As soon as I can, I’ll update you on my one year trip. I’ve decided to leave everything behind and spend real time with the people that matter the most in my life: my wife and three children. This is my story, I hope it will inspire you to create yours.
You can read my previous “on the road” articles:
- On the road #1
- On the road #2
- On the road #3
- On the road #4
- On the road #5
- On the road #6
- On the road #7
- On the road #8
- On the road #9
- On the road #10
- On the road #11
Date: from September 26th to October 11th
States/Province traveled through: Mexico / Mainland
As I’m writing these lines, I’m about one week away from leaving Mexico, a country that I was once afraid of and I now leave with a bit of sadness. Over the past 6 weeks, I’ve fallen in love with this country. It was a long process as I gradually learned to appreciate its charms and now, I’m only happy to I know I will come back in a few months to visit what I have yet to see. But for now, let’s go back to the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan…
Mexico Main Land Days #106 to 128
The Ferry was in and of itself an adventure. A quick note for anyone who is thinking of going to Mexico; nothing works like the way it does in North America. And this is what makes it so exciting and refreshing! We started by sweating while taking our bikes off the rack behind our RV in 35°C degree heat. This helped to shrink our RV length enough to pass like a “big car” instead of an RV. Roughly 9,000 pesos saved for sweating for 30 minutes. This is a pretty good deal! Then, our family got separated as only the driver can enter the ferry. My wife and kids have to wait outside and board by foot. Funny enough, they make me enter the boat and park incredibly close to other cars. I will understand later that they pretty much pack the Ferry with only a few inches between all cars in order to maximize their trip. I get to the reception desk and get a royal treatment. I can take movies with me to watch in my cabin, I’m being escorted to my cabin and they serve me a beer. All that because I paid $100 Canadian dollar for a master suite on board (the boat left at 8 pm and arrived at 10 am, this is called an investment). While I take my beer with a friend, our two families are still waiting outside… they will board only in 1 hour! Hahaha! I can tell you I had more fun than them ;-). The boat is filled with truckers that are looking at the very few women on board like pieces of meat. We decide it is best for us to go see our movies in our cabin while the truckers are hosting a party in the cafeteria! The next morning, we get off the boat and arrive in Mazatlan. Here again, it looks more like a carnival than anything else. I’m helping a Mexican to transport his dog cage (with his dog inside) over the cars as there is no room to walk between the cars. My friend is boosting another truck to help him start it and my “neighbor” is pushing a pickup bumper-to-bumper with his car… quite a carnival! Hahaha!
We continued our adventure in Mazatlan by getting stuck in these small colonial roads (thx for the construction road block). We end-up driving on the sidewalk (that is easily 1 foot high!) and we manoeuvre our big rigs to park by the sea in order to have one of the most amazing dish of shrimp I have ever tasted:
The city is beautiful and we decided to walk across colorful streets and a great boardwalk.
We then stopped in the small village of Teacapan for 3 nights were we kind of hit the jackpot with the campground. There was the night shift guy, Aberto, who was the sweetest guy on earth. He made sure we had everything we needed, showed us where to see turtles by the sea (but they weren’t there) and even cut coconuts for us. We improvised coconut drinks for our lunches by the sea.
After this stop, we hit the road to Puerto Vallarta. The goal was to spend 2 nights there and visit the Islas Marietas. These are a set of islands near Puerto Vallarta where you can snorkel and see fish. I also wanted to see the famous hidden beach, but it was closed for security reasons. For a moment, we felt like we were on vacation. The big boat, the music, the free drinks… it really felt like we were not travelling anymore. I can’t complain, it was one of our best days in Mexico so far. On top of snorkeling, we did Paddle Boarding (Thx to my uncle Pete who showed us how to stand, Amy, William and I were the only ones standing up paddling!) and some kayaking. It was a crazy trip that finished with kids dancing on the boat as we were approaching the docks. Once we came back to our campground, we tried to negotiate the price for two nights. Puerto Vallarta is quite expensive (they charged me 650 pesos/night). After long negotiations on the phone, the manager of the Tacho’s RV Trailer park, Miguel, is stubborn and we can’t get any rebate. We then pack our things as there is another campground 5 minutes away. We felt strong enough to leave like that and show them they can’t mess with us… until we arrived at the other campground. The manager welcomes us and charge us 600 pesos, no room for negotiation either. Oh wait… the manager’s name is Miguel and… he wears a “Tacho’s RV trailer park” t-shirt… look who’s the fool now! Hahaha! We decide to celebrate this great day with Filet Mignon and drink in Miguel’s name as he was faster than us.
The next morning, we are on our way with a big day of driving. Going from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara is about a 6 hour drive. We leave early and things go smoothly to get out of the city… until I hit a hole and hear a “kunk” under Freefall. Yann (the other family) called me on my walkie-talkie to tell me to stop. He saw something wrong on my RV. We stop and see that my sewer pipe hit the ground and broke. Of all the pieces in the world, this special pipe is solely made for RVs. Guess what… there are no RV wholesalers in Mexico… and no part sellers either! After going from one place to another, we decide to stop and think. What a better place to do so than at a Starbuck’s huh? Thx for the “Americanization” of Mexico, there is one in Puerto Vallarta. In these kinds of situations, sitting in a known environment with a latte made all the difference. I was then able to find the piece on Amazon and have it delivered to a campground nearby, where we will be in a few days. Now that this problem is “solved”, it is 3pm and definitely too late to go anywhere. We decide to drive a little further and find a campground by the beach. We are in our left lane to turn left on a green light. Nothing out of the ordinary if you live in Canada or the U.S…. but the Mexican police officers don’t see it that way. We get stopped by two officers… I just can’t think straight at that time and give my driver license without thinking. He obviously will bring them back to their office so I can pay my ticket on Monday. Oh… did I tell you we were Friday afternoon? I asked the officer to pay now but he doesn’t go to the office until the end of his shift. Then… he looks at his friend and offer us a “deal”. Here’s where the negotiation starts. We all pretend we are negotiating to pay the ticket now instead of waiting for Monday. Nobody mentions it’s a bribe… of course not! Hahaha! The officer explains to us that we need to be on the laterals (the right lane) and wait for the arrow to flash so we can turn left. All right, we were wrong, and dumb enough to give our license away, it cost us 500 pesos (like $35) and we are good to go. Phew! This wasn’t my best day ;-). Oh! For the curious, here what the pipe looks like once it is repaired with duct tape (duct tape really solves everything!):
Fortunately for us, we left the day after for Guadalajara and visited 3 amazing colonial cites in the following 10 days. Guadalajara was the first colonial city we visited. I even practiced my Spanish for 40 minutes in our taxi before we got to the central plaza. The architecture is amazing and people are super friendly. We spent the day walking across the city, eating Mexican food and visiting museums as they are free on Sundays! We finished our day walking through our first Mexican Mercado… it was quite chaotic in there. William found a soccer jersey for only 200 pesos! A deal was made!
The second colonial city was Guanojato. It is probably ma favorite so far. The other family didn’t go this time. There was a lot of tension between the guy and his wife. We decided to go on our own to visit Guanojato. We took the taxi again as there are tons of small tunnels to get to the Centro. The ride by itself worth the visit, and the city was simply amazing. We spent the whole afternoon admiring the color and architecture. The kids even had the pleasure to watch a clown show in one of the many plazas. We finished this amazing day at the restaurant and we were served like kings. Below, you can see the restaurant, what we ate and how small and rudimentary the cook’s kitchen was. While we were savoring the wine, there was a thunderstorm outside. I leaned back by the entrance and watched the water pouring into the small street. We ordered lemon pies to keep our kids interested in the restaurant while we were admiring the city and the rain. I used to listen to the rain pouring down at home, it felt great to do it here. We then ran into the tunnels to find our cab and Caleb almost felt in a broken sewer hole. He scratched his left knee and lost his cap, but I was holding him so he didn’t disappear in the water. Phew! Quite another adventure!
We finished our colonial city tour with San Miguel de Allende. The campground was so nice that we decided to stay there for a week. We settled down, walked in the city almost everyday, played tennis at the campground and met other travelers. It was nice to meet up with other people from all across the world leaving home to do the same thing as we us. Our friends decided to come and joined us in San Miguel, but this will be the end of the road together. We will leave on Tuesday and they will on Wednesday. They don’t know where they will go, but we both decided it was enough of traveling together. We were super sad to leave them, for a month, they were our best friends on earth. We shared a lot during this period and definitely became friends forever. However, we couldn’t stand any more tension and felt a lot better traveling by ourselves. This week in San Miguel has been another turning point of our trip. A turning point where we grew stronger and learned a lot about ourselves. In our next on the road, I will tell you how I reached Mexico City and how it went with my RV sewer pipe repair!