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Friday, 2 September 2016

On Ward, Up Ward and Watch Out You Don't Get Killed!

Early on December 1 we set on our way in our 28' motor home, trying to escape the cold before it enveloped us, froze us in. It was a frosty morning as we lashed down items, and packed the last few bags inside. We had no rigid plan other than to get to Corpus Christie within a week, where we would settle while I travelled on business. Beyond that, we wanted to be in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico for Christmas. We planned to stay there while Leanne took the yoga instructors course in Tulum.

Being on the road again felt great! Having nothing to do but watch the road pass under your tires, while you come closer to the unknown with each passing mile... Priceless. Unfortunately, reality of the now' kicked us in the snout, a little, when we stopped at a Wal-Mart parking lot in Ohio the first night. It seemed we were about 1000 miles too far north to enjoy the warmth we were dreaming of. However we did find a 1.5L bottle of rum in said Wal-Mart, that helped us keep warm.

On the second night we continued on to Memphis, and found a Bass Pro Shop parking lot, close to downtown, to call our home for the evening. We took the two Malamutes for a walk around the riverfront, and eventually found our way down to the clubs of Beale Street. It was still cool, but the sounds and smells of Beale St. helped us forget.

From there we continued onto Fort Worth Texas, for another stay in a Bass Pro Shops lot, before arriving into Corpus Christie on December 4. We stayed there for about two weeks, while I travelled on business. We equipped the RV with solar panels, and loaded it with spare parts, and maintenance items. We also bought a Metro PCS phone, given that they had an add on for use in Mexico. We also made some friends at Colonia Del Ray RV Park. Many of the residents there wished they had taken the time, when they were younger, to do what we were doing. Some just thought we were nuts!

On December 18, we were once again, packed up, loaded with supplies, and ready to face a new frontier... Mexico. Originally it was our plan to enter central, or Western Mexico, and travel down the west coast, before traversing across to Playa Del Carmen. After hearing of two Canadians who died while on vacation in early December, in Mexico, we got spooked. We checked the latest advisories, and decided to enter through Brownsville, and head straight to the Yucatan as quickly as possible.

The entrance into Mexico was not exactly graceful. We came across the border with little understanding of the procedure, or where to go. We got re-routed by a border guard with a big gun. We got danced around from wicket to wicket inside the customs office. We even had an elderly woman appear from seemingly no where, to issue us a warning "be careful here, it's very dangerous" as this stranger stroked Leanne's arm. But we survived, and piled back into our rv headed for our inspection. For this, the border guard came into the rv, pet the dogs, knocked on a wall, and released us into to the streets of Mexico!

Two minutes into Mexico, we came upon an intersection that offered about 8 different options on where to turn. Our first attempt... strike one! Two U-turns later, in a 28' rv, and we were back on track. We headed out of town, determined to put as many miles as possible between us and the border before nightfall. We made it all the way to Ciudad Victoria, where we settled into a Pemex Station parking lot for the night. Knowing Mexicans weren't used to big dogs, we strut around the area with both of our Malamutes, being sure to spread the word that we weren't afraid to 'let the big dogs out'! Soon we discovered we had nothing to fear, as the parking lot was frequented by several police cars, parking for hours at a time. We felt very secure, until we learnt that the police presence was because the station had been robbed the night before.

Next morning we were up early, and on our way. We travelled for as many as the daylight hours as possible, over the next couple of days. While the country side was scenic, we wanted to be sure we had ocean and beach to enjoy for the holidays. Night two we stopped in Heroica Vera Cruz, enjoying another Pemex station lot. We also dined at a wonderful family run restaurant, where the owners daughter tended to our wants, and  needs. She gave us a complimentary appetiser then also brought us complimentary ice cream, served in coconut shells, at the end of the meal. We went back to the rv stuffed, and sleepy. We slept soundly, until about midnight, which is when we discovered that we were parked across from a Mexican disco. We also discovered the discos operate well into the wee hours.

In spite of a restless night, we awoke early the next morning, intent on finding someone to look at the RV, and a starter issue. After bouncing around from one "expert" to another, we found someone who 'knew a guy'. We headed over to the local Autozone store, where we were to meet him, and discovered that if we needed a starter, it was a town over. Either a two day wait, or a drive slightly out of our way. Eventually 'our guy' came and checked things out, and sent us on our way, with the assurance all was fine. He also told us we owed nothing. We managed to get him to accept a small tip. While waiting, we also got to talking to another local, well versed in English. When we asked him "Is it dangerous here?" he offered this advice of Mexico: "If you go to the wrong place, alone, at night, you will get in trouble... just like in any major US city". Having slept in two inner city Pemex stations with no incident, we took this advice as a wake up to just enjoy the experience... WITH common sense.

We continued on to a wonderful Pemex Station (away from Discos) just outside Villa Hermosa the next evening, and an equally wonderful one just outside Campeche the evening after. This set us up for an early arrival into Merida on December 22, and within striking distance of Playa Del Carmen. When we planned our arrival into Merida, our guides ominously warned "do NOT take your rig into downtown Merida". Having watched a House Hunters International episode in Merida, this seemed obvious. Unfortunately, our GPS either didn't understand we were in an RV or didn't care as it routed us through streets fit for a motorcycle. Eventually we found our way to our first Mexican campground. Did I mention it was closed? Turns out the owners were attempting to sell out, and had closed the campground within the past year. Luckily they still answered the phone, and kept the place up, somewhat, and agreed to let us stay in the empty 10 acre plot of land. It had some running water, a few functioning receptacles, and a shower that encouraged us to use ours! But it was right next to a Liverpool. After getting an escort to the entrance from a local, and help from a police officer to 'break in' we found a spot, and agreed it was no worse than a Pemex... except that we still had to pay.

After cooking a nice steak, and having a relaxing beverage we waited for the owner to arrive and collect her fees. We settled in early, o avoid being overtaken by mosquitoes. Playa Del Carmen was up next, and the excitement was wearing us down!


  1. Shawn, did you sell the sailboat? Or are you planning to get back to the water after the RV adventure?

  2. John,
    We are 1 chapter away from the answer to that... If I tell you now, I'll spoil it!