Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Back in Mexico.........

I haven't been to any others,
but as far as I'm concerned, it is...
It hasn't been more than 48 hours and we find ourselves back in Mexico....well, Los Algodones, anyway. The dental hygienist in Los Barriles had told me that I had a cavity in a back molar, but I didn't have time to address it right then, so Bill had the great idea that we could take care of it while we were in Yuma, and go into Los Algodones. We had been there a few years ago for dental cleaning and were very happy with the level of care. I asked my mom to check on prices for a filling in Palm Desert and she was quoted $190-$300; the Los Barriles office quoted me $90-$120, a Los Algodones DDS quoted me $60-$80, ok, I knew where I was going...well kind of, anyway. When I went to figure out what dentist we saw last time I googled him and found out that several months after I had seem him he died in a motorcycle crash in AZ. So, because I wasn't tied to any one particular dentist, I decided to follow Nina's recommendation, from The Wheeling It, and made an appointment with Dr. Eva Urena. We parked in the parking lot at the border and walked across the border a little before 10:00am and went directly over to Best Optical, as I wanted to get a new pair of glasses. For computer viewing, I had been wearing the very first pair of glasses I ever purchased, from my girlfriend Sindy's ex, in Sacramento - purchased around 2003, and really needed to get a new prescription. And since I was there I opted to get a new pair of bifocals as I wasn't happy with the last pair I had purchased in Costco - purely aesthetics, mind you. In thirty minutes I had an exam and 3 people pulling different glasses that would fit my tiny, narrow face  - basically kid glasses. Not a lot of choices anywhere I go, but I'm super happy with what I got. There was a guy working there, I wish I had gotten his name, but he had heard me TRYING to speak Spanish and he was very eager to help me. We had a long conversation about how best to learn the language and made a great effort to speak to me only in Spanish, so I could practice. It was a wonderful experience, over all, and I got two pair of glasses and an exam for $189. I had plenty of time to get to my dental appointment and my glasses were ready for me to pick up just a few hours later. 
In front of the cute courtyard at Dr. Urena's

My experience with Dr. Urena was equally good, albeit a little less comfortable. Her practice has seen quite an influx of "Wheeling It" followers, although most have admitted to not knowing either Nina or Paul. I was happy to tell her that we had, indeed, met them and thoroughly enjoyed their company.

While I was busy getting shot full of novacaine Bill got his curly locks cut off, which I sorely miss, and had started in on a michilada and some munchies. By the time I got there he had a beer and a margarita going...I couldn't eat or drink a thing until the numbing wore off, but as I sat there watching him imbibe a woman came up to offer me a free one minute massage....one hour later and I was as happy as he!
I did manage to walk into a grocer and pick up a few more of the fabulous refried beans Panty Free turned us onto in Cabo, but that was about it...dentist, glasses, a massage and a chance to practice our Spanish again!

Back in the U S of A..........

I wonder how many times that particular statement has been said....not enough to do the research on it, but I do wonder! We had a totally uneventful border crossing, just the way we like it...Bill thinks it may have something to do with the officer military stickers on our rig and car, but who knows. I had picked the Nogales border crossing because it was reported to be the easiest spot for an RV to cross. A few miles before the border we pulled over and turned in our vehicle "TIP" permits. They have to actually physically remove them with a razor blade. The car permits are only valid for the time your visa is good for (up to 6 months), but the RV TIP is good for 10 years. You have to give them quite a large deposit, on your credit card, when you get your TIP and you don't receive it back until you return your TIP. The problem with leaving it on the RV is that if something happens to that RV and it doesn't make it back to the country to have it removed, within those ten years, you will not be able to receive your $400 deposit back, or be allowed to bring another vehicle into the country. So even though we are planning to return to Mexico in December, we had it removed. Especially because you do not need a TIP for Baja, so, unless we do the whole Ferry crossing again and travel through mainland Mexico, we will not need it.

First stop in the states was at Costco for gas - surprisingly to us, gas is cheaper in the U.S (well, in Arizona anyway!) We stocked up on Bill's favorite - Costco's American Vodka; scored some amazing vegan black bean soup and a wonderful quinoa/brown rice blend as well and we were off to Casa Grande RV Resort for two nights to regroup.  The park was pretty empty but had a nice pool and jacuzzi in addition to a few pool tables. Bill washed Bebe, who was absolutely filthy from all of our travels and I caught up on...what, I am not exactly sure! Oh, maybe it was our blog!

We moved on to Yuma on Thursday - originally we were headed here to replace our house batteries that had been giving us problems since December, but after calling the store where we had purchased them two years prior, we found out it was cheaper to buy the golf cart batteries we had seen at Costco. So Yuma ended up just being a stop along the way to California. We stayed at The Palms, another deserted AZ resort at the end of April, but this place was "firsta classa," as my dad would say! The grounds are meticulously cared for, the guard escorts you to your site, the work out room is fabulous, the two pools and jacuzzi are great and the billiards room - spectacular!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hashers/Burners in the House!

Our friend Panty Free, aka Laurie, usually travels to Cabo every winter. The past two winters she had not made it down, but when she heard we were going she put it on the top of her wish list. Our friend Daniel, aka, Cheek, has been itching to come out and hang out with us on the road and really wanted to come down to Baja. The two knew each other, not well, but I told Daniel to talk to Panty and maybe they could work something out and come down together. Plans were set in motion and I commenced with ordering things online and making up a wish list of a few things I'd like them to bring down. Getting mail and packages in Mexico is not easy and then there is the duty you have to pay on everything you buy online. There were two things that were on the top of my list - an ATT "Go" phone and a letter from Chase authorizing us to bring our Subaru into Mexico. The phone I needed in order to receive calls from my daughter, who is in jail. She cannot call a long-distance number and the Google or Skype talk wasn't working because the internet wasn't fast enough. We were hoping the go phone would work - my ex purchased one for me, activated it, loaded it with money and mailed it to Laurie for me. The Chase letter we needed because we were thinking we'd like to try taking the ferry from La Paz over to Topolabampo, on the mainland of Mexico, and drive their nice (or so we heard) 4 lane, wider highway home. It was going to cost us close to $800, but save us about $300 in gas, a couple of nights on the road - including campground fees, and more importantly, my husband's sanity.

We anxiously awaited their arrival - the site next to us was available and they settled in nicely making our camp look just a bit like a burning man encampment.
Panty's trailer is on the left, Cheek's shade structure over his tent is in the middle back,
the doggie shade structure is in the front middle, and we are on the right!

They were both happy to stop traveling for awhile. The drive down can be exhausting when making a bee-line for the cape so we just chilled and they settled into our slow-paced life of hanging at the tiki bar, walking the beach & hitting our favorite bars. Cheek spent a lot of time swimming and throwing the ball for Ariadne, Panty's dog. Right now we are all very sad because somehow Ari got lost on their travels back home around Rosarita Beach and she is still missing. She is the sweetest and most well-behaved dog I have ever met.

Laurie and I took off for a girl's day in Cabo - we started at the Mercado Organico in San Jose where we picked up some fabulous veggies, then headed to Cabo to the custom swimsuit shop where we had custom suits made - so much fun! I brought in a suit and a pair of boy short panties that I wanted copied, picked out some fabulous material and it turned out SUPER CUTE!
We hit the atm for cash and then found an awesome spot for margaritas!
Can you spot her?!
 We had so much fun in this place - trinkets and do-dads everywhere you looked - and Laurie bought me a super cute purse! 

We had a lot of fun filled, chill days. I found a cross-fit for Daniel to go to on the beach, which he said was the best one he'd ever been to. I enjoyed my last days at the yoga studio and another class I found on the beach. I finally rented a SUP (stand-up paddleboard) and want to do more of that. We went to sleep listening to the cows walk down the street with their bells clanging and woke to the sound of the roosters and birds. Bill started running again in preparation for his relay run around Lake Tahoe and life just didn't seem like it could get better. We kept putting off our last day, but finally Daniel and Laurie left, Daniel to go to a friend's house in Cabo and Laurie to try and get her trailer axle fixed and go visit Pat on the pacific side. Laurie brought Pat back to Cabo where we all met up at the rv park where Laurie and Pat first met. 
Villa Serena RV Park, Cabo San Lucas

Laurie and I went to pick up our suits and retrieve our atm cards that both of us had left in the machines - and guess what folks, the bank had them! We hit Mi Casa for margaritas again, and then hit the road to take Pat back to Pescadero and head up to Tecolote Beach where we wanted to camp on the beach for a few days while we tried to see if we could get on the ferry. Boy do I wish I had a pic of what that beach looked like when we got there, the Thursday before Easter! Semana Santa is what they call the Easter week of vacation here, but it's more like 2 weeks and it seems as if every single person in Baja heads to the beach for a party. Our friends, Sini and Bob, were on this beach about 6 weeks before and it looked deserted. Laurie and Daniel had been on this beach the week before and again, deserted - the beach that day looked like Mardi Gras times 10! Bill and I took one look at each other and said NFW!! I made a call to the rv park in La Paz where we had stayed on our way down and they had plenty of room for us, so off we went...and what a great idea that was! 

This is Cheek's set-up - the sea is right behind those trees.

                                                                                       Our last meal together...

Our last night in Baja.....for awhile...

Los Barriles - April 2014

Let's see....where did I leave off, it's been almost a month now, April went by in a flash! Ahhh...we were checking out an open house! It was great, a newer one bedroom, one and a half bath place with a humongous yard. No palapa on the roof but plenty of room to do whatever you wanted there and they were willing to entertain any and all offers. It was just a half a block from our favorite bar, Smoky's, and a block and a half from the beach, but they were asking a lot of money. We were smitten and just about ready to make an offer when we met Dale and Kaila at our newly discovered, Lazy Days beach bar.

We were kind of excited, having just seen this house and all, and we met and started a conversation with Dale and Kaila - co-authors of the book Pendulum of Justice. A super nice couple that were renting a home just south of Los Barriles. Kaila is a realtor, or used to be and shared some of her thoughts with us  - mainly that we shouldn't rush into buying a property when we hadn't spent more than a month or so down there. Sound advice to be sure, but I can't tell you how many people we've met, since then, that told us how they bought a palapa or house after being in Los Barriles a month! The place does seem to have that effect on people! And then I remember our new friend Jim's words of wisdom about buying anything in Mexico, that I have heard from others - don't invest in anything down there unless you're ok with walking away from it. So, sinking a couple hundred grand didn't seem like it would really fit in that category....ok, plan B!!

We met Dale and Kaila for dinner at the Thai restaurant in town. The owners are friends of theirs and they called earlier that day and mentioned that we were vegan so the chef made us up a special soup and were very helpful with picking out menu items that we could eat. The food was pretty good, but the chairs in there have got to go!! Meanwhile Bill was keeping himself very busy replacing the cue tips on the pool cues over at Vagos Bar. A bunch of the replacements had broken off, Bill suspected from a very low speaker directly over the barrel of pool cues.

My work load had finally lightened up enough that I decided it was time for a beach day. I couldn't believe how long we had been there and not spent one day at the beach that was steps from our house! We loaded up the car with chairs, umbrellas and coolers and drove it onto the beach, just because we could! 
The cattle wander around everywhere.
We ended up taking a long walk up the beach and saw some "For Sale" signs in front of what looked like an rv/palapa resort right on the beach. I had been reading online on the Baja Pony Express (a daily newsletter about East Cape activities) about some places for sale at Costa Brava, but had no idea where it was. We were intrigued so in we went to inquire about what was for sale. Most of the palapa's that are built here are around an old trailer or motorhome - this really didn't appeal to us much, as the ones we had seen were pretty old and smelly and after living in a motorhome as nice as ours that was going to be a difficult adjustment. We saw one palapa for sale that was a one bedroom concrete house with a huge palapa on top and another one in front yard. It was the most expensive of all that were for sale but the annual lease was very manageable. These palapas are for sale under a land lease arrangement of a five year lease with an option for another five years. In Mexico you are not allowed to lease land for more than ten years. The owner may issue you another lease after ten years but no lease is legal for any period beyond ten years. This is why they say you have to be okay with losing your investment down there, the owner does not have to renew your lease after the initial ten years. The community at Costa Brava seems pretty cool and Liz, who we were dealing with there, said that everyone that lived there had started out at Verdugo's!
The entire upstairs is open with a sink, fans and a nice view of the sea.
Lots of room in front for a little garden (in place of the flower pots) and
enough room to park a couple of kayaks and a dune buggy!

As seen from the gate - the front, downstairs palapa.

The view with your back to the house.
One night while hanging out at the tiki bar we met Simon. He had just arrived from Canada for ten days of fishing and was a most amiable fellow. We all had a fun evening together and ended up hanging out quite a bit with him over his vacation.

Simon, with just a few of his catch
Simon learned to make ceviche
with his fresh catch from one
of the best in the east cape.

I can't finish off this blog without mentioning our fabulous neighbor Katie. She was the first one to welcome us to the campground and we just hit it off right from the start. She has been coming to the campground for many years. She originally came down and rented a place on the beach, and eventually bought a trailer here at the campground. She is now in her second trailer which she stores down here along with her jeep for the summer and just flies back and forth. Katie is great fun and we spent many hours chit-chatting at the tiki bar and on our patio. There are no Netflix or Amazon movies available online in Mexico, nor is there a movie rental anywhere, but Katie had quite an assortment of movies and gave us a huge bag of them to watch at our leisure. Our friend, Jim, did the same - I was asking everyone I met! One thing, we'll make sure we do next time is bring down movies!! Katie and I went to the fashion show luncheon together over at the big hotel benefiting the local dog rescue agency and we have plans to get together once we're both back in Tahoe. We will be neighbors again next year, and both Bill and I feel really fortunate to call her our friend.