Mex 05'-7: Update 5/7/05: The entire journal starts at ->Mexico 05 <-
Back on the road:
Sayulita was like a dream, we wish we had a month to spend here because it’s so perfect. A week was good but now we are concerned with extended stays eating away precious days into our schedule, we don’t like that. Heidi and I have developed a good system for adventure traveling, we like to give each place enough time to really check it out. Things aren’t going as planned but as some great travelers like to say “The adventure begins when things stop going as planned” We look forward to the road ahead.
Driving south of Puerto Vallarta is beautiful. We felt like we were in another world, it was so awesome. This is where the classic movie “Night of the Iguana” was filmed.
Part of the chores when living out of a jeep long term. I buy large jugs of purified water and pay about the same for 5 gallons as I would for a single gallon, about $1.20.
Our Jeep idle speed mysteriously shot up to around 1500 RPM and it started to run on after turning off the ignition. The jeep also acquired a new clicking sound that seems like it’s coming from the U-joints. I go under the hood and adjust the carburetor idle speed down to around 900 RPM. Next I crawl under and look at the drive shaft. It seemed good but we have concerns, it shouldn’t be clicking.
Melaque / Barra de Navidad:
We stop for lunch at a beautiful place in the middle of nowhere and meet some people who were getting ready to close a big development deal in the area, they were waiting for their clients. It ends up one of them, Marsha, owns a hotel close to the place where we are shooting for that day, Barra de Navidad. It was priced toward the top end of our budget, $55 but they said it had parking. It ended up no other place in town had adequate parking for our Jeep. Marsha’s hotel was the nicest we have stayed in during this trip for sure, everything in and around the hotel was like new and designer like, plus it had a pool and cable TV. No way would we have found this place without the card Marsha gave us. It was difficult finding the place even with the small guide book map we had.
Our luck holds out and we find ourselves in another charming Mexican beach vacation spot. On one side of a narrow sand peninsula is the Pacific ocean, the other side is a large lagoon with a sand beach island you can swim to.
Our laptop keyboard started to spew some type of resin when I used it in the sun one day. The next day I had no ‘b’ ‘n’ or space bar, “Hatin it” I pour some rubbing alcohol on the keys and work them by tapping on the keys. After drying it out I fire the laptop back up. The keys were working better now but the computer was acting funny, then the screen went haywire, then the computer was dead. After several attempts of taking the laptop apart, cleaning it and reassembling I finely get it back working. I was ecstatic, the thing was completely dead and now it lives. The only problem now was the keyboard didn’t work at all. The external mouse worked so I knew an external keyboard will work also! The next day I pull into a small village to a small PC shop attached to a home, it was about 6 miles away. I walk away with a new $11 keyboard and a big smile.
The lagoon. This is looking at the island. Sailboats go in here and stay long term.
In town is a canal and small marina.
Rustic beach bar \ restaurant.
There is another town on the opposite side of the bay, Melaque. It’s about an hour of hard beach walking to go from one town to the next. Melaque is less glitzy then Barra de Navidad but has a beautiful location and nice facilities for beach goers.
Live music at a Mexican beach party. We see a lot of roaming musicians in Mexico ready to provide live music at a moments notice.
This is the adventure I have been dreaming of since before I was 16 years old after I borrowed a road atlas from my Dad. I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I saw you can drive all the way down to Central America. Thinking about driving through Mexico and communicating with Mexicans really gave me a chill. I knew then that some day I would drive south of the border and experience all that for real. Well, we are experiencing on this trip all we could ever have dreamed of and more. From our insecurities and fears to our overwhelming joys and thrill in doing new things together. This is an adventure into ourselves and our relationship as much as it is into Mexico. It’s hard to put into words how much we are enjoying this. I know when Heidi helps edits this she will be in tears. I was right.
I don’t like this new clicking sound our Jeep had developed, I have a feeling it scares the sh_t out of Heidi. I can hardly blame her after just going through losing our driveshaft in heavy city traffic in Mexico and losing a clutch in the middle of the Baja a few months earlier. Heidi keeps quiet but I know she is concerned. For the type of low budget traveling we are doing I couldn’t be luckier or more pleased in my choics of a travel partner. Heidi has ultimate faith in my judgment but when I’m worried she’s worried. I need to do things right. I leave Heidi at the hotel pool and go off on another Mexican adventure I enjoy so much. My mind is racing with what the noise could be. I’m not sure if the guys that pressed in the new U-joint filled it with grease, I filled the end I put together but not the pressed in end, you need a grease gun for that.
I find a shop with a grease gun and in less then 20 minutes and five bucks later the entire jeep is all greased up. The jeep still clicks but at least I know all the U-joints have grease. I’m thinking this clicking sound could just as likely be another one of the other three U-joints I haven’t replaced. Maybe plowing through deep sand beaches and desert and going down 5 MPH dirt roads in the Baja for two months has had a negative effect on our old rusty Jeep, Daa.
With all the troubles with the jeep we still both want to press on into Mexico. With fingers crossed we roll the dice and point the jeep south. It takes us sometimes over eight hours to do 200 miles, cows on the road are common and this is on the pay autopista roads.
Lots of fruit stands along the road.
We roll into the town of Colima where we were planning on staying a couple days. It was Labor Day in Mexico so of course we hit a big parade in the middle of town. We were diverted into some far sections of town. The town was split by a river so that made navigation interesting. We manage to get to the other side of town to where a road leads up into the mountains to where the famous mask makers and volcanoes are.
Great parade, lots of real cowboys and marchers.
Mexico liquor stores are great, drive through.? The beer sits in a huge tub of ice water. We decide to get a few beers and shoot for a campground near the volcano about 25 miles up into the mountains.
The guide book talks about a good place for lunch with a great view of the big volcano. The lunch spot was in the middle of nowhere and you almost need 4WD to get there, but nice!
View from our lunch table. The volcano is impressive but hard to see in the mid day haze.
We luck out again! The campground has a few rooms and bungalows. We take a room for $33 a night. Pool, fishing lake and hiking trails all included plus a view of the volcano. I go off on an exploratory hike around the lake. Half way around the trail gets real difficult with steep climbs, loose sand and 20 foot tall tree roots to climb over. I’m thinking about snakes and watching my step. I get to a portion of the trail that is close to the water and before I know it the ground disappeared from under me and I fall straight down into the water. I felt like I was in the Raiders of the Lost Arc movie. I was up to my waist in water, mud and guck surrounded by tree roots, vines and leaves. The trail was about face level and I had nothing to grab onto to pull me back up out of the hole. I started thinking about snakes again, I then pull out some super human ability and launch myself out of the muck and back onto the trail. Wosh, I was covered in muck but glad to be out. I decide to not take Heidi on this path.
Back at the campground Heidi and I were playing cards next to the pool when this woman motions us and starts telling us in rapid Spanish to follow her and check something out. WOOW, I’m asking if we should all start running!
I guess we are far enough away but Heidi and I cancel our hike to the lip of the volcano. It’s not that important to chance dealing with a plasma flow.
I take off early in the morning one day to drive back into Colima and have a mechanic look at our drive shaft and U-joints. The clicking coming from the jeep is getting worse.
A lot of sugar cane grows here and there are trucks all over going 4 MPH filled with cane.
A mechanic was sitting in a chair outside the first shop I see. The sign over his head included the word “Clutch” That was good enough for me so I pull in. They jack it up right away and spin the wheel listening for the click. The guy says it’s that mangled bracket I tried to straighten. Someone takes off in a car with the old bracket and twenty minutes later returns with a new one.
After a test drive I heard nothing. I’m back on the road for $18.
In search of the mask makers:
This town, Suchitlan has a celebration and customs that have links back to before Columbus and the tradition still is carried on today.
The clicking sound in our jeep came back and doesn’t sound good. We make the decision to point north and concentrate on enjoying central and northern Mexico instead of southern Mexico. Our emotions are bouncing between extremes, we feel relieved to be pointing toward home feeling more confident we are going to make it back in one piece and at the same time disappointed to be missing out visiting Oaxaca and Central America. We finely stop questioning our decision. We just have to say out loud to ourselves what we have been thinking “If we continue south we will be in an area where the guide book talks about road side robbery warnings and worse. Our Jeep is no longer reliable in case we run into a sticky situation and need to drive out of it. Also the jeep could die anytime leaving us sitting ducks for robbery” No biggie, central and northern Mexico is something we would have missed if we continued south. We feel good, this way we will be closer to the US border in case the jeep falls apart.
Back on the road:
We head out early driving toward the biggest natural lake in Mexico, Largo de Chapala. Of course I see a short cut to the autopista and suggest to Heidi that we find a nice place in the hills with a view of the volcano and have our morning coffee, sounds good.
Well, driving in Mexico, especially small towns, isn’t exactly like driving in the US. No highway road signs to direct you and no direct path through town to get you to the road going out the other side of town. I reassure Heidi that this is normal and we have to just drive around and find our way out. We take one wrong turn and are given no route to get out for a mile or more and end up in the back of some construction site. We finely end up circling around the town before realizing we must have just missed the turn that would have gotten us out of the town easy.
Anyway we get out of town and find a nice place to pull off the road with a good view of the volcano and fire up a cappuccino.
Driving on we come into an area that seemed like it was filled with large flying black dragon flies. They were everywhere coming right at our windshield but no splats. This was eerrie, we soon realize what we were driving through was volcanic ash falling down from an eruption. Looking at the volcano we see the smoke spewing out. We are out of here!
Lunch on Lake Chapala. Great ceviche and guacamole and the prices are less than half than what they are on the coast.
The lake level is going down from over use. At the rate it’s going it’s predicted to be gone by 2050.
Lots of weeds, but nice to look at from afar.
We get another $33 hotel with a pool right in town with a lake view. The place is run down but the rooms are big with a kitchen. Huge exploding bottle rockets were going off all day and night. I finely find out it was Dia de la Santa Cruz. It’s a big party day.
Lots of handcrafted Mexican goods for sale here. We decide it’s time to look for some bargains.
We get a great wool handmade rug and a woven wall hanging and a few bracelets.
Next we are shooting for Guadalajara, a huge Mexican city with tons of culture and things to do.
The hotels downtown deal with a lot of business people, the guide book says you can barter with them if you’re a traveler. I get a great deal for a week stay at a nice hotel right in the heart of the colonel downtown section of town. We are likin it!
Continued at -> Mex 05'-8 <-