Friday, February 18, 2011

Recent events

Feb 4 to Feb 16
In Loreto camp still at the start of this post, taking lots of walks around town, but this is not a great place for my beach desires. But getting lots of sun just lounging behind my RV, in semi privacy. Watched the Superbowl, decent game but it was through a Canadian satellite system, so I think I missed lots of the famous "commercials".
I'm getting itchy feet and decide to leave this camp before my (already paid for) month is up. Drove about 25 km south to Juncalito beach, lots of full timers there, some have been living here for months.
Juncalito beach camping
Then headed south again, went through Cuidad Constitucion, infamous for bad city cops stopping gringos for BS reasons, but I had no encounters. Then all the way to La Paz. Stayed for one night at Maratha RV park, nice place but a bit expensive and no hot showers. Spent lots of time wandering around downtown La Paz and the Malecon area. But ended up going to the free beach at Tecolote, about 20 km past the main town. And have now been there for 5 or 6 days. No facilities, but it is an absolutely beautiful beach, and again, lots of long term occupants here. About 25 rigs scattered up and down a half mile long beach, so not to crowded.
self portrait at Tecolote beach

Tecolote is total boon docking, no facilities except a part time restaurant. Absolutely gorgeous beach and fantastic sunrises.  About 70% of the people here are Canadian. Very few Americans around. All the negative American press has really affected the gringos perceptions. First two days were windy, but has now been calm for the last 4 days. Excellent weather, around 80 degrees. It's a hassle to pack up the RV and drive to town, so I have been riding my motorcycle a lot, for phone calls, internet and food. There are many wild dogs running around here, not wild/mean or at all aggressive, in fact they are really friendly, but skittish (I think they get rocks thrown at them a lot). They have no home, just packs running together, apparently surviving on washed up fish and the good graces of some campers.

"wild dogs" at Tecolote

I have been really happy with the RV. All the things I worried about have been perfect, generator, refrigerator-freezer, hot water heater, shower, batteries all good. But I did have a bit of a mishap in La Paz they other day. I clipped a tree on the back edge top corner, tore up some molding. Shouldn't be too difficult to fix though. I have driven 4,443 miles since I left Seattle, and have only had to add 1/2 quart of oil, so engine is running great too.

una problema

This big town of 250,00 people has a Walmart!  Went there and what an experience. Like the US, it had pretty much everything you can think of, but almost no American brands, so it was really fun shopping there, and looking at all the stuff. Bought a lot of staples, some food and some treats. I haven't seen such a selection in months now.
I was stopped by a police roadblock one night when heading out of La Paz late at night. It was a drunk driving check. They asked if I had anything to drink. I said no (though not totally true) and they let me pass.
The military/police situation here takes some getting used to. The city cops are just average Joe's, don't really have any special training, kind of just traffic safety type stuff. The Army (who man all the highway check points) can look intimidating, but they are almost all young kids carrying old Belgium FN machine guns. There is a mandatory draft here, most every mainland kid has to serve one year, so how well can they actually be trained? Not really a professional organization. And then there are the Federal Policia. They are all well educated speak decent English and are very professional looking and acting. And lastly, the Marines/Navy. there is some kind of overlap with these two branches (just like the US). They are the ones that really hold all the power and are well trained and armed with American weapons. They are on the forefront with the drug cartels. They seem nice enough, but are a bit intimidating  because they frequently have black masks on under their helmets and goggles, with M16's at full ready.

I have been in Mexico for exactly 3 months now, and for the first time I'm having  a bit of money worries. I had a fair amount of stashed US bills with me, but it's been spent. I now have to totally rely on my ATM card to obtain pesos. I would be totally hosed if an ATM ate my card. The banking system down here is so different, there is no such thing as a cash advance on a credit card, and it is nearly impossible to open a bank account as an American. A bit scary when I contemplate the situation.
Where I have been camping, I have to drive by the main port here, called Pichilingue. All the oil tankers dock here, but it is also where all the commercial truck traffic comes and goes from the mainland, mostly Mazatlan. Seemingly disorganized to outsiders, it actually seems to be very reliable and well established. Lots of passengers, but mostly tractor-trailer rigs. And boy do they pack them in tight. The ferry runs two times a day and always seem full. RV's use it too, but I'm told it is pricey, around $500 to $600 each way.

Baja Ferry terminal at Pichilingue

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