The morning had arrived. The PennyWagon was packed. The goodbye hugs were given. The motor was purring. The road was bumpy.
Jacqui nor I had any butterflies in our stomachs. We were driving the ever familiar Stone Island dirt road like any other day. Our inner-selves were apprehensively ready to be excited for the new road ahead, but our logical selves had to battle the feeling that we were cursed to never drive south of Mazatlan.
As we finally hit the open highway minutes passed without issue. Those minutes gradually slipped to hours and changes were happening from within and around us. Our stomachs were feeling just a little airy with the excitement that this was reality. The air was growing thick and hot. The surrounding scenery was exploding in rich, lush greenery.
One last visit to Mazatlan and departing Stone Island.
On the road again, heading south of Mazatlan.
We were headed for Lo De Marcos. With all the thanks and hugs we'd given to people that helped us, there were two more we still had to see...the Love's.
John and Val Love were extremely hands on in assisting us with the Dolphin last year. This year they made sure to stay a full 200 miles away from Stone Island, but that wasn't enough to escape the boomerang-kids. The five hour drive that the PennyWagon casually completed in eight, rolled us into town late afternoon. More excitement, hugs and catching up over cervesas were on the menu.
That night we parked in front of the Love's trailer and slept at ease. Jacqui and I had officially driven the farthest south we ever had in our lives. From here on out this will be an ongoing theme.
It turns out that two other previous Stone Islander's were also in Lo De Marcos. Bob and Donna. On top of that, purely by coincidence, John, Deb, Helene and Barrie had already been planning on visiting Lo De Marcos that very weekend. If I had to name this event, it'd probably be the Tres Amigos RV Park Reunion Field Trip.
Arriving in Lo de Marcos and meeting up with many Tres Amigos friends.
Waking the following morning, Jacqui and I still had plenty of time before everyone was going to convene, so some exploring was in order. We set our eyes on the nearby towns of San Pancho and Sayulita.
San Pancho had narrow cobblestone streets lined with colorfull buildings and Surf Shops. Even with a natural dislike of all things too gringo-y, it was a beautiful little town with character. Sayulita was beautiful as well, but a downright zoo. I think I'd mostly recommend Sayulita to the 18+ year old student on spring break. Regardless, we soaked some sun, walked the beach, met a parrot and bought a whole cooked chicken. Life was good.
The other San Francisco, also known as the surf town San Pancho.
Exploring a smidge of Sayulita
Before we knew it, we were back in Lo De Marcos having happy hour with the whole crew, then heading downtown for the weekly taco night. That evening, we gave yet another set of goodbye hugs. First thing in the morning the boomerang-kids were finally going to be traveling solo.
As we departed in the morning, we pointed the PennyWagon south. We'd heard the town of Bucerias was windy and wanted to do a pinch of exploring in Puerto Vallarta. We figured if the scenery was good, and the wind was strong, we could probably spend a week there.
Resort, after resort, after resort. Every tope(speed bump) had someone selling something or asking for money. Every road on the map that looked tiny enough to be a hidden gem, had an all inclusive monstrous resort waiting at the end.
The roads were increasingly confusing to navigate. Apparently, in and around Puerto Vallarta, left turns are made from the farthest right hand lane. To make things more confusing, it isn't done with any consistency. Translation, good luck deciding which lane you need to be in to prepare for you next left turn.
After hours of searching for somewhere to camp, we finally gave up and used a pullout on the side of the road, opposite a resort's beach parking lot. We threw out the idea of a week of kiting in Bucerias and shoved off due east in the morning. The mountains and the Golf of Mexico were calling us. Then PennyWagon was in for her biggest test yet.
Us and another Westy lucked out on a campsite. Go to the right lane (lateral) to take a left turn if you're in PV.
Fully loaded, with a furious 67hp at our disposal, we put the PennyWagon into the eastbound climb. She labored along for most of this in second gear. As the altitude increased we crossed a bridge and the road decided now was the time to get increasingly steep. I had to say good-bye to 2nd gear. Suddenly I had the van crawling, with the hazard lights on we moved at a measly 18mph. Jacqui and I were starting to question if we have any chance going over larger mountains in the future.
Regardless, we made it over and descended into the tiny town of Mascota. It was here our adventure took a little twist. We were only planning on breezing on through this town but as we stopped for some raspados, we met Rosa.
Rosa, is from Turlock, California. However, her mother lived here in Mascota so she has returned to her family's house. She ran into us on the street and couldn't help but ask what on earth we were doing in little Mascota and how we discovered this quaint and serene town. One thing led to another and we were invited over her house and had a place to park the Westy for the night. We walked around town and tried to find "El Rustico", an old archaeological site, which essentially gave us a run around through cow pastures. However, we found Mascota to be incredibly beautiful, one of our favorite places in Mexico thus far. Many people head to the crowded beaches to relax, but Jacqui kept exclaiming that this town was her new favorite.
A lady shaving Ice for our raspados
The old Templo...
I think Jacqui wants to be a cowgirl when she grows up.
After we arrived at Rosa's she offered us a hot shower and we weren't about to say no. I was fascinated to find that her house had an old style hot water heater, the home has been in her family for 90 years and not much has been changed. She grabbed a bucket full of old corn husks and set them ablaze. Minutes later the shower was ready.
Spending time with our friend Rosa.
Like many people we have met while traveling, Rosa was incredibly hospitable and happy to share stories of her family, town and culture. We'll always have a friend in Turlock and Mascota.
Now the road awaits us...