Monday, June 28, 2010
Monday finds Tom up at 7am. For everyone who knows Tom, no, there was not a nuclear explosion that launched him from the bed! It is surf day. Jim knocks on the door and off they go as I snuggle back down for another half hour or so. By the time they get back, Winston and I have had a walk and I my morning coffee. The waves were great. Both men are excited and talking of their experiences - Tom on a boogie board and Jim, surfing. Also, they had ran into Pat (of Rick and Pat fame) so they will drop be later. We puttered around the rest of the day, met Pat & Rick and arranged to have dinner on Thursday night. The days are spent lazily. Tom with Jim get up and surf, we take care of chores and..oh, there is a hurricane out in the gulf. Darby! Due to make landfall in Salina Cruz, about 80 mile south from here. Every night the winds are ferocious, the thunder blastingly loud, the lightening brilliant and crackling and the rain torrential. We can't decide if it's the incoming storm or whether this is just the normal weather pattern. As our time here progresses, we decide it's the latter. The rains and stormy weather are nightly. Sometimes at dusk for only a couple of hours and at others all night long. But the days are sunny and bright and humid. Tom has some good days on the water and some turbulent high surf days. As he says "Some days you're the bug and some days the windshield!" There are a couple of mornings he has come back beaten up and can only nap for a few hours. On Thursday, Jeanne is in possesion of our new Ereader. We arrange to have it shipped to Huatulco as w found out, the DHL in Puerto closed about 3 months ago. Our plan had been to move down the coast to Zipolite Beach and Puerto Angel. On Saturday, Jim with his girl friend Jeannette drove us to Zipolite to check out the beach and camp grounds. We didn't like it! The beach town is like a dirty, leftover hippy beach and neither Tom nor I thought it was worth a visit. We decide that we will stay in Puerto until the DHL package arrives. Coming back to town, Jim and Jeannette take us to a favourite beach spot of theirs. Really secluded with some pretty, rocky coves that are nice to laze in the water and swim. Winston loved it. He ran through the water and played and then retired to a shady spot by a rock to watch us in the water. Sunday, we met Rick, Pat and some friends at the Hotel Jardin Real and a restaurant/bar called Split Coconuts. We had a blast. Tom even got to play harmonica on stage with the resident musician. We did not leave until 1am. This has been our latest night out yet, but so much fun.
Again goodbyes, good wishes, hugs and kisses. We are finally on our way out of Acapulco. It has been a great stay but we need to keep going. Our plan was to stay in Pinotepa National for the night but having arrived there at 5pm we decided to keep going to Puerto Escondido or just Puerto as the natives call it. This was our longest drive yet and took about 9 hours total. There are many more militia checkpoints on route. All vehicles are pulled over and questioned. We have been told it is a further crackdown on the war with drugs and weapons. At all points we are treated courteously and asked where we are coming from and where we are headed to (today that is, they do not want our entire itinerary!). Only once did they ask permission to check out the RV so Winston and I get out and Tom escorts the officer through the motorhome. It is a perfunctionary check and within 10 minutes we are back on the road. However all these checks are slowing us down and we are mindful that it is getting dark. We finally arrive at Puerto, through the last checkpoint at the city limits and we find the campsite. We settle in and eat at the restaurant next door. An Asian/Japanese fusion style that was surprisingly not bad. It was a long day and we quickly called it a night. Sunday, we were up and checking out our new town. I had emailed Rick and Pat, some contacts from the Saladita group and had recieved info from them. At our campground is Texas Jim who has lived here for quite a while and one of the locals. Jim, like most expats, has quite a colorful background and life experiences and very entertaining. We have drinks with him and his girlfriend, Jeanette and share dinner. This is a hugely popular surfing beach so Jim and Tom decide to get up early on Monday and hit the waves. Tom is in heaven.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Wednesday we relax. I stow away all our purchases, as best I can. Some of the items are long term and can be put into the upper cabinets for use as we need them. The food and perishables, things we'll consume in the next month or so are put into cabinets or a food box over the front cab. Winston has his own cabinet and he observes with interest exactly what goes in there. He loves the chicken jerky treats that we buy at Costco. The day is suspiciously overcast and humid. We are told that there is a tropical depression headed this way. I try to stay current and well-read but had to admit that I really wasn't sure exactly what a "tropical depression" was, other than that, it probably involved wind and rain in some way. I check with Google. If you google "tropical depression" the weather channel states rather benignly, that it is a series of thunderstorms lined up in a lowered pressure system with organized circulation which will reveal a single closed isobar below it and have sustained winds of 29 - 45 miles per hour. Huh! Not knowing the difference between a closed,open or any other type of isobar for that matter, let me explain in layman's terms what a tropical depession is. It is about 10 at night and I am outside reading. There is a boom, Winston and I jump and look at each other, a crash of surf brings me to my feet. The ocean which is normally about 10 - 15 ft from the campsite is pounding the seawall. The boom was thunder. Now lightening and thunder and torrential rain have in the space of about 2 minutes, taken over. I don't know the exact speed of the "sustained" wind but it has built to a crescendo and is threatening to rip our awning away. I grab my chair and get under the awning. Winston is hurling himself at the screen door to get into the RV, so much for his bravery. I am already drenched, guess those thunderstorms with the closed isobar are in place! I secure everything the best I can and crawl into the RV. The windows are open. The table is getting wet as is my side of the bed where I have an open window. I close the windows. The thunder is cracking, the lightening is bright, the rain is pouring down and ... Tom sleeps. I dry off and crawl into bed. The storm related noises are amazing. The RV seems to rock and sway a little but we are dry and safe and warm. Thursday morning, the outside is saturated. It is still raining and continues so throughout the day. In addition, Tom's ereader has mysteriously developed a problem. It appears as though one of the crystals on the LCD screen has ruptured and now half of the screen is a blur. Cripes! what next. We had already decided we were not leaving to check on the tires. We will call and find out if, in fact they have arrived and in the meantime I will go online to get Tom a new e book and somehow get it sent to us. It's noon and Tom goes to make the dreaded tire phone call. Surprise, they have not arrived but.. are expected. I figure the storm is a good enough excuse for this current delayment. I purchase the new reader and have it sent to Jeanne's. Once she has it, we will figure out where to send it to here. We try to stay dry and spend the day reading, playing dominoes and at 4 pm make another call. The tires are in! Of course, we have heard this before but now it may be a distinct possibility. We plan our departure for Friday. We will get up early, pack and get to the shop. Tom figures it will take about 2 hours to install them and we will hopefully make it to Pinotepa National (about 275 kilometers) before dark. Friday morning. It has rained through the night again, so our ground mat, awning and outside stuff are wet. We dry them and pack up as best we can. Kiss and hug the ladies at the campsite, is this deja vue or what! and head to town. We arrive. The tires are there and proudly displayed for us. The install starts. 2 hours later, there is a problem! They are unable to balance the two front tires, something to do with the rims not fitting on their balancing device. Tom is now faced with a prospect we have avoided since coming to Acapulco, driving the RV downtown. After much conversation, we decide that Winston and I will stay at the tire shop and Tom with the manager will drive to another tire store which does have the right equipment. It could take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. We grimace but at this point we are stuck. The tires have to be balanced. They leave, I watch a little TV, the World Cup (Soccer) is on. It is being held in South Africe and England is playing Algeria. I walk Winston and watch more TV. Thankfully, within an hour Tom and the manager ar back. Everything is fine. Everything is done. Everyone is happy and smiling. The angst of the past two weeks are over and there are no hard feelings. We pay our bill, I get a free hat and we are on the road. But to where. It is already 4pm. Should we head south and find a place to stop or...? We drive back to the trailer park. The ladies are amazed. What now. We proudly show off our new tires to everyone and explain because of the time it was easier for us to return here than head south. Tomrrow is another day. We settle in but unpack only what we need for the night. The weather is better. It is still humid but no more rain. Saturday, after a marathon stay in Acapulco we will be on our way. Puerto Escondido awaits and some friends of Midge, Dean and the Saladita gang, Pat & Rick are there. We will hopefully meet up with them on Sunday. For now this might really be our last night in Acapulco. It has been fun. This is a nice campsite ran by a couple of wonderful ladies. If you come here, mention us and take the time to visit with them. We will come back on our return trip.
Tuesday, we get up early, pack up the motorhome, excitedly (for the second time) hug and kiss the ladies who run the site - we will visit them when we return to Mexico and head for the tire shop and on to Puerto Escondido. Oh, cruel world! After innumerous phone calls and affirmations that our 6 tires are present and accounted for, we arrive at the Michelin shop to discover.. 5 matching tires and one oddball. Tom is freaking! If we didn't care about getting 6 the same we would have taken 5, two weeks ago and hunted for another. There is a flurry of phone calls, they think we should take what they have and we want what we were promised. Finally, Tom is chatting via hone to a lady who speaks English. She apologizes but Tom can tell she doesn't understand why we are so upset. The bottom line is either we take what is there or we wait until Thursday when, they assure us they will have not only 6 matching tires but the brand new line of Michelin's for our load bearing RV. We look at each other, what to do. Finally I say, we wait. What's a few more days if..we get what we want. We leave with distinct assurances that they will be there on Thursday and my muttering to Tom, that no way are we driving on Thursday unless for sure they have the darn tires. We head to Costco, since now we have unlimited time on our hands. We walk through the door and Tom sees a boogie board. He's been wanting a new one. He is a happier guy - the first thing in the cart is the board and there is a smile on my husband's face. Hallelujua! We literally shop til we drop. We buy everything that we can think of, including a lot of meat for our very small RV freezer. We head for what we now consider as home, we look forward to the beach and seeing our friends. One more snag and it could not have happened at a more inconvenient time. We are stopped and pulled over at a military checkpoint. The RV is a mess. We have boxes of food, cases of beer and wine, the spare tire that normally is stowed underneath but we were going to change and all the other sundries that we have accumulated from the Costco visit. The only items we had put away were refrigerated ones. I grab Winston's leash as Tom gets out and was told they wanted to inspect the RV. Good luck. I muttered that we had been to Costco, hence the mess and went to wait in the shade with Winston whilst Tom stayed with the officer in charge in case he had questions. The other military personnel were enamored with Winston. They asked his name, if he were friendly and then proceeded to talk and play with him. Winston went into full charm Beagle mode. He had been bored and ignored as Tom and I went about our business and now here were half a dozen people vying for his attention and tail wags. He loved it. Finally, after opening cupboards, drawers and some storage places, we were told we could go. Tom and I were relieved, Winston was sad to see his new friends saying "adios" and having to get back into the motorhome. On arriving back at the trailer park, we told everyone about our harrowing day, the ladies who manage the park, the German couple and the Mexican family camping next to us! They all commiserated.. but this is Mexico. We were also told to bear in mind that "manana" does not really mean tomorrow. It simply means that it (whatever item it is) is not available today. Manana could be tomorrow, or next week, month, anytime, just not today. We open beers and re-settle the RV, since we will be here at least for a few more days. After eating, it is an early night.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Friday starts good as usual but after lunch Tom is discouraged. The tire, which should have been here from Mexico City on Wednesday, and then today has instead gone to Quintana Roo (Cancun area). Just like luggage, it always goes where it shouldn't! By now, not only myself and Tom but also the owners of the campsite are involved. They are on the phone berating the lady at the recieving end. The answer is the same. Sorry, manana, maybe! Oh well, at least it's Friday. We decide to stay here for the weekend as though we really had a choice!, call again Monday and if the 6th tire hasn't arrived, we will take 5 and try to get another enroute. We cheer ourselves up with a Cuba Libre (Rum, Diet Coke, lots of lime and ice), head down to the beach, read, walk Winston, who by the way, doesn't really care about the whole tire situation and decide to barbeque fish for dinner. At night comes the biggest surprise of all - rain. Tropical rain. Sitting outside in a swimsuit under the awing as the rain comes down. It smells and feels wonderful. Saturday is Danny's birthday so we get up early to wake him up in the States and sing the birthday song, remember we are also 2 hours ahead! That done we spend the day doing a few chores around the RV and back to the beach. I try to surprise Tom with a hammock he wants as a present but he caught me, so he now knows and likes his pressie. Sunday is Tom's birthday. We have decided to make one more trip to Acapulco and visit the underwater shrine of the Virgin Guadalupe. So the day finds us up early, walking Winston and headed for town. Bus time. Not once but, since we have the drill down, twice. No more taxis for us. After you survive one bus ride, what's one more! One bus into Acapulco, cross the street and another bus to Playa Caleta from which the glass bottom boats leave. There must be no liabilty lawyers here. The method of getting on the boat involves a haphazard pull up to the dock and leaping from said dock onto the boat. Thank you God, I didn't fall in! It was a fun trip but very commercial. We tour Acapulco Bay, there is a diver on board who goes over the side and "chums" to attract the local fish. It works. We all ohh and ahh, then on to the statue. But not before a stop at a floating bar/diner thingie! Thingie, is my term because there is not an English word to describe it. It looks like a small barge, no, it looks like a pontoon, no, it looks like a junket..hmm like I said a floating thingie. But on the thingie, they have.. beer, juice, fruit concoctions, like coconut dipping with hot sauce (who'ed have thought!), papaya dipped in sugar and some other stuff. We settle for an over priced beer as it was really hot and humid (oh, I forgot, it's afternoon and we don't need an excuse!) and watch our fellow travellers. Did I mention, we are the only Americans. Everyone else on board are Mexican tourists. They offer us some of their salsa dipped coconut (I declined, Tom tried it and said it was ok), and coconut milk (we both declined). We didn't offer to share our beer but that was alright because the other people who had beer didn't share either. Then it was on to the statue. It is a bronze underwater statue of the Virgin Mary, which I thought was very touristy but then most Catholics have been lured, given the opportunity, to Lourdes, the Statue of Bernadette, the veil of Turin etc. of which I am one of those. So, it was akin to those other pilgrimages and I liked it! Afterwards we decide to try one of the many beachfront restaurants for lunch. Tom's pick and it's Italian. The food is mediocre, we really have to start remembering that no matter what, we are better off choosing a Mexican seafood restaurant. But we have a couple more beers and we are happy. Back on the bus to home. More about the busses. They are uniquely individual, almost as though the same people drive the same bus every day. They, the busses, are decked out with stuffed animals (in the windshield), mirrors (in the windshield, cutting visibilty in half), decals, proclamations of their love for Jesus, Jehovah or some woman (in the windshield). You get the drift - the windshield is more than half covered with stuff, so the driver can't see out, without ducking down. The other thing is the a sound system. I am now convinced that Mexicans are, at least part way deaf. Music is played somewhere between the decibel level of a full fledged rock concert and a Boeing jet entering the stratasphere and I'm leaning towards the jet level. It can be anything from rap, contemporary Mexican rock or traditional mariachi style music. It is all played at the same level. Loud. That, combined with the heavy application of squealing brakes make for an interesting ride home. Another side note on liability. The driver brakes suddenly, a child (2 years old, approx.) being held by it's mother, slams it's head into the handlebar of the seat in front. Child screams. No-one says anything. Child goes to sleep. Haven't they heard that item about not sleeping after a head trauma and watch for dilating irises? Guess not. No-one raises an eyebrow. We get off, hope child is ok but glad to leave behind the raccous music that is playing. Winston, after 5 hours in the RV, is glad to see us. We take him for a run on the beach, read a little and it's an early night. Or not. Tom and Winston are asleep and I am sitting outside at the table writing emails. Suddenly and I mean suddenly, the wind kicks up to a furor and as we are facing south, almost slams my laptop shut. The wind quickly picks up what seems like tropical speed and the rains start. It was incredible. It went from calm (albeit lightening flashes in the distance) to full bore wind and rain in nothing flat. Amazing. I shuttled the computer and electronic stuff inside, covered up what I thought necessary and hustled in to the RV. Winstin was already cowering, he hates wind and storm related noises. The wind and rain continued to rock the RV all night. We wake up to full sunshine, so much for the overnight storm. Monday and another call to the tire shop. Supposedly all 6 tires are there (we will see, why do I have such little faith!). We spend the day readying the RV for the road, cleaning and picking up after 15 days in one place and taking time to spend on the beach and in the swimming pool. We also bathe Winston and Skype and email friends and family. Later, again the wind kicks up but nothing like the ferocity of last night. The rain falls, the surf pounds and it does lull me into a sense of comfort. This, I know, this is secure, who knows what tomorrow will bring!
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Saturday through Tuesday went by in a blur. Where do the days go? Here at the trailer park we are in a holding pattern and have a schedule, of sorts. Get up, mosey around, have breakfast. There are usually a few chores - vacuum, clean up the RV and some maintainence. Then it's time to take our lounge chairs to the beach and read until dinner. Winston is also in a settled in mode. Contrary to California, where, when we took him to the beach getting him into the ocean was akin to torture, here because the ocean is considerably warmer (it is around 85 degs), he runs in to cool down and plays in the surf. There have been other dogs around also, so he has had some 4 legged interaction to boot. We have a happy pet. the only other people in the park are a couple from Germany. They, like the Swiss couple we met earlier in our travels, arrived in Buenos Aires from Hamburg and are travelling north, ultimately to Alaska. Again, we are warned about Central America, particularly El Salvador and encouraged to go to Colombia, which they say is a beautiful country. We are checking and replanning our route but still have nothing firm. Tuesday we call on our tire. It has not arrived. Since we had anticipated at least one delay, we are not unduly disappointed - there are worse things that can happen than being stuck in Acapulco. Monica, our liason now tells us it should be here Friday from Mexico City, we will see. We decide we will call again on Friday and if by some chance the tire has arrived, then we will schedule an appointment for Saturday. We pay for 3 more nights at the park and since we have more time, plan to make another trip into Acapulco on Wednesday to take in the underwater statue of Mary of Guadalupe and an island offshore called Isla de Roquetta, which is, if you come to Acapulco to scuba or snorkel, the place to go. We only want to eat lunch there at one of the many seafood restaurants. We get up early on Wednesday, eat breakfast, shower and take care of Winston. Since we will be leaving him for about 6 hours in the motorhome, he needs to be fed and a long walk on the beach. As we are preparing and locking up the RV to leave, Tom decides to lock on of the lower storage doors. It falls off! Heck - change of plans. Now instead of a pleasant boat ride and lunch, we need to find a Home Depot, or equivalent. Also, a few days ago Tom had broken a pair of his favorite sunglasses. We decide to take care of that also. After, yet another hair raising ride into town, we confirm that there is indeed a Home Depot close by and we commandeer a taxi to take us. We spend the next hour or so wandering around the store trying to find what is needed to fix the storage door. Tom settles on epoxy, pop rivets and clamps. Afterward, we find the UPS Store and get Tom's glasses sent back to the States. After they are repaired, they will be sent to Danny and he will bring them when he comes to visit us in Costa Rica. We barely have time for another of Tom's food fixes. KFC! Yes, no one does chicken like the Colonel, in his opinion, so we pass a KFC and voila, lunch. After that, it is time to catch the bus home, to the dog. We are greeted as always. Whether Winston has been left for 5 minutes or 5 hours, the greeting is the same. Squeals, yelps and Thank God, he was not been abandoned. After treats, food and a long walk on the beach, things have settled down and so have we. thursday, finds us back in our daily schedule, which now includes fixing that door. We go to a local restaurant for dinner and chat with friends on Skype. Tomorrow we will call on the tire and come up with a plan for leaving Acapulco, providing, of course that the said tire has arrived. If not, we will see. With the ocean waves crashing in the background, we settle in for the night.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Thursday finds us refreshed after a good night's sleep. It is also car wash day. It has been over 2 months since we left California and more than 3000 miles. The motor home is filthy. Yesterday, Nico had indicated that his son would do the washing whilst we went to the restaurant's grand opening. On the way there, we drop off our laundry and Tom gets his haircut. We pull up, the kid (later I find out his name is Eddie) almost keels over. "It's big," he mutters "and really dirty." Tom and I acknowledge both these facts and we feel bad for him. Also, we have Winston and the restaurant is upstairs and no dogs are allowed. Nico confers with his sister and it is agreed that we can leave Winston in the courtyard which is completely fenced in and there are people around to keep an eye on him. There are quite a few people here for it being early afternoon, midweek. Mexico is playing Italy in a soccer match, so they are quite exuberant especially so since Mexico won, 2 - 1. Tom and I had a couple of beers and the fish soup which was quite tasty. The place is clean and modern with large flat screen TV's with satelite, so during football season they will show the NFL which should be popular with the Americans who come here during the winter. As we are making these observations the door opens and in bursts.. Winston. He is quite pleased with himself, he has found us! I gather him up and go down to the motorhome. Eddie is just finishing and I chat with him. He speaks English and tells me during the school year he lives with his aunt in San Diego and goes to high school. Next year he will be in 10th grade. He has done a great job. We go find Tom and feeling a little guilty we give him 150 pesos for his work and it's back to the trailer park. Friday we have decided to leave Winston for a couple of hours and go into Acapulco to do some sightseeing and to try what is supposed to be an excellent Japanese sushi restaurant. We are both in sushi withdrawal mode but have been leary about trying raw fish in Mexico. Going into Acapulco involves riding the bus, again. It is just as crazy as the first time. I sit by the window and hold on to the bar attached to the seat in front of me, with both hands. It is akin to being on Mr. Toad's wild ride. We want to see the old fort (Fuerte de San Diego) and the cathedral before going to lunch. Luck is on our side. As the bus makes it's turn onto the Costera (the main street), we see the sign for the fort. We jump up, "aqui, alto" (here, stop) we yell and the driver pulls over. One of the nice things about the crazy system is that you don't have to wait for a bus stop. At any point you just yell and the bus stops, this probably also contributes to the traffic gridlock..but when in Rome etc. We cross the street and climb the hill to the fort. It is now a museum, with a lot of history dating back to the 1500's. We spent a pleasurable hour or so wandering about. From here the directions to the cathedral were also simple. Just 2 blocks, through the zocala (market place) and we arrived. It is large and has 2 beautiful blue tiled domes from the outside. Inside is cool and for the main church in Acapulco, remarkably simple. We sit for 20 mins or so, say our prayers and we are headed to sushi. We know it is at the south end on Acapulco Bay so elect to take a cab. Restaurant Suntory. We find out they are actually an elite chain with restaurants in quite a few big cities - Tokyo, Honolulu, Mexico City, London to name a few. For the most part it is also mainly Teppan stlye but we find items to our liking. Edamame, prawn tempura, chicken yakitori, a sushi plate with tuna, salmon and yellow fin and 2 different rolls, one spicy tuna and the other with prawns and cream cheese. Interestingly, the restaurant had some tourists but mostly Mexican families. Obviously wealthy by Mexican standards because the restaurant was the most expensive we dined in so far. The food was okay..let's face it, we are so spoiled in California with our selection of sushi places, that our standards are pretty high. But, we are not in California anymore, Toto, so this was as good as it gets. Since we know where we are and we are getting good at this, we catch the bus to the north end, get off, cross the street and catch another bus home. Did I mention the buses are very inexpensive. 5 pesos (about 35 cents) per person, no matter how far you go. Tom gets off to go pick up our laundry and I continue to the trailer park to find a very excited animal waiting for us. He has been alone for 6 hours, in the RV but with fans and AC on high. We wait for Tom to bring the laundry and head to the beach for a walk and to frolic in the waves. It has been a long day but we will stay put for the next few days and relax.
Monday, June 7, 2010
We are safely back at the Acapulco Trailer Park in Pie de la Cuesta and we have decided that we will stay here until the tires arrive or hell freezes over..whichever comes first. Given the fact that Mexico is the variable, I am not betting. Our 40 mile traverse of the east side of Acapulco was fraught with danger, insane traffic and our first run-in with the police, not once but twice. We had studied the maps at the campground at El Coluso and had determined that instead of trying to make our way back to the airport and toll road we would continue through town and pick up the road to the east which would ultimately get us back to the camp site. No sooner did we leave, than our first mishap occured. The road through town was merging from 3 lanes to 2 to 1. It is quite hellish with again no-one leaving a spare inch between vehicles. Of course, all said vehicles have innumerable scratches, dents, cracked windows etc and ours is the only decent motor on the road. All of a sudden, a man is running along side the RV, banging on the side, my side, screaming at us to stop. We pull over at the first point which is a small market place area with open air stalls. I wind down my window and we are immediately engulfed by the shouts that we had hit his taxi (New York City cabbies could learn from his guy!) and that we needed to ..yep, you guessed it..pay! Tom and I both insist we do not understand him (no comprende) and ask that the police be called. By now we are surrounded by onlookers all of whom have something to contribute to the situation and Winston barking to show his displeasure at having his late morning nap disturbed. After many requests, the traffic police in the form of one very determined lady showed up. She took Tom's license and the cabbies and had Tom get out of the car. Sure enough, our rear awning post which does stick our a few inches had caught the cab's bumper. He wants blood. She mediates and asks what does he really want. 200 pesos is the reply. Tom has his wallet with only US dollars and offers $20.00 (about 245 pesos given the conversion rate). The cabbie sneers, what good is gringo money. The traffic police then takes the $20.00 from Tom and hands him a 200 peso note, which Tom in turn gives to the cab driver. Everyone is now smiling and happy. The cab driver got money, the traffic cop got a commission and more importantly, we are on our way again, with no ticket and only $20.00 out of pocket. Just as we are heaving a sigh of relief, getting our nerves calmed and finding the correct road, we hear the sound of a police siren and lights in our rear mirror. What now. We don't think we have done anything wrong. Again we pull over. This time, a municipal policeman. Why are we not wearing seatbelts? After driving here we know that seatbelts are supposedly the law and all Norte Americanos know that we are usually the only ones stopped for compliance because we have money and will pay the ticket. Again, we exhibit our dismal command of the Spanish language and with our few words of vocabulary and much pantomiming, we let him know that we only have lap belts not shoulder harnesses and we do in fact have them fastened, or not. As I am in full pantomime mode (Marcel Marceau has nothing on me), I realize Tom does not have his belt fastened. At the same time so does the policeman. He mentions ticket, we feign ignorance and Tom produces his Retired Fire Captain card with a flourish. He mentions ticket again, Tom and I only frown, shake our heads and try to look as though we have the combined IQ of 100, no comprende, Tom bombero! Finally he gives up on us, hands back Tom's licenses and once again we are on our way. It's 11 am and I need a cerveza or something. Please God, just let us get to the campground without any further incident. Fortunately, God has had his fun over the past 2 days and has obviously decided to give us a break. As we are on the road from Mex 200 to into the town of Pie de la Cuesta, we find an auto wash and broker a deal. They are opening a restaurant, grand opening tomorrow (Thursday) and in return for us attending, we will get our RV washed for 100 pesos (about $7.50). What a deal. We pull in to the park at about 1pm, settle the RV and open a cerveza. We smile at each other. What an ordeal. But we survived it and it builds our confidence for what surely lies ahead! We drag our loungers to the beach and watch the waves. What joy.
Well it sounded easy! Get up, pack up and go. Take the circuitous route (not through town) and voila, there you are. On the south side of Acapulco. We should have known! Trying to avoid the centro of Acapulco and the debacle we had seen from the bus, we are now driving through the mountains on the east side, attempting to find the toll road which will ultimately lead to the south side and the airport. 40 miles, 4 hours! Yes, 40 mile and it took 4 hours. We are driving through hilltop villages and one village (for whatever reason) has been closed by policia federales. We sit. There is no bypass, the traffic is stuck in all directions. We sit. No way on, no way off, no information! We sit. Locals try a variety of means to get by, to no avail. We sit. Should we get off at a village? There is nothing with the exeption of a rural roadside stand. We sit! Finally, after about 2 and 1/2 hours we are underway but what a backlog. Our Ipod is getting some overtime use. But we are not deterred. We know where there is a Costco, we know what we need and we know there is an RV park not too far from Costco. We must have been God's fun that day! First off, Costco was no help. They didn't have the tires and they wouldn't order the tires. OK. We had stopped for gas, getting off the toll road and there looked like there was a tire place next door. We went back. They had tires but only 5 in the size we needed (we need 6). We were told they could order another but it would take a week. OK. We can stay at the RV Park for one more week. OK. Upon arrival at the RV park, it was closed. Like I said, God was having some laughter. I once again grabbed our Mexican Camping book. It is now 5 o'clock. We know, no driving at night and we had no wish to drive back to the north this late. The closest campground is in a suburb called La Samana at the trailer park El Coluso. Again, this involves driving narrow streets, not meant for RV's at rush hour. The RV park is right on the main street and.. is awful but, we have no choice. This is going to be our stop for tonight. Although it is not an attractive park, in fact Tom and I later concurred that it is the worst we have stayed in (even Los Mochis), it is gated, secured and we will sleep.
It was with great regret that we leave Casa Margarita but if our goal is Argentina, we must keep going. We will meet up with Midge & Dean on our return, if not before. The road from Saladita to Acapulco is very mountainous and rural. Those 176 mile took about 5 hours to transverse. We pass though villages and militia checkpoints (the latter in the hope of curtailing drugs and weapons). We continue to be lucky in that we have not as yet been searched. We had already decided that we are staying north of Acapulco in the suburb of Pie (Pee-eh) de la Cuesta. The Acapulco Trailer Park is very well known and quite nice. Besides ourselves and a German couple (more on them later) the place is empty, although in season it is usually full. The waves out front are huge. This is not the type of beach that you can surf. Tom, who is generally quite fearless, is wary of this surf. It is so strong that at night, the R.V. shakes! Not scary but just a reminder that this is not an ocean to mess with. Following conversations with fellow travellers, we have decided that new tires for the motorhome are in order. The tread is good but they are 7 yrs. old, and as such the rubber has deteriorated and since we are headed to Central America it seems prudent to have a new set before venturing out of Mexico. Our plan for Tuesday is to head to the southern end of Acapulco and hit Costco, get new tires and stay at an RV park on the south side of town before going further. Monday is a tourist day. Number one on my list are the divers at La Quebrada. Having spoken with the 2 wonderful ladies that run the park and the shop in front, we have decided to attempt to take the bus into town as, according to the same said ladies, taxis are too expensive! Hmm! I think Tom would have preferred a taxi but not wanting to appear wimpish, we elected to go the native route and bus it. If nothing else we learned one thing. It will be a cold day in.. you know where.. before we will bring our R. V. through Acapulco. Traffic is crazy. I have driven in Tehran, Cairo, Rome and some other well known traffic-crazed areas and let me tell you, Acapulco is right up there. Tom commented it is the worse he has known. Our ride on the bus is for want of a better word..insane. The bus has no windows, the reason for this becomes perfectly clear, as we drive. These buses are not called "the chicken busses" for nothing and it has nothing to do with the carrying of chickens. There are no chickens on board and it appears as though the drivers, all of them, need to be macho. Ergo, no-one is a chicken! They battle and jostle for one extra inch. Forget about being courteous, heck that's weakness. But.. if by chance the driver (pardon the pun) runs into a friend, then the bus stops, dead in the middle of the street and they chat,seemingly oblivious to the cacophony of horns that accompany the fact that the bus now blocks all aspects of traffic. They drive within millimeters of one another and how there are not more accidents is quite frankly, God's business. I went to a convent school and a term Mother Superior used comes to mind, when she referred to a sister that no-one wanted to drive with into town. "Sister Mary, you scare the children. You drive with a guardian angel on each shoulder and the devil at your back". We finally arrive at a section of town where I see the sign to La Quebrada and we get off. Cross the street and we are in a taxi to Hotel Mirador and the cliffdivers. We elect to have dinner at the La Perla restaurant, the same restaurant that celebraties ate at when Acapulco truly was the gem of the Pacific, back in the 50's and 60's. Our table was excellent, the food good and the divers, amazing! We stayed through 3 shows with the final one culminating in diving with flaming torches. However, upon reflection, I wondered what was more dangerous. The chicken bus ride or diving 135ft. from a cliff. Close call! On leaving, we bartered with a taxi for a fare back to the trailer park. Winston was so glad to see us, back safely. We have also recieved the results from testing and he is okay. There is no need for more antibiotics. He will need to be re-tested in 6 months. But, he may be left with some weakness on his left side (we have already witnessed this). However he is now running and playing with his former exuberence and if his left side is weaker then we will just help him. We slept with the waves crashing in the background