First of all, a very Happy New Year from My Family to yours! Victoria and Jason told me to say that, though I’m not exactly sure what the fuss is all about. Today seemed just like yesterday to me. But now it’s 2014, and we’re still on the Big Adventure. And man, has life been good! I want to tell you all about what’s been happening, but I’ve been so busy with things I haven’t had a chance to post in way too long. So before I can say anything about New Year’s Eve or what’s happened since, I have to tell you about the three weeks we spent mostly in a little town just outside of the city of Oaxaca, called El Tule.
The drive from San Miguel de Allende to Oaxaca was super pretty, with the Tundy twisting and turning up and down mountains. I kept hearing Victoria ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’, so I even picked up my head from her lap to take a look out the window every now and again. I can see why they loved it so much, although there’s not much to smell when you’re going so fast.
After we drove through Oaxaca I could smell My Family starting to get nervous. I guess the GPS (which is a little computer that points us in the right direction) stopped working, and the notes Victoria had written down to get us to the next place weren’t making much sense. Jason kept us pointed in the right direction, and soon enough we found our way to Tule, and a camping spot called Overlander Oasis.
We rolled into camp late in the afternoon, and were immediately greeted by Morena, the camp dog. I don’t know what sort of dog she is, but she sure has a lot of energy. Morena immediately ran out of the gate and jumped up on Victoria, and then spent the next several hours following me around smelling my bum. It was sure a lot to take at first! But as we settled in Morena calmed down, and I could tell we would quickly become friends.
Overlander Oasis is run by a very nice couple from a place called Canada, which I guess is way far North of here. They have a bunch of cats too, but I didn’t hold that against them. They were super nice to me and my family, giving us the best spot in camp to set up! The super nice British couple Wendy and Steve, who we had hung out with in Mazatlan was there, as well as another couple from England, Jayne and David, who have been on the road for years. We had a nice night together, and then settled in to get some sleep.
The next morning both groups of campers were gone, and we had the place to ourselves. Plus, an extra surprise: Wendy had bought us donuts! Apparently the neighbor lady comes by with fresh donuts every morning, and Wendy had left a couple of them for us. I even got to try some! Now, this was a place to stay for a while. We relaxed for much of the day, and then Calvin and Leanne, the folks who run the place, invited us to something they call The Peanut Bar. Basically, they sat around with My Family drinking beer, eating peanuts and tossing the shells on the floor. I didn’t get any peanuts, but Morena and I were allowed to wander around off leash, crunching on the salty shells. Not a bad day at all.
When we woke up in the morning Jason had to start his work week, but he had a comfy place to sit and good internet, so he was pretty much taken care of. We met another couple traveling from Canada that evening, and My Family went out with them for dinner. I didn’t get to go, but the weather was so good here, and Morena was such good company that I didn’t mind at all.
As the week went on Victoria wasn’t feeling that well, so we took it easy for a while. Morena and I strolled around the campsite, laying in sunny spots, sniffing particularly tasty stretches of grass and running after the cats until Jason or Victoria yelled at me to stop. My Family wandered out into Tule several times, and sometimes I got to go with them. The first time was one of the strangest experiences of my life. Leanne invited us to join her for something called the Celebration of The Virgin of Guadelupe. We walked over to the pretty church in town, where all the kids wanted to pet me. I don’t know what it is here in Mexico, but they always yell out “chihuahua!” and smile at me. Have they never heard of a chi-weenie? On that note, I’ve actually seen far fewer chihuahuas here than I thought. My Family kept saying we were traveling to my original home, but clearly the chihuahuas have moved on! In fact, Victoria found out that people in Mexico actually buy Chihuahuas from America and bring them down here! Crazy.
I think I lost track of my point. Oh, the Celebration! There was a parade around the church, with people lighting candles and singing songs. Other people lit off these huge wheels of fireworks that rained sparks on everything and made a HUGE boom! I didn’t like the sound all that much, but everyone seemed happy and I could smell that my My Family wasn’t worried at all. I guess it was okay. As it got dark, there was music from a big marching band, and everyone in town gathered around a square. Suddenly, townspeople circled around the crowd throwing things. This was called a Candy Toss, but they were tossing all sorts of things. I saw bottles of water and beer, tupperware containers, bags of chips and even sandwiches. It was chaos! I’m sure I would have been trampled if Victoria didn’t carry me for most of it. Anyway, it was a lot of fun.
That was a pretty typical sort of night for Christmas in El Tule. We spent a ton of time walking around the town, which was super cool. The street that Overlander Oasis is on had a ton of dogs. They barked and barked at me each time we walked past. I guess they were grumpy that they didn’t get to go on more walks. There was a turkey farm too, which smelled absolutely delicious. I saw some chickens and roosters, which I don’t like one bit, and made plenty of new dog and people friends. We walked to shops, ate crazy delicious tacos, fresh grilled chicken and more tamales than I could ever want. Everyone was super nice, and were very patient with Victoria’s and Jason’s attempts at Spanish.
One of the best parts of our time there by far were our days just hanging out at Overlander Oasis. It was so comfy there. I got to lay about off leash almost the entire time, except when the neighbor dog came around wanting to wrestle with Morena. Calvin and Jason worked on a couple of projects for the camper, making it more safe for our trip further south. Leanne kept baking delicious treats and sharing them with us. I couldn’t always get My Family to give me a taste, as some of it isn’t good for dogs (or so they tell me), but it always smelled so so good. Smells would just float out of Leanne’s kitchen and right into our camper, almost as if it was being pumped in. This was pretty much heaven. There were so many smells – roasting coffee on Calvin’s barbecue, spicy peanuts that Jason bought at the dry goods store, Ratatouille that Calvin and Leanne made and Brazilian rice that Jason made (with Marcia’s recipe!), warm atole, broccoli fritters and basically anything else you can think of!
I did get to see the city of Oaxaca for a night, which was pretty cool. I knew something was up because Victoria and Jason were packing two backpacks, which they pretty much never do these days. And then once my travel bed came out I knew the adventure was headed in a new direction. We found a taxi and Victoria had a full on Spanish conversation with the driver on the way into the city. We stopped in front of the Hotel Camba, which was a super cool place. It was so pretty, with most of it outside of our room in the open air. There were two beds in the room, which was awesome, because I got to jump from one to the other over and over again.
We went out exploring for the afternoon, and saw more people than I think I’ve seen since we left on our Adventure. We walked to the Zocalo, which is the center of Oaxaca. Beautiful trees, a couple of big old churches and TONS of restaurants. I couldn’t take a single step without snagging a whiff of something delicious. We stopped for lunch and I got to taste pretty much everything. Then I took in the sights while Jason got his boots shined. It felt like it took forever, but he was all smiles when it was done. I wish I could tell you what Oaxaca was like at night, but I got left in the hotel while My Family went out for dinner. Now THAT really did feel like forever. They left the TV on for me, but that didn’t really help pass the time all that much. I mean, even I don’t want to watch bad American movies overdubbed into Spanish.
We left Oaxaca in the morning, stopped a couple of times to do some shopping and then settled back in at Overlander Oasis to get ready for Christmas. Calvin and Leanne were expecting a bunch of people, and My Family was going to cook some of their favorite dishes to contribute. Jason was basically in charge of the scalloped potatoes, while Victoria was taking the lead on Sticky Toffee Pudding. I could smell that they were a bit nervous, just wanting it to come out well. But once all the cooking really got started, I knew they had nothing to worry about. Besides, if nobody liked it I’d be more than happy to eat the leftovers! Leanne and Calvin had us over for breakfast, and even gave My Family a present. There was a new toy in it for me, too! It’s this really cool anteater, with all sorts of great pokey bits that are perfect for chewing on. And the squeaky inside is good and loud. Yep, perfect present.
Once Calvin got the Turkey in the oven the smells were just about enough to drive me crazy. It was so much fun, though. I got to hang around while everyone cooked in the kitchen, and once Calvin and Leanne’s guests started arriving the table filled with a truly special dinner. And then: treachery. Jason put me in the camper. I wasn’t getting a spot at the table?! Unthinkable! And yet that’s how it went down. I didn’t get to come out again until dessert. Okay, I guess I can be a bit of a pain sometimes when dinner’s happening. But can I help it if people naturally want to give me treats when I look at them? After all, I’m pretty darn cute.
As Christmas came to an end, I knew we were soon going to be leaving El Tule. Jason was getting antsy to hit the road again, and Victoria was thinking about trying to get back to the warmth of the beach. They might have been ready to go, but I sure wasn’t! This place was pretty much heaven. There’s not much more a dog could ask for than Overlander Oasis and El Tule, Mexico. We had spent so long here that I was beginning to hope this was the end of the Adventure, and that maybe we could just stay. But if there’s one thing I’m getting used to on this trip, it’s change. As long as My Family is there, I don’t mind where we go. That was even more clear to me during the holidays. We saw so many dogs without families, not just here but all over Mexico. They don’t have anywhere to go during special occasions, and don’t have anyone to share treats from the table with them. I’ve got a blog, a big truck to ride in, a comfy camper with a bed to sleep in, and two humans that love me lots. I’m really one lucky dog.
PS: My Family has a bunch of photos on Facebook, you can find them here, here and here!