Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico: A Week-long RV Stay and Fun Adventure

Guanajuato is a unique Mexican city with its brightly colored homes spilling down the hillsides, the maze of mining tunnels now serving as streets under the city, and the historic Spanish architecture. We love all of it.

The Colors of Guanajuato

            This was our second trip to Guanajuato and we decided it was high time we took the four-hour tour of the city. We especially wanted to see the view from the Panoramic drive. It was well worth the 2000 pesos ($100US) to be taken through the narrow, confusing streets by an experienced driver. Plus, he took us to many places we would have never found on our own.
          We saw the Pipila Statue, the Old City Dam, toured the gorgeous Valenciana Church constructed with an amazing amount of gold, the Valenciana Mines where we climbed down about 200 feet into an old silver mine, the Mummy Museum (a collection of naturally mummified bodies interred during a cholera outbreak in 1833), the Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera, and more. The tour driver was surprised at how quickly we came out of the Mummy Museum. It was difficult for us to view, though many people are intrigued by it.
Templo de La Valenciana
Mummy Museum, Teatro Juarez, and 
Gardens of Hacienda San Gabriel De Barrera
          Back on our own, we explored using Google Maps on our phone to find our way, a challenge due to all of the tall concrete, brick, and stone buildings blocking the signal. Jon stopped off at an OXXO store to charge the phone—not a typical OXXO, tucked in a historical building. As always, finding good restaurants is one of our goals, and we found some excellent ones. La Taberna de Diego y Frida was a favorite. I include the photo of the exterior of Los Campos Restaurante as it was very challenging to find tucked back in the corner of Plaza Baratillo. The cozy ambiance, delicious tapas, and wonderful service made it worth the hour it took us to find this cantina.
Los Campos Restaurante--Worth a Visit!
          Don’t be surprised if you get on a bus going to centro and it drops you off in the middle of a dark underground tunnel, like this one. We were so shocked that this was a bus stop—and it was the end of the line! We did the only reasonable thing. We got off the bus and followed the other passengers as we all walked on the narrow sidewalk until we arrived at a stairway up. We climbed out of the tunnel and came out in the center of an outdoor market. I doubt we would be able to find that stairway down to the bus stop again without help from the locals. 
Exploring Guanajuato, GTO, MX is always a fun adventure!
If you would like to know more about the Bugamville RV Park where we stayed, please comment at the bottom of this blog article and I will reply. Thank you for reading about our latest adventure!
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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Our Trip to Roca Azul RV Park and Sports Club on Lake Chapala in Jocotepec, Jalisco

The Brick Lighthouse Next to Lake Chapala
     Roca Azul RV Park and Sports Park is one of our favorite places to stay in Mexico. We arrived at Roca Azul on July 2 and planned to stay for three days. The weather and the RV park were so nice, we decided to stay for eight days. Daytime temperatures were in the low 80’s with lower humidity than the coast. The rains waited until evening to start, so we had all day to explore the large sports park and the nearest town of Jocotepec.
     There’s so much to do at Roca Azul. The main pool was refreshing for a summer afternoon dip. During the weekdays, we had the pool pretty much to ourselves. Plenty of choices for relaxing by the pool included lounge chairs, patio tables and chairs, some under umbrellas and others under palapas. On weekends, this area was busier with groups of locals gathered for events.
Playground, Volleyball, Tennis, and Basketball Courts
     While we were there, we watched this gathering and performance of Mexican folk dancers, a group of over thirty women and men in beautiful costumes.
     Bird watching is excellent at Roca Azul, both within the campground and at the lighthouse next to the lake. We enjoyed sitting on benches facing Lake Chapala, watching the waterfowl and egrets fishing near shore and other colorful birds perching in the brush nearby. The two old cacti growing up the side of the lighthouse were worth a photo.
Two Amazing, Old Cacti Grow at the Lighthouse
     We enjoyed the warm mineral water pool, refilled every day or two with natural spring water. One weekday, we had this pool to ourselves, so we sat on the pool steps, chest-deep in the soothing water while reading from our Kindles for an hour. On weekends, this pool is more crowded with families spending the day at the park. 
Warm Mineral Pool
     On our last day at Roca Azul, we decided to go to the clubhouse restaurant for a cheeseburger. As it was a weekend, there was a group of youngsters, possibly on a day camp trip, having hamburgers there as well. We enjoyed watching these young boys as they talked quietly amongst themselves and ate with impeccable manners, only going to the restroom after given permission by their counselor. A few of them struck up a conversation with Jon, seemingly intrigued by gringos being there. The clubhouse had pool tables, ping pong tables, and other games for the guests. Afterward, the boys went outside to play "Hit the Pinata" and then on to the playground.    
A Group of Boys Dining in the Restaurant
Clubhouse Game Room
A Game with Pinatas Near the Pool
A Sunset at Lake Chapala
     Roca Azul is a fairly long walk to town for dinner or to catch the bus to Ajijic or other towns on Lake Chapala. One night we walked the 2.5 miles to La Carreta restaurant where we had fantastic Arrachera steak. Another night, we walked about 1.5 miles to catch the bus to Mariscos El Carnal restaurant overlooking the lake. Taxis are scarce in Jocotepec, so be sure to ask Teo, Roca Azul’s manager, for several taxi names and numbers.
     The RV park rates are reasonably low, especially by the week or month and electricity is included. The clothes washer and dryer are free for use by guests. There are full-time gardeners that keep the park nicely manicured. We’ll definitely return to Roca Azul.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Santa Maria del Oro: Our RV Trip to Lake SAMAO

Laguna Santa Maria del Oro
     Santa Maria del Oro Lake is beautiful and deep, inside the crater of an extinct volcano. At an altitude of 2400 feet, we thought it would be cooler in early July. But it was hot and humid.
     We rented kayaks one afternoon and cooled off by paddling across the lake and back. Bella, our doxy, wasn’t too excited about getting into the single-person boats, but she felt better after she and I jumped out of the boat for a short swim that cooled her off.
Laguna SAMAO has its Letters on the Malecon
     Laguna de Santa Maria del Oro is about 30 miles southeast of Tepic in the state of Nayarit, MX. We stayed at the Koala Bungalows and Campgrounds on the south end of the lake. There are only five trailer sites but quite a few tent camping sites. The Church and Church Mexican Camping book warned us not to arrive on a Saturday or Sunday because the entrance road gets jammed with parked cars and it’s difficult to pass to the area behind the bungalows where the trailer park is.
     Well, we arrived on a Sunday afternoon and found out that they were right! Even with our mirrors folded in, we just squeaked by the line of parked cars. If we would have had a Class A motorhome or one longer than our 28-foot rig, we would not have been able to get into our RV site until about 9:00PM when the campers had packed up for the day.
The Nearest Restaurant to the Trailer Park
     A walk along the Malecón and beyond revealed about half a dozen restaurants facing the lake. All of the menus seemed to list the same entrees, so we settled for the restaurant closest to the RV Park and got our fill of chicharrones (fried fish pieces) and French fries.
Bella, Covered with a Cold, Wet Towel
     We found it to be pretty hot and humid at Lake Santa Maria del Oro in early July; even Bella was so hot I wrapped her in a wet towel so she could cool off. The trailer park only had 15-amp service and no breakers that we could access, so we were hesitant to run our air conditioner. We finally decided to try it so we could cool down the rig enough to sleep and it worked fine.
Time to Head Back Up the Hill from Lake SAMAO
     It was time to head to higher altitudes where the weather would be cooler. Our diesel Class C climbed out of the crater and up the hill with no trouble, through the little town of Santa Maria del Oro, and back to Hwy 15D. Next stop, Roca Azul on Lake Chapala.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

SAYULITA MEMORIES THIS YEAR—We’re Off to RV México for the Summer

Sayulita, in the heart of the Riviera Nayarit, is our home eight to nine months of each year. We enjoy the beauty, the music, the beach, the sunsets, the food, the people, exercise classes, and so much more. As summer has solidly arrived, it’s still beautiful here, but the heat and humidity are too high for us. When it reached 90°F and 75% humidity near the end of June, we decided it was time to pack the motorhome and head for the mountains of México for cooler weather and a change of scenery.

     But first, I want to relive the beauty of Sayulita during the past nine months and share the photos with you. We’ll miss the ocean most while we’re away. The sunsets behind Punta Sayulita are always gorgeous, different each day.
     The weather is wonderful during autumn, winter, and spring, typically clear blue sky and warm sunshine each day. One day in late May, a cloud cover approached from the north, as though spreading from the village of San Pancho. As we watched from the Alas Blancas Restaurant on the beach, the southern progress of the cloud halted as though Sayulita had an invisible barrier that prevented clouds to cross over. Slowly the cloud began to retreat, appearing to be called back to San Pancho, leaving the view in front of us a clear cerulean reflected by the mellow bay water.
     The Zócalo, the central plaza, was decorated beautifully for Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) when we arrived in November. Sayulita is designated a Pueblo Mágico, so the government has been spending more money each year for improvements and beautification of our quaint village. To read more and see more photos, please click HERE

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