Baha seemed like an easy version of ‘going to Mexico’ with its RV culture and Americanised ways, it wasn’t until we were on the crossing to the mainland that we started thinking of all the warnings and negativity surrounding travelling in Mexico. Most family, friends and even strangers thought it was madness to be crossing this country, many even tried to think of ways we could skip Mexico and transport straight into South America. We brushed off the disheartening ‘your going to die’ banter and made little comment as our reassurance was not convincing. Having said that, we were still not that keen on being kidnapped, robbed or murdered for our iPad. We had heeded warnings, researched till we couldn’t research any more and we still felt more ready for Central America than ever before. Even so, Conflicting feelings crept in as our boat landed and Troy was directed onto shore.
But after 4 weeks in this most unexpected Mexico we can only say we are happy to have only good things to blog and report on. The Mexican people are some of the friendliest, happiest, hardworking and family orientated we have met since our trip began 6 months ago. We have been pleasantly surprised at the local ways, the traditional values and normality of everyday life here. We have a sadness for the way media can turn opinions and we feel that the world is missing an absolute travel treasure by staying away. This is not to say you don’t need to be safe, careful and cautious but this is also true for 1st world destinations. Like the saying goes, don’t judge until you have tried!
After an un eventful crossing of the Sea of Cortez the new day bought sunshine, a clear blue sky and a smooth steam into the coastal city of Matzatlan, our first city on mainland Mexico.
After rolling off the ferry we were greeted by the obligatory ‘armed to the teeth’ police check point before we could exit the facility and after the usual ‘I don’t speak Spanish’/ ‘yo no habla Englise’ conversation it’s then time to unlock the camper door for a general nosey. I always offer the shortest officer a leg up to inspect the interior by which time Anna has normally found their fierce police dog and is scratching behind its ear while the handler flirts with the blonde. After this routine we are let loose on mainland Mexico. After one month in Mexico we have had not one thorough inspection conducted on our vehicle. The ‘no guns, no drugs’ denial seems to work , plus, I presume that no self respecting Mexican Policia/ Soldier would think of vaulting up to the camper without the use of a step ladder, if he buggers that up in front of the blonde or his mates… you get the picture.
We spent one night in the Matzatlan resort strip and after advice from our ‘original surfer’ mate John we decided skip misquito ridden San Blas which was to be our next stop and avoid the coast altogether. We have had enough Mozzie related issues for the entire trip! We decided Guadalajara, Mexicos 2nd biggest and cultured city would be our next stop. Russ decides to stop in at Guadalajara Toyota, without an appointment & during their busiest days of the year, for a final checkup and a chance to fix a dicky warning light.
The day was getting on so we decided to leave Troy with Toyota overnight and spend the night in the city. A taxi was sent and paid for by Toyota and after a wild 45 minute ride we were at our hotel. The hotel was located front and centre of the Christmas celebrations so we dumped our kit and walked the streets of Guadalajara. The city was packed and in a great mood, children were laughing and adults were smiling and the afternoon was warm, sunny and cloudless. The city has a cool buzz about it and seems very prosperous and the old Spanish architecture combines with the modern low rise buildings to make a very liveable city. A notable mention goes to La Fuente Cantina where everybody shoots Tequila, quaffs Caronas and the old men still try to pick up the young ‘chicas’. Since 1921.
The next day Toyota sent for us and we chanced across perhaps the cleverest mechanic in the Americas, Gabriel. A sensor warning light had gone off twice in the US and was starting to irritate me, not one Mechanic could locate the fault and fix it. After a couple hours Gabriel had located the fault, explained to me, via google translate, in great detail what the problem was and fixed it. During this time Toyota Guadalahara had also paid for Anna’s transportation to shop at a local high end designer mega mall. All said and done we spent the day at Toyota and paid AUD$68.00 for the exclusive use of their/ the best Toyota mechanic. The Service manager also gave us his card and told us if we ever were in need of Toyota, while in Mexico, we were to call him to personally to arrange everything.
We left Toyota in A1 shape and drove to the nearest RV park for the night.
We arrived at the park an hour or so after dark, found the office closed and the staff MIA, we found ourselves a nice out of the way pad and settled in for the night. We left early the next morning, still no staff, so our night was free, bonus.
Our next stop was a town call Patzcuaro, a quaint colonial place filled with old style culture, towering churches, long cobble streets and amazing architectural buildings. Patzcuaro seemed so far away from what we envisioned ‘Mexico’ to be. The drive here was all rolling green hills and small bustling villages and the roads vary from super highway to patchwork asphalt with mean potholes since our jump from the toll freeways to free routes. Saving on the road tolls meant seeing more of the local life, also no more wizzing by in a straight line, but winding through main streets taking in the colours, sights and smells of each town or village.
We spent a day strolling through Patzcuaro, wondering aimlessly in the mercado, checking out the wares, sampling the delicious and cheap tacos and trying to avoid eye contact with the ever growing stares at the blondey.
We have voted the tacos in this market the best we have eaten in Mexico, delicious beyond words!… But the fish tacos in the Baja Sur rate a mention also.
The town centre has 2 squares. Both have their own statue with a story to tell, abiet in Espoñol, and are typical of Latin America. Cafēs board the squares and are bustling with locals who are eating or drinking, working a market stall or family shopping. Both squares have a unique ambience and the buzz is alive as you walk between the two. The cobbled calles, or streets, are amazing to see and the town planners have rigiourously followed the historic architecture which shows in the seemless beauty of the town. Hours were lost taking photos in the streets, each frame filled with a different feel and story.
From the highlands we set off to the surf, Christmas was creeping closer we decided a patch of sand in our own paradise was in order to celebrate Xmas day. Our criteria; tranquil, picturesque and hot! We dropped down to the south Michoacan coast, working our way north in order to find ‘the’ spot, we ducked on and off the main road expolring playa (beach) after playa, noting the pros and conns of each until we found the spot. We had big plans for Christmas day ! Morning Santa, silly joke presents, hot ham for lunch and a Santa Claus piñata smash session, we needed to find somewhere perfectico!
We drove to the next gas station to the north and decided to turn around and head south again, passing already inspected spots with heavy hearts we saw a small sign … Boca Seca, having no idea what this ment, we like the way it sounded so rolled on down the gravel road heading for the sound of the waves. To our absolute fortune we discovered an untouched paradise, a small, new resort called Costa Cielo, this place ended up being a haven for us. We met the Ibarra and Peraza families who we have made friends for life, learned a real life lesson on ‘how Mexico works’ and found a place that will forever be our paradise. We are actully going to do a whole separate blog on the resort so won’t go into to much detail here. But as our previously posted Xmas photos show, we indeed had our perfect Xmas day on the beach!
With the first holiday out of the way, next was to think about was NYE… We consulted the map and the obvious choice was Acopulco, big city, bright lights and mucho nightlife. We haven’t had a big night out dancing since Ibiza and were itchy to get our groove on, Acapulco seemed like the perfect place and what better night than NYE! The coast road was beautiful, the pacific coast is empty and long, wind swept surf breaks and white sand beaches. If we had more time we would have loved to stop at each one and enjoy the beauty.
Rolling into Acapulco was an assult on the senses, tourists, Americano, chain stores and touts blazing on every street corner, beaches covered with cabanas, no sand to be seen, roads jammed with cars, taxis and policia! Sounds with heavy bass pumping from every restaurant and bar, already we felt a change from real Mexico to the tourist Mexico. Although we don’t enjoy these kinds of places and avoid if we can, we needed a little charge up and needed to be party rocking for NYE and this place was getting us in the groove!
We took up residence at what only can be discribed as a RV park on steroids. The entire community were from Quebec, Canada and if you dont speak french… well you might as well be a Mexican. Most of the RV’s are A Class busses or 5th Wheelers and almost all had aircraft style hangers built over the enormous concrete slab with plummed and finished kitchens, bathrooms and laundries attached. We were by far the smallest camper in the park, yet we got stares all the same. Imagine hidi hi, meets A rich retirementville. Russ thought it was a giant wrinkly Canadian swinger fest. Needless to say we did not join in the activities.
The city was overflowing with people, Mexican holiday makers, Americano tourists and backpackers alike. Driving here was insane, traffic rules don’t apply, kill or be killed en route. Restaurant prices were over the top, rent on a patch of beach was killer, we decided to hibernate until the big night, eat cheap and prepare for a night on the tiles, Mexican style!
We had scouted a impressive hilltop club that boosted panoramic 7 m floor to ceiling glass windows that overlooked the entire Apaculco Bay, a pumping dj, open bar on entry, and a sound system and bass setup that rattled ones testicles, this was our kind of NYE. Wow what a club, something to rival the best clubs in Ibiza, although it was comforting to see that drunks are drunks no matter the location or country… Russ slotted straight in like a local, never ending drinks will do that to a man. The backdrop of Acapulco bay through glass walls was something special. There was only one other white couple in the house but we left them to it and danced to the bass and wahtched the fireworks rain down upon the bay. The start of 2013 kicked off in grand fashion in what we hoped was really going to be a great year. We now ponder what the rest of our travelling days would bring. Lets go 2013!!!!!
Our initial plans were to keep heading south down the pacific coast and make some detours inland to visit other tourist towns, ruins and jungles, however here at Global Inc Safari we like to roll with it. We made a last minute decision to skip these detours and head straight for the Guatemala border and to our Spanish school. We were keen to get our local language up to a useable level and after a month in magic Mexico, we were ready for a new country and new culture.
check out the mainland Mexico pics on Facebook, link will be posted soon, IT issues. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.467907073245070.95217.319040084798437&type=1