Wednesday, February 29, 2012
We have to be home a few days before the end of April to do our taxes so if we leave here on the 11th, we will have about six weeks to get home. A nice, relaxing pace with time to stop every once in a while and maybe a chance to see Chris and Juan on our way through Mexico.
Today or tomorrow, we have to dump. There is no dump at our site so we have to move about 100 feet to the dump station. Not a big deal but because everything has to be taken off tables and the counter and the slide brought in, we delay it as long as possible. Our noses are telling us it cannot be put off any longer. The black tank is nowhere near full and we let the gray water drain onto the grass under the rig so it stays empty. This is pretty normal practice although many people get their noses out of joint when they hear we do this. It is just sink water and the grass obviously likes it. I am environmentally conscious but I have been known to pee behind a tree. Bears do.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Promptly at 7:15 this morning Victor was here. He spent a good hour washing the rig from the roof down. It went pretty easy because of the previous wax job. He then started hand waxing the rig. He did the whole thing and then added a second coat to the front and back at my request as that is where it gets the worst exposure to road grime. When he finished waxing he did all the windows and chrome. It took him almost five hours of steady work and Norma paid him $520 pesos or about $40 CAN. It was a generous amount, at least twice what he would make for a full day's work here at the park. For Victor, his wife and 2 1/2 year old son it was a windfall and for us, we got a hard worker for about $8 per hour.
We thanked him for his hard work and a fine job and gave him a cold beer before he headed off for eight or ten hours of his regular work. He will be pretty tired when he gets home!
Feeling a little embarrassed about just sitting there while Victor worked his butt off, Norma cleaned the barbecue while I washed and waxed the Mazda. We will look pretty snazzy heading down the road when we finally decide to get out of here.
There is a way to remove your web history. Here are the instructions:
Sunday, February 26, 2012
The watch that Brooks gave me a couple of years ago started slowing down. Yesterday it was loosing about five hours a day so we took it down to the mercado where we remembered seeing a watch repair guy in about a 5' X 10' booth. I asked him if he could change the battery. He said, "Si", took the battery out and tested it. He determined the battery was good so he cleaned it and burnished the contacts in the watch, put it back together and handed it back to me for no charge. I guess the humidity had affected the battery connection. I gave him a $10 peso tip and the watch is again keeping perfect time. Another example of honest workers in Mexico which is the general rule and not the exception.
Norma prides herself in keeping the motorhome spotless and it has paid off as we have not had any invasion of bugs that are so common down here. Yesterday morning she woke up early with something crawling on her face. She turned on the light and found hundreds of tiny, fast moving ants on the wall and pillows! She blamed it on her leaving a cup of sugared coffee on the bedside table all night. Maybe it was or maybe it was just our time to get invaded. We lifted the mattress and found as many more under it. We sprayed everything, stripped the bed, bagged the sheets and sprayed again, leaving the mattress propped up to air out. She then washed all the walls and the bed platform, watched for several hours and finally decided there was no more problem. This morning there were no ants. problem solved.
Today is the Scotties Tournament of Hearts curling finals and the Daytona 500 car race. That will keep both of us busy! BC and Alberta will be playing off for the Gold in curling and I will be cheering for Danica Patrick in the race. She has been having some bad luck lately and had a bad crash yesterday. She deserves a win.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
There is a public swimming dock behind our motorhome. Today this little girl and her brother were sitting on the steps into the water cooling off in the sea. Their parents were sitting in the small open restaurant nearby. By the time I got the camera and got outside, her brother had gone off to find big brother things to do. That’s OK, she was having fun by herself! I kept an eye on her because a couple of waves almost took her off her step!
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Here is Kathe’s beautiful house on Chetumal Bay. She lives in the one on the left and rents out the one one the right as a vacation rental. Interested? Let me know.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Say goodbye to the annoying word verification box. Now play nice, no spam please.
We are by ourselves here after our Swiss neighbors left, heading for central and South America. They will spend six or seven months there and then have their rig shipped home from Argentina. It is a trip of a lifetime for them. If you do German or can put up with Google Translator, their Blog is at www.dalanuma.blogspot.com They have not been keeping their Blog up to date very well but it makes for good reading in any case.
We have really been lazy here, but why not? Life is Good!
Sunday, February 19, 2012
The weather is perfect here in Chetumal so we decided to stay. We are in no rush and the weather at our next stop, Palenque, is always unpredictable (rainy). Plus, this is as far as we can go and everything from this point on is "heading home", something I want to avoid!
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Our friend Kathe came over yesterday for a visit and asked to see the hammock we had bought downtown. She looked at it and pronounced it to be “OK” but looking in her eyes, I could tell what she really thought of it! She told us that she could take us to where they made the real thing if we wanted a much better version. We said yes and we made a date for her to pick us up this morning. We asked Paul and Elsbeth, our Swiss neighbors, if they wanted to join us and of course they did.
The place where they make the quality hammocks is the local prison! Kathe arrived at 10:30 and we all piled into her truck and headed out. Kathe told us we could not take our cameras in but that she had a very small camera and would try to get a photo for us all to share. Kathe’s fluent Spanish got us through the main gate of the Centro De Readaptacion Social and then through the door into the prison itself! We went into a small room where one of the prison workers started bringing in hammocks. We opened up several of them and Kathe’s critical eye gave them a “yes” or a “no”. We eventually picked out a very nice double size while Paul and Elsbeth did the same. Kathe had told us the price would likely be around $500 pesos after her negotiations but the prices have gone up since her last visit and the best she could do was $650 pesos. The difference in quality was immediately obvious as soon as we looked at the double weave on these. They are much heavier and much better made. It will look great in my Pergola.
We paid our money and exited the prison under the watchful eyes of many guards. I told Paul and Elsbeth that they could tell their friends in Switzerland that they had been in a Mexican Prison! We all agreed that it was not a place we would want to spend any involuntary time in!
On the way home Kathe took us to a pottery shop where Norma was able to replace the serving platter that got broken when we hit the tope the other day. Norma is happy and I am now forgiven! Here are the photos Kathe took after telling the guard she needed examples of the colors offered.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
As we were eating, a hamaca salesman came through the restaurant with two hamacas. He showed them to us and told us the large one was $1200 pesos and the small one $575 pesos. He actually quoted me in USA dollars which ticked me off a lot. We told him we wanted a large one but it was too expensive, He dropped his price to $800 pesos but that was still too much so we said no. I am not a dumb Gringo.
After lunch Norma and I took off to try to find the shop where we had bought a hamaca two years ago when we were with our Dutch friends, Claudia and PJ. We kind of remembered where it was and sure enough we found the shop on the other side of the mercado on Aveneda de Los Heros. We walked in and there was the salesman who had tried to sell us the overpriced hamaca in the restaurant! It seems he was either selling for the owner of this shop or buying his hamacas there which he then tried to sell on the street at a huge markup. He left as soon as he saw us walk in. We found a nice, extra large model that we liked. The color was not perfect but it will do. We asked how much and were told $450 pesos. This is about a third of what the wandering salesman first asked for! We offered $400 pesos and it was immediately accepted. We probably could have got it for $350 pesos but we were very happy with the deal we made. It was a good price and he has to make a living.
Lyle and Liz have been having a little trouble keeping their fridge cold in the heat down here. I showed him the modification I had made to ours by adding a small computer fan to the cooling coils. It moves a little air past the coils and up the chimney and this seems to improve the operation of the fridge. Lyle wanted to find a computer shop that sold used parts. They found one shop which directed them to another shop that we drove to when we left. They explained what they wanted and the repair guy dug through a box of recycled parts until he came up with a fan. Lyle asked him if he had two so he could have a spare so he went digging again until he came up with a second fan. Lyle asked him to test them so he found a 12 volt power supply and showed us they both worked. He handed them over and Liz asked how much he wanted and he said, "Nothing, they came out of the junk!" Wow! Liz gave him $30 pesos to buy himself a beer or a snack and everyone was happy, specially Lyle and Liz.
It was not so great a day for Norma because for the first time in recorded history, she did not "need" anything! No sheets, pillows, clothes, shoes, rugs... nothing!
We got back to the park where Lyle and I installed one of the fans in his fridge compartment while Liz whipped up some strawberry daiquiris that were very delicious. It was a successful day! Tomorrow we will see if their fridge is a little cooler.
Alistair, a tope is a speed bump on steroids! Sometimes they are painted a contrasting color and are easy to spot and slow down for and sometimes not. Sometimes they are marked with a sign and sometimes not,.
They are mostly formed of pavement or concrete but some (the worst kind) are lengths of tug boat rope stretched across the road or a row of canon balls half buried in the pavement. Sometimes they are high and wide and double as a crosswalk.
They are used to mark the beginning and end of a small puebla, school or shopping area. Sometimes there is only one and sometimes a series of them. Sometimes there is a warning sign but no tope. My friend Whit calls these "fauxpes". They serve to slow down everyone but the locals. The portable tug boat rope topes are the most bone jarring kind and are favored by the policia and military to slow you down for their inspection stations.
They all must be crossed over at a dead crawl to avoid losing some teeth or breaking some important part of your RV. Broken hitches or frames are not unheard of as are blown tires and damaged wheels.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
We woke up early Saturday and continued our trip to Chetumal. It was an uneventful 175 KM drive on great roads that took about two and a half hours. As we approached town a pickup truck pulled along side of us on the highway and beeped. It was our friend Kathe, an American expat who moved down here years ago and bought a beautiful piece of property right on the Chetumal Bay. Our mutual friends Jan and Whit had been here visiting her a month or so ago and Whit had bumped into Kathe's truck and done a little damage to the tailgate. Kathe had since gotten an estimate for repairs and Whit had given me the cash to deliver to her. It was a relief to hand over the money because I was afraid that I would forget that I had it and that Kathe would be too nice to ask for it. Yes I know, stupid but things like this bother me. I could see myself back at home finding the bundle of cash still in the safe and feeling like an idiot. Anyway, the cash is handed over and after an invitation by Kathe to visit her place, we carried on to the Yax Ha RV Resort.
This is one of the nicest RV parks in Mexico! It is right on the Bay of Chetumal and the bedroom window is about five feet from the water. Price is $300 pesos a night or $350 if you stay only one night. We paid in advance for seven nights ($164 CAN). There is a gentle breeze to keep the bugs away and to make it easy to sleep at night. The temperature was 92F when we arrived and at 8 o'clock this morning it is 69F! Perfect weather!
It was difficult finding a spot to set up the StarChoice dish because of all the palm trees (everyone should have these problems!) but we eventually found a spot where the swaying leaves did not interfere with Billy The Exterminator. We get all the SD channels and most of the HD. It may require a little fine tuning today if I can fit it into my busy schedule!
I will take a few photos today and post them.
Friday, February 10, 2012
For the first time this year, a tope jumped out in front of me! I hit the brakes, locked up all eight tires and managed to slow down to maybe 80 KPH when I hit it. I released the brakes just before impact to minimize damage and the vehicle(s) seem to have survived. No blown tires, bent frames or broken hitches. The inside cupboards are another story! One broken bottle of capers and dozens of cans and bottles tossed around in the food cupboard. The liquor cabinet survived simply because there is not one square inch for anything to gain enough momentum to smash.
Norma's clothes are all in piles at the bottom of the closets so that is what she is most ticked off at. I shall survive.
It took her over an hour to clean up so we are parked in a Pemex about 3/5 of the way to Chetumal. Tomorrow will always be a better day!
Well, I am up the creek now! One of the serving platters Norma bought is broken! Someone throw me a paddle!
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Sharon, you can register on Google Reader website and load all the blogs you read onto it. Checking it will show you if I or any of the other Bloggers you read have done a new post. Not the perfect answer, but better than opening many different Blogs to check.
Yesterday we drove down to Playa del Carmen for the day. It was quite a shock after being in a more authentic version of Mexico for over two months. Everyone spoke English and when a Mexican speaks to me I expect it to be in Spanish so it takes me a minute to figure out what they are saying. Same with the money, everyone wants dollars and I think in pesos so I have to convert all the prices to pesos to see if I am getting a bargain. Conclusion: There are no bargains here!
We had a bite to eat and found the food to be great in the restaurant we chose with the portions larger than we have had anywhere in Mexico. I guess they are trying to satisfy the gringo demand to overeat. It was unfortunate we did not wait because just down the street was a restaurant serving traditional Mayan food which we have been wanting to try.
Anyway, we got back to Cancun as the sun was setting and started loading the lawn chairs and such into the car in preparation for leaving this morning. It was the wrong thing to do as the bugs were out in full force as the sun went down and we both came in with a few dozen fresh bites. I am lucky that they only last an hour or so on me but Norma suffers all the next day. I guess I have more blood to dilute the sting. Anyway, Norma woke up with a headache and I am not feeling right up to par either so we decided to pay another $250 pesos and have a full day of rest before heading south. We are having problems leaving El Meco Loco RV park but what the heck, we don’t have to be anywhere until April! Life is Good!
The money changer. New prices reflect the Canadian dollar is doing well!
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
We will probably find a friendly Pemex or Walmart near Playa del Carmen instead and take a cab down to the tourist strip. Stay tuned. Norma is not up yet.
EDIT: Norma got up with a headache from not sleeping. The bugs were out in force last night and she has been reacting poorly to them lately. Her arms look like she has mumps! We have decided to stay one more night here to rest up. We are in no rush!
Monday, February 6, 2012
Every once in a while we have to stop and congratulate ourselves for choosing this laid back form of travel and for getting off the beaten track once in a while. Today was one of those days!
We have known of Isla Blanca for several years. The road to it is the same road we take to our RV park here in Cancun. We have occasionally said we should check it out but never have. This morning the sun was out and since we are leaving in two days we decided to take the drive.
Isla Blanca is not really an island but rather a peninsula extending to the north of Cancun. It has been left nicely undeveloped up to this point. There is now one new hotel and one high priced resort at the bottom part of it. Past this the road turned to hardpan but there is a brand new four lane paved road that is complete but blocked off with traffic cones, probably waiting for an “Official Opening”. We took the 10 kilometer potholed road beside it. We drove to the end of the road where there is a beach but only room to park five or six cars. There is also a closed restaurant where they were trying to sell beach parking for $50 pesos. We passed and parked in one of the few free spaces. I put on my bathing suit and had a swim. The water was warm but the surf was churning up the sand and there was also a lot of sea grass in the water. It was nice but not great. Now for the Hidden Gem.
About a kilometer from the end of the road is this sign pointing to an access road to the beach. The word “Restaurante” caught our attention as it was a while since breakfast and we wanted to see one of the great beaches the Isla is known for. We drove in, parked and walked down to the beach. We were met by Erika, a charming Mexican woman who spoke English and listed off the menu items. We ordered coffee, water and fish tacos. She walked with us to the beach where there were several palapas with plastic tables and chairs, the standard beach restaurant furnishings. The beach had been raked and was beautiful white sand. The surf was churning up the sand but unlike the previous beach, there was no sea grass mixed in. This was one of those places where you can come to, buy lunch and spend the day on the beach and in the water. Ordering a beer or snack once in a while keeps you in good standing with the management.
When our fish tacos arrived, they were like nothing we had ever seen! Instead of in traditional taco shells, they were wrapped up in filo pastry and deep fried. They were accompanied by a salsa that was equally unlike anything we had tasted. The tacos were moist and delicious! They contained finely chopped vegetables cooked in butter with small pieces of battered fish thrown in. The mixture was perfect and the sauce perfect. The best tacos I have ever eaten by a long shot!
Here we are with Erika. It is a family operation and her father took the photo for us. I suspect the cook is her brother.
Besides the restaurant there are cabanas for rent. They also advertise camping but I did not see any places to park an RV besides the parking lot. It was a great day and we met several other patrons from Uruguay, Spain and Mexico! On our was back we drove around the cones blocking the new road and used it, officially opened or not! If you are in Cancun and tire of the standard tourist fare, rent a car or drive your own out to Isla Blanca and give yourself a treat at Pirata Morgans! Bring your bathing suit.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
We were planning a trip downtown today to a square where there is food and tons of people. As we were getting ready, it started to pour rain! Soon we lost the TV signal due to rain fade. So much for socializing today. The TV signal came back in an hour or so.
It continued raining for a long time and eventually Norma noticed rain coming through the roof around the TV antenna crank. We dried the area and put a pot under it. That is the first time that has happened and it may be the screws loosened on the rough roads on the way down here. When it is dry, I will venture up on the roof for a look. In the meantime, it is not that bad. Life is wet, but Good!
EDIT: Wow! It started up again Saturday night and poured for about four hours. The TV was off for most of this time. There was thunder and lightening overheat and torrential rain. A look out the window showed we were in the middle of a lake.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
We drove to the Telcel Customer Service Center yesterday and went in to buy another month of Internet. I expected to pay $499 pesos. I stood in line and got a (sort of) English speaking agent. I told him I wanted to buy another month and he looked my number up in his computer. I was pretty sure I had until February 3rd before it expired but he said it expired in four hours. He also said I had enough in my account for the next month and did not have to pay more. What???? I know I only paid $499 when I renewed and should have no credit. He insisted and asked if I wanted him to initiate the next month for me. I said “por favor”. He punched his keys, looked puzzled and punched again. He told me the computer would not accept his message and that I should send the text message ALTO30 to address 5050 when my time expires in four hours. This tells the Telcel computer to start my month.
I waited the four hours, then six, then eight and then went to bed. My internet is still working this morning. I don’t know what is going on. As long as it is working, I will continue to use it and then try the text message if and when it quits. Like many things in Mexico, it is a mystery and not ours to question!
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
After getting a little confused by a new road to the El Mecoloco RV park, we finally arrived at our home base for Cancun. It is the only RV park in the area and is a typical Mexican park. We were met at the entrance by a worker who told us to walk around and find a place we liked. We were joined by the son of the owner who attends university in Guadalajara and who spoke very good English. We decided on a spot over by the cabins they have for rent and paid for six nights at $250 pesos per night. There are three other rigs in the park. One a young couple from France with young children who have been on the road for five years in Mexico, USA and Canada. They bought a large, older class A in the USA and are home schooling as they travel. Another rig is a single American from Wisconsin who looks like he has been here for a while. The last rig is deserted and looks like it is in storage.
We parked under threatening skies and set up the Starchoice dish. We used the “dolly mount” and secured the dish against the expected wind. We found the signal quite easily, had a rest while it rained for an hour and then drove down the road to Los Flamingos, a palapa restaurant on the beach. Dinner was good, if a little expensive (this IS Cancun after all) and the constant breeze kept us busy holding the tablecloth down. No problem, it is all part of the great adventure!
So far, the trip is going very well. We have had no problems and the motorhome is running perfectly. The stock market is doing very well at home as well and money is going back into our investments at a “better than last year” rate and the Canadian dollar is doing well against the peso. We are happy campers!
Today we will drive downtown to find the Telcel building to buy another month of Banda Ancha Internet and to find a fish taco spot we remember from our last visit.
It is hot (80 – 85 degrees) and very humid so the breeze is nice! Life Is Good!