Monthly Archives: January 2015

San Pancho, Mazatlan & the Pemex Inn

Me in my happy place!

Me in my happy place!

I woke up to groaning and whining the morning we were set to leave San Miguel de Allende, and for once these pitiful sounds weren’t coming from Maya. Jason and Victoria were in pretty poor shape. As often happened in San Miguel, My Family spent their last night in town out all night with friends, and they weren’t hopping out of bed all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Although it seemed like there was more going on than just too many cervezas at the karaoke bar: Jason was sniffing and sneezing at an alarming rate, and Victoria’s right eye was puffing out of her face. Fantastic. So not only were we set to leave, but I had two sick humans on my hands! This didn’t bode well.

Sure enough, it took them AGES to get us going that morning. Not that I minded particularly. It just meant more time snuggled under the covers for me. Maya, however, was starting to panic. She never likes it when we pack up, and the longer it takes, the more frantic she gets. Apparently, she still thinks every stop we make is our new forever home. I keep trying to explain it to her, that the camper and the Big Truck are really our home, and all these places we go are just temporary adventures. Still not sure she gets it.

We said quick goodbyes to our campground friends before we left.  Looks like Zoe was ready to hit the road too!

We said quick goodbyes to our campground friends before we left. Looks like Zoe was ready to hit the road too!

After much more groaning, sneezing and pouting, My Family finally got us out of San Miguel de Allende. I curled up on Victoria’s lap as the cobblestone city receded in the distance. Maya flopped into her spot in the backseat, her tongue lolling out, drooling over the blanket Victoria lays down for her. Maya still doesn’t have many teeth to speak of, and that tongue just drags everywhere. It makes her look super silly, which means I have to rush in to rescue her any time tough dogs try to push her around. It’s tiring being the big sister sometimes!

San Miguel is smack dab in the center of the country of Mexico, which meant a very long drive was ahead of us. We were heading back to the coast of the Pacific Ocean, which, by the way, is the same coast that Venice is on! I overheard Victoria and Jason talking, and it didn’t sound like we were going to make it all in one day. I sensed a night at “The Pemex Inn” was ahead of us. When the goals of the adventure force us to cross a lot of ground in one day, Jason can’t always drive us to a nice campsite before it gets dark out. Since we were so late in starting out, that was doubly true this day. So instead of going out of our way to find a home for the night, we ended up stopping at a Pemex gas station. They’re all over Mexico, and Victoria was pretty choosy before we settled on one, just to the west of the big city of Guadalajara. It was packed with big trucks, and other drivers taking a snooze before continuing on their way. We settled in to the steady rumble rumble of the eighteen-wheelers and their air brakes, and snuggled up for the night.

The next day we were up bright and early, and quickly packed down. Jason’s sniffles were subsiding, and Victoria’s eye was already looking better. In much better spirits, My Family took off for the beach. A couple of hours later we twisted and turned our way down winding jungle roads, and ended up back in a town called Sayulita, a place we had visited over a year ago in human time. Man, was it busy! It seemed like every inch of space was taken up by restaurants and shops, packed with vacationers. There was literally no space in the campground there, so we set off to check out some other towns in the area. I didn’t really mind where we ended up, as long as it involved days of running on the beach. Maya, on the other hand, was getting seriously fidgety. She really doesn’t like the driving days.

One of the many dogs in our campground.

One of the many dogs in our campground.

We saw a bunch of other towns, but finally settled on a place with two names. San Pancho (also known as San Francisco) is a smaller town just north of Sayulita. We found a super cool campsite right on the beach and quickly got the camper set up. Then it was off to explore! Maya and I said hello to the many camp dogs, and spent the rest of the afternoon with Victoria and Jason in this super cool little town. We stopped for fish tacos (delicious), and watched the sun set at a restaurant on the beach (chilly). After weeks and weeks of being left at home in the big city, it felt fantastic to stretch my paws out and sniff around a bit.

The beach in San Pancho was perfect for running around1

The beach in San Pancho was perfect for running around1

We spent a whole week in San Pancho, and it was the best kind of fun. I’ve loved most of the stops on my Big Adventure, but nothing beats the small beach towns. San Pancho was much smaller and quieter than Sayulita, which meant almost every day Maya and I got to run on the sand off leash. I spent hours tearing around, sniffing other dogs, snapping at the waves and pouncing on Maya as we chased each other across the beach. It was sunny and hot every day, which was awesome after so many days spent shivering up in the mountains. And the campsite was so cool!

These two camp dogs were super fun to play with, even Maya liked them!

These two camp dogs were super fun to play with, even Maya liked them!

Most of the neighbors were from Mexico, and there was always something going on. There was a family that lived next to us in a couple of campers, and they were always playing music. There were guitars, violins, flutes and drums, as well as juggling and fire dancing at night. Victoria said they were ‘gypsies’, but I don’t really know what that means. Their little girl was super nice to me, always stopping by to say hello and pet me, and tossing me treats to eat when Jason wasn’t looking. Even Maya seemed to really settle into a routine here. There were tons of dogs around, which usually makes her very nervous. But they were all so sweet, and since the campsite was closed in we got to wander around off leash all the time. Basically, you’re talking the perfect doggie life here!

We did have one very strange experience in this sleepy beach town. One day, a nice Canadian couple rolled into the campsite. Jason helped them park and get set up, they chatted for a few minutes, and then we went on with our day. In the evening, a couple of their friends showed up, and everyone was pretty noisy. One of their friends had three dogs with him, and the camp dogs were NOT HAPPY. There was lots of barking and growling, which was pretty strange, because the local dogs accepted Maya and I with no problems. Eventually they all went out together, so we thought the problems were over. My Family settled in for dinner, and then got snuggled up nice and early.

It was pretty late when barking and screaming woke me up. Maya launched herself at our window, and was snarling and yelling until Victoria got her under control. But she wasn’t the cause of the noise. The Canadians were back, along with their friend who had the three dogs, and everyone was shouting. Moments later, the owner of the campsite showed up, and he was shouting and pushing the dogs’ owner. We all peered out the window, watching the chaos. The owner had a machete, and he was swinging it in the air! Every single dog in camp was barking, as two men pushed each other in the dirt. Finally, the scary man with his dogs went away, and I tried to curl back under the covers. Victoria and Jason, however, were wide awake.

Me and Krista just hanging out!

Me and Krista just hanging out!

Luckily, that was the only unwelcome excitement we had. Two days later, there was a much more welcome surprise: our friend Rufus and his family showed up at the campsite! We hadn’t seen these guys since our first weeks in San Miguel, so it was pretty cool to be reunited again. And unlike in San Miguel, all us dogs were allowed to run around off leash here. It was so great getting to really play with Rufus for once, instead of being all leashed up. We had one fantastic day together, watching the sun set on the beach, and then hanging out outside with a campfire. I wish these days would just go on forever.

Rufus!

Rufus!

Unfortunately, we had to pack up and hit the road the next day. Victoria and Jason had been talking about our next move, and I overheard that they wanted to get back to the Baja peninsula, which was our very first stop in Mexico. To do that, we had to head further north, to a town called Mazatlan, where a ferry would take us across the water. So we packed up again, said goodbye to our friend Rufus (and My Family’s friends Krista and Paul), and got back onto the highway.

After looking over our maps, My Family decided to check out a little peninsula on our way north. It sounded super pretty, so we veered off the highway and into a thin stretch of road surrounded by endless farmland. There were several campsites towards the bottom of this peninsula, but most of them were closed down. I guess there aren’t that many adventurers that come over here? Anyway, after a super long drive we finally found a nice park right on the water’s edge where we could spend the night. There were several other campers here, most of them in vehicles much larger than ours. Victoria called them ‘snowbirds’, even though none of them had wings, or a single feather I could see. Everyone was pretty tired after a long drive, so we snuggled up early and went to bed.

The next morning, My Family had us up even before the sun. It was very cold out, and everything was soaking wet with sea water. Jason packed up the camper, and we left right as the sun was rising. It was very cold, with a thick layer of soupy fog hanging over everything, but My Family thought it was really pretty. I spent the whole morning curled up on Victoria’s lap, and it didn’t really warm up until we pulled into Mazatlan.

Sunrise on the peninsula was worth getting up for.

Sunrise on the peninsula was worth getting up for.

Mazatlan is a HUGE city, like even bigger than San Miguel. Yet they are nothing alike. Here there were huge buildings, fishing boats, and literally TONS of those big campers and the snowbird creatures Victoria talked about. We found a campsite near the beach and got situated. This was nothing like the dirty lot filled with gypsies we had visited in San Pancho. There were huge campers everywhere, and each spot had a cement patio to lay out on. It’s called an RV park, and it’s sort of a strange place. There were other dogs, but they had to be on leash all the time, and most of them spent their days inside. We spent about a week in this RV park in Mazatlan, and there’s not much I can say about it. I didn’t mind the slow pace. I spent most of the time laying out in the sun, and did get a couple of beach runs in. Maya, on the other hand, was seriously bored. We couldn’t be off leash at all, which meant very little play time. And when you’re a puppy, play time is crucial. Victoria and Jason had an okay time, and did meet a couple of other nice travelers having our sort of Adventure. Yet it wasn’t particularly adventurous, OR fun in this busy city. My Family did enjoy a couple of nice sunsets and meals, but I got the feeling we were here by necessity, not really because we wanted to be.

Life in an RV park is pretty boring. Sigh.

Life in an RV park is pretty boring. Sigh.

I found that to be true when I overheard that the ferry to the Baja was the only reason we were here at all! And what’s worse, we couldn’t get on the boat! Now don’t get me wrong, I had no problem delaying this ferry ride. If you remember our last one, it wasn’t much fun. It was cold and dirty, and the heaving of the waves made me mildly nauseous. I knew it would be much worse for Maya, who doesn’t understand much of anything, let alone what a boat was like. Jason and Victoria kept trying to get us lined up for the ferry, but there was no room on a ship for another ten days. Neither of them wanted to spend that much longer in Mazatlan, so after much debate it was decided we would drive. How is that possible? Apparently, you can drive up through Northern Mexico and around onto the Baja, instead of taking a boat across the water. It would take much longer, but it would also give us the opportunity to explore a whole new part of the country that we wouldn’t get to see any other way.

With that decision made, we swiftly packed up and hit the road. Maya wasn’t thrilled to be back in the car. I tried to explain to her how much better this was than the boat, but the last time she had been on a boat was when she was a little baby, back on Lake Atitlan. She can’t remember that far back. Anyway, we had a super long day driving north, and weren’t able to make it to our next campsite. Yep, that meant another night at The Pemex Inn.

Nary a grain of sand to be seen...

Nary a grain of sand to be seen…

I have to say, I felt a little bit annoyed. I had been promised a return to the beach, but I only got one week in that awesome San Pancho place. Since then it’s been nothing but loud nights in gas stations and long days on leash in the gravel and dirt parking lots of RV parks. It is sunny and warm, but where are my fish taco tastes? Where are my daily beach runs? Where are the other dogs to play with? I sure hope things improve as we make our way north to points unknown…

PS: To see some of the photos My Family took in San Pancho and the Mazatlan area, CLICK HERE.

28
Jan 2015
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Mainland, Mexico

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San Miguel de Allende: Food, Folks & Feliz Navidad!

Me and Jason hanging out on our balcony in San Miguel.

Me and Jason hanging out on our balcony in San Miguel.

Driving days are rarely interesting days. I curl up tightly on Victoria’s lap and try to snooze through as many of the bounces and jounces as possible, sneering at Maya’s drooly face every time she tries to force her way into the front seat. While the drive from El Tule to San Miguel de Allende, our next destination (and one of My Family’s favorite spots), was no exception, it was one of the LONGEST driving days I’ve ever survived. Nothing went wrong; we arrived in one piece and none the worse for wear. However, the drive took us TEN WHOLE HOURS! That’s an awfully long time. Somewhere in the middle Maya started protesting, turning herself around and staring at the back, perched precariously on the middle armrest. Around hour nine, Jason started to get seriously punchy, laughing at things that weren’t funny, leaning forward in his seat, gripping the wheel with white knuckles and asking Victoria “how much longer?” every few minutes. By the time we pulled into the tennis courts/RV park in San Miguel where we were going to stay, Jason couldn’t walk in a straight line! 

Me and Mike, one half of my new friend Ducati's Human Family.

Me and Mike, one half of my new friend Ducati’s Human Family.

Thankfully, I immediately met some cool dogs to take my mind off the mind-numbingly boring day I just experienced. Ducati is a Chihuahua like me, but a bit tougher; he’s riding a motorcycle along with his Family, Shannon and Mike. They plan on driving all the way around the world! We also met a big, black, furry bundle of excitement named Rufus, and his Family, Krista and Paul. They have a camper that comes in two parts, and are exploring Mexico in advance of a longer trip next time around. Maya was too on edge to have much fun with these guys, but after spending so long with Morena as my only company, it was great to meet some new friends! My Family was pretty exhausted, so we tucked in early before seeing much of San Miguel.

Ducati, Maya and I waiting for treats. Our Humans love making us sit and wait and wait and wait...

Ducati, Maya and I waiting for treats. Our Humans love making us sit and wait and wait and wait…

The next few days were not the best of reintroductions to this beautiful city. First of all, Victoria’s ankle was still the size of a small balloon, so she wasn’t exactly in the mood to take us on long walks through town. Secondly, San Miguel was COLD! It’s up in the mountains, which means the nights and early mornings are seriously chilly. Luckily I had my trusty hoody, but I still spent way too much time shivering. Maya doesn’t seem to feel it, but Maya doesn’t notice much of anything, even now. I wonder if she’s ever going to get any smarter. She doesn’t even understand what a blog is! Sheesh! To make matters worse, Maya barked at a man who lost his tennis ball in our campsite, and the next morning the owner came by and told us she was too aggressive, and if she barked at anyone else we would have to leave! Anyone who has met Maya knows she’s the farthest thing from aggressive, though she does have quite the big dog bark. My Family immediately went into Panic Mode. Leave the RV park? What would we do? I overheard them mentioning we were going to have visitors (YES!), so we couldn’t just move on from San Miguel. Since Victoria’s ankle was keeping her pretty immobile, Jason went on the hunt through town to find us a place to live.

Holy Brrrr, Batman!  Lucky for me, I have my rad hoodie to keep me warm.

Holy Brrrr, Batman! Lucky for me, I have my rad hoodie to keep me warm.

It didn’t take very long. Even though San Miguel was very busy with the holidays swiftly approaching, Jason found us an apartment just a couple of blocks away. The owners had no problem with us dogs, and the apartment was right over a restaurant, guaranteeing delicious smells all day long! Jason spent hours unloading the camper and moving our stuff, and soon enough we had moved the camper into a parking spot and relocated into our home away from home for the next six weeks. I was sad to be leaving the nice dogs behind, but at least I no longer had to defend Maya from the grumpy tennis players. I mean, you’re hitting a ball into our campsite? What self-respecting dog wouldn’t bark at that?

Super scary, right?

Super scary, right?

The apartment was super sweet. It had two comfy beds to lay on, a TON of sunny spots, and a nice little balcony I could lay on as much as I wanted. Maya soon learned to jump from bed to bed, and even though the room was small by human standards, us dogs had tons of room to chase toys and wrestle. Not too shabby, if you ask me. The only negative of the apartment situation was it made leaving us dogs behind at home super easy for Jason and Victoria. That meant many nights home alone, while they went out exploring. I heard about trips to get tacos, eat chicken wings, sing karaoke, and chow down on churros in the main square. We didn’t get tastes of anything! I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. How many other dogs get to have an adventure like this? Yet when you’re used to going everywhere with your humans, it made for a couple of incredibly grumpy nights.

Me and Sarah.  We're pretty cute in our matching hoodies, dont'cha think?

Me and Sarah. We’re pretty cute in our matching hoodies, dont’cha think?

Thankfully, the grumpiness didn’t last long. Our good friends Shae and Olivia (and their humans Sarah and Hani) appeared in San Miguel! I found out they were going to stay in town the whole time we were there too!! Maya and I met Shae and Olivia in Costa Rica, but we only got to spend one day with them. I was super excited when we ended up having many more days together, with all of us dogs hanging out in one of our Family’s apartments, wandering the cobblestone streets (as Victoria’s ankle started feeling better) and even sitting in outdoor restaurants. It was a regular doggie party!

My friend Shae.  She's a poodle but we don't hold that against her.

My friend Shae. She’s a poodle but we don’t hold that against her.

The party continued with a super fun holiday: Thanksgiving. In case you haven’t heard of it, Thanksgiving is a Human holiday (though I guess only celebrated by Humans from the United States? Not sure I understand that part…), that involves getting together with friends and family and eating until you fall asleep. Basically, it’s your perfect holiday. We all got together at Sarah and Hani’s apartment, and huddled around the Humans’ feet as they cooked a massive meal. Chicken, potatoes, veggies, and even a pie for dessert! The smells were wrapping around my tiny heart, and Maya was dancing from paw to paw, staring up in anticipation at Jason and Sarah as they cooked. The Humans laughed, ate and drank the night away, making sure to give us dogs many a delicious treat. What a great day!

Cobblestone streets.  Easier on the paws than you'd think.

Cobblestone streets. Easier on the paws than you’d think.

After that, My Family fell into a nice routine. Shopping in the farmer’s market, wandering the gorgeous central district, hanging on the patio while Jason worked, and nights out with friends. The apartment was nice and comfy warm, even at night, and Maya and I had no shortage of playtime. Jason would also take us on long walks on the street and in the big park nearby. I felt right at home in this busy city, but Maya was a bit less enthusiastic. She never lived in Venice, and doesn’t really understand cities that well. I’d walk on leash all day long, but Maya darts around, afraid of every loud noise or person that walks by. It’s pretty exhausting. I’m hoping that she mellows out with more time in the city, but she might just be a country dog at heart. She doesn’t know any different, after all.

Even the walls in SMA are pretty cool.

Even the walls in SMA are pretty cool.

One day Jason came home from the supermarket with a huge box: it was a tree! Apparently there were more Human holidays coming. Christmas was just around the corner, and My Family decorated the apartment with all sorts of cool stuff. The tree sat in the corner, covered in lights and balls and what looked very much like doggie toys. Maya thought the same, and kept trying to chew the tree apart. This tree wasn’t for eating or peeing on, however. Victoria said presents were going to go under it, and some of them were going to be for me! After I heard that I made sure Maya left the tree alone.

Me and Maya in front of the tree.  See all those presents, the pile got A LOT bigger once Lorna and David showed up!

Me and Maya in front of the tree. See all those presents? The pile got A LOT bigger once Lorna and David showed up!

Have you heard of Christmas? I’ve had a few of those, but it was brand new for Maya. It’s another holiday when Humans get together and cook delicious food, but there’s also something about a fat Human in a furry outfit flying through the sky and dropping presents for children down chimneys. I don’t know, it sounds sort of sketchy to me. I was starting to get seriously excited, but we still had a ways to go before ripping into those presents. And I’d have to deal with another change first.

My Family woke up very early one morning, and stood outside in the freezing cold with a couple of bags. Before I knew what was happening, Jason was getting into a van and saying goodbye. It was another business trip! I mean, COME ON! He just went to LA! Now he was leaving again? I’m used to it by now, but Maya was aghast. To make matters worse, Victoria wasn’t feeling well at all. I could smell it on her, and I knew it was one of those times when my licks wouldn’t make any difference. It’s called ‘The Flew’, and Humans get it all the time in cold weather. As Jason was leaving I could tell he felt really bad for Victoria, but Humans have to work so us dogs have food and a comfy home. So off he went, and in bed Victoria stayed. Sarah and Hani brought Victoria fresh juice and pizza, and helped get Maya and I out of the house every once in a while. But those were some slow days. Maya protested Jason’s absence too, spending a whole night sleeping in the shower. What a strange puppy.

Look at these little doors, almost like they were meant just for me!

Look at these little doors, almost like they were meant just for me!

Thankfully, this business trip was much shorter than the last one. Jason was back in just a couple of days, happy to escape the gloomy New York City weather and return to his favorite people and pups. Victoria got better, and we were soon back into our routine. The Humans worked, read, cooked, shopped and explored the city; us dogs snoozed in the sun, wrestled, chewed on toys, went for walks and snagged delicious treats. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for more. As Christmas got closer, San Miguel got busier, and fireworks were a regular occurrence. Maya HATES fireworks, so I had to babysit her a lot, snuggling up so she felt protected. She even hid under the bed sometimes! I don’t know why she’s so scared; loud noises can’t hurt you. Luckily, our visitors came soon after.

Another thing Maya is scared of?  The hot air balloons that floated over our balcony every day.

Another thing Maya is scared of? The hot air balloons that floated over our balcony every day.

It was Lorna and David, Victoria’s parents (aka, My Favorites)! I could barely contain my excitement when they walked through the door. This was only the second time Maya had met them, and she didn’t remember how awesome they are. It took a little bit of time for her to get comfortable, but once she did, we just had the best time. They were staying in a house not too far from ours, so we saw them all the time! They would come over for breakfast, and then we’d all go wandering the city. Lorna and David loved San Miguel, the colors, the art, the beautiful sunsets and the delicious food. Christmas finally came, and oh my gosh, it was so much fun! Millions of presents were piled under our little tree, and Maya and I got to open a bunch of them! We got new toys and delicious treats that look like snowflakes, and had so much fun ripping into the paper. The Humans got some stuff too, and though they weren’t all things you could eat or toss around with your teeth, they all seemed happy. In the afternoon we all went over to Sarah and Hani’s place and had another one of those huge, delicious meals. This one even involved bacon, so Maya and I could barely contain ourselves. We got to try all sorts of stuff, and had a bunch of fun playing with Shae and Olivia. I’m not sure life gets any better than this.

Maya L O V E D opening all our presents! Thank you Lorna and David! xo xo

Maya L O V E D opening all our presents! Thank you Lorna and David! xo xo

Chillin' on the couch with Hani after we all ate way too much delicious food.  I love Christmas :-)

Chillin’ on the couch with Hani after we all ate way too much delicious food. I love Christmas :-)

Of course, then it did. Our friend Heather showed up that night! Heather’s from Venice, but she had come to visit us in Costa Rica as well. The next few days were a whirlwind. We had Lorna and David in town, and I squeezed every last moment of snuggle time with them I could possibly get. They left, but Heather was still here and before I knew it, My Family’s friend Angie came in too! On top of that, we met these cool people named James and Lauren, fellow travelers staying at the RV park (who didn’t have a dog at that point but they do now!), and another traveler named Kelly who had a dog named Zoey. So many fun people, and they all loved me!

It all came together on New Year’s Eve, maybe one of the coolest nights of my whole life. There was a big party at Sarah and Hani’s, and everyone was invited, including us dogs. A big meal, and there were five of us dogs there, along with more than a dozen people. It was the best kind of nuttiness you could imagine. San Miguel was lit up as bright as daytime and jam-packed with people. Music, fireworks, and more smells than my nose could even keep up with. Maya wasn’t thrilled with the busy atmosphere, so Jason took us home before things got too crazy. I still got to take part in the best of these Human holidays, celebrating with some of the nicest folks we had ever met. What a lucky dog!

All of us at the New Year's Eve party (umm… before we got sent home).

All of us at the New Year’s Eve party (umm… before we got sent home).

So now it’s 2015, which is a whole new year in Human time. We left on my Big Adventure in October of 2013, so we’ve now been exploring this beautiful world in the Big Camper for well over a year. Pretty amazing. We’ve had some ups and downs, but what an amazing journey it has been. I’m not nearly the same dog I was when we left Venice way back then. Our family has expanded, we’ve got tons of new friends, and I’ve seen more places than most pups get to visit in a lifetime. Pretty incredible.

A few days after the New Year we said goodbye to our friends and this incredible city. We spent almost two months in San Miguel de Allende, but really it felt like two minutes. I overheard My Family saying they could easily live here, and though I prefer the warmth of the beaches, I definitely understand why they feel that way. We had an amazing time, and everyone was a little bit sad to be leaving. However, the beaches were calling our names. After three months in mountain towns, it was time to hit the coast. I couldn’t wait!

PS: To see some of the the photos My Family took (and more pics of me!) click here!

19
Jan 2015
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Mainland, Mexico

DISCUSSION 8 Comments