Tag Archives: swimming

Two Borders, a Beach and a Lake: Nicaragua Pt. 1

Is there anything better than a new beach to explore? Here I am in Las Penitas.

Is there anything better than a new beach to explore? Here I am in Las Penitas.

I knew the day we left El Salvador was going to be a long one. First of all, Victoria and Jason dragged me out of bed just as the sun was rising. Jason’s been getting up with Maya at all hours of the night for weeks now, but I would much rather sleep in. On this morning I didn’t get a choice. We were heading out of El Salvador, through Honduras and into Nicaragua all in the same day, and there was no time for beauty sleep. There was barely time for another sniff around Playa El Cuco before we were packing up and hitting the road. Back down the bumpy dirt road, a couple of hours driving across the last stretch of El Salvador and we were at the border.

By the time we left El Salvador the sun was high and hot, and both me and Maya were panting pretty hard. I’m still not particularly thrilled with this new ‘little sister’, but I did feel bad for her, laid out on the ground while My Family got us through the border. I’m used to this process by now, but everything’s so new for Maya. She’s just a baby! Luckily everything went smoothly and we were soon back in the big truck and heading into Honduras. Since it was going to be such a long drive we gave in to a couple of comforts. There was air conditioning for me and Maya, and soda in a bag for Victoria and Jason. I’ve never seen that before, and it was certainly an adventure for Jason to drink from a bag while driving! Thankfully, that was the most adventurous part of this drive.

Jason and Victoria had been stressed out about Honduras for as long as I could remember. It was the only country we weren’t really going to see so the plan was to drive through this teensy little bit of the country, just enough to get into Nicaragua. It was only eighty miles or so, but My Family had heard the drive could take all day because of police checkpoints. My Family relaxed pretty quickly, however, as we didn’t get stopped even once driving through Honduras! Maya slept through the whole thing; I don’t think she can smell nerves on humans yet.

Although we didn’t hit any issues we did have to get through both borders in a single day, and by the time we entered Nicaragua we were all pretty tired. It was super hot, and after all the stress of a long driving day everyone was super excited to get to our campsite for the night. Luckily, it wasn’t very much further. We got out to our first top in Nicaragua, the beach town of Las Penitas, just before the sunset. We found a great little hotel right on the beach called Playa Roca, and the super nice owners were happy to have us camp there. Even though we were all exhausted, I still got a chance to run on the beach a bit. This part of the Big Adventure was certainly shaping up well. So many beaches to run on! After months of shivering at night in the mountains, all of this sun and sand made me one happy dog.

The beach in Las Penitas was empty most of the time!

The beach in Las Penitas was empty most of the time!

We spent a few days in Las Penitas, and boy was it HOT! It was hard to do much else but lay around, and thankfully there were plenty of shady spots. Maya wants to play all the time, but even she got tired of chewing on my face in this weather. I didn’t even mind so much when Victoria took me in the ocean or under the shower. This was a great beach, with plenty of room to run, lots of nice people and other dogs, and delicious food to taste. Jason didn’t have it quite so good as I did. He had to take the bus into Leon twice to get supplies and find internet so he could work. Even though lots of people go to Las Penitas for fun there are no real shops there, which makes it pretty tricky for Adventurers like us.

Maya is SUPER slow and she trips over her big feet all the time.  I'm slowly teaching her how to run.

Maya is SUPER slow and she trips over her big feet all the time. I’m slowly teaching her how to run.

It kept getting hotter, and then there were crazy dust storms that covered My Family head to foot in sand. Victoria and Jason started to seriously drag. Even Maya was running for cover. After a while we knew it was time to go, so we packed up the big truck and headed for our next stop, Laguna de Apoyo. This drive was nice and short, something I’ve noticed is pretty much normal now. Victoria says that these Central American countries are much smaller than Mexico and even Guatemala, meaning we can see a lot more of them in a short amount of time. We drove through a couple of small towns, stopped on the side of the highway so My Family could get another tank of gas for the truck, scaled a big hill and caught our first look at Laguna de Apoyo. It’s much smaller than Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, and the drive down was way less scary, but this place was just as pretty. It’s in the middle of a volcano! I don’t really know what that is, but it was pretty cool to see a lake that was almost a perfect circle. Victoria also said that this volcano has been a lake for a very long time, so I didn’t think there was anything to be nervous about.

There were lots of steps to get from the lake to our room at the Monkey Hut but I didn't mind!

There were lots of steps to get from the lake to our room at the Monkey Hut but I didn’t mind!

Our first top was a hotel called The Monkey Hut. We didn’t see any monkeys, but we sure heard a lot of them! Not my favorite thing in the world. We weren’t able to camp here, but instead we stayed in a super comfy room! We had our own private patio, which looked right out over the lake. So cool! The weather was much better here, but that didn’t stop Victoria and Jason from forcing me and Maya into the water. I did like this a lot better than the ocean. It’s much less scary. Maya’s a pretty good swimmer too! Finally, something she’s actually good at…

Maya loved laying on the cool tiles in our private room which was fine by me because it meant I had the bed all to myself!

Maya loved laying on the cool tiles in our private room which was fine by me because it meant I had the bed all to myself!

We could only have one night in the comfy room, but instead of leaving the next morning My Family decided to stay in a dorm room. This was definitely a first for us on the Big Adventure. A dorm is basically a big room with lots of beds, and you share it with other Adventurers. Jason wasn’t too sure how this was going to, and he was even less pleased when we found out that the whole dorm was going to be full of girls. Thankfully they turned out to be super nice, and Maya managed not to pee inside or cry or anything. I guess she’s starting to be a little more fun.

Laguna de Apoyo. Better to swim in than the ocean but I'm still not loving it.

Laguna de Apoyo. Better to swim in than the ocean but I’m still not loving it.

We left The Monkey Hut for another spot down the road so we wouldn’t have to share a room with anyone. This place was called Hostel Paradiso, and it was super cool. So pretty, with all sorts of levels, great grassy bits, hammocks to swing in, and delicious food I got to taste. We spent a couple of nights in our own room here, relaxed during the day while Jason worked, and spent the evenings down by the beach, swinging in hammock chairs and meeting all sorts of nice people. I’m happy to report that the travelers we met were just as interested in me as they were in Maya. As it should be.

Lots of stairs at Paradiso but at least Maya is getting better at climbing them (finally).

Lots of stairs at Paradiso but at least Maya is getting better at climbing them (finally).

Hostel Paradiso was probably my favorite spot in Nicaragua so far. This is Victoria’s favorite country, and I could certainly see why. The people were so nice, and there was loads to do. I actually enjoyed swimming here, as long as Jason held me tight. I played a bit with Maya, and got more than enough beauty sleep. We even got to move back into the camper our last night there, and met a nice couple from Switzerland who had been traveling for two years! I have to admit I didn’t really want to leave, and I think Jason felt the same way. But we had to keep moving. Victoria made reservations in a hotel in a city called Granada, so after a couple of days we got back on the road. The stress of our big border crossing day was pretty much forgotten, and it was time to see more of Nicaragua! Maybe we’ll find someone in Granada who would take this puppy off our hands. Just kidding! Well, sort of.

PS:  My Family has been pretty lazy about taking photos lately but you can see some of our time in Nicaragua on Facebook.

Apr 2014



The Baja – Part 2

Me at Playa Tecolote after Victoria made me go swimming.

Me at Playa Tecolote after Victoria made me go swimming.

The night spent in Ciudad Constitucion was relaxing and pretty quiet. No barking dogs and clucking roosters to keep us up all night, although I think I might have dreamt about them! When we woke up in the morning it got hot in a hurry. We were far from the beach, and boy could you tell! My Family had planned on getting us up and out pretty early, so we could get to a beach they promised me was going to be a lot of fun. But the owner of Palapa 206 RV Park & Motel wanted to chat. He was a really nice man from England, which is where Victoria’s family is from too. I bet they know each other. He wanted to talk about stuff Jason called ‘politics’, and from how quiet Jason was, I could tell he wasn’t sure if this was going to be a fun conversation. There was a lot of talk about people named Margaret Thatcher and ‘Di’, who both sounded pretty nice. I was trying to figure out if we had met them back home at the Wee Blue House, but since I don’t speak human I guess I’ll never know. Anyway, after a long talk we finally wrapped up and hit the road.

It took quite a long time to get to our next destination, a big city called La Paz. There were a lot of long, straight stretches, and then big hills that seemed to just go up and down forever. It was pretty, but it was also really really hot. By the time we got to La Paz I was panting pretty hard. I was more than ready for the beach, but I didn’t see one anywhere. We stopped at a supermarket, and then tried to find our way through town to a beach called Tecolote. It was supposed to be really pretty, but boy, was La Paz confusing! Victoria thought she had a map with a ‘shortcut’, but we kept getting turned around. All the while it just seemed to get hotter and hotter. I didn’t mean to, but I pooped a little bit on Victoria’s shorts. She was pretty upset, because someone named Lululemon gave them to her. I didn’t mean it! It all worked out, though. Victoria forgave me for the little accident, the shortcut ended up working out, and after a fun drive on a trucker highway we ended up far outside of La Paz, past the big ferry station, on the amazing beach in Tecolote.

Playa Tecolote.  I called it Dog Heaven.

Playa Tecolote. I called it Dog Heaven.

The road there was pretty crazy, which seems to be normal for Baja. At one point we were following a big construction truck that was literally digging the road as we drove. I’m glad our big truck is so good at driving on roads like that. There was a lot of bounces and bumps, but finally the beach was in sight. My Family was right; it was amazing!

We pulled up right on the sand and parked. All around us were other families, parked and playing on the beach. There were boats and things called jet-skis in the water, and kids were splashing in the waves. Even though it was already late in the day, I got to go off leash and play with the waves. I’m not sure I would want to swim like these people do; the waves are so big! But they are fun to splash around in. I like to bite the foam as it trickles into shore, and then dig at the wet sand that squishes between my paws. It was so much fun to run on the sand again I didn’t want to stop, even when it started to get dark. But we were all getting hungry, and luckily my Family took me with them to dinner. There was a string of restaurants on the beach, not far from where we parked, and we settled onto beach chairs. Jason had a margarita, and Victoria was super happy to ‘finally’ have something called a pina colada. I managed to steal a lick off the side of the glass before she moved it out of the way. While I wasn’t allowed any more of that, I did get a big share of the chips and the fish tacos we ordered. Let me just tell you, they were delicious! I played in the sand all the way home, and then we settled in for the night.

Even when the sun goes down, it's still my favorite place we've visited in Mexico.

Even when the sun goes down, it’s still my favorite place we’ve visited in Mexico.

When I woke up it was still dark. My Family was asleep, but I just wanted to look out the windows. Since we were right on the beach the sound of the ocean was so loud, louder than any traffic or anything we used to hear back home. My Family woke up too, and laughed about me looking out the windows. Hey, I’m just making sure everything is okay! Jason was telling Victoria how it takes him at least a day to get used to the new sounds in each place. I don’t know what the problem is, just go back to sleep! But they wanted to get up and go to the bathroom, and couldn’t seem to fall back to sleep after that. Ah well, it gave me the chance to chow down on my food. I can’t remember ever having breakfast that early before, but the ocean air seems to make me really hungry.

Although the day started really weird, it got a lot better from there. We went on a long walk down the beach, all the way to the rocks at the end. There were lots fish laying on the sand, with funny pointy bits all over them. Jason wouldn’t let me get near enough to get a good sniff, but they’re called puffer fish. Victoria was wondering why so many of them were laying around, but Jason didn’t have any answers. They did let me play with some funny colored balls on strings hanging out in the water. They’re called ‘buoys’, and later I saw that people used them to get in and out from the shore on their boats. I got to run around a lot off leash again, which always makes it feel like a holiday.

My Family kept saying how beautiful the sunset was here.  This is what it looked like over the mountains behind us.

My Family kept saying how beautiful the sunset was here. This is what it looked like over the mountains behind us.

The rest of the day was filled with holiday fun. We played at the edge of the water a bit, but I guess Victoria is determined to teach me to swim, because she kept carrying me in with her. The water was nice and warm, but I don’t think I like it very much yet. I was able to swim in to Jason on the shore a couple of times, and then I let My Family know I was pretty much done with that. So instead we sat in our chairs, played in the sand, and My Family read books. Jason and Victoria talked about how much they’ve been sleeping, and how beautiful and relaxing Mexico is. I have to say I agree!

That night it got really dark, and most everyone else on the beach started to leave. A big camper pulled in next to us, something Victoria called a ‘Winnebago’. It had people from Canada in it, which means they drove even longer than we did to get here. As it got even later we noticed that one car down the beach was just sitting there with its lights on. A Mexican man and his two children passed us by, carrying a small can meant for gasoline. He spoke Spanish to us, and it took My Family a while to figure out what he was saying. But eventually they figured out that his family had run out of gas and needed help. Luckily, before we drove through that big desert in Baja California Jason had filled up his spare gas can. My Family managed to pull it off the truck and fill the Mexican man’s can. He thanked us and was able to get his family off the beach. He asked Jason “Quanto?”, which means “how much” in Spanish. But Jason and Victoria didn’t want any money for it. The man was surprised, but happily went on his way. Jason said it was “good Karma”. I don’t really know what that means.

The next morning we woke with the sun, and it got hot in a hurry. We were ready to head south, and although we were leaving the beach, My Family promised me more fun ahead. We drove past La Paz a lot easier this time, into a town called Todos Santos. This place was really pretty. We had planned on stopping there, but it was Sunday and almost everything was closed. We still managed to find delicious lunch at a small restaurant called Tacos Barajas. They cut up the meat right there on the counter, and I was lucky enough to get a few bites. There were plenty of other dogs around that weren’t nearly as lucky as me. I wonder where their owners are, and when they get treats?

We drove out of Todos Santos towards a town called Los Cerritos, which had a beach club My Family thought had a place to camp. There was a beautiful club there, with a huge pool and everything. But the campground left a lot to be desired. It was basically a dusty field, and there wasn’t anyone else around to play with. My Family knew they didn’t want to stay there, but they didn’t really know where else to go. We stopped at a restaurant on the beach where My Family could get drinks. They were pretty grumpy, but a couple of pina coladas helped a lot. Those drinks seem pretty magical. The internet worked there, so Jason hopped online and they looked over their options. Apparently there was a place called Pescadoro Surf Camp that sounded pretty cool. We had passed it on the way down, so we quickly backtracked and pulled in.

Since Jason was working most of the time we were at PSC, Vic and I hung out out the pool.

Since Jason was working most of the time we were at PSC, Vic and I hung out out the pool.

The owner, an American from San Diego named Jaime, was really nice. He walked us past the pool and the cool outdoor kitchen and showed us where we could camp. There was good internet there, and showers for My Family to use. Victoria and Jason thought it seemed pretty nice, so we decided to stay there. Was that ever a good idea! The pool was pretty, and even though Victoria made me swim again I didn’t mind too much. There was a dog in the camp that really liked me. He kept coming around trying to sniff at me, and even whined at our door when I was in the camper. Victoria and Jason started calling him “Romeo” and laughing. These people jokes really don’t make much sense to me.

It was pretty quiet when we got to the surf camp, but within a couple of hours more and more people started to arrive. By the end of the day the camp was packed, and everyone was so nice! There were all these surfers there, most of them from Canada, and everyone loved me. I don’t think I’ve ever had more people who wanted to hold me, kiss me and talk to me. A couple of them even took me in the pool, and debated with each other how I wanted to be held. Really, I would much rather have watched from a comfy chair, but I didn’t mind too much.

These are lizards. Vic says I'm not allowed to eat them.  As if!

These are lizards. Vic says I’m not allowed to eat them. As if!

The next few days passed slowly, and were a ton of fun. My Family shared meals and drinks with all of the surfers, and I got a ton of attention. A couple of the nights we stayed up late, as the surfer boys had bought several bottles of something called ‘tequila’. This made them all pretty silly, but I still got a ton of attention. Jason spent some time working, Victoria read and hung out with me by the pool, and we had a lot of delicious food. We went for a walk into the town of Los Cerritos, where everyone was so nice. I got to stretch my legs a bit, and saw a bunch of other dogs and people. There was even a big blue box on one corner, which Victoria called a “taco stand”, where a woman made huge burritos for Victoria and Jason. They were pretty excited about it. We had a lot of fun hanging out with all of our new friends, and relaxing on the comfy sand. The only real problem was getting the camper comfortable. When we pulled in Jason didn’t realize how much of a slant we were on. The first night was pretty bad. My Family felt like they were going to slide right out of bed the whole time. The next morning Jason dug up a bunch of sand and set it under the wheels, finally getting us level. It seemed like sweaty work, and I was pretty happy that I didn’t have to do it.

I could smell in the air that things were different down here. It was hotter than where we had been before, and there were tons of palm trees like we have at home. I saw all sorts of little creatures, too. There were stick bugs that spent all day trying to climb up the table leg in the kitchen, tiny lizards that scurried along the edge of the roof, and more bugs than I could even try to catch. Apparently we had passed something called “The Tropic of Cancer”, which is an imaginary line humans have drawn on the planet. I don’t understand this that well, but I guess it means we were in a really different part of the world now.

Even though we never made it back out to the beach, this might have been my favorite place ever. I could tell that Victoria and Jason really didn’t want to leave. We even ran into our friends Andre, Marcia and Olivia again! They had spent a night at the terrible RV park on the beach, and  they decided to join us at the surf camp. It seemed like they had fun there too. After four days My Family decided it was time to move on. We packed up really slowly, because it was seriously hot. I was panting pretty hard, so Victoria and Jason forced me under the shower a couple of times. I don’t really like this that much, but I did feel much cooler afterwards.

This is Vincent.  I'm pretty sure he lives at the coffee shop.

This is Vincent. I’m pretty sure he lives at the coffee shop.

We drove for only a few minutes before pulling into a place called ‘Baja Beans’. This was a coffee shop, which I guess My Family desperately needed at that point. Anyway, they were really happy with the food and drinks they got, and I even got a little taste myself. There were a couple of nice dogs there, and the space was beautiful so I was more than content to hang out while My Family enjoyed their coffee.

After that we drove right back to the surf camp. I didn’t really know what was going on, until I saw Jason come back to the big truck with one of the surfer boys, a nice person named Steve. He had to get to a place called Cabo Pulmo, but I guess he didn’t have a big truck of his own. Jason and Victoria wanted to help him out, so they moved some stuff around and we left again, this time with another passenger! I wanted to sit in his lap to welcome him to the adventure, but Victoria made me stay with her.

We passed back over the Tropic of Cancer when we were heading to Cabo Pulmo. Still not sure what that really means...

We passed back over the Tropic of Cancer when we were heading to Cabo Pulmo. Still not sure what that really means…

We drove on from there, quickly passing through two big beach towns. My Family called this place ‘Cabo’, and even though it was really pretty it seemed like we weren’t going to stop there. Victoria said it was too expensive, and Jason said he didn’t want to stay somewhere so ‘touristy’. I don’t know, the beach looked pretty cool. Anyway, we left those places behind and headed up a really pretty road, with mountains covered in mist in the distance. We stopped once to fill up on gas, but the whole station was empty. I’ve never heard of that before. I know, I’m a dog, and I don’t know much about cars. But that seemed pretty odd to me. Anyway, we found gas at another place, then turned off on the road to Cabo Pulmo.

After a while the pavement stopped, and suddenly we were bouncing down a really rough gravel road. It kept going on and on, and I could tell Jason and Victoria had no idea that Cabo Pulmo was going to be so far away. Steve was really thankful for the ride, and I could tell My Family really didn’t mind. It was ‘part of the adventure’, as they would put it. Once Cabo Pulmo came into view, no one talked about the road anymore.

Cabo Pulmo: Worth the drive down the long bumpy road!

Cabo Pulmo: Worth the drive down the long bumpy road!

This place had one of the most amazing beaches I’ve ever seen. You couldn’t force me into that water, though. It looked really rough. But it was so pretty, and there was almost no one there. Apparently Cabo Pulmo is within a national park, and most people come here to go diving. There’s something called a live coral reef there, which I guess means there’s all sorts of fish and animals you would get to see. I knew my family wouldn’t be doing that, but they did really enjoy the tiny town set close to the beach.

It was already getting late when we got there, so My Family decided we wouldn’t be heading to Los Barriles as planned, but would spend the night here. We dropped Steve off so he could set up his own camp, and My Family found a nice lady named Nancy, who owned a restaurant where we could stay. We set up in their driveway, went for a little walk, and then went inside for dinner. It was really pretty outside, with a fire and candles on the tables. Victoria loved all the decorations for Halloween, while I think Jason was happy to have a nice dinner. The food was super tasty, and My Family started chatting with a couple of people from a town called Mexico City, which is also in Mexico, but pretty far away. Victoria was excited to talk to them, because she wasn’t sure if we should go there or not. That couple had traveled quite a bit, and after talking to them for a while they sounded pretty certain that we should skip Mexico City this time. Jason was more than happy to take their advice, especially after hearing about all of the other places they recommended. We thanked them and headed back to the camper for the night.

It was the end of a very long day, but it seemed the roosters wanted to stay up and chat. I was happily drifting off, but the roosters were crowing what seemed like every five seconds. My Family couldn’t understand why this was happening. These guys are supposed to talk during the day? Anyway, a couple roosters around there didn’t get that information, and kept chatting all night long. The next morning I could tell that My Family hadn’t slept all that well. We packed up pretty quickly and found a place for breakfast. The food was pretty good, and Jason liked watching the dive instructors all drinking beer and watching something called ‘football’ first thing in the morning. After breakfast we got back in the big truck and headed up to Los Barriles. It was a short and pretty drive, and My Family is pretty excited to spend some time in a real town. We found a nice RV park to stay in, where I guess we’re going to spend at least a few days. Victoria said the RV park is full of snow-birds but I haven’t seen a lot of birds yet, just a lot of older people who like to talk to My Family a lot. I’m not sure what’s to come, or if we’ll see any of the snow birds, but if it’s anything like the last week I’m sure I’m going to love it.

PS:  If you want to see some of the photos My Family took last week, they are on Facebook.

Nov 2013

Baja, Mexico