Christmas in Mexico

We left our winter home at Rovers Roost on Saturday December 18th and met up with our friend Heidy at her home in Green Valley AZ for the night.

Sunday morning bright and early (still dark) we left her place about 6:30 and headed down I-10 and I-19 to the border crossing at Nogales.

Once we crossed the border onto MX15 we still had an inspection station, an immagration station, and 3 tolls booths to get through.

We stayed on MX15 (a four lane divided highway) down to Hermosillo where we then headed west about 60 more miles on MX100 to Bahia de Kino (Kino Bay) where we then pulled in to Islandia Marina and RV Park.

Our host Martita greeted us with a smile and pointed out two possible sites for us. We chose the one nestled under a big tree overlooking the Sea of Cortez.

We have a large site with plenty of shade over the coach, 1000′ of sandy beach, sun and water out our front window

The nights are cool, in the 40’s and 50’s and the days are breezy and in the low 80’s with lots of sunshine.

Our first full day found us keeping busy going about 20 minutes east to San Miguel Aleman to exchange our dollars for pesos, to pick up a few groceries, and to a local Telcel agent to get a 30 day MX sim card for my phone.

Just to give you an idea of how money works here, $100 American is about 2000 MX pesos.

Our groceries at a super market cost us $8.90, my 30 day unlimited talk and text (4.5gb data) sim card cost me $11.50, and our 30 amp full hookup site overlooking the beach at the Sea of Cortez costs $15/night.

While last night we cooked brats on the grill at our home by the beach, tonight we ate at Pulpo Loco (Crazy Octopus) in town. We got 3 combo plates of fried fish, bacon wrapped cheese stuffed shrimp, salad, fries, and fried shrimp. All 3 meals along with two bottles of Coke and a huge bottled water was 520 pesos (about $26)

Our first day here at Islandia RV Park we had the pleasure of meeting Julio, one of the regulars whose been spending winters here since 2007. A retired NYC firefighter, he’s quite a character. Although he doesn’t own or even manage the park, he loves to play host and invited us to join the gang at his place anytime we see anyone there.

Julio and others invited us down for Ray’s 89th birthday party complete with pizza and birthday cake

Thursday morning came too soon and it was time to say goodbye to our host Martita and head further south about 120 miles to Totonaka RV Park at San Carlos, also on the east side of the Sea of Cortez.

Saying goodbye to our host Martita at Islandia RV Park (Bahia de Kino, Sonora, MX)

San Carlos is a much larger town that Kino Bay and is more a tourist area loaded with restaurants and curio shops.

The park is very nice with over 140 FHU RV sites and about 25 motel rooms. Heidy is in one of their rooms and we are in the coach. They have a pool, hot tub, pickleball courts and they run a clean tight ship here, they’re always cleaning, raking, and checking the property. At this park our FHU site cost $26/nite (tourist area pricing).

Map of our route ending at San Carlos, Guaymas Sonora, MX

The day after Christmas, there is the annual lighted boat parade right off the beach and we walked down to watch as about twenty five or thirty large vessels dressed in hundreds of Christmas lights paraded by. It was a fun (and free) evening.

I’m sorry the pictures are blurry, it was dark and the camera had a hard time focusing.

Now the weather turned cool. Gray skies after Christmas and temps in the 50’s and 60’s so no beach time for now. But there ARE still PLENTY of places to eat that many of our neighbors here at Totonaka have told us that we need to check out.

The girls went shopping today, they were gone about 4 hours and came back all excited about what they stumbled across … a place where Heidy and/or Kathy and I could rent an RV spot either monthly or year-round and at a very attractive price!

We talked at some length about the possibilities and decided that all three of us would make a 2nd visit tomorrow. In the meantime … what else? It’s dinner time!

We went back to Daniel’s place the day after Christmas to “scope it out” a little more. He has four covered RV spots that are 60+ feet deep and about 30′ wide with an add’l 12’x60′ concrete patio. All sites are Full Hook-Up (water, electric, and sewer). The property is fenced and gated and Daniel and his wife live full-time on the property. He made Heidy a really sweet deal ($250/month) to park her rig there year round and stay in it full-time or for a few months at a time. Two of the four sites are occupied by folks who live there year-round. NOTE: Take a look at the supports for the roof. These are NOT trees but actually they are BRANCHES from giant eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus is a very dense and heavy wood and makes for an excellent building material in this dry climate.

While visiting Daniel he drew a map for us to check out the “lookout” and one of the high-end new home developments on the bay.

To round out the afternoon (and our last day in Mexico) we decided to …. what else? Try out another restaurant of course!

The restaurant celebrates the “Day of the Dead” which is a Mexican holiday on November 1st and 2nd. It celebrates the lives of loved ones who have died over the last year.

From Google: “Ancient Mesoamericans believed that death was part of the journey of life. Rather than death ending life, they believed that new life came from death. This cycle is often associated with the cyclical nature of agriculture, whereby crops grow from the ground where the last crop lies buried.”

All in all, we had a great time visiting Mexico and making new friends. In a nutshell we have to say that;

  1. The Mexican people are gracious, friendly, accommodating, and thankful that we were there spending our money in their communities.
  2. The food cost is about one-half of what a meal (restaurant or grocery store) would cost in the states.
  3. Fuel is about the same cost or even a little more than here in the states,
  4. and the roads are generally terrible. Certainly not everywhere, but there are plenty of areas where you have to wonder if the RV is just going to shake apart right there on the spot.
  5. And the poverty is nearly everywhere, at least it’s not at all hard to find. We say plenty of people living in tin and cardboard shacks with no electricity and no running water. It’s sad to see such distress.

We drove our last day straight through from San Carlos to Casa Grande AZ (395 miles) and we have to say it’s “good to be back”.

Until next time, we wish you and yours a Happy New Year. We hope it’s a safe and healthy one for all of us.

Herb and Kathy

Sharing Some News From Mexico

If you’ve been following along for a while now, you know that we spent a couple of weeks last February visiting Baja California, Mexico.

We traveled there with the Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 – The Mexican Connection. Chapter 8 has been organizing Mexico caravans for nearly four decades now and we found the trip to be exciting and relaxing at the same time. The countryside was beautiful and our interaction with the locals made the trip all that much more rewarding. We look forward to the next Chapter 8 trip

Map of Baja California, Mexico

As a refresher, you can go back and look at some of our posts by following this link. Clicking on this link will bring up a search results page with links to each of the posts I wrote while we were on the trip.

What I wanted to share with you today is that our caravan Wagonmaster (Kassandra) recently received some pictures from our friend Miguel at La Jolla Beach Camp. Miguel was not only our host at the beach camp, but was also instrumental in helping to identify local areas of need where we, as travelers and guests to their area might be able to help.

One of those groups of folks that we so enjoyed getting to meet were the residents of what we here in the states might call an “assisted living” center. In Spanish it’s called La Casa del Abuelo (Or “The House Of The Grandfather”). I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here because I’ve posted about that visit back in February and you can go and refresh your memory by following this link.

Some of the work we did at La Casa del Abuelo included interior insulation and exterior paint

But I do want to share with you the pictures that Miguel sent along. These show how the monies that we donated through our auction and through individual donations have been used to pay for fabrication and installation of the new range hood in the kitchen along with installing new gates on the compound to promote the safety and security of the residents.

I know that our fellow Chapter 8 members are just as proud as Kathy and me that our efforts and our donations have been put to good use and we look forward to a return trip so as to be able to help even more.

If you’re an RV’er and you’d like to find out more about Chapter 8 and their caravan to Mexico each year, check out the chapter web site at www.mexicanconnection08.com

Home Safe In Ohio

The first image at the top of this post is of Sara and Kathy out on the side porch working on cutting material to be used in making masks.

It was a whirlwind February and March with our traveling in the coach from Arizona to Mexico for a couple weeks then back to Arizona by the end of February and by the first of March on over to Florida and ultimately up to Ohio (4800 miles total).

The Covid-19 virus put a screw in the works. When we left Arizona for Florida on March 2nd and traveled through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama there were no precautions taken by us or anyone else that we knew for that matter … but that all changed shortly after we arrived at the Escapee RV Club Sumter Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, Florida.

Our home base for 2 weeks in February (Bushnell, FL)

From then on we were still able to take the car to visit friends and family but hand-shakes and hugs were strictly a no-no. As time went on we were hearing rumblings of “stay-at-home” orders and the possibility of closing state borders to keep residents safe.

Our original plan included a 3 month “layover” in Sylva, North Carolina where we were scheduled to Workamp at Moonshine Creek Campground starting April 1st and running through the July 4th weekend.

Kathy was going to be working in the office greeting new arrivals, handling check-ins and taking reservations in addition to working in the camp store. This would mean she would be face-to-face with customers every day. I would be mostly outside taking care of the grounds, helping arriving RV’ers get parked along with being responsible for the daily cleaning of the bathrooms in addition to the new added task of 3x/day disinfecting of same.

As we started hearing reports of the virus and the precautions that different states were taking, we started to use Social Distancing as well. We did not go anywhere that there might have been a large crowd – Ooops – I just remembered. We DID go to Weeki-Wachee near Brooksville Florida to see the mermaid show. We went with our good friends Matt and Sherry on March 13th. They had just checked into the same park we were at in Bushnell while traveling from Tampa Florida to their newly acquired RV lot in Hondo Texas. Matt and Sherry had plans of a trip to Ireland in April but by now they knew that wasn’t going to happen.

You can click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger image

From that point on however we were only with our friends or family and at all times with only 1 other couple at a time. We always kept our distance and washed our hands regularly.

We have always fulfilled our Workamping commitments in the past and felt badly that we needed to back out on this North Carolina job, but under the circumstances felt it best for us to cancel. With all the uncertainty, we didn’t want to get stuck anywhere if they did decide to try to limit travel and close any state lines.

After visiting my sister Marilynn and brother-in-law Rick in Jacksonville, we left Florida and as we traveled northward we stayed overnight at Elks lodges two nights along with one night in an RV park. In all cases, we never saw or interacted with anyone in person. The arrangements for our stay were made either by phone or online.

We are back in Ohio. Although we claim Texas as our domicile now, Ohio is home in our hearts. Our children and their families are here along with so many good friends we’ve made over the last 30+ years living in Mount Gilead. We’ve missed them all so much and now we’ll have (hopefully) plenty of opportunity later this summer to make up for lost time.

The coach is at our son and daughter-in-law’s home about a mile down the road while we are living up in the bunkhouse above the garage at our daughter and son-in-laws home just north of Mount Gilead, Ohio. We made it here late March and spent the first few days getting the bunkhouse organized for us to live in for the next few months. We took some of Sara & Stu’s belongings over to the coach (for storage) and brought other things from the coach over here.

It was kinda funny actually and a good thing that our home on wheels is parked only a mile away. We’d make a list of things to bring over here and drive over to David and Lisa’s place to get those items. Later that day we were already making another list of things we forgot to bring. This went on for at least 3 or 4 days! We’re blaming that on old age …

The Bunkhouse above the garage

In addition to working on the bunkhouse, we’re keeping busy here helping Stu and Sara with the annual spring chores. There’s always springtime tasks like; raking out the flower beds, picking up fallen sticks and branches from the many trees around the house, cutting the grass, and cutting and splitting firewood for the next winter season.

I enjoy doing these chores … I need the exercise and enjoy working outside (provided it’s over 50 degrees and sunny) and the kids can use the help.

Moving firewood over to the splitter
Kathy, grandson Garret, and Herb splitting and stacking firewood
One of my favorite pastimes

The first image at the top of this post is of Sara and Kathy out on the side porch working on cutting material to be used in making masks.

Stu is (thankfully) still working during this time. His physical rehab work at the nursing home is considered essential and so he is still working. Sara, who was driving a mini-bus for the county’s transit system has taken a lay-off. Their normal crew of 18 drivers has been cut down to only five for the remaining runs to medical needs that include dialysis and other essential services.

For years before we left Ohio and hit the road full time, we made a regular Friday night ritual of having dinner with 3 other couples of very close friends. Often we went out to a restaurant and occasionally we enjoyed each other’s company and dinner at one of our homes.

We were certainly looking forward to meeting up with our “Friday Night Gang” again when we eventually got back to Ohio after our North Carolina gig. This would have happened right after the July 4th weekend.

But in the meantime, we’re using ZOOM to meet virtually. We tried it Saturday night and it worked great! There are four couples and each of us had a corner of the screen and we could all see each other during the whole 40 minute meet-up. It was great and so much better than emailing, texting, or even talking individually on the phone. What made it so special and fun was that we could all see each other’s expression and body language just as it would be if we were around the dinner table from each other. And when any one of us said something funny, we could all laugh together! Although we couldn’t give and get hugs, it was wonderful to have that personal connection again. We’re making a date for 7:00 p.m. every Friday night from here on out until we can once again meet in person.

Here’s an example of what the ZOOM app looks like on your computer

So we are doing very well under the circumstances. We miss seeing our friends, we miss being able to come and go as we please. We are staying on the grounds here at Stu and Sara’s home as Sara is doing the grocery shopping. There are plenty of projects to keep me busy, although Stu is the one to stop at Home Depot or Lowes on his way home from work to pick up any materials or supplies we might need.

I was saying to Kathy just this morning … I want to go out for breakfast again … but that’ll have to wait.

What about you? How are you handling the situation we find ourselves in? What are you doing to occupy your time if you’re quarantined? Are you still able to work either from home or at your work location? If you’re working away from home what are you doing to stay safe?

That’s the main thing – stay safe by staying home if you can. Use a mask if you go out in public while maintaining the 6′ distance from others and then wash your hands as soon as you get home. Use hand sanitizer as soon as you get back in the car so you are not transferring anything from your hands to your steering wheel and ultimately back to your face.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Giving Back to Our Hosts

NOTE: This post was started about a week earlier but I ran out of data on my Mexican (Telcel) phone and so I no longer had a hot spot for wifi to my computer, so I’m finishing up this post while we are back at Rover’s Roost in Casa Grande Arizona where my Visible phone service and hot spot (with no data cap) is working great.

Now, back to the story …

Yes, we’re really enjoying our visit to the Baja with our new Escapee friends. Although we’ve been members of the club about 5 years now, there’s no way you can get to know everybody as there are currently (I think) over 50,000 members nationwide.

The main entrance to La Jolla Beach Camp

To find out more about Chapter 8, visit their web site at this link. And here is the link to the Chapter 8 Facebook page.

And although Chapter 8 has been coming to Mexico for 37 years, the people that travel with them change from year to year. Some have been coming for years while others (like us) have made this their first trip with the chapter and very likely the first trip to Mexico. They don’t always travel to this side of the Baja. Sometimes it’s San Felipe, Rocky Pointe, or even Mexico City.

We’ve been given the opportunity to give back to the communities in which we stay. At our stay at the zoo in Guadalupe Valley we were offered reduced camping fees and free admittance to the zoo (even when they were closed to the public) and in return we helped the keepers in the care and feeding of the animals and their habitats.

We learned that the zoo was founded by Mr. Jiminez and his wife Perla as a service to the forgotten and abandoned animals and the children of the community. They wanted a place that all families could come and enjoy wholesome family time together not only to learn a little about the wildlife kingdom but also to enjoy some recreation together.

The Jiminez family also owned the Jersey Dairy and for many years the dairy supported the zoo financially. Recently the dairy was sold to another corporation and the zoo is now a stand-alone non-profit zoo. It still has Perla (Mrs.) Jiminez as Director and the family is still involved in the management and operation, but the funding is FAR below where it was just a few years ago.

As a result they are struggling to feed and care for the animals. A lot of their “residents” are brought to the zoo by the government that has confiscated these illegally owned animals at ports of entry. Although the government delivers the animals to the zoo to be cared for, they provide NO financial assistance for their care and can come and remove these same animals at any time. That’s a real frustration for the keepers.

We (Chapter 8) members will also help the zoo by ordering items from their Amazon Wish List and some of us brought items down and hand delivered these things to the keepers while we were there. The keepers here are much like our teachers back in the states in that they buy a lot of their own supplies to care for their “flock”. Many of the 13 employees at the zoo are single and are so attached that they think of the animals in their care as their “family”.

In case you are interested in seeing what sorts of things the keepers need – and maybe you’re even moved to help as well, you can check out the Amazon Wish List link here.

When we arrived here at La Jolla Beach Camp, our hosts the Pabloff Family introduced us to the need at a local “Grandparents House” about 10 miles away from our camp. Our Wagon-master and Charity Committee had previously arranged to have us form a work party and provide them with about 200 man hours work to insulate one of their new living units.

When we arrived on site we were introduced to the husband and wife team, Angelica and Nicholas (both pastors) who started this mission along with the help of Justin who’s family is doing mission work both at this home and another one a few miles down the road.

We arrive at the site about 10am and greet some of the residents who were waiting to meet us outside.
Justin gives us an overview of the home and the history of the Pastors and their work

It’s really a pretty remarkable story. Mrs. Pastor fourteen years ago found an old woman sitting on her front lawn. The lady looked to be alone and unfortunate so Angelica invited her into her home for lunch. They chatted and got to know each other. At the end of the lunch, Angelica told the lady she was welcome to return for lunch again the next day. The lady thanked her and asked if she could possibly bring a friend …. and so the beginning.

One friend led to another and another and another. Pretty soon Angelica was feeding 20 homeless old people on buckets and tree stumps in her front yard.

In Mexico there is very little money for programs like we have in the states and further these people that Angelica was meeting were mostly forgotten. They have no family that will admit to being related to them, they have little or no education, they have no way to travel, and they have not the knowledge or experience of how to ask for help. They are typically migrant farm workers who historically have lived the nomadic lifestyle traveling from farm to farm working in the fields and living on what little meager existence they can eek out with the wages their farmer pays.

Angelica knew there must be some public assistance available for these poor souls. She took one of them into a government office and introduced her as her grandmother. The agreed that Grandma qualified for a pension of $25 every other month. She then took another and introduced him as Grandfather. Then another and then another. You know what happened next … by the 5th time they knew something was up. She told the government agents the truth. They told Angelica that they were going to make a surprise visit to see for themselves.

When they arrived and saw what she was doing – unfortunately they couldn’t help financially with anything more than the $25 per person every other month. But the COULD provide her with a building close by where she could prepare and serve the meals. Soon after and still today, she and her volunteer helpers are serving meals to about 200 forgotten souls on a daily basis.

But she knew there was still more to be done. These people needed homes. They were living under sheets of cardboard under trees. The more fortunate ones had acquired plastic tarps to live under and were begging on the streets. These are sick and aged people in their 70’s and 80’s who could no longer do manual labor.

That’s where our new friend Miguel Pabloff comes in. Mike helped them obtain the land on which to start a small community of nice clean stick-built homes for these people. All the work and all the materials have been donated. Angelica and her husband Nickolas receive no government funding except the $25 previously mentioned.

We will be insulating the orange building. The purple and green buildings are completed and occupied with 5 residents in each building – each with their own room

Currently there are 15 residents and the Pastors do all the cooking, cleaning, bathing, activities and more. The do get volunteer help as well. The day we were there two student nurses came to check on all the residents and will be coming weekly for the next six months while they are still in school. Other volunteers come (unsolicited) from churches and neighborhoods in the area to help because they’ve heard of the unselfish work that Nicholas and Angelica are doing and want to help.

One of the 5 resident rooms in each of the finished buildings. Each resident has a bed, a chair, a toilet, sink, a small table, and a clothes closet

Although the resident rooms are very plain, we were told that to these folks, it’s a castle. Most of them had been living on the streets.

The rooms are spartan and very clean. There is one very large shower (to accommodate a wheelchair) in each building. When the residents want community or meals, they need to get over to the community dining room. Some are ambulatory with the help of canes or walkers while others need to be pushed along in wheelchairs.

The dining hall / community room where we ate beef quesadillas for lunch
The new kitchen under construction – currently Angelica prepares ALL the meals for the 15 residents and her own family on-site in her home

Remember, clicking on any of the thumbnail photo will open a larger picture so you can see more detail.

Our own Malcolm Russ entertained the residents with his violin and beautiful singing voice

The pictures in the gallery below show tables filled with donation items (food and clothing) for the Grandparents home and also to distribute to some of the less fortunate out in the country.

We collected (from ourselves) the donations and then on Saturday night we had an auction where we got lubed up with $2 Margaritas beforehand and then bid on items given by ourselves to our “other” selves. We raised about $4000 in the auction. This is just part of the monies that Chapter 8 will be giving back to four different Service Projects (charities) here in Baja California before we leave.

Thanks for riding along … More to come in our next post.

Mexico Day 4 – More Zoo & Wine

This might be getting a bit repetitive, but it’s not getting old for us! This is so wonderful being able to get such a close-up interaction with the zoo animals and their caregivers.

Today we spent time with the Yellow Parrots, Pumas, Spider Monkeys, and Macaws. We helped to feed them and helped to clean their habitat — things that the keepers do every day. We also gave them enrichment toys – things that help to keep them curious and stimulated – not just bored & locked in a cage.

See the cart that Arturo (picture above) is pulling along the trail as we walk from exhibit to exhibit? They use carts (usually pulled by bicycles) to move tools and supplies around the zoo as they need them. In the states we would have the luxury of being supplied with motorized carts/trucks of some sort.

One of the groundskeepers emptying the trash receptacles in the morning

Arturo got one of the staff here at the zoo to take our wheel off and get the flat tire fixed and reinstalled. Service on-the-spot and only $300 pesos ($15 US) – Hooray!

Our flat tire got fixed by one of the staff

Later in the day we got to share some time with a new (3 month old) lion cub “Carlotta”. She’s very playful so she had to be watched very closely by both Stephanie and Antonio (keepers) because the wooden fence isn’t that tall and she can jump easily and quickly.

Keeper Carlos talked to us about the 4 different types of reptiles and introduced us to a few of the residents of the habitat he manages. Some were so uncomfortable they left the room or refused to come in to begin with, but most of us stayed and enjoyed Carlos’ informative presentation.

Late afternoon we all carpooled to L.A. Cetto Winery. We got a great tour of the operation led by our tour guide Adrian. He shared with us that this winery was started in 1928 here in Guadalupe Valley and it is the largest winery in all of Mexico. They manage and harvest about 3000 acres, having about 250 seasonal employees in the fields. The grapes are all hand picked and they produce over 1 million cases of wine annually. The (2) rooms of stainless steel fermenting tanks hold over 3 million liters of wine at a time. After fermentation the wine is transferred to the oak barrels where it stays for just a few and up to 65 years!

After the tour we all went up to the outdoor patio for the wine tasting and Tapas made by our own crew. Our caravan leader Ed Dennis graduated in culinary art from a Paris school years ago so he asked for volunteers from our group that could help him prepare our afternoon feast – It was fabulous!

There’s more to come …. we’re all heading out to a local Mexican restaurant tonight and tomorrow morning we will all say goodbye to our new friends at Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe Valley and head further south on the Baja Penninsula to La Jolla Beach Campground.

C’Mon Along!

Mexico Day Three

Day three (Saturday February 15th) started out another beautiful sunny wonderful day in paradise. After breakfast in the coach – Kathy with her oatmeal and me with my scrambled eggs with mushrooms, onion, and a little potato mixed in – we headed on over with the others to the pavilion in the center of the zoo. Here we met with zoo biologists and keepers where we divided into four groups of 12 and then headed out for our “up close and personal” tours of the Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe.

Our tour group leaders (biologists, keepers, veterinarian, director)

This zoo was started dozens of years ago by the owner of the Jersey Dairy Company. He and his family created, managed, and funded the zoo. In recent times, this man passed away and as a result just this year the zoo no longer gets any funding from him or his family. The zoo is now a not-for-profit organization and relies on admission prices and donations to stay afloat. It became very clear to us during our tours that the employees of the zoo (11 employees total) are working here because of their love for the animals. This .. in many ways is their family.

The Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 “Mexican Connection” came here last year and again this year to not only be entertained but also to help out both physically and financially through our admission fees and our auction that will be held here later this week.

Antonio – Our tour guide for the day – 32 year old Zoo Biologist

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger image.

Antonio led us on a very informative tour and it became clear very quickly that he and his co-workers care very much for the animals. Nearly all of the animals here arrived from the government. Many have been confiscated at ports of entry or have owned by individuals as family pets and then have been abandoned or given up when they became too big and no longer manageable (or affordable) to keep as pets.

The government has no means to care for them so they come here to Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe. Although the government gives them to the zoo to take care of for an undetermined time (during investigation and litigation) they do not give the zoo any funds to care for the animals. In some cases, the zoo may take care of these animals for years but the government can always come back and take them away.

Other animals are given to the zoo as gifts – which was the case with the 40+ peacocks that they have. These were a gift from a priest.

One of three swimming pools

The “Zoo” is much more than a place to see animals. The Guadalupe Valley is generally an area of very poor families. When the zoo was started, the owners wanted it to be a place where local families could come and learn, play, eat, and enjoy family time together.

In fact, up until very recently all it cost for admission for a whole family was a Jersey Dairy Milk bottle cap. The children could provide a day of fun for the whole family just by saving their bottle cap from their milk at school and presenting it at the front gate to the zoo.

There are three swimming pools, a pond with paddle boats and lots of shaded picnic tables. Families are encouraged to bring their picnic baskets and enjoy the day together.

After our tour of the zoo we had the rest of the day to ourselves. Some went into town right away while others took care of chores at home. We evidently picked up a nail or screw as we got close to the zoo on Friday because by the time we pulled in to our parking spot our “toad” had a flat tire.

Bummer

But not to worry – I’m sure there’s a tire shop in town somewhere and we don’t need to drive anywhere anytime soon – there are others here that we can carpool with to any of the local attractions.

Although Guadalupe Valley is very poor, it is rich with vineyards and wineries. But these vineyards and wineries are not owned by local people nor do they employ local people. You’d think that the local economy would be lifted by these wineries, but they are owned and operated by companies from Tijuana or Mexico City and they bring in their employees from out of the area. Go figure.

We finished off the day with a visit to Baron Balche’ Winery where we had a tour, a wine tasting, and dinner. What a wonderful cap to a fantastic day!

Be sure to click on the thumbnail pictures above so you can see more of the detail. You can see in one of the pictures the rough rock walls encompassing the cellars.

Each of the large stainless steel tanks hold 7500 liters of wine – there were about 40 of these huge tanks. There were HUNDREDS of White Oak barrels. The barrels come from French Oak or American White Oak and there are two sizes of barrels – either 300 or 600 liters.

There is NO heat or A/C in the cellars – they are literally dug out of a whole in the ground. It’s a constant 55 degrees and very humid – water drips down the walls so they have fans blowing to keep the air moving so mildew doesn’t form.

It’s been another busy educational, fun, and rewarding day. Now off to bed because “Tomorrow’s Another Day”

Thanks for riding along – we hope you can make it with us to Day 4!

Mexico Day Two

We (Group 1) left Potrero Park at 7:30 a.m. Our group is the Parking Group so we need to head out before any of the other groups so we can be in place at the next location far enough ahead so we can be set up and ready to Park all the other rigs coming in behind us. There are 3 other groups consisting of 5 or 6 rigs each.

Since we all have our FMM cards already, we COULD have been swept right through the border crossing. But Kathy and I weren’t so lucky.

The official stopped us, checked our registrations, looked in a couple cabinets, and then greeted us with “Happy Valentine’s Day”

We moved on through the gates and all 6 rigs in Group One stayed in touch on our CB radios as we traveled the next 50 or so miles down to Zoologico Parque del Nino in Guadalupe Baja California Mexico.

Once we arrived, our fearless Group One (parking group) leaders Jim and Connie gave us our instructions along with our bright orange safety vests and flags. We we’re now official parking team members!

Our official uniforms

We then spent the next couple hours greeting and parking rigs as each subsequent group rolled in.

We we’re the first rig in so we got the prime spot in the corner closest to the wolves and the lion!

Right up front closest to the action

After we got all the rigs parked, we all wandered over to Ed & Kassandra’s (Our Trip Leaders) rig to pick up our new Baja jackets and get an update on the schedule for the coming days. Ed talked a little about the history of the Baja Jacket and his design for the logo embroidered onto the front.