Thursday, December 19, 2013


Tlaquepaque is an area of Guadalajara that has numerous galleries, upscale shops and restaurants, and a lovely pedestrian-only area surrounding the central plaza. If we want to buy things we go to Tonala, where the artisans and fabricas are, but if we just want to wander and look around it's always fun to go to Tlaquepaque.

There are lots of statues and sculptures, some historic and some just fun.


This mariachi sculpture was at the entrance to a series of restaurants surrounding a central plaza.

We had a nice lunch at one of the restaurants and had fun people-watching.

Brian ordered Chiles en Nogada which is a special Mexican dish. It's a poblano chile stuffed with spices, ground beef and I don't know what else, and has a sweet nutty sauce on it. It's topped with pomegranate seeds, which are in season for a limited time, so it was nice to see it on the menu. We've heard it referred to as the national dish of Mexico because it has the colors of the Mexican flag - red, white and green.

We enjoyed wandering around and were quite surprised to find an ice skating rink in the middle of the plaza. Lots of special machinery and coverings over the rink. There were quite a few skaters and they looked pretty good out there.

We were just in time to see these female mariachas performing. Very enjoyable!

Although we prefer making our purchases in Tonala, which seems to eliminate much of the middleman, Brian did find a Huichol woman in a sidewalk stand and purchased a mask from her (keep adding to that mask collection!). All of the beading is done by hand, one bead at a time.

Brian purchased another interesting addition to his collection at the Cooperativa in Chapala. The masks are on a roof tile.

Monday, December 16, 2013

By the Shores of Lake Chapala

We're happy to be back at Roca Azul Resort on Lake Chapala near the town of Jocotepec. The Bus is parked in a nice spot with the lake at our backs. While in bed in the morning I can look out my window and watch the sunrise. Nice. Here's a link to Roca Azul

One incident of note along our drive from Lo de Marcos is that the odometer on the Bus hit 100,000 miles. The really great part of this milestone is that when the odometer turned over we were traveling through fields of agave and passing by the town of Tequila. Seriously, what an appropriate place for that to happen and what a great coincidence! Couldn't have planned it better.

We really enjoy staying at Roca Azul. The resort is quite large and has a thermal pool, large swimming pool, tennis courts, a huge soccer field, and nice areas to walk. It's showing its age a bit but it's still a nice place to spend a few weeks.

The area of Roca where we're parked has several year round residents as well as seasonal residents. We've been here enough times that we've gotten to know people here and enjoy connecting with them once again. It's pretty low-key, which we like, and we find plenty to keep us occupied.
Our friends Kris and Ken had some problems with their truck this year and we were able to bring some parts down for them. Ken had things moving along well and plenty of support if he needed it. He plays the blues harp and sings, and has played at clubs in the States, some of which we've been to. He treated us to a concert one night. Wonderful to hear some live music.

Our good friend Micky lives in the town of Ajijic, which is on the northwest shore of the lake. I've known Micky since the Colorado days when we were both still working and living there. She's been in Ajijic for eleven years, teaching and working with speech/language issues in her private practice. We always have lots of laughs and fun getting caught up with things. This year was no exception - the picture below was taken at a restaurant in Chapala.

While sitting at our table along the malecon I got a picture of the mariachis tuning up and getting ready to perform.

There has been a great deal of controversy regarding the water in Lake Chapala. It's the main source of water for the city of Guadalajara. As I understand it, there are now 2 pipelines that take water from the lake and there is a movement to add another one. The people around the lake are understandably concerned. We've seen the level of water drop drastically over the last few years. In the picture below the water used to go all the way out and along the pier in the distance. Now it's gone.

Fortunately the white pelicans continue to come here. There are still large flocks of them as well as many other water birds.

Our RV friends Rick and Ruth stopped at Roca for a few nights while they were on their way to Lo de Marcos. We were delighted to give them the quick tour of the area, including the malecon in Jocotepec.

We also took them into Ajijic and Chapala. Ajijic has a lovely centro area and is a very artistic community. I took this picture at the Cultural Center. It is one of the many murals seen throughout town.

This mural is on one of the buildings around the plaza.

The murals are very colorful and representative of various events.

The following map shows the Guadalajara area and Lake Chapala. For perspective, Lake Chapala is about 50 miles long, and 10 miles wide.
The green number 1 on the map is Roca Azul, a few kilometers south of Jocotepec.
The yellow number 2 is Tlaquepaque, a suburb of Guadalajara. It's an upscale artsy area with many galleries and shops. We plan to make a day trip there. Just to the east of Tlaquepaque is Tonala, where most of the Mexican crafts are actually made. We have been there several times but haven't been back to Tlaquepaque for several years so that's where we'll go this year.
The red number 3 is Hacienda Contreras in Valle de Juarez, our next destination. We'll be there for the holidays and will probably stay several weeks.

The map below shows the towns of Jocotepec, Ajijic and Chapala.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Lo de Marcos

After our trip down the coast it was great to arrive at Lo de Marcos which is about 38 miles north of PuertoVallarta. A map of our route and location is in the previous post.

Although there are quite a few RV parks here the beach isn't crowded. We are staying at La Parota RV Park at the south end of the beach. Here's a link The park is named for the very large parota tree at the entrance.

The park itself is nice with lots of grass and concrete pads at each site, decent free wifi, free laundry and a small restaurant on the beach in front of the park. The restaurant had its grand opening for the season the night we arrived and we were treated to some good music while we had dinner. Evidently there are quite a few musicians in the area who get frequently play together. Most people are here for the winter and there's a nice sense of community among them. They have all been very welcoming and friendly. Here is a partial view of the park taken from the second floor of the community building

This is a view of the beach in front of La Parota with the restaurant on the left of the beach.

We've enjoyed walking the beach and were treated to a bit of a horse show one morning by this gentleman on his beautiful Fresian horse.

It's also been really fun to run into some of our RV friends and get caught up with them. We'll be moving on to Roca Azul near Jocotopec on Lake Chapala tomorrow but really like this area and hope to return and stay longer next time.

A word of caution for our fellow travelers going to Lo de Marcos. Don't follow your GPS unless you check the route first. We had directions from friends who are here and used the map in Terri and Mike Church's Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping. Below is a map to our RV park as well as others in the area. Also a Google Earth satellite shot.

Our route tomorrow is about 200 miles.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fountain Hills to Mazatlan

Our first stop after leaving Fountain Hills was De Anza Trails RV Park in Amado, Arizona. It's about 20 miles north of Nogales and a good place to overnight before crossing into Mexico.
We got an early start and were just waved through customs. We then stopped for our tourist forms and car permits. That took less than an hour and we were on our way.

Each year as we travel throughout Mexico we continue to see improvements in the road system. From Nogales south we drove through many construction zones where work is being done on the roads. In some cases they just put tar on the road and then loose gravel on top while in other areas they put down a new layer of "asfalta". But in many areas they have been completely removing the old road and building a new and wider road in its place with new roadbase and new layers of "asfalta". Yes, there is still a lot of bumpy, narrow road - but not as much as there once was.

We made the 290 miles to our first stop, San Carlos, that afternoon. It was even early enough for us to unhook the car and drive over to the Telcel office in Guaymas to get our phone and air card activated. We accomplished a lot in one day, even treating ourselves to a nice shrimp dinner.

Our next overnight was just south of Los Mochis where we boondocked in the back of a Pemex station, about 240 miles.
On this stretch we noted new concrete road all the way from Ciudad Obregon to Navojoa.

We had stayed at this Pemex station before and found it to be a good place to stop since it's about halfway between San Carlos and Mazatlan. There's a gated lot with a security guard - no charge, we just tip the guard. Once we pulled into the lot we saw another motorhome, the only other RV we've seen headed south. They were gone by the time we got up so they didn't get in the picture I took of our spot among the trucks.

From Los Mochis it was 256 miles to Mazatlan, our next stop.

There is a whole new section of road west of Culiacan where they have put in a diagonal road in place of the old dog leg jog. Using our "Trace GPS Route" in Microsoft Streets & Trips we are able to show the actual route we took instead of the old road still shown on the map. Our Garmin does show the new road but Streets & Trips does not show it yet. The thinner blue line on this map shows the new road.

We decided to stay at Punta Cerritos RV Park which is just north of the city and the closest RV park to get back onto our route south. The park is mostly private but has a few transient spaces. Many of the residents are building palapas, very similar to what we saw at Paamul in the Yucatan. They have brick walls, outdoor kitchens, gardens and so on. Many of them don't look like they're ever leaving.

We're spending 2 nights here, getting caught up on a few things before we move on. Our next destination is Lo de Marcos, which is north of Puerta Vallarta. It's a popular beach destination with RVers, so we thought we would check it out. Our route tomorrow is about 237 miles.