Friday, 28 November 2008

22/11/2008 - 03/12/2008 Bahia De Concepcion - Cabo San Lucas - La Paz

22/12/2008 - The Germans, the Swiss and us, all drive to the Bahia De Concepcion, and what a beautiful spot it is. It has a Cantina set-up right on the beach behind us - it just keeps getting better. After we have all finished setting-up and getting organised we go over to the restaurant for some lunch and yes some drinks. Unfortunately, the chef advises us that their bar person has gone into town for supplies and wont be back until 2:00 so the Germans and the Swiss head on back to the campsite for a bite to eat. Dave and I decided that we weren't in any hurry so we had some lunch and waited for the Margaritas to arrive - Dave was happy they were serving beer. I would normally order a wine, but so far in Mexico it has been cheaper to order a Margarita (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). While we were there some of the local Americans were also involved in a Texas Hold 'Em tournament - what more could I ask for - so I was happy to sit there and watch them play and drink my Margarita. One of the locals also informed us that they were having a benefit that night with a band and a set menu - say no more we are in. So after I finish my Margarita we go home and let the others know and they are also going to join us, it ended up being a great night - I even got up on the dance floor - after several Margaritas - I think I'm starting to sound like a drunk. We also meet another couple Maureen and Carl who also joined us for dinner etc.

23/11/2008 - 24/11/2008 - We spend the next two nights in the Bahia De Concepcion. Unfortunately this time there were no Lobsters, but we did get lots of fresh prawns - the size of our King Prawns, fresh green and the heads had been removed for about $10 a kilo. We also ordered some scallops, these are much larger than ours and also a bit tougher, so I think we will stick to the prawns and lobsters for now - oh it's a hard life.

25/11/2008 - 27/11/2008 - La Paz. We yet again say goodbye to our German and Swiss friends - and head off to find La Paz. On our way we stop at a small town called Ciudad Insurgentes were we stop to buy some fruit and veges. Of course it's around lunch time so armed with our English / Spanish dictionary in we go and I ask for a menu - guess what no menu. Okay, we can deal with this, so we ask for some Beef Tacos, the cook / waitress than comes back with a monologue in Spanish of which we can interpret nothing, we ask for fish tacos, still nothing, we ask for chicken tacos and still nothing. So we tell her to bring us two Tacos each - we got that part right. We both get our Tacos with several accompaniments and some sauce - of course I dip my finger in the sauce and that was enough for me - it was super hot - at least I'm learning - normally I would of just poured it all over the Tacos. The Tacos were really great so we order another one each. The only thing is that we really don't know what we've eaten. We think it was either donkey or goat. - but hey it was really tasty, cheap and we didn't get sick. At least now we can order some bottled water without an trouble - so I suppose we are progressing. So onto La Paz. We arrive at La Paz do a bit of grocery shopping and head into the park for the night. The next morning we are going to head off to book our ferry trip across to the mainland and pick up some fresh water. But as Dave is looking outside he sees a Ute with the Big 5 Gallon Purified Water, so over I go and wave them down, we bought 4 x 5 Gallon Bottles - great except they don't have a hose to help us get the water into Stubbie and they have let us know they will be back in 20 minutes to collect the empty bottles. So we realise that we don't have a spare piece of clean hose that we could use to siphon - so we going looking for funnel. We find our funnel it has the end piece the size of about a 1c piece - this is going to be fun. So of course I'm left holding the funnel into the water storage container as Dave begins to pour - yep after about 2 minutes, and 1/6 of the first bottle done I'm completely soaked (Dave has a few splashes on his feet), I would of loved to be able to take a picture of this it really was like something from 'Some Mothers Do Ave Him'. We do manage to get all the water out of their bottles and either in the tank or over me - before the gentlemen come back to pick up the empty bottles. As we are preparing to pack up and leave and a lady is walking over to us to ask a few questions and it was the lovely lady Gillian who we had met when we were travelling with Mum in California. It was really great to see her and her Rottweiler (Dolly) Gillian is a lovely lady from Canada who travels down to Mexico ever year. Gillian has been coming to Mexico for over 40 years and has even lived in Mexico City - so she speaks Spanish fluently. Dave has been having a few tooth aches lately, but has been taking some Penicillin and some pain killers, until he felt confident enough in a town to go see a dentist. When you ask a local which is the best dentist they say to find one with a young assistant so they don't have to stop for a rest when they are peddling the bike to keep the drill going. Well as luck would have it Gillian is going to the dentist today - so she phones the dentist and gets Dave an appointment at the same time. This has saved Dave the trouble of wandering past all of the dentists and looking for the youngest / fittest assistant. We decide to go out and have a look around and will meet Gillian at the Dentist (she has given us some directions). Unusual for Dave we are running late for the appointment so we drive Stubbie into town and start looking for a car park - well as you can imagine the streets are getting narrower and more congested - so we start to try and get out of the city - well like any city there are one way streets everywhere and over here they don't all have street signs. So yep here we are in La Paz in the middle of down town (we think) having no idea were to go and of course looking very inconspicuous. The deeper we got into down town the more we thought Stubbie was on her last trip because we didn't think we could back it up the busy streets. We eventually get to a car park. (A building that was flattened in the last big storm). We paid the attendant an extra $20 Pesos to make sure our vehicle wasn't dismantled by the time we got back and start heading in what we believe is the direction of the dentist. Well after a little while we stop and ask some one for help - we've done pretty well (really) we are only one block out. We finally make it to the dentist and Gillian advises that she gave us some wrong directions - nothing like some challenges to make the day a bit more stressful. Dave goes in to see the dentist and he discovers he needs root canal, so he has some work done and he also needs to come back in a few days for some more. At least we get a pleasant surprise when we go to pay the bill it is equivalent to about $240.oo AUD, we hope that we are not in for a rude shock when we go back next week. Apparently a lot of the Americans come down to Mexico to get all their dental work done. So after the dentist Gillian shows us to a great seafood restaurant, and I must say the oysters etc were just fabulous, not to mention the size and quality of the Margarita. So after today we have decided to stay in La Paz for one more night and head off to Cabo San Lucas in the morning - the party Capital of the Baja. It is also where a lot of the American Students come to spend their Schoolies week.
27/11/2008 - 30/11/2008 - Cabo San Lucas. As we are driving into the RV park in Cabo San Lucas one of the Americian campers - shouts out to Dave that we have just arrived in time for the Big Turkey Dinner to celebrate thanksgiving. So of course this would mean that I wouldn't have to cook tonight - we're in. So after we get set-up over we go to the restaurant / bar area and we also find out that they have specials going for drinks Margarita's $4.00 and 6 beers for $10.00. (I really don't know why there aren't more drinkers over here in Mexico - the alcohol is so cheap and good). Dave opts for the Pacifico Beer - he's decided that he has had enough Corona's and needs a change. So after a couple of drinks and our belly's full of delicious Turkey etc. (they really do know how to cook their Turkey's over here, the meat is just so tender and juicy - nearly as good as our Christmas Turkey - Sim and Karls) we decide to head on home - I haven't finished my last Margarita - no problem they say take it with you and bring the glass back tomorrow. So now it's about 9:00pm I'm sitting in bed trying to watch some TV and drinking the last of my Margarita - now I'm starting to think I have a problem.
Dave is really struggling with not be able to read a newspaper or watch the news or anything for that matter on TV. So tonight I find him watching the Simpsons in Spanish - he doesn't even watch / like the Simpsons at home, but he figures he has a chance of at least partially following the plot.
So we wake up the next morning and it's my birthday - so we are planning on heading into Downtown Cabo San Lucas for a look around. Of course I told The Big Fella - don't worry about any presents etc. Well of course I woke up to him singing me happy birthday and that was it - I don't know why he listens to me. He does happen to inform me that I have told him that my last 10 purchases of jewellery and clothes have been birthday presents - soooooooooo. Anyway Dave's Mum has given him a lovely card (before we left Brisbane) to give to me with some money - what a great present - now I can go and buy another silver pendant for my necklace - so a big thank you to you Nana. Dave also informed me that my mother had bought me a great jacket and a few birthday presents when she was over here - okay no more whinging that you didn't get me anything to open up on my birthday not even a card. So after some directions we head out to catch the local bus into Downtown - $0.70 per trip and they seem to run every 10-15 minutes. We arrive in town and it doesn't take me long to find the exact silver pendant of the Kokopeli. "The Kokopeli was the symbol of happiness, joy, and fertility. He would visit villages playing his flute, carrying seeds in his backpack (the "hump" he is pictured as having). Everyone would sing and dance through the night. Then, while the people slept, Kokopeli would roam the corn fields, playing his flute. The next morning the people would awake to find the corn almost full grown and Kokopeli gone, and many of the young women of the village pregnant. One legend has it that he is responsible for the end of winter and the coming of spring. When, the story goes, Kokopeli comes playing his flute, the sun comes out, the snow melts, the green grass grows, the birds begin to sing, and all the animals gather around to hear his songs."
I had been looking for a Sterling Silver pendant of the Kokopeli since New Mexico - so I'm very happy - of course Dave does need to put his hand in his pocket - so he lets me know that yes - this is also another birthday present. We wander around the Downtown area for awhile and then we head down to the harbour area. We've come here to look for the best deal to take a Panga (small boat) over to where you can snorkel with the Seals / Sea Lions - so after sussing this out we decided to have a small bite to eat at one of the nearby restaurants. We had some seafood Tacos and of course the Margaritas were two for one - so basically $2.50 each, oh and yes they are full strength. Dave keeps telling me that he is only drinking as a medicinal purpose to numb his tooth - yeah right. We have a great time just sitting back and watching everything happen around us. We eventually decide it's time to go home - so we look for a bus stop and within 10 minutes here comes our bus. On the way home in the bus we notice a Bull Fighting Ring - with something happening on tonight, Saturday and Sunday night - so of course we assume it's the Bull Fights. Mmm so what do we do - neither one of us is particularly keen to go, but we think it's something that you should probably see once in your life. So we head on home, have a little bit of a rest and then head on back over to the Bull Fighting Ring. Well when we get there we are told that it is more like a festival tonight and the Bull Fights are on Thursday nights. I must admit neither Dave or I were disappointed. The one good thing about this ring - did say that there was no blood shed - so I suppose that was one positive - we would of been cheering for the Bull of course. So we had another great day - thanks Big Head - I really did have an unforgettable and fantastic birthday. It really is a small world - a couple (Pat and Janine) have just pulled in behind us and Dave (the social butterfly) is out having a chat and asks them where they are from and they say a small town in BC, Canada - you probably wouldn't of heard it, Penticton. Can you believe it - they run a small B&B.
Today we head off to the Harbour - we have planned to go snorkeling and to swim with the Sea Lions - unfortunately the weather is a bit overcast and the wind has picked up a bit. Not to worry off we still go. We jump into a Panga (boat) and we head on out. We have a look around at the Arch, Lands End, where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean meet, where the Sea Lions have made a home (unfortunately the currents seem a bit strong so no swimming with the Sea Lion today) and we head back into shore to Lovers Beach. The scenery is really a beautiful contrast the structure of the cliffs are like something that Dave and I have never seen. We pop on our snorkeling gear and off we head - not too much to see close to the main beach, so we head on around the cliffs to the main snorkeling spot and of course not before too long I get stung by some sort of marine stinger (like our blue bottles) we keep going and are rewarded by seeing some really colourful and large fish. They are extremely friendly and you feel like they are going to run into you (later we found out that people in the pangas come out here and just feed the fish). We see many species including the parrot fish, angel fish and many more. So on our way back to the beach I get stung yet again twice. The stingers didn't even touch the Big Fella. So after we get back to the marina, we are walking around and see a lion cub and tiger cub from the local animal refugee / zoo. The keepers are trying to raise enough money to build a wildlife refuge. The Tiger Cub was about 7 weeks old and the Lion Cub about 6 weeks old. They are only doing this for one week (for the sake of the animals) so of course, knowing that it was a donation to a good course, I had to get in there and get my picture taken with the Tiger Cub and after that cuddle / photo, go and pat the little Lion Club. This was really an awesome experience - thanks again Big Fella - he did say that my birthday was officially over NOW. We had a really wonderful day, so decided to head back to Stubbie. When we get to Stubbie we see a note on our door to say that Maureen and Karl a couple we met in Santispac are in the same RV park. So of course at around 5:30 it's happy hour and Maureen and Karl wander up and we invite our Penticton Friends over for a couple of drinks and a chat. It was another great night and we now have another couple of friends to catch up with in Penticton.

30/11/2008 - 03/12/2008 - Los Barrilles. We say farewell to Cabo San Lucas and head on to Los Barriles. On our way we stop in to do some shopping. Dave has been reading on the Net that it is good to get some childrens book to read to assist in the learning of the Spanish language. Well in he goes and he comes out with a Pooh and Tigger book with an audio CD attached - what a bonus. Well we sit down together, put the CD on and open up the book. We realised that the only bit of the book we can understand is the title - so now we have to translate the book back to English. But you can imagine what it looks like to see the Big Fella sitting down, listening to Pooh and Tigger (in Spanish song) whilst attempting to read along - it really is a hilarous sight. The winds are still here so unfortunately no snorkeling boats are going out today or tomorrow, maybe Tuesday, we were hoping to get another day out in the Sea of Cortez and hopefully get to swim with the Sea Lions, but it's not looking good.

We have settled into Los Barilles. The RV park is terrific with Pool/Spa and a number of restaurants just outside the gate. The beach is just across the road and it is just a crystal blue carpet against the desert oasis of Los Barilles. Just when you think you are back in civilisation Mexico throws up another issue to contend with. So that everyone gets access to good water pressure you take it in turns of getting water. It goes off for two or three hours and then comes back on for a few hours - and so it goes.... throughout the day.
03/12/2008 - La Paz - Today we head back to La Paz for The Big Fella to have some more dental work - two fillings, root canal work and nearly $400 AUD later he is all done. Tomorrow we will be catching a ferry across to Mazatlan on the mainland - apparently it can take up to 18 hours.
We have set up Stubbie with her Christmas lights (Red Hot Chillies of course..), Bing Crosby on the stereo and it wouldn't be Christmas without the Elford Elves coming back for yet another performance this year.


Saturday, 22 November 2008

10/11/2008 - 21/11/2008 - San Diego - Baja, Mexico

13/11/2008 – 14/11/2208 San Diego. Our last full day in San Diego is spent going to Sea World – we buy a pass that allows entry for this trip and also for most of next year (for the same price as a one day pass). We didn’t understand why until we entered into the grounds – the place didn’t have many people inside for what one would expect at a Sea World. The main reason we have come to this Sea World is to see Shamu (the Killer Whales) – and let me say it was definitely worth the stop. To see these huge magnificent animals flying through the air was just awesome. With the crowds being so low we decided to shout ourselves lunch with Shamu. We had a great buffet lunch whilst learning and watching close up the trainers playing etc with the Killer Whales. After lunch we entered the Stadium to watch the fantastic show.

Another great moment of the day, for me (and one I will never forget) is that you can actually pat and feed the dolphins – to pat the dolphins was free (okay I might of knocked a few kids out of the way to get in) – but if you wanted to feed them you paid $6 for three fish – what a bargain… Another memory is how huge the Walrus was – I mean I knew they were big – but they are like the size of a huge Elephant only longer.

14/11/2008 – 20/11/2008 Baja Mexico: Tecate – Guerra Negro. Well we started our trip from San Diego somewhat intrepidly as we had caused ourselves some problems, we ended up buying too much insurance for the trip south – but with that sorted out we still hit the roads. In a nut shell American and Canadian insurance does not cover you whilst in Mexico. The Mexican government insists you have Mexican insurance – 3rd party liability is the minimum. You don’t have to have any insurance and I am sure the locals don’t, however the law in Mexico is Napoleonic law which is “YOU ARE GUILTY UNTIL YOU CAN PROVE YOUR INNOCENCE…” A car accident is a felony and you will go to jail if you are in the wrong and can’t pay. In fact you will be put in jail until they sort out who is in the wrong. (If you do have to go to jail overnight, you can rent a cop for $50 to stand outside your motel room for the night and he will take you back to the police station in the morning.) Having read all this we still decided to go.

Off to Tecate. We had been across the boarder to Tijuana many years back said that we would never cross there again. Tecate is a small boarder town crossing. We dumped all our perishable just before the border and proceeded to cross. We came up to the lights to what for a red or green and stared down at a young boy with a machine gun. The light turned to green and off we went. That was it we were in Mexico – no customs, no checking of our vehicle or documentation - nada. We were going to get our visa’s in Tecate however we couldn’t find a place to park stubbie so we went through. We had read that you could obtain your Visa at Ensenada. (3 Hours drive.) Off we drove down highway Mex 3 which is a two lane highway (one going each way) and the lanes are 9ft 6ins wide. Stubbie is 8ft 6ins wide without the big mirrors and they add another 2 feet. So we bent the left mirror in a bit and set off. All the prior reading, research we did started to make sense. ALTO (Stop) signs just popping up anywhere with no white line as to where to stop and in some cases a truck parked in front of the stop sign so only the locals know that it is there. The Stop signs are often place on the highways – letting the side Streets have priority. Then they have a TOPES (speed bump) or Velocity Reducers. What you get is about 15 severe speed bumps in a row followed by one large speed bump. These Topes are also on the highways to let you know if there is a dangerous corner (sometimes) or a place where a pedestrian might want to cross the road. They are designed to rip your suspension clean off your truck. The highway has a top speed of 80k/hr with most of it designated at either 60k/hr or 40k/hr. Needless to say if you meet an oncoming truck you need to basically stop. In some cases both us and the oncoming traffic have stopped so that we can figure out who will do the passing. The locals just ignore all speed signs however the Policia will stop foreigners as they can get some money in their pockets as they are not well paid.

Down the road we travelled. We found the immigration office and to our surprise they don’t speak English. My Mexican was limited to ordering chicken with a Corona and Lisa was white wine and pork. Lucky we had a trusty phrase book. After much gesturing and talking louder they managed to understand what we wanted. Some how we paid some extra money and they gave us 180 day visas – we had read that for Australians you would probably only be given 3 months. We think that they have mistaken us for Americians. We still need a vehicle permit before we hit the mainland. I’m sure that will be another experience.

We made it to Ensenada to a compounded campground for our first two nights. We hooked up with some great people, Steven and Susan who regularly come from California for vacations. We will never say again that the Americans don’t drink much. First of all Steven was an Irish / American and after several drinks in the afternoon and well into the evening, Steven and Susan offered to take us into town the next day. What an opportunity to good to miss – so of course we were in. Well at 11:00am the next day Susan comes over to tell us we will be heading into town at 12:00 noon but at 11:30am we were going to do shots of Tequila (Neither Dave or I like Tequila at the best of times - but hey - when in Rome). So after our Tequila shots we venture into town. First stop is Hussong’s (the oldest bar in Baja Mexico) and of course Steven orders four Margaritas. Okay – that’s enough alcohol without much food, if I don’t move soon – I’m not going to be able to. So we hit the Streets and do a bit of wandering and shopping. We decided that this would be a good place to buy some Penicillin and Amoxicillin – over here you don’t need a prescription for a lot of drugs. So after we end up down the end of the Street – we stop for … yep some more drinks. We finally stop in a Restaurant for our first taste of real Mexican food (and of course more drinks). Here I made the mistake of ordering a Mango Margarita – and boy was it sweet, I’ll stick to the more traditional Margaritas in future. I order the Enchiladas and Dave orders the Taco’s – my Enchiladas were okay – but Dave’s Taco’s were the best I’ve ever had. It appears that their Taco Shells are more like our Filo Pastries (only heavier) and they fry them in butter (not so healthy – but geez they tasted good). So after lunch we decide to head back to the camp grounds for a little party nap (I think I passed out). But after a couple of hours rest – we are back into it. We head up to the Restaurant / Bar area in the campground – and yes it’s time for more drinks and some light snacks – what a great day. We hope to keep in touch with Steve and Susan and hopefully meet up again either back in Australia or at one their homes either in California or Hawaii. So off to our next stop – San Quintin.

We arrive in San Quintin at our RV Park – which is in yet another great location, a little bit more difficult to get to, as poor Stubbie needs to go along a dirt washboard road. We are greeted by Felix the owner and muddle our way through booking two nights in his campground. The campground is on the beach – just behind some sand dunes. One of the first things we notice is the the vehicles on the beach. The vehicles that are on the beach aren’t all 4WD’s some are just normal sedans. The sand on the beach is light grey. As yet the water hasn’t been warm enough for either Dave or I to go swimming – but we are expecting it to get warmer as we go head further south. It is just great to be able to sit in front of Stubbie and watch the seals and dolphins at play. We spend two relaxing days here – detoxifying.

We have arrived at a place called Daggett’s Camp located at Bahia De Los Angeles which is situated on the Sea of Cortez where the desert meets the deep blue sea. It is just a spectacular arrangement of islands on a deep clear blue carpet. It is just absolutely beautiful. At a $100 peso a night (around AUD$10) you get a view that is out of this world, however there is no electricity, water, sewerage etc… Our first day here we catch up with a German couple (Helga and Helmuth) and a Swiss couple (Jonas and Sylvia). We invite them over for a drink and to say hello – well after our beer and wine are depleted it was time to say good night. They have both bought their campers over on the ferries from their homeland. One thing we are learning from people we speak to from Europe is that Stubbie will be too big to take to Europe. Actually now that we are here – probably a bit big for Mexico – given the width and conditions of the roads. The best thing about this campsite, apart from the view is the fishermen who come to your campsite just on dark to sell the lobsters they have just caught. Their lobsters are bigger than our biggest pot…. So we had to buy the smallest Lobster for less than $20 and really squeeze him in – minus a few of his claws and legs. We are surviving….
These lobsters are the biggest lobsters that I have ever seen – and boy they sure taste good.

So after a couple of nights at Daggetts we go over to our European friends to say goodbye and we find out that we are all heading to the same campground in San Ignacio. So we arrive at what we think is going to be a great site to get some water, empty our tanks have electricity and most importantly to have access to WIFI – our access to home. We do hate not having any access to the outside world – but I’m sure with all the lobster, corona and beaches we will get used to it. Well we arrive at the site “Rice and Beans RV resort” and we see our friends from Germany, who let us know that that the WIFI is not working and after looking around that was the only benefit to this campsite, the sites are not far from the highway and they are down in a ditch. After Helga (in German Spanish) and me (in English) try to ask the owner to let our friends from Switzerland know that we are moving on (to a B&B which he tells us may have WIFI) we get in our campers and head on. Well about 50 metres down the road we run into the Swiss couple who have already checked out the place and have found the best campsite to stay in – no WIFI, water, electricity or dumps – but definitely looks the best. Of course we now have a problem we have hardly any water in our tanks – we have plenty of bottled water for drinking. So we ask the owner of the new campsite if he knows where we can get some water and after Jonas having to help with the language barrier – in hops in Stubbie and directs us to his house where he passes Dave the hose over the fence. His name is Manuel (like from Faulty Towers) we ask how much for the water and he says it is free – we ask how much he pays for it and he says $100 peso a month (a little over AUS$10) – so we give Manuel $100 peso and he his very happy. Our Spanish is getting better we now know that the road sign “No Tire Basura” – does not mean no tyre service – it means No littering.

21/11/2008 - Mulege. Back on the road again to drive to Mulege - were we can get WIFI access. I left Dave alone for 5 minutes and he went and bought 3 loaves of bread. I thought he was doing really well - until I tried one of the breads and it was full of green chillies - the Big Fella thought he'd ordered one with cheese - back to the Spanish for Dummies CD for him.