Three Days In San Carlos

San Carlos is about 250 miles from the US border and I always look forward to pulling into this nice RV park, getting our coupon for a free Margarita next door, and having a shrimp dinner overlooking the Sea of Cortez. But after our normal three day stay we will be ready to go much farther south to the tropical weather.  It is just a bit too chilly here.

It had been so cold in Arizona, getting down to below freezing every night, that we couldn’t leave quick enough. There was snow on the hills as we crossed the border into Mexico and not much traffic was going south. This was the first time we received the red light to be inspected on the Mexican side but the poor border official was so cold standing outside that all he asked was did we have wine or cigarettes and waved us through. There were not many travelers at the border station 21 km’s into the country where we had to obtain our visas and the temporary import permit for the car. We already have a 10 year permit on the motorhome and will turn that in when we go back north as we are thinking of getting something bigger for next year. No matter how short the line is at the cashiers window to pay for the visas and get the auto permit, it always moves slowly. The line is outdoors and with a temperature of only 28 F we were absolutely numb with cold after 45 minutes of waiting. That explains why there was hardly anyone on the road as they were smart enough to cross on a warmer day.

P1020913For the most part, the drive from Nogales to San Carlos is desolate and there are not many towns to pass through. There are no towns after Hermasillo for 70 miles until we arrive in San Carlos. But every single time we have driven this route there have been solitary men walking along the highway in the middle of nowhere with just a bag and maybe a roll of foam to sleep on and they are always going north. We see them looking through trash on the side of the road for something to eat. So sad and the next time we drive this route I am going to have some bags containing a lunch ready to toss out the window.

P1020921The highway continues to improve every year making the drive so much more enjoyable than in the past.

P1020980Totonaka RV Park is emptier this year than last. We parked in the same site that I had last year on the end behind the office. It wasn’t long before a man came up to chat and remembered seeing me here last year. Funny thing was he also knew about my travel partner refusing to get out of her rig and motion guide me into this back in site. Thankfully, someone else in the park saw this going on and came over to help me out. Several days later when we two ladies arrived in Mazatlan I told her I needed to clear the air and find out the REAL reason for her refusal to help since she kept saying over and over that she was blocking this big aisle. Finally, she said it was because I took a pull through site and left her with the back in site when she had a tow vehicle. All 140 sites in this park are back in and we were next to each other in identical sites for three days and it was obvious. The whole thing was bizarre and I ended up going my own way.

P1020922 2Steve hurried and got us hooked up so that we could go next door to Los Arbolitos to get our free Margaritas. They are very small and of course he ordered another bigger one that we shared. The menu has changed with so many interesting sounding dishes. Steve had chili rellenos made with fish and shrimp and I had a shrimp and cheese taco.  The restaurant has a unique and tasty salsa that is brown made with what I think are roasted onions.

P1020924The restaurant and RV park are across the street from the Sea of Cortez.

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This is our first time in Mexico with a tow car and it is sure going to come in handy. I know that we have missed seeing many places without it before. Today we took the Tracker and explored more of San Carlos. This picture was taken from a lookout called El Mirador.

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There are many gated neighborhoods at the far west end of San Carlos with very nice homes, hotels, and condo buildings

P1020953P1020948 At first I thought this structure was someone’s nice house but it is actually a now closed RV park called El Mirador that had been one of the nicest in Mexico. It overlooks the sea with fantastic views. There just are not as many people coming to Mexico to camp any longer. They don’t know what they are missing.

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There are at least two marinas with a large number of boats in each

P1020942The water is so clear

P1020935P1020949P1020976P1020961P1020960P1020934If you have read my blog for the past four months you know we have been to many places from South Pacific Islands to Australia to New Zealand and then Hawaii. What is my favorite of them all?  Mexico, without a doubt. Why? The food, the weather, the scenery, the culture, but most of all I think it is for the people who are so friendly and down to earth real.

Puerto Vallarta

Tuesday, 2 September – We had planned to take a taxi or bus to the central part of town but when we got off of the ship there were people pushing tours to take in vans with 6 passengers for $30 each person.  We told the tour people we were not interested as the van was going to places we had already been.  Flexibility is always a possibility in Mexico and so we ended up with our own personal van and tour guide/driver to take us where we wanted to go.

The botanical gardens, about 20 miles south of the pier, were first on our list. It is a beautiful drive along the coast south of the city where the most expensive houses are. I presumed our tour guide would stay in his van but he came with us into the gardens.  He was amazing as he knew the names of the plants and we were later to find out the wealth of information he had for us.  I forgot to get the spelling of his name but it is pronounced as Hor-Hay.

P1000424The tour guides at the pier all have white uniforms and white vans.  They are licensed by the government and are required to have 160 hours of training every 3 years in order to renew their licenses.  The training consists of one week travel excursions in busses with other tour guides.  Each week gives them 40 hours credit.  The reason for the excursions is so that they are knowledgable about other places for us to visit, thus promoting more tourism.

P1000444First we took one of the trails through the jungle to see native plants.

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The main central part of the gardens has a structure showcasing many tropical plants.

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Afterwards we went to the restaurant and had a Jamaica drink.  This is a sweet red drink made from hibiscus flowers and is very refreshing.

P1000460Next, Horhay took us to Chico’s Paradise, a restaurant and zip lining complex.The claim to fame of Chico’s Paradise is it was the site of filming for a movie called Caveman with Ringo Starr. 

P1000457Our table was on a balcony right along the rushing river and waterfalls with views of the zip liners going overhead. This is a couple who went back and forth many times in all sorts of acrobatic positions.

P1000462By the time we left the restaurant it had begun to rain.  Hor-hay stopped at an overlook to the little village of Mismolaya for a quick view.

P1000467This bridge, in an area called Gringo Gulch, is known by the locals as the Lovers Bridge and by Gringos as the Hankie Pankie Bridge. The bridge connected Richard Burton’s house to Elizabeth Taylor’s house.  She was married to Eddie Fisher at the time and the locals, being Catholic and conservative, wouldn’t allow them to live in the same house while they filmed the movie, Night of the Iguana  When Richard and Elizabeth made a large contribution to the church they were allowed to build the bridge.

Horhay told us about the origination of the word Gringo:  Many years ago there was a mine near the US border that was run by a man named Mr. Green.  The miners were unhappy about conditions and their pay.  Horhay explained that during this period the Mexican population had not been schooled for 300 years so they couldn’t read or write very well.  The miners were protesting their conditions and one of them wanted to write on a wall for Mr. Green to go home.  Not being able to write very well, he spelled Green as Grin and then wrote Go.  There you have it.

I always thought the word Gringos was just used for North Americans but Horhay said the word is used for all foreigners with the exception of Chinese and Japanese who are called by their proper nationality.

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The area around Gringo Gulch is very steep with some roads so narrow that I don’t know how Horhay managed to negotiate them in his big van.

P1000486Back to the ship but not before we went into the wifi cafe at the pier.  Everyone was having problems with their internet connections and we couldn’t get waited on so we left.  Maybe you will read this when we are in Tahiti.

DSC 5621This is another view from the ship looking towards central Puerto Vallarta.  And as far as the weather:  I didn’t think it was unbearably hot or humid but at the same time the winter time is definitely more comfortable.