Monday, January 21, 2013

Lo de Marcos, Nayarit, Mexico Week 1

We arrived at La Parota RV Park, Lo de Marcos on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2012.  That was a great day!!!!  After travelling many miles and having a few incidents, we were very glad to get here.  It was about 4:30 in the afternoon when we finally arrived at the park. Juan Jose, the owner, was not sure he had spots for us but after some conversation and reminding him that we had called and talked on the phone about a month prior he worked out a plan so we would be in one location for a few days and then move to permanent sites when the Mexicans on holiday for Christmas and New Years left for home.  So began Week 1 in Lo de Marcos………

PC310004PC310007PC310008 P1010021P1010028P1010030P1010053PC310005PC310006  When we arrived, everyone was anxious to tell us all about the things to see and do in the park and the area.  Mostly Canadians and a few Americans staying in the park.  All very friendly and helpful.  I had gotten a message from my sister Rhonda saying that they were flying in to Puerto Vallarta on Monday, Jan. 7 for a vacation.  Planning to come to Lo de Marcos for 6 nights so one of our projects for the week was to go searching the village for a suitable place for them to stay.  It was fun to check all the hotels and little bungalows, etc. for rent.  Johanna’s sister and husband are also coming to stay so she and Rolf were interested as well in the available accommodations.  There appeared to be a plentiful supply.

Monday was New Year’s Eve so everyone encouraged us to come to the Appetizer Party in the Palappa above the Laundry and Bathrooms.  Later in a park 2 doors down there was a dance with the group “The Sons of the Beach” playing.  We love to dance so off we went.  Very enjoyable, excellent music and later fireworks on the beach. 

Tuesday, New Year’s day, was a relax and enjoy the beach day. Get together for a drink before dinner and to bed early.  Tomorrow is another busy day.

Wednesday, another day for checking out Lo de Marcos.  IMG_0001IMG_0002IMG_0006IMG_1846IMG_1848P1030024

Thursday was market day at La Penita, a larger town about 10 minutes from here.  Very interesting place and we did buy a few things.  I bought a blouse and a dress, Jim bought a shirt, and also purchased some fruit and veggies.


In the evening, we went to a movie at the park 2 doors down.  Fun and good movie “Frida”  Met a lovely mexican lady by the name of Angelina who is a wealth of information.  She lives close to downtown and Johanna’s sister and husband have rented an apartment from her.  She has 4 apartments plus their own living quarters in a very large gated Casa.  We were considering this for Ken and Rhonda but they decided they only needed a hotel room.

Friday, we decided that we needed to make a trip into Bucerias to the Mega Store for groceries and possibly some cash for our monthly rent. Need $7000. pesos to take care of that.

IMG_0010IMG_0011P1040053P1040054 We were pleased to find a Scotiabank by the Mega store as that means we can get cash from the ATM at no charge. Interesting to go shopping at the Mega as it is very much like The Canadian Superstore. You can find just about anything that you need. From there we checked out where the Walmart was and saw also the Sam’s Club. I checked at a Optometrists Office to see what prescription Sunglasses would cost me but I actually think I can purchase them in the US for just as reasonable. Maybe I will check at Walmart. My problem is that I have astigmatism so that always makes them more expensive. Great trip in to town and back. On our way home, we stopped at a market along the road and purchased a bonsay tree. Cute!


Saturday, a lovely day for walking on the beach and in the evening after supper we listened to a group playing and singing in one of the sites.  Rolf and Johanna were off to pick up their family at the airport in Puerto Vallarta.

Sunday, we were invited to a Birthday Party for a little girl in the park.  Jim had made friends with her at the New Year’s party and Mom had stopped by several times for a visit.  They were here for the Christmas bread to visit with the grandparents from Canada who are spending the winter here in La Parota.P1060016P1060019P1060023P1060025P1060028P1060031P1060036P1060037 Such cute kids!  The party was much like that at home.  Games, food, cake and gifts. 

I was getting excited to see my sister!!! Has been many months.  The end to week #1 in Lo de Marcos, Mexico!!!

More to come……………………………….

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Texas to Mexico!!! December 2012


Crossing the border at Pharr International Border Crossing!

 We spent the night before we left at a Walmart in Alamo, Texas.  Up at 5:00 am and on the road by 6:00 heading to the Pharr Border Crossing. 

Crossing was easy, the border patrol just waved us on through. They were all bundled up in toques and warm coats.  Wouldn’t you know, we headed onto the wrong road almost immediately, even though we had great instruction from our friend Marcel!  Luckily, not far down the road was a little corner store, much like a 7 Eleven, we stopped and a kind Mexican hopped on board and took us to the right corner so we could get to Highway 97.  Marcel had given us instructions for the whole trip, if we would have followed them we probably wouldn’t have missed the turn.  IMG_0003  Our first sunrise in Mexico as we drove through Reynosa.  A few kilometers down the road was a check stop and the young friendly Mexican checked our papers for the Motorhome and sent us on our way.  We drove through farming and cattle country.   When the road is 2 lanes, they also have a very large curb and in this case most vehicles, especially the slower ones are all driving on the right curb. Vehicles are constantly passing, so strange to see sometimes 3 or 4 vehicles on a passing on the same stretch of 2 lanes. But the drivers all seem to know what they are doing, great idea, 11:45 am we stopped at at Pemax (the government controlled gas stations) all full service. No problems at all, very pleasant, the only thing to remember is that very few stations have Credit Card service, you need to make sure you have lots of cash on hand, which we did. At this station it worked out to 90 cents per litre for the premium gas.

Past many small villages and farms etc.  PC290010 On to another highway and heading to Cuidad Victoria.PC290041PC290016  Interesting intersection on Hwy.  Beautiful highway!  Military caravan!  Beautiful scenery and interesting views.  Our first day was smooth going.  We stopped in a small mountain village and Jim gave out some of the toys he had brought along.  News travels fast, he gave out a couple of things and all of a sudden there were many Moms and children that showed up.

PC290098Pleased with their gift!Is the back pack free?Coca Cola Stand in villageWow!  More toys?Jim sharing toys Everyone was so happy and thankful, but none happier than Jim as he did his thing.  We all enjoyed watching the little ones and their Moms.  As you can see from the pictures, the weather was chilly and everyone was wearing a jacket.  This was our last stop before getting to San Luis Potosi where we would spend the night at a Pemex (gas station).  The rest of the afternoon drive went quickly and as we got closer to the city, looking for the Pemex, we missed the turn off to the Toll road that we should have taken around the city.  Oh, well just keep looking for a Pemex on our side of the road.  Finally, just before the turn off to a major ring road we saw a Pemex and pulled in.  Seemed fine and settled in for the night.  Next to the Pemex there was a little Pub, Jim and Rolf went and had a cerveza with the locals.  Very nice, friendly folk.  We parked so close together that Jim decided to try and climb across from one motorhome to the other through the window. 

Pemex Camping at San Luis PotosiPC290120PC290121PC290122PC290123PC290124 

Later we all had dinner together and settled in for the night, Camp Pemex was noisy with vehicles and music from the station all night long, not bad music, mostly Mexican music, just not something you want to hear while trying to sleep

We had driven 680 klm and were on the road around 11 hours…

Day 2……got up at 5am, topped up the gas and left by 6. Jim had talked to the gas station attendant and was advised to go through this city ( early Sunday PC300127morning, quiet on the roads ) as opposed to around it. So off we went, nice freeway, not much traffic and within 20 mins, we see a police car with sirens on. Well they pulled us over, directed us off the freeway onto a side street in town. What the heck! Long story short, we were not supposed to be in the left lane on the freeway, and possibly not on the freeway through the city. Should have been on the Toll road that we missed yesterday.  So they started off wanting $4000 peso for the fine and you can pay at the police station on January 2, 2013.  Then you get driver’s license back.  That was not going to work for us so we kept talking and finally we got them down to $3000 pesos, which is around $230.  Pay on the spot.  We were in the wrong and the fine was probably not out of line.  The police were very nice (of course they got their money) and then they proceeded to escort us back on the freeway and out of town.  Not a great start to the day but we were relieved to be on the road and out of San Luis Potosi.  Oh, Oh, this road is probably not the road we should have taken.  Just carry on and see what is next.  We travelled at least 30 klm on a narrow windy mountain road that eventually connected to Hwy 80.  It straightened out but was heavy fog and difficult to see.  Thank goodness it was a good paved road.   IMG_0006

After many miles and several tolls we were on a 4 lane highway but then had a option to take a side road.  Ended up going through a fairly large mountain city.PC300132PC300135PC300136PC300141PC300143

Whew, got through that one and on a country road.  Rolf needed propane so we are keeping out eyes peeled.  Jim spotted one on the left side of the road and on the right was a Pemex.  Pulled off quickly and topped up, parked while they got their propane. This is farming and ranching country.PC300152PC300153 While in the Pemex, a young lady from the Los Angeles told us that we could get cash from the bank in the next town. Because of our episode with the police we were concerned that we might not have enough pesos for the toll roads.  Well, finding our way through the village was a challenge.  OMG the town was big but very small tight congested streets. A very nice Mexican man pulled over in front of us, got out of his car and with his broken English, asked if he could help. He led us to a place to pull over, then walked us gals to the bank, while the guys stayed with the RVs. He waited until we got out of the bank, offered to get us a coffee, asked if we needed vegetables (which we did), explained what some of the unknown fruits and veggies were, walked us back to the RVs, insisting he walk on the outside of the sidewalk. Then suggested how we should drive through Guadalajara and lead us out of town with his car. We would have never been able to figure it out without him. He wouldn’t take any money for his help, you could tell he was well off. Mexicans are kind, helpful, beautiful people. Two Escorts already and it’s not even 11am.



When we were finally back on the highway there were more tolls and soon we were travelling through Guadalajara which went very smoothly, no incidents for awhile.  PC300188PC300189PC300192PC300194

Lots of tolls.  Very high mountain roads but excellent pavement and everyone moving along.  Passed by some markets on the road.  Beautiful scenery!!!

PC300199PC300200PC300201PC300202  Busy, busy on a Sunday afternoon.  One very scenic and interesting village we passed by was Tequila, named for all the agave plants grown there for the tequila.  Also, very interesting to see the brick factories along the highway.  All fired by hand.  Amazing!IMG_0020IMG_0021IMG_0022IMG_0023  So much to see and impossible to record for viewing at it’s fullest.  We missed the exit to Tepic which was going to take us to the final toll and down to Highway 200.  Had to make 2 U-turns on the highway.  Very intense!  Rolf with his shorter motorhome had now problem but it was touch and go for us.  On the second one there was a vendor selling pillows that were displayed along the shoulder of the road.  I think we may have run over a few so I gave the young fellow some pesos to hopefully compensate.  A very bad spot to be set up to sell.  We held up the traffic and luckily made the turn.  Finally, our last toll road, we see a group of young folks trying to catch a ride.  They looked very friendly and so told them that we could take 3.  They pleaded, hoping that we would take their amigos as well.  Turns out that there were 6 amigos from the University of Guadalajara travelling to Sayulita(surfing beach) for some of the Christmas break.  They all crowded into the motorhome and off we went.  Beautiful young people, 2 musicians, an artist, a dancer, and 2 journalists.  IMG_0028 They assured us that they were not dangerous.  A great bunch.  The last leg of our journey was not without incident.  The road was very narrow and steep, lots of traffic(big buses full of tourists), at one turn Jim had to do some major over compensating for a incompetent bus driver who was over the center line as he came around the curve meeting us.  As we were turning on to Hwy 200, it seemed as if the motorhome had no power or was not getting any fuel so stop along the road for a bit and then it seemed OK.  Continue down the steep highway and finally we get to La Penita, no power again, pull over on to the lateral road (service road), the guys check the bus.  Wow, we sure noticed the heat when we got out.  Waited a bit, the motorhome started and we continued on our way, hoping that we were soon at our destination.  Another 10 – 15 minutes and we arrived at Lo de Marcos.  One of the students said that his grandmother has a house here so they left us near the entrance to town.  Another challenge presented its self as we tried to navigate the streets of Lo de Marcos in the big rigs.  Narrow, cobblestone, rough streets, big pot holes, lots of people and cars parked along the side. We disconnected the car.   Jim could not make the first turn so had to back up and go to the next corner, finally made it around the corner down the street to La Parota RV Park.  It took the owner Juan Jose a few minutes to figure out where he would but us until the weekend folks had left.  Finally, after 700 klm and 10 hours on the road, we could breath a breathe of relief and congratulate the guys for a great job of driving. 

In retrospect, it was a very tiring, stressful day, but we made it without any accidents or any life threatening incidents.  Maybe we should have done the trip in 3 days but the closer we got to the Pacific coast, the more we wanted to just reach our destination.  Turns out that we should not have driven through the cities with a big rig.  That is a definite no no here unless you can drive the lateral roads.  We are learning and have stories to tell!

Well, let’s check out the beach, talk to some folks and get settled.  Tomorrow is another day!!!!PC310011P1010050

Thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy post.