Posts Tagged beach

Back to the Coast

Posted on September 23, 2011 by 3 Comments

This week the Chileans celebrated their independence, and I think they may surpass the Americans in their patriotism. Every house, business and most cars were sporting a flag. It was a strange sight for us, as the flag is quite similar to the Texas flag.

One good thing about a skinny country like Chile–within a couple hours, we were out of the Andes and back at the beach. We drove right to the sand and spent the day relaxing sea side.  Hard to believe it was snowing this morning.

Horcon is a cool little fishing town, and it was packed for the holiday weekend. 10 people throughout the day must have come up to the bus to check it out. Only a few asked for beer.

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Filed Under: Chile

Kings of León

Posted on July 24, 2010 by No Comments

We’ve really been putting some hours on the bus lately. It’s good. The scenery is beautiful and the weather has actually been fairly cool. Overcast is good for a driving day in the tropics.

As we get closer to León, the clouds open up and it starts dumping. We generally avoid driving in any unfavorable conditions, but we really didn’t have anywhere else to go but to León. We went even slower than normal.

Guess what? It’s another nice Spanish colonial city.

Wet and moldy churches. Town square.  Bustling mercado. Blah blah blah.

We’ve decided we are a little burned out on colonial cities. Maybe in a rut. It’s all interesting and nice to look at, but they all start to look the same after a while. We need to rest, or take a break, or do something a little different. Maybe the beach at Las Peñitas will cure it.

First, we have to get pulled over and go through the rigmarole yet again. I think these guys were just looking to catch someone without insurance, but they did ask for triangles and a fire extinguisher too. Some folks down the road wanted to know how much money they asked for. None.

We met Cookie in León and she invited us down to her place on the beach. We could camp there. The trouble was that the dirt parking lot was about to turn to serious mud. Also, her husband started telling us about a few thefts at that very location. Also, there was a church group there for the weekend with lots of squealing teenage girls. Also, at that moment, they started blaring the Grease soundtrack. The last straw.

We moved a bit further down the beach into a bamboo hut for the evening. Major storm – bamboo hut – why not? There was crazy lighting, thunder and a torrential downpour, but we stayed fairly dry for the evening.

We took showers in the rain and then huddled under our mosquito nets for a hot and humid mostly sleepless night.

Our plan to relax and recharge at the beach wasn’t going to happen here.

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Filed Under: Nicaragua

Juayua and Tunco

Posted on July 9, 2010 by 4 Comments

Exhausted from sitting in the heat at the border crossing, we decided to head up into the mountains. We thought the “Ruta de Flores” sounded nice, so we thought we’d check out. We didn’t see many flowers, but we did find the ‘hip town’ of Juayua. There was supposed to be a food festival in the town square, but we arrived too late and they were packing up.

We stayed at a hostel with a surprising number of backpackers on their way through the country.  Nice place, and we parked the bus on the street right outside our window. After being continually warned about parking on the streets in Guatamala, it was nice to be told it was no problem to park here. Still, at 2 am Jason heard something outside and hopped up to go take a look. Horses. Two of them just wandering the cobblestones and eating the weeds from the sidewalks. Not another soul in sight.

The guide books seem to be lacking in their assessments in El Salvador, but it was a good overnight stop and we loaded up with groceries there. Oddly, the US dollar is used here, so no more conversions for a while.

There were a few more little towns on the Ruta de Flores that we thought about checking out, but Juayua was supposed to be the best. We got up early and decided to hit the beach. This country is so small it took us about 30 minutes to get to the water. We headed southeast down the coast to check out the surfer hangouts of playas El Zonte and El Tunco.

Both were cool, but the ocean was a little rocky and rough for the kid. We found a place to camp in El Tunco, but for $5 more, we could have an ocean-front room. Nothing fancy, but definitely preferable than staying in the muddy parking lot. Luckily, Bode was entertained enough with the pool and the kids that lived at the hotel.

The rains a week ago brought down the  internet lines throughout town and they were not expected to be working for another week. Can you imagine? We were all starting to get sick anyway, so we headed out the next day in search of a place to recoup (and blog).

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Filed Under: El Salvador

Monterrico

Posted on July 7, 2010 by 3 Comments

Despite the flooding in Monterrico, the beach was in great shape and we managed to find a sweet cabana to stay a few nights.  They had good food, a nice black sand beach and it even came with mosquito nets.

The word on Monterrico was that it was unbearably hot. We actually found it quite pleasant and certainly bearable. Since it’s the rainy season, things cooled off each afternoon and one night we had a major thunderstorm that rocked the cabana. The palapa roof didn’t leak a drop, but we still didn’t sleep much with the lighting crashing around us. I had to wonder how we would have fared in the bus.

One guy said he could help us with camping at a restaurant, but he was pretty sketchy and we passed.  Other than that or searching for a boondocking spot, there just aren’t many camping opportunities. The town starts at the end of the pavement and is really just a few dirt roads parallel to the beach.

The waves this time of year are incredibly huge and crash right on the beach, splashing 20-30 feet straight up right onshore. Hot, hot sand and giant (read: non-boogie boarding) waves meant we spent the weekend by the pool. Bode approached a few kids with no luck (French… I’m just saying…) but then he finally found his friend. Raquel and Rebecca the Canadian/Guatemalan sisters that introduced him to the world of Pet Shop toys and racing across the pool in swim rings. Will and Gabby, the girls’ parents were also very cool.

For two days we lounged by the pool and beach and barely remembered this was a 4th of July weekend.

I also had the chance to spend a little time checking the bus, fixing our inverter, adjusting the valves, etc. I opened the engine lid to find that the lever on the left of my left carb was dangling. I couldn’t find the pieces, so I’m not sure what to do here. I don’t even know what this little lever does, but it looks like it is connected to the choke. I haven’t noticed anything unusual driving (and the plugs look like the mixture is good,) but I’m guessing it needs to be fixed.

If anyone can help us out with the little bits to re-attach it to the choke (or where to order them,) we would be very grateful (contact us for a US mailing address.) From looking at the other side, it looks like I could probably put something together that would suffice, but I’d prefer to have the correct parts. I’ve had zero luck with finding old VW parts in Guatemala and I hear the same is true in El Salvador.

Other than that, I tightened my rear axle nuts (one was loose and I could hear the wheel wobbling when driving). Fortunately, I finally bought a scissor jack and I still have my axle-nut-whacker from Portland. As Christin says, “You can never have your axle nuts too tight.” I whacked ‘em good and tight.

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Filed Under: Guatemala

Return to Zihua

Posted on May 17, 2010 by 2 Comments

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I have been looking forward to getting to Zihuatenajo for a long time. We came here about 6 years ago for our friends’ wedding (hi Kaj and Karli!). I was pregnant and had just been through a miserable pregnancy-related discrimination issue at my work. It was great to get away, see old friends and realize that my soon-to-be-born baby was my new priority and not my stupid job. After that vacation, I went back and quit.

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Bode loves hearing about being here in-utero. Stories like he’d almost been named Yoli after a local soft drink, an awesome pizza place here and the ocean water was the temperature of a bathtub.  And, he’d already been surfing before he was even born!

So, after several wonderful days in La Saladita, we ventured on to Zihau. We were less than impressed with the camping options in town. Since we needed some internet time (and some sand removal,) I convinced Jason to stay at the hotel we had stayed at before. Of course, that was back when we had 2 incomes and didn’t live in a van. Luckily, it’s off-season here, and they had a 2 for 1 promotion. So we spent a fabulous few days in Zihau and as much as I’d love to tell you all the great touristy things we did, I can’t. We mostly stayed in our ‘luxurious’ hotel room and at their very nice pool. I say luxurious because it had air conditioning. And, it’s on the beach and with a kitchen… and INTERNET! Happy Mother’s Day to ME!

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We lazed around our hotel room and caught up on a few things. It was really nice to be somewhere somewhat  familiar for a while.

Bode finally got some goggles and can now swim half-way across the pool. He’s also quite good at the ole’ cannonball and he’s starting to dive.

We tried to go to the much-loved pizza place (where 6 of us ordered 8 pizzas last time) but it was closed. I’m still mourning.

But, I can’t sleep at night because there is INTERNET. Since no one Facebook’s in the middle of the night, I’m all caught up.

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Filed Under: Guerrero

Michoacán Rocks

Posted on May 12, 2010 by 3 Comments

In the morning I had plans to cook up a huge breakfast (really, I promise) but discovered that I had left my pots and pans on some rocks at the previous camp site. I piled them up planning on washing them after cooking dinner the night before (beach sand and salt water is a great way to scrub camp cookware) but simply forgot and later drove away. Oops.

Since I haven’t seen any cast iron camping cookware in Mexico (haven’t looked either), I decided to back-track up the road and see if I could find them. I left Angela and Bode at the beach. For possibly the first time this trip, I went for a long drive in Red Beard by myself.

And, I found all my stuff right where I left it. Nobody washed it either.

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After getting back to Maruata, we decided to keep moving south with Ane, Andres and Luca and go look for another good spot. We took turns leading, but ultimately ended up at Barra de Nexpa – another notorious surf break. It was huge. Over 12 footers. Once again, we weren’t even getting in the water. We parked under the palm trees and watched the surfers for the rest of the evening.

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There was quite a crowd here and the whole place is built around surfing. There are multiple places to camp, some cabanas and several restaurants. There’s exactly one surf shop, but they don’t do rentals. Andres has started shopping for a board and we’re starting to wonder if we should do the same. When else will we have the daily opportunity to just paddle out from our front door?

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The kids played and played. Angela walked up and discovered Bode was teaching Luca how a dog plays fetch. After a moment of thinking about it, she just started tossing sticks at them to retrieve with their mouths. Pretty sure that wouldn’t have happened 9 months ago. We all went to bed early after an excellent sunset.

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Over the past few days Bode has asked if we can go to Madagascar (and pointed to it on a map), Istanbul and now Tibet. I don’t know where this kid is getting his information, but none of those places are on our route.  He’s pretty persistent, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Filed Under: Michoacan

Back in the Sand

Posted on May 11, 2010 by 6 Comments

There’s nothing like having a few mechanical problems fixed to motivate you to get in the car and go. We were going to explore Colima state a bit more, but we were ready to get moving and put some asphalt behind us. The next stops were the beaches of Michoacan.

We got a tip to go find the km174 marker and that was the extent of the advice. Good enough for us. This turns out to be near El Faro, but not quite there. We turned off the main road and drove a few kilometers to the beach. Here we found a few palapas and a really beautiful beach with white sand and little islands offshore.

There were tenters under some palapas, so we picked one and went to the little shack where we could see women making tortillas in a big steel pan over an open fire.

Buenas tardes. ¿Podemos acampar aquí?

Si! No problema!” she answered with a big smile. “¿dónde está tu coche?

Allí. Rojo combi.

Si. Si. No problema.

With that, we had a killer libre camping spot right on the beach. We bought a refresca from her as a simple thanks and went to the bus to start cooking up Bode’s new favorite dinner. Fresh filetes de basa, rolled in flour and fried up in olive oil. Easy camp cooking that tastes great. Even Angela, the seafood skeptic, loves it.

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Despite all the weekend tenters, it was a quiet night. The next morning we back-tracked just north to La Ticla. This is a friend’s favorite surf spot, but came with warnings about safety. It’s a sleepy town, but where the road ends at the beach is a huge “bone-crushing” break and lots of stoked surfers. The waves were huge and even the undertow in the shore break was a little scary. We weren’t getting in. We watched a bit and decided we would be better off heading south – not much for us to do here.

Next up was a stop at Maruata. This place was recommended by several people so we knew it had to be good. We drove in to town and followed a car to the north end (they must know where they’re going, right?) and had a look around. We decided there must be more, so we drove back through town and made the turn to the southern beach. Once we found it, it was an obviously better choice.

We cruised along the row of palapas looking for a good place to camp when we spotted a familiar coche. There was Emma and the Bullis. Even more serendipitous – lunch was ready and they had plenty.

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It was a great spot and the kids were happy to play together on the beach. It’s a protected beautifully curving cove with warm water and gentle waves. Not much in the way of surfing here, but excellent wading and boogie-boarding for everyone. Total cost to camp on the beach was about 70 pesos for the night – about $5.

There were more tenters here too – weekend tent camping on the beach seems to be a growing popular trend among Mexicans – a good sign. Michoacan is the perfect destination – no hotels or development – just miles and miles of beach and the occasional palapa restaurant. Next door was a restaurant completely filled with tents – no tables or chairs – and happy campers ordering up tacos and tortas all evening.

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We met some guys who came over for some hot water. Ramen noodles were on their menu for the evening. 3 pesos per cup, they bragged. They were all students from Colima and they came to the beach to relax. They brought over whiskey and tequila as compensation for boiling their water for them – I had a sip to be nice, but tequila-drinking was not going to happen this evening for anyone in our group.

They were nice enough guys and I got to practice my terrible Spanish with them. One of the guys was an architecture student and the other two were – get this – culinary students. Ramen noodles for dinner and they needed help boiling water? Oh well, they were students after all. I remember. But, back then the Ramen was 10 for a dollar .

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Filed Under: Michoacan

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