12.24.08 Costa Esmerelda!

Monte Gordo Travel Blog

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Lunch in Palma Sula

12.24.08 Costa Esmerelda


We made it back to Yuri Albu Campground on the Costa Esmerelda!  It was a joyous homecoming to our friends Mike, Larry, Lynn, and George who we met here in November.  Antonio has gone to her father-in-laws funeral sadly. 


However, Mike still hosted a campground Christmas Eve potluck dinner, complete with a huge turkey!  How lucky are we?!  And because we arrived about 3pm, ready to relax on the gorgeous, sunny beach, Mike took our donated money and bought and prepared a beautiful salad as our offering.

Pinata purchase in Palma Sula
  Dinner was truly special with new friends- about 25 people at dinner.  We provided clean-up duty as our humble offering- I was proud of the kids working hard with a helpful attitude.


I could hardly hear my campground backing up instructions from Ned and Mike because the kids were so thrilled to spy another Lazy Daze here!  Bill and Sharon are fulltimers and terrific people (of course).  They were accosted by the corrupt Tampico police (6 men with machine guns hanging out the military jeep) and ordered to pay $300 U.S. for no infraction.  It finally got down to $100 U.S. (they speak no English), and when Sharon got on the CB to tell their friends in the other rig why they were delayed (the police would not let the friends stop with them), the police quickly wrapped it up when Bill pulled out 100 pesos and offered to go with them to the station.  So the crooks took the 100 pesos and left.  I didn't think about the CB as a good tool (and Bill reports that if you take a picture of them, they won't ask for a bribe, which I may try- or they might take my camera!).

Parked in Yuri Albu Campground, Costa Esmerelda


We all have a plan now for skipping Tampico completely, nasty place that it is, by going to Cuidad Valles and up to Cuidad Victoria from there.  The lower road (Hwy 70) of the Tampico bypass was unbearably bad (the worst in all of Mexico and Central America) and I look forward to seeing a different part of Mexico on a different route.  It has to be better than Tampico!


Ned enjoyed talking last night with a fellow camper who had gone with his wife, 2-year-old, and 6-year-old camping all the way from the U.S. to Brazil in the 1970's.  His now-grown daughter repeated the trip with her family, going all the way to the southern tip of South America and wrote a book on the trip and the comparisons in how drastically things had changed.  I must find that book!  The man, whose name I must also remember, told fascinating tales of the industrious people machining a transmission gear for his 4x4 vehicle out of a chunk of bronze!  Such interesting travellers!


Last night we slept well in our Pemex station grass field.

Special Christmas Eve dinner in Yuri Albu Campground, Costa Esmerelda
  We were joined by a few other overnighters in vehicles as well.  Nobody cared that we were there as I think it is a rest area for overnighting, so no worries.  It was quick to hop right onto the toll road and take off bright and early in the morning.  I highly recommend that stopover location for fellow travelers.  (See previous blog for GPS).


On the way here to the Costa Esmerelda, we stopped about 10:30 am for a roadside lunch in Palma Sula, a small town north of Veracruz.  For 90 pesos ($7), we got a whole butterflied chicken right off the outdoor open flame grill, a stack of tortillas, a bowl of frejoles (black beans, sort of soupy), some rice, and some mean green salsa- all of which make a terrific taco!  Deliciouso!  We had fun laughing like Santa with the nice owner guy who could do a contagious “Ho, ho, ho!”


Then we ran across the street and bought a Christmas tree piñata for 70 pesos ($5) that is bigger than Lia!  We thought it’d be a lot of fun for the neighborhood when we return.  Jazy and Charles agreed to keep it up in the cabover until we get home.  We wanted Mexican candy for it and the piñata owner gave us directions to go behind the buildings and then watched us wander off in that direction.  Then she joined us, walked us to the store, into the store, and helped us find the correct location for paying, which was challenging with the many people, multiple registers, and lack of apparent line.  We were so grateful for her kindness! 


We also bought pastries and bread from a Panaria, and enjoyed showing Ned how you get a tray and tongs and load up for just a few pesos each.  Sometimes bread is like 1 peso for a little loaf, which is less than $.10 US!


Along the way, I bought an orange juice (jugo de naranja) from a tope seller.  It was a large bottle in Veracruz fruit country for 10 pesos (less than $1 as the exchange is now about 13.33 pesos to the $1 US).  Delicious!  I have heard that they add sugar to it sometimes, and other times non-potable water if you're unlucky, but it is so good that it's worth the risk and so far, no troubles.


We continued about 10 miles down the road to the next small town, where we enjoyed the active marketplace, which sold clothes, freshly ground coffee by the kilo, ice cream cones (5 NP),  beautiful Mexican sandals (we all got some), and about 1000 different items.  We also met some nice people although we did encounter a few of the Martian-looks here.  But people were friendly and we were glad that Ned got to experience some of the fun of Mexican towns with their vibrant people and intriguing stores, which are all jumbled together, but each provides real services.  You would just never know it from a first glance.


We tried to buy some Corona bottled beers, but because we didn’t have “empties” to turn in, the owner tapped on our RV window and indicated that she would have trouble getting more beer from the supplier without them.  It didn’t seem possible to pay more, so Ned just returned to trade them for cans.  Larry later told us that bottles are cheaper than cans in Mexico because they reuse them by cleaning and refilling them.  I had read that in Nicaragua you have to return the empties or pay double for bottled beer.  Also, Charles ran into an occasion where they wouldn’t let him leave with the Sprite bottle and wanted him to drink it right there.  He finally bought a Gatorade instead.  It is a strict recycling program not geared necessarily for the environment, but ultimately it’s for cost-savings for the supplier, but is an impressive idea.


We have internet!  It's our first since 12/12 in Sula, Honduras!  Of course we could have sought out some internet cafes, but they are far easier to find in Mexico (which seems clean, organized, and wealthy compared to Belize, Honduras, and Nicaragua).  Larry got us set up on the satelite internet here and 500 messages downloaded.  I suspect anything sent after (it looks like) Tuesday did not make it into Earthlink storage, so if you sent something and don't hear in the next few days, please resend!  I will try to catch up on emails, for which I am very, very grateful to get!


We have a lovely view of the ocean and the wonderful sea breeze blowing through the camper.  It's full hookup here!  We cannot remember out last campground since it has been so long!  Do you realize how lucky we are to have real campgrounds in Mexico and the US?!  The weather is perfect and we hear tales of cold and snow in Houston.



Sunset was amazing.  We are so happy to be here!  Most of all, we're grateful to be together as a family.


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Lunch in Palma Sula
Lunch in Palma Sula
Pinata purchase in Palma Sula
Pinata purchase in Palma Sula
Parked in Yuri Albu Campground, Co…
Parked in Yuri Albu Campground, C…
Special Christmas Eve dinner in Yu…
Special Christmas Eve dinner in Y…
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photo by: TessaHill