Just as an update on the last post: Thank you to everyone who expressed concern about the ATM issue. I was hesitant putting that much detail in the post but what I wanted any future overlander to understand was that first three days are going to be some of the most stressful. Unless you have traveled to Mexico many times before, you are throwing yourself into a stressful situation. My best advice is to mentally prepare and always remain calm. Now back to the adventure…
We hit the road early, but not before Austin convinced me I should take a shower before we leave. This shower turns out to be crucial because I won’t experience hot water until day 7. We arrive at Lago De Chapala which is Mexico’s largest freshwater lake. It’s outside of Guadalajara which looked like a beautiful city as we drove through. We arrived at an RV Park called Roca Azul after taking a cobble stone road for what felt like 3 miles; after some road construction led us off of our main path, then the GPS went haywire and led us to a dirt field. However needless to say we found our way with the use of a downloaded area of Google Maps. The park was very large and was situated right on the lake. There were soccer fields and an old lighthouse on the property. While checking into the RV park, the owner/manager (unsure of his position) told us that there was two pools, a lighthouse and soccer fields on the premises; he went further on telling us that there are two sides to park our vehicle on, one with shade and the other in full sun. As we drove in we decided that the day was a little warm and we would prefer to be in the shaded area. So we found an ideal spot and parked, then decided that we needed to give our legs a little stretch; walked around the soccer fields, pool and checked out the lighthouse. At this point we could see our new neighbors trailers, but not a single person was out and about. Once back to our vehicle we decided we would be too lonely all by ourselves and plus today was Thanksgiving! We hopped back into the truck and moved to the sunny side of the park wanted to be around people. This was one of our best decisions by far, because we had the pleasure of meeting Bob and Chris from Ottawa Canada. They invited us over to their RV for wine and we brought the appetizers — chips and salsa and carrots and dip. It was definitely one of the more chillier nights we had which we both found refreshing. I think the only major issue we experienced while we were here were bug bites!!! We’re not sure where exactly we picked up all of the bites, but we were both in discomfort over the next few days. Lesson learned, wear long pants, long sleeves and use all of the bug spray that dear Aunt Cynthia gave us!!!
The next morning we said goodbye to our new friends Bob and Chris and hit the road, headed for our next destination of day we headed to Patzcuaro. Little did we know this was going to be a tough day of driving. First road block, while driving through a small town, a group of mothers and young ladies held up a rope so that cars had to stop so that they could ask the cars for donations. Second road block, we encountered some police, who informed us that the route we were taking had been closed due to falling rocks and advised us to try a different route. Then on our new route, we encountered a protest, which shut down a road for a bit, but we eventually got through and were finally cruising. Needless to say a three hour drive quickly turned into a five hour drive. In the end, we ended up at a little RV park, where we met some fellow Coloradans and some more Canadians. When we arrived, we were both starving and not in the mood to cook so we went on the hunt for some food. However, we kept forgetting about Siesta time; many places were closed, but we were able to walk around the town and we finally found some food on the way back.
The next morning we prepared ourselves to head to a city northeast of Mexico City called Teotihuacan. Before we left, the Canadians warned us to be careful and shared with us a few of their own experiences of corrupt police in the area around Mexico City, which of course, put us on edge. However, it turned out that we experienced no issues on the road, except for our own silliness in which we hastily tried to get around a slow moving truck, but ended up missing our exit, which sent us seven miles back the other direction and in order to get back on the right road we ended up paying for the same toll twice. The RV park in Teotihuacan was awesome because it was in the middle of the city and the owner had two dalmatians plus a labrador. We found a great cafe to eat at in the city and again it was getting a bit chilly, but Austin said it wouldn’t get too cold because it was only 2,200 feet in elevation. Well, surprise! It was 2,200 METERS which means 7,400 FEET. No wonder we were both a bit chilled that night. There was also a beautiful church that we could see from our camp spot, but a church = church bells every 15 minutes. Oops. Plus, when we looked at the map it said that we were close to a military base, which at the time didn’t mean much to us until we heard artillery shells going off all night. What we neglected to read was the last word — Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional 5 Regimiento de Artillería. So as you can imagine, we didn’t sleep much (although Leah was very grateful for the earplugs from Paul Johnson, Austins father) and we were a bit cold. Leah decided that chilly morning, she couldn’t last another day without a shower; so she braved a cold shower, but was soon warmed back up thanks to coffee by El Senor Johnson. We then headed to the pyramids, which were absolutely amazing. Leah thought that they were more impressive than the Taj Mahal. To learn more about the pyramids, we encourage you to visit this site: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/414
We wished we could have spent more time exploring, but we needed to stay on schedule and get to Veracruz. We arrived in Veracruz with relative ease, and we were once again welcomed back to the heat. Our camping spot ended up being just meters away from the beach. It was the first time either of us have been to the gulf coast. Austin was attacked by fire ants, but thanks to Chris (our Canadian friend) who told us the vinegar cuts the pain he was fine. Lots of attention went to our tent. We planned to get up early to hit the road but woke up to find the tent soaking due to 90+ % humidity. Bathrooms were a bit gnarly, but we weren’t too concerned since we had planned to go to a Wal-Mart to get some more supplies.
We then headed to Villahermosa where we ended up staying at a Holiday Inn Express since there weren’t any RV parks in town. We felt like Kings! Air conditioning, hot breakfast with coffee and the best fresh squeezed Oj, plus a hot shower and a very snuggly bed = heaven.
We are just days away from Cancun, where we will pick up our friend Aaron and explore the Yucatan further!
Side note: We listened to the audiobook the Revenant. It was really, really good. Neither of us have seen the movie yet, but we highly recommend the audiobook. We would also love any recommendations for your favorites audiobooks.
Double Side Note: We have also started a daily Spanish lesson thanks to Pimsleur. We are well on our way to asking, “Where is the hotel/restaurant? and “Do you understand English.”