 NOVEMBER – The fishing camp is on
the edge of the lake.  When we get there
the Mexican manager shows us around and explains the set up.  Fishermen are brought here from Louisiana on
the couch the front of which is like an RV at the front with lots of lounge
seating, a dinette, kitchen and bathroom. 
However the rear half has been built with 3 tiered bunk beds to sleep
12.  AT the camp they have simple en
suite accommodation, get their meals in the dining room, drink in the palapa
overlooking the lake and of course go fishing every day.  We tell Kevin it would make a great RV stop
and he asks us how to promote it that way. 
Continuing our journey south we pass many ranches as we traverse the
hilly green countryside.  Aldana is the
largest town for miles so we do a quick shop but the few internet signals are
secured.  Its 39lm of often rough and
pot holed road to the beach.  It looks
like a very pleasant area with a few restaurants, palapas with tables and
dubious looking electric sockets and a grassy area at the far end, which is
where we pull up.  The nearby restaurant
owner introduces himself, tell us we are fine parking there and offers water,
electric and whatever else we may want. 
Of course he also mentions we can drink and eat in his restaurant which
we will in due course.  We soon have our
camp set out and spend the rest of the day relaxing.  Kevin is very happy and says this is just what he has travelled
3000 miles for.  Ruth treats Whiskey
with some pesticide drops to stop her getting fleas and ticks.  We join them to watch the DVD Juno, an
unusual and funny story about a teenager who gets pregnant.  By evening Whiskey is not a happy puppy.

BARRA EL TORDO BEACH

54 MILES

 

THURSDAY 20 NOVEMBER – We had a bit of rain in
the night but it is hot and sunny by 8am. 
Kevin & Ruth had a bad night with Whiskey and ended up having to
wash the rest of the stuff off.  Take a
long walk south along the beach but other than some palapas that could only be
reached with a 4wd along the beach there is nothing but miles and miles of
sand.  I invite K&R to join us for
lunch and we sit out having a curry enjoying our beachside setting.  The beach gets busy in the afternoon with
locals walking along, some kids playing football and a few youths messing
around in a yellow Corvette jacked up on truck 4wd chassis.  We go in for a swim and the water is the
perfect temperature.  Can’t understand
why more motorhomes don’t come here. 
Cards at ours in the evening and we refresh K&R’s memories on
canasta.  Occasional rain through the
night but if it’s going to rain then that’s the best time for us.  

BARRA EL TORDO 2

 

FRIDAY 21 NOVEMBER – Unfortunately cooler
weather is coming in from the north and bringing a bit more rain.  Pass the time playing Euchre at K&R’s in
the morning and Canasta at ours in the afternoon.  Delivery vans drop off supplies, tables and chairs to the
restaurant for the fishing competition. 
Watch a DVD about the supposed 9/11 conspiracy in the evening but
instead of answering questions it just raises more.

BARRA EL TORDO 3

 

SATURDAY 22 NOVEMBER – It’s the day of the
fishing competition and the guy has a marquee out on the beach but seemingly no
entrants.  It is a poor day but we also
suspect that his advertising was a bit sketchy to say the least.  Decide that we will all go over there for
lunch and have a most enjoyable fish dinner for Pesos 50 (£2.50) each and this
includes tortilla chips and extremely hot salsa to start with.  We are his only customers so Claudio seems
happy to have our business and hangs around chatting to us.  We suspect that the beer company Tecate have
sponsored the competition as the party tent and other stuff has their Tecate
Light sign on and that is the only drink he has to sell.  He has postponed it until a week
tomorrow.  Tell him we will probably
leave tomorrow if the weather is not great and he tells us of a short cut road
to Tampico, at least we thing that’s what he has said. Apparently this
northerly wind has brought cold weather to much of the states with Houston
getting ice.  The beach is busy in the
afternoon, kids playing football, quad bikes racing along as well as the jacked
up Corvette.  Good entertainment.   

BARRA EL TORDO 4

 

SUNDAY 23 NOVEMBER – Back track towards Aldana then take the turn off towards
Maron.  The road is reasonable for the
first few kilometres but becomes pot holed and bumpy.  Kevin is in the lead and we take note of his slalom course to
avoid the worst holes.  Our map does not
show a bridge over the River Tiger connecting with the onward road but Claudio
assured us there was one.  We arrive at
the river with no way forwards.  When we
get out of the motorhomes we are very happy to see the bridge upstream.  Getting onto it is a bit of a challenge as
the ramp leading up to it is just a pile of large pebbles.  Beyond the bridge the road is good and we
pick up speed.  This is a citrus growing
area and we do a drive through style purchase of a bag of Satsuma style oranges
for P10 (50p).  Tampico is a nightmare
of traffic but again the Mexican Camping book gives us good directions to lead
us to the otherwise un-sign posted by pass. 
At the first toll both we are charged the cargo price of P39 (£2).  The road deteriorates so we can only assume
the toll was for the stretch before it. 
A second toll of P10 (50p) gets us over a bridge and on to a really
shocking stretch of road where pedestrians make quicker progress than
vehicles.  We’ve chosen to do some
driving today figuring traffic would be lighter but there are still lots of
trucks around and the road is very busy. 
Drivers have little patience and overtake on blind bends and going up
hills.  As if the bad road surface is
not slowing us down enough we have to contend with the “topes” (sleeping
policemen) in the villages.  Many of
them have no warning so locals have taken to standing at the edge pointing them
out in the hope of a tip.  It is really
slow progress and hard work for the drivers so when we see an RV park we check
it out.  They will not negotiate the $15
(£7.50) for camping with no facilities and say that we must park right near the
main road in a muddy area, no thank you. 
To avoid Tuxpan we take the Alamo by pass.  It’s getting late so we settle for free camping at the first
Pemex that we see.  They sell diesel as
well as regular petrol so it is frequented by trucks but at least we will be
safe and in fact further off the road than at the campground.  We settle on a spot at the back near some
grass.  Stepping out of the vehicles we
are surrounded by young children.  They
want to clean our windscreens with their dirty water and mucky rags!  Attempt to have a bit of a chat with them
but they won’t go away.  Decide that if
we give them all a small gift they will leave us in peace but it actually makes
them worse and we end up wishing we had not bothered.  Shut ourselves inside the motorhomes until they eventually go away.  After 7 hours hard driving we have come just
187 miles but it feels like much more and we are all exhausted and opt for an
early night.  Unfortunately a truck
pulls up right beside us and seems to have engine problems as they keep
returning to it and revving it up then going off again.

N OF ALAMO, PEMEX 4131

187 MILES

 

MONDAY 24 NOVEMBER – Set off fairly early and
find the road improves somewhat, well relatively so!  There are many really big topes that almost make you come to a
stop and vendors make the most of it by standing there with their wares.  Pull up at the roadside stalls and pick up a
huge bag of oranges for P20 (£1) and a bunch of 40 miniature bananas for P10
(50p).  Make a wrong turn into Poza Rica
but this works well as we stop at a gas station to ask directions and find
ourselves next to the local market.  The
produce looks very good quality and we pick up tomatoes at P10 (50p) kilo,
onions P12 (60p) kilo, potatoes P8 (40p) and 2 green peppers for P10
(50p).  All the stalls charge the same
price so Ruth and I meander amongst them and try to by a little from each
one.  Further along the “wrong” road we
see a huge Soriana supermarket and do our first proper grocery shop in
Mexico.  We’ve been seeing signs for El
Tajin archaeological site for over 200km’s and this is our destination a bit
further south.  Entrance to the site is
down a dual carriageway but street stalls have covered more than half the lanes
meaning we almost hook and handbag with our bumper.  The parking attendant says we can stay overnight and the charge
is P20 (£1).  Settle in to a corner spot
and have lunch.  Admission including
museum is P48 (£2.50).  The museum gives
us a good overall picture with the model of the site.  Once we enter the real site we are impressed by the large
collection of buildings.  We wander through
the area reading signs pointing out the function of the most important
buildings, in Spanish and English.  You
can no longer climb any of the pyramids but we do get an overview from the hill
at the far end of the site. Whiskey to dog has been allowed in and when a
fellow tourist takes a photo of us all together it makes me think we look like
an older version of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five checking out the mystery of the
ancient ruins!  Highlight of the site is
“The Piramide de los Nichos” and the best example the 13 ball courts is the
south one with some good bass reliefs.   
At the entrance to the site “The Voladores de Papantla” perform their
ritual dance that involves 4 men gliding down from the top of a pole on a
rope.  Late afternoon another motorhome
arrives.  Leo & Judy are from
British Columbia and have been coming to Mexico for 11 years but never to this
area. 

EL TAJIN

51 MILES

 

TUESDAY 25 NOVEMBER – Make a late start for
the coast.  Navigate the notoriously
difficult Papantla easily (from El Tajin, left to Papantla, left at T junc sign
Poza Rica and Tecolutla, right at next T junc sign GZ Zamora, straight on until
you veer right onto main Mex 180 to coast). 
Toll over the bridge is P31 (£1.60) and then we reach the coast. It is
obviously a holiday area as the road is lined with stalls selling
beachwear.  The main road runs very
close to the beach leaving just enough space for small homes, hotels and tiny
campsites, impossible for us to access. 
Kevin needs Internet and has negotiated to stay at D’Alba, which looks
really nice on the web site.  Mike meets
us at the gate, says the best price they can offer is $90 (£60) week or $15
(£10) night if we don’t take electric, a bit of a joke as the electric is off anyway
and they only have power when he runs the generator.  It all looks a bit run down but we reluctantly take a spot near
the beach thinking that maybe everywhere is the same.  Mike dashes off into town before we get chance to check things
out thoroughly and realise how bad it is. 
It is a cloudy day so we are not seeing it at its best but even so there
is no Internet and the swimming pool has not been cleaned for ages.  When I go to have a shower the toilet block
is dirty, there is only cold water and the walls are mouldy with paint peeling
off.  None of us are thrilled so Steve
& Kevin go off on the bikes and come back with news of a much nicer place
further on and cheaper too.  Leave a
note for Mike and head to Mision Del Mar Hotel with a lovely big swimming pool
and grassy camping area beside it. 
Beyond the swimming pool towards the beach is a huge concrete pad backed
by a big wall with a giant cross. 
Suspect that this is the “chapel” their sign mentions and boy would it
make a stunning location for a wedding. 
Although the shower block is clean and tiled there is no hot water but
they give us a key so we can use the bathroom in one of their hotel rooms.  P70 (£3.50) pp per night also includes
electric and Internet – no contest. 
Spend the afternoon catching up on messages.  Steve goes for a stroll even further along the beach and makes us
laugh when he says he has found an even better deal.  It doesn’t have Internet but everything else at Casitas del Tajin
is on a par with this place and even cheaper at P47 (£2.40) pp so may move
there tomorrow.   

COSTA ESMERALDA, (JUST N OF CASITAS) MISION DEL MAR HOTEL
CAMPGROUND, P70 (£3.50) pp inc electric

44 MILES

 

WEDNESDAY 26 NOVEMBER – Wake to a lovely sunny
day so we all go for a walk along the beach to check out the next place.  It is as Steve reported and you can camp
directly above the beach on hard standing, much better for Whiskeys paws than
the grass with prickly things.  Having
caught up with our Internet we decide to move. 
After a nice swim in the pool at Mision Del Mar we pack up to drive a
few hundred metres to our next spot.  We
take the last two sites before the beach as the only other camper, Jim from
Kansas, has taken one further in. 
Literally a few metres from the beach it will probably be noisy with the
waves crashing in but we’ll take ocean noise over traffic any night.  In fact looking along the coast it looks
like some people are trying to extend their properties onto the beach area
using different types of barriers.  This
doesn’t always work as we see many “half houses” hanging on the bank with the
broken walls in the sand below.  Whilst
Steve & Kevin go off for a cycle ride I make the most of the nearby water
supply to begin giving the van a thorough clean.  The lad’s return and joke that they have found a cheaper place,
they have at P30 pp a night but they say it is really grotty and this seems to
be the best around.  When we come to pay
we find out that they have a sliding scale and have arrived at the cheapest
time but it goes up tomorrow.    We are
all very happy here so don’t mind and we can see the logic behind it other than
the Thursday night increase.  During the
cycle ride they also found a bar with TV showing football in the next village
of Casitas so Steve & Kevin go off in the afternoon for Steve to watch the
match and Kevin to do Internet. 

COSTA ESMERALDA 2, CASITAS DEL TAJIN CAMPGROUND

Sun – Wednesday camping is P47 (£2.40), Thursday night
P58.50 (£3), Friday P70 (£3.50) and Saturday P80 (£4) per person

1 MILE

 

THURSDAY 27 NOVEMBER – Thanksgiving Day in
America but more importantly Ruth’s birthday. 
When she comes back from her morning jog she thanks us for our gift and
card.  We’ve collected a couple of
coconuts that have fallen from the trees and Steve & Kevin attempt to get
into them to make a pina colada drink for Ruth.  We’ve seen it done before, very easily with a machete, but with
an axe and saw it is far more entertaining. 
There are now self service laundries around here so we set about doing a
load by hand and soon have it out on a line between two palm trees. We invite
Ruth and Kevin to “Harrys at Casita El Tajin, waterfront restaurant for
lunch.  Improvise a menu giving them
lots of choices.  For main course they
can opt for Chilli con carne, Glen’s spicy stew or mince with onions, peppers,
beans, garlic and chilli!  We’ve got a
stunning location with the table out on the terrace.  Steve acts as the wine waiter with a tea towel over his arm and
the 5-litre box of red wine balanced on top. 
We begin our meal with nachos served with warm cheese sauce, sour cream,
salsa and Mexican sauce.  When we get to
the rice and chilli con carne I realise I have forgotten to add the chilli but
we manage to pep it up by adding hot salsa. 
Fresh fruit salad in brandy is served with custard followed by coffee
and brandy, cheese and biscuits.  It is
the first birthday Ruth has had outside Canada so you’ve just got to do the
going in the ocean thing so we all head into the ocean for a quick game of
Frisbee.  The water is really quite
warm, in fact much warmer than the pool that we migrate to afterwards.  What is really nice about the set up here is
that you have the same facilities as the hotel guests at a fraction of the
cost.  Jim comes round for an early
evening drink.  He is travelling alone
and spends much of his time pursuing his photography hobby.  He lends us his “People’s guide to Mexico”
which makes very interesting reading.  

COSTA ESMERALDA 3, CASITAS DEL TAJIN

 

FRIDAY 28 NOVEMBER – Mid morning Whitney &
Jan arrive.  I’ve been in E-mail contact
with them since Whitney replied to one of my forum postings about Central
America.  They toured there last year so
we hope to learn more about the area; although now we are not taking the
motorhome in we are a little less eager. 
Whitney built their 4wd motorhome from the chassis upwards and has
pretty much the perfect vehicle to go anywhere but this year is taking a
relaxing trip on ordinary roads within Mexico. 
They have two large red Dobermans, Sassy & Josh, with them and we
are amazed how quiet and placid they are. 
We get together again in the early evening for “Happy Hour” and a
chat.  I’m really impressed with the
“Moon” guide they are using for the Pacific Coast; although I do use the
Internet for research I am a book person at heart.

COSTA ESMERALDA 4, CASITAS DEL TAJIN

 

SATURDAY 29 NOVEMBER – Witney & Jan move
on followed shortly by Jim who is going to stay at a nearby resort where he is
doing photography work for them.  There
is no automatic laundry around here so Steve & I tackle our sheets by hand.  With the sunny morning and breezy afternoons
drying should not be a problem.  We walk
back to Mision Hotel to catch up on Internet but the connection is
frustratingly bad.  In the evening we
watch the Catherine Cookson film “The Cinder Path” and recognise many of the
locations where it was filmed, a million miles away from the scenery round here
for sure.

COSTA ESMERALDA 5, CASITAS DEL TAJIN

 

SUNDAY 30 NOVEMBER – There’s a change in the
weather with a northerly wind.  Ruth
invites us for a clam chowder lunch, perfect in the cooler weather.  Just after we have gone to bed we get the
rain but it is not bad.  Last winter we
had no rain whatsoever in Mexico so I reckon this is because we have arrived earlier
and within a couple more weeks we should have no more.

COSTA ESMERALDA 6, CASI

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