Day Zero- Trip to Valley
We woke up at 4:30am to pack the car and I had to get dressed for a meeting at 10:30am in Edinburg while trying to keep Sam & Henna's snouts & fur off of my outfit. We were on the road by 6am, right on schedule, so we felt good. We stopped for powdered donuts on the way for breakfast of champions before my meeting (if you are wondering why I was worried about dog hair on my dress when I was just going to get powdered sugar all over it, you would be smarter than I was at the time...). Phil was a trooper and hung out in the car while I went to my 2 meetings in Edinburg, but we were done with both and headed south by noon. We stopped at Whataburger for lunch (guess whose decision that was?). We arrived at my parents' condo and ate lunch and hung out for a while before getting back in the car and heading to Wal Mart in Port Isabel to try to buy an iPod dock/alarm clock and a GPS navigational system. We had a hard copy of a 2008 Guia Roji map of Mexico but Brad insisted that a GPS was the way to go. When we got to Wal Mart, however, we found out that none of the navigation systems come with Mexico maps loaded on them and we would have to pay over $100 extra to get a map of Mexico for it, so we opted out and stuck with our hard copy of the map!
That evening my mom made a turkey meal so that we wouldn't feel like we totally missed out on the Thanksviging celebration all together. We had turkey, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce, brocolli, and the next day we had turkey left over for sandwiches on the trip! We headed to bed early so that we would be well-rested for the trip.
Day One- Driving, With Stops
We woke up at 5:00am and packed up our last minute things so that we could be on the road by 6am, following my parents in their camper. We stopped at the corner store for energy (Rockstar for Phil and fountain soda for me) and ice and headed towards the border (Matamoros)! We had a little hiccup at the border because we tried to get the car permit in Phil's name since he would be driving, but since my name is on the title of the 4Runner, we had to re-do all of our paperwork and resubmit (to another person at the counter) in order to avoid having to present our marriage license which was back in San Antonio! We were probably at the border for almost an hour which was longer than my Dad had planned, so he started to get antsy and pace around the place. He told us that the first thing we needed to do when we came back to the states after our trip was to change the title into Phil's name... don't tell him but we won't be doing that. It costs $35 or something and for what? It works just fine the way it is!
We headed out from the border around 7:30am after getting our visas and car permit and by 9:00am my parents were already making a gas/bathroom stop! (I think I forgot to mention that we all went to the bathroom before leaving the house and again at the border.) They proceeded to make another stop that morning for a bathroom break, and then we stopped for lunch. With all these stops, we figured we made up for the lost time at the border!
For lunch we stopped in the mountains and had a beautiful view as we ate our turkey sandwiches.
Phil was getting over 26 miles per gallon during the drive so we were very excited to have brought his car and not carry too much heavy luggage! We continued to drive through mountainous terrain and as we got close to the end of our travels for the day we got stopped and searched at a checkpoint. The officials were so professional and nice, and it was very quick and easy, so we felt completely at ease. We made it to Lagos De Morenos by 6:00 that evening and checked into our hotel which was only 260 pesos which translates to $20 per night! It was a very small room which fit just the furniture- a bed, TV, bedside table, and small desk and chair. There was a closet and a bathroom which was all open without a door to the shower so that when we took showers, everything in the room got wet! Luckily, my Mom had warned us not to leave our toilet paper in the room while showering because it would not be usable afterward since it would be soaking wet!
We walked down the main street and had tacos from 2 taco stands for dinner and were very satisfied. We decided to start keeping a count of our taco stands visited on the trip, so here were #1 and #2 already on the first day! After dinner, we read our new books that we had picked up before leaving SA and went to bed early. We were tired after a long day of driving.
Day Two- Our First Glimpse of the Ocean!
We woke up early again so that we could be on the road by 6:30am. We hoped to avoid traffic in Guadalajara but ended up making it there just at rush hour. As we drove into town, we noticed a brown cloud of smog covering the city, so combined with the crazy traffic, we didn't get a good impression of the city. Although we are told that there are very nice parts of the city with museums and such, we just didn't visit those parts as we drove through. It was not very easy to follow another car (my parents) in the heavy traffic, and the exits and road signs are not the easiest to follow, so it was certainly an adventure. Phil saw a car next to him get rear-ended, which didn't help because it made us think how terrible that would be to have to deal with that on our trip! Luckily we made it through town and didn't even get lost. We stopped for breakfast tacos on the other side of the city at the same place my parents stop at every year (have I mentioned yet that my Dad is a big fan of routine and basically every stop we make is one that he makes every single year?).
My parents needed to stop for propane for their camper so we found a re-fill station and stopped. The tank, however, was frozen to the camper (or rusted to the camper?) and neither Phil nor my Dad could get it loose. In the midst of trying, Phil sliced his thumb open... at least we were able to figure out that the location of our first aid kit was not very handy since I couldn't find it in time to help! Luckily, my mom knew just where their first aid kit was located so she was able to get Phil a band-aid and Neosporin quickly. But anyone who has cut themselves like that knows that this type of injury is painful and can easily open back up while it's healing, so it was too bad it had to happen at the very beginning of our trip!
Around 1:00pm, we finally started seeing signs of the coast! We came across these huge fields of palm trees which were planted in perfect rows and they were so tall! Some of them were stripped of their coconuts which we could understand but some of the others had the entire tree cut down which we figured was for wood, but we did not know what coconut tree wood is used for... the trunks are so small!
And shortly thereafter we saw the ocean! We arrived at La Ticla in the early afternoon at the campground where my parents have stayed for over 25 years. (When my parents were dating they took a trip together to Mexico and came to La Ticla. They realized when they could travel on a trip like this together that they were compatible and decided to get married when they returned! They have a photo of their 30-ish year old selves at sunset on the beach in Ticla that has been framed in our house forever.) Over the past few years since my parents have been traveling together to Mexico, they have made a group of friends whom they see every year in Mexico on these vacations. So when we showed up, they basically knew everyone there and every came out to greet them! We got introduced to their friends and then set up camp under a palapa on the beach. We took a beach walk first thing- the weather was a bit cloudy but pretty warm so it was nice, definitely a change from the weather we had been experiencing in SA the week before.
We watched the beautiful sunset...
...and then walked the short 5 minute walk up to town for tacos. Count: Taco Stand #3. We sat at a table right in front of the lady preparing the tacos and Phil unfortunately had his back to the lady as she chopped the meat and he kept feeling it hit the back of his t-shirt. Finally when he got hit in the back of the head with chopped pork, he decided to move around to the side of the table... The pork tacos she served, though, were delicious and ended up being our favorite tacos in Ticla. We joked later that we could always eat the pieces on the back of Phil's shirt if we needed a taco fix!
We slept on our bed that night for the first time in the 4Runner which consisted of 2 layers of egg crate, a feather comforter, a regular comforter, and 2 sheets. It was actually very comfortable! We had rolled down all the windows to let a breeze through and put up mosquito nets on the outside with magnets. It got so cool during the night that we actually had to use a blanket, which was just perfect for sleeping.
Days 3-10 to follow... stay tuned!