Category Archives: Mexico

Boondocking in Bermejillo, Durango, Mexico


The night was hot. The air was heavy and thick and the ever present Vicente Fernadez’s beautiful voice singing Estos Celos was filling the diesel scented air with his smooth notes. The vulcanizer store next door was still busy with the trucks arriving in late and needing some repairs. The whole family was out in the street with children giggling outside the trailer while the father set about fixing the truck. The truck cleaning men were still waving down the drivers enticing them to park up and have their huge semi-remolques cleaned while they stopped to rest for the night. This is when having an older trailer works – we blended into the mayhem of the place, our 24ft 5th wheel looking petite next to the medley of colourful trucks. After spending a few hours watching the street I realised that it was not mayhem out there at all. This was a small town fully geared to servicing the truckers. The following morning after not much sleep we had a wonderful Huevos a la Mexicana from one of the street stands. Having come from Patzcuaro and Zacatecas where the 7000ft+ altitude gives you hot days and cool nights we were shocked to find that the temperature never really dipped much below 34c even through the night. It was steamy, loud and smelly where just the sheer exhaustion of all the travelling allowed us to store a few hours in the sleep bank. We were not really sure where we were and it was only upon leaving the town the next morning that we found out the name of the town. It was Bermejillo about 40 kms from Torreon in Coahuila.

When you travel in Mexico looking for a place to stay for a night, the Pemex gas stations are generally a good spot. The trick is to buy your gas and ask whether it is alright to park for the night. The Pemex station outside of the towns are generally better as they tend to be large and act as truck-stops. But pick the right one make sure you know what is around you and that you are going to feel safe for the night. Other good places are Police stations or even motels or restaurants – just ask. If you park in street which we did in Los Mochis make sure the street is well lit and that you check out the neighborhood and know what kind of place you are in and don’t be surprised in the morning if you find some curious people checking out your trailer from underneath…

Never park in a deserted area as you never know what is going down in that area it may not be deserted.

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Patzcuaro, Mexico


The more time I spend in Mexico the more excited I am by the people, the culture and the landscape. Driving into the western highlands of the Mexican state of Michoacan past old volcano’s and rolling fertile plains rich with a diverse flora and fauna I am struck by the how different Mexico feels as I move around the country. The Mexican experience is one that is continually varied. Here in Patzcuaro the center-point for the surrounding Purepecha Indian villagers who flock to the town to sell their crafts and food I can feel the spirit of the indigenous peoples striking in their traditional clothes. The air is rich with varied smells of foods and fruits and there are plenty of street cafes to hangout in and just watch the world go by, but never expect quiet because you are likely to have a mariachi band stroll up and start playing beside you at any moment. While your there try the local Tarascan soup which is on most menu’s made with blended beans, dryed chilies and tomatoes, poured over fried tortilla strips, with melted cheese, avocado and cream on top.

Plaza Don Vasco

Patzcuaro (pop: 50,000) in the western highlands situated in the Lake Pátzcuaro region of the Mexican state of Michoacán is famous for the Day of the Dead celebrations in November which is a mix of pre-Hispanic beliefs and Catholicism. The original meaning of Patzcuaro in the Purepecha language is “door to heaven” and this is not far off the mark even today. It is situated in an area thickly forested with pine, oak and eucalyptus so in the cool mornings the air smells divine. The town is a colonial gem with 16th century architecture, stucco walls painted white with dark red borders, friendly people, colourful markets, good food and a laid backness that gets into the bones. There are no major stores or chains just amazing buildings. Peak into any given tienda or store and you will see a long hallway leading to a courtyard garden. It’s is packed with churches, beautiful plaza’s that transform into markets depending on what day it is, Fridays are great as this is the major market day for the villagers from all around the lake who sell their wares in the main plaza’s such as Plaza Vasco de Quiroga. This plaza is named after the still revered Don Vasco , a bishop who fought for the rights of the local population rebelling against any ideas that they should loose their liberty and introduced the concept and skills which still persists today of each village producing a particular craft. Paracho is known as the guitar capital of the world, Tzintzuntzán pottery, Santa Clara copper products and Nurío woven woolens.

Market

And if you have a fascination with the catholic crafts step into the arcade called Casa De Los Naranjos on the corner of Plaza Vasco de Quiroga where you can buy many Dia de Los Muertos figurines, local CD’s and further into the arcade try making a selection from a wall plastered with hundreds of catholic crosses and iconography in that truly Mexican style. When I visited in April there were very few overseas tourists so if you have the desire to experience real Mexico this is the place to visit.

Crosses

Getting There

Patzcuaro Location – By air, there is a small airport that connects with Houston (4 hours), LA (3 hours), Mexico City (55 minutes) or take the luxury air-conditioned bus Primera Plus which is 5 hours direct from Mexico City for about $50 return. Getting to Patzcuaro from any place is Mexico is easy as long as you go through a major city.

Where to Stay

Camping – There are two parks here, I stayed at Villa Patzcuaro Hotel and RV Park has rooms and RV camping in a large garden out the back surrounded by eucalyptus and many birds. Not far from town to drive or jump in a collective.

There are many beautiful historic hotels at great prices in the town center.
Hotel Meson del Gallo, Dr. Jose Maria Coss 20. Single or double, $28; (52-434) 21474.
Hotel Fiesta Plaza, Plaza Bocanegra 24, single $37; double $43; (52-434) 22516.
Hotel Mansion Iturbe, Portal Morelos 59, (52-434) 20360, on the main plaza. is an elegant bed-and-breakfast; $70 for either a single or a double , breakfast included. Discounts for longer stays.

When to go

In terms of the weather, day-time temperatures are consistent year round but winter nights can be very cold as the town is at 7200ft altitude.

Major Fiestas

March 14. Don Vasco de Quiroga week: art and cultural fair, concerts. Patzcuaro.
March-April. Holy Week: processions, passion plays, Stations of the Cross, feasts. All towns.
May 3. Santa Cruz Day. Patzcuaro, Tzintzuntzan, Erongaricuaro, Quiroga, Zirahuen, Tingambato.
Oct. 31. Kuirsi-atakua: ceremonial preparation of duck casserole in advance of Night of the Dead: Janitzio, Jaracuaro, Tzin tzuntzan.
Nov. 1 and 2. All Saints’ Day and Dia De Las Muertos: offerings to the dead (food, flowers, candy)
Dec. 8. La Senora de la Salud Day: Dances, Indian artisan fair, parades, bullfights. Patzcuaro.
Dec. 12. Virgen de Guadalupe Day
Dec. 16 to 24. Christmas processions in the streets, fiestas, fireworks, pinatas.

Interesting Articles

Deep in the Heart of Mexico, The New York Times

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San Sebastian de Oeste, Jalisco, Mexico


We arrived in San Sebastian de Oeste on a Sunday after a holiday weekend so apart from a few stragglers hanging out in the town square the streets were deserted. So deserted that a couple of the local kids took advantage of the empty streets on this beautiful sunny winter evening and galloped bareback along the cobbled stoned streets on a couple of horses. Getting to San Sebastian was intriguing, it’s off the main highway down a 7km dirt track giving you no indication of what lies at the end of the road. Having gone there by recommendation with no prior research my expectations were not particulary high but at the end of the bumpy ride I was very excited to find myself in a magical old silver mining town.

Town Square

The town is beautifully preserved and sits high in the rugged hills of the Sierra Madre mountains. In the evening the air was crisp and heavy with the scent of the beautiful pine forests surrounding the village. Time seems to have stood still here, most of the buildings are at least 250 years old and everyone of them white-washed with some of the roofs dating back 16th century. Original stone pavements, plastered mud-brick walls, archways, attics, wooden and tile roofs; all constitute the town’s distinctive traits. The newer buildings are all built to blend into this UNESCO world heritage site. The town just screams to be explored and around each order you are greeted with beautiful stonewalled pathways leading to avocado orchards nestled in amongst mining haciendas and casas along the rivers around the edges of the town.

If you are lucky you might even get accompanied by a local guide. He is not very tall and pretty stocky looking with a mouth that goes from ear to ear but he is friendly enough. Just stroll past his doorway and he will accompany you over the old bridge along to the end of the town where you can get on some wonderful hikes. The guide doesn’t say much and lets you set your own pace and upon returning back through the town wags his tail and settles back down on the porch for a snooze.

Tour Guide San Sebastian Veins of silver were discovered by the conquistadors in these mountains in 1605, and by the mid-1700s it was a large colonial town of 20,000 with wealthy hacienda owners running the thirty silver mines. The Mexican Revolution of 1910 brought an end to the hacienda system with the last of the mines closed in 1921 and leaving the town to oblivion. The Hotel El Pabellón, on the plaza, used to be a fortress where silver shipments were stored while awaiting transport with turrets on all corners top guard the precious metals. One surviving turret is now a cozy nook in a popular bar. The banditos were such a problem a tunnel was constructed from a mine to the garrison to transport the silver so it could not be stolen enroute. As mining operations wound down, the structure was used to store grain.

Today the people living in these mountains support their families by running coffee and agave plantations, raising livestock and providing services for the tourists trickling in by bus, car and plane. The La Quinta organic coffee farm is run by Rafael and his wife Rosa who are the fifth generation carrying on with the tradition of planting, sowing, drying and roasting organic coffee. The store is right at the entrance to San Sebastian.

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GETTING THERE

For driving from Puerto Vallarta follow the highway towards Mascota, 15 minutes of which are made up of seven kilometers of dirt track through mountainous terrain. Shortly before arriving at the town there is an airstrip receiving excursionists who prefer to get there by air. Alternatively you can get the bus or tour with Vallarta Adventure .

Approximate distance from San Sebastián to:
Mascota 54 km 34 miles
Talpa de Allende 78 km 49 miles
Puerto Vallarta 64 km 40 miles
Guadalajara 265 km 165 miles

WHERE TO STAY

My top pick is Hotel del Puente, a 400 year old house managed by 19 year old Sergio Trujillo which has been in the family forever. It has a courtyard and 9 rooms of different sizes. Beautiful hotel and one of the cheapest in town for about $100 peso’s/ person with bathroom. To get there, heading east from the plaza, toward the lower bridge you will see the hotel. Other places include the Casita Alicia or some of the other hotels in town.

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Guanajuato City, Mexico


Guanajuato City, Mexico (pop: 80,000)

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I roam the streets taking in the sights and sounds. Most days the sky is a deep blue with the high desert plains providing a perfect temperature year round temperature. The knife sharpening man is here filling the streets with the sounds of a pied piper’s whistle and setting off a bark of a shaggy dog in guarding his rooftop. Within minutes there is a symphony of barks emanating from all the rooftops in the neighborhood. I continue to stroll through the streets trying to get to the El Pipila monument and enter the narrow, twisting alleys. I notice an arm waving at me at the end of an alley. It is pointing forward and then signaling to the left repeatedly until I realize what is happening…I am being given directions. That’s what I like about this place, people want to help out. The woman anticipated my confusion going down dead end alleys trying to reach Pipila and provided a helping hand (well arm). The same thing happened going to the Museo de las Momias by a man on a donkey. The city is has a dream-like quality, it set in a valley with houses draped across the surrounding hills in a startling and divine array of colors, the center is packed with churches, domes, colonial palaces, velvet clad mariachi bands and you can find many different types of live music on most nights. My favorite haunt was Cafe Zilch in the Jardin which has anything from bossa nova to Bach played by one of the bar owners Micheal, of the Guanajuato Symphony Orchestra. Everywhere you go whether it is exploring the carless alleyways looking at the enchanting houses with Escher like staircases leading to nowhere in particular or sitting in one of the many street cafes the feeling is the same – that of enchantment. And this is only above the ground…

Drop down the rabbit hole into the ancient and mysterious tunnels underneath the city and the fairy tale quality that is in the air in Guanajuato increases dramatically. The city was founded in 1557 as a silver mining town and is packed with baroque buildings plus the occasional surprise like the Dolores Mercado built by Gustave Eiffel. From any view the city painted in blues, yellows, pinks just brings a smile into your heart. Stray from the compact city center into the narrow alleys leading up the hills and you will find a wonderland of houses and twisting alleyways so narrow that the mind boggles on the mechanics of furniture removals. Donkeys are used for carrying goods up the alleys and men carry back breaking amounts of bricks on their backs up the steep cobble stoned streets. At all times of the day and night the streets are packed with people including the music students who grace the streets and bars in the evening playing live jazz or just plain old ranchero mariachi music. This is a city that does not even have to try hard to charm. There are no traffic lights in the streets as most of the traffic goes under the city into the ancient subterranean labyrinth constructed to channel the main riverbed. This continues to be expanded by blasting out the rock but this is less dramatic than in the 19th century when entire city floor with it’s streets, churches, houses had to be raised 20 feet. If you go to the Templo de San Diego you can see how this was done. Today some opportunistic locals hang out in the tunnels charging a small fee for the tourists who dare to drive into the city and subsequently spend hours lost in the tunnels.

The city is brimming over with legends and history. During the quest for independence against Spain Pipila a local silver miner crawled into the corn exchange with a paving slab on his back with fire burning to ambush the building for Dolores Hildago and his men to fight. Hildago and the three other leaders of the revolution – Hidalgo, Allende, Jiménez and Aldama were executed in 1811 and their decapitated heads were put on the four corners of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas in Guanajuato, intended as a way to intimidate the insurgents. These stayed on display until 1821, when Mexico finally won its independence.

IMG 6857Putting this bloody history behind everywhere you walk you will be reminded of the patron of the city, Miguel De Cervantes and his famous Don Quixote. During October the city hosts one of the biggest Latin American arts festivals, the Cervantino festival a fitting place seeing as this town was also the birthplace of Diego Rivera where his house is now one of the many museums in the city.

I came here to learn Spanish and was lucky enough to select La Escuela Mexicana owned by the adorable Hayde. This school blows the main competitors out of the water with many students leaving the other schools to come to this progressive school which is cheaper and has a quality of teaching second to none. I was there for three weeks and had many different teachers at this beautiful school set in an old, restored house right in the heart of down-town. The school has many students that return year after year and puts on lots of extracurricular activities like Salsa, hiking, trips to other towns like San Miguel or Dolores Hildago home of amazing ceramics.

GETTING THERE The closest airport is the Léon-Guanajuato International Airport (BJX); from there, either take a taxi (15 minutes). Don’t bring a car as you don’t need one – this is a walking city.

WHERE TO STAY There are plenty of places whether cheap hostels or hotels.

OTHER INFO New York Times Article


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Lo De Marcos, Nayarit, Mexico


It’s always the way that on your journey to get to one place you find a little piece of paradise along the way, the trick is to recognise it before you continue on your quest to find the right place. I was looking for somewhere to be still, somewhere I could call home for just a short while. Baja is a stunning place to stay but my itchy feet were too curious about mainland Mexico to be still so on Dec 29th we took the ferry leaving Baja behind for now. After a uneventful but expensive ferry trip from La Paz, Baja to Topolabampo we drove south towards Puerto Vallarta heading for Sayulita in Nayarit for a quick stop with a plan to drive onto Barra De Navidad. I won’t bore you with the details of getting the ferry tickets but the three key points you should take note of; 1) you can’t buy a ferry ticket unless you have your vehicle documents for the mainland, 2) you can’t get your vehicle registered if you don’t have your vehicles at the Banjercito which is at the port in La Paz 3) you will have to back your vehicle onto the ferry which gets tricky in a large RV. Tickets are expensive for truck and trailer combo ($800 for 8 metres length plus $70 per person). Good news is that the ferry is new and only a 6 hour crossing. The ferry will get you in at around 10pm so head for the nearest town which is Los Mochis, but be warned there are no RV parks open here as we had to just park up in the street with our trailer.

So we arrived in the once sleepy fishing village of Sayulita and felt crowded out. It is packed with eager surfers enjoying the surfing paradise and of course partying plus those that like to hang out in a cool town. You can get custom surf boards made by dingbatz for the same cost for one bought off the peg or you can buy your little bit of property in Mexico at a high price. Real estates agents are two a penny alongside bars and restaurants and you would have no problem finding an apartment to rent out in this funky little Mexican town. There was no room at the RV park when we arrived on New Years Eve so we were forced to check out the next town 16km north of Sayulita, the truly sleepy town of Lo De Marcos with a beach to die for and the kind of laid back ambience that Sayulita must have had when the hippes discovered it in the sixties.

Lo De Marcos Beach

Lo De Marcos, a town of 3,000 is going through continual transition to accommodate the increasing visitors feels positively Mexican. The town is frequented by Mexican families during the major holidays and weekends with some long stay RV’ers campers here. Most of the streets are cobble-stoned with dogs lying camouflaged into the dusty grey cobbles with their dirty creamy curly coats, spread eagled and relaxed. On the rare occasion I need to drive the truck I have to be careful to skirt around the dogs and keep a keen eye on the children playing on the corners, some aged as young as 3 or 4 never wandering far from a small radius in front of their houses, laughing and chasing the dogs who also seem to have an unmarked territory from which they explore and guard. Altars sparkle outside houses. Our Lady of Guadalupe always the centerpiece with her gold beams and ribbons lit by the xmas lights. Old people sit outside their houses which look like shops. I find myself peering into open doorways expecting to see items for sale and then once closer look away quickly realizing that I am peering into someones home. Shops which look like houses are equally confusing selling a handful of items outside their front door. Men play dominoes outside the plaza wearing shirts and cowboy hats whilst cowboys trot pass on their horses. In the mornings all manner of people are selling their wares, the bin men ringing their bells, the gas man tooting his ice cream van style horn with interspersed with cry of “calour, calour”. Street stands sell taco’s and churros, mariachi CD’s and jewelry and like everywhere in Mexico there are always the internet cafes around to make those cheap calls home (thank god for Skype ).

The beach is sandy and wide with , the waves crash in and wallop onto the beach providing a constant background noise. Mexican families adorn the beach in groups sitting under beach umbrellas with picnics but between the major holiday seasons the beach mostly empty. Mornings bring out the mostly Canadian golden brigade who are out for their morning constitutionals walking, jogging, strolling with rarely a car to be seen. When the tide conditions are right a handful of surfers and boogie boarders race out to the rocks on the western edge of the beach bobbing on the waves waiting to catch the big waves. The local fishermen compete with the pelicans for catching the fish out by the rocks in the late afternoons with the heavily laden shrimp boats hanging out in the water resting from the nights fishing. The cicadas break into their singing in the evenings with a variety of sounds that rush at your ears all wanting to be heard. The referee whistle reaching out over the rest of the sounds as regular as a heartbeat.

Vampire Bats

The small pond along the road behind the beach houses egrets sitting alongside the turtles taking a break from the slow creeping around the waters. Iguanas race across the road to get to the pond in a rush of luminous green that disappears into the undergrowth. Hummingbirds fill the air like fighter jets swooping and collating mid air in a fight to the death over the feeders hung from the houses. The birdlife is intense every day bringing a new and wonderful specimen to wonder at. Huge butterflies gorge on the feast of bouganvillias that are bursting out everywhere, vampire bats rest during the day in the roofs of buildings. Lo De Marcos is the place to be right now because in effect the two smaller beaches frequented by the Mexican holiday makers have been bought, well the access roads have been bought (always a work-around in Mexico) and the plan is for the Japanese developers to put up the hotel and the bungalows. The sleepy charm will soon be lost but for the locals there will be more job opportunities.  While I was there I saw more estate agents opening their doors and Lo De Marcos is for sale in terms of property and houses.  The price is going up substantially each year.

If you want to get involved with the local community there is a non for profit organisation La Casa De Los Ninos that is always looking for help.

GETTING THERE The closest airport is Puerto Vallarta; either take a taxi (45 minutes) or hire a car.

WHEN TO GO It is surrounded by jungle and receives 345 days of sunshine per year with temperatures reaching 90 degrees F (32 C) during the summer, along with high humidity, but at night, the onshore breeze. The rainy season is June through September, however, August and September are considered the two “rainy” months. December and January, the peak tourist season, are generally warm, sunny and dry, with comfortable, balmy nights.

WHERE TO STAY There are plenty of places whether RV camping, renting houses or bungalows.

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Swimming in a Sea of Fairy Dust


 

bioAt nightfall, standing on the shore at Los Naranjos beach in Baja Concepcion, I noticed that the gently lapping waves seemed to be sparkling. Upon agitating the water with my hand there were even more sparkles. Absolutely magical this is the famed bioluminescence produced by the flagellate plankton who when agitated glow bright green as a way of scaring predators. In large accumulations, they produce “phosphorescent seas” in which crests of waves, surf, and waters around boats and swimming organisms glow electric blue. In the deep sea, where there is no sunlight, more than 90% of the animals are luminescent. Bioluminescence serves a number of important functions other than scaring predators such as prey attraction, illumination of prey, mate attraction, and predator avoidance. It also serves the purpose of making you feel like you are swimming in a sea of fairy dust. Now where are those kayaks…add to del.icio.usDigg itStumble It!Add to Blinkslistadd to furladd to ma.gnoliaadd to simpyseed the vineTailRank

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Lazy Days at Bahia Concepcion, Mexico


The instant I arrived here I felt relaxed. Trying to read my book listening to the sounds of “The Band” drifting out from the neighbours cabin I found myself just gazing at the shoreline about 20 feet from the trailer watching a dog that from all account seems to be fishing. At no time did I see him catch as fish but his focus on the water around him walking along the beach with his tail wagging frantically for a least an hour makes me think that he may have had at least one vivid success in the past. Having meet the owner I later found out that this Labradoodle does fish. But the more experienced fishers are here and swallow up a lot of my gazing time. The pelicans sit in the water directly in front of me with their sinuous necks and enormous beaks resting in what no doubt is the most comfortable position possible, an S shape and their eyes observing all around. Having ignored for hours the incessant squawking of the two seagulls, who seem caught in some tortuous repetitive behavior picking and dropping things seemingly unable to fish and now engaged in a vicious fight trying to pull each others eyes out, the pelicans join me in trying to break up the fight.

pelican brown-mtybay

The pelicans fly in groups of about a dozen in single file over the water with a wave type approach to the flapping which I assume generates a air stream that allows those behind to glide inches above the water. Watching the world go by with a stillness I have never observed in a bird is the heron. With it’s tall thin legs and long pointy beak it stands solitary waiting in the water with the waves lapping against it’s perfectly still body to catch the odd passing fish. There are so many birds too numerous to mention. They spend less time on the beach and hang around the sandy fields of huge saguaro cacti perched on the tips of the cacti relaxing with their wings spread before soaring up into the sky to hunt for food. And best of all are the pods of dolphins who swim along the shore in the mornings with their fins bobbing in and out of the water.

As I sit in my trailer this morning looking out at the scene before me, the travel guide descriptions seem a little off the mark. The turquoise waters of the bay are nowhere to be seen instead there is a little drizzle which has been making an appearance on and off all through the night and it still lingering this morning. The water is uniformly grey. Most north Americans visit Baja to escape the cold winters up north but the winter months are not always that hot down in Baja. We have been informed that this is extremely unusual weather by those that have been frequenting the area for 10 or more years. There is cloud, sunshine and winds that sweep in during the afternoons and the water is tepid. For me this is perfect, long gone are the days of toasting myself in the sunshine, a task that was always an uphill battle with fair skin.

Bahia Concepcion is a bay that is about 20 miles in length with about 12 beaches offering various levels of camping. Right now it is undeveloped but the developers are moving in. There is a remax office about 3 miles north of here selling beach side property that hints at the development that lies ahead. For those visiting these beaches for the last 20 years and there are quite a few of them here at Los Naranjos, it already feels more developed but as most of them know this is still a far cry from Los Cabos with it’s first class hotels and golf courses. For now it is a chilled out bay with much more interesting flotsam and jetsam living in the beaches for the winter months. We were led to the Los Naranjos beach after a brief meeting in Catavina with the warm and friendly Roy, the pastor of a non-denomination church that sits on the beach less than a mile from the campsite who normally spend 6 months a year here . When asked what he does he replied in a Missouri accent, “Ahh haeve ma church and am going down to visit the schools as Santa Claus.”

The campsite has lots of longstay people here, mostly American who either own or rent Palapa’s which are woodframe huts with a covering of palm fronds for a roof on the beach or like us camp in their trailer. The beach is unique in that it offers water and sewage but all the power is solar. There is fishing right off the beach and the bay provides great kayaking for those armed with their own kayak. Yesterday while the fishing dog was busy in the shallow waters, another mutt with his life jacket on had the pleasure of a whole mornings kayaking with his owner much to the jealously of the other beach dogs who frantically swam after the kayak out into the bay. The sense of home and community is what strikes me about this beach. Many people have come and introduced themselves to us, invited us for food and coffee’s trying to establish whether we are going to be one of the community here. One of our neighbours, an Australian couple who are 4 months into their 18 month trip started in Vancouver, have decided not to bother exploring Mexico much more and see no reason to leave this beach sooner than February (in 3 months). At $10 a night for a camping spot or $15 for a palapa and rv spot along with with side trips down to the southern most tip doable in a day I can see they have a point. The only downside here is that you are living in a English speaking ghetto nevertheless with the site being run by Mexicans and with the town of Mulegé10 miles down the road you can still experience Mexico and have somewhere to further those Spanish skills or like the pastor Roy there are ways to engage with the local community especially if you look like Father Xmas.

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