Saturday, October 21, 2006

Playa Escondida, Mazatlan

We are at the Playa Escondida RV Park, in Mazatlan (map), where we are about to spend our third night.  The place is an absolute dump, but it is across the road from the beach (or so we are told -- we have yet to make it there).

When last I posted here, we were in Los Mochis, having just debarked the train.  The rest of that day was a much needed day of rest, along with a handful of errands, followed by dinner at the Santa Anita hotel downtown.  Dinner was a much vaunted, and delicious, affair involving fresh shrimp, for which Los Mochis is famous.  Nevertheless, I was barely able to get through it, and, as it was, I left one bacon-wrapped crustacean on my plate -- I had come down with a case of "la turista."  I will spare you the gory details, other than to say that I had a miserable night, and I was in no shape to drive the following day.  (Also, let me say that the Santa Anita is not to blame -- the bug takes a few days to show up, so I picked it up somewhere on the train.)

Consequently, Louise had to drive the entire next day, a marathon all-day session which began with a somewhat coordinated departure from the RV park in Los Mochis at 7:15, and ended 260 miles and eight hours later here.  I helped by maneuvering Odyssey out of one park and into the other, but I turned the controls over to Louise within the first mile and did not take them back until just outside the driveway here.  One of her longest driving days ever, and here in Mexico, to boot!  It was absolutely essential, though -- I had to run upstairs several times during the journey.

Speaking of maneuvering into this park, the one and only entrance turns out to be a steep affair that we were expected to approach head-on after a left turn across a widely divided road.  Making matters worse, a telecom crew had trenched clear across the driveway to bury some ducts, and had to hurriedly backfill the wide trench with loose dirt.  After looking the situation over, we chatted with the wagonmaster about the possibility that Odyssey might not be able to make the grade (more specifically, the angle-of-approach), or that we might end up with drive wheels in the loose fill at exactly the wrong moment.

The decision was made to hold us till last, to give us as much time as we needed, and also to get the fill as compacted as possible by the 19 other rigs.  We also decided to proceed half a block past the park, to a retorno, then hit the driveway on a right turn from the opposite direction, to reduce the angle-of-approach.  All of which added up to us making the driveway with no front-end scraping, although we had to gun it at the end and dragged the tail over the street.  We may have to back out, reversing the process, to avoid grounding the nose.  We'll see.

I should also note that the telecom trenching has a good part of the street in chaos, and I managed to hit a temporary construction warning as I swung Odyssey around the retorno.  In the US, this would have been a plastic traffic cone, or maybe one of those plastic stick thingys with the heavy bases, or even a rubber barrel.  Here in Mexico, it was a giant welded-steel post on a heavy welded-steel cross pedestal, with a sheet metal sign attached painted in alternate orange and white stripes.  This monstrosity would surely have destroyed the right headlight, and/or the right side bodywork, had it not been for our equally beefy, welded tubular steel crash bars, which deflected the sign like so much papier mach√©.  I did put a small chip in the powder coat on the crash bars (adding to the handful of existing chips from rock strikes), which I touched up with a magic marker.  I also had to walk back and re-erect the sign -- who knows how long the Mexicans keep you in jail for defacing warning devices.  But the crash bars saved my bacon.

Our first night here was also the "Mexican Fiesta" party, which involved an all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet and a floor show at the locally famous El Cid hotel.  Also included were unlimited drinks.  Despite being sidelined by the aforementioned disease, I was emboldened by two doses of Immodium and the fact that I was midway through a course of ciprofloxacin, and I did not want to miss out on the festivities.  Plus, I was hungry -- my system was pretty much empty.  So off we went to El Cid in "spiders," a photo of which Louise has already posted.  The food was decent, the cheesy hotel-style fiesta floor show was mildly entertaining, and the never-ending margaritas and  cervezas made it all worthwhile.  We gave away the souvenir terracotta shot glasses that they hung around our necks with little ribbons, but not before downing the ceremonial tequila shots after dinner.

Notwithstanding the aforementioned drugs, I had another miserable night, which again did not stop me from dragging myself out in the morning yesterday for the Mazatlan city bus tour.  I was really hurting by tour's end, but we both enjoyed it.  As cheesy as they often are, we find the drive-around-the-city sorts of tours, where someone points out the major sights, and a key stop or two is made along the route, to be a great overview and introduction to an unfamiliar city.

The bus drove us through the Zona Dorado ("golden zone" -- wherein the tourists leave their dollars), the older tourist district now somewhat faded, and along the malecon (which doesn't translate directly but is a sort of concrete boardwalk along the oceanfront) up to where the cliff divers jump off a 45-foot high rock into some wicked looking surf for a handout of a few pesos.  We also drove past the lighthouse high on a rock island, and finished with a 90-minute stop at the ornate cathedral and central square, where we were free to wander the streets and into the 107-year-old market.

This latter entity is a common building housing a variety of market stalls, many selling crafts and other dry goods, including the usual tourist trinkets, T-shirts, and souvenirs..  Moving further into the interior of the market, though, reveals an eclectic collection of greengrocers, taco stands, fruit vendors, and carnecerias (meat sellers).  Locals outnumbered tourists by a wide margin in this area, and we walked away with several pounds of fruits and vegetables for less than $3.  I was too miserable to eat, but Louise had a nice lunch at a mariscos (seafood) stand for about $1.50, which included a ~20oz bottled Pepsi for me.

We were thankful to have the rest of the afternoon free, and we used it to tidy up a bit around the house, and set up and fill the hot tub.  (There is a pool here, but it is in a state of nearly complete disrepair, and the water is a rich jade hue that obscures the bottom -- no filtration has happened any time in the recent past.)  I was feeling up to eating a hearty dinner, and I grilled up a steak and a handful of giant shrimp that Louise bought at the shrimp market, the final stop on the bus tour en route back to camp.  The rest of the shrimp are in the freezer -- half a kilo, or a little more than a pound, of nice-sized shrimp was less than $5.

Today was a much-needed "free" day.  Sign up sheets were passed around yesterday for optional tours today, but we skipped them -- although we did sign up to have the coach washed and waxed for 500 pesos (about $46).  Instead, we met up with Ken and Lee, American ex-pats living here in Mazatlan, occasional readers of this blog, and people with whom we have been communicating since earlier in the trip, after some postings Louise made on, one of the on-line forums in which we lurk.

Lee and Ken were most gracious hosts, taking us for a nice afternoon meal at one of their favorite local restaurants, Mariscos el Memin (not another tourist in the joint), a drive through some of the neighborhoods that are never on the bus tour, a quick stop at Wal-Mart for some necessities (I ran out of contact lens fluid, and, besides, we had to check in at our home park), and a visit to their  lovely house, in a well-kept middle class neighborhood where they are the only non-Mexicans.  We really enjoyed this very different perspective on the city -- intimate, yet distinctly American -- and were able to appreciate why they settled here.  They were also good company and we enjoyed getting to know them.  I like to think they also enjoyed getting to see Odyssey up close and in detail.

I am mostly fully recovered from the bug, and I'm looking forward to what, I hope, will be my first solid night of sleep since we arrived here.  Tomorrow we have another bus tour, and then one more night in this miserable park.

1 comment:

  1. you may (or may not) enjoy MarAVillas better. It is one of the few RV parks right on the beach, though it is further out of town. Just keep going along the road you're on; heading north, and it will be on the left hand side (you will go around a retorno to get to it). It is right next to DIF. If nothing else, take a taxi and check it out. We spend months there in the Springtime and love it.


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