PD, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico
A friend emailed us this week and expressed astonishment at our mechanical knowledge. Now, I don’t know what blog they’ve been reading but they perhaps got the URL a bit mixed up and typed in peoplewhoknowsomethingaboutvehicles.com.
But we are learning, and what we lack in technical know-how we try to make up for in common sense. So we know when that ‘check engine’ light comes on, then you have to stop and go to a guy who knows how to check the engine. We turned back from our planned 350km journey to the state capital La Paz on Sunday, and waited til Monday for a mechanic to tell us, thankfully, it was nothing serious. (catalytic converter, um, something to do with the different fuel here. Look, I wouldn’t want to baffle you with the details…)
My dad, who provided a stream of advice, lists and tips when he and mum came to California to help us choose the campervan, will be delighted we took the cautious route. A story he had told us kept ringing in my ears. It was about “someone they know” whose campervan engine caught fire “because they ignored all the warning signs Paula!”
One guy we met that day said to us: ‘oh, that check engine light is so annoying, I’ve worked out how to switch mine off’. We’ll never be that blasé – not when this camper is our home, our wheels and pretty much the only thing we actually own.
La Paz, when we got there, was a beautiful city with one of the most picturesque seafronts imaginable – palm trees lining the immaculate malecon and a tiny pristine beach that provided a decent backdrop to a lunch of octopus cocktail and shrimp tacos the day after we arrived.
Cat in a pram
At our campsite we encountered yet more generosity from our north American cousins. Canadians Bud and Joan had looked at our Flickr page, seen photographic evidence of the camping toaster we were using, and immediately came over with a superior version made by Bud’s own fair hand. With decades of camping experience behind them we do not doubt their toaster will get the job done – thank you.
While there we also met the first travellers we have seen who are also heading to Argentina in their campervan. Until then all the other foreigners we had met here were on holiday from the US/Canada, or spending the winter in Baja.
Now, I must stress that the vast majority of those people have been lovely, sane, and unbelievably friendly. And we don’t wish to use this blog to keep deriding people from the US. It’s just that the minority of really crazy ones we do meet are so hilariously off the wall that it’s hard not to mention it. This week alone there was the trailer park full of old soaks, fugitives and a couple who kept their cat in a baby’s pram, to the guy who was convinced – and he had been round the world with the US Navy, so he knew – that Argentina, Australia and New Zealand were all “owned” by Britain. It all got rather confused, but I tried to politely explain the situation in each case.
He wasn’t having it. Re Australia he said: “But you British are citizens of Australia, I thought you were all just one big country.” I explained again that Australia, like the US, had gained independence. He thought about it and (honestly) declared: “Well, I’ll be darned.” Funnily enough we’d just been reading about the Scottish independence referendum on the BBC that day. J gave me a look that said: “Don’t you dare start trying to explain that…”
Just 26 days on the road and we’ve hit rock bottom – the southern tip of Baja California, that is. Cabo San Lucas is the Benidorm of Baja. We have gone from isolation and solitude to the land of cruise ships, high rises and shopping malls. Today we shall visit Land’s End, the tip of the peninsula, and then eventually loop back up to La Paz to take the ferry to the mainland.
But Cabo is not typical. Our journey back to La Paz should take us to yet more spectacular and barely developed beaches – the major selling point of this peninsula. The night before last we boondocked for the first time, by a surfers’ beach on the Pacific coast. After breakfast we rented bodyboards and spent an hour flying across – and, not infrequently, tumbling into – the waves. Superb.
I know this has been a lengthy post but I’d just like to mention one other thing. It’s about a floor mat we have that was provided with the van. Granted, it’s quite a dull subject, but do read on! I have a love-hate relationship with this heavy dirt-collecting mat, but this week it redeemed itself. One night we came home in the dark, someone had let their dog shit outside our van, and one of us (J) trailed a big chunk of it inside. Bad in any situation, catastrophic in a confined space. Out went the whole mat (and J) and, hey presto, clean floor underneath.
See – you thought we were getting away from all the trials and tribulations of suburban life, but no. No matter where you are in the world, there is still plenty of bitching to be done about dog crap.
People who are now off the Christmas card list: Anyone who thinks it’s okay to let their dog shit outside our van.