Archive for December, 2007

Bustling Beach Town – December 29, 2007

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

We are sorry we haven’t posting in a few days but when you are entertaining, you get busy and time just flies by.

Sayulita is a very cute, small beach town. BUT IT EXPLODED THIS WEEK WITH TOURISTS!!!!!!!

This is a shot of the beach in front of our RV Park on a partly cloudy Christmas morning.

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Look who showed up for Christmas Week. This is one of our sons’, Lance, and granddaughter, Ayden, arriving at the Puerto Vallarta Airport on Christmas Day.

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Then everyone else FOLLOWED them to Sayulita. A lot of Mexicans either spend a week or 2 weeks camping along the coast during the Christmas Holidays. If they can’t come for a week, they will come to the beach for the day.  Also, lots of tour buses drive into town early in the day and drop people off and pick them up in the late afternoon. They bring everything they need with them, including food for the day or week.  There are also a lot of families from Canada and the US here for the week. It is no longer a very cute, small beach town. It is now a very crowded beach town. Beach on a normal day.

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Looking south during this week.

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And a look toward the north.

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Sayulita does not have a lot of amenities for tourists that a larger city like Puerta Vallarta has. So most of the time people make do with the entertainment that they have here. When the Christmas holidays arrive they import the amenities. The regular vendors are still walking the beach but new vendors are here. An example is the ice cream carts that sell ice cream.  Never have seen them before and will not see them after next week either.

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There is no cinema here in town. But tonight there is!!!!! They have set up a very large wide screen TV on the beach and you can buy tickets to the movie plus treats. Most of the restaurants at the beach have not had live music but this week they do. The bars are also advertising live music. A large catamaran has been been brought in, probably from Puerta Vallarta, and they will have day cruises or sunset cruises for the next few days.How do they advertise these new additions?  Simple. Someone walks up and down the beach with a poster or a flyer and talks to everyone along the beach.  They do this all afternoon. Everyone is at the beach so everyone knows about it by night time.Hope everyone had a great Christmas. We certainly did.  We called the rest of our family while they were having their Christmas and they were just fixin’ to (Texas talk) sit down to a meal of Prime Rib, garlic mashed potatoes and duck. They had that wonderful dinner on purpose so we won’t be away next Christmas.  Our favorites!!!!! This week has NOT been sunny and hot but cloudy and chilly. But that beats snow and cold weather any time.

Our wifi connections have not been very good this week.  It could be too many people for that also.  So we will try to post when we can.

Christmas Week – December 24, 2007

Monday, December 24th, 2007

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Since we are spending the winter months in Mexico, here are things we will miss this week!

1. Seeing family and friends during the Chrismas Season 2. Christmas parties3. All the Christmas lights on the houses at night4. Watching the family and granddaughters opening Christmas presents5. Our eight-foot Christmas tree decorated and lit in the living room.

a-old-tree.jpg What are some things that we do not miss by being away from home this week?

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1. Cold weather

2.. Crowds at the grocery stores

3. Traffic on the freeways with everyone heading out to shop

4. Traffic lines on the exit ramps trying to get into a mall

5. Hunting for a parking place

6. Rushing, rushing, rushing

7. Love Christmas carols but not starting on the radio before Thanksgiving

8. Christmas ads on TV

Here’s our current vision of a mall.

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And some real bargains.

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We want to wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season.

15 AMPS, 30 AMPS, 50 AMPS – December 19, 2007

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

What does all that mean? The strength of the electrical current is amperage and is generally dependent on wire size. When you live in a stick and brick house you do not worry about electricity at all. You turn on the lights, run your air conditioner and microwave all at the same time and not even think about it. While all those are running you probably have the TV (several), hot water heater and lots of other appliances running. Not once do you stop to think, if I turn on this appliance will it blow a fuse?In a 5th wheel or trailer you are very well aware of what might happen if you turn on an electric appliance that takes a lot of juice to run.How do we supply power to our 5th wheel? When we arrive at a RV park in the states you have your choice (and price) of 30 AMP or 50 AMP electric plugs. The main difference if it is summertime and hot we always go with 50 AMP so we can run both air conditioners at the same time. If we choose 30 AMPS we sorta pay attention to how many electrical things we are running at a time. The 50 AMP electric cord is vey heavy to drag out of our basement (yes, that is what our storage compartments underneath are called) and take to the back of the 5th wheel and hook up. So if we are only staying one night at a park we may choose the 30 Amp because the cord is lighter to take out of a basket and carry to the back of the trailer where the hook up is. We can pull up to a site and just look at the plug and know what kind of amps we have. Even Tinka can tell the difference between a 15 amp, 30 amp and a 50 amp plug. We do have a couple of batteries just like a car does. It will run several lights in each room when we are not hooked up to a power source at a park.

So much for amperage, now we need to consider voltage which is the electric potential or force of the current. In the states you can expect a 120 volt system to be roughly 115 to 125 volts. Sometimes we’ll run into a park where the voltage may be on the low side. This is not the case in Mexico. If the RV park is wired and grounded correctly, and we always check, we usually find the voltage to be extremely high. It is typical for voltage to be 125 to 140 volts. Both conditions, either high or low voltage can shorten the life of many electrical components. Low voltage is worse for appliances like the microwave.

Now why am I telling you all this? So you will know what the electricity is like in Mexico. Most all RV parks in Mexico have 15 AMPS ONLY. That means you are not allowed to run your air conditioner. You also can not run your washer/dryer and the microwave at the same time or you might blow a breaker. Using the dryer cycle is usually a no-no. When we were in Mazatlan we did run our air conditioner because the park was not full. If all the sites had been full we would not have been able to do that. Of course, most of the regular people there were used to not running the A/C and so they had their doors open and didn’t run their A/C.

All that being said, about a year ago we had a built in Surge Guard installed to protect our unit against things like reversed polarity, missing ground, high and low voltage, spikes, etc. This was done by Camping World at no small expense. This is all well and good, except it generally prevents us from using the Mexican electric service due to the high voltage. Our Surge Guard has a key that allows us to bypass the unit. Bypassing the unit eliminates all of the protection that we paid for EXCEPT for surges in the electrical service. This is what we have been doing. Three times in the past 24 hours, the unit has cut off to protect from such surges.

I wouldn’t plan to travel to Mexico without one. Surge Guard also has an inline system that attaches to the power cord, but you can not bypass the high without completely removing the device.

Built in Surge Guard

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Portable Surge Guard 

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The first thing we do at any park, even in the US, is check the voltage and quality of the electrical service before hooking up.  If the tester indicates a problem, we have to analyse the condition.  This may be missing ground, improper wiring such as ground and neutral reversed, or other problems.

Voltage Meter and Electrical Tester

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Here is the typical RV electrical hookup that we are used to in the United States.

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This is what we generally get in Mexico. Most of the time, if there is a breaker box, it is exposed to the elements and so are the outlets.  It looks like they grounded it to the rebar in the cement.

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This is our current hookup. Exposed to the elements and there is no cover on the outlet.

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Electricity is very expensive in Mexico and the wiring is expensive. So most of the wires they use here in Mexico are the small size like a regular extension cord, not a thick extention cord. If a RV Park has 30 or 50 AMP it is because they have bought the wires in the states and brought them down. 

Just to give you an idea regarding the expense.  US electric rates are about $.12 per kilowatt hour.  Next month when we move to Lo De Marcos, we will be paying $.27 per kilowat hour.

Don’t throw snowballs at us – December 16, 2007

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Yesterday it was very cold in the Dallas/FW area-high of 40 degrees. We did not notice the temperature here during the day as we were busy cleaning the RV and scrubbing out our dead RV refrigerator. It is now an expenisve storage cabinet until we get back to the states.  The manufacturer said that they would warrant the thing.  Thank goodness!!!!!

a-rv-refrigerator.JPG We bought a 7 cubic refrigerator to use while we are here in Mexico. It is sitting out on the patio.a-new-refrig.JPG

Anyway we were busy cleaning so did not notice the temperature. About 4 PM we ventured out into the RV park and everyone was complaining about the weather saying it was cold and breezy. After we had cooled off from working we sat outside on the patio and read our books. We had to move indoors because it was chilly to us too. We came inside and closed all our windows which is the first time we have done that since we were in Mexico. Curious about current conditions, we looked up Puerta Vallarta’s weather. The temperature at that time was 69 degrees. We did not notice the humidity but it must have been lower than normal for it to be so cool. We laughed and said no one from home would be sympathetic to our cold condition, but it is all relevant to what you are used to and this feels like a cold front . Even in Paradise we complain!!!!!

By the way, we’re back in the 80’s today.

Twenty Nine, again??? December 13, 2007

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Once again it is time to celebrate Tinka’s annual 29th birthday.  We seem to stretch out our birthdays to span several days.

Monday we headed over to Distilleria Beach near Punta Mita. The beach is very flat with well packed sand.

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Distilleria Beach is famous for waves that are excellent for body surfing and boogie boarding.

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Monday, a group of us from the Sayulita RV Park headed over to enjoy the waves.  We all brought our umbrellas, but the restaurants along the beach provide little palapas, for a price, to those who need them for protection from the sun.  You can see these small palapas in the background of this picture.

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Mexicans love their holidays.  They have 8 of them in December alone.  On the 12th is the “Our Lady of Guadalupe” and it is preceded by days of preparation.  Part of the preparation is igniting large, loud pyrotechnics at most hours of the day or night.  This starts of at about 4:00 AM and ends about midnight.  Guess how much sleep we get?

Sayulita is loaded with boutiques along its cobblestone streets.  New shops and restaurants are opening every week. It didn’t take long to load up on birthday gifts.

We decided to go out for a birthday dinner on the 12th so that we could witness the festivities.  We made reservations at the Calypso restaurant located under the palapa at the second floor of this building.

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From this vantage point we could watch the parade to the church at the square.  They had entertainment and fireworks around 10:00 PM.  More information regarding this celebration can be found at:

http://www.mexconnect.com/mex_/guadalupe.html

As luck would have it, we forgot to take the camera.  However, this shot shows the square earlier in the day.  (CLICK ON THE PICTURE FOR A LARGER VIEW)

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The evening was fun and the meal may have been the best since we arrived in Mexico.  I had rack of lamb and Tinka had chicken piccata.  Creme brule was the encore. (You’d have loved the photos.)

Today, the actual birthday, we headed north to the town of La Peñita to wander through their “Market”.  This is basically a large flea market that takes place every Thursday.  Thousands of merchants take part in this event.  Most of the residents and many tourists take advantage of the large assortment of merchandise.

Here is a panoramic shot of the town square that acts as the center point of the Market.  (CLICK ON THE PICTURE FOR A LARGER VIEW)

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Each evening just before sunset, many of our RV park friends meet at the beach for cocktail hour and watch the sun go down behind the mountains, not the ocean as you would suspect. (Sayulita is in a bay and our beach faces to the north.)  Anyway, we shared a birthday cake with about twenty that were present.

Here is Tinka picking up the cake donning one of her new and really comfortable birthday dresses.

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For the most part, this 29th birthday was a success.

The only downside of the week so far was the death of our RV refrigerator.  The unit is still under warranty, but of course, there are no service centers in Mexico.  We’ll have to wait until we get back to Tucson, in April, to get it repaired or replaced.   So it’s off to Sam’s Club and Home Depot tomorrow to pick up a substitute for the short term.