Update – 22 September 2017

At the time of our last update on 5 August 2017 we were in El Marasal Baja California, Mexico. We have since explored the Baja Peninsula further before taking the ferry to Mainland Mexico. We are currently in Parque Nacional Sierra de Organos Mexico.

Main features of this period:
Mangoes – mango empanadas, fresh mangoes, dried mango, everything mango!
Meeting other travellers at campgrounds that we have stayed at.
Staying at both good and bad camp sites – some mangy, some clean, mostly hot, a few not. Using the occasional hotel – although we are extremely comfortable in our truck, now and again, for a only a handful of pesos more, at hotels we get significantly more value as well as our own en suite bathroom, fast wifi [useful for planning] – and a pool.
More striking sunsets.
Getting a bit better at speaking Spanish.
A mixed bag of results when buying food and getting a little thinner again.
An amended awning and more modifications to the flyscreen for the door.
A trip on the train to Copper Canyon and long hikes when we got there.
A ferry from Baja to the mainland.
Getting bitten a lot by ants, mosquitos and other bugs.
Sometimes making the mistake of not stopping anywhere for long enough to really enjoy it before moving on.
Swimming in empty pools and feeling like we are on holiday for an hour here and there.
Suddenly a lot of rain – so much we had to wade through it, knee deep!
Mexican Indepence Day Celebrations at Jocotepec and Ajijic at Lake Chapala.
A pile of lovely vegetables purchased from Ajijic farmers’ market.
Exploring the historic, colonial city of Zacatecas and then returning to our solitary life for 2 nights camping at Parque Nacional Sierra Organos.

What is happening with the weather? We Brits love talking about weather!
This month we wilted and melted in hot sun and humidity. We sweated so much we were just puddles of our former selves. Then it got even hotter. We found relief in swimming pools and also briefly at Copper Canyon. There we were higher up and it became cool enough for us to go walking all day and get a lot of exercise over 2 days.

We endlessly wished for rain. We finally got it – lashings of it! It poured and poured. We got a taxi to the Marina in the tourist resort of Puerto Vallarta with the intention of finding a meal at a restaurant. The driver pulled into a street, the car stalled, he said “uh oh” (Mexican Spanish is the same as for English here). We sat there in one of those scenes that you see on TV when places flood. The driver opened the door and the footwell at Jon’s feet flooded, so he shut it fast. We paid him, carried our flipflops and waded to the restaurant, knee-deep in water while the taxi was pushed to the side of what was now a lake.

We also drove through deep water in Los Mochis and many other places before waking up to heat, sun and humidity again.

We are not in the middle of hurricanes or earthquakes like some though so we are very lucky.

What have we been up to?
We free camped just outside La Paz, Baja California and had our own small beach most of the time for the evening. There was a photographer taking what looked like wedding shots of a couple in attire that was definitely not suitable for the beach! A family came for a swim in the sea as well. Then they all went home and we had the place to ourselves.

We free camped at a stony beach near Mulege and chatted to some friendly Mexican fishermen [as best we could in bad Spanish] who gave us a free fish for our supper.

We visited more of the Baja towns, which were mostly quiet as it is not really tourist time. Unfortunately we missed out on seeing a few things because of our timing – but we don’t feel we have missed out in terms of being constantly in a crowd in campgrounds with only 2 showers. Life always has its compromises and nothing is ever perfect. We are just pleased to see what we manage to see – and this seems to be plenty in our quiet way. We liked the Baja overall but eventually decided we had done enough and caught a slightly stressful ferry to Topolobampo on the mainland.

We tried to find out how much our crossing would be from the Baja Ferries office in La Paz but unfortunately they didn’t know! It seems we are too unusual a size and we were told to turn up early for the ferry and get measured and weighed (despite us telling them our measurements). Anyway, we got the ferry in the end but had to go separately – me as passenger, Jon driving the truck – both getting on and off. As we have not been separated for over a year, no one knew how/where to meet on the other side, and we only had one phone between us, this was a little fraught. We eventually managed to reunite in the dark on the other side and headed out of Topolobampo port. We stayed at the Ibis hotel in Los Mochis, as camps seemed poor value in comparison on this occasion. Here we found lovely salads and a lovely, crispy, veggie pizza at places next door – which made a great change from the more unhealthy options we have encountered recently.

We noticed as high police presence in Los Mochis after really only seeing mostly army checkpoints on the Baja. When we took El Chepe – the train to Copper Canyon – there were armed guards on the train and police at every station that we stopped at. We have not felt unsafe.

Are we within our budget? Are we beaten or penniless?
Our daily spend rate came down by more than half when we reached Baja and only increased when we took the train to Copper Canyon and had to eat out and use a hotel there. Our ferry to Topolobampo cost us several hundred pounds though. This means that we are overspent again as we don’t seem to have allowed enough in our original budget for “being a tourist on holiday” and actually doing anything that costs money or even eating out. As usual we begin to get back on track on days where we free camp, do nothing but our chores and don’t spend anything. We are quite flexible and can always bring forward our future budget and shorten our time away though if we so desire. We don’t miss out on things that we really want to do but strike a balance between this and just doing everything available regardless of whether we can afford it.

What do we really think of it so far?
We enjoyed the change of scenery and people when arriving in the Baja and had some nice meals out involving fish and shellfish. We have found the vast majority of people very friendly despite our lack of good Spanish conversation.

We really liked hiking and taking the cable car at Copper Canyon and the views were amazing. We enjoyed our exploration around Zacatecas and the steep hike up the hill to look out over the city. The Independence Day celebrations brought some interesting moments. We liked watching the Mexicans on their horses topping up their drinks from bottles of Tequila in their saddles, watching the dancing on the stage in Jocotepec, and chatting to Mexicans here and there during the celebrations.

We have enjoyed catching up with many other travellers along the way – French, Dutch, German, Turkish, English, Swiss – they are all here. We have met many other travellers since arriving in Mexico. It has been nice to spend some time with other people and hear where they have been and intend to go further on. Unfortunately on a few occasions we have been under pressure to spend too much time with others when we had jobs to do or just wanted some time to ourselves. A few people seemed completely unable to accept that we don’t want to spend every night with others and that we don’t drink very much alcohol any more either – even taking it as a personal judgement on the amount they drank. We don’t tell people not to drink vast quantities but some people do keep insisting that we should drink more! We have a few small glasses of wine to be sociable and then stand our ground. Peer pressure – it doesn’t end with teenagers it seems!

I was very pleased to meet someone else who was making her own bread. Like us, a Turkish couple have been refusing to eat the sugary, white rubbish purporting to be bread across the Americas. They are also being fussy about eating out and buying fresh ingredients. The Turkish lady and I are both spending hours picking things up, reading labels, inspecting vegetables and putting it all back in dismay. Interestingly this fussiness comes from the fact that they too are used to food made completely from scratch – no processed sauces, artificial ingredients or excess salt/sugar. Like us, they are not used to the taste of processed food. They also genuinely like cooking and trying new foods and generously shared their homemade bread and plum jam. At last people who do not tell us to just eat processed food like them and to stop being so annoying!

We have been doing research into a lot of Mexican food as well as their baked goods but we are keeping our findings to ourselves for now. This new knowledge may be used for my work later on so for now it’s all classified information.

Otherwise we have been making plans every few days as usual and working out routes and where to get money, supplies, water etc.

Don’t forget to look at our Youtube page and follow us on Instagram – links on this blog. We are putting what we can on there so those who have no time to read updates can look at pictures and videos and see what we are up to.

Where do we go from here?
We are travelling up mainland Mexico to Chihuahua ready to cross back into the USA. We have many things we still want to do there while the weather is appropriate and now that peak holiday time is over in the United States. Earthquakes are causing distress to Mexicans further south and we have decided not to get in the way of rescue efforts and rebuilding and not to travel further in Mexico at this time. For the time we have left before having to go back home to work, this is a better option for us.


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