Tag Archives: Beach

Our El Salvadorian Vacation

Hi! My name’s Maya, and this is my blog. Um, no! This is, and always will be my blog, thank you very much! Clearly there is nothing going on in her head, what would she even tell you about? Ugh! Anyway… I’m here today to tell you about El Salvador, the fourth country we have visited on our trip so far.

I couldn't believe my luck when we pulled up and parked right next to the beach.  I got to run and play in the sand every day when we were in El Salvador!

I couldn’t believe my luck when we pulled up and parked right next to the beach. I got to run and play in the sand every day when we were in El Salvador!

We woke up before the sun on Lake Atitlan, packed up the camper and the big white truck, and headed off for the border of El Salvador. I had heard My Family discussing the trip, so I knew it was going to be a long day. Victoria had plotted out the trip in detail, while Jason drank a ton of coffee, trying to make up for the fact that he was up all night with the stupid puppy. Seriously, this Maya dog was really making everything difficult. Since I don’t have thumbs I couldn’t ‘accidentally’ unhook her leash and leave her behind in San Pedro, so I reluctantly settled in on Victoria’s lap for the drive, making sure to give Maya the stink eye at every opportunity.

The roads were smooth, and Guatemala is so pretty that the trip to the border was a breeze. As soon as we got to the busy border, a nice man name Jorge rode up to us on his motorcycle, offering to help. My Family is usually wary of these ‘helpers’ at the border, because they’re normally very loud and pushy, and despite their job title not particularly helpful. I could smell that Jorge was different, and that afternoon he helped us out a lot. The border was confusing, and with Maya in tow everything was super slow and complicated. Thankfully we got through the process and into El Salvador without much of a problem.

The first thing I noticed here is that it was hot. Boy, was it ever HOT! All I could do was lay on my back on Victoria’s lap and pant. I do have to admit, Maya was pretty good in the truck. It was a super long travel day, and she never pooed or peed in the truck, and she didn’t even cry that much. Pretty good for a stupid baby. Finally, after eleven hours (!) of driving we reached our first destination in El Salvador, a hostel called Horizonte in a small town called El Zonte.

This is the view out our back door!  Yaaay!

This is the view out our back door! Yaaay!

As soon as I got out of the truck I could smell a big difference between here and Guatemala. The salt in the air, the breeze, the low whoosh in the distance. Yep, we were back at the beach! My Family spoke with the nice man who runs the hostel, and he set us up with a covered camp spot right next to the sand! We were all exhausted, but that didn’t stop us from immediately having some runaround time. I don’t know about you, but I think the absolute best thing in the world is running around on the beach. I’ve even gotten a bit more used to the water. I don’t like the waves very much, but they’re pretty fun to chase and bite at. Saltwater’s pretty delicious too, even though My Family doesn’t like me drinking it. Maya got her first taste of the beach as well. She was born on Lake Atitlan, and everything so far has been totally new for her. Her first car ride, her first new country, and her first time stepping on sand! She’s pretty much scared of everything, but once she saw me running around she began to get the idea.

This is Maya peeing in the ocean.  Victoria said it's okay because lots of humans pee in the ocean as well.

This is Maya peeing in the ocean. Victoria said it’s okay because lots of humans pee in the ocean as well.

We stayed in El Zonte for several more days. It was really pretty there. The hostel had two pools, the sand was at our doorstep, and delicious restaurants were all around us! It was full of surfers who all wanted to play with me and Maya, and every single one of them asked My Family if they surfed too.  They don’t but we sure love the beach!  The heat took some serious getting used to, however. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jason sweat so much! Maya had an especially hard time getting acclimated. She really likes My Family, but she had a tough go of it those first few days in El Salvador. She just smelled sick. My Family took her to the vet twice because she had worms. I came too, and got a shot of my own (what did I do to deserve that?!). Maya also got blisters on her belly – pretty gross. She slept a lot, and My Family was pretty worried. I never make My Family worry like that. Luckily they were able to find the right medicine, and after a few days Maya was a lot happier. Of course, that just meant she spent all her time biting at me and trying to eat my food. Seriously, I don’t know about this baby thing.

This is me relaxing on the roof deck.  We spent a lot of time up here while My Family sat in hammocks, read books and forced me and Maya to go in the pool.

This is me relaxing on the roof deck. We spent a lot of time up here while My Family sat in hammocks, read books and forced me and Maya to go in the pool.

As the weekend came around, My Family packed everything up and we drove a few towns further into El Salvador, to a place called El Tunco. The travelers we had spoken to called El Tunco the ‘party town’, and I saw why right away. The air was jam packed with the smells of food and people, and music played day and night. After failing to find a hostel that would take us campers, we discovered Sol y Mar, which is basically a dusty parking lot, but it had a little market (called a tienda) and a restaurant, and was close to everything else in town. We also had some super cool neighbors, an Italian couple named Didi and Gaetano who are camping their way through Central America in a Volkswagon. They had just adopted a local dog of their own, a cute girl named Mancha. Maya and I spent a lot of time playing with Mancha, while our families hung out, sharing stories and that nasty human drink called beer. Maya seemed to like licking the bottles, but I’ve just got no taste for it. It makes humans do stupid things but Maya does stupid things without any help at all!

Playa El Tunco as seen from the wall.  It was nice to look down on everyone for once!

Playa El Tunco as seen from the wall. It was nice to look down on everyone for once!

We had a lot of fun in El Tunco, even though it was pretty busy. Maya and I walked with My Family basically everywhere, so I got to meet all sorts of cool people and taste some delicious food. The beach here is great for swimming and running around, packed with people from all over the world, other dogs and even some horses! We would watch the sunset, sitting on a stone wall overlooking the ocean, and then sit in outdoor cafes trying to cool off. We even met another family with a Chihuahua, a nice boy named Lucky but he wasn’t that into me. We probably would have stayed in El Tunco longer, but our campsite was a little complicated. We couldn’t park in the sun, so Jason had to keep lugging out the generator to keep everything working. That, coupled with the constant heat and so many people, made My Family decide to pack up and head back to Horizonte

This is me taking it all in on the wall in Playa El Tunco.

This is me taking it all in on the wall in Playa El Tunco.

We did just that, and spent another couple nights relaxing in the shade and peacefulness of El Zonte. Victoria would drag me and Maya under the outdoor shower from time to time or make us swim in the pool, trying to cool us off. I didn’t particularly like it, but I have to admit I felt better afterwards. We would relax at camp, cooking and staying out of the sun, go for walks on the beach, and eat delicious pizza at the hostel next door. There was even a movie night! They showed a movie called NORTH SHORE. It was pretty terrible, but everyone was laughing and cheering, so I guess it’s the sort of thing that humans like. Maya started feeling lots better; she’s even growing a bit now, and doesn’t look quite so scrawny. I finally let her play with me, although most of the time she just gets annoying and I have to knock her down to stop the constant nipping. It’s been a while, but I seriously don’t remember being that pesky as a baby. Victoria thinks Maya might be like this for the next year or so. Great.

Finally it was time to put El Zonte behind us. We packed back into the big truck and drove for a couple of hours to a place called Playa El Cuco. Back at the beach, down a super bumpy dirt road, we found a place to camp called Rio Mar. We were the only ones there, and it was absolutely beautiful! A long beach to ourselves, and delicious food at the locals’ restaurant next door. Everybody there loved me, and paid just as much attention to my cuteness as they did to Maya for once.

One of my favorite things about this trip is all the beaches where I get to leave the first paw prints.  Playa El Cuco was empty except for me and My Family (and Maya).

One of my favorite things about this trip is all the beaches where I get to leave the first paw prints. Playa El Cuco was empty except for me and My Family (and Maya).

We enjoyed watching the sunset, and I heard My Family talking about the long driving day were were going to tackle in the morning. Apparently, this was the sun setting on our time in El Salvador. All in all, it felt like a vacation. We had finally gotten back to the beach, which we hadn’t done in ages. We’d met some great people, spent a ton of time relaxing, ate delicious food, and helped the puppy get well. I guess that means we’re stuck with her. We went to sleep that night to the smell of burning garbage and some noisy roosters, while Jason fretted over the day to come. Apparently we were going to attempt something major: the crossing of two borders in one day! Was it going to work out? Would it be our longest driving day yet? Would we be okay in Honduras? I’m sure glad we had such a great, relaxing vacation in El Salvador. We’d need all of our energy (and a relaxed puppy), to navigate what was in store.

PS:  To see some of the photos My Family took during our time at the beach, click here!

27
Mar 2014
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

El Salvador

DISCUSSION 7 Comments

South of the Border

Me and Victoria on the beach near San Quintin. I got to run around off leash!

Me and Victoria on the beach near San Quintin. I got to run around off leash!

Today is the end of our first week in Mexico. It’s a whole different country, and it’s amazing. There’s something about it that just feels familiar, almost like I’ve been here before. Victoria says there’s even a town in Mexico called Chihuaha, so maybe that’s where I’m from? I don’t know, but so far it just feels like home.

Tensions were running high… Adios, America!

So, the border crossing: My Family was really stressed out about this. I know that Victoria had spent a long time researching the process, and especially what it was going to be like taking me across. We all stayed up really late the night before, trying to get ready. I was so tired, but my Family really wanted to make sure everything was going to be okay. Victoria thought about getting me ‘USDA Certified’, whatever that means. Jason thought that made me sound like a steak, which is a little concerning. Victoria decided it sounded like too much work so the plan was to try crossing without my USDA Certification, and then head back to San Diego if there were any problems.

I don’t really know what all the fuss was about. The border crossing took all of ten minutes. Yes, there was a big fence, and some scary men carrying big guns. But everyone was so nice. Jason said the Border Patrol Agents prayed over the back of our camper, and laughed at our ‘Perro Peligroso’ sign. Hey, I’m a lot tougher than I look! Even the ‘Red Light’ stop as we were crossing was super quick. Suddenly we were off again, into a whole new world. I could tell we were in Mexico, because things just smelled different. Victoria said this was a place called Tijuana, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. It was big and kinda dirty, but beautiful too. The locals burn garbage here, which smells kind of delicious.

Wonder if we'll see the King and Queen of La Bufadora?

Wonder if we’ll see the King and Queen of La Bufadora?

We drove right through Tijuana and got on a road called ‘Mex 1’. I think this might be the same road we’ve been on this whole time. But it felt a bit different. We drove on through some beautiful countryside, into a town called Ensenada. This is really more of a city than a town, which I know means there’s a lot more people, more buildings, and a whole lot more dogs. We stopped off here so Victoria and Jason could get a cell phone and an internet connection. Not sure why that’s such a big deal, but Jason was really happy about it. I mean, we’ve got our whole home in the camper. What would we ever need to call someone about? We drove on through Ensenada, and south of town near a place called ‘La Bufadora’ we found a campground right next to something called an ‘estuary’. It’s sort of like a river, but when we got there it was mostly just mud, with funny looking birds walking around pecking at things. There was also a castle on the campground, and I think the people who owned it live there. They must be the King and Queen of La Bufadora. There were a couple of nice dogs, and kids riding bikes all around. Victoria and Jason opened up a bottle of Vic’s favorite wine to celebrate crossing the border. Do we always get to celebrate something so simple? Does that mean I get a treat the next time I come when asked? Anyway, after that we snuggled up for the night.

The next day the muddy estuary was full of water! It was like a whole different place. We packed up the camper and got back on the road, headed for a place called San Quintin. It took us several hours to drive there, but the countryside just got more and more beautiful. We stopped along the way for shrimp and fish tacos, which of course I got to sample. There were some other Americans there, which people here call either ‘touristos’ or ‘gringos’. They were nice, and said hi to me. We kept driving, and ended up at a campground called ‘Cielito Lindo’. This was right near the ocean, but we couldn’t see it from our spot. We were basically in a parking lot, staring at the back of buildings. I didn’t know why we decided to stay here, until we started walking towards the beach.

Heading to the beach in San Quintin. I had no idea the fun that was waiting for me!

Heading to the beach in San Quintin. I had no idea the fun that was waiting for me!

We walked down a dirt road, and my Family let me off of my leash! I almost couldn’t believe it at first, but they just kept letting me run around. I ran circles around them, sniffed all sorts of things, and then I saw these amazing sand dunes, which were much MUCH bigger than me. We crossed those, and there was the ocean. And I was still off my leash! I couldn’t believe it. I never got to be off leash on the beach at home. We ran around for what felt like hours, and we were the only ones there. I even dipped my paws in the water, and played a game where I would bite at the foam that came up on the beach. It was turning into maybe the best day ever.

Our own private beach... no leashes necessary!

Our own private beach… no leashes necessary!

I knew it wouldn’t last. When we got back to the camper, Victoria and Jason left me inside so they could go out for dinner. I wasn’t going to get to try any of it! What felt like days later they came back, silly from Margaritas and praising the restaurant’s incredible crab and shrimp, and the super nice people that worked there. Turns out, the whole reason we were camped in the restaurant parking lot is because Victoria wanted to try their crab. To make matters worse… no leftovers. Yep, basically the worst night of the trip.

The next day we packed up to get back on the road. I’m glad we had plenty of food and water with us, because this ended up being one of the longer days we’d had. Jason and Victoria were talking about gas for the big truck, and wondering if they would be okay. It was going to be 200 miles between gas stations, which sounds like a lot. As we made our way towards a town called Guerro Negro, on the border between Baja Norte and Baja Sur, the view out the window kept changing in amazing ways. We drove through the desert, past a town called Catavina, and saw cactus, and this field of huge boulders, and funny trees called “Cirios” that I’d never seen before. Victoria said that it looked like Dr. Seuss did the decorating, whoever that is. We met a group of surfers who had driven from a country called Canada in a funny van, and they skateboarded down the huge hills, even with trucks around! We stopped for water and they chatted with my Family a bit, suggesting some spots to camp up ahead.

Victoria said Dr. Seuss must have made these trees.

Victoria said Dr. Seuss must have made these trees.

This is a cactus. Potentially painful to pee on.

This is a cactus. Potentially painful to pee on.

As the hours rolled by, we knew we wouldn’t be to Guerro Negro before we had to stop. My Family decided to just pull off the highway, find a beach and camp for the night. They call this ‘boondocking’, which is one of the sillier human words I’ve ever heard. We passed a bunch of roads off the highway, but My Family couldn’t decide which one to take and then Jason decided finally to just pick one, so we left the highway and drove into the desert!

We were now on the bumpiest road I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if you could even really call it a road. It was more of a dirt track, covered in rocks, with huge gaps we had to crawl up and down. Jason was pretty grumpy at this point. He hadn’t eaten lunch, and he always gets grumpy when he forgets to eat. I know the feeling! Victoria and I didn’t like the bumpy ride much, and I was standing as still as possible until it was over. Finally we found a place to stop. The trip was rough, but it was worth it. We were right on the edge of the most perfect beach I’ve ever seen. There was a hill of rocks, and then perfect, white sand. Our paw and footprints were the only ones you could see for miles. There was one more truck in sight, far in the distance, with a couple of men who were throwing the rocks aside. Jason said they were ‘crabbing’. Does that mean they were in a bad mood?

Our boondock beach paradise.

Our boondock beach paradise.

That night the moon was full, and the water kept rising higher and higher. The ocean was so loud, I didn’t know if we were ever going to get to sleep. Jason kept checking the water line with our big flashlight, I guess to make sure we didn’t get washed away? We were totally safe, and had a super comfy night under a ton of stars.

It was just us as far as I could see or smell.

It was just us as far as I could see or smell.

The next morning we packed up to complete our drive through the desert. We crossed another border, between the North and South of Baja, and the people there were really nice as well. The Border Agent asked us if we had any fruits or vegetables, and then if we had any “beards”. This made Jason really confused, and I saw him touching his face. After a bit of broken Spanish My Family figured out he was asking if we had any birds with us! He taught us the Spanish word, and we helped him figure out how to say it in English. It was pretty funny. We drove on from there, towards a place called Bahia Concepcion. We spent a couple more hours on some twisty turny roads, up and down a mountain, and finally came out on the whole other side of Baja! Oh, and I forgot to mention, when we crossed the border we also crossed into a different Time Zone. I know, I didn’t understand that at first either. But apparently people say it’s a different time depending on where they are. Baja Norte is part of what’s called ‘Pacific Time’, which is what it’s like at our old home in Venice. Baja Sur is in ‘Mountain Time’, which is like in Colorado, when we first picked up the camper. We drove through Guerro Negro and found a small town where we could stop for lunch. Victoria bought a delicious seafood soup from a stand at the side of the road, and I got to try some. I love how much food I get to try in Mexico!

The desert is covered in these tiny red flowers.

The desert is covered in these tiny red flowers.

A short drive later we left the desert behind and found Bahia Concepcion. This was definitely one of the most beautiful places we had seen so far. It’s a huge bay on the Gulf of California, with a bunch of small beaches for camping. We were headed to a place called Buenaventura Resort, where they had places to camp, a restaurant and free internet. Jason was pretty excited about this last part because he had more work to do. When we got there we found a bunch of people who speak English, all drinking and having a great time together. We had a delicious dinner, and I met a couple of dogs. More on them later.

Beachfront camping in Bahia Concepcion.

Beachfront camping in Bahia Concepcion.

We set up quickly and then hung out with this great American couple named Mike and Megan. They were in Baja to teach children to swim, and Megan grew up right around the corner from our home in Venice! It was nice to see some people that still smelled like our old home. We had a fire, and the other camp dogs hung out with us. There was Bo, a nice boy dog who really liked me, and Zora, a big dog who loved to hang out with all the campers. I knew this was going to be a nice place to stay for a while.

This is Bo. I think he might have been in love with me, ’cause he wanted to hang out the whole time.

This is Zora. I think she was in love with my Victoria and Jason, 'cause she kept snuggling into their laps.

This is Zora. I think she was in love with my Victoria and Jason, ’cause she kept snuggling into their laps.

Luckily, that was the plan. My Family said we were going to stay for a few days, so I wouldn’t have to get back in the truck for a while. Best of all, I got to be off leash almost the entire time! I ran around the beach, and Victoria brought me into the water a little bit. I’m not a big fan of that, but my Family seems determined to turn me into a ‘water dog’. We’ll see about that. We spent a couple of great days at the Buenaventura Resort, relaxing on the sand, running around with the other dogs, eating delicious food and enjoying a couple of conversations with other travelers. We even met a couple who have been coming to Baja longer than My Family has been alive. They even lived on a boat for five years! We heard some pretty neat stories, and really enjoyed our time here. We might have even stayed longer, but Jason kept crashing the internet trying to use something called ‘Skype’, so we left after two and a half days. Victoria was okay about leaving this place even though it was so beautiful because the sand fleas really like biting her. She it’s because she has “sweet blood” and that all the bugs like to bite her so really, anywhere we go she will get bitten. Since then she’s been spraying “bug spray” all over herself which makes her smell pretty terrible but she says it will make her a lot less itchy.

Right as we were packing up the car to leave, a man drove up in a truck selling all kinds of things My Family normally buys in a market. Victoria kept saying “No, gracias” to everything he was offering us until he said the magic words ‘Pineapple Empanadas.’ Then she was all “Si! Si!” and bought a couple and let me tell you, they are amazing. I’m not sure why they don’t make them in Venice but I’m hoping we get to have them all the time here in Mexico! Did I mention how much food I get to try here? Mexico is the best! Anyway, as soon as we finished our Empanadas, we hopped back in the truck as usual.

I'm starting to really like our new home, even with all the driving.

I’m starting to really like our new home, even with all the driving.

Thankfully, we didn’t have far to drive. Just a couple of hours later we found a town called Loreto. This is a pretty big city for Baja, with restaurants, banks, supermarkets, a town square, and some really pretty buildings. Victoria read in one of her books that this is one of the oldest towns in Baja, dating all the way back to the 1600’s. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but Jason was pretty impressed. We were headed to a place called Loreto Shores Villas & RV park, because we heard from some other travelers that we wanted to meet that this was a nice place. It was pretty cool, but was more of a parking lot near the beach. Victoria did some laundry and Jason caught up on work. There was a pool that looked pretty nice, but I got left in the camper while Victoria and Jason went for a swim. Just as I was getting bored our new friends showed up. Their names are Andre and Marcia, and their adorable little girl Olivia, and they are on their own adventure. They are from a country called Brazil and they speak the same language as My Family (English) and another one called “Portuguese.” They have a camper that’s like ours, but a whole lot bigger, and they are driving all the way to the bottom of South America. They invited us to a steak dinner, which was really delicious. I got lots of kisses from Olivia, and we heard all sorts of stories from their adventures so far. I know my Family hopes we’ll run into them again, as we’re all headed south.

We were all pretty happy to leave the next morning because, boy, is Loreto noisy. All night the dogs-with-no-homes were barking and howling and running all over town! And roosters were screaming all night even though they are only supposed to tell us to wake up in the morning. Ugh! We stopped for breakfast in Loreto on our way out and I got to try ‘Chilaquiles’ which is one of Jason’s favorite breakfast foods, and now mine too. We drove up into the Sierra Giganta (basically a big mountain) and the slowly back down through farmland. It was very pretty but now we are in Ciudad Constitucion in a motel parking lot. We are the only travelers here so it’s not that much fun, but Jason was getting tired of driving all the time and Victoria said it would be a good place to stop for the night. I can’t wait to get to the beach again!

PS: If you want to see some of the photos My Family took this week you can check them our on Facebook!

24
Oct 2013
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Baja, Mexico

DISCUSSION 6 Comments