December 2012 - March 2013 Mexico
31 December 2012 Mexico
have just made a six weeks road trip through the USA (3500
miles) and we are now in Arizona at the border between the U.S.
December 11, 2012 we go to the small border at Lukeville into
Mexico. At the American side we park our camper, go into the
immigration office and hand over our American visa. We have been
doing this for years; if you are a Canadian or American citizen
you are not supposed to stop at the American side of the border.
And customs cannot see by our truck that we are not Americans,
so stopping at the American site always creates confusion. But
after we go back into the truck and wish to travel to Mexico we
are stopped by an U.S. customs officer. He is looking in our
passport for our visa and it gets very confusing when we tell
him that we already have returned that at his colleague! But
after a chat about the Dutch weather we are ready to go.
Besides the fact that we have not told our family on which day
we would drive into Mexico (to prevent anxiety) we have also
done something naughty. Just before departure we had read on a
forum that at one person all the meat and fish was confiscated
by the border of Mexico! Just one incident. From all our friends
who have done the same border crossing and are already wintering
in Mexico for weeks, to none this has occurred. We have
purchased lots of marinated pork tenderloins and salmon steaks
and stored it in our freezer. To prevent that our meat and fish
will be confiscated too, we decide to roll all the meat and fish
in a blanket and hide it in a false bottom of a cupboard. Of
course this is risky, because if it is found, we cannot claim
that we did not know.
If you wonder why we have a closet with a double bottom: well
that's easily explained. In that closet we store our towels in
winter and in summer our winter blankets.
imagine that we cross the border a bit nervous. The Mexican border works
as follows: Just after the border you have to stop at a sort of traffic
light and if you get the green light, you can drive through without
being checked. At the first checkpoint we get the green light and drive
through. We fill the fuel tank with cheap Mexican diesel ( 0.65 per
liter), withdraw money at the cash point and continue south. After 12
miles we arrive at the next customs post and where we can apply for our
visa. This is all a bit slow, but otherwise no problems. Another
familiar traffic light where we get the green light and can drive on.
The meat is still hidden, because we know that we still have a third
check. After half an hour is the last stop. Usually you have to make a
photocopy of all the required documents, but the last days we could not
find a Staples store, so we just brought our original documents.
"No copias?" the lady asks.
To our surprise, this is not a problem, she just makes them herself.
Everything goes painfully slow, but after half an hour all is settled,
paid, copied and printed. We get our Mexican import hologram sticker
that we have to stick on the front windscreen and then we drive to the
last traffic light.
"Three time's the charm," said PJ, but unfortunately the light turns
A handsome custom girl guides our camper into the covered area and
starts laughing when this just fits. She asks if we have something to
She laughs again and friendly waves us through.
drive out of sight of the last customs post and remove the meat and fish
from the hidden place and fill the freezer again.
Camping in San Carlos
spent the night in San Carlos and leave the next morning with
sunrise further south.
the afternoon we arrive in North Mazatlan, where we want spend a
week. During our trip south the sunny weather slowly turned into
clouds and when we arrive at the campground, it rains! That is
disappointing. The owner of the RV park provides no Internet,
but you can go to a Mexican guy with a request for $ 40 per
month. But we do not want to stay for a month and the Mexican
guy is nowhere to be found, so I try to find a solution here.
I walk around the RV park, I am approached by a camper who is
just curious. It soon becomes clear that he is wintering here
(and so he has Internet) but that he and his wife will fly for
two weeks to Canada the same day. So I boldly ask him if I may
use his internet. Unfortunately it is not wireless Internet, but
without hesitation the man offers me the use of his cable that
hangs from his RV. And so we sit on their patio regularly to
email and watch Dutch television.
2013, Mazatlan Mexico
For three days it is cloudy and actually too cold to lie on the beach.
But we are stubborn and try it anyway.
Mar-a-Villas is a small campground, sandwiched between high rise and
the beach. We love it here so much, because the camping sites are
surrounded by bamboo and palm trees and large shrubs and borders a
beautiful lonely beach. But the toilet building has not changed for
years and soon we have all kinds of abbreviations for the shower. Like
BSAS (Burn Sandals After Showering) and BOB (Bring Own Bulb) because the
light is broken for weeks.
the weather clears after three days and we can start working on our
The clouds make the sunsets pretty
The empty beach of North-Mazatlan
take a local bus to the center of Mazatlan and pay the driver 7
pesos per person (in total a return ticket is one Dollar). The
bus stops in front of the MEGA, a super modern and large
supermarket and we do extensive shopping.
next day we do it again so PJ does not have to drive the camper
into the city before we continue south.
The pavement in Mazatlan, is dangerous!
get e-mails from our Canadian friends Bob and Charlotte with the
question if we are coming to La Peņita. Char tells which sites are
still available and we are in doubt. The last time that we were in La
Peņita (2011), we vowed that that would be the last time because we did
not want to spend another winter between all those retired people.
But if we put
all the pros and cons together, La Peņita surely sounds ideal:
beautiful jungle camp with a surprising amount of wildlife and birds,
within walking distance of an authentic Mexican fishing village where
you can buy almost anything,
nice cheap restaurants,
RV park is situated at the beach,
at a bay where nobody else lives,
two times a week the bread lady and veggie guy come to the RV park
gossip and drama like in a small village,
many social obligations,
poor and limited internet, so we cannot watch Dutch television
and that we will be the youngest snowbirds at the RV park
We decide to
email Carole, the owner of La Peņita whether she have place for us. Her
answer is, as always, we are welcome, but during Christmas and New Year
we have to stay in a temporary site, because the RV park is completely
full (we are talking about 125 sites!).
According to the Mayan Calendar the world will end today. We decide to
drive further south. The day passes and nothing happens.
road to San Blas we stop at a lake to see if the roseate spoonbills have
arrived. As I walk towards the waterfront, I suddenly hear a big splash!
A crocodile that is sunning on the shore, is startled by me and fleets
into water. Typical for me to run into a croc!
As we arrive
at La Peņita RV park we get a warm welcome from our Canadian friends Bob
and Char and after settling in on our temporary site we go out for
dinner in Rincon de Guayabitos, a village further down. I choose a dish
with 12 prawns in a creamy, though spicy chipotle sauce, a salad of
cooked beets with pineapple (what a surprising combination), rice and
some warm vegetables. PJ orders a fish fillet stuffed with cream cheese
with salad, fries and broccoli. To flush it we have a Mexican beer and a
huge margarita cocktail and including tip this cost us U$23. That makes
me so cheerful!
site that we get assigned, is located at the entrance of the RV park (as
I wrote, La Peņita has about 125 sites!) so it is very busy with cars.
Fortunately we are parked exactly at a speed bump, so the cars and quads
do not drive so fast. In the picture the place may seem quite nice, but
after we had everything set up, we get Mexican neighbors next to us and
above us (terrace campground). They seem to stow around 12 people in a
few tents at one site.
know the phrase: "Bringing everything but the kitchen sink" ...well the
Mexicans even bring the kitchen sink (and fridge, washing machine,
barbecue, tables, chairs , hammock, clotheslines, tarps above the tents)
if they come for a week (or two) camping. So it is a hustle and bustle
We have a
immediately put up a clothes line from a large fig tree to the camper
to hang bird feeders on. In less than ten minutes the hummingbird
feeder filled with sugar water is occupied by four kinds of
Unfortunately, the next day one male hummingbird decides that he owns
the feeder and starts chasing away every hummingbird that comes within a
foot of the feeder. The positive part is that he always returns to the
same twig and I can approach him with a camera and tripod to three yards
and can shoot this angry bird up close. When he sees another bird he
ruffles his feathers and his chest turns from moss green to fluorescent
an agitated Broad-billed Hummingbird
started shooting the hummingbirds on the patios of other people, which
worked out very nice.
Cinnamon Hummingbird Violet-crowned Hummingbird
Unfortunately, within a few days sugar ants took the given chance use
the rope to penetrate the camper and we really have an ant plague.
I have not
been able to lure the seed-eating birds and also the oriole does not
drink the sugar water. So after the ant infestation we remove the rope
and hang the hummingbird feeder at a palm branch. The rest of the
feeders I will safe for our definitive site.
You may know
that you cannot drink the tap water in Mexico. At the RV park the water
comes from a well and is supposed to be drinkable. But to be on the safe
side we normally buy our drinking water in large 5 gallon plastic
bottles. Ramon the water guy has been bringing them to the RV park for
years. We hear of Bob and Char that Ramon has increased his price. He
asks three times more for a bottle than the water store around the
corner that does not deliver. So we decide to go to the store weekly and
buy our water there. I still wash fruit and vegetables under the tap.
And then we
convert about how much money we are talking: a 5 gallon bottle cost us
65 cent at the store and Ramon is asking 2 Dollars. What a joke, but we
are Dutch, so cheap!
Monday it is Christmas Eve and it's always a party at the RV park. Santa
comes along, Christmas carols are sung by the Canadians and Mexicans and
for the children is the breaking of the piņata. That is a star of paper
mache containing candy. Children must hit it with a stick to get it
open. One of the Mexican monkeys decides to jump into the star and
runs away with it while ripping it open with his hands! On the picture
you see him disappear into the audience with his loot.
an alternative sleth
campers bring their Christmas decorations from home and in
addition to traditional Christmas lights we see also inflatable
Christmas decorations. And everything moves or has even running
water inside (the round thing with that Santa inside)!
December 25, 2012
Christmas Day we have our Christmas dinner with 14 people,
including four new friends of Bob and Char.We had a delicious
dinner outside at a long table under a palm tree. I took car for
dessert, two lady finger cakes with some extra rum.
The dinner gets a little out of hand when Bob and PJ get their
hands on the whipped cream bottle.
Meanwhile, our Mexican friends Angelica and Oscar have arrived and after
Christmas dinner we have a drink until late in the evening. We like to
have some nice young people around us again.
just as goofy as always. At ten o'clock she wants to walk around the RV
park to say hello. I tell her that everyone is in bed by now, but she
does not believe me. At half past 11, she really is unstoppable and
together we make a tour around the RV park. All the lights in the
trailers are off.
"Well, now I believe you Claudia".
Yes, the Mexicans have a slightly different rhythm than the Canadians,
but six-thirty in the morning the walking group goes for a walk, while
the Mexicans are still sleeping for a few hours.
December 26, 2012
Boxing Day we are invited at Terry and Leslie for a snack and a
drink in the afternoon. Our Canadian friends are on a small RV
park in the town of Lo de Marcos, 15 minutes south. Leslie has
again made creative Christmas presents: I get a jam jar
plastered with stickers glued on a candlestick; a trailer trash
wine glass. PJ gets a tacky T-shirt. We like their RV park in Lo
de Marcos very much, though it is very small indeed. But it is
always fun with those two. We miss them at La Peņita, Leslie is
always up for a joke and Terry has such a English humor.
first week, I am still not quite in the rhythm of walking, exercise and
lose weight. Linda, the lady who teaches Strength & Stretch (a kind of
aerobics on fast music, with weights and then stretching exercises on a
yoga mat) is away for a few weeks. Instead there is now yoga class and
that I had never done this before. I dont think I like it.
every day with Bob in a sports park and he walks for half an hour up and
down a steep hill. He also wants to lose weight because he gained
already 5 kilos after he stopped smoking. Yes, he does not smokes since
is not so great. Cloudy with 25 degrees and a super high
humidity. You break up in sweat walking to the shower. The showers here
are old but neat and clean.
I chat with
Fernandes, a Mexican who comes here every year for many years at
"Isnt it cold Claudia?"
"Cold? I sweat my butt off!"
"Really? Well, our kids are asking for extra blankets overnight. "
Very funny these Mexicans.
guy comes twice a week, just as the bread truck, the shrimp lady, the
hairdresser and Norma the pedicurist. A treatment costs 8, -
I have my
toenails decorated with nail polish, glitters and rhinestones. PJ thinks
this is worse than having your hair braided ā la Bo Derek at the beach.
It is indeed very kitschy.
view during the pedicure
look at the nails of this lady!
spent another evening with our Mexican friends Oscar and Angelica and
meet new Mexican people. First we enjoy the sunset on the beach and then
on their patio. Angelica gives me cinnamon tea with Bailey's. A
surprising combination. And we dance to modern music.
The cute Isabel and her pretty mother Caro
already know where we are going to move next. On January 6th we
will move to our final camping site, where at the moment a
Mexican family is still camping. Our site is in Boa Lane. Two
years ago three different boas were found in the same tree and
removed by the brave staff members.
year and this year no boa constrictors have been seen (just a
baby boa, but that does not count). Nevertheless remarkable that
two years ago we have seen three adult boa constrictors when our
Dutch friends Peter and Monique were here for two weeks.
New Year's Eve we have a dinner with about 24 gray pigeons in the
clubhouse. Everyone makes a dish. I made a vegetable dish. And we will
also provide the music. I have made a playlist on the iPod with nice
dinner music for 5 hours (not that this is going to last so long
though!) and a playlist full of dance music. But my plans are ruined
when a Mexican family, who have set up camp next to the clubhouse,
starts to play Mexican music. And they turn up the volume. I try to turn
up the volume of our quiet dinner music too, but that is completely lost
in the Mexican beat. Well, we just settle, because we are the guests in
dinner we dance some in the clubhouse and then we go to the pool terrace
where the evening party is given. The music is so terrible that we are
already in bed before midnight. What a disappointment.
January 2013, Mexico
The first day of the new year starts bad: it rains, it not a little too!
I was actually planning to bake Dutch Oliebollen, but everyone is
tucked in his motor home and we spend the day reading.
The next day
it is dry, but still very gloomy weather. This especially sucks for Bob
and Char, because their son Chad with girlfriend Jordan came to Mexico
for a week and then you do not expect rain.
2013, Playa Chacala
The bad weather has lasted only a short time and now it's beautiful
again, blue sky and sunny. Half an hour north of La Penita is Playa
Chacala, an idyllic beach in a beautiful bay surrounded by palm trees.
We spend a day at the beach.
A fruit snack
Shrimp Ceviche (raw shrimp cooked in lime juice)
Flying Cojones game
Chad went fishing for a day and caught a Dorado. We enjoy a fish dinner
And then there is suddenly a beautiful site available from a couple who
have come to La Peņita for 27 years, but go back home unplanned. It is
a beautiful site with an outdoor kitchen, a wall with window, a tiled
patio and a massive steel structure over it where we can create shade
with tarps. Pretty soon, the kitchen is in full use, the hammock hangs
and we have borrowed some extra chairs to fill up the large space. And
PJ takes the camper of the pickup so we are mobile.
days a week the alarm rings at 6 AM and I'm ready for my morning
walk with a small group. In the beginning the sun is not even
risen and the colors of the clouds are beautiful. The route
passes through the poor part of La Peņita de Jaltemba, but
continues through the pineapple fields. The views of the sun
rising and low hanging fog is always beautiful. After I shot
quite some nice photos with a point and shoot camera which I
always carry with me, I decide to carry around our expensive
digital camera with me. My walking buddy is Geraldine, a widow
who has lost her partner eighteen months ago to breast cancer.
We have long, personal conversations.
feeds a horse along the way
January 14, 2013
and Leslie finally move to our RV park and we have a nice
welcome dinner party at Bob and Chars patio.
B & C
leave for a few days for a trip to the mountain village of
Guanajuato and we look after their dog Chiquita. We are
delightful to read in the hammock together.
January 27, 2013
Charlotte asks if we are also going to the rodeo. I am in doubt
at first, because zoos, circuses and rodeos are not on my list
of things to do in Mexico. Char says that this is with only
female riders in beautiful costumes and it will be more a
dressage then a cowboy reodeo. So I buy two admission tickets
and on Sunday afternoon PJ and I walk into town. We want to get
a good spot so we take plenty of time in the arena. Outside the
arena are the girls and horses are eager to get started.
We find two
spots on the first row, in the shade, on the stone steps and wath the
colorfully dressed relatives who are there to cheer the ladies. For the
occasion I am wearing a bright orange cowboy hat.
It is a
contest between four groups of four different villages from the area.
Only ten minutes after the scheduled starting time, the ladies and their
horses appear (a record for Mexican standards where time is like
Each village has its own color combination of the dresses and the ladies
have nice make up and wearing beautiful hats.
fanfare walks in and after lustily singing the Mexican national anthem
the show can begin.
amazement we see that all ladies are sitting sidesaddled! Occasionally
the many layers of skirts are fluttering up and we see on one side the
two legs, wrapped in a white cotton pants and white boots. The girls
ride intricate formations that not every village has quite mastered.
After a short
pause, the real competition begins. The ladies are galloping at high
speed to a certain point and try to make 'skid marks' as long as
possible with the hooves of their horses. They must stay within the
lines, the skid marks must be at least 6 yards long and the horse Is not
allowed to move its hooves more than three times. It looks sensational
and many attempts are disqualified by the strict jury. A juror looks
familiar and it turns out to be our village butcher! He is almost
unrecognizable in his tight outfit and big hat. He has a very funny
follows him everywhere. The butcher is not always happy with that and he
tries to put his doggie behind a fence. But soon we see the head come
out and the dog crawls under a slit through the gate. A real comedian.
pause for the second part of the race the riders have to run a square
trail and make a circle on every corner. This must be done again within
the lines. Meanwhile the sun had set, we have been sitting for already
three and a half hours on the hard stone benches and I have no more
light to photograph. So we decided to take off.
It has been a
very successful afternoon. About two weeks in the same arena the dancing
stallions will do a performance. We certainly want to go.
at the RV park is Taco Night with free Margarita cocktails. Leslie is
always into fun things and this time she has a hat for us all.
One morning we see many birds flying above the bay. I go down to the
beach to take a better look and there appears to be a huge school of
small fish (candle fish) moving through the surf This attracts pelicans,
frigate birds and a few Mexican fishermen. There is a big fight in the
surf and I've never seen so many birds together. The weather conditions
are perfect and I can take beautiful pictures. The Mexican fishermen
fish with only a line and a hook with a fish it (no rod) and catch big
fish. They are called Torro's and North Americans dont eat them. One of
the Mexicans is beaming from ear to ear as he snags a third fish, while
a Canadian who is fishing with a rod catches nothing.
Beatrix announces that she will resign. Reason for a 'party' with our
friends to celebrate the arrival of our new King.
weeks the songbirds finally discovered my bird feeders. Unfortunately,
the hummingbird feeder broke during the small move from one site to
another, but I still have a seed tray and an oriole feeder filled with
sugar water. Besides orioles and hummingbirds I also attract colorful
woodpeckers, and unfortunately also squirrels (and cats). The squirrel
breaks the plastic oriole feeder and PJ improvises with a beer bottle.
Of course my favorite brand: Corona!
But I also
shoot a variety of other animals and birds in a beautiful setting at the
American Crodile in our pond
a very young Green Iguana (10
inches) Streaked-back Oriole
a squirrel with avocado american crocodile
of a Iguana three
iguanas on top of each other!
Two Monarch butterflies Bullock's Oriole
Golden-cheeked Woodpecker Masked Tityra Orchard Oriole
And this is my favorite: a smiling gecko!
February 2013, Mexico
and February 3, 2013
For three days I volunteered at the Cancer de Mama Clinica at
the RV park la Peņita.
In 1996 Jackie Jackson, breast cancer survivor from BC Canada
started a breast prostheses project for Mexican women who
cannot afford a breast prosthetic after a mastectomy operation.
She started this in her bedroom. In 1996 we are talking about
maybe 30 ladies. Dealing with cancer of any type is a horrible
ordeal. Being a poor woman complicates the physical aspects due
to lack of available options or assistance. Add the cultural
taboos to the situation and most breast cancer survivors
withdraw from social activities for fear of standing out due to
the loss of hair and a breast.
women in Mexico, just surviving the breast removal surgery is not
enough, there is still a huge uphill battle for regaining self-esteem
and feeling like a woman again.
Cancer the Mama project was adopted by the La Penita RV Park residents
in 2008. The clinic provides more than free prosthetics and a hot meal -
it welcomes clients with instant fellowship, understanding, and a chance
to feel feminine again - all wrapped in smiles and hugs from the many
volunteers. With some 250 volunteers (women, men and of course Mexicans)
and the help of the local stores the clinic cannot fail.
second time I am asked to take pictures of this three days event.
January with the volunteers, were they get the explanations and can pick
their choice of volunteer work
Weeks ago the preparations for the clinic have started: the
donated bras, prosthetics, wigs, shawls had to be sorted.
The clubhouse where normally the residents play carts and Ping-Pong, is
transformed into a clinic with eight private cubicles that are
pleasantly decorated to ease the women's anxiety and to help the Mexican
women feel respected, comfortable, and safe.
ladies are arriving at the nearby Pemex gas station because the busses
are too large to travel right to the clinic door, so park volunteers
ferry the women from the gas station to the trailer park. The ladies
form lines and wait patiently for the vans.
take a ride with one of the male volunteers. Because I am
(dressed in a cancer the mama clinic t-shirt and a name tag)
their first connection to the clinic the ladies start hugging
me. I feel overwhelmed with love and affection. The only thing I
can mumble is; Buenos días seņoras, Bienvenidos (good
morning ladies, welcome).
from Guadalajara come with three busses and put pink banners on the
front of the bus. They insist on taking a picture with my camera with me
also in it.
ladies sign the banner and will be given to Jackie Jackson later.
The ladies are registered by Mexican girls and they ask them
their name en home town, when they had their surgery, if
they have been here before. Most of the women have risen at
4 or 6m and of course there is breakfast and coffee for
is prepared by many volunteers who are working behind the scenes,
cutting fruit for breakfast and vegetables for the lunch soup. Kilos
and kilos of potatoes, hot peppers, onions, papayas, oranges etc.
are being chopped.
500 bowls of soup are served.
The first 15 ladies are called and are walked to the club
house by entertainer Brian and seated. One by one is called
Greeter Brian wears a different hat or wig every time he
picks up the ladies at the pool and the Mexican ladies are
laughing their heads off, cheering and clapping their hands.
and hundreds of bra's in all sizes
one of the ladies into the clubhouse and wait in a corner until she
is fitted her prosthetic and bra. When she comes out of the stall I
asked her to have her picture taken and she shows off her new boobs.
heartwarming to see their gratitude to the fitters and their
women have hope, and as the days progress, the rewards of our
efforts shine through. As each woman is fitted with her prosthetic
bra and tit bit, she emerges from the filling room, coat over her
arm, like a butterfly from a cocoon. Her hands fly to her face as
she views herself in the mirror. A wide grin splits her face as she
realizes how beautiful she still is, then the tears overflow.
Others shake their booty and dance through the room, out the door
and into the waiting arms of loved ones. The air is filled with
Gracias, gracias. There are hugs, more tears and lots of clapping
and cheering from the volunteers. Bonita Chi Chis we call out;
beautiful boobs, as indeed they are! (text by Karen Stranaghan)
Scores of women have been knitting tit bits, cotton filled
breast prosthetics complete with nipple, by the hundreds.
Displayed by size.
Runner with a load of bras, ready to be fitted.
The regular bras have to be transformed into prosthetic bras
by a team of volunteer seamstress.
prepare the pockets for the seamstress
The transformation of the Mexican ladies begins quickly as they are
first fitted with a wig or hat so that they can enter the fitting
rooms feeling less naked. This is my favorite spot in the whole
clinic. Seeing the huge smiles on their faces, the laughter when the
wig ladies try out different styles, cooing oohs and aahs and
complimenting them with their beautiful skins. Some of them are
still so young!!
Volunteer Shirley sees a lady that she recognize from another year,
the reunion is wrapped with smiles and hugs.
ladies have the opportunity to write their life story or make a
thank you card while they are waiting to be fitted. These are
collected in books and translated by local Mexican girls.
Highlight of the day is when the founder of Cancer the Mama Clinica
visit the clinic in La Peņita. Jackie Jackson is greeted as a
celebrity and the Mexican ladies all seem to know her or recognize
her. They start to chant her name and sing a song for her and none
of us remains untouched.
Jackie Jackson receives the signed banner and a recognition
award from the Mexican ladies.
Sharon in a big hug with a lady she just fitted.
very emotional and that women are so grateful. I've had so many hugs
in those three days! And after the first day my photos placed in a
Mexican Internet Newspaper!
second day begins not so good: Early morning I am sitting behind my
laptop in the RV and ten inches from my face is suddenly a HUGE
spider! Inside!! Not quite a tarantella, but in size it is not much
smaller. I run straight out and leave it to PJ to solve this
problem. I am therefore taking pictures at 6.30 am of the first
ladies that are already trickling in.
in three days more than 550 Mexican women received special
prosthetic bras, a breast prosthesis, a cotton knitted breast
prosthesis (titbit), and two ordinary bras, which are adapted to
carry the titbits
(Chars daughter) and her boyfriend Jean arrive at the RV park for
two weeks and we take them out for a day. We first went to the
quaint village of San Pacho.
to the surfing village Sayulita where we have lunch on the beach. In
this town we have camped more often and I was wondering if my jungle
trail still exists. So we drive to the trail head and the jungle
trail is still there, so spontaneously we took a one hour walk
through the jungle (in shorts and on our slippers!). We saw a nice
big woodpecker, a bird of prey and some parrots.
have regularly meals together.
large shrimp with a coconut crust and a mango salsa
do not feel like walking with the 6.30 walking group, but I want to
go to the village later to buy fresh rolls. So I decide to take the
7.30 AM walking group to the village. They only walk into town and
have a cup of coffee or milkshake. So I get up and at 7.30 am I am
ready to go.
"Claudia, are you coming with us?"
"Yes, I did not feel like getting up at six o'clock."
"But you are wearing flip-flops!"
I have to chuckle. For that fifteen minute stroll into the village I
am really not putting on my hiking boots, I can do this on my
circus is in town and therefore every hour a truck from the circus
is driving through town, with in the trunk a cage containing a lion,
leopard, tiger or another big cat. I get goose bumps. Sad!
dancing stallions rodeo is a bit disappointing. Most male riders
just ride in jeans and T-shirt, often slightly overweight with a
beer in one hand. A bottle of tequila goes around before they have
accomplished anything. The empty beer cans and plastic plates are
carelessly thrown into the rodeo ring. When the festival finally
starts the horseman take turns dancing on minute with their horse On
Banda Mexican live music. It is probably very difficult, but it does
not look impressive to take pictures of. So after ten horses we
you look great, did you lose weight?".
Rosa, one of the old regulars of La Peņita, who has now moved into a
house in Guayabitos, is visiting the RV Park.
"Thank you Rosa, but no I did not". (You would think after walking 6
times a week, Stretch & Strength three times a week I would burn
calories, but that is not the case. Luckily I did not gain any
"I have lost 30 pounds," says Rosa proud.
I congratulate her on her new figure and ask her what she did.
"I have used droplets from a health food store. My family doctor
agreed to this, he would even subscribe it to own mother".
I do not know how the relationship is with Rosas doctor and his
mother ... maybe he does not want her to live long! But I still ask
her for the name of the product, I would love to lose 20 pounds.
Rosa gives me the name and the next day I go to the Mexican
"Do you sell this product?", I ask and show her the name on a piece
"Yes". The assistant rushes to the back and comes back with a
package. It is not the same name, so I ask if it is to lose weight.
"Yes," she replies.
She tells me the price and asks if I also want hypodermic needles.
"Do you also need hypodermic needles, or do you still have them?"
"Needles? Do I need hypodermic needles for this?"
"Eeeh, forget it" and I walk out of the pharmacy again. These drops
will have to wait until I am back in the U.S., because as much as I
want to lose weight, I am not going to inject myself with something.
Time for a daily mango / orange / banana yogurt smoothie.
hear rumors of a carnival parade in the village. Of course, we are
unable to find out what time it starts. One person says at noon, another
knows for sure that the parade will start at 5 pm and a third says that
it starts at 7 pm. So at noon we walk in the blazing sun into the
village and we hear that it is about to begin at 5 pm.
At 5 pm we walk back into the village and eventually the parade starts
at 6 pm. There are about 15 groups in the parade (children in Brazilian
costumes, floats, music bands etc.) and yet they see no chance to keep
the parade together. While the first ladies are ready and walk through
the public, the other half of the parade in still in progress, with
large gaps in between.
watching the parade we go for dinner at an Italian restaurant (with a
real Italian cook) and that was nice and cozy. The waitress is Dutch,
but living in England. On the square in front of the restaurant are all
sort of market stalls with food and games and packed with Mexicans. And
a couple of beauty misses from the parade are dancing in the square
A few weeks
later we walk through the village and a boy says hi PJ.
"Do I know you?" PJ asks a little surprised.
"I was that boy in the parade with the long white wig and bright pink
heels," he replies without batting an eyelid. He was in the float that
asked for respect. We did noticed him/her, but to think that we would
recognize him without a wig and pumps
It is noticed
how tolerant they are here in La Peņita. There is a large gay community
and travesty we see more often. When I once went to buy a bikini, I saw
that the male vendor had some subtle eyeliner. But when he gave me the
right size bikini, I noticed his striking fake nails with rhinestones!
Apparently it is all accepted here.
Today is Valentine Gala at the RV park. The day before the volunteers
started preparing for dinner: a roasted pig. I photograph all the
phases: the pig goes into a fire pit with stones and coal! Entertaining
to watch this process.
In a large
hole a wood fire turns slowly into coal.
The pig is filled with pineapple, ginger, herbs, onions and oranges and
then sewn close.
Then the pig
is wrapped in foil, a burlap sack and chicken wire. The hot coals are
covered with banana leaves and then the pigs goes on top. Another layer
of leaves and then the gap is filled with sand.
The next day
the hole is opened till the scorched leaves and the pigs are singled
The pigs are unpacked and a few hours later they are on the plate.
PJ and I have
been asked to photograph all guests upon arrival (dress code is Under
the Circus Top). Everyone has really done its very best dressing up.
For us the The concept Circus is taken slightly larger, and are also
many carnival-like things to see. Like the Woman with Beard, The Tattoo
Man, the Fortune Teller, but also a Midway. Because we shoot everyone on
arrival and the rest of the evening we also take pictures, PJ does not
feel like dressing up. I am an ice-cream seller (the ice cream cones
cannot melt because they are made of marshmallows).
Yes, that's me...
Bob and Char
Tables for dinner
The Perez Brothers taking care for the music entertainment
"Claudia, there is a crocodile on the beach!".
It's 12 pm and we have not experienced this before. The croc does not
lie in front of the RV park, but two miles away.
"I will give you a ride", and before I know it I am sitting as a
passenger on a motorized four wheeler.
"Low angle Clau, go through your knees!" PJ cries while I am
The enormous crocodile lies in the surf and I can take beautiful
pictures. I put them on my own Facebook and La Peņita RV Park Facebook
(public page) and before I know it my photos are shared by many people.
Even a Mexican Internet Newspaper.
are a bit fed up hanging out with the elderly people, these moments are
priceless. Everyone knows that we like to photograph wildlife and want
to help us with finding beautiful moments.
2013, Nuevo Ixtlan Hot Springs
With some friends we go to the hot springs of Neuvo Ixtlan. The road
goes through a dry jungle and is very bumpy. After an hour and a half we
reach the hot springs that are located in the idyllic jungle. For hours
we soak in the hot odorless water, each bath has a different temperature
and we barbecue some sausages.
There is also
a Canadian family in our group who have a home in Guayabitos. Their
children and grandchildren are visiting. They get a rude awakening when
they get home and there has been broken into when they were to bathing.
In broad daylight, the bars on their windows were cut through and all
the electronic equipment was stolen (photo cameras, Ipads, Ipods,
laptops). What a downer for them.
treat our young friends Nick and Leann on ice cream in Guayabitos,
decide to have some drinks at the beach and also bring a visit to Club
March 2013, Mexico
1, 2013, Sayulita Mexico
After nine weeks in La Peņita it is time for something different and we
move to the surfing village of Sayulita, 30 minutes south along the same
coast. The RV park has only 20 sites and as many cute bungalows, located
on the beach and is lined with coconut palms and is run by the German
Thies and his Mexican wife.
are Wim and Jopie, a 70+ couple from Holland (Rotterdam) who emigrated
to Vancouver in 1966, but still speak Dutch with each other. They have
been coming to Sayulita for 17 years. I have to get used to that our
neighbors can hear everything I say to PJ, but it is a very friendly
Wim, who calls himself Billy since the emigration brings food regularly.
One day he shows up with a whole wheat brown bread, then a kilo of old
Dutch cheese, a couple of cans of sockeye salmon or a pan with pulled
is a very different atmosphere in Sayulita than in La Peņita.
The fishing village attracts surfers from all over the world,
because of the long and constant surfing waves. The feel good
vibe is caused by the old hippies, families with young children,
many tattooed bodies, drug tolerance, rasta heads and flower
the Mexican Riviera is the place where all your concerns melt
away, Sayulita is the capital," I read on someone's blog. The
girls on the beach are slim and wearing mini bikinis, the guys
are muscular and have long hair and always carry a surfboard
under their arms. There is music on the beach, dancing, hoola
hoops and the smell of cannabis.
really a place where we feel right at home, but we like that we
do not know anybody and do have any social obligations.
Unfortunately, exactly in front of the RV park there is a rip current',
a channel of water flowing seaward and that will drag you to the open
sea. Well fortunately PJ and I do not like to swim, but in front of the
RV park swimming is not recommended. Only if you have a surfboard, you
can go into the water. There are many lifeguards on duty. Two weeks ago,
a U.S. man drowned and it took 10 days before they found his body!
Who is so stupid to swim in these waves!
Taking out by the lifeguards
On arrival at
the RV park we are approached by the Mexican Virgilio in a VW Beetle. He
had seen us drive by and jumped in his Beetle and has followed us.
Virgilio has just bought the same pick-up truck and would like
information about a slide-in camper. He hands me his business card and
then there is a beautiful picture of a close-up of a jaguar! Of course I
immediately want to know the story behind the picture. He tells us that
he works for the project Aura Jaguar AC which provides the preservation
of the still wild living jaguars in Mexico. I have heard rumors that
there are jaguars in this jungle, but I never got real evidence. A
jaguar looks like a leopard, but is heavier and has a stronger rosettes
"Do you do tours?", is my first question.
Unfortunately he does not and he would rather talk about a camper.
Because we still have to check in, we agree that he will come to visit
us next week for information about campers. And he invites us for a beer
at his jungle home in San Pancho. I would do anything to be eye to eye
with a jaguar. Unfortunately, we hear nothing more of Virgilio.
already checked with Melissa and Jean if the jungle path was still
there, so every morning I go walking through the woods. There are
beautiful walking trails through this little piece of jungle, which is
sandwiched between the ocean, the highway and the towns San Pacho and
Sayulita. I do not have to get up at six o'clock, because I notice that
I do not see birds before 9 o'clock in the morning.
De bay of Sayulita from above, our RV park is in the
The piece of jungle where I walk.
all the bird feeders in La Peņita I am a bit spoiled and I suddenly I
have to work hard to photograph the birds. I am looking for the Trogon
and a Coatimundi (= mammal of the raccoon family) would also be nice.
Trogons are famous for their beautiful colors. Especially the metallic
green and bright red in many types of Trogons is striking. Many trogons
have a colored ring around their naked eye. Their beak is short and
wide, their wings rounded and often they have what looks like a long
tail with black stripes, like a barcode. They are hard to find because
they do not sing like the noisy green parakeets.
The first day
I immediately get the fright of my life when I hear something big
thrashing through the dense vegetation. With the jaguar in my mind, it
appears to be a stray horse! Well, that's the last thing I expected in
The next day
I see two coati mundis, but they are gone before I have taken out my
This Coati was in Brasil
When I get
home on the fourth day with close-ups of Pale-billed Woodpeckers, PJ is
suddenly excited to come with me. I am happy, because walking alone is
finally find the Trogon and have three. We also photograph a young adult
and a black hawk, parakeets, Chacalaca and more king woodpeckers.
Juvenile Grey Hawk
9 10 March,
The quiet surf town is buzzing with excitement for the international
longboard and SUP (stand up paddling) races. Participants from all
Hawaii, Brazil, Canada, Japan, California, North Carolina and Florida
have arrived. With great interest many hundreds of viewers and
photographers watch the contest from the beach. The wind, according to
the experts is not so favorable, but we are excited. I did not know SUP
boarding could be so agile. For two days we stand on the beach and
photograph the tight tanned bodies on those long surfboards. The girls
are between 12 and 16 years. A group of Huichol Indians opened the game
with traditional rituals.
Billy and Jopie invite us for an Dutch/Indonesian meal. Billy has really
done his best.
The RV park residents organize a potluck dinner and I make a fruit
salad. Kevin, one of the campers has turned 54 years and barbecues
burgers for the RV park. In La Peņita there would have been a chair for
everyone, which will be placed in a big circle. Here the people are
hanging out with a glass of wine or cocktail and chat, a couple is
playing the guitar, some are scattered on chairs and others are sitting
on the floor. Small differences from La Peņita, but it makes it just a
bit younger at heart here.
decide to go north, before Semana Santa (Easter holidays) is coming and
just like la Peņita in Sayulita it will be a big chaos with Mexicans
In San Blas
we stop at a marsh that is now filled with White Herons and a couple of
Roseated Spoonbills! In the mangrove forest are also Storks, Ibises,
Night Herons, Kingfishers, Cormorants and a Black Hawk. And also this
We drive to
the toll Highway and continue our way north to Mazatlan. At a military
roadblock all the Mexican vehicles are allowed to continue, but the
Also at this roadblock two soldiers take a look in the camper, so I open
the door for them and we step inside. As always they look into a few
cupboards, under the mattress and in the fridge.
RV-ers with foreign license plates are stopped. For half an hour we wait
in line and are getting annoyed. We know that they are looking for drugs
and weapons and you would expect that the military would also stop the
Mexicans, not only the tourists. At first times these military controls
can be very intimidating. Young 20 year old guys in full battle gear and
with an automatic rifle slung over the shoulder are staring at you. But
after ten years of Mexico we know that the military boys are often very
shy and these checks do not make any sense.
beer," says the soldier.
I agree. When he opens another cupboard, he sees a supply of beer.
Irritated I grab a can and point at the label "Cero alcohol".
They think this is funny.
When we step out of the camper, I say angrily: "Solamente turistas?"
"No, no," the military assures me.
I point to the campers around me! "Turistas, turistas, turistas
..." and I cranky I step back in our pickup. These roadblocks are always
such a formality, they never look into real hiding places, so it does
not make sense.
yesterday we received an email from Leslie. She writes that she is
already a week in Mazatlan's Hospital with acute appendicitis. Her
(she was just in time!) and now the scar that runs over her belly still
has to close. We arrive early in the afternoon in Mazatlan and visit her
in the hospital. We are, in addition to her husband Terry her first
visit, so she is very pleased. We talk for two hours and take a taxi
back to the RV park. In the evening Terry keeps us company for a while.
He also had imagined those last weeks in Mexico differently.
The next day we leave at 5 am still in the dark, because we have a long
travel day ahead.
At a fruit
control roadblock someone asks if we are with the circus.
"Circus?" PJ replies surprised.
The man points to our wildlife posters on the camper of a leopard and a
lion. We continue our trip chuckling.
When we have
lunch along the highway the Dutch Wim and Jopie stop. They too are on
the way home, but in a car, so they go a lot faster. We chat and say
We are just
on the way as we are stopped again at a mobile police roadblock. Two
officers step into the camper with screwdrivers and flashlights in their
hands. That looks serious! They start screwing everything open and shine
their flashlights into holes, but they remain cheerful and friendly.
One of the officers has a ceiling fan unscrewed and takes a metal baton
with a small mirror at the end. He pushes the stick out, insert it into
the double Styrofoam space from the ceiling and shines with his
flashlight. This space is for the air conditioner which we do not have.
PJ has built in the cable of the Wi-Fi antenna booster and I must admit
that this is indeed suspicious.
I suddenly think of the American ventriloquist Jeff Dunham. His
most famous characters is Achmed, the Dead Terrorist. Achmed is
the skeleton of a dead, incompetent suicide bomber. But when I
see the police doing his thing with that stick with retractable
mirror I suddenly think of one of Dunham's most simple
characters: José, a talking jalapeņo pepper on a stick. Jose
wears a sombrero and talks with a heavy Mexican accent. He
symbolizes the Latino stereotype. Most of the jokes revolve
around him to his origins and his strange appearance.
I am tempted to ask the officer if he also has a Jalapeņo On a
Stick, but decide not to make jokes.
have checked all cupboards and fans they open the fridge.
We stay for the night at a RV park in San Carlos.
"Lots of beer".
No, not again that begging for a beer. If I show them that there is no
alcohol in it, their attention fades immediately.
What I think is funny that they still have not found the hidden space of
PJ's cupboard during what I think is a comprehensive check.
For the first time we also have to open the outside storage areas and
one of the officers gets excited when he discovers a double bottom. PJ
has deepened a cabinet because there is so much free space under the
camper and has this covered with a piece of board. What a disappointment
for the officer when he finally has completely emptied the whole thing
out and just finds tools, paint and aerosols in that hidden space.
After an hour, we finally are on the road again.
The last day
of travel through Mexico is a long one. Well above the city of
Hermosillo is another big military checkpoint, where this time EVERYONE
is checked. After we waited half an hour in PJ has to park the camper
behind a row of cars. There is some confusion, but eventually we
understand the Mexicans have a mobile X-ray machine who drives a few
laps around the row of cars. We cannot imagine that this device also
works for a camper and indeed only our camper also has to be checked
with real eyes. The military does the familiar things: open cupboards,
look under the mattress and in the fridge.
"Lots of beer"
We drive to
the border, deliver our hologram sticker and get the deposit refunded to
our account within a couple of days. The visa is stamped and we can go
to the border of the U.S. drive.