Monday, February 29, 2016

Using too much data :(

I got a little carried away with the first four posts, so I have to take another break. 
We DO have internet here in Mexico, but at $15 bucks a gig, I can't write the posts I want and upload them. It is just costing us too much.
BUT....I am still writing.
I will have to upload the posts once we get back to the States or if we can find a good wifi spot in town...which have all been pretty slow for uploading pictures and videos.
I hope you will stick around. We have seen some really cool things and are meeting some really nice people.
Thank you for being patient and understanding.
I will see you all soon!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Day 4~ Playa Santispac

Day 4~ February 7, 2016
In my mind, I thought once we got South of Guerrero Negro that the wind would die down and it would be bikini time from then until the end. I was sadly mistaken...but just for a couple of days!
The view from the van

We were unaware of the storm cell that was passing through Baja the first few days we were here. Now, a storm cell in Baja is not like one up North, it's actually just cloudy, a little windy and a spit of rain...literally like one little tiny dot of rain. But, I was not ready to still be wearing jeans, a long sleeved shirt & shoes (gasp!) 4 days into our trip. I thought I would be in my bikini, with or without my wet suit, in the water swimming, tanning and frolicking about.


Since it was so late when we arrived last night, we took the opportunity of the not-so-great weather and walked the property.  

We saw two different restaurants; the bright Yellow building is Ana's restaurant, they offer showers in the building behind the restaurant for 20 pesos. 
Ana's Restaurant

Inside Ana's

I wouldn't say they are the cleanest rooms around, just don't touch anything and wear shoes! haha Even though we have our solar shower, it's better than standing outside cold due to the wind and it's better than nothing!

The other building is Armando's, the bar/restaurant that would be showing the Superbowl and would open an hour or so before the start of the game.

We decided to walk back to the van and gather our shower stuff and take turns for showers before the game. Jamie went first and came back with a small report; He told me how to go about asking and paying for the shower and then said, Just know that it's going to be dirty and gross, Use shower 4 because at least it has a chair and hook to set your stuff on and is the least dirty one, the water is not that warm so just be ready for it and there's not a lot of pressure, but it's better than nothing. Report gathered and off I went. 
I went into Ana's Restaurant and told the gal behind the counter I would like to take a shower, she looked over to a table where a man stood up and walked through a door behind the counter, he then motioned for me to follow him, although they were both nice, it felt a little Mafia-ish! I was a little confused thinking they were confused as to what I had asked. He opened a door and waved his hand into the room like he was Vanna White. I said, "Gracias" and walked into the room closing the door behind me. I had just walked into what looked like a hotel room. Score!!!

My shower was pretty good. The pressure was a mere trickle but I had the Insta-hot the building has, so even though I was still turning it off between washes like I would with a solar shower, every time I turned it back on there was piping hot water coming out. Maybe it's the swimmer in me...could be the germaphobe... but I definitely wore my shower flops. No matter how old I am, no matter where I am, if I'm in an odd shower where I don't know whose feet (or anything else) has touched that floor, this girl will be wearing shoes...and not letting that shower curtain touch me!
After my shower, I walked out and asked the lady behind the counter, "Cuanto? (How much?) She said, "Vente pesos" (20 pesos). I gave her money and was all of a sudden being pulled into 3 different conversations with the guy that runs the restaurant wanting to know how the water was, an American woman about the internet and the woman handling the money. I left and discovered as I got back to the van I had been shorted 20 pesos from the change but it had already been over an hour so I learned from my lesson of not getting distracted while handling foreign money and went on with my day. 
On my way back to the van, I walked past a 5th wheel that was definitely stationary and the mans' dog was barking at me, he was telling her it was okay, so I walked over to introduce myself. The man, John, is retired and has been living here for 4 years and since he's from South Florida we had much to talk about. We talked for about a half an hour and he extended an invitation to come over for the Superbowl if Armando's didn't work out for us. 
John's place

The day grew into a nicer day than expected. The Sun tried to shine through the clouds, the dogs laid in the Sun and Chili Moon got her first feel of the Bay. 

I'm not sure if she didn't see the water because it is super clear or if she was just curious, but she ran right into the water, splashing and running around, making a big, funny game out of it. She cracks me up!


We played in the water for as long as she would play with me, which surprised me with a whole 20 minutes! After Chili was over the water and went back to sleep, I got in the water. It was a little chilly so I went in feet only and took in the wildlife living in this crystal clear water. 
The water is crystal clear

A close-up of picture above

Little "conchs" with crabs inside

That's Greg. He likes dog treats. He's a taker!


I saw some really awesome small beautiful shells. They were so different and I wanted to take some of them home with me but these homes were occupado, so I left them where they were and just filmed them moving cool!

Before we knew it, it was time to go get a seat for the Superbowl. We walked over to Armando's a bit earlier than we planned, thinking it would be packed. We were the first ones there....and the last, haha. The place was empty pretty much the whole game but we got the best seats in the house and great service by Luis!  I may have stolen their dog Josie (pronounced Yozee) but she didn't take to me, only my burger!

Josie, half the size of Chili Moon!

We ordered a couple of beers they had on special, Modelo Negros (20 pesos for a mason jar) and at the 2nd quarter ordered the special...Hamburgers and Fries! The food wasn't bad at all, the hamburger was a little salty (to me) but it seemed to sit well for the time being (Later that night would be a different story, but I 'took care of it' before it got too bad). We watched the game at Armando's until half-time,  paid our bill, which came to about 300 pesos and went to John's for the rest of the game.

We had a great time at John's. We talked, laughed and rooted for the Bronco's (that's our team) and met another friend of Johns',  Gary, as he stopped by to watch the end of the game. Gary and his wife have come to Santispac every year for the past few years and stay here for 4-6 months. At the end of the game, while celebrating the Bronco's big win, John offered us some of his Homemade Key Lime pie. It was delicious and a perfect ending to a great game and a great night, thanks so much John!

We walked the 50 yards home and went to sleep. I'd have to say the first day at Playa Santispac was a pretty good one! Showers, new friends, a Bronco's Superbowl win and some awesome pie.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Day 3~ Making it to Mulege

Day three~ February 6, 2016
The spot we stayed in last night was only about 6-8 miles South of Santa Rosalia,
it was a good spot, I wouldn't necessarily call it a camp spot but it did us well for one night. We weren't bothered and didn't hear or see anyone else. Our motion light turned on about two hours after parking, so we had a feeling a coyote or a really big mouse set it off, but other than that it was peaceful and uneventful.

 Sunrise from my 'bedroom' window

I got up at sunrise and took the girls for a walk. I was curious to see what was around and if there were any trails or maybe even houses down this road. I saw mostly trash, trash and more trash and a couple of trails that were definitely ATV houses, shacks, nothing of the sort...just a lot of trash. The road in is a little rocky but a car could definitely make it back to where we were, it turned more rough as I kept walking deeper down the trail. I had a feeling that this is where people come to dump their trash and maybe use it as a drinking and make-out spot. The landscape was beautiful though.

Tucked in

This particular trail turned into a dead end so we just parked on the road, that way if someone happened down it, they would be able to see us and stop ahead of time.

Once back on the road, we were only about 35 miles from
Mulegé, so we didn't have a full day of driving ahead of us again, thank goodness! We arrived in Mulegé around 10:30 a.m. and had the whole day to decide where we wanted to stay and what we wanted to do. 

We drove through the archway and through town...learning, once again about the one-way streets! 

The TelCel store is right across from Hotel Mulege

I LOVED this tree. Made me think of my mom!

Once we drove through town, we turned down a side road that led us out to the water. At the end of this road, we both looked at each other and nodded in agreement that something didn't seem right. The road down to the water was a really nice road, there was a waterway to the side that was very calm, not even a ripple from the wind. We had heard about Mulegé and the palapas on the beach but what we were seeing was not connecting with what we had heard.

Once we hit the end of the road, where the sand started, it was an entirely different world. There was water...a whole lot of water and there were palapas but from the choppy waves, the tornado-like wind and the broken down palapas with no people in sight, we decided to turn around and try again.

I was tending the video camera again so this is the only pic I have of this side

We drove back through
Mulegé trying to figure out where to go, then went back out to Hwy 1 and followed it South a few more miles. The road turned into a mountain road with many curves and turns, we got to the top of one of the curves and that's when we knew...NOW, we were in the right place! Where we had just been was the Sea of Cortez side, which we thought was the Bay of Concepcion....two totally different worlds!

Bahia Concepcion (Bay of Conception) Now we're talking!

We drove Hwy 1 down to Buenaventura, then decided to turn around. We stopped off at the first beach we had seen on top of that hill coming from
Mulegé, on the way back from Buenaventura, the name of this beach is Playa Santispac. We turned off the highway and down to the gated area and were approached by a nice, handsome young man named Umberto. We conversed in bits and pieces of English & Spanish and decided we would go do a few things in Mulegé and come back here to park for the night. Umberto told us it would be 100 Pesos for camping & 50 Pesos for a palapa (I couldn't figure out if it was 50 more pesos a night for a palapa or if it was for the day, but we didn't need one, so it didn't phase us).
We drove the 12 miles back to
Mulegé to find internet, whether that be an internet connection at a cafe' or to buy a TelCel device. We parked in front of the arch, grabbed our computers and took a walk. We walked around the town of Mulege and drank a Coca-Cola we bought from the small store the van was parked in front of. There was lively Mexican music pumping through the streets, people were sitting in a small park talking to each other, hanging out on the streets and shopping. Mulegé was a pretty busy little town, maybe it was due to it being Saturday or maybe it's always like this...I don't know but I loved it! After walking around the streets for 15 minutes or so, I decided to ask one of the shop owners where the TelCel shop was (we had seen it when we were here earlier but now couldn't find it). I approached him with a Buenos Tardes and asked, "Con permiso, Donde es el TelCel?" He said, Buenos're looking for TelCel? I was happy that he spoke English...he actually spoke perfect English, not even a bit of a Spanish accent. We had a nice conversation and he told me all about TelCel and where to go then told me, I better hurry up because they close in about 3 minutes! I thanked him and we were the way, the TelCel store was about 75 yards from the van! haha
Once we got to the TelCel store, the girl (about 19 or 20 years old) spoke absolutely no English...this would be an interesting process! Luckily, I can figure things out a little bit in Spanish and had a long but successful transaction. At the end of the transaction, she showed me how much data was on the device, I clapped excitedly, we laughed and high-fived. We bought a TelCel USB device that plugs into your computer to give you internet. It was 498 pesos and comes with One gig of data already on it. Even though the store was supposed to close at 1:00, she stayed an extra 35 minutes and made sure that we were taken care, with not one problem or any attitude, it was a nice feeling!

Back on Hwy 1, we decided to stop at a place we had seen after passing Playa Santispac the first time, that had an internet sign out front. We thought we would get on the internet here, even if we had to pay, then see if our device worked once we were parked. The restaurant/store was called Pollos Bertha's and was just a tiny little place where you could sit outside at a table and have a sandwich, a coke or beer while you got online.....or that's what we had conjured up in our minds! 

We went in and bought one hour of internet for 20 pesos. We thought with one code, it would let us on both computers at the same time but we were wrong. We bought another hour for another 20 pesos with a different password. We were there for a little over an hour and sadly got nothing accomplished. At the last minute, I was able to get on my email by using the Html basic gmail option and was able to send my mom, sisters & lil' Hoot an update/check-in email. We laughed later that the sign they have out front (picture below) was 100% true...Connect LESS! haha

We drove about two miles back to Playa Santispac to give Umberto 100 pesos for the night. We knew we would stay at least tonight and most likely the next night as well, due to the Superbowl being shown at Armando's restaurant, a short walk from our camp spot. Umberto was gone by the time we got back, so we would catch up with him in the morning.

 The Sun was starting to set as we were unpacking the van and having dinner. We sat outside by our little torch, had a beer and with a big 'sigh' of exhaustion and triumph, started enjoying our first night at our destination point.

Stay tuned for more about Playa Santispac!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Day 2~ On the move, trying to make it to Mulege

Day Two in Baja~ February 5, 2016
During the Winter, we don't usually rise very early due to the cold temperatures and the Sun not coming up until a little bit later but, when we parked at Sur de Volcan Prieto, I made sure not to put anything in the windows, so we were sure to be woken before or by Sunrise...and it worked!

We got out of the van to a cool breeze coming off of the water and the Sun barely peeking over the big rocks around us. I made coffee & brekkie while Jamie did a video and worked out and then just as soon as we had gotten there the night before, we were down the road again.

We were enjoying the drive on Hwy 5. It was another nice, sunny day with still a lot of wind but we were inside so it didn't bother us that much. About an hour into the drive, we hit a detour (desviacion). The detour took us off of asphalt and put us on a somewhat graded/non-graded road for about 30 miles. 

At first we weren't sure if the road was ever going to go back to asphalt and some parts of it were very slow due to curves and washboarding. All along the dirt road we saw many men working on these huge bridges, they are going to make this road really nice!

All of a sudden, in the middle of this spacious windy desert, we came to a place I had heard of from our friend, Ben, called Coco's Corner. I had read a little bit about it online but didn't even know how to get there, so jotted down a few notes and forgot about it. 
Now here we were! 

Coco's Corner is in Acapulco, Guerrero right in the middle of nowhere! I was very excited that we had stumbled upon it so made sure to get out, take some pictures and see if Coco was around. The wind made it a very miserable adventure but we got out and started taking pictures and video and then a young girl appeared behind the wooden counter. I asked (in Spanish) if Coco was here. She shook her head, No and said, "He's in Ensenada for the day." Bummer. The little bit that I read about Coco's Corner said that he loves to sit and tell you stories about his life over a beer and has a book that you can sign as well as see others that have been here from all over the world...(he has over 8 or 9 full books). I also read that stopping here really isn't about the place at all, although "Coco's Corner is one of the most frequented roadside stops on the entire peninsula." It's truly about Coco. So you can see why I was a little sad that he wasn't there that day. 

Guess who's in the little girls room! haha

I don't think I do it the justice it deserves so I am including a link on an article that was written by Christophe Noel that describes it perfectly...and he was able to sit down and chat with Coco! 
It's a very interesting place and you don't even have to go out of your way to get here if you are driving Hwy 5 to MX Hwy go and hopefully you will get to meet Coco!!

 The landscape is one we are used to, of wide open desert, but this desert is also much different than the ones we see. The flora here is beautiful in its own way, with cute little red flowers that carpet the desert floor among huge Organ Pipe Cactus and Ocotillo mixed in with Joshua Trees, Agaves, Candelabra Cactus and Boojums (my new favorite). As you look across the land, it has a definite Dr. Suess vibe to it!

We were stopped at a Military checkpoint right before entering Guerrero Negro. The military checkpoints are pretty easy; You drive up, stop, greet the young man with Buenos Dia or Buenos Tardes (depending on the time of day), he will ask you where you are coming from, where you are going and why. We were asked a couple of times at different checkpoints if they could look inside the van...of course. They open the side door, look around (not touching anything), close it and say (using their English), "Have a nice vacation!" And you drive on down the road again. We kind of liked the checkpoints because it shows that they care who and what is coming into their towns and since we don't carry anything we aren't supposed to (guns, ammo, drugs), we never have any worries. 

Entering Guerrero Negro. Those are the bones of a Grey Whale

When we were at the Military checkpoint just before Guerrero Negro, I asked the gentleman where the whales were. Guerrero Negro is the place where the Gray whales (Ballenas Gris) come to mate every year between December and April. We had a small but nice conversation in Spanish, with me double checking that I was understanding him right (I asked again in English) and we were on our way. We drove through the town of Guerrero Negro which is pretty spread out and we thought we would just follow the directions and boom, be right at the water...haha not so much! First of all, it was very, VERY difficult to find the water. We drove in circles for about 25 minutes, getting caught in school traffic with the Elementary school just letting out. We drove through the same neighborhood 3 times, learning from a resident there are a lot of one-way streets in that neighborhood. We were able to see how these people live and get around; a lot of walkers, bicyclers and of course parents picking up their children in their Lexus' and Cadillac's, which was quite odd compared to the housing in the neighborhood, but I guess you gotta let a playa play! 

A neighborhood woman talking to her neighbor a few doors down

Shrines are a huge part of the Mexican culture, they are everywhere

The neighborhood we got to know so well!

These tanks hold the water for their houses

After many circles and too much time being "wasted" we decided to nix the whales
, get fuel and get on down the road. We were trying to make it to Mulege before the end of the day but at this point it didn't look like that was going to happen. We weren't sure where we would end up sleeping for the night and still had quite a lot of driving to do.
*I was told later, by a local, that you now have to pay to get anywhere near the water to see the whales these days and/or you can go by tour boat which is much more expensive.*
A BIG military presence in Guerrero Negro. This guy waved and gave me a peace sign but I missed that picture!

I started driving about two and half hours later, so I didn't get any more pictures of the night. We drove to and through Santa Rosalia, an industrial town that seems to be doing very well with people everywhere and a beautiful new boardwalk that was popping! The sun was starting to set and this time we had no coordinates for a place to camp, so we did what we do best and found a place about a mile off of the highway, tucked behind some big cactus on a dirt road and went to sleep for the night. At first I was a little scared to park there, because you hear so many horror stories but everything ended up being just fine along with being nice and quiet.

Another good day of driving positive miles to our first major destination.