We watched these two videos and it brought back lots of memories from all my travels in Mexico.
Mexico in Your Senses
The first 8 minute video is an award winning Mexico travel video with beautiful photography and music but no beaches.
The second 5 minute video is about the state of Quintana Roo, and gives you a good idea of why we like that area for beaches.
Map of Mexican portion of the trip
11/01/13 – Cleveland to Houston, visit Rich Travel Day 1-3 Map & Plans
Enter Mexico at Los Indios near Harlingen, TX, after getting FMM & TIP the day before.
To Rio Micos – 3 nights Mexico Travel Day 2 Map & Plans
To Emerald Coast – 1 nights Travel Day 3 Map & Plans
To Catemaco – 3 nights Travel Day 4 Map & Plans
To Silvituc – 1 nights Travel Day 5 Map & Plans
To Xpu-Ha – 30 nights Travel Day 6 Map & Plans
Fly home for the Holidays – 9 nights – 12/20/13 – 12/29/13
Return to Xpu-Ha for 61 more nights
To USA Border – 3 nights Travel Day 8,9,10 Map & Plans
Back in USA, spend some time in Houston, TX, and then back Home
We had our big Thanks-O-Ween dinner. Named for Peggy’s turkey dinner right before Halloween with most of our family. Jeff’s 3 oldest kids (Jeffrey, Devan & Erika) are out of town so could not make it, Marcie was at a soccer tournament with Elena.
We got finished packing the RV and waited until the weather cleared for our trip to Houston to visit Rich Priem and family. We got an early 5 AM start on Fri- Nov. 1st. The traffic was light and we made our planned destination for the night, Jackson, TN. We parked between a Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club that has free Wi-Fi.
We got another early start on Saturday. Boy the gas is cheap down here. From Cleveland to Houston we paid from $2.94 to $2.97 per gallon. We got to the Priem’s right after dinner and had a nice visit. On Sunday we took a bike ride and then they had a big neighborhood Halloween party that had been delayed because of the heavy rain that fell right before we came. Tracey was in charge, so there was great wine and cheese and plenty of bakery snacks. Afterward was Trick-or-Treat night, so we hurried back to hand out the candy.
On Monday the kids headed back to school but it was cooler with some rain so we didn’t do much. Monday night we went out to their favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant.
We said our goodbyes as we will be heading to Harlingen, TX on Tuesday where we will get our Visas at the border in preparation for an early start on Wednesday morning. There is a chance we will meet up with Tom McEwan and caravan with him to Ciudad Valles and the Rio Micos River. I contacted him before he started toward TX but have not heard from him to verify his driving plans. I do plan to paddle with him before his advanced trip starts on Sunday.
There are always tales about the dangers of travelling through the State of Tamaulipas, but when you look at the alternate route via Laredo and Puebla there are other problems. It is Turnpike (Quota) most of the way (Over $100 in tolls), it’s 100 miles longer (more fuel). It goes to the high mountains where fog is very dangerous and very likely.
We still like to cross at the Los Indios, TX (Free Trade Bridge) border crossing. It is one lane, no city on either side of border, lightly used and it is only 12 mi south of Harlingen, TX on good roads. The trick is to get an early start in the morning. To do this we drive to the border the afternoon before we intend to cross. Border hours are from 6AM to Midnight but the Aduana (Customs) is only open from 8 AM to 6 PM. I tell both Mex.and USA customs people that I’m only getting our permits and then going back to USA. They don’t search us and 20 minutes after we drove in we were back past USA customs to stay in the Harlingen Wal-Mart parking lot for the night. They have 24 hr. security.
Traffic was steady but light all day, there were no safety concerns at all. We like to travel by ourselves because it takes less time. We left at 6 AM in the morning, and were not searched at all at customs or military checkpoints. We stopped at an ATM in Valle Hermoso and were on our way south by 7:15AM. No search at the secondary inspection on MX180 either. We took MX101, great road conditions to MX83 which heads south toward Tampico. After we got to MX81 we turned off to go past town of Xicotencatl to get to Ciudad Mante and then on to Ciudad Valles is a little back into the mountains to the Huaxteca region where we kayak on the Rio Micos. We made the 370 mi trip by 2:30 PM and relaxed for the rest of the day on the river with mountain views. When we head south you can bypass Tampico and get to the Emerald Coast which is only 250 mi away.
Tom McEwan from Liquid Adventures met us on Tuesday night at the Wal-Mart but he got to the border too late to get all his import papers for the 16 kayaks he was trailering into Mexico. So that delayed him about 2-1/2 hrs. getting to our camping spot at Aldea Huaxteca. It’s not set up for RV’s but we manage to squeeze in here, there are no hookups but it is a nice facility with palapa rooms in a beautiful location right on the Rio Micos. Lots of beautiful birds can be seen here.
We had very heavy rains on Wednesday night which brought the local rivers up so Tom headed off early to do a few creek runs. We are catching up on our blog and reorganizing all the stuff we brought with us for the winter.
So after a rest day in the cool rain on Thursday, Tom said he and Todd were going to paddle a couple of rivers on Friday since all the rivers were now high but dropping slowly. Partly cloudy and temperature in the low 70’s. They got a driver and we headed off to the Ojo Frio river which is a tributary way upstream of the Micos. It’s a small deep river with lots of 4 ‘ travertine drops. The river really has a high gradient. But it is narrow and deep at this high level. It sort of reminded me of a cross between the Chauga River in SC and the Little Sandy River in WV.
Tom led most of the way and there were a few trees blocking the way in a few places. We got to a 12’ drop that I messed up and got stuck in the small hole at it’s base. I had a very short swim into a recirculating eddy but other than my pride, no problems. We were within a 1/4 mile to the take-out when I got stock in another hole. This time I was about to get out when Todd dropped down on me. The good news was that we both were out of the small hydraulic. The bad news was I hit another rock and flipped over. Knowing that I was still next to Todd I used his bow to roll up but dropped my paddle. It stuck on a rock while I headed down the next drop paddleless and did a back ender landing on the travertine with my face.
Lots of blood and my left lens was missing from my sunglasses. Must have scratched my face but no serious injury. Since I can’t see out of my left eye anyway, missing the lens was no problem. But I did not have my paddle, so Todd walked up the bank where he saw it stick but by then it was floating down the drops. I yelled to Tom, who had just got out of his kayak to look for the paddle, to get back in his boat because it was floating right past him. In his haste he didn’t get his spray skirt on and it popped off in the next small drop and he ended up filling with water and swimming to shore. But he didn’t get the paddle.
This is why I carry a 3 piece breakdown paddle in my kayak. I got it out and we finished the last few rapids without seeing my lost paddle, At the takeout I offered a local youth 300 pesos if he or his friends could find it. Tom will be back to this river with his Mexican paddling trip in a few days. So who knows I might get it back.
On the way back to camp you pass the put-in for the Rio Micos. Tom & Todd unloaded their kayaks and I drove back to camp so Peggy could clean up my wounds and put some Neosporin on them to prevent infection. They both finished their run and I shuttled them back for yet another run. I took another rest.
Saturday morning at 7 AM we left for the Emerald Coast. We took the back roads through El Higo to avoid going into Tampico. The roads had a lot of water damage from a hurricane that passed by. There were some very short construction delays but we got to Neptuno Campground by 3 PM. It was only 250 miles. but you don’t make good time on these bumpy roads. Light drizzle a few times during the day, but it was cool and heavily overcast so we might not stay here on Sunday. Traffic through Vera Cruz to Catemaco might be lighter on a Sunday, making for an easier 200 mile drive..
We rolled into Tepetapan campground early Sunday afternoon after a slow rainy drive through the Tuxtla’s. The bridge at Boca del Rio was back out of service and there is a little detour around it. Gene welcomed us to an almost empty campground. There was a couple from Germany who purchased a used truck camper in CA and say they are heading to South America (Patagonia), they left the next day.
We normally get here over Thanksgiving and have beautiful weather and more campers. There was a short period each day where I got to walk to town to buy some vegetables and use the ATM to get some pesos. This is what the lake looked like last year.
This year the new pier was barely above the lake level and a walkway to a new floating restaurant was under water. There has been over 8” of rain while we were here. So three days was enough of a visit, we need to go somewhere dryer. We will hit the road early on Wednesday morning and see how far past Villahermosa we can make in the day. Hopefully the rain has stopped and the bridges or roads won’t be washed out when we pass by. Agua Dulce is a very low lying area that often floods after tropical storms.
The drive from Catemaco took longer than we planned. Along the cuota after Acayucan there must have been an accident that we never saw because it was cleared before we started moving again after a 1-1/2 hour delay. We had planned to make in into Campeche to a Silvituc restaurant campground but I thought we would not make it due to the delay. We had better roads than last year and were able to roll in right at dark. It’s a neat place to park off the highway with Peacocks walking around. They don’t charge for camping if you eat there, We had a nice big fish dinner and a beer. It was quiet all night with a heavy rain drowning out any other noises.
We got a nice early start and made good time since the rain had stopped. They still have not finished the bypass around Felipe Carrillo Puerto, we stopped to fill our propane tank just North of town at the new Gas place that they put here last year. Just before we got to Tulum to do some grocery shopping a big thunder storm rolled in and flooded the streets. So we took our time shopping and when we left the rain had stopped. The road into Xpu-Ha was under water but passable. When we pulled in all our old friends were there to great us and help us park in one of the last available places next to Dierck’s new huge palapa over his 5th wheel.
We got there at 2 PM and it was dry when we set up including our new sunscreen.
This is Gerry parked on the other side of Dierck.
We had a nice cocktail party with Carol & Richard and the two new couples from BC, Canada. But the rains came again for most of the night. It was dry in the morning so we took our regular 3 mile morning beach walk to see what changes were made over the summer.
They lost some beach in front of La Playa, but built a new restaurant and palapas next to the kite boarding place.
Both ends of the beach looked about the same as ever, two abandoned storm damaged resorts.
Scroll or click to see the entire picture.
It didn’t rain at all on Friday night but exactly at 6 AM Saturday morning we were awakened by another heavy rain. It was over in an hour and the day kept getting nicer and nicer. There were clear skies to show off the almost full moon on Saturday night, I found a shady spot to put up my hammock and instantly fell asleep for an hour. Peggy caught me waking up.
The new sun screen which hangs from the awning is working out great. Now if the waves calm down I may do some paddling on Sunday.
All night long from Saturday night to Sunday morning a RAVE was going on down the beach about 1/4 mi. away in front of the other small campground. Heavy base music all night long. So in the morning just before they finished at 6:30 AM we wandered over and took some pictures. They were still dancing, but looked a little tired.
Later in the morning everything was gone and our beach life was back to normal.
We left on our trip on November 1st and got to Xpu-Ha, our winter destination, on November 14th a few weeks earlier than normal. The reason is our nice little campground at La Playa is getting more popular every year. There are only 7 campsites that are front row facing the beach and 2 are occupied year-round and 2 are occupied all winter by campers who leave their rigs here and fly in. So that leaves only 3 sites plus 5-7 sites that are scattered around and may or may not have full hookups. Of course they don’t take reservations here. They always seem to be able to handle a few campers who want to stay for a few days but not for the whole winter. There is another campground next door (Bonanza) that has a lot of shade and small sites for tent and van campers, They may have one 15 amp outlet for the entire campground and no sewer hookups.
There was one site left in La Playa this week that had been occupied by several short term campers over the past few weeks. Claude & Mags from Ontario, who have been here before, got a late start this year but were able to grab this last site on Wednesday morning.
Peggy & I have been getting out on the beach for our three mile walk every morning since we got here.
The beach has been very clean and not very crowded.
This is a view is from our campsite toward the beach. We have a security fence between our site and the beach.
We always walk down to the south end where we set up our little private seating area under the palapas by the abandoned resort.
After the rain stopped it got very hot and humid for almost a week but the last two days have been very cool & dry. High around 80oF and Lows, about 62oF.
Now that Claude & Mags have come with their nice big pickup truck we will be able to get a ride for our big Friday night out at Pizza Leo’s in Chemuyil.
The last few days were every nice, high’s in the low 80’s and lows in the high 60’s. A little bit of rain but nothing that affected our beach time. On the weekends La Playa Restaurant always has a few hours of live entertainment on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Some good, some loud. These guys were good,
Tuesday morning was cool and the sea was pretty calm so I decided to paddle over to Puerto Aventuras a large condo, hotel community that is expanding every year,
One interesting thing is although the place is really nice the don’t have much of a public beach for all the people to use. The beach behind me is all private belonging to the condos along the water. So, many of their residents jump in their cars and drive over to share our beautiful beach at Xpu-Ha,
They are expanding by dredging deep channels with lots of boat docks and room for many more private homes and hotels but no beach access. But beautiful concrete seawalls and well protected from any big storms.
All of this is actually behind the large cenote on the south side of Puerto Aventuras that I paddle to a lot.
This is an older section which shows what it will look like some day.
Of course I always walk over to the Dolphin pools to watch them abuse the Dolphins and amuse the guests.
They have 6 large open pools where they keep Dolphins, Manatee, Sting Rays and Sea Lions. People go swimming with them for a price but are open so anyone else to walk around and watch for free. This is a gated community but you can drive in and say you are going to a restaurant, diving, snorkeling or fishing and they will let you in the gate. The also rent bikes so you can ride around see the whole community which even includes a golf course.
You can bike here from Xpu-Ha but it is on the busy highway but it does have a bike lane.
We have heard from two of our friends, Rob & Shirley from Martha’s Vineyard and Paul & Helen from Inverness, FL. They all should be crossing the border into Mexico this week and be arriving here in Xpu-Ha early next week.