Monday, August 31, 2009
The Palapa is started, 5 guys plus Tom and Chuck, and with the size it will still be 3 weeks.
We took a ride to Sappodilla Falls yesterday. Whoopi got to ride ala Mahareja style. Ill post those later. 4.5 hours, Chuck was feeling it by the time we got back. But he did great.
Gotta go. Hope everyone is doing well and are geting passports.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
June 22nd started my application for a "Permit" for bringing in Puppy. Now keep in mind the dogs are no biggie. Get an International Health Cert (gotten in Mississippi), they will FAX you a permit at the border, no vet check or nuttin. It was like $45.00 and they r in. BUT...for a featherd friend, oh no...they have to do a "site inspection" prior to your arrival. Now, there is no mention on the various web sites and documents I printed. Just kept saying a permt was necessary. BAHA said I had to get it from the Forestry Dept. Ok, will do. So I contacted Forestry. Uh huh, I was "Acknowledged" and told the process was started. Thank goodness I kept all my emails and printed two copies to take with me.
I had checked with BAHA and Forestry several times between June 22nd and August 10th, via ph and fax and email, and kept being told it would be at the border for me. As I got off the plane, I was greeted by a not so pleasant man telling me to get back on the next flight to the U.S. with my bird or they would take her and kill her. Yup. That was my options. NOPE! That didn't work for me. So...lets figure out who screwed up, cuz I wasn't going back and they were sure as heck not getting Puppy. He was pretty strong that I only had those two options, and I was pretty stubborn, in a smiley sweet way, that I needed to talk to someone other than him.
So after pulling out all my copies of my correspondence, they really could not argue that I had not applied. The gals at BAHA and Forestry both said they had never heard of me, I was lieing and had never applied. WEELLLL!!! HECK, lookee here! I have my emails from them that says the permit is started and blah blah blah.
Pup had to stay over night in the BAHA Airport office, I'm sure the guys were just thrilled. We had an apt. at 8:00 a.m. Yup, ok, how about seeing Dr. Figuero at 10:40. Oh well. He was very strong at first as well, then saw all my paper work and changed his whole demeanor. He phoned Dr. Gongora, telling him it was not my fault. He actually said I had more tests and paperwork then he had ever seen, so could I take the bird and go to Moonracer and quarantine her there? NO! Dr. Gongora said she had to be quarantined at BAHA in Belize City till the inspection of site was done. Dr. Deposa (?) who happened to be Moonracers vet, was able to sign off for her as he knew the farm and after 250 miles-plus, that day, with a trip to Belmopan, the Forestry Dept handed me my all ready prepared permit. BAHA and the Forestry dept ahve their little scuffles of power and Gongora did not want to start a pissing match.
Monday, August 10, 2009
SO...Monday morning comes and we head to Belize border. Still unable to get a hold of Steve Kuylen. When Tom and Marge had used him three yrs before, his rep met them on the Mexican side. We had several guys want to "help" us, but no Kuyleen rep. No one answering the phone. Now keep in mind, its an hour later in MX, so when it was 7:00 in Mx it was 6:00 in BZ, then it was 8, no answer. Finally we gave up at 9:00 and decided to cross over on our own, just to get to the other side and see if we could find him.
Just as we were sitting to cross the gate, Steven Kuylen answered and gave me Dennis number. I phoned him and he was waiting right at the BZ border and had been for an hour, but we did not have each others #'s. So...note, Kuylen is still the best broker, Ill tell more later, but get specifics, certainly if its the weekend, ask where and who to expect. It was as much my fault as the brokerage for the miscomunnication.
So we cross into BZ around 9:40 and Dennis had all papers done and signed by 11:30. WooHoo! Baby. He saved us over $3500-4500 and we were thrilled. Yeah, till we waited, and waited, and waited and waited 4 hours to get cashed out. NOTE: BIG NOTE: Do not cross border on a Monday morning, the produce trucks take precedent over any one. 3:30 we finally paid and got out of there. Oh well, we still saved a bunch of money, Dennis was great and Mr. Steven Kuylen is not only a great business man, he is a hoot to talk to and hang with. That is one BUSY man.
THANKS DENNIS AND STEVEN!!!
Now Chucks driving expertise will really come into play. To get to Gregs camping area in San Ignacio, you have to take the low lyeing bridge. Well, that is a sharp 90* angle turn with a severe drop in the road. Its sometimes tough in a truck with a load, let alone the Wicked with the trailer load we had. A few tense moments, held up a little traffic, but, TA DAH! He did a heck of a job. We went to Greg Carrillo's place-Inglewood Camping Grounds. Great place. Perfect timing, it was dark as we pulled through his gates. He has electric and water and bathrooms with showers, lots of shade, really nice. Other then the lil dasterd biting ants, it was great.
Tom boogied home to his lovely wife and we went to bed, exhausted, but with smiles.
Next a.m. Chuck and I prepped for the switch of cargo to go from trailer to truck. Tom and Marge pulled in with their trucks. Tinkerbell, the old Ford and the new Isuzu, Bluebell. We did a load a piece and the three of them went and unloaded while I emptied septic and gray water, broke down camp and turned the Wicked around to get the trailer off. The next trip witht the trucks was it, we were heading home, well, Tom and Marges home anyway. But it will be ours as well for a year or so. Chucks skills and nerves would be tested again. We would travel the Mountain Pine Ridge Road and its not the purtiest thing to drive on, all though, this side is much better then the side that goes out toward 7 Miles.
We put the trailer with the small load that was left, on Tinkerbell, I drove the Toyota and Chuck his Wicked. I went on ahead to get out laundry and some groceries and my phone turned on. I was able to catch up to them pretty easy, maybe a third of the way there. Chuck did not have to do the low lyeing bridge, he was able to go out of town on the steel bridge. Thank goodness.
Once again the Wicked proved her worth. She handled the road with ease. Bella was a little wigged out with all the bouncy and swaying, but the motorhome was grinning the whole way. (She does grin, I swear!)
We, were home.
Not ten minutes after we were parked, the nightly flights of the parrots started and we were right on the flight plan. Bella was looking up in the sky, wondering what all the noise is.
A fabulous dinner prepared by Marge, a couple bottles of wine, our friends and we were home. It was wonderful.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Just so you know, I will do a trip synopsis at the end of all this.
We spilt off around 1:00 and I took the 4Runner to Brownsville and Chuck and Tom took the motor home. They had to travel slower, so I buzzed into Brownsville and picked up our Sanborn’s Insurance, did some printing of the manifesto and documents and got a package off to my sister and her kids. They will be happy. Geri got a new pair of Tony Lama high shaft boots that I only wore two days, Jewel a 12 set of Wee Bears and Lucas his Bday card with cash. Oh by the way, when the boot guy says go with the 7, don’t go with the 6.5 if your gonna be in heat!
Sanborns had recommended we go onto McAllen to cross. You see we have both vehicles-4Runner and the Wicked Winnebago in my name. As well as the trailer, all though I don’t think the trailer mattered. Mexico has a thing about more then one vehicle coming in per person. Sanborns knew and said Brownsville will say no but McAllen will let it go through.
So we cruised on into Pharr, it goes-Pharr, McAllen and Mission all along the 83 Hwy. Pulled up the internet and found a great camping place called Tropic Star R.V. Off of 281. $34.00 night, but a big pool and large hot tub, laundry with lots of machines and a $1 a load. And they let the girls in. It was pretty empty, but what a hoot to see the “older” residents come by and scope us out! Bicycles-golf carts-car-on foot. They were terrified we were long term. There are a lot of small mobile homes in this park, some year rounders and some seasonal, but they were not very appreciative of the classiness of the Wicked. No matter how much we waved, no one wanted to come and talk. Oh well, their loss.
First night we had a great dinner at an Italian place in McAllen, down by the Lowes and Walmart area off of 83. Carina’s maybe, something like that. Great food and really nice staff, especially having to deal with three slap happy, wine drinking, transmigrante/tourists. 2nd night we did pizza from a place just up the road from Tropic Star. Peter Piper Pizza. Great pizza, ok wings and salads.
Tom and I left Cuck to work on trailer stuff and we headed out to get a list of supplies, thought bout 3 hrs we would be gone. NOT! Try 7. The Walmart web site has screwed me now 3 times in saying there is a Walmart at a certain location, but, uhoh, no there isn’t. It either moved or never got built. So after having mapped it out where we could do a Walmart-an RV place-Staples and Petsmart all in a row, we drove to no where land for the Walmart, where it was no where to be found! So we back tracked and did the other Walmart which was closer and still had an Office Max and a Petco close. Then onto the RVplace-Goodings, who if you needed an RV fixed is great, but they don’t sell much, but low and behold, Camping World is only ½ mile up. Got most of what we were looking for, hit an Advance Auto, changed dollars to Pesos and were now ready to head to the port to check it out.
We parked and walked up to the Border patrol crossing, asked a few ?s and were told to just walk across the bridge and check it out. Cool, okie dokie, so Tom and I hoofed it, then half way across, Tom looks at me with his mouth hanging open and his eyes wide and says, “We don’t have our passports and we just crossed the river into Mexico. OH CRAP!!! Well, other than getting a little chastised by the American side on our way back, our Driver Licenses were ok. SHHHWWEEEETTTT!!! And now we knew where to go for tomorrow.
Plans were to be up at 4:45 to leave by 5:45, hit the bridge by 6:15, great idea, didn’t quite work out that way. I had rearranged the cabinets in the back and “lost” the safe key. Or so we thought. What a horrible 30 minutes. But…my lil pea brain kicked in and remembered I had swapped the top unit. Key found, all good, but 45 minutes later and we were worried about lines and hassles and traffic.
All for naught! We breezed in. The guys at the inspection of course pulled us over, and let me tell you, we had so many stares and laughs at the Wicked, we just puffed out our chests and stroked her soft, powdery, faded aluminum sides. Like a parent of an ugly child or deformed dog. Then… we stepped Bella out, OH YEAH!!! That took the silly smirks right off their faces, they had a whole new appreciation of our 35 yr old Wicked cuz it contained the “BELUADOR”! DANG PEOPLE!!! THAT GIRL GETS RESPECT! So, then they were asking questions and we pulled out our manifesto showing all 73 tubs with their neatly typed contents, and of course I was a wide eyed silly/sweet bride to be, all excited about being married in Cancun and having a three month honeymoon that included looking for retirement property, so of course all those tubs of clothes and shoes were totally necessary, they nodded and said woman needed that extra stuff. Well, we do, anyway. Then the main guy asked to step in and fell in love with Whoopi. He had a jack Russell at home and he was shocked to learn she was almost 16 yrs old. He glanced around and turned his flashlight on to look in the bed area, but never opened a door. Very pleasant guy.
They sent us on our merry way and we went to permits. We sorta breezed through there as well, until just as we were all done, Tom noticed the Wicked didn’t show the trailer on its permit, the 4Runner did. NOT GONNA WORK! At the check point 20 miles out, everything has to match or you are in big hassle. SO…the gal that spoke no English, (actually none of them did), had to get her manager to void it all and start over. We had an extra 35 minutes there. But honestly it wasn’t bad. And they did understand the Motor Home-not a car-issue. And did not hassle us about two vehicles in my name.
Turns out, the McAllen port is a much nicer place then Brownsville. Large and clean and even though we didn’t get started till 7:40 a.m. we were outta there in 1.5 hrs, other then the redo time, so…about 2 hours.
Whoopi and Bella are very bored, so when we blew, and I mean blew, a tire and they got to sit in the windows and bark at the guys helping us, it made their afternoon. Nice part was we blew ¼ mile from a lil tire fix it place and the guy was great. His 4 boys all helped and were shocked that I gave each one a dollar. They had the cutest lil female chauahua that thought we made her day as well. She discovered what Charlie Bear biscuits were.
So this guy takes off our outside dually passenger side, takes it off rim, puts new tire on that rim, fill it up and slaps it on and its $7.00. Now it wasn’t exactly balanced but other than getting the spare off the wagon, the Wicked boys didn’t have to do anything but impress the 3 young boys. A $10.00 american bill and the three singles and were off. Ok, Ill admit, I tipped the oldest son, as well, he did a lot of the work and was dressed to nice to be changing tires,, so, $5. Still the best $18 bucks Ive spent in a long time.
On the other hand, when the Mexican folks tear a road up and do construction, oh yeah, game on and driver beware. So the fact that the average speed limit is 60 km, the Wicked was right up there with them. At 80 km she was a going but at 100km, not so much. But the 100 kms were few are far between any way. I actually have pics of the hills and trucks and how we were slowed done by them, doing only 3.5 to 12 mph for miles. Needless to say, we didn’t make great time.
So we had found out that you are allowed to pull over and sleep in the Pemex stations. Great, right? I mean if we hit dark and aren’t where we wanted to be, instant camp site. Yeah, well, we were parked. With no plug in and the windows open, every hoot n holler and diesel truck fart was heard. Then we had the guys in the pick up, parked practically on top of our trailer, doing a few lines, (no,I do not mean reciting from the bible or from Edgar Allen Poe). Of course before that we had the very nice family who Tom got chatting with outside the couch window, who kept putting the Toy Poodle up to the window so Bella could see her. Whoa, I thought Bella was gonna go through the screen. That lil white fuzz ball was like a fun squeaky toy she could throw around and stomp! Tom finally got up and went out to chat with them. We had a very restless night, soaked to the core with sweat. But, our handy dandy lil shower has served us well and we were refreshed and moving by 5:45, before daylight. Chuck was even able to get a cup of coffee.
From Tampico to Tuxpan, very hilly. Tampico is not my favorite place. But once south of it, heading towards Tuxpan, the country side is beautiful. Lots of ranches and farm land but very hilly with 60km being the avg speed. Now realize, we were the only ones doing the speed limit, well, us and a few farm trucks. Even most of the monstrous semis were hauling tail, 20-40 km over. We decided we wanted more Pesos, so we stopped at the bank in Tuxpan, the big blue one-Blanco, no exchange. But the red one Electra? Did. And we saw a Scotia bank.
Theres an interesting turn about to get over the water to the 180 that heads to Veracruz. Then that toll road is not too bad.
Along the way, we thought we had another blow out, but it was a light bulb in the bathroom. Don’t ask me, but even Tom heard it behind us. So we get lucky and find a really nice rest area, pull over, and, wow, no flat! How awesome was that? The girls were happy as they got to get out and run around on grass. We didn’t discover the true blowout till the next stop.
Over all, roads were ok, meaning from all the horror stories I had heard, I didn’t think they were bad. Keep in mind I come from Michigan, where winters do a number on the roads and there hasn’t been money to fix them in years. Just drive around Ypsilanti or Detroit area and Mexico roads are no biggie.
So then we get to the coastal part of the drive. From Guti’errez Zamora,sSouth to Veracruz, it is pretty, but topes’ /speed bump alley, relax and enjoy the ride, cuz you taint going now where fast! Poor Chuck did some of his best defensive driving in that little strip south of Coastal Esmeralda.
Speaking of Coastal Esmeralda, Tom found the place he and Marge had camped at 3 yrs ago on their move down. What a delightful little campground. El Corsario campground. Right on the ocean. Bathrooms, showers, pool (very cloudy but busy), nice grounds, picnic tables and water and elec. $80 Pesos per person per night. A very nice family became inquisitive about the rig and the dogs and Tom became inquisitive about them and soon he had them all laughing and having a great time. Mostly teenagers, very polite, nice kids.
So picture Tom thigh deep in the rolling waves and Bella, Poo and I start toward the ocean. She is wide eyed and wowed. I let her off leash and Tom calls her, she takes off running and without hesitation, launches into the salt water, leaping like a gazelle toward Tom. She loved it. Chuck took off down the sand and like a jaguar, she flew to him, trying to take him down in the water, but daddy is too quick and she just tags his left butt cheek instead! OOOWWWW!!! Poo was carried out to thigh high water then swam/floated back with my holding her by her harness. What a great way to take a break and refresh ourselves for the rest of the drive that day.
We had planned on just popping in to take a break and let the dogs play in the ocean. But…after twice as long as we planned, and only two hours of daylight left, the idea of sleeping in another lovely Pemex lot was vetoed by all 5 of us and we turned the Wicked around and set up camp. Besides, we were going to have a ½ to a full day to waste in Corozal, so why not waste time here? Yes… perfect!
Had an amazing fresh seafood dinner at the Pirate of the Gulf restaurant, sorry can’t think of what the name in Spanish was. Cool water front open place with serenading table bands, lil vendors selling souvenirs, and very polite staff. Other then no English menu or English speaking waiters, we ordered successfully. Fabulous calamari, fried Red Snapper, Steamed fresh water snapper in a foil pouch with onions and peppers, and delectable shrimp in garlic-all most prawn size. After one liquor drink each, we decided to go back to Corona to play it safe with the ice/water.
I had to see the ocean again before bed. So Bella, Poo and Chuck and I took a stroll back down. Woohoo!!! Bella discovered there were critters that scurried on the sand in the dark!!! How cool is that for a way to end the evening? It was a hoot, even Whoopi got into it. We all slept great and headed out by 6:15 a.m. again with hopes of reaching Villahermosa tonight before dark. Ya know how everybody recommends no night driving? Well everybody is RIGHT!!!
The scenery is amazing the roads scary with a rig our size, very narrow and rough, so after we clear this coastal stretch, we are heading inland and taking a toll rd before Veracruz. Tom says the mountains south of Veracruz to Minatitlan will wear out the Wicked and take twice as long, so…inland we go.
Day 3 of the Wicked Adventure.
AT Veracruz we caught the toll rd to the west 146D, then south to Minatitlan and on to Villahermosa. Big busy city, very clean in the areas we were in. Many modern stores. Two tire stores of nice size right on main strip. As we got out of the metro part we came upon an accident with a body covered in a blanket on the other side of the road. A plastic chair was 30 feet away and broken up, he may have been a street seller. Rest in peace amigo.
As we head out of the city the highway was great and Chuck was thrilled the Wicked could run a little. Our avg speed had been 40 for days. She stretched her grill out, shook her top rack and away we went. She was having a blast. 55,58, oh yeah, the Wicked was cruising and loving it. Pretty soon we realize we aren’t seeing many gas stations. Now keep in mind we had filled up both tanks just before Villahermosa, but now we were cranking it up. Chuck had been having issues with auxiliary tank all along way even though we had been told it was perfect and we had paid dearly to have it cleaned, repaired and a new gauge put in. This was done by a top RV place in Denver NC. Yeah and they also had done a bunch of other work that turned out to be crap.
Anyway, we are flying along and her temp was good for about an hour, then suddenly she spkes up and starts sputtering. Now keep in mind, we are an hour out of the last city, there is NADA around. We find an area off the road, pull off, and agreed we will change the fuel filter again and air filter. Chuck had worked on the Auxillary tank earlier and had made big improvements in way Wicked ran, so what the heck was she upset about now? Jumpin Jimminy! The gas in the tanks was so hot you couldn’t touch it. So while Chuck sucked, er, syphoned gas from the main to put in the auxillary, (that tank was farther from the muffler and we had all ready run it) Tom went ahead and did the fuel filter and decided the air filter was ok. Half hour on the road sise, and we were good to go. All that sputtering was her gas being hot. Poor thing, she is gonna have to lay off the habaneros. Or maybe Chuck will have to go back to 40-45.
Hmmm, it is now all most dark. They say DO NOT DRIVE IN MEXICO IN THE DARK!!! Well, ok, but we have to get somewhere. Not sure how we had not realized thee would be NOTHING on this stretch of road. So, forward we go, with a very happy Wicked. Only now the roads have gotten back to normal, meaning total crap, so even though it was cool and she felt fine, we didn’t dare go more then 40. We drove close to two hours in the dark. NOT FUN PEOPLE!!! And all though no humans were damaged, a dog was not so lucky. He thought he could run in between the Wicked and the 4Runner. Lordy, 1 dead human, 1 dead dog, 3 dead horses and WE ARE DRIVING IN THE DARK! We were all feeling a little stressed, ok, A LOT stressed when over the hill, WALLAH! A big ol Pemex with gravel to park on and a restaurant that was not closed yet. It was friggin 10:30 p.m. Dear lord thank you for this gift!
Get this, the only beer the Pemex sold was a dark O’Douls. NO WAY, we needed the real stuff and only had a few in cooler. Tom hoofed it across street and found a 6 of Modello. YIPPEE!!!
We ate, drank, laughed and played with Bella in the gravel. Slept pretty well and got off for the last day about 8:00 a.m. We have about 8 hrs today and will be in Chetumal, the border where we cross to Belize. Of course we cant cross till Monday so we will camp for 2 nights. Hopefully I don’t get stuck there for two days waiting for the vet to approve us. I could not get a hold of him Thur or Sat and they are to have 2 day notice of when your crossing, but don’t work weekends.
Day 4 Wicked MX
Now the roads start off ok, but narrow as they under construction. It’s so thrilling to have a double trailer semi hauling 80mph come at you as you share a lane and the road edge is a four foot loose gravel ledge! Yeah baby, now that’s what a call a Wicked adventure! HA!
Ok, back on a decent road. Have had two military check points all ready. Bella was sleeping thru the first one, our big brave guard dog. Second one I woke her up and put her leash on and scared the crapola out of the guys. Its really cool to watch 6 burly army guys with AK47s or AR16s, catter when we come to the door. Lord what a power trip!
Of course Poozies is in Chucks arms looking half dazed when they come into the Casa. I just don’t think she has scared anyone. But they all smile at her and will often pet her. Bella they don’t touch.
So we get tooling along on this like super highway, awesome road. Hardly any traffic, just what we needed and go for about 10 miles all happy dappy, then HELLO, more road construction and those nasty toppes-speed bumps every ¼ mile, slowed us back to a crawl. Then a few miles of the new road , then a few of the old. Back and forth most of the morning and early afternoon. Finally about 4:00 we hit a stretch without construction and can go 45-48 again. I gotta tell ya, doing 48 in the Wicked feels like your doing 75-80 on NC77. We haven’t figured it out yet, but I know we are getting better gas mileage then we expected, because we are so slow in the mph department. So of course, the 4Runner has gotten great mileage.
Found a neat little restaurant 90 mile before Chetumal, so stopped and ate well. That way we can get to campground and not run around so much. And there are always the sandwiches I have made every day, day after day after day. We have eaten dinner out every night and have had some great meals. Our splurge cuz its too hot to cook in the Wicked.
Poozie got to eat two tortillas with pork and chicken and thinks Mexico is a pretty cool place. I am gonna try feeding her three times a day in little amounts to see if I can get any weight on her. She seems good, just really skinny thru the backbone and hips, but not slowing done any. She is so very happy to not have her little feathered freak screaming at her the whole trip. Next week when Puppy is back home in Belize, she will be disappointed but hopefully happy that Pup will be in an outside aviary. At least once its done.
Sunday is a whole day in Chetumal, so hopefully I will be able to get the blog updated.
The Eastern portion of Mexico from Escarcega on, looks much like Belize. The rocky, scrubby ground, the hills, vegetation. Central East MX was such beautiful lush farm land, really pretty. It’s a neat drive, but 8 hours of pretty green can get boring.
Im not sure I have ever felt so slimy at the end of a day as I have this week. Having the lap top in my lap putting off all that heat and having it be in the high 90’s to 100’s with no ac, man you can get icky! Having our own shower has been heaven. We have showered twice a day for the most part, waking up a little sticky is normal as well. But the nighttime ones are the AAAHHHHHH ones.
I need some serious time with Bella this next week, I got one 10 minute session with her yesterday and it helped a lot, but she is way to independent and has flipped me the paw several times needing a 3rd “come”. But, overall, she is still awesome. It has been two full weeks of nothing. I cannot wait for Richard to get here. Hmmm…I guess I need to get there first before I worry about Richard coming. J