Hola from Mexico!
Land of the Catholic Church, strong family ties, music, fiesta, sentimentality. And Tequila!
My parents are retired, “snowbirds” for the past 10 years. They summer in Crawford Bay, B.C. & winter in the States. They’ve been wanting to try Mexico instead of the U.S. for a couple of years, but had some concerns, especially regarding taking their Jack Russell, “Pete”, across the Mexican border.
We did some research on Mexico, then finally decided to head for Lake Chapala, near Guadalajara. I drove down with them.
This year my Dad had a cataract removed, and an “intraocular” (IOL) artificial lens attached to his good eye. The doctor was reluctant to do the procedure since my Dad is blind in the other eye (hockey accident). However, the operation was a great success, his vision restored to near 20-20. He’s much more confident behind the steering wheel.
We shared the driving, rolling down to Mexico in my Dad’s home-made fishing camper.
Driving in Mexico is interesting. We alternated modern 4-lane toll roads with narrow 2-lane “free” highways where huge trucks pass each other full-speed, no more than a hand width between them. The detours, unmarked speed bumps, and unexpected potholes are even more dangerous.
I love the deserts. But the best scenery was south of Puerto Vallarta where the narrow road snaked through lush jungle-covered canyons. Many rivers, beautiful waterfalls. Little yellow butterflies blew “like confetti” (Ronald Wright) around the truck.
We advanced steadily from RV Park to RV Park. The most modern was spectacular “El Mirador” in San Carlos, a yachtsman’s paradise. Here we watched Canada geese still flying south. I scrambled the rocky upthrusting one morning.
I liked, too, a tiny well-run Mexican place in Lo de Marcos with its earth-shuddering breakers. Pelicans, sandpipers, & hermit crabs.
And the next night at Boca de Iguana, near Barre de Navidad, where the beach had a haunted, shipwrecked feel. I found a shore cave with a shrine to the Virgin, empty but obviously still used by the faithful. The votive candles were still burning. On the other end of the beach was a deserted, crumbling wreck of a Hotel. Was it destroyed by earthquake? The ghosts couldn’t tell me.
Our immersion in the RV lifestyle was a bit of a shock — I shouldn’t have been surprised — we LIKED it. You meet people from all over North America & Europe. They are even more friendly & helpful than backpackers.
Retired folks join “Caravan Clubs” with names like “Tracks” & “Escapees“, read magazines like “Coast to Coast” & “Family Motor Coaching”. Many are fanatically devoted to their high-tech motor homes. It seems they all travel with their pets.
Still, RVers have too much time. In one park we saw a Swiss couple cranking out German beer-drinking tunes on mechanical music boxes which they’ve hauled all over North America. Everyone brought lawn chairs over to watch. The highlight of the day. It was surreal.
We aren’t RVers. My folks want to rent. We were headed to the most popular retirement destination in this country, Lake Chapala, near Guadalajara. High on the Mexican plateau, Chapala is claimed to have the best climate in the world, though the lake itself is polluted & receding.
En route, I was looking forward to seeing, but then disappointed by, the usually spectacular “Volcan de Fuego de Colima”. The smoke & lava wasn’t visible when we drove by.
They’ve got great volcanoes in Mexico, though. In nearby Pariutin, in 1943, a farmer discovered a new sinkhole in one of his cornfields. He tried to fill it in. Ten months later it was an active volcano, 1700 feet high. As I speak, at least 2 other Mexican volcanoes threaten.
Reaching Chapala took us a week in Mexico. That was long enough in a cramped camper. Even the dog was going a little crazy.
When we reached the popular “Pal RV Park” in scenic Ajijic village, near Lake Chapala, we were all happy to have arrived. (Note: The Park was converted to owned condos in 2004.)
Here I had hoped to help search-out a nice rental unit at a reasonable price; to ensconce my parents in a satisfactory hidey-hole; to be the “Great White Son”. I anticipated about 3 days of pounding the cobblestones, hard bargaining, savvy negotiation, pushing the limits of my Spanglish.
Yup, you guessed it. My parents rented the first place they saw — while I was gone walking the dog. We hadn’t been there more than 40 minutes.
Even worse for my ego, they made an excellent choice. Couldn’t be better. A perfect spot in the very epicenter of gringo Mexico.
They rented a Casita (“little home”); very Mexican, fully-furnished, fireplace, private garden patio with fish pond as well as a roof-top patio with a view of Lake Chapala.
The RV Park provides swimming pool, Laundromat, clubhouse, 24-hour security, cable T.V., telephone. All mod cons.
The Park is littered with fallen oranges & limes. Cows browse just over the fence. At dusk the bird bath is asplash with noisy customers. The bougainvillea and other flowering trees in the yard are spectacular.
Chapalla is a lovely town. I could retire here!
My Mom is a little paranoid regarding scorpions, though, especially the “deadly little white ones”. We’ve already met 2 people who have been stung.
I’ll set-off for home tomorrow. It may take 2 or 3 weeks. I’ll let you know how it goes.
But it’s been great spending time, taking an adventure holiday, with my parents.
Hey, my Mom actually has an email address for the new millennium. How about that?