Thursday, January 31, 2008

Moving On To Guadalajara

We are finally moving on tomorrow! It has been fun here in Mazatlan and we have enjoyed all the company from Canada but it is time for the Adventure to continue!

All the furniture is crammed into the storage compartments, windows are washed and Good-Bye's have been said. We will load up the car on the trailer and leave in the morning. We will head South to Tepec where we will stay the night, maybe boondocking behind a Pemex station with all the highway trucks. The next day we will check into an RV Park near Guadalajara for a week. We will take the "Libre" or toll-free road as far as Tepec as we hear this section of it is in good repair and it will be nice to avoid the toll stations along the way. We have already paid over a hundred dollars in road tolls in Mexico and the section of Highway 15 from Mazatlan to Guadalajara would be another hundred or so. Taking the "Libre" where we can will save half of this. I do not really mind paying the tolls as we are paying no other taxes in Mexico and they do keep the highways in good repair.

Guadalajara is the second largest city in Mexico with a population of over four million. It was founded in 1531 and contains many historic buildings. The park we are staying in is close to the city and on the bus route to downtown. I will not be taking the car downtown because I will probably never find parking and even if I do find a place to park, I will never find the car again after wandering around all day! They say the memory is the first thing to go, thank Goodness! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

872 People Have Read My Blog!

I can't believe that 872 people have visited my Blog since I put the counter on. The counter lets me see a lot of information on who is reading, such as where they are from, how they found me and how long they were here. People from all over the world are finding me, from Kiev, Peru, Philippines, Australia and China as well as the USA and Canada.

I started this to share some of our Mexico experiences with a few friends and relatives and look what it has become! It is all very humbling. I hope I am providing a little entertainment for you and that you are able to learn a little more about this wonderful country and it's people from the Blog.

Edit: It is now March 19, 2008 and 3,030 people have read the Blog! Whoever would have thunk!

Edit again: July 17, 2008 and the count is over 7,900. Unbelievable!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Expenses in Mexico

I just did a quick comparison between our expenses for the months of December and January last year when we were in Arizona with the same months this year in Mexico. It is quite startling! We are spending about $1000 per month LESS in Mexico. We are exploring more, eating out more and we also had our son and his partner here for two weeks and did a lot with them. I will have to do a more in-depth study of our expenses but the bottom line is clear. For us, Wintering in Mexico costs about $1000 per month less than Wintering in Arizona. As a bonus, I do not have to be careful to avoid offending my neighbours who may like Bush. (Apologies to my American friends who may like Bush...)

C AVIATE: In my excitement in discovering such a savings I probably published this a little early. I did not take into consideration the increased value of the Canadian Dollar in my calculations. The dollar was worth quite a bit less last year. As I recall it was around $.85 USA. This would reduce my figures by about 15%. This would translate into a true savings of $800 or $850 per month which is still a considerable amount.

Visitors Are Leaving

My son Brooks and his partner Linda left for Victoria this afternoon. They have a short stop in LAX and another in Seattle before landing in Victoria at 9:00 tonight. We had a lot of fun. It has been nice having them here and we are sad to see them go but on the other hand it will be nice to have some time to ourselves again. They have to get back to work as well as they had just come home from two weeks in Cuba before getting on the plane for Mexico. They can't retire yet!

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Venados - Obregon Game

We went to another Mazatlan Venados Baseball game on Friday night. Mazatalan had previously beat their rivals from Los Moches to move on to the current series against Obregon. It was a good game but I think that either Obregon has a better team or the Venados simply do not want to win that bad. I don't usually feel this way about sports but this just seems different for some reason.

We decided to treat ourselves to better seats in a private "Cabina" (Cabin) instead of being in the bleachers but that turned into a hassle as the people who rented the cabin for all of the regular season thought (wrongly) that they had a right to it for the Playoffs as well. When we showed up at our cabin it was already full of people who had a key but no tickets and they did not want to leave. My son went to fetch a Security Guard who did not seem at all anxious to kick them out as they were probably very important people in Mazatlan. We were not going anywhere either so the intruders finally got the message and left temporally but returned as soon as the Security guy was gone, crowding in and telling us that they "own" the cabina and we should not have been sold tickets to it. When we asked to see his tickets, he just kept waving around a key that may or may not have been for the Cabina.

By now the game was into the third inning and we had not been able to watch any of it. Brooks went to get Security again and tried to get him to ask everyone to either show their tickets or leave. The Security guy did not want to do that but instead offered a "compromise". Seeing how there were eight seats in the cabin and there were only six in our group, he was going to allow two of the other group to have the two empty seats even though they had no tickets. Two women with a young child and a baby immediately took over the end of our "Private" cabin with the blessings of Security. I counted that as four but Secutity counted it as two and he had the "Riot Stick". The result was that one or two of our group had to stand through the entire game and we missed seeing a good part of it because of all the hassle.

I found this incident very unsettling because it exhibited the worse possible stereotype of Mexican people, that is: pushy people, officials not doing their job and the suspicion of payoffs or "influence" taking place. This is a side of Mexico that we had not experienced to date but although I was disappointed, I am not going to let this isolated incident colour my very positive general impression of Mexico and it's people. The bad feeling I had probably negativly affected my overall impression of the game but I hope the Venados go on to win and to represent Mexico in the Caribbean World Series. Their fans deserve a win!

On edit: Sorry, once again I am unable to post photos. They are simply shots of the game and more important, the "Pacifico Girls", a dance team providing some "very talented" entertainment. (the best part of the game)!

Follow-Up: The Venados lost the next two games and are now out of the race.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tire Repair!

Last night I got a flat tire. I changed it to the "donut" spare and took the tire in for repair this morning. Tire shops are called Llantera here in Mexico. We found a Llantera (Continental Tire) close by in the Gigante grocery store mall. When I rolled the tire in the repairman stopped working on the brake job he was doing and started on my repair immediately. He marked where the weight was, took the tire off the rim, repaired the hole (I had run over a self tapping screw), put the tire back on the rim and mounted it on the car. When I asked for the bill ("la cuenta, por favor") it was $35 Pesos ($3.45 CAN)! When he told me the amount I thought I did not understand him because it was too cheap. He wrote the number down and that is what it was! I looked at him and shrugged "Is that all?" He nodded and repeated the amount so I paid it and gave him a small tip. I was in and out in under 20 minutes. All the equipment was very modern and their shop and uniforms were spotless. He washed and dried the "donut" for me and scrubbed his hands before taking my money.

Some things are very expensive in Mexico. Our neighbour here in the park is trying to replace a small digital camera and one that he can get for $200 in the States is well over $300 here. Other things, like labour, are very cheap. Once again, I have to admire the work ethic in Mexico. Everyone works and works hard! No matter how menial their job, they are very proud of the work they do. It is very humbling to travel down here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Working On Travel Plans

I am getting itchy feet! We have been in Mazatlan almost six weeks now and although we have enjoyed the visits from our family in Canada who have been coming down, it is time to start working on our next adventures!

On February 1 we will head South once again and are planning on leaving the motorhome in Tepic and driving the car to Puerto Vallarta for a few days in a beach front hotel. After that we will pick the motorhome up and head to Guadalajara and San Meguel areas. There is much to see there as well as an RV Park with Hot Springs to stay in. As we move inland it becomes less crowded, cheaper and more interesting in terms of history and scenery.

After visiting this area we will start investigating a route up the interior of Mexico to Texas where, assuming the Canadian Dollar is still worth a dollar, we will look for a newer motorhome.

Stay tuned as I will do a lot more posting as we start moving.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Photo of "Tioga and George"

I am having trouble with the Blog refusing to post photos or only allowing one photo per post. Here is the second photo that should have gone in the previous post. It is of George of "Tioga and George" and myself.
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"Tioga and George"

I finally got to meet George of the famous "Tioga and George" Internet Blog. He is a very interesting single man who travels in an older but nicely fixed up Class C Tioga motorhome much like ours and chooses to keep his costs down by "boondocking" whenever he can. He posted a photo of himself parked on the Malecon on his website and since I had a dentist appointment downtown anyway I went down early to meet him. Unfortunatly, by the time I got there he had left. Later on we were driving home with Brooks and Linda from Robin's condo and saw him parked on the beach almost right across from our RV Park! We knocked on his door and had a nice visit. He was parked on a lot that was being developed into condos and after we talked for a half hour or so, a man came to the door to tell him he had to move. George said it was the first time he had ever been kicked out of a boondocking site in Mexico! The guy who kicked him out was an American representing an American developer so that may explain it. Mexicans are much friendlier and willing to share as you will discover if you have a look at George's Blog. George took a photo of us and graciously gave me permission to use it here. You can see George's Blog at: You can read Georges mention of our visit at:

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Trip to the Dentist

Yesterday I went to a local Dentist here in Mazatlan for a long overdue cleaning. Dr. Francisco Gavito did a thorough half hour cleaning using the latest ultrasonic equipment and also took an X-Ray of an area that he was concerned about. It turned out to be a piece of taco chip that had gotten stuck between the tooth and gum and had become slightly infected! Ouch! Before I left he talked to me about my teeth and gave me a handful of cleaning supplies to take with me. The total bill? $500 Pesos ($45 CAN), much less than it would have cost in Canada. Dr. Gavito speaks excellent English that he, like many Mexicans, taught himself by watching American TV when he was young. I highly recommend him.

Here is Dr. Gavito's web site:

Villa Union

We visited Villa Union yesterday, a small town just South of Mazatlan. As we were walking through town we came across a barber advertising haircuts for $35 Pesos ($3.40 CAN). Recognizing a bargain when we see it, my son and I woke him up from his siesta in the barbers chair took him up on his offer. We both got very good haircuts, as good as we ever get back home, mostly done with a straight razor! The photo is my son Brooks in the chair. We then celebrated the haircut with an ice cream on the main street. After that we came back to the motorhome where we cooked up a kilo of shrimp and a kilo of white fish. It was a great day and proved once again that here in Mexico, Life Is Good!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mazatlan Aquarium

Our son Brooks and his partner Linda have arrived in Mazatlan! It is great to see them, we have been gone a ling time. They just returned from a trip to Cuba and had a very good head start on their tans! It is Linda's first trip to Mexico and we have been having fun playing the old travel pros and showing them around. Today we went to the Acuario Mazatlan (Aquarium). It is a great place to see and was made much more fun by three classes of children who happened to be there at the same time. Mexican children are so pleasant to be around. They are well behaved, clean, polite and in great awe of us forigners! The little girl in the pink spent more time watching us than watching the show.

After visiting the Aquarium and a making a short visit to Sam's Club to replentish the Pacifico supply, we joined my brother Gordon, my niece Robin, her partner George and their neighbour Gord for dinner and to see my brother off. He will be catching the plane tomorrow to take him back to snow shoveling duties in Edmonton. He had been here two weeks and the time has flown by.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Manifold - The End

Well, the manifold saga is over! I went down and paid the bill this morning and the total, including the removal, welding, machining and reinstalling of the manifold as well as a complete new set of spark plug wires was $5300 Pesos or about $520 CAN. This is a LOT less than the same job would cost back in Canada which a retired mechanic in the park here said would have been around $2000 CAN for the manifold alone. It was a little frustrating dealing with the local "mechanico" shop as nobody seemed to be in a hurry to do anything but everything worked out in the end. While I was in the shop paying the bill I saw the mechanic who did the job and gave him a $200 Peso tip and thanked him for a job well done. I would not hesitate to recommend this shop to anyone needing work done down here. Just have patience and remember you are in Mexico!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Manifold Part 3

The manifold saga continues! They welded the crack in the old manifold and promised to have it back the next day. They did not show so I called the next day and was told they decided to send it to a machine shop to be re-surfaced. This was good news as that is what I asked for but was assured was not necessary. Well that took two more days and they finally arrived at about 4:30 and worked until after dark putting it back on. It quickly became pitch black (remember, we are in the Tropics) and I ended up holding a flashlight for him to finish the job. We finally fired the engine up and it purred like a kitten!

He then showed me the spark plug wires that were damaged by the heat from the leaking manifold and told me they had to be replaced. The rubber coating was falling off in his hands so I agreed. He went away and promised to be back in the (Saturday) morning to finish the job. Well, you guessed it, no show. We waited all day for him and when I finally phoned at about 4:00 the shop was closed. Sunday is "Family Day" here so I knew they would not be here then. Today I called after breakfast and was assured they would be here at 3:30. They had to order the spark plug wires.

I find all of this very frustrating but no one else seems to. "11:00 tomorrow" could mean 11:00 tomorrow but it could just as easily mean 3:00 tomorrow or noon the next day. I still have no idea how much all this will cost me except I am sure it will be much less than it would cost in Canada. I have $6000 Pesos ($600 CAN) hidden away and hope that will cover it. If not, he will just have to trust me to drop it off later after I hit the ATM again. I am getting used to the "Cash Economy" here and am less dependent on my credit card, although I am going to miss the points I am no longer accumulating.

It is cloudy today and a little warmer than it has been. My indoor/outdoor thermometer says 24 outside and 26 inside. If the sun was out it would be a good pool day but if I can't expose myself to a little skin cancer, what's the point?

Friday, January 11, 2008

San Ignacio

San Ignacio is another small Mexican town. It is at the end of a long road that goes nowhere else so not many tourists get there. San Ignacio is dominated by a very large statue of Christ overlooking the town. I found an interesting "Che" t-shirt in this small market to add to my growing collection.
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More San Ignacio

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Concordia Scenes

Concordia is a small town East of Mazatlan known for it's furniture production. As in most Mexican towns, most activities occur in and around the Plaza which is usually next to the Church. As usual, everyone is happy and smiling. Mexico is a very relaxing and comfortable place to be!

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Mazatlan Market

The Downtown Market in Mazatlan is a colourful, noisy and busy affair that can take all day to see. We took the bus from the RV Park there and back today to see the sights. It was a lot of fun but we bought nothing except lunch. Mine was the Ranchero Fish in the photo washed down with an ice cold Pacifico. The $7.00 per kilo sign on the limes is not seven dollars but seven Pesos, about sixty-eight cents a kilo or thirty cents a pound.

I did not ask how much the cow's or pig's heads were but they were probably a bargain!

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Venados Baseball Game

Tonight my brother Gordon, my niece Robin, her partner George, their neighbour Gord and I went to the final game of the semi-finals of the Winter Baseball season. The Mazatlan Venados were playing the team from Guasave. It was an exciting game and it was very interesting to observe the differences between Mexican Baseball and the North American version.

There does not seem to be an Infield Fly Rule in effect and not one batter was purposely put on base with intentional balls by either team. They just played ball. All the players seemed eager to sign as many baseballs, hats and shirts as the crowd was able to get to them. Mazatlan eventually won the game 2-1, taking them on to the next series. The winners of this League eventually end up playing in the Caribbean World Series, which Mazatlan won in (I believe) 2002! The score should have been 2-0 but a Venados fielder forgot there was a runner on second and did not throw home after he caught the ball!

Prices are much more reasonable than we are used to. The best seats in the house are only $125 Pesos ($12 CAN), beer delivered to your seat is $15 Pesos ($1.45 CAN) and parking at the stadium is $10 Pesos ($.95 CAN). An official Venados t-shirt was $120 Pesos ($11 CAN).

At the end of the game all the kids are allowed to swarm onto the field to congratulate their favorite players and meet the Mascot, the Deer ("Venados" translates to "Deer"). It was a lot of fun as everyone brings their kids and there is much dancing and singing by the crowd throughout the game. Their excitment is contaigous even though we could not understand the excited commentary over the loudspeakers.
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Street Scenes in Copala

Copala is the small village where we went for the world famous Banana Cream Coconut Pie. The little girls were playing in the street and our friend Les gave two of them a candy and motioned for the third to come and get one. The girl in the green dress said, in perfect English, "would you like me to call my little sister?" It turns out they lived in Texas for some time and were more than happy to pose for a few photos. I think I said it before but the children of Mexico are happy, smiling and well behaved. You hardly ever hear yelling or crying from them nor ever a harsh word from a parent. They play on the streets at night because it is safe to do so and everyone looks out for everyone else's children. It takes a village to raise a child and in Mexico it is done to perfection.

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