Posted by: glenswatman | April 6, 2009

200903-2-MEX

MONDAY 16 MARCH – When I check my E-mails
there is a special on a transatlantic cruise from Miami to England on 4th
May.  This would fit in nicely with our
onward plan so we contact Keith & Louise who put another payment down so we
can get things booked.  By the end of
the day they have also booked their travel arrangements and will arrive in
Houston on 29th April and will stay with us on a campground in
Houston.  On 4th May we fly
Continental to Miami (£73 pp) to pick up a transatlantic cruise to Harwich
arriving on 17th May with Royal Caribbean, outside stateroom for
$850 (£620).  From there we take a
Virgin train package to Stoke on Trent for £19 so I think it is fair to say I
had a busy day at the office!

MIRAMAR 3, PARAISO MIRAMAR RV PARK

 

TUESDAY 17 MARCH – We set off early for our
journey up the coast.  Aticama is a cute
little village and just beyond there we reach the Bay of Matanchen and see
motorhome camped on the beach.  There is
a sort of proper campground with swimming pool but just next to it informal
camping behind Restaurant Paraiso Escondido and this is where we settle.  We’ve come all of 6 miles so our early start
gets us here just as everyone is getting up! 
Ole & David are here long term with their micro lights and do
tourist flights along the coast.  The
beach is a hive of activity with Mexicans erecting palapas all the way along, 4
rows deep, in preparation for Semana Santa. 
We are very glad we didn’t stay on the campground as a “Soleil Mexico”
caravan arrives with 27 rigs, all jammed in closer than on a car park.  There are a few bugs around sunset but we
just hop inside at that time.  In the
evening we watch “The last king of Scotland” about Idi Amin and can now add
another country to our list of places we’d like to visit.

PLAYA MATANCHEN, RESTAURANT PARAISO ESCONDIO – FREE

6 MILES

 

WEDNESDAY 18 MARCH – It’s the time of month
when we exercise our generator but we have a little trouble getting it
started.  Les & Don come over from
the campground and help Steve to fix it. 
They stay on for a beer and a chat. 
I learn that a couple living on the campground have Internet and I go
over to buy some time.  Angel is in a
huge motorhome and with her partner is buying a share in a cattle ranch
here.  She charges P20 (£1) per day for
Internet. Just as I am leaving I tell her I half recognise her and then realise
we met at Tecolote Beach on the Baja last year.  They have upgraded from their small old rig to this beautiful “A”
class but her partner isn’t there.  I
have had my hair cut so it took a while for us to recognise each other.  When I get back Steve is talking to David
who tells us of a nice free camping spot just south of Mazatlan on Isla De La
Piedra.  I go inside to use Internet and
have a message from Diana in New Brunswick to say her son Cory is in Mazatlan
and we should visit.  Contacting Cory I
learn that he has a house on Stone Island and by sheer coincidence the Spanish
name for the place is Isla De La Piedra, the very spot David has just
recommended.  The sunset this evening is
stunning, it just gets better and better as the clouds take up the pink
colour.  Don & Laura call round for
a chat, as they also want to explore one of the beaches we have heard about up
the coast.  We are staying another day
for Sandra & Robert to arrive. 

PLAYA MATANCHEN 2

 

THURSDAY 19 MARCH – Other than the micro light
guys virtually everyone else leaves. 
The ocean here is the warmest we have encountered in Mexico and much
like a warm bath.  Late afternoon Sandra
& Robert arrive but decide to stay on the campground next door P190
(£9.50).  They bring round the “pina
coladas” and Angel joins us with a brew of her own.  I’ve prepared a “Shepherds Pie” for supper after which we play
games

PLAYA MATANCHEN 3

 

FRIDAY 20 MARCH – Steve heads off up the beach
chatting with David.  He’s a really
interesting guy around our age.  He was
always into art and got lucky when he designed T-Shirts for “Grateful Dead”.   Other projects with the band followed then
he used his money to buy ranches in Oregon but has now scaled down in order to
travel.  I join Sandra for a drive back
to Aticama, although it is only about 200 metres along the beach the road takes
you inland for about 3km.  In the
afternoon Mexicans arrive by the coach load and we think this is the start of
the weekend influx so are surprised when they leave at sunset.

PLAYA MATANCHEN 4

 

SATURDAY 21 MARCH – Heading north we rejoin
the main highway but then turn off to explore Playa Novillero.  Judging by the signs they are hoping to turn
this into a resort beach but at the moment there is almost nothing there.  It is almost at the northern end of the
longest beach in Mexico and very attractive. 
You can drive on the beach as the sand is packed hard.  Sandra & I set off in the car to check out
parking places and we find a piece of grassy land belonging to a hotel and the
owner says we can park there.  Steve
& I head in first but soon realise we are sinking.  As I was not on foot checking out the area I
didn’t walk over the ground to check out how firm it was and now we know it is
not.  There’s a restaurant opposite and
the guy and his sons come over with shovels. 
Robert & Sandra arrive and help out by offering their skid block but
we still can’t get Harry out.  Robert
tries pulling us with his motorhome but the rope snaps.  At his point we realise that we need a truck
and chains and restaurant owner “Gasper” indicates he knows the man.  In Sandra’s car we head of with him to
enlist the help of the local tractor owner. 
Steve has already cleared most of the sand behind the van and underneath
where it could catch anything so it’s really easy for the tractor to just pop
us out.  We ask the tractor man if we
can pay him and he says to speak to Gasper who asks for P500 (£25) to share
between them.  A bit steep by Mexican
standards but at least we got out without any damage.  The Hotel owner comes over and suggests we park on the more solid
ground at the back of his lot and this is where we end up in a nice L formation.  Sitting out during the afternoon we see a
56-seater coach drop off its passengers then head onto the beach only to get
stuck as we did.  Luckily his passengers
are all young lads who can easily push him out.  Yesterday Sandra bought a large fish and they BBQ it and share it
with us as a delicious summer taken sat out in candlelight.

PLAYA NOVILLERO 1

111 MILES

 

SUNDAY 22 MARCH – We’ve had a very quiet night
so will stay for a few more days. 
Walking in the bit of the village we meet Vicki who has been coming here
for years from Arizona.  She says this
place is about to take off but at this stage only has a couple of basic shops
and a few restaurants.  The beach
further south does not have a completely sealed road and little direct access
to the beach so this is definitely the best place for us.  I cook us all a pasta lunch, which goes down
well washed down with red wine whilst admiring our beach view from the palm
garden. It’s a busy day on the beach with cars constantly coming and going
completely churning up the track.  Late
afternoon we go for a drive to San Cayetano, a small village at the northern
most end of the beach but actually on the riverbank.  Beyond the village you reach a few bars and they are quite busy.  The waiter Victor gives us a bit of a show
with his pole dancing to Mexican music, Speedy Gonzales will always remind us
of him.  Local kids swim in the river
whilst some young girls play hopscotch across the boats.  Here you get “botanos” (free snacks) with
your drinks.  The snacks are fantastic,
whilst the men get through 3 drinks each and Sandra and I 2 we receive 4 small
fish, 4 plates of chips and prawns, taco chips, dips and a plate of 12
oysters.  The bill is P120 (£6) but we
then find out that the oysters are P30 (£1.50) extra as Victor got them for us
from the restaurant next door.  By the
restaurants are about a dozen buildings made of fibreglass, domed and
cross-shaped.  The sad remains of what
were holiday bungalows but now in total disrepair. 

PLAYA NOVILLERO 2

 

MONDAY 23 MARCH – I join Robert & Sandra
for a ride into Tecuala for shopping and Internet.  It’s really big busy town but with no signs of tourists or
tourism at all.  In the church there are
boards displaying children’s pictures and poems about their families.  Late afternoon Steve & I take a walk to
visit Vicki who lives in the hotel opposite the church.  We find the place but it looks derelict
however we see a Mexican inside doing some painting.  She tells us this is the right place and leads us through to
where Vicki is staying.  Originally a
very upmarket hotel with swimming pool etc it was damaged in the 1994 hurricane
and seems to have had no work done since. 
The downstairs rooms are still fairly solid and occasionally let to
travellers whilst Vicki has taken over a section at the end for her art studio
and home.  During our conversation we
find out she knows our friend Cory whom we are on our way to see near Mazatlan.

PLAYA NOVILLERO 3

 

TUESDAY 24 MARCH – We have a bit of a lazy
day.  In the afternoon Robert &
Sandra go off on a boat trip (I did it last year from Teacapan) and can’t
resist returning to the bar for drinks and snacks.  In the evening we introduce them to the old British comedy “Yes
Prime Minister”.

PLAYA NOVILLERO 4

 

WEDNESDAY 25 MARCH – Vicki calls round to say
farewell and give us the Bill Bryson book “Notes from a small island”.  I’ve read it before but know it is worth
another read as it is so funny.  On the
road at 8.30am we are stopped at the SINALOA border and asked, in Spanish, if
we have any fruit.  Steve says no then I
cringe as we drive past the with bowl of fruit in the kitchen window at their
eye level.  We head out to Teacapan and
find ourselves behind a work truck full of tar.  Loads of men are taking it off to fill the holes in the
road.  Robert & Sandra need a full
campsite so peel off at Villa Onac whilst we continue to what was Playa Las
Lupitas but is this year called Playa Hermosilla trailer park.  The new name comes with a price increase
from P80 to P100 (£5) due to new owner but the caretaker Valerie is the same one
as last year.  There are only 2 other
rigs here so we get a prime spot overlooking a private beach with a
palapa.  We walk towards town and see
many new homes going up.  There are 2
camping areas with 2 vans on one and 1 on the other so it seems many Americans
have gone home early due to the news scares about violence in Mexico.  Sandra & Robert drive down late
afternoon and tell us how fantastic Villa Onac is and that they have negotiated
for us to stay there from tomorrow onwards without electric for P100 same as
here.  We go for a drive into town to
the new supermarket and along the front before returning home.  Bob tells us that the whole coast leading
into Teacapan is earmarked to be the next Cancun with a huge development plan
for the next 20-years.

TEACAPAN, PLAYA HERMOSILLA P100 (£5)

86 MILES

 

THURSDAY 26 MARCH – We take an early morning
walk up the beach towards one of the other campgrounds.  Tambora has now been split into two sites
but both are empty.  Returning along the
beach we see a dead porpoise.  Villa
Onac is surprisingly busy, normal price is P175 (£8.75) so reasonable consider
they have a fabulous pool and are on the beach.  Unfortunately the beach area here has had hundreds of dead fish
washed ashore during the night.  It’s
quite a sight and as far as you can see in both directions and strange as there
are numerous different types of fish in all shapes and sizes.  We guess they have been poisoned or
something as none of the birds show any interest in eating them.  There are a couple of parking areas and we
chose the quiet one with just a Canadian ex English couple called Ian &
Anne in their VW camper.  I put in 20
laps in the pool mid afternoon then return for happy hour with Robert &
Sandra.  They have just left when Don
& Laura arrive with their drinks. 
Playa Novillero also caught them out and they got stuck in almost
exactly the same spot that we did so we compare photos.  They were lucky to get towed out for P300
(£15) by a truck.  Mexican Train is our
evening game and Robert fools us all having taking all the double dominoes out
before we arrived – he’s a bit of a lad on the quiet.

TEACAPAN 2, VILLA ONAC – P100 (£5) without electric

 

FRIDAY 27 MARCH – I’m up early thinking about
my sister Annette who is getting married to Ian in England.  I spend most of the day on the Internet
trying to speak to someone at the wedding and finally get through early
afternoon to hear it all went well and everyone has had a great time.  Robert & Sandra head off towards San
Diego in the hope of buying a new car. 
Taking a beach walk we see that there are even more fish today and also
lots of snake like looking eels.  Many
crabs have tried to drag the fish down their holes but got them stuck so all
you see is the fish tail sticking up in the air.  Late afternoon some officials arrive to check out the problem and
they tell us it extends for between 10km and 15km with between 50 and 60 tons
of dead fish.  They think red algae or
plankton has caused it.  Anne & Ian
have joined us for happy hour and we are entertained by the beach officials
antics at trying to get their 4WD off the beach.   

TEACAPAN 3, VILLA ONAC

 

SATURDAY 28 MARCH – It’s a misty morning when
I get up early but I do manage to catch Ian & Annette at the airport for a
brief chat on Skype.  Claire sends me
lots of wedding photos and I see that everyone looked really nice.  People attempt to clean up some of the fish
but each tide brings in more.  A friend
has researched it and it sounds like it was caused by a “red tide”, a natural
thing that occurs under certain conditions including drought and hot water
temperatures.  After joining us for
happy hour we have a most enjoyable game of Canasta with Ian & Anne.

TEACAPAN 4, VILLA ONAC

 

SUNDAY 29 MARCH – It’s becoming a twice-daily
thing to go down to the beach at high tide to see what is coming in.  Today there is a huge eel and a fish with
blue lips.  There must be dozens of
different varieties of fish in all shapes and sizes.  Judging by the quantity being washed ashore you would think that
under normal circumstance fishing in these waters would be extremely
lucrative.  Unfortunately in the heat of
the day they are starting to get a bit smelly and flies are gathering.  Lots more vehicles leave and at once stage
we are down to 3 before the new arrivals.  Ian & Anne join us for dinner followed by cards and again in
the evening for snacks and cards – it’s rare we find people who can play
Canasta so we have to make the most of such opportunities.

TEACAPAN 5, VILLA ONAC

 

MONDAY 30 MARCH – Ian & Anne make and early
start and although this is what we like to do we realise just after 9am that we
need to move to get away from the terrible smell.  Heading towards Mazatlan we turn off toward the airport then just
before it at a sign to Isla de la Piedra. 
The road turns to dirt and for almost 40 minutes we crawl along before
reaching the village.  Isla de la Piedra
is a peninsula with a small island attached and having driven into the village
we find that Cory lives on the island part. 
We pull up and Cory comes out to meet us, not the least bit surprised
that we are a day early.  2 years ago we
met him and his family in Canada and have kept up with him on Facebook since
then.  We meet his friends Hjeron and
girlfriend Christina.  Hjeron runs a
theatre company www.mythmaker.com and
shows us lots of pictures of his past productions.  He is here doing research for a future play.  This house is known as La Casa Del Mayor
(the Majors house) or Case de Mi Amigos (House of my friends), and was built by
Jaime who we meet.  He used lots of
concrete to create unusual shaped rooms and beds, has left the floors as uneven
dirt, and the rooms surround a most amazing jungle setting waterfall.  He is also building a future house and takes
us to look at it.  Apparently in Mexico
no one owns land that is covered by water so he is using this as a loophole to
push out into the swamp and build on free land.  His visions are incredible and having seen his original house we
are sure it will be impressive.  In the
afternoon we go on an exploratory walk around the main village.  There’s a fantastic beach and part way along
“Tres Amigos” campground with a surprising number of vehicles on it but all
parked close together like solders. 
David told us we could free camp by Benji’s pizza restaurant and this
turns out to be at the far end of the bay on a rocky peninsula but much more to
our liking.  Just to make sure we will
like it we linger over a ham, prawn and garlic pizza and a few drinks.  By the time we complete the circuit round
the hill back to Cory’s it is late afternoon and we both fall asleep.  Cory is having a party tonight and comes
over to ask us to join in.  A few friends
have brought along drums and Cory performs with his hula-hoop.  We are the first to leave feeling quite
tired but finding out it is 11.30pm we are not surprised.  

ISLA DE LA PIEDRA 1, LA CASA DEL MAYOR

 

TUESDAY 31 MARCH – We are up before everyone
else and walk down to the waterfront to see a huge Norwegian Star cruise liner
in port.  Once the others emerge we
learn they are going over to Mazatlan today so we tag along and begin by taking
the boat across to the city, P5 (25p). 
Cory wants to go to the park to find out about getting bamboo plans and
to meet up with children from a local school. 
He negotiates for a “pulmonia” (VW purpose made kind of street golf
cart) to take us P60 (£3).  He sorts out
the bamboo but finds we are too late for the school kids but still manages to
get us into the park free.  Hjeron wants
some bird feathers for his production and thinks they should be easy to get in
Mexico but we are still surprised when they tell him to go into the aviary to
collect them.  Cory’s planned trip to an
island doesn’t come off so we all go our own separate ways and we make our way
back.  We move over to Benji’s where we
have a nice view.  We watch the cruise
ship leave then settle down for a movie.

ISLA DE LA PIEDRA 2, BENJIS PIZZA RESTAURANT.

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