We crossed the border into Tecate on November 10th, 2016. Our last day in Mexico was March 21st, 2017. We've put over 9k miles on the truck since leaving home, but it feels even farther than that. Our time in Mexico was something we'll never forget. We're loving Belize, but find ourselves missing Mexico already. This is a sentiment we've heard from many travelers- No matter where you go or how long you're gone, you'll always miss Mexico.
The diverse beauty of the country and the kindness of the people has a tendency to stick with you. We're ready to move South, but we'll probably always wish, just a little, to be back on a beach sipping Pacifico and practicing our Spanish.
We're planning to do a wrap up of each country, with his and hers lists of favorite things, frustrations, or observations.
We'll also include a map at the bottom of the wrap up page with all our campsites and a rough route of where we traveled. The route isn't exact because Google doesn't always think it's possible to drive where we have. Maybe they're right.
Interesting Mexico statistics-
Days in the country: 109 (we flew home for 22 days in the middle of our visit to Baja)
Miles Driven: 5,464
Tolls paid: $3354 pesos (about $168 US)
Hours of audiobooks listened to: 68 hours 13 minutes, 11 books
Bribes paid: $0
So, here it is- Our Mexico wrap up!
1. Favorite town: Tequila. High altitude. Cobblestone streets. Tequila ice cream...
2. Favorite meal: My first ceviche. We stopped along the highway next to a roadside stand where fresh ceviche was prepared in front of us, as we ordered. We ordered two rounds and had a great, if limited, conversation with the owner. Two beers from our truck fridge and about $4 us later, we have a winner.
3. Most unexpected thing: How little Spanish we actually know. Seriously, we thought we had the basics going into Mexico, but only 10 minutes over the border and trying to fill with gas we discovered how woefully unprepared we were.
4. Favorite encounter: Spending a couple hours chatting with Mexican truckers as our ferry slowly neared Mazatlan. Manuel had taught himself English and wanted to practice with us. We spent the time complaining about how ridiculous each other's language was and he told us all about his home, as we pulled into port. Though Manuel was one of the only guys in the group that spoke english, his conversation with the only two gringos on the boat drew a small crowd of friendly onlookers who were entertained by our failiure to successfully roll our "R"s.
5. Most useful local word/phrase: Llenas con magna, por favor. (Fill with regular, please.)
6. Favorite drive: Our random, unplanned "shortcut" through the mountains to Guanajuato. Beautiful, remote, and high altitude combined with a freshly graded gravel road. What's not to love?
7. Best free experience: Camping in Baja. Seriously, just find a beach and crack a beer. Or two. Pros: Enjoy a million dollar sunset without paying a dime or sharing it with hordes of other tourists. Cons: you have to make your own drinks, but you get to keep any tips.
8. Most frustrating thing: Trying to buy hardware or car parts. The language barrier makes it tough, but generally supplies and variety are limited at each place, which means there is always a cousin or uncle's shop "just over there" that will have what you're looking for. It doesn't.
9. Favorite experience: Cowpasture campfire outside a remote fishing village. Our friends the Dancing Fireflies blew a head gasket miles and miles from anywhere. Despite being nervous about the repairs and the long tow on a short strap back to Mazatlan, we simply spent the evening enjoying our unlikely campsite in the company of friends (family).
10. Best thing about the country: Almost everyone was kind to us. We found that people were proud of their home and happy to share Mexico with two gringo interlopers. Though our Spanish is very poor, many many people make an extra effort to understand what we needed.
Bonus: Favorite Picture
This is one of my favorite pictures, not because it has the coolest lighting or a spectacular view; but because it represents a slice of our everyday. Taylor brings a sense of wonder everywhere she goes, even if we're simply walking home from Spanish class. I could learn a lot from the way she looks at the world.
1. Favorite town: This question was actually the hardest for me, I had to come back to it last. I think it might have been Mazatlan. It had a great mix of history, beauty, tourism, industry, and good eats, giving it a really great vibe. Plus the music scene there was AMAZING! I can't wait to go back!
2. Favorite meal: We had fish tacos at a road side stand outside of Loreto and they were so good we still dream about them!
3. Most unexpected thing: How different Mexico was from region to region. Like the above mentioned fish tacos. When you leave Baja, nobody sells fish tacos anymore. They have plenty of fish and tortillas, but fish tacos just aren't a thing. The scenery also changes drastically, from mountainous forests, to tropical jungles, to tons of different desert landscapes. It was really surprising how diverse the country was.
4. Favorite encounter: We met a German couple at a beach in Baja and then continued to run into them all through Baja. You may remember them from our Baja posts, and their adorable Basset Hound Hessy! We didn't expect to see them again, but 3 months and 2000 miles later we ran into them at a random parking lot in the Yucatan and it blew my mind! It reminded me how small this little overlanding world is! And we got to see Hessy again so that was pretty cool. : )
5. Most useful local word/phrase: "Tienes" was really helpful, meaning "you have?" Also when I learned to say "Que le vaya bien" from our good friend Donna, I felt we were way more legit, because it's what native speakers say to each other at the end of a business transaction. It's along the lines of "Have a nice day," but the translation is not exactly direct.
6. Favorite drive: When we crossed over the mountain pass from Puebla towards Vera Cruz. It was so good to see green again, after we had been in desert for months, and you climbed so far that you literally reached the clouds, and then coming back down you twist through beautiful canyons and valleys. It was amazing!
7. Best free experience: We drove out to a beach on Baja called Agua Verde and spent three days camped next to the most beautiful bay. We met a great couple from Canada there the first night, then the next couple days we had the beach all to ourselves. The water was amazing, we snorkeled with sting rays, balloon fish, reef cornetfish, and hundreds more! We basically laid around for three days. It was awesome!
8. Most frustrating thing: Hands down trying to load pictures for the blog on Mexican internet! Total pain in the ass, almost every time!!!!!!!
9. Favorite experience: Meeting Sophie and Peter in Mazatlan! That first night when we saw their sign advertising free stuff shaped our next three weeks, and I wouldn't trade one second! We made lifelong friends when we met those two and we can't wait to see them again soon!!!
10. Best thing about the country: I have a feeling I'm going to say this about every country but the food and the people! Tacos and wonderful 10 word conversations in our terrible Spanish fueled us across the incredible country of Mexico.
Bonus: Favorite Picture
Peter took this picture of KP and I and I've been saving it to post at the right time. It is definitely one of my favorite pictures of KP and I ever!