It was Good Friday and we thought that we should skip Mexico City because it would be way too crazy during Easter weekend. So we headed southwest to look for some water to cool off and a quiet place away from the crowds and craziness of Mexico’s biggest holiday of the year. We found out later that the best week to visit Mexico City is Easter weekend because everyone leaves the city and heads towards the beaches. Pro-tip: Visit Mexico City on Easter weekend, perfect we wanted to come back soon anyways.
We got another pro-tip from fellow travelers that there was a quiet swimmable river on the way to Oaxaca City. It turned out that we made a right instead of a left at that quiet river, however we only paid 50 cents per person to enter the river area to camp during the holiday. Sweet, that’ll work! We nestled in a perfect corner of the river and improvised some slow-cook rib recipes in our dutch oven that Christian would tend to for four hours. After an hour of rib-nurturing a large front and backhoe loader crawls over our campsite/home for the weekend.
We love cooking in our dutch oven and just cooking in general. The night before we fit an entire chicken in this dutch oven and had an awesome kick-ass meal. Saturday we had slow-cooked ribs and potato salad very “‘Merican.” We shared a plate with locals parked next to us.
However the river and its tractor conductor had a different plan for our Easter. The regulars and tractor conductor decided that in front of our site was the PERFECT place for a new hole, GIANT HOLE! At this point we spoke very little to no spanish, the conductor of this machinery said little to us and laughed. A kind family walks over to us and says “he is going to dig up this area and put it on top of your dinner, you should move it. He wants to put a giant hole right here.” It felt intentional and we weren’t sure if we were intruders at this point or if they were trying to force us out or not. By this time the river was packed with a hundred or so people who came here every year for this weekend. We had set up camp in the prime spot and also the place where everyone wanted a large swimming hole placed. Not going to lie, guilt started to swell.
So, they got their swimming hole and fifty people ran towards it as soon as he finished and were jumping off large rocks into it. On the plus side he made us a wall so we didn’t have a view anymore but it lead to a teeny bit of privacy. We manufactured a new fire for our slow-cook dutch oven ribs and continued our own celebration among our fellow Overlanding friends (Here Until There) all while laughing at the situation. The family next to us brought us a “typical Mexican dish” for us to try which consisted of rice, beans, mole and chopped up hot dogs.
Researching for a week we found that there’s a man name Hector in La Paz, who works on marine refrigeration. Christian called every marine store, or refrigeration repairman within all of Baja California Sur. He called the other two shops owned by Americans and they laughed at him, told us to go back to San Diego to get what we needed. Hector said he was in Cabo working and that he would been in at the end of the week and he would figure out a way to help. Yesterday we showed up to his hard-to-find shop, explained our issue and he said he would call us later to see if he could make something. A few hours later he custom built us a mini fridge that fit our cabinet with a Dan Frost compressor, flipped the door, converted it to a two-way AC/DC and installed it. Within the five hours of meeting Hector and his crew we were on our way with a much more efficient and real refrigerator this time. Amazing, Thank god for Hector and Mexican engineering. My only regret is that I didn’t get a picture of the magic that happened yesterday.
We are in La Paz hoping that Hector(local refrigerator repairman) who we met today will be able to help us with our inefficient “cooler.” He said he will try to build us a new one that will have a compressor in hopes that it will cut the energy it takes by half or more. We will find out if he can help us tomorrow, keep your fingers-crossed for us. After that we need good calm weather to get on the ferry to mainland, apparently women are not allowed to board during swells. If everything goes well; a magician named Hector will build a fabulous fridge that fits and works properly, the wind will die down, the Sea of Cortez remains calm and this woman can board the ferry in theglobetrol. We will head to the ferry terminal on Sunday to ask to be put on the TMC to Mazatlan for Monday.
Inner thoughts that I have today, when will I get my next warmish shower in a place that has a drain? Tonight we will take a PVC-shower on the beach in our bathing suits which is exciting because it has been a few days, but I will still dream about a warm one. I don’t see real shower in our future for at five or six days. On the upside after almost a month of irregular showering my hair doesn’t really get grimy as fast.
In the meantime its Carnaval La Paz until Tuesday.
These are from Baja California (the northern half)
AWD doesn’t mean 4×4
He tested out the AWD…
After Cabo we took a dirt road for an hour to a secret beach thanks to “Here Until There” to meet up with a few Overlander buddies (Travel Amateurs and Kocovnici Kocovni). It was an awesome FREE place to camp for a few days. I rode the skooter on this rocky road to soft sand cliffs while Christian drove the van. As soon as we pull up to the camp Christian tests out the AWD on our Astro through the soft sandy beach, don’t worry I grabbed the camera immediately. With a little help from a few friends, boards and shovels we were dug and pushed out in no time. We set up camp and found Josh and Jenna (travel amateurs) were in deep with a Hermit Crab Coliseum getting ready for a big race. Everyone picked out a crab to race, however our crab took twenty-five minutes to come out of his shell and move. We were disqualified based on our crab seemed more like a rock than a racer.
The next morning we were greeted by a heard of goats and it’s herder, a puppy we called Goat. Goat left his heard and hung out with us for most of the day, maybe because we provided shade or more than likely because we fed him steak. To pass sometime Josh decided to go into battle with what he thought was a few wasps and bees but turned into hours of war. Christian and I took a walk down the beach practicing our spanish and watching whales breach.
On the road and on to the next, Los Barriles where the term “active at any age” thrives. Our newest neighbor 70+ was doing sit-ups for an hour or so, before he went kite surfing for the rest of the day. Right now we are trying to figure out how to fix our fridge, it’s inefficient and sucking the life out of our house battery. Tomorrow we will head back to La Paz to search for a new fridge just in time for Carnivale. Should be mayhem for the next five days, stayed tuned.
We finally finished our van-haus, at least enough to try to head south. So we set out for our first border crossing on Wednesday and turned around just one mile before Mexico due to some cell phone accounts being swapped, boring story. No worries though, we found a parking spot near the beach in the most southwestern city in the US called Imperial Beach during an insane storm. Early the following morning we arrive at the border where they find our paperwork is inconsistent with our scooter that we have attached to the back of the van. Little did we know that the title we received when we bought the scooter almost a year ago did not match the actual scooter, ergo the registration was also incorrect. It cost us a few hours waiting in Mexico at the border but they escorted us to the US border where they searched us and eventually let us go to get everything sorted out. Straight to the DMV we went to spend another few hours to get the scooter inspected, an updated registration, and a new title that will now take 2-4 weeks to get sent to the Midwest. AGHHH. “Everything happens for a reason.” The new plan: We are going to forge on without a scooter title for now and hope for the best. We are back in San Diego for a few days to work out a few more kinks that we found with the van-haus while staying in it during the storm, nothing major. So Tuesday at 8am is our next attempt to get to and through the border.
Here are some updated pics of our home, enjoy. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here. mucho amor- tgt
Our favorite little blue bungalow where our street turns into sand a block from our door.
This is the vehicle that we converted from a family mini van into a van-haus (van-house), that will travel from San Diego to South America. It’s almost finished and we are excited to get this on the road. The plan starts with leaving San Diego in early December 2015 and traveling down the Pacific Coast through Mexico, and then making our way to Guatemala. From Guatemala on further south to possibly Patagonia in less than a year and back north to The U.S. We were living in southeast Alaska for a few years and decided “Let’s really travel.” First lets get warm and hang out in southern California for a bit and start planning an epic trip somewhere. How are we going to do this? Backpack? Sail? Let’s do this out of van that we can live out of! Hours of research led us to buy an AWD small van in July. We gutted it and then started rebuilding a sustainable small living situation out of a 1997 Astro van.
The rebuild has been anything but easy, however I mostly was the photographer and not the builder. Christian did a lot of the work himself, I was his aide. Friends helped along the way and we are thankful for every bit of it. Right now we are in the Midwest visiting as much family as possible before the epic trip down thru the Americas. Soon we will be back in San Diego in a few short weeks to finish up a handful of projects, and then we move into a van.
We quit our jobs indefinitely to travel until one of us is sick of it, or until we run out of money. We sold all of our furniture, gave it away, and donated the rest. We stored non-replaceable and pricey possessions back in the Midwest near family. I am from Chicago originally and I packed up and shipped myself out for an adventure to Alaska in 2011. I promised myself then this will be the beginning of life full of adventure, after never traveling outside of the U.S. for 29 years. Christian was in Florida in the Coast Guard working on helicopters before being stationed in Sitka, Alaska. We met in Alaska about three years ago. A year and a half ago we left Alaska to keep traveling, we ferried back to the mainland and slowly drive down the coast from Seattle to San Diego. We were in no rush since we quit our jobs to start traveling and stretched 2000 miles out for three weeks soaking in the Pacific Coast Highway all along the way. While in San Diego we regathered and relaxed in a tiny beach bungalow a block from the beach for over a year. It was easy to fall in love with our new temporary home in a neighborhood called “OB” where we made great friends. It was difficult to leave the tiny blue beach house and move just a handful of things into the van-haus.