Tag Archives: Mexico

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 6 Comments

El Tule and LA

Did you miss me? Don't worry, I'm back :)

Did you miss me? Don’t worry, I’m back :)

Phew! This holiday season has been something pretty special! I’ve been so busy hanging out with friends, family and other travelers (oh, yeah, and Maya too) that I haven’t had a chance to blog in a really long time! Okay, maybe I’ve gotten a little bit lazy, since we made it up into the mountains and the weather turned cold. But I’ve got a job to do, and I’m going to do it! So after much delay, here’s what happened when we left Playa Zipolite.

We packed up to leave the beach pretty early in the day, as My Family had been warned this was going to be a super long, super twisty drive. Although it was both of those things, it wasn’t so bad for us. Maya thankfully didn’t get carsick much at all, even with the curvy mountains Jason had to navigate. We didn’t get into Oaxaca until late afternoon, and following a couple of stops for groceries and odds and ends, we arrived at Overlander Oasis.

Snaggletooth. Some humans call her Morena.

Snaggletooth. Some humans call her Morena.

We were immediately greeted by our friend Morena, and her human family Leanne and Calvin. It had been almost a full year since we last saw them, so I was super excited. Morena remembered me immediately, and of course deferred to my awesome presence right away. Maya, on the other hand, was another story. As you probably know by now, Maya is afraid of everything, and Morena was no exception. Morena’s a super nice dog, but we were coming into her territory, and she definitely made that known to Maya right away. It took a bit of time before they were able to get along, and more than a couple of incidents of terrified peeing on Maya’s part. I don’t really get it, but I suppose she’s still kind of a baby. I showed her that Morena was nice, and was more than happy to share her toys and lap time with her humans. I did end up having to get between them a couple of times. I mean, I’m allowed to terrorize Maya. She’s my sister. Other dogs have to get in line.

It was awesome to see our old friends, but there were plenty of new friends to meet as well. Overlander Oasis has become something of a destination for travelers like us, as Leanne and Calvin are super nice and have a really pretty campground. For dogs like us it’s amazing, because we get to explore off leash the entire time. Well, as long as we don’t venture into the cats’ territory; that’s when we get yelled at. Otherwise, our time at the OO is filled with running around, playing with toys, and meeting all sorts of wonderful people from all around the world.

Me and Joe hanging out in the sun together.

Me and Joe hanging out in the sun together.

First there was Joe, a nice man in a huge camper from Europe (that’s a whole other continent by the way, across a HUGE ocean). He gave us treats when we did tricks, and didn’t mind if I shared his sunny spot when he was laying out on his lounge chair. Then there was Jon and Alyssa, a couple from Seattle who were staying in the casita. They liked to cook delicious food and share stories about all of their traveling adventures. I also got to hang out with Robbie and Kristen, a couple from Canada who were in the middle of a long trip, planning to drive all the way to the bottom of South America. Robbie might be the tallest human I’ve ever met, and one of the nicest too.

Me helping Alyssa with her video-editing.

Me helping Alyssa with her video-editing.

Because Robbie is the Tallest Human Ever his lap is extra large.

Because Robbie is the Tallest Human Ever his lap is extra large.

The campground continued to fill up with people, more travelers in one place than I think I’ve ever seen. We met Ryan and Kathi, a couple of tent campers who had left from Vancouver, Colin and Aeurlie, truck campers from Quebec, and Katrin, a super nice French lady in a Sprinter van. At this point, there were fourteen humans staying in the OO (including mine), and the days were packed with activity. Best of all? EVERYONE really loved me. They seemed to like Maya too, but she doesn’t get the quality lap time that I do. The whole group of humans went out in El Tule that night, and though I didn’t get to go with them, the delicious aroma of hamburgers followed them back home, so it must have been a good time.

Kathi and me sharing a beer.  Overlanders like beer.  A lot.

Kathi and me sharing a beer. Overlanders like beer. A lot.

The next day was Dia de los Muertos in Mexico. That means ‘Day of the Dead’, and although it sounds kind of scary, it’s actually a super fun holiday. I thought it was their version of Halloween, and although it does share some of the same characteristics, it seems to be much deeper than that. Leanne set up an altar on the campground, and placed pictures of her older relatives on it. Victoria shared her photo of her grandmother too. I guess it’s a holiday where you celebrate your favorite older relatives that aren’t around any more. The humans light candles, drink mezcal, play music and tell tales. It’s pretty cool. All the humans went into Oaxaca for the night to celebrate the holiday, and we didn’t get to go. So while they were off, probably having an incredible time, I was stuck in the camper, watching Maya cringe every time a firework blasted off. Yep, good times. I know I have it good, but sometimes I wish I was a human so I could do some of these things.

Our street in El Tule. Not many cars so it's perfect for running around on.

Our street in El Tule. Not many cars so it’s perfect for running around on.

The next morning My Family was up early packing two backpacks full of gear. This was super confusing. We just got here, and by the look of things Jason wasn’t packing up the camper. What’s the deal? Soon I figured it out, and my tail wilted: Jason was going on a trip, WITHOUT US! He smelled nervous, and Vic was certainly a bit sad. They drove off with Leanne, and then when they came back without Jason, Maya was super confused. I knew the deal, because Jason’s had to go on trips before. I’ve even been left in a doggie hotel while my whole Family went away somewhere. For Maya this was all new territory. In fact, I don’t think she’s been away from Jason for more than three or four hours in her entire life. Victoria had a bunch of fun that afternoon, meeting another super nice couple that arrived named Heather and Dan, and checking out the town cemetery for the end of Dia de los Muertos. For Maya, that night was a disaster. She stayed up literally until sunrise, crying and staring at the door.

Me and Lord Dan.  Don't tell anyone but he was my favorite out of all the campers at the O.O.

Me and Lord Dan. Don’t tell anyone but he was my favorite out of all the campers at the O.O.

I don’t think any of us slept. I tried to console her, assuring her that he would be back, but she just didn’t understand it. It’s hard to be a puppy sometimes.

The next day, some of the travelers left for southern destinations, but a couple more arrived, nice people named Brendan and Bridget. I got more attention, and Maya and Morena started to really get along. Yet I could tell she was still panicked about Jason’s disappearance. Luckily, the time while he was gone passed pretty quickly. Maya still panicked at night (even chomping on a pile of receipts in the camper), but started calming down and sleeping more. Victoria hung out with the other campers, one of which had a dog that helped us turn the OO into a canine party palace. A vet came by and treated Maya, telling Victoria that Maya would never get teeth because she didn’t get enough nutrition when she was a little baby. How sad is that? I ran around, stealing toys from Morena while Victoria and Leanne bought fabric to make a new garland for the camper. The days were warm and sunny, the nights late and filled with human games and laughter. Other than the fact that Jason wasn’t there and one time Maya peed an ocean inside the camper, life was pretty good.

Maya, the Toothless Wonder.

Maya, the Toothless Wonder.

One morning, the day I knew would come finally arrived, as Jason strolled back into the campground! He looked super tired, but really happy to see us. The whole family went crazy. Maya and I slathered Jason with kisses before he could even get to Victoria. Maya’s tail was wagging so hard I wondered if it would fall off. He was gone for ten human days, which of course felt like MONTHS to Maya and I. Jason dropped off his gear and we all hung out. Apparently, Jason had to go back to Los Angeles for work, so that’s why he left us behind. He also got to see a bunch of his friends, so we all looked at pictures and heard the latest from our old home in Venice Beach. Maya leapt up into his lap and refused to move for hours, even while Jason tried to meet all the new campers he had missed while back in the United States.

We spent another week at Overlander Oasis, and now the My Family was back together it was absolutely perfect. Maya and Morena were pals, and the days were filled with exploring El Tule, watching the humans cook delicious food, and putting on our best cute faces to make sure we got tastes of everything. There was pizza, chilaquiles, parrillada (basically the best thing ever, a huge meal with every kind of meat you could imagine), tacos, tamales and one of my favorites – grilled cheese sandwiches. Although Maya and I spent almost the entire time within the walls of Overlander Oasis, we were totally content. Good food and nice people who love us? What more could you ask for?

Since I've already been to a lot of the places Heather and Dan are going to, I was a big help in helping them plan their next stop.

Since I’ve already been to a lot of the places Heather and Dan are going to, I was a big help in helping them plan their next stop.

We were all ready to pack up and go when My Family suffered a mini disaster – Victoria fell out of the camper and hurt her ankle! Everyone came running and found her in a lot of pain. I licked her face as hard and fast as I could, and though it did make her smile, it didn’t seem to help her ankle much. Luckily our new friend Heather works in a human hospital and knew what to do. We stayed for a couple more days so Victoria could get back on two feet, but finally it was time to pack up the big camper and head north. Our next stop would be San Miguel de Allende, one of our favorite cities on the entire trip, and a meeting with my friends Shae and Olivia (and their humans Hani and Sarah), who we hadn’t seen since Costa Rica. I was sad to go, but excited to see what was in store next. My Family shared hugs with Calvin, Leanne and the remaining campers, and promised to stay in touch with all of them. Morena ran around as we pulled out of the campground, clearly sad to see us go. I hope she knows how thankful we were that she shared her home with us!

PS: To see some of the photos My Family took while we were in El Tule, head on over to our Facebook page!

30
Dec 2014
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Mainland

DISCUSSION 4 Comments

Mexico 2.0: Back in Paradise

Me and Maya in the backseat as we head to Mexico!

Me and Maya in the backseat as we head to Mexico!

If you read my last entry, you already know how super duper excited I was to return to Mexico. As we drove to the border, I could smell that My Family felt the same way. They loved their time in Guatemala, but the thought of leaving the rain behind and discovering some new parts of this beautiful country was filling the Big Truck with the taste of grand adventure. AND, I suspected there would be many taco tastes in my future. CAN’T. WAIT!

We strolled our way to the border between Guatemala and Mexico. We were crossing in a very different part of the country, so of course My Family was a bit nervous wondering how that was going to go. We rolled out of the beautiful mountains and down into a busy border town. Music was blaring, motorbikes were zigging and zagging around the truck, streets were transforming magically from two ways to one, and everyone in the car was beginning to get nervous. Thankfully, our concerns quickly flew out the window. This border crossing was amazing! As always, Maya and I got to huddle up in the air conditioning while Jason and Victoria handled all of the paperwork. It’s so fantastic that humans don’t think I can write! They were back in no time at all, with big smiles on their faces. Jason and Victoria couldn’t believe it, but this was the easiest border crossing ever!

We drove under the ‘Bienvenidos a Mexico’ sign and found the other side of the border to be just as easy. There were two spots to visit, but Victoria said later that everyone was super nice and accommodating, and the whole process was over before even Maya had the chance to become bored and grumpy. This country really is paradise! Jason drove off and the entire family was in good spirits. The music was jumping, and we had the whole country laid out in front of us. I overheard My Family saying that we may well spend six months here, and I couldn’t believe my luck! Two quick stops later, and we pulled into El Chiflon, a very pretty campsite right next to a river.

After a fairly long day in the truck, Maya and I leapt to the ground to explore. We had a wide open field all to ourselves, and couldn’t be happier. The sky was clear, and after so long spent cooped up in the LJH the vast open space was just what I was looking for. Our plans for the afternoon? To do as little as possible. I couldn’t believe my luck! I ran around, lounged in the sun, chased Maya, and generally reveled in the absence of rain. The only downside? The stray dogs that decided to hang around our camper. Maya and I let them have it, but they weren’t getting the message. I was more than happy when it was time to snuggle up in bed and call it a night.

The river was pretty muddy after all the rain but it was still super fun for splashing my feet in!

The river was pretty muddy after all the rain but it was still super fun for splashing my feet in!

The next day we took some time before hitting the road, so Maya and I could run around the river bank. I loved slipping and sliding along the clay shore (though Victoria didn’t really love cleaning me off) and dashing into the river. After that we were off again, this time to the city. San Cristobal de las Casas was one of the places we had missed on our way south, and My Family had heard nothing but great stories about this beautiful place. It was a super long drive, with some stressful hills and a tricky few minutes squeezing our way through narrow alleys, but finally we arrived at Rancho San Nicholas, a beautiful campsite just outside of the city.

Tons of super comfy grass for rolling around in. I loved this campground!

Tons of super comfy grass for rolling around in. I loved this campground!

This place was super cool. Another big, grassy field, with ideal pooing territory and some great dogs to play with. My favorite was Tita, a sweet girl dog who was just my size! We spent about a week here, and I loved nothing more than lounging in the sun with my new friend. Best of all? No rain! Maya and I got to run around for hours, chasing down sticks that Jason would throw, rolling around in all the delicious smells hidden in the grass, and generally loving our doggie life. Jason and Victoria had a good time too, but not quite as care-free. The internet was very bad at the Rancho, so Jason spent many days wandering off into town to find a place to work. We made sure to always give him an extra special greeting when he came home. We got to go into the city with Victoria and Jason several times too. San Cristobal is another colonial city and it reminded me a lot of Antigua, just without the volcanoes. There were people there from all over the world, eating delicious food, shopping in super colorful shops (or so I’m told; us dogs aren’t the best where color is concerned), and taking pictures in front of the beautiful central square. After the last few months in Guatemala I felt like I was in paradise.

My new friend, Tita!

My new friend, Tita!

Of course, it wasn’t all perfect. We did get one day of pretty serious rain, but nothing like what we had been seeing. There were also a couple of people at the campsite that I really did not like. Maya and I would bark at them when they got too close to the camper, but they never seemed to get the hint! Look, I’m not a biter, and I really love people, you just can’t mess with our home, you know? That’s our space! The whole thing was stressing Victoria out a little bit, so My Family started to think about moving on. San Cristobal was absolutely beautiful, and jam-packed with the sort of restaurants Victoria and Jason love the most. After all of our time stuck in cold, rainy places, however, My Family was more than ready for some sun and heat. We packed up the camper and left on our mission to find a beach.

We left in mid-afternoon, which is strange for us. Normally my family liked to leave for a new camping home early in the morning. But the drive to find the beach pushed My Family to decide to just get on the road. I heard that it would take more than a single day to get to the beaches of Oaxaca, so Victoria figured we’d just get a head start. Our first step was getting to Tuxtla Gutierrez, a very busy city where My Family hoped to fill the camper’s water tank. This was a pretty serious miscalculation on their part. The drive out of San Cristobal was beautiful but slow, with a ton of mountain driving. We ended up reaching Tuxtla in the middle of rush hour. That’s a human thing, when everyone is trying to get somewhere at the exact same time. It makes for a very slow, very frustrating (for Jason) drive. At the end of their ropes, Victoria and Jason decided to stop for burgers and reassess the situation. I snuck some french fries while they figured out the next step. There was no way were were going to reach the campsite Victoria had chosen as a mid-point before it got dark. Yet we couldn’t well camp in the parking lot of the burger place. Jason decided we’d just get as far as we could, and then look for a Pemex.

We ended up stopping for the night at a Pemex in a town called Cintalapa. In case you missed some of our other Mexico posts, a Pemex is a gas station. Yep, we were spending the night in a gas station. Jason and Victoria passed several they didn’t really like before finding the perfect spot. It was just outside of town, it was quiet, and the bathrooms had grape-scented hand soap. I don’t know why this was so important, but Jason and Victoria couldn’t stop talking about it. Apparently, it reminded them of Welch’s Grape Soda, whatever that was. Sleeping in a gas station is an unusual experience, and this time it was a first for Maya. I’m a pro at it, and had no trouble snuggling up under the Pemex lights and calling it a night.

My Family slid out of bed bright and early to get us back on the road. We still had quite a drive to get down to the beach, but with the anticipation of finally seeing sand again I leapt into Victoria’s lap and sat up for most of the next few hours, sniffing at the air as the familiar ocean smells began to take over. Maya is still not particularly thrilled with the driving days, but Victoria and Jason reworked the backseat situation to try and make her more comfortable. She was still a bit drooly, but nowhere near as bad as she had been before, and mostly just laid down with her head on the center armrest, looking sad.

Pretty sure this is what doggy-heaven will look like!

Pretty sure this is what doggy-heaven will look like!

After eight hours of crawling up and down hills and bouncing along dirt roads, we finally made it to the beach! Our first stop was a town called San Augustin. I jumped out of the car as soon as the doors opened and dashed onto the sand. It was beautiful! San Augustin is a very small town, basically a string of restaurants perched at the ocean’s edge, and My Family found a nice place to park behind one of the restaurants at the far end of the beach. The people there were super nice, and there were tons of dogs to play with. Unlike other beaches we had visited, all of these dogs were pretty cool, and most even had families of their own. That meant everyone was happy, and Maya even enjoyed their company after a little while. The beach was wide and clean, just perfect for running. And the water was crystal clear, very welcoming for my little paws.

Me and Alberto.  He doesn't really speak to the humans but I could completely understand that he loved me!

Me and Alberto. He doesn’t really speak to the humans but I could completely understand that he loved me!

We spent the next two nights at San Augustin, hanging with the other doggies, and playing with the nice family at the restaurant. There was a little boy there that absolutely loved my family and me, and spent much of each day asking questions about every little piece of the camper and petting us dogs. One dog in particular latched on to My Family and followed us everywhere. Her name was Puma, and though I liked her a lot, I didn’t like overhearing Victoria and Jason debate possibly taking her with us. C’mon, one puppy is enough! Thankfully, nothing ever came of it. All in all, San Augustin was just what I was looking for, and I would have been more than happy to spend weeks running along this beach. The problem was, there was no good internet here, and with Jason’s work week approaching we had to go find a better place for him. Oh, and the humans reported that you had to pour buckets of water into the toilets in order to flush them. Sometimes being a dog is pretty great. The world is my toilet!

Sorry, Puma, you're not coming with us!

Sorry, Puma, you’re not coming with us!

We bounced back up the beach road and out to the highway, making our way to a town called Playa Zipolite. My Family had heard a ton of great things about this beach, so everyone sported big smiles as we drove into town. We quickly hit a snag, however. The road that leads to Cabanas los Habana, the campsite right on the beach Victoria had planned for us to visit, was completely dug up. Big trucks were blocking the path, and workers were shoveling and mixing concrete. Victoria went in to investigate, and they told her that the road was closed, and there was no way to get to the campsite other than walking. Disaster!

Jason turned the big truck around and we quickly looked for Plan B. We found a pretty place called Rancho Los Mangos that was open and right on the main road. We pulled into the front gate, and Jason’s face dropped. It was beautiful. Too beautiful. A pool, big swatches of grass, and a pretty hotel. This was one of those RV parks that the snowbird creatures like to stay in. And just as My Family feared, it was really expensive! The people there were very nice, and even offered Victoria and Jason welcome coconut drinks after we set up, but My Family knew our plan to stay in Zipolite for quite some time was in jeopardy.

Some street art from Zipolite.  This is what I look like when Maya wants to play with me!

Some street art from Zipolite. This is what I look like when Maya wants to play with me!

Jason popped up the camper and we left to explore Zipolite. What a pretty town! The streets are all paved in beautiful designs, and the broad beach is fronted by restaurants of all shapes and sizes. This town had everything from tiny taco stands to beautiful restaurant/hotels perched on the side of the hill. I was enjoying the hot walk, but Victoria and Jason were getting a bit annoyed. We walked every inch of the town, looking for a better place to stay, and just had no luck. Finally, Jason suggested we walk over to Cabanas los Habanas and check out the situation. The sand was so hot that they had to drag us along, and everyone was getting grumpy. When we got to the Cabanas, we found a set of beautifully painted cabanas up on stilts, and a couple of campers who were very friendly. One of them had a car so My Family talked to one of the owners about how they could get in. Apparently, there was a tiny side road right next to the closed road that we might be able to slip through. My Family thanked them and we headed home, plotting the next day’s attempt at getting to our new campground.

That night just underlined why we had to change locations. Rancho los Mangos was very, VERY hot, without the ocean breeze to cool everything off. And there were tons of biting bugs too! We all woke up early the next day to pack up and make the attempt. The owners of the Cabanas were very helpful, and they even moved part of the fence so we had room. It was a tight squeeze, but we finally made it onto the campsite. What a difference! We parked right on the beach, with our very own palapa for shade. Immediately My Family’s thoughts about Zipolite changed. Maybe this would work out after all?

Bliss...

Bliss…

Best of all, this was Jason’s birthday! We celebrated by going out to one of the beach restaurants, where My Family enjoyed botanas (snacks) and beers and stared at the ocean. It was pretty sweet. Playa Zipolite is known as a “hippie paradise”, and Jason and Victoria were laughing at the evidence of that all day. I don’t really know what that means, so you’ll have to ask them. We spent the rest of the day and night hanging out with our new friends at the campsite, a human named Oleg who came all the way from Russia, and a nice man named Denny who was planning on driving down to Panama. Jason had a blast, and after the disappointment of the day before, everyone was in much better spirits.

I ran on the beach every day, so awesome!

I ran on the beach every day, so awesome!

We woke up the next day to find the sky dark with thunderclouds. Not a promising sight. That afternoon the rain started, and it was crazy! The wind was blowing so hard that the rain was flying sideways, right into our camper. We spent much of that day huddled inside, while Jason and Victoria worked to keep the leaky bits under control. The next day was better, but Victoria soon discovered the rain was not done. They spent some time online and found out something called Tropical Storm Trudy was on the way. Trudy’s a pretty nice name, but it didn’t seem like this Trudy was going to be so nice. The humans were expecting as much as a foot of rain and high winds over the next couple days, and here we were on the beach! Not a good combo. Jason and Victoria pulled the giant tarp out, and with the help of one of the nice men at the campground, managed to totally cover the camper and the big truck. It was awesome! Everything was blue inside, and there was a wide covered area where we could all sit that Victoria called ‘the party tent’. When the big rains came we were totally secure, and the other campers all spent time hanging out with us in the only really dry spot available.

If I wasn't running on the beach, you could find me snuggled up with Victoria in one of our hammocks.

If I wasn’t running on the beach, you could find me snuggled up with Victoria in one of our hammocks.

It took a while, but the rains finally passed and everyone was fine. The next few days flew by in a whirlwind of awesomeness. Victoria and I hung one of our awesome hammocks (thanks, ENO!), and we spent hours swinging in the breeze under the palapas, talking to all of the vendors that walked by. My Family met tons of people, from the super nice locals, to the ex-pats who have made Zipolite their home, to a bunch of other travelers. A couple of days into our time on the beach, two humans named Ike and Bethany pulled in next to us. They had just come into Mexico a couple of weeks before, and were planning on driving all the way to the bottom tip of South America. That’s super cool and all, but even better? They really liked me! Ike was super duper nice, letting me snuggle up on his lap, and even allowing for a kiss every now and then! We spent a bunch of time with these two, sharing stories and laughing at Maya’s attempts to fetch. She’s good at the fetching part, but not so hot on the bringing it back aspect. The days stretched on and on, and Jason and Victoria started to realize that they didn’t want to leave this amazing spot. It might have been Jason’s favorite campsite ever. So our plans changed. Instead of checking out one or two more beaches on this southern Oaxaca coastline, we were just going to stay!

Every day right at sunset there was a soccer game.  I wasn't allowed to play though :(

Every day right at sunset there was a soccer game. I wasn’t allowed to play though :(

We ended up spending two full weeks at Cabanas los Habanas, and almost every moment of it was jam-packed with awesome. I tasted fish, croissants, fruit, tacos, and even got to chew on a coconut! We met all sorts of nice humans, and spent many nights sitting with them under our lit up palapa, trading stories and snuggling up on laps. Sure, Maya and I were a bit barky from time to time (always, if you ask Jason), but who else is going to protect our home from people walking by twenty feet away? Finally, it was time to go. With heavy hearts we packed up the camper and left the beach behind. Luckily, we had a great next destination: El Tule, and my friends Calvin and Leanne at Overlander Oasis! We had a mountain to climb first, but I couldn’t wait to see these great humans I had loved so much on our trip south. Now that we were back in Mexico everything was looking up, and each day seemed more fun than the last. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

PS: To see some of the photos My Family took, check out our Facebook page!

01
Nov 2014
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Mainland, Mexico

DISCUSSION No Comments

Banditos, Breakdowns & Bribes

Me at Hierve del Agua after My Family tried to make me go swimming.

Me at Hierve del Agua after My Family tried to make me go swimming.

After My Family recovered from the fantastic Christmas celebration, it was time to hit the road. We did have one last cool visit before leaving Overlander Oasis. On our last day, Jan and Mona from PanAmericana 2013 pulled into camp, with their puppy Lissie. She was super cute! Lissie had a ton of energy, and spent most of the day tumbling around with Morena and it was fun seeing how excited Lissie was about pretty much everything. I hope Lissie knows how lucky she was to have found a great family in Jan and Mona!

We left Overlander Oasis the next day, and I have to admit I was kinda sad. I plopped my head down in Victoria’s lap and pretty much didn’t move for hours. I knew we’d have other fun adventures, but I bet I could have stayed at OO forever. We drove through a couple of small towns, got lost in the middle of a field filled with goats, crossed a mountain on a winding dirt road, and finally ended up at a place called Hierve el Agua. Victoria discovered that this means “the water boils” in Spanish, but the pools of mineral water we found there were freezing! There was a cool stream of mineral deposits on the side of the cliff that looked like a waterfall frozen in time, and we had an awesome place to set up the camper. We spent the day wandering around the pools, and I managed to evade Jason’s attempts at getting me to swim. Then we settled in at our campsite, where we were joined by a couple of other campers in tents. They were nice enough to share their campfire with us. It’s cold up in the mountains.

The mineral pools at Hierve del Agua.

The mineral pools at Hierve del Agua.

The next day we left the mountains and drove for a state called Chiapas. I could tell that Jason and Victoria were really excited about this. Back in Baja, in a restaurant in Cabo Pulmo, a couple from Mexico City told My Family this was the most beautiful place in the country. I was pretty busy trying to get a taste of Victoria’s fish at the time, but My Family had been looking forward to this day ever since. It pretty much just seemed like another day on the road to me, but Victoria and Jason were pretty antsy.

 The problem was, the roads towards Chiapas took a very long time to drive. They were skinny, bouncy and twisted in what felt like every possible direction. Before I knew it the sun was setting, and Jason smelled nervous. We weren’t anywhere near where My Family had planned on staying for the night, and there didn’t seem to be any way we’d make it. We were driving by a Pemex gas station in a small town just before the state border, and Jason suggested we try staying there for the night. This was something I’d never heard of before. Sleeping in a gas station? Apparently it’s something people do all the time on Adventures like this, but My Family hadn’t tried it yet. That night we had no choice.

The night in the Pemex actually ended up to be kinda fun. There was loud music playing, the security guard hung out with us most of the night (after Jason offered him a beer), and the food at the local family restaurant was delicious. It smelled amazing when Jason brought it back to the camper, and I got so many tastes I began to wonder if my birthday had come early.

We had a surprisingly cozy night of sleep, and then continued on our way, passing into the state of Chiapas within an hour. I have to say, it was worth waiting to see it in the daytime. Curving mountain roads, misty jungles, green farms and the tiniest villages we had seen yet. We only spent a day driving through this area, but I know My Family would have liked to stay much longer. My only complaint with this day was that My Family stopped for the most delicious smelling empanadas at a nice lady’s roadside stand, and I didn’t get a single bite. We pulled into our next campsite, a place called Mayabell outside the town of Palenque just before dark. It had been an awful long day in the car, one of our longest yet, and Jason seemed pretty exhausted. But Mayabell was a beautiful place, in the jungle just outside something called ‘ruins’. This I really don’t get. If it’s all ruined, what the heck would you want to do there?

My view out the window at the Mayabell campground.

My view out the window at the Mayabell campground.

That night it started pouring rain. This was more rain than we had seen on the whole trip, and just about the most rain I can ever remember seeing in my life. It just kept coming, sounding like thunder on the roof of our camper, and keeping me firmly glued to my bed in the camper. Worse than the sound, though, was the leaks! Victoria smelled in a near panic, because two windows in our camper were leaking. It was really bad, but thankfully we stayed nice and dry in bed.

The next day, everything was soaked. The sun struggled to show her face, and the Mayabell camp was a soggy, muddy mess. Now I don’t know about you, but wet, muddy paws are not one of my favorite things in the world. Victoria and Jason were feeling great, however, because this was New Year’s Eve! So humans keep a calendar, I guess because they like to name things so much. Today was the last day of the year 2013, and people use it as a reason to eat and drink a lot. Eating is firmly on my ‘favorite things’ list, so I’m all for that! Victoria and Jason went to the Mayabell restaurant for a special dinner. No dogs allowed, so I sat in the camper, taking whiffs of the food floating by on the breeze, and enjoying the music floating my way as well. My Family finally came back from a super long dinner, and soon after their new friends, Brodie and Diane came by. They were super nice people. Brodie’s on his own Big Adventure, riding a bicycle through Mexico and Central America as part of Ranger Rides. My Family and I stayed up super late with our new friends, even enjoying the traditional countdown to midnight being screamed from the restaurant. It was seriously one of the most fun nights of the trip, as far as ‘people fun’ goes.

On New Year’s Day my family had planned on getting up early and hiking out to the ruined things before getting back on the road. But things really didn’t go according to plan. First of all, thanks to the late night none of us wanted to get out of bed when we were supposed to. Then, when we were finally all packed up and ready to go, Jason noticed that one of the straps holding the camper to the big truck had broken. Yikes! It was a good thing he noticed, but it took a couple of hours for Jason and Victoria to raise the camper off the truck and fix everything. By the time we actually left Palenque it was well into the afternoon, making it crystal clear that we weren’t going to make our destination that night. Instead of getting to Campeche as Jason and Victoria had hoped, we ended up spending ANOTHER night in a Pemex station. This one had a Burger King, so My Family had a fast and easy meal of comfort food (I snagged a french fry. Maybe two.) and free internet for the night.

The next day we got up bright and early and made our way to Campeche. This was a super pretty city, and the first sight of the ocean since we left Sayulita! Apparently, this was the Caribbean Sea, not the Pacific, which means we had crossed the whole width of Mexico. Pretty cool. Campeche had a restaurant that wouldn’t allow me in, so My Family got some food to go and we sat out in the town square. Delicious food and a very pretty day. From there we headed for Uxmal, basically because My Family wanted a second chance to see some ruins. We parked the big truck in a grassy field next to the park, and as soon as the sun started to set I heard Victoria start to scream. The bugs were pretty bad, and they decided to climb all over her, including squeezing under her clothes! She wasn’t particularly happy about this, so she and I snuggled in the camper while Jason went and got tickets so they could go see the ruins. Wait, you have to pay? Could I ruin my bed, set it behind a gate and charge for it? I don’t know, some human stuff is just beyond me.

Big church in Campeche.

Big church in Campeche.

When we left the next day, the clouds were dark and ominous. It seemed we hadn’t left the bad weather behind. We kept driving east, hopeful to make a town called Tulum by early in the afternoon. Along the way Jason pulled us over in a small town because he had found somewhere to give the truck an oil change. We pulled in a nice man’s driveway, and Victoria and I played with his kids and their dogs while Jason and the nice man got the job done. By the time we left, it was pouring rain. And it kept raining, on and off, for the rest of the day. As we kept driving on and on, Victoria smelled nervous. She thought the drive was taking way too long. Sure enough, we had made a wrong turn. But My Family didn’t realize this until they had already gone too far to turn back. At the end of the day, we ended up driving more than two hours extra, and didn’t pull into Tulum until right before dark. It was still pouring rain, and after our longest driving day yet Jason didn’t think it would be safe to keep going. So guess what? We ended up parking in a Pemex. AGAIN! And unlike before, this was pretty miserable. When we popped up the camper we discovered the leaks were really bad. And after long days of driving and rain, it seemed like everything My Family owned was either smelly, soaking wet or some combination of the two. Jason and Victoria seemed miserable. Certainly not one of our better days.

Walking down from the wall around the city of Campeche.

Walking down from the wall around the city of Campeche.

It rained all night, and was still raining the next day. Although Jason and Victoria had hoped to stay and explore Tulum, the weather was so bad that they decided to take us all the way south, to the town of Chetumal. It rained the entire way, and by the time we got to the Yax Ha RV resort, literally everything we owned was wet. My Family hung everything up to dry, pulled out a huge tarp to cover the camper with, and basically breathed a big sigh of relief. It looked like the worst of the rain was finally passing, and I finally got a little time to lay in the sun. The campsite was beautiful, right up against the water, with soft grass to run around in and birds to chase.

My private playground at Yax-Ha.

My private playground at Yax-Ha.

Over the next few days, My Family prepared for our trip out of Mexico. They tried to repair the leak in the camper, and got the worst of it handled. They finally got a chance to shower, which certainly helped the smell inside the camper, and wandered the small town outside the RV park. We met some other overlanders, a nice couple from South Africa, and a great couple from Colorado with three awesome dogs of their own. We did have a little more rain, but with room to spread out, delicious food cooked in the camper or from the local restaurants and plenty of nice company, we had everything we needed. Before I knew it, it was time to head for the border. After almost three months in Mexico, we were going to cross into a whole new country!

Me, hanging out at Yax-Ha. Loved it there.

Me, hanging out at Yax-Ha. Loved it there.

Before we left Venice for the Big Adventure, a lot of My Family’s friends were a little nervous about our trip. I could smell the fear on them every time Victoria or Jason started to talk about Mexico. People had all sorts of concerns. It was too dangerous. Too much could go wrong. People even asked Jason if he was going to buy a gun to bring along! Guns are probably my least favorite people thing. If you asked most people, it seemed like all we would come across in Mexico was banditos, breakdowns and bribes. But I’m happy to report My Family and I had an absolutely incredible time in Mexico! A beautiful country, with delicious food and some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. It just goes to show that you can’t let fears or what you hear on TV to stop you from exploring the world. I didn’t know exactly what My Family was getting me into when we started this trip but at this point, over one hundred days into my Big Adventure, I know how important it is to see new places, explore different cultures, and step out of your comfy zone sometimes. After all, life’s supposed to be about the adventure, right?

PS: If you want to see the pictures My Family took during our last couple of weeks in Mexico you can find them on Facebook.


11
Jan 2014
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Mainland, Mexico

DISCUSSION 6 Comments

Hunkered down in San Miguel de Allende

 

Me on one of our many walks around San Miguel de Allende.  It was really cold, but luckily I had my puffer jacket to keep me warm!

Me on one of our many walks around San Miguel de Allende. It was really cold, but luckily I had my puffer jacket to keep me warm!

The morning we packed up to leave Guanajuato, Victoria was pretty sad. She even started crying. I don’t see her cry that often, but even before that happened I could smell that she was upset. Jason and Victoria were talking, and apparently someone Victoria loved had died. I had never heard this word before but apparently everyone and everything dies eventually, even dogs and people. From what I understand, when you die you go away. Forever. That means you never get to see the people you love ever again. I can’t imagine not ever seeing the people and dogs I love again. I have a ton of questions about this: Where do you go? Do you get to come back eventually? Am I going to die? I feel like if I was going to die at some point I’d know, so maybe I won’t? Do people know this and they just walk around everyday just not thinking about it? So many questions, and no good answers. Anyway, I gave Victoria some extra special snuggles and kisses, to help her feel better. I don’t think it really helped that much because she was still sad, but she did smile and we finally left the camper to meet our new friend Katie.

Katie works with an organization called Do Good As You Go, and my family had planned to volunteer with them while in town. I guess we didn’t tell them we were getting there in time, because there was no volunteering to do on such short notice and we were only in Guanajuato for a short while. But we did have a nice chat with Katie, and we gave her a video camera that our friend Hani had donated before we left the wee blue house. I guess that camera is going to do some good in Guanajuato, so an extra special thanks to Hani for helping out!

Cobblestone streets mean you have to pay attention to where you are walking

Cobblestone streets mean you have to pay attention to where you are walking

After breakfast at Katie’s we hit the road. Our destination was a town called San Miguel de Allende, which is in the mountains just like Guanajuato. The drive wasn’t terribly long, which I really appreciated. San Miguel is really old, the streets are very narrow and paved with bumpy stones, so Jason needed help getting inside the gate. I think he scratched the side of the camper a little bit, but thankfully nothing was broken! The San Miguel RV Park & Tennis Courts was really nice, with comfy grass to lay in and a lot of people to say hello to. Unfortunately, most of them didn’t understand My Family that well. Victoria found out they were all from Germany, which is another country far across the ocean. They don’t speak English or Spanish in Germany, which made it a bit difficult for My Family to communicate with them. But we had a great spot to stay, perfect for exploring the city.

I thought we were done climbing up and down hills when we left Guanajuato.  I thought wrong...

I thought we were done climbing up and down hills when we left Guanajuato. I thought wrong…

Our time in San Miguel was good. When Jason was working I got to lay out in the grass, snooze in the sun with Victoria, chase cats and basically take it easy. I did get to go on a few really nice, long walks through the city, and that was pretty cool. The cobblestones were fun to walk on, and there was always something to see. We met up with a new friend named Robert and his girlfriend Patricia. Robert had been doing a trip like our Big Adventure, but once he made it to San Miguel he decided to stay for a while. Jason and Victoria seemed like they might do the same thing. They loved the nice people, the beautiful buildings, the delicious food and the incredible art. Personally, I didn’t see what the big deal was. I spent a lot of time waiting around, standing outside of art galleries, watching them eat delicious food I didn’t get to try and freezing in the cold night air. Oh, and the church bells! There was a church right by our campground, and the bells would ring at all times of the day and night! Victoria joked that she wanted to keep track, because the bells went off at odd hours, like 3:22 or 8:13. Jason didn’t appreciate the 7AM wakeup call, especially because that was when the bells would ring louder and longer than ever. But on the plus side, there was really pretty live music in the streets, and even a concert we got to check out in the main square, or Jardin. There were even huge dancing dolls that would swing their jiggly arms around and shake their hair over kids’ faces.

Gato, that means Cat in Spanish.  They don't like playing with dogs, just like American cats.

Gato, that means Cat in Spanish. They don’t like playing with dogs, just like American cats.

One of the most fun nights we had was Thanksgiving, which is a holiday we celebrate back home where family and friends get together and eat a lot. Obviously, it’s one of my favorites. Victoria and Jason found somewhere that was serving Thanksgiving dinner just like at home, and it was awesome. I got to go to a really fancy restaurant, which is unheard of. There was a beautiful view of one of the town’s big churches, every dish smelled amazing, and from the sounds Victoria and Jason were making I could tell it was good. I got to taste the turkey and we made some new friends, including a nice lady that hugged me and let me kiss her face. Basically a win all around.

The biggest house in San Miguel de Allende.

The biggest house in San Miguel de Allende.

Not every night was that good. There were a couple of times that I was left in the camper alone. I made sure I didn’t scratch up the screen anymore, so Victoria and Jason would know I’m a good girl. Each time, My Family came back smelling delicious. Once it was Italian food I could smell, and yet there were no leftovers for me. The next time it was chicken wings. Chicken wings! And none for me! But Jason was pretty excited that they had finally found good beer in Mexico. In fact, they even went back a couple of days later and bought some to bring with us on the road. I’m hopeful they will share some with me this time…

We spent a lot of time just walking around town while My Family looked at buildings.  Fun.

We spent a lot of time just walking around town while My Family looked at buildings. Fun.

I know that Victoria and Jason really loved San Miguel de Allende; they even said they could picture themselves staying there long term. I hope if that’s the case they get me some extra blankets and share some more of their tasty treats. Sure, I got to try tacos and tamales and even some Chinese food… But no sips of that sweet smelling alote? Not even the smallest bite of chocolate? Maybe I’m doing something wrong?

PS: If you want to see the pics My Family took in San Miguel, you can find them here!

06
Dec 2013
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Mainland, Mexico

DISCUSSION 2 Comments

Heading for the Hills

Me, taking in the view of Guanajuato

Me, taking in the view of Guanajuato

My Family and I had such a great time in Sayulita that I was wondering what we could do to top it. We had spent days with our friends, run on the beach, eaten delicious food and chased giant bugs and lizards. What could be better? Well, it was clearly going to take some time to find out. We got back on the road and started a long, long trip to our next destination, Lake Chapala. According to Victoria, Lake (or Lago, en espanol) Chapala is the largest natural lake in Mexico. That sounded pretty cool but we had a lot of ground to cover before I could check it out.

We spent the whole rest of the morning and into the afternoon on a big highway, going up and down huge hills. It was a pretty day and the road wasn’t too bumpy, so I was more than content to snuggle up on Victoria’s lap and let the miles roll by. There were an awful lot of tolls, though. Jason was grumbling about the expense, while Victoria argued that these roads were faster and safer. I dunno, I just really didn’t like all the little bumps before each toll. One cool thing, however, was that one of the tolls had nice grassy spots for peeing on, good bathrooms for My Family, and even a taco stand with delicious food!

As we got closer to our destination, the sky got really cloudy. There were a few drips of rain, which made Victoria nervous. I guess the work Jason had done at Los Barilles to seal up the roof hadn’t quite worked, and there was still a little leak inside. Well, things got worse in a hurry. The sky opened up, and it started pouring! Now, I don’t know how things are where you live, but back in Venice we didn’t see rain like that very often. It was coming down so hard that Jason almost couldn’t see through the windshield. He noticed that the car in front of us decided to pull over under a bridge, but we were almost to the lake and Jason wanted to keep going. I think he felt a little differently once the hail started. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it! Huge chunks of ice bouncing off the windshield, hitting on the hood of the big truck and smashing into the ground all around us, while the rain continued to fall. This drive wasn’t going so well.

We managed to find our turnoff and drove down a cobblestone road as the rain let up. Ahead were the gates for Roca Azul, which was right at the edge of Lake Chapala. This place was pretty neat. There were cool houses around the Park, which seemed more like a summer camp than any RV park I had seen so far. The grounds were huge, with several buildings, a soccer field, and even a huge playground for kids. There were tons of larger RVs, what Victoria calls “Big Rigs”, but nothing like our little camper. We found a nice spot under some trees and parked.

Lago de Chapala. Pretty, no?

Lago de Chapala. Pretty, no?

Lake Chapala was certainly pretty. But there were lots and lots of bugs and since I had scratched up the screen Jason ended up closing the door, which I know he wasn’t happy about. Okay, I messed up! Sheesh! That night we were all pretty tired, so Victoria and Jason made a simple dinner and after the moon rose fat and orange over the lake, we tucked in for the night.

There were lots of beautiful trees in the campground, this is where we walked to get back and forth to the good internet.

There were lots of beautiful trees in the campground, this is where we walked to get back and forth to the good internet.

Vic is afraid of heights so I had to stay on the ground to look after her.

Vic is afraid of heights so I had to stay on the ground to look after her.

The next day Jason had to work, but the internet wasn’t working so well in our camper. So he took me over to the office while Victoria stayed behind to clean up. I didn’t mind hanging out while Jason worked, as we got to sit on a cool stone bench in a really pretty field. When he took a break we got to run around on the soccer field, which was a lot of fun too. Victoria came over to hang out with us, and she and Jason started talking about us being behind schedule on the trip. Apparently they thought we were only going to spend six weeks in Mexico, and now it was looking like it was going to take a lot longer. I don’t really know where we are on this adventure, but this sure is a big country. After the work day Victoria and Jason took me for a walk around the RV park. There was an awesome lighthouse out by the lake, which looked over a huge green field covered with birds. Jason went all the way up to the top of the lighthouse, but Victoria was too scared to go up that high so I stayed with her. We walked further and saw a beautiful swimming pool, but it was a little too cold to go in. We went through the playground, and Victoria made me get on all the rides with her. I don’t know, I think I prefer keeping my feet on the ground. Jason said he thought it was a little bit creepy, all of these toys for kids and no kids around. In fact, the whole campground was very quiet. We saw almost no one, and as the sun disappeared I could tell it was making Jason a bit uncomfortable. I didn’t mind so much; I like the quiet from time to time.

One of the rides My Family forced me to go on.

One of the rides My Family forced me to go on.

Can anyone tell me why this is supposed to be fun?

Can anyone tell me why this is supposed to be fun?

In the morning we got packed up and drove to a place that couldn’t be more opposite of Lake Chapala: the city of Guanajuato. Guanajuato looked really old, with narrow stone streets and tall stone buildings. It was also REALLY confusing to drive. I could tell Victoria and Jason were getting a bit frustrated, and we had to pull over once to figure out where we were going. Finally they found the right street, and we reached the Morrill Trailer Park.

Guanajuato has LOTS of old buildings to look at, something My Family could do all day.

Guanajuato has LOTS of old buildings to look at, something My Family could do all day.

It was on a hill, looking out at another hill covered with colorful homes. There was no one around when we arrived, so Jason set up the camper and we waited to make sure it was okay to stay there. Guanajuato is very different from anywhere we’ve been since California. I could tell we were really high, as it was kind of cold and very dry. When we finally saw the woman who ran the RV park, it was almost nighttime. She was super nice and looked like an abuela (that’s grandma, in Spanish), and treated us that way. She didn’t speak any English at all, but My Family was still able to communicate with her. Now that we knew we could get set up, we faced another little problem: we hadn’t stopped for groceries. I had plenty of food, so I was just fine. But it was slim pickings for Victoria and Jason. They ended up making weird egg salad sandwiches for dinner, and shared desserts of their jiggly, jelly-like things called flan that came out of the same kind of package as yogurts. I didn’t get to try any of it, and for the first time this trip I was totally fine with that. After dinner Jason didn’t feel really well, but it wasn’t because of the food. He had a bad headache, which I guess happens to him a lot when he first goes to a high elevation. Did you know our campground in Guanajuato was about 6,800 feet up from sea level? Considering just a couple of days ago we were sleeping at sea level, that’s a big change. I kept kissing Jason’s face, but I don’t think that was making him feel any better. Also, it was VERY LOUD there. Even though the houses were far away, you could hear at hundreds of dogs barking, and they just barked all night. Add on to that the dance music coming from places all over the city and the occasional earsplitting firework exploding in the air, and you knew this was very far from the silence of Lake Chapala!

So. Many. Hills.

So. Many. Hills.

One of the many plazas we visited.  The restaurants here didn't let me in so I didn't think it was that great here.

One of the many plazas we visited. The restaurants here didn’t let me in so I didn’t think it was that great here.

Jason was feeling much better when we got up the next morning, so we decided to go explore the city. Guanajuato is made up of huge hills and cobblestone streets and alleyways that snake from place to place. Everything is built at an angle. I didn’t particularly love the walk, but My Family really enjoyed looking at all the buildings. This was nothing like anywhere else we had ever been. We reached the bottom of our hill and entered the main part of the city to see that Guanajuato is covered with gardens, great restaurants and lots and lots of people. We saw cool street artists, musicians, and painters as well. Victoria and Jason found a piece of art they really liked, and they bought it for our camper. After walking around for quite a while we sat in one of the pretty squares for lunch. There was a dog that kept hanging around, hoping to get some of Jason and Victoria’s food. I knew I was going to be the one to get those tasty treats, but he just kept hanging out. And then Jason gave him his steak! I only got a small piece, and this stranger dog got almost half of Jason’s lunch! What’s up with that?!

I sure hope he finds a Family of his own someday :(

I sure hope he finds a Family of his own someday :(

Then I realized that this dog had no collar with his name on it, no leash to keep him safe, and no Family around either. I’ve never really thought about it, but apparently there are some dogs, and even some people, who don’t have homes. This dog was like that. He didn’t have anyone to snuggle with at night, no warm blankets, no fancy outfits, and clearly no delicious food. After the bite of steak Jason gave him , the dog started drooling a lot, like he had never eaten before! I realized it was a good thing that My Family shared with this dog, even if it meant I would have a little bit less. And the more I thought about it, the more I remembered all of the dogs we’ve seen on the adventure so far. Almost none of them had a Family. I can barely remember it now, because my life is so awesome, but I didn’t have a family at one point. I wish all the dogs-with-no-homes could find good people to take them home, just like Victoria and Jason gave me one.

PS: If you want to see some of the photos My Family took while we were in Lago de Chapala and Guanajuato, they are on Facebook.

29
Nov 2013
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Mainland, Mexico

DISCUSSION 7 Comments

Finally, the Mainland!

Me and Olivia relaxing in Sayulita.  I love when Olivia and her family shows up because Olivia always wants to play with me!

Me and Olivia relaxing in Sayulita. I love when Olivia and her family shows up because Olivia always wants to play with me!

First of all, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write this blog post you guys! The trip to Mazatlan was pretty tough, and since then I’ve basically been recovering on the beach. It’s really hard to tear myself away from the best sunny, sandy spots I’ve ever seen, and then when I do Jason is working so much that it’s been hard to get anyone to help me write these posts. I’ve managed to sneak some time on the computer, so here it goes!

After we drove off the ferry we had to find the San Bartolo Trailer Park, where we were going to be spending the night. It was somewhere in Mazatlan, and unfortunately my Family didn’t have a good map. The GPS wasn’t working that well either, and since everyone was so exhausted from the ferry ride it made navigating a big city pretty tough! We did it somehow, and the RV park ended up being a lot of fun. Someone had trimmed all the hedges into funny animal shapes, which was pretty cool, but even better was the fact that our friends were there! When we arrived we saw the nice British couple we had met in Los Barriles, and parked right next to them was our German friends Doris and Torsten, who Victoria and Jason met in Venice way back before the adventure even began. We were lazy, tired and sweaty, but everyone was still happy to see us. After showering my Family had rum punches at the Germans’ rig. Although I didn’t get to taste any of that, I did get a lot of attention from our friends, and most especially from Torsten. He let me sit in his lap, and gave me all sorts of rubs and snuggles. I love Torsten! After that My family went out for dinner with our friends, but they left me at home in the camper. Although I was disappointed not to get any treats from the restaurant, I was more than happy to snooze while they were away. Victoria and Jason got home pretty early, filled with food and happy to be meeting other overlanders, even though we seem to keep meeting up with the same people!

Giant shady tree in Miramar.

Giant shady tree in Miramar.

The next day we meant to get up really early so we could make it to Sayulita before sunset, but my Family was really slow to crawl out of bed. That was perfectly fine with me, but as the time passed I could tell Jason was worried we wouldn’t make it in time. Apparently we had a very long drive ahead. In the end we ended up leaving an hour late, but after saying goodbye to our friends Victoria was still pretty confident that we’d make our next destination.

Things changed in a hurry. My Family took a wrong turn, thinking they had to find one particular highway, and drove almost an hour in the wrong direction before they figured it out! A little bit of panic in the truck, but we were determined to get through it and keep going. We stopped for gas, and the nice man who filled the truck for us really liked our ‘Perro Peligroso’ sign. That means ‘dangerous dog’ in Spanish, and I guess if you know me you’d think that was pretty funny too. But hey, I can be tough when I need to be! We drove onto a big highway, and although it was helping us make up some time, Jason didn’t particularly enjoy it. There were crazy drivers everyone, led by the nuttiest truck and bus drivers I’ve ever seen in my whole life. One bus driver even tried to pass us and a big truck in the other lane, and almost crashed into three cars coming the other way! People were making up their own lanes, and driving straight at us on the wrong side of the street, all while going really fast. We were fine, because Jason’s a pretty good driver, but I could see that his hands were holding the steering wheel very tightly.

The beach in Miramar.  We had the place to ourselves once the sun started to set.

The beach in Miramar. We had the place to ourselves once the sun started to set.

We were making good time, but with our early morning detour Jason and Victoria started to think we wouldn’t make it to Sayulita, their most favorite place in Mexico, that day as planned. Victoria opened up our guidebooks and found a nice looking RV park in a town called Miramar, so we pulled off the road and onto their cobblestone driveway just before the sunset. It was good timing, as I don’t think Jason could have handled the small, windy roads packed with potholes for very much longer!

The Paraiso Miramar RV-Trailer Park was super nice. We found a place to park right in front of a huge, perfect lawn topped with one of the biggest, prettiest trees I’ve ever seen. Families were splashing in the pool and playing games on the grass. We got out and almost immediately a big dog named Archie came right up to me. He wanted to be really really good friends, but Victoria wasn’t having any of it. I kind of just wanted to run around on the lawn anyway. We sat on a bench and watched a really pretty sunset, and then headed off to dinner. They had a nice restaurant with delicious food, and this time I got to try some. My Family also met a very nice older couple named Julie and Rusty, who split their time between a small town in California and an even smaller town in Mexico. They were traveling with two dogs and a cat! I didn’t get to meet the cat, but the dogs were really nice.

After dinner we went back to our camper, and that’s when we noticed the bugs. We didn’t really see many of them when it was still daytime, but once the sun went down they came out in droves, looking to munch on us every chance they got! I don’t mind quite as much, because I can chase them, and sometimes if I’m lucky I even manage to eat one or two. They’re pretty delicious, but Victoria was absolutely fed up. My Family spent some time battling the bugs in the camper, before finally settling in to listen to the ocean waves and get some sleep.

One of Julie and Rusty's dogs.  She was super friendly!

One of Julie and Rusty’s dogs. She was super friendly!

The next day we managed to wake up on time, to pack up and have a nice breakfast with Julie and Rusty. They suggested we check out a couple of small towns, and are especially proud of where they live. I don’t think we’re going to make it through all of them, but hopefully someday I’ll get to meet those nice people and their dogs again! After breakfast Rusty showed us some of his art, which was pretty cool, while Archie tried to sniff me up and down again. We said our goodbyes and hit the road.

The drive to Sayulita was especially beautiful. We moved away from the beach a little bit, and the smells told me we were truly somewhere else now. Jason called it ‘the jungle’ and it sure looked and smelled different. Nothing but huge trees, packed in close together, and tons of birds and animals making a racket. The road was small and winding, moving us up and down mountains, but not too bumpy, and My Family was so excited to be heading back to Sayulita. We got there a couple hours later, drove through the beginning of what looked to me like a super cute town, and ended up at the Sayulita RV Park.

Sayulita sunset. We went to the beach every evening to watch this and so My Family could drink 'Sundowners.'

Sayulita sunset. We went to the beach every evening to watch this and so My Family could drink ‘Sundowners.’

We ended up staying in Sayulita for nine days. Victoria and Jason had come here before, and they tell everyone that this is where they first had the idea for the Big Adventure. Sayulita is really beautiful, with cobblestone streets, lots of art and pretty shops, and some of the most delicious food I’ve had a chance to taste. Our days were very relaxed and pretty slow, which is just fine with me. Every morning started with Jason making coffee and my Family sipping it either on the beach or at our campsite. Jason would hop on the computer and do some work, either at home, at a local restaurant called Tropical which had yummy smoothies, or at the Yah Yah Coffee Shop in the town square. Meanwhile, Victoria and I would lay on the beach, go for walks to meet other dogs, or hang out with the old and new friends we made. When Jason came home for lunch we always went for delicious fish tacos or ceviche, and every time I got to have a taste. Then we’d go for more walks, hang out on the beach and read books (well, not me, but you get the idea) and just enjoy the beautiful weather. There was a little bit of rain, but it cooled things off and got rid of the bugs for a little while, so that was just fine with me. Each evening we would walk into town and try out a new restaurant or taco stand, listen to the street musicians, watch the kids and dogs running around or hang out with our friends. Marcia, Andre and Olivia spent two nights with us, and they made delicious barbecue one night. We met a German boy named Alex who is riding a Vespa scooter from Alaska all the way to the bottom of South America. I liked his accent. Jason, Alex and Andre spent a night talking over beer, but that seemed pretty boring.

Jason drinking his cappuccino in the Zocalo (that means main plaza or square in Spanish)

Jason drinking his cappuccino in the Zocalo (that means main plaza or square in Spanish)

Over all, I can really see why Victoria and Jason like Sayulita so much. It’s full of nice people, great beaches, better food and super colorful sunsets. Victoria commented that it seemed a lot more busy than the last time she and Jason went (when I was left behind, stuck hanging out at the vet’s office in a tiny cage!), and full of tourists (what they call ‘gringos’ here), but we all still had a fantastic time. The only issue was the dirty bathrooms at the RV park, which I think Victoria complained about every single day.

Lots of things for sale in the Zocalo.  Vic got a new bracelet, I didn't get anything...

Lots of things for sale in the Zocalo. Vic got a new bracelet, I didn’t get anything…

Oh yeah, and there was one more thing I should probably tell you about. That nice German couple Doris and Torsten spent a couple of nights there as well. I love that Torsten guy so much! We had a lot of fun together, but one night My Family and our German friends went out for dinner together. They wanted to leave me at home in the camper. I don’t know what got into me, but I wasn’t happy about this arrangement, so I scratched and scratched at the door, hoping they would hear me, change their minds and let me come with them. But they never did. When they got home I almost jumped out of the camper into Jason’s arms. I knew what was coming. Jason saw it almost immediately – I had scratched holes in the screen door! They told me I was a Very Bad Dog over and over, but I guess they felt bad about leaving me behind and didn’t stay mad that long. No one’s perfect, right?

Part of the Revolution Day Parade.

Part of the Revolution Day Parade.

The day we left Sayulita, the was a big parade in town. All the girls were wearing really colorful dresses and the boys had funny pretend mustaches drawn on their faces. It was fun to watch but the parade was blocking all the streets so we had to sit around for a while in the Big Truck until we could leave. More delays, but Victoria said we have to get used to things taking longer than they did back in California. Anyway, we eventually could drive on the roads and headed out of town towards the ‘Highlands,’ where we are now. More on that later!

PS: If you want to see some of the pics My Family took, they are on Facebook!

PPS: My Family did an interview with an online magazine called SayulitaLife.com! I think that means I’m famous.

23
Nov 2013
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Mainland, Mexico

DISCUSSION 3 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

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