Oct 31, 2012

Sandy - Schmandy…

With the “super-storm” Hurricane Sandy wreaking devastation through the US northeast and into Eastern Canada, I say, “Come on down to the Yucatan -- weather’s great!”
I'm just being silly of course. I know I can't control or influence the weather, in spite of my irreverence.

This pic is of the tropical storms and hurricanes of 2005 -- weird patterns, eh?
Living our winters here on Caribbean coast, the hurricane issue is an annual concern. (Hurricane season is July to October). Before we committed to setting up our winter home here, I checked the hurricane history of this region. Over the last 50 years, there was a serious storm to cross this general area 10 times -- that makes an average of once every 5 years.
In 2005 there were 2 big ones to make landfall along our coast. Emily (July 18 Cat 4) went over Playa del Carmen just 15 km to our north. She stripped the grass roofs off several palapas and cracked a few walls in some older units here in Paamul.
Wilma (Oct 22 Cat 4) settled right over Cancun, busting up several of the cheaper hotels. Those hotels were either poorly built or under funded. Cancun is about 60 kms to the north of us.
2005 was a bad year for tropical storms, including both Katrina and Rita which devastated the US Gulf coast. My actuarial thinking says that with our two hurricanes in 2005, it gives us clear skies for the next 10 years, right? Well 7 years later, we are still just fine...

There is a great resilience in the people and their buildings in this area. Very few buildings are made of lumber. Our palapa has a grass roof, but it is over a concrete building blocks casita. Besides, grass roofs typically have to be replaced every 8 to 10 years.
I think if/when a super-storm hits us we will have some rebuilding but it should be quite simple.
Meanwhile, good luck to all our friends and neighbors to the north.
I think I’ll go for another swim today. Seas are calm...82 degrees...wonderful.

Oct 30, 2012

One Last Drive

We have gone full circle. What started with a mini-van, is now ending with a mini-van.
(The pic, left, is our first day across the border - our first stop for a roadside taco lunch at "Grama's Tacos" - yum!)

We made our first holiday drive to Mexico 12 years ago. We had a Ford Windstar, loaded with two small tents, sleeping bags, and minimal camping gear and supplies (and our new puppy, Pippin). We spent a couple of weeks going down the US west coast, then down the long Mexican Baja, and back. It was enough of a taste of Mexico to bring us back.
A brief evolutionary history:
In 2003, we had acquired a ½ ton truck and small fifth wheel, and that served us for three more winter trips, each outing taking more time exploring the Mexican west coast.
On our way north in the spring of 06, we agreed that our living in Vancouver had run its natural course, and we should look at full retirement, selling the house, and traveling more.
That summer, we successfully pulled the plug, and moved to a new truck and trailer, and our “full-time RVing” life began. That fall, we headed south and spent much of the winter in the west coast town of Lo de Marcos, where we had developed a close community of friends and activities.
However, we weren’t quite ready to settle down. We had been driving through much of the northern Mexican interior, enjoying it all, and knew there was more we wanted to see. We kept hearing about this RV beach community way out on the eastern Caribbean coast of Mexico, called Paamul, and decided next winter, 2007, to head that way.
We were well-smitten by the area, the beach, the facilities and the people. We still considered ourselves “full-time travelers”, but reasoned that if we leased a spot on this Caribbean coast, and built a palapa, we could still be touring with our rv through so much more or the US and Mexico on our annual trips south and north.
Those trips each ran 6000 kilometers (or more), and each year the drive seemed a little longer. Over the next five years, we visited most of the States of Mexico, and most of the United States too. Yes, I’m sure there is more to see, but then, there always will be.
Then we re-evaluated our life as RVers. We still enjoy spending our summers in the 5th wheel at beautiful Guelph Lake Park, but maybe we needn’t  be pulling our big rolling house around. Our wonderful ‘06 Chevy Duramax Silverado had done its job. With 192,000 kms (more than half of those pulling our 5th wheel), we bade it farewell, and it found a new home to be the trailer-puller for another family. For now, we will still be living our summers in our trailer, but now it goes into storage for the winter.

So we are back to a mini-van -- this time an 06 Dodge Grand Caravan. I have to admit, it was more relaxing to drive the long days without the 12,000 lbs of weight behind, though it seems like we had a good deal of that weight loaded into this van. We took the topes (speed bumps) very slowly, scraping our underside a few times. The van was stuffed with a last load of our stuff -- 12 rubbermaid totes, 4 suitcases, two tool boxes, two guitars, an amp, etc, that will be part of our winter life. The Dodge will stay here and be our winter vehicle.
The trip was kind of a last waltz. We drove many familiar roads, commenting to each other that it would likely be our last time passing by: “Goodbye Cincinnati, Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock, Austin, San Antonio, Eagle Pass.
Adios Piedras Negras, Monclova, Matehuala, San Miguel de Allende, Arco Norte, Puebla, Orizaba, Villahermosa, Escarsega.
Hasta Luego (Until we meet again).