Picture driving up to a stark white hotel, off a long bumpy dirt road, with no other cars around, to reach a new campsite reportedly adjacent to the hotel. The grounds look abandoned with the exception of a lone RV, and there is not a soul in sight as the last of an eery morning mist is begins to lift. Out of the blue, an older woman in a brightly colored bikini, comes running towards the truck waving a pool noodle shouting something I cannot make out. I’m thinking “Oh my god, this woman is in trouble, something has happened, her partner was murdered, maybe she’s been kidnapped and just escaped…or maybe we just ran over her dog!” and many more unequally unpleasant thoughts popped in my head. But of course, none of these were the case. This was Adele running towards us, and this scene among others, have us forever referring to the Color Marina Campground as “Adele’s place”.
Turns out we were about to park in the hotel’s reserved spaces, and not in the general campground area. Adele simply wanted to stop us before we went through the trouble of parking and positioning our camper. Once that was cleared up, I jumped out of the truck with Indigo and walked over to the pool where Adele was heading (that explains the bikini and pool noodle) and discovered that the hotel facilities were really nice, the pool even nicer, and the staff very friendly. While Adele was giving me the run down (she’s been coming here for many years), Indigo stealthily slipped out of his clothes and into the pool. Without skipping a beat, Adele simply joined Indigo in the water since I wasn’t wearing a suit. She kept Indigo entertained in the water, while still chatting with me as I sat on the edge of the pool, cooling my feet in the water and watching my boy fall madly in love with Adele. Okan came wandering over after setting up the camper, and just shook his head. I let Indigo run naked whenever and wherever possible, and Okan is trying to impress upon him that he needs to wear clothes in public…I quite clearly won this round.
For the next several days, Indigo and Adele were rather attached at the hip, spending much time together on the beach, the campground, and the pool each day.
Later that evening we took a walk along the beach, and Indigo once again, pulled by the force of water managed to strip to his underwear and jump in the sea before we could even discuss it. We were on a beautiful expanse of beach that reached for miles, but unfortunately also littered with plastic containers around the high tide line, with an unusually large collection of 1-gallon plastic jugs. We learned from Adele, along with a million other facts, that the big ships fishing off the coast dump the jugs in the sea and they wash up on shore. Adele has tried to purge the beach personally, with the help of large garbage bags provided by the Color Marina hotel to no avail…they just keep washing up. We’ve learned to take the good with the bad while traveling, and sometimes just need to turn our gaze in the direction of the lovely scenery, with our backs to the litter.
We were very relaxed here, I think primarily because we had clean bathrooms with hot showers that we didn’t have to share with anyone, and a gorgeous pool at our disposal. We opened a bottle of wine and soaked up the luxury of having a fully stocked fridge and nowhere to be. I tried to capture the blue flash (or perhaps it was green) that occurs at sunset that Adele reported seeing it for the last several evenings. I just kept clicking away on the camera, burning my eyes in the sun, determined to catch it on film if not by my naked eye. I never saw it, the camera never caught it, but I got a lot of nice pictures of our sunset that evening.
At some point in our trip, we had started corresponding with Treschamigos, a couple from Colorado traveling with their dog, as they started their trip after us, but were on the same general path. They were traveling at a faster pace and we thought they may catch up to us, which they eventually did. But before we met them in person, they sent a note saying something like “Hey, we met Adele!”, we instantly felt connected to them because we had Adele in common.
We eventually packed up and headed to San Blas a little further south and found the most beautiful campground dotted with shady palm trees, about two blocks away from the beach, and walking distance to town.
When we first arrived, we were a bit concerned about how the night would unfold, because there were about 20 tents packed into a corner of the campground. All I could think of was listening to some thumping bass from partying campers all night long and getting no sleep. But it turns out the tents belonged to the most polite and charming group of girls on a school trip from Guadalajara. In the morning, Indigo became the campground’s prince charming or perhaps the pied piper. I awoke to find the girls following him around the campsite while he shouted his familiar cry of “come on! come on!” Many videos and photos were being taken of our our little guy, and I’m sure he’s right now on a dozen or more Facebook pages and Instagram feeds.
We had to walk down the street to get to the beach from the campground, so I had to revisit what one actually needs at the beach with a toddler. We didn’t have the luxury of walking over to the camper if we forgot something. There were many restaurants on the beach, and many locals on vacation. It felt strange to be at a beach with so many other people. The sand here was soft and fine and the color of greying charcoal, the water was warmer than in Baja, and there were perfectly sized little waves in which we could play.
We stayed longer than we anticipated primarily because we had a good internet connection, and thought we should bang out a couple more blog posts. I had a mini-melt down and a come-to-jesus conversation with Okan about writing the blog, and what it was doing to the nature of our travels, and my state of mind. I was feeling resentful that the blog was part of our trip, as it was feeling all consuming. Okan and I often have different ideas on what is worthy of sharing, making the process additionally stressful. Piling onto that, I felt it took too much of our attention away from Indigo, and each other, and the many personal aims of the trip. We still hadn’t got into a regular exercise routine, which I was craving, so I of course blamed that on the need to write a blog as well. It didn’t help that tax time was also looming, with the need to find a new accountant on a budget, along with gathering tax documents remotely.
Short of throwing the entire blog (and computer) out the camper window, I eventually calmed and started trying to find positives. Indigo doesn’t need to be entertained 24/7 and it’s OK for him to learn to do other things while we “work”. And, there have been times I’ve wracked my brain trying to remember something I thought was so memorable, but couldn’t remember. This made me realize that the other benefit of writing would be to create a permanent memory of our travels together, especially our thoughts as well as the images. For instance, I might completely forget that I had this total melt down in San Blas if not for this blog post, since Okan didn’t think to snap a photo of me while ranting. So here I am again, sitting at a campsite outside Cancun tapping away at the computer. As of this writing I figure I’ve got 6 more posts to catch up to where we are today, Indigo is swimming with Okan at the moment, and I’m learning to accept that I may always be 6 blog posts (or more) behind.
After my mini-meltdown and tirade, I felt a huge weight was lifted and went for a run. I took the camera to remind myself how running along beautiful oceans and beaches does wonders for my state of mind.
The notorious sandflies of San Blas decided to come back to town, and we started itching and scratching as they reached critical mass. Our last days were spent sticky with bug spray and it was clear we needed to head to new pastures.
We headed further south to little town called lo de Marcos, passing many of Caballeros along the way. They were heading to a nearby festival, which we wished we could have seen, but we had a little boy asleep in the truck. The terrain was changing around this area too, and we were really enjoying the site of wooded mountains and so much greenery. But even more than the greenery, the freshly baked banana bread being sold along the roadside endeared us to this area.
We picked a small RV Campground across the road from the beach. Based on the size of the surf, we weren’t sure we’d even get in the water, and this campground had a small pool complete with playmates for Indigo. The neighbors immediately came out to greet us and we had introductions all around. Funny how I refer to the long term RV park residents as our neighbors now, and always look forward to meeting them. Wasn’t all that long ago, I used to see them as “those odd people who live in RV Parks.” Traveling really does change one’s perspective about people, in all sorts of ways.
One of our neighbours escorted us into town, gave us the tour of all the shops, markets, restaurants, and social events. Because I was frustrated with my thick curly hair, and not having the needed water pressure to wash it, she also arranged an appointment with a hairdresser in town. The hair dresser spoke no english, so I pointed at a photo in a book. And there you have it, 20+ years of long hair gone in an instant in a Mexican beauty parlour for $2.50 USD, with zero discussion about how I’d like it to look, outside of a photo of a model in short hair that looks nothing like my own. Okan couldn’t stop staring and telling me how beautiful I was, and that he wished I’d cut it off years ago. For someone fearful of returning to her high school years of being nerdy and awkward with short curly red hair, he said just the right things for me to walk down the street feeling very good.
We were driving away from the campsite, on our way inland, when we discovered two problems with the truck. The windshield was cracked while baking under the hot sun, and based on the reading on the battery gauge Okan knew something else was going wrong under the hood. We headed back to the campsite and popped the hood, to find the alternator connector to the battery had totally melted. Turns out the bumpy roads shook the connection loose, which in turn heated up the connection area, which eventually melted the connector.
One of the other campers actually had a spare connector, and he and Okan worked together to fix it right then and there. There is usually a great mix of mechanical skills and know-how in most campgrounds, as driving and living on the road, requires folks to be well versed in handling all types of repairs. As for the windshield, we had no immediate solution and were cursing ourselves for not getting it replaced in Canada before we left. We had been driving with a fair amount of dings and nicks in the glass, but we were told that they were small and would probably not turn into cracks for a long time to come.
We had a long driving day to Guadalajara with Okan staring at the traffic through the crack which was directly in his line of sight. It was clear we couldn’t live with that crack for long. As soon as we had a 3G connection, I typed in “Guadalajara Windshield” into Google.com and up popped our answer on the Chapala.com Webboard. There was a place called Nachos, that was about 45 minutes away from the campsite had some great and fairly recent reviews…written in English none-the-less!.
We got there the following afternoon and received a quote of $120 USD to replace that day with brand new factory Dodge Ram windshield that the owner would pick up himself. We chose to get it done right away and hung out in the shop, watching the father & son team work. Indigo played with the family’s children in the shop, and I had some time to wander around the town. In the end, we were happy we didn’t get the repair done in Canada since an auto-glass shop in Vancouver quoted Okan $600 and our ICBC deductible was $500 . We paid much less, received great service, and left with a great feeling of accomplishment.
We drove back to the same campsite that evening feeling very satisfied with ourselves, and took time to enjoy the campgrounds. It was along a lake in the middle of a large sports centre with pools, tennis courts, soccer fields, and playgrounds. Much of the grounds were rather worn and slipping into disrepair, but we found it a really enjoyable place to be. Perhaps we were also feeling the contentment of running into so many rough spots and knowing we’re capable of getting through them, both the practical and the mental ones. And having a clear view of the road really helps too!