Tag Archives: Pemex

San Pancho, Mazatlan & the Pemex Inn

Me in my happy place!

Me in my happy place!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the many dogs in our campground.

One of the many dogs in our campground.

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

The beach in San Pancho was perfect for running around1

The beach in San Pancho was perfect for running around1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me and Krista just hanging out!

Me and Krista just hanging out!

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

Rufus!

Rufus!

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

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

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

Sunrise on the peninsula was worth getting up for.

Sunrise on the peninsula was worth getting up for.

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

Life in an RV park is pretty boring. Sigh.

Life in an RV park is pretty boring. Sigh.

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

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

Nary a grain of sand to be seen...

Nary a grain of sand to be seen…

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

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

28
Jan 2015
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Mainland, Mexico

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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 7 Comments