The "RV" Paradise in Celestino Gasco.
Another empty left-break.
The Celestino beach and surounding countryside.
The van about to power through another water crossing.
Our morning view from the farm road.
Centro de Colima.
Mainland Mexico at last! Despite the major roadblocks, miserable sickness, and fierce hurricanes, the van continues to blaze southbound, and much has happened since we left Cabo San Lucas. My inspiration for this entry comes from the leaking shower and buzzing florescent light in our third-rate hotel room…
After leaving Ty’s house in Cabo San Lucas, we motored north towards La Paz hoping to catch a Sunday ferry to the mainland. Fortunately for us, the ship was running its normal route to Topolobambo, just northeast of La Paz, and it was only about five and a half hours late! We spent some down time at the local beach, and while we were waiting at the terminal, we ran into two other gringos named Micah and Rachael (from New Hampshire and Australia respectively). It turns out that they are following a similar path to ours, and they have nine months to travel from Baja to Panama. Although they chose to travel in a far inferior vehicle, a Dodge Caravan, we were fondly reminded of our minivan savvy friend Bo White, and we know he is with us here in spirit. Anyway, we loaded the van onto the ferry amidst an army of tractor trailers, and headed to the passenger deck for the duration of the six hour ride. After exploring the ship, we settled down to an excellent buffet dinner with Micah and Rachael and discussed plans to meet up later in our travels. The rest of the ride was spent reading and attempting to sleep in most extraordinary places; I chose the stairs and Nima opted for a dinner table. Upon our 4 am arrival, we slept in the loading dock parking lot and planned to head out early in the morning. When we woke up, however, I was in for quite the surprise. Unfortunately for me, the great buffet that we enjoyed the night before did not sit so well, and I spent the rest of the day over the proverbial toilet while Nima took over the driving and navigating duties.
Despite my sickness, we were on the mainland at last! We took a short drive to the town of Los Mochis, which is actually quite large. While I lay sprawled out on the grass nursing my water bottle, Nima took care of some important business at customs, and then we drove south to find a camping spot. About thirty minutes south of Los Mochis, the dusty farmland fades into a landscape of lush vegetation and jagged volcanic mountains; this came as a refreshing change from the Baja desert ecosystem. In the “town” of Culiacan (pop. 777,000), we dropped in to an internet café to research possible camping and surf locations. To our dismay all we found were scattered RV parks along the coast. Randomly choosing one as a destination, we drove southbound until sunset when we arrived at an RV spot in Celestino Gasca, a miniscule pueblo about an hour north of Mazatlan. Turns out that we were in luck! The landlord, Chovi, showed us around, and for $5 a night we had unlimited access to the pool, kitchen, shower, and hammocks! Oh, and not to mention he told us that there was some surfing as well. Turns out he wasn’t lying; we awoke in the morning to find a perfect, glassy, left point break that was consistently head-high and a looooong ride (for those non-surfers read: incredible wave). Suddenly I wasn’t sick anymore. Rocky bottom and an extremely strong rip current led to exhausting paddle-outs and several foot wounds, but the rewards were well worth it and I caught the longest rides of my life. Unfortunately for Nima, the conditions were non-conducive to learning, and despite several extremely valiant efforts, he didn’t quite make it out. Not a problem though, considering the many sandy beaches we will come across within the next week. After three days of surfing, reading, guitar, and relaxing, we decided to continue our course southbound.
Another day of driving…we passed through Mazatlan, which Nima and I both thought was “mas o menos”, so despite some impressive houses we meandered on. We drove into the night, and finally found a generous store owner who gladly allowed us to pop the top in her driveway for the night. The next day a random turn landed us in the surf town of Sayulita, which has a very mellow vibe and quaint little shops laid out on cobblestone streets. However, a quick check of the waves showed nothing, and we felt like the town was a bit touristy and decided to head out. But not before getting some advice from an Australian girl at the local surf shop. She recently returned from Central America, and gave us some good locations to check out. She also casually mentioned that another hurricane was coming. Just our luck. As we continued south through Puerto Vallerta, the rain began to intensify and winds were on the rise. By the time we reached our camping spot for the night, the road was a full on obstacle course of debris, but this is nothing new….it has already become the standard to dodge trees, rocks, rivers, mudslides, potholes, and livestock. All in a day’s work. We ended up on an empty beach by a deserted Chinese restaurant after asking the security guard there if we could park there. He agreed, and we spent a rainy and windy night dozing off to thundering surf crashing on the rocks. It turns out, that Hurricane Lane made landfall just north of us, and we managed to escape the worst, although we would soon learn that the damage would change our route for good. Trying to drive south the next day, we made it to the town of Cihuatlan before running into the biggest obstacle yet. A flash flood had gone across the road, and ripped out a 30 meter length of road; Mexican police related that passage would be impossible until Tuesday, at best. As fun as Cihuatlan seemed, we had no desire to spend three days there, so we headed back north and attempted to drive around the roadblock through the mountains.
It turns out we made another great decision, and it allowed us to see a very different part of Mexico. Winding up through the hills, we passed through dense vegetation and canopy that reminded me of the Costa Rican jungle…very impressive to say the least. After another night’s sleep on a random farmer’s road, we awoke and drove to our present location in Colima. Once again, the drive did not disappoint, and we were treated to an active volcano (Volcan Fuego) and more rugged mountains. After arriving in Colima, we walked around to get a feel for the town. Filled with plazas and churches (Catholic, of course), we took a liking to the place and decided to stay for the night. Although the hotel room was certainly third world, we enjoyed the space where we could work on the web site, and they even let us park the van in the courtyard.
As for what’s next…our short term plans are to follow the Pacific coast from here to Acapulco, and then head north into the metropolis of Mexico City. Apparently they have one of the best anthropology museums in the world, and we also hope to catch a concert or a soccer game while we are there. Once again, best wishes to everyone in the states, and thanks for following our web-site as it continues to progress!
Volcan Fuego as we get closer.
Another typical highway stop.