Monday, January 14, 2019

I Thought I Smelled A Rat!

Contessa asked if I am going to post more about Ajijic and Chapala.  Tomorrow I should have a post.   We liked some of it and disliked parts of it.  I will include more about the rv park as well.

Not sure where I left off from the gasoline shortage and I promise not to go on a rant over that.   We made it to Matehuala Friday afternoon.  It was a great drive and we listened to some great music all the way.  I have been using Spotify, the free version, and it has everything including my "In The Now" talks by Eckhart Tolle.   As long as you have internet signal on your phone the free version works great.   Telcel has the best coverage although we still keep our Movistar on the other phone.

We stayed at the Hotel Oasis again.  They are very nice to us and have pretty good wifi.   We watched the movie "First Man On The Moon" and had dinner.  Saturday, with a late start we made it across the mountains and to our country resort in Montemorelos.   Again, another good walk, happy hour and a movie.   This has been the most relaxing month-long vacation ever and we have plans to take off again soon.

Sunday morning brought us home early enough to miss the traffic.   Pulled into the driveway and unpacked and unhooked in less than 30 minutes.

Once in the house though, something didn't smell right.   We had found that a mouse may have died although we can't find it yet.   But he did leave his mark.  He got into my nightstand next to the bed and made a mess.   Take a look.

The mouse ate everything from paper, plastic, pens, melatonin, and if you look in the lower left corner you can see a small plastic box.  I keep a ring in there.  He ate off the clasp and dragged the ring across the drawer and hid it.  Little devil.

Then he did this.  I had about fifty dollars in Colombian pesos in a clip.  He ate the edges off of them.  However, he must have something against the Dominican Republic because I have a 5000 peso bill and he didn't even touch it.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Stranded - No Fuel - San Jose de Los Lagos

You can't beat this for a boondocking spot!
 Disconnected the SUV and got in line for fuel.

OXXO is now installing electric car charging stations.

As you know, Mexico is suffering a government-planned gasoline shortage in hopes of stopping or slowing down the theft of fuel from the pipelines that run throughout Mexico.  This was instituted by our new illustrious president I have named T2.   An idea that is collapsing the internal infrastructure of the country.   This is not my opinion but factual information presented by Coparmex () and documented in daily newspapers.  

We left Ixtlahuacán, Jalisco this morning at 9:40.  Great travels on highway 80 to San Juan de Los Lagos.  We began looking for fuel before heading to the Kikapú Aquatic and Rv Park some 38 km from Lagos de Moreno.   In and out of the highway we went only to find station after station closed.   Not nervous, we could park anywhere and stay for days with all the services and food we have on board but we do have a plan and I have another cardio appointment next Tuesday.

We pulled into a gas station at the intersection of Hwy 5 and Hwy 80.  We lucked out as you can tell by the picture above.  The gas station had no fuel but the OXXO next door has a drive-thru lane that hasn’t been put into service yet.  It includes a small grassy picnic area.  If this were our pad at an rv park we would be thrilled.  Level pad, covered picnic table, pad, manicured yard with palm trees and plants.  We went into the OXXO asking if we could park in a semi parking lot behind and the manager offered us this area.  Safe, well-lit and pretty quiet for the night.  When you boondock you can run into some of the best rv spaces on the continent.  And get this, there is an electric car charging station they have installed and goes online next month.  Looks like OXXO convenience stores can see the future apart from that old, rundown, union-led wreck of an oil company our president hopes to revive by spending 20 billion dollars on old technology.

Enough said.  Fuel came at 5 p.m. and they came and told us to get in line.  We disconnected the SUV and got in the lineup.  A full tank will get us to San Luis Potosi, 165 km and from there depending on whether there is fuel on Hwy 57 we will continue to fill up in small spurts and head to Matehuala for the night. 

I’m really excited.  I haven’t had this much fun in a long time.  Adding to the fun, our new Mexican batteries from LTH made by Johnson Controls couldn’t work better.   We’ve got lights, laptops, just about everything you can imagine going and we are at 12.8.   Tonight it will be 6C here so the electric blanket will keep us toasty.  

This has been one heck of an inaugural trip.  There are many more to come.  We are happy to have seen many of our great rving friends on this trip and will continue to do so.   We hope to meet up with Kevin and Ruth’s caravan as they exit Mexico.   I’ll stop here.   Good night.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Last One Out - Close The Gate - On To Chapala

On Sunday, we pulled out of Victoria Rv Park in Valle de Juarez.  We were the last to leave of the gang of four.  It was a fun stay.  

Here we are leaving the park on Sunday and closing the gate.  We left the park empty but a big thanks to Chema and Cristian for their hospitality and great rv park.  As I said, they have great 30 amp power, water, and sewage.   

This was our last sunrise for the new year in Valle.   A big thanks to Sal and Barb too for the great get-togethers they threw at their house on the hill and it was great seeing them again.  

Saturday night we were invited to Heinz and Ulli's house for dinner.  Ulli made Bavarian potato soup and crepes for dinner.  It was like a homecoming for me.  We have some things in common from our past such as great European foods that I grew up with as a kid.   We started with a chat on their patio overlooking the lake and then dinner.  It was a great close to a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

As we left on Sunday morning there was the threat that a gasoline shortage was underway.  Pemex and the Mexican government closed a major pipeline that supplies fuel to other parts of the country in hopes to reduce or stop the theft of fuel, some of which has been sold to the U.S. in south Texas.  We bought gasoline next door to the rv park and headed to Chapala.

We could see the lake coming closer and closer.  At first it looked like low-lying clouds as we crested the hills.

I have to say that the roads were in very good shape most of the way.  Many had recently been paved.  We followed the lake around to the southwest and made our way back around heading to the east.   It was a great three hour drive to the rv park and we were surprised at the rv park which is new and still under development.

There are only 11 spaces right now and they offer sites with 20, 30 and 50 amp.  Prices differ depending on the amperage you choose.   We parked out front of the gated park and could see Sue and Brian's motorhome along the edge and we gave them a shout.  They have a key and opened the gate for us.  The owner, Alma, showed up 10 minutes later.

It is a terraced park overlooking the valley that includes Talaquepaque.  Apart from the excellent electric, they also offer the best rv park wifi we have ever had.  Even though there are other rvers here, we were able to easily stream Netflix last night.  We watched Ellen Degeneras stand up.  Funnier than s"·%!   I laughed my ass off.  The park has a palapa with a few and its own wifi router not to mention the view.  Bathrooms and showers are underway.  There are two gates, one is for rv entrance.  The other, which comes with a remote control, is for vehicles entering and exiting.   

Linda and Peter, who are now in Ajijic, are moving here shortly.  They have been instrumental in helping Alma develop her rv park.  I will post more later about the park, but it is approx 6 kms over the hill from the Ajijic Walmart.   You're not near the lake but also not near all the traffice.   There is the town of Ixtlahuacan, and easy off and on ramp and retorno in both directions where you can easily use the OXXO, Pemex, and LP gas.   This will become a great rv park, which I think it already is.   

Last but not least, we had a meet and greet with the neighbors that lasted for a few hours.   You`ve gotta love rving!   You meet so many wonderful people.   18 years rving in Mexico and I can only count two rotten eggs.  That's quite a record.  

Today, we toured Talaquepaque with Sue and Brian.   We had a blast and I will post about that tomorrow.  One of the neighbors poured a humungous pad the other day.   It was cured and they moved over today.   Very nice.  They will love their winters here.  I will also post the park info on Ruth and Kevin's "Rving In Mexico" Facebook page.   The rate, by the way, for 20 amp is 200 pesos a night.  We're not big on rv parks, but at that price you sometimes just can't pass it up especially if it means being with friends.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Saying Goodbye To Friends - Day Trip To Mazamitla

As Paula and Jerry got up on the highway, Paula screamed, "Hasta Luego".  I replied at the top of my lungs, thinking she wouldn't hear me, "What are you doing?".   She replied, "I'm riding in the truck".

We were up early with the cows so we could say our goodbyes to Paula, Jerry, Gail, and Bill.   They were ready to take off for Melaque and we received word later in the day that they made it there safely with a little scratch or two.  They will be missed but we too will be moving on tomorrow or Sunday for Lake Chapala.

The day before we said a short goodbye to Sue and Brian.  They headed down to the lake where we will join up with them for a few days.  It is a new park and we are looking forward to exploring it.   BTW, here at Victoria Rv Park, they charge 1800 a week for full hookups.  The only downside for some might be the lack of a pad but the ground is nice and level.  We are definitely rural here but with all the amenities.

So, after they left the big surprise came.  I had mentioned to Contessa that we were going to do an rv redo but it never took place.   One side of the rv was looking tired for some manufacturer structural problems and a very very minor leak that was fixed but left an ugly stain on the outside.   I wanted to paint it but at home, there were no takers.   Too far from the city, people around us don't like to work that much and one guy wanted 10,000 pesos to do one side.   Here in Valle de Juarez, many of our rving friends have had their rvs painted and/or touched up.  Jesse is the guy to go to.   He charged us much less and did the job in two days.   I am waiting for the decals from the factory when we get home.

While Jesse worked with the help of his wife, we took off for another day trip to Mazamitla.  We wanted to pick up a few things and take pictures.  The architecture is very different from some other places around here and reminds me a lot of Trujillo, Peru.   Also, I have come to realize that I should be writing a Mexican food blog as it seems all of our trips revolve around food and wine.

Here are two scrumptious gorditas.  One is mole dulce with pork and the other is chorizo with cheese.  I also had a leche con Nescafe (hot milk, no water, with Nescafe and sugar).  

Around the main plaza, Christmas and the holidays are still going stron.

Yep, that's me, how did you guess?  I love walking and people watching.

The central market in Mazamitla is very small.  On one side you find fresh meats and on the other, fresh fruits and vegetables.   I have been looking for some chicken livers.  I like them breaded like fried chicken.   I'm not a beer drinker but they go great with a cold one.  You've got to love Mexico not only for the prices but for the freshness of everything.  No wonder so many people here live so long not so many or no processed foods.

Happy hour last night was at our home time of after 5:30.   As much as we love getting together, 4 p.m. is way too early for us and we end up a bit slushy by bedtime.   We kept to our old minimum of two drinks and a light dinner and then a good video.  We watched the 25th-anniversary edition of Saturday Night Live.

And every morning brings a new sunrise.  What a great way to start the day!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A House Warming and A Walk By The Lake

We were invited to a house-warming party other night.   Jerry and Becky, as I had mentioned before, moved to Valle de Juarez two years ago.  They had traveled full time in their Montana fifth wheel for a few years before making the move.  Once they were here they decided to build a house.   It is a beautiful two-bedroom plus loft and has so many great amenities.   They are just a few minutes from town.  

Becky fixed a fun dinner, make your own nachos.   She had all the fixing and we gathered in the kitchen around the island and prepared our own style of nachos.  The food was great, the drinks the best and the bonfire in front of there house really topped it off.

 Here we are gathered in the kitchen.  Doug is sitting at the table but you can't see him as he is hidden by the poinsettia. 

Fires are always fun and this was nice and toasty.   We hung out after dinner for a couple of hours and chatted with old and new friends, some of who are preparing to move to the area.

Sal gave us all a treat by adding his magic touch to the fire and adding some color.

I started doing walking laps at the park in the morning.  It was a bit boring.  So now I head down to the lake and walk out on the pier and back and then up the hill to the main plaza and then back home.  I try to take a different route through town each time.  This is the malecon or walkway that follows alongside the water.

I guess they call it a pier but it really a dam that holds the water back.  Fishermen go out and do some fishing.  There are some pretty big fish in there.  

One of our walks out on the pier.  I never get tired of walking out there.  A lot more to see than just the water, there are cows on one side, farm animals, people walking along roads and paths going to work or picking up groceries for breakfast.

Paula and Jerry introduced us to Loncheria Mary`s a few years back.  It is right on the main street into town.  You can't beat the great tasting food or the prices.  This is a dish of chorizo with egg and a hot coffee.   It was really delicious!

The owner of the park and his son come every day to let their three horses in and out of the barn so they can graze and get some exercise.  This filly, Lucero, really has some spunk.  She likes to show off a bit and Christian really knows how to get her to do that.   It was some show and there are some great pictures and video of her running from one end of the park to the other.  
Sue and Brian left this morning and are heading to the Chapala area.   We will be following them down next Monday.  We are having some painting done to our rv and it will take a few days.  Can't wait to see the finished product and show some pictures here on the blog.  

Paula, Jerry, Gail and Bill are leaving tomorrow morning for Melaque down on the beach.  We're going to miss them and it's been a fun week and a half.  We'll have the park to ourselves so we can reduce both food and happy hour.   I need a break!!!!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

La Cocinita, El Mercado, and Gigi's

Yesterday was going to be a rest day but it just didn’t turn out like that.   There is always something going on and even though you’re on vacation you still have things to do.  We started off the day with the group at La Cocinita for breakfast.  We decided to not overeat because after we would be heading to the mercado.   I had an omelet and a hot milk with Nescafe.  It was delicious.  At La Cocinita they bring plates filled with fresh cheese, refried beans, tortillas, salsa and other goodies and that’s before bringing your meal.  So I attempted to hold back as much as I could.

The adobe oven where they make the fresh ground corn tortillas and cafe de olla.

We hopped in the SUV and headed over to the mercado.  Some things never change and this market is one of them.  It isn’t very big but runs a couple of blocks long.  All the Christmas items are still out, and now red and yellow underwear for New Year’s.   Red is for love and yellow is for money.   I never see any that are mixed colors.

Walking around I decided I needed a haircut and a shoe shine.  The group walked over to the main plaza and sure enough there were a couple of boleros waiting for customers.   My shoes look brand new with a good shine.  Gail had her shoes shined as well.   While they toured the square I was off for a haircut.  Well, Jorge was busy until 6 p.m., Toni doesn’t open early on Saturdays, Lupita had over and hour wait but around the corner I found a place.  Great haircut!

I was hoping to get in a nap before our afternoon activity.  Heinz and Ulli came by along with Sal, Barb, Doug and Cathy and we loaded up and zipped down the road to Gigi’s Restaurant outside of Mazamitla.  It is an open area with lots of greenery, pine trees and quiet, still air.  The restaurant is actually a house divided up into dining rooms.  We had a room for 12 with a fireplace.  There are also outside palapas but you really need a reservation for those especially during a holiday.   We were more than happy with our place.  

The menu runs the gamut.   Some of what was ordered;  escargot, Thai curry, chateaubriand, Greek salads, and of course beer and wine.  We ordered the house wines, both red and white and many were interested in what label it was.   During the meal we mentioned our favorite wines which are La Cetto and when the bill came we asked about the house wine and sure enough it was La Cetto.  Good choice!

Lots of fresh flowers and delicious homemade breads spread among us.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Hike From Valle de Juarez to El Tigre

We headed out on foot this morning for a famous landmark, Sierra del Tigre.  It is located up the mountains from Valle de Juarez exactly 10.5 km.  It was quite a climb although we did take the cobble stone road because most of the mountain is small farms and ranches.  We started off with vigor and vinegar.  As we continued to climb you could feel the altitude affecting your breathing.  The good thing is we have been working on our cardio-vascular muscles by do inclined treadmill activity.  What is that?  We do thirty minutes on the treadmill starting at 5 on the scale and increasing the speed to 4 miles per hour and the incline changes every four minutes to the next level, or 5 to 11.  We are now at 6 to 12 and it really gets the heart pumping to 140 beats per minute.   That is daily.  Then on Friday we do an actual stress test simulation to where you are at an incline of 14 and running at the end for three minutes.  I was impressed with our climb today.

Back to the trek to El Tigre.  The mountains are beautiful.  Only five cars passed us in the 2.5 hours it took us to go up to the top.  There were many stops for pictures but it was worth it.  We passed small ranches where everyone was friendly and gave us a wave and a howdy-do.  

Fossils in the rocks used to make the road.

I've mentioned before how the farmers produce milk, set it by the side of road, and Liconsa, a government program, comes by to pick it up and registers the milk and the producer is paid 6.90 pesos per liter.  A pretty good business. 

As you know, we have the OXXO convenience stores.  This is at km 5 on the way up.  This is a take-off on the name.  A truly good rest stop for bathrooms, food, water and snacks.  They have developed a truly good business.

We never really took a break of more than a picture or a drink of water.   When we arrived at the top we found El Tigre.  Unfortunately, for those that live there, it is not a tourist attraction.  The open safari wagons from Mazamitla just drive right through and never stop.   It would do a great deal for the very small community on top of the mountain.  We stopped and had the tacos I had prepared in the morning and walked to a small farmhouse that offered meals.  We ordered two coffees and chatted with the owners for a spell.  They too are disappointed with the lack of tourism.  They complained about the large groups of 4 X 4s and RZRs that pass through destroying the canyons and streams with their vehicles.  The owner had worked in Santa Maria, California for many years during the planting season.

Juan’s knees starting to hurt.  We had planned on walking up and hitching a ride down but only five vehicles passed us on the way up.  The owner who offered us a coffee said that eventually, someone would pass by.  One of the tour safari wagons drove by but refused to pick up us up even for pay.  We decided to started walking and all of a sudden a tuk-tuk passed with a woman and a couple of costales of grain for her cows.  We waved and he said he would be back to pick us up.  A fun ride down.

We met the group from the rv park at the entrance to the road we had gone up and they were at the famous Pemex at the entrance to Valle de Juarez having tacos.  Okay, what the heck.  We had a quesadilla.   Nap time came and went and before we knew it, chairs gathered on the lawn for happy hours and a few good jokes.   As Croft always says, “life is good”.  We sure miss Croft and Norma here.