Wednesday, December 30

Working at Mazatlan Starbucks!

I ran across the Mazatlan Starbucks on my way to a meeting last night.  Here's a quick picture.  We returned today after surfing attempt #1 and did the blogging from here!  These are live action photos of me working right now!!

Huatabampito sunset

We spent a Saturday night at a lovely, tiny beach town south of Huatabampo, called Huatabampito.  Here are some pictures from this adventure!  I caught the sun descending into the water anf just kept clicking!

Photos from Mexico travels!

Many days have passed since my last update...apologies!
Here are some pictures of Joe, Carrie and Robert to start off.  They are definitely getting their beach legs!

We have traveled through some beautiful countryside between Bahia Kino, then to Huatabambito and now to Mazatlan.  Here are some pictures of our travels:

The highway is so well made.  It is better than most highways in the US!

 I'm having a difficult internet connection so I'll get this post uploaded and then do another separately!

Friday, December 25

Bahia Kino and wonderings

     The problem with finding a perfectly magical spot right off the bat is that you expect everything thereafter to be magical and perfect and easy too.  Bahia Kino may be like that for us on this trip.  We pulled in, backed up to the beach, got out, and were peaceful and happy.  Just like that.  I walked the dogs and they were so happy.  Robert in particular kept turning his head on that first walk to look back with a look that said, "Really?  After all that driving, a week in the car, you really brought me here?!  This is so awesome!"  It was like he couldn't believe I was so creative. 

     After pulling in on the night we crossed the border, we spent the following entire day in Bahia Kino just resting.  Nicholas wandered into the town area while I alternately sat or laid on the beach with the dogs and a book.  The weather was great, I could do with even more heat but it is good for Joe to be able to acclimate slowly.  Being black, he gets hotter more quickly than the rest of us.  Robert loved the sun as much as I did and he stayed with me on the beach all day, even after Joe and Carrie retired to the van for their afternoon nap in the shade.

     There wasn't much going on in Bahia Kino though, so we didn't stay for another day of relaxation in the sun.  I think I may look at these pictures and wonder why not:

Dec. 22--First day Mexico!

     We had a destination in mind for our first campground, a small town called Magdalena.  But when we got there, we could not find the campground, and the town was very small, inland, dusty, and generally not offering what we hoped for.  We had gotten an early start that morning in Tucson, so we decided to drive further to a coastal town on the Gulf of California called Bahia Kino (Kino Bay).  We did, however, stop and walk the dogs in a town called San Miguel de Allende.  It was the first time for Joe, Carrie and Robert to set foot on Mexican soil and they were happy and also, apparently, attention-getting!  These two girls stopped and asked me something, they were pointing at Joe and smiling.  Another small boy with his father were also enthralled with the dogs.  I don't know why, there are loads of dogs in Mexico, most in need of a nice home and some food.  But maybe because Joe is a racing dog, or because Carrie and Robert have such cute red harnesses, or maybe just because they all just look so well-loved and pretty!
     Anyway, here is a picture Nicholas took from the van:

     We piled back in the van and continued to drive to the coast.  Here is what the dogs look like most of the time when we are driving:

    We got to Bahia Kino a little while before dark (one of our hard and fast rules is never to drive in Mexico after dark, on this all the guidebooks agree).  We had several campgrounds from which to choose and drove past one, the second looked pretty darn good, and the third, which was the one I expected to be the best was crowded and uninviting.  We turned around the choice number 2 and were the only inhabitants and this beachfront wonder:

Here is one I took with my iPhone the next morning.  This place was just breathtaking:

Dec. 22--Crossing the border

We spent a final USA night on December 21 in Tucson in Catalina campground, the same one where we had stayed the night before.  It is northwest Tucson and quiet and comfortable.  From there, we drove through Tucson on Hwy 77 which led us eventually to Interstate 10.  Just a few days later, this Interstate between Tucson and Phoenix had such high winds that a dust-storm formed and caused a serious pileup.  Luckily, we were headed the other way and encountered no such disaster.
From I-10, we split off and took Hwy 19 to Nogales.  I selected this border crossing because it is very high volume, was recommended in my book on Camping Mexico in an RV, and has a major Mexican highway leading from it down the west mainland coast.
As we left I-10, a few interesting things happened.  First, the mileposts converted to Kilometers almost immediately.  The exit numbers corresponded to these kilometers as well.  Second, the road was nearly completely void of all business, advertisements, basically anything familiarly American.  It felt like Mexico already.  We even saw some border agents hanging around one of the exits we took insearch of gas, a place to walk the dogs one last time, and a driver-passenger switch.
This was the only sign of life at this exit: a rather deserted US Post Office:

 We ended up finding a last Chevron a few kilometers later and completing these tasks.
Nerves were high for both me and Nicholas as we approached the border.  I had done a ton of work in the past two months to prepare for this: New car insurance, special vaccines and meds for the dogs and for me, all the work on Bussy, lots of maps and planning.  I also brought with me lots of necessary documents for the border crossing.  I had spoken to the USDA on several occasions to make sure the dogs were properly documented, I spoke to several car insurance companies about driving in Mexico and I had consulted lots of books offering advice, travel tips, warnings, and also encouragements.  All in all, I was READY.
When we got to Nogales, a mere 65 miles south of Tucson, this is what we saw:

We followed these very clear signs, following all sorts of american license plates, trucks, RV's, basically the same mush of cars you'd see at any ferry terminal in Washington.  When it was our turn at the toll booth crossing, there were 4 or 5 men dressed in dark uniforms, some of them had black neck-warmer type things partially hiding their faces, which was weird and a little scary,  It also made it hard to understand the man when he spoke.  All he asked was: "Do you have more than $10,000 with you?" We said no and that was it.  The dogs did not bark, no one asked for any papers, passports, nothing.  We drove on!
Next to encounter was the checkpoint where we had to stop to buy the vehicle permit.  Here, Nicholas was able to stay in the car with the dogs and I went in to take care of this.  I waited in one line, filled out an immigration card similar to the cards on the airplane, then went to the booth operated by the national bank of some sort and presented my registration, driver's license, and passport.  She asked me if I had Mexican insurance and I was prompt with saying yes and providing her the papers.  She sort fo laughed at my over-preparedness and said she didn't need to see it.  She stamped everything and gave me the permit, which is taped onto the windshield next to the rear view mirror.

And then we just drove.  We saw beautiful countryside and after another hour, we became more calm and relaxed.  Here is what the land looked like: