Central Mexico Parte 1

Since, well, maybe Utah, we’ve been battling with the heat making us feel a bit too lethargic to use our bikes, running shoes and generally, being active. So, we’ve now escaped the Mexican coast, in search for mountains, higher elevation and cooler weather. And we’ve certainly found it. But first, as a catch-up on what we’ve been up to aside from a lot of sweating.

After taking the ferry to Los Mochis, we headed south toward Mazatlan. The tolls on believe it or not, the toll road, cost a small fortune (by our cheap person standards) at $30 (USD) to go from Los Mochis to Mazatlan, about $1 per 10 km. Some people say it’s worth it since the road quality is better, roads are wider, there are no topes (that’s actually a serious plus) and less traffic than the free throughways. We’ll probably stick to the free roads for now, and we’ll take our time.

Mazatlan is a tourist mecca but is home to some good surfing. Our primary purpose to go to Mazatlan was to get some surf lessons and see if we could buy used surfboards. Success on the lessons – fail on the board buying. Note: surfboards are much more expensive south of the US. This was Jakob’s first surf lesson and he did amazing – he was all smiles the whole time which made me even happier. We went to Plazuelo Machado one night for dinner, a small square surrounded by restaurants with live music around. It was rather romantic and fancy. Not our usual style but it was good food, still affordable and fun. The next day we stopped by the Municipal market and got some amazing Agua Fresca and Chile Rellenos at one of the few restaurants upstairs.

The next stop was Laguna Santa Maria del Oro.  It’s a volcanic crater that filled with water, very beautiful and peaceful. The temps were also cooler there, about 80 degrees. I believe you could go on some hikes and walks in the area, but we decided to pass on that and just went for a jog around the lake.

We headed back toward the coast, to Sayulita. The drive from the Laguna was about 2 hours along a windy and narrow, very scenic road. Sayulita is about 45 minutes away from Puerto Vallarta, another tourist mecca that we only stopped in to go to Costco. While Sayulita is also becoming very touristy, we were there during the very quiet season and still enjoyed it. The town is really charming and well kept. Unlike Puerto Vallarta, it lacks the condo high rises and has a calmer feel. Again, it was quiet when we were there and not overly crowded. We stayed in an expensive, but nice and convenient campground right near town and on the beach. I have to give the town huge props – they really take care of their dogs. They have nearly no stray dogs in the town and most dogs are spayed/neutered. Leika loved it and had a wonderful play session with a handsome new friend that I wanted to keep so badly. He kept nipping at her butt and tail while chasing her and ended up also nipping mine when I was trying to throw a ball for him. He had me at “hello.” Anyway, it was really nice to see. We stopped by a shop named WildMex and spoke with Javier – awesome dude, super smart, great service and gave us great pointers. He had one of the biggest and best selections of boards and mountain bikes that I’ve seen in Mexico. After renting our boards there, we surfed at La Lancha for the day. Awesome beach, and we heard the waves there are consistent when all other beaches are dead. There’s a sea turtle that roams the water close to shore and pops up 5-10 feet from your board every few minutes! The catch with this beach – it only allows 15 people in at a time, you MUST have a board with you to get in and no dogs are allowed. It sounds like the beach was getting too popular with surfers and surf shops bringing lessons there and the community decided to start shutting it down.

That night, we watched as some volunteers released hundreds of baby sea turtles onto the beach and watched them ‘race’ into the water. It was actually really cool! I surfed one morning on my own while Jakob slept and then made coffee for us. The waves weren’t huge but big enough to catch a few of them, and Leika sat on the beach watching me intently. I took Leika on a walk one afternoon, and someone asked me “cuanto cuesta por la perro?”… Sorry Sir, she’s ours and not for sale. We stayed three days in Sayulita and headed out to Mascota on Javier’s recommendation for some mountain biking.

Mascota is beautifully situated in the mountains and the drive into town is stunning. The roads in town are all cobble stone so it’s charming until you start driving your car on them. We pulled into town and went to look for the adventure mountain biking shop – when we couldn’t find it, we stopped in a nearby hotel to ask for directions. The owners were sitting in the courtyard when we walked in and when they heard that we couldn’t find the shop, they called the shop owners mother to ask where her son was. They couldn’t get a hold of her, so they called Javier (yes, the one from Sayulita. Because, of course, whenever he goes to Mascota to mountain bike, he randomly stays at their hotel!) and ask for the owners number since they’re buddies. It’s a small small world. Unfortunately, Jakob started feeling a bit too sick to get out with a guide and since the trails are poorly documented, we decided not to risk it this time and just went for a hike. Mascota is incredibly beautiful, great place for mountain biking and hiking and we highly recommend taking a few days here if you’re the outdoorsy type, but don’t expect well maintained trails or lots of information on the trails. We’ve heard there are also tours scheduled from the coastal vacation towns. We camped at Rancho La Esmeralda – it’s a really beautiful hotel property and we had a bathroom and shower available near to where we parked in their parking lot. It was quiet, safe, clean and had wifi. The only thing was the owner charged us 200 pesos, which is a little ridiculous for sleeping in a glorified parking lot. But, it was still nice. In addition, Leika found a filthy swamp and jumped in so we had to shower her…





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    • Topes are Mexican speed bumps. But they’re really hard to see and often very steep so a lot of people blow out their suspensions going over them. You really can’t go more than 10-15 MPH over them.

    • Hi Paul,
      Yes, that’s the NCV3, 2008 model. Outside of Northern Mexico, you won’t really find ULSD, and even there we’re not certain that it is always ULSD.

      • Did you experience any mechanical problems because of the quality of the Mexican diesel, for certain not ULSD south of the border zone?

        Reason I ask is because I have a 2015 Sprinter RV and have read it can cause significant engine problems.

        • Definitely important to consider before taking a trip to Mexico. The issue is with having a particulate filter (DPF) that clogs up from higher soot content. We’ve heard that the issue gets compounded especially in high elevation, where you have low oxygen content in the air and bad fuel quality.

          Most people that have taken shorter (~1 week) trips to Mexico haven’t encountered significant problems with their DPF. If you have an NCV3, you’ll probably have to remove the DPF and reprogram the ECU to avoid these problems for a longer trip (like ours). There do not appear to be other problems with high sulfur diesel other than the DPF. To remain in compliance with emissions, I would suggest reinstalling all emissions equipment once back in the US. From what I’ve heard 2008-10 Sprinters are fairly easy to modify, 2011+ difficult.

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