Playa Tecolote

During the night, the group was visited by a local idiot, who decided to park up next to our camp and blast loud music out whilst simultaneously revving his engine. With all of the beach to choose from, he chose to do it right next to us, which led me to believe that his actions were personal. Maybe the guys at the bar were so annoyed at us not paying their prices, that they sent a friend round to annoy us. It may have been Big Nose himself for all I knew. After a short while, our new visitor started doing laps up and down the beach (only near our spot) with the driver trying really hard to max the engine out in a low gear. At some point the noise stopped and I thankfully fell back to sleep.

In the morning, I discussed the incident with John, who like me had a similar hypothesis, wondering if we had upset the apple cart by refusing to pay the prices. We later spoke to a couple camped near us in a tent and learned that the driver had lost control at one point and almost crashed right into their tent! Apparently, he left it their for a while and enjoyed a drink, before switching to 4×4 and driving away. We would never know the true reasons behind the incident, but it left a bitter taste in my mouth. At least no one had been injured I suppose. It sounded like it could have ended a lot worse.

Fed up of John’s chess dominance, he had beaten me a few more times the night before; Willow, Danny and John flipped the board over and attempted to learn back gammon. At this point, I was now a good five weeks behind with my blog, so I was desperately trying to catch up. Meaning most of my time was spent typing away. At least I could do it on a beach in the sun! I’ve written it in colder places.

By midday, we were keen on exploring the other beach, John and Ina setting off first with their dog Abbie on their bikes. We set off next, deciding to take a trail over some cliffs, which led round to the beach from the other side. The rest followed shortly afterwards, getting a ride from a passerby on the way.

It was nice to be out hiking a small trail by ourselves, being in a group was great, but I think it’s always good to keep a bit of independence. The trailed climbed up on to the cliffs, passing another secluded beach along the way.

Cosy little beach

We then had to descend down a steep path to join onto another golden sandy beach. This was not the beach we were aiming for but it was gorgeous. On the section we joined, there was a small group of people enjoying a boat tour which they were clearly happy to pay for. There were some pretty expensive looking boats moored in the bay, including one very fancy one which had its own helicopter. Maybe we had a big celebrity in town? We walked down the rest of the beach which was relatively empty, except for a couple on the far end, lying on sun beds underneath a canopy. One was an older gentleman, most likely in his late 60’s. The other, a younger girl, in her 30’s. Maybe this was just some innocent father/daughter bonding on the beach. It felt more like an incredibly rich fellow who had paid for more than just beaches to look at!

We were able to continue round some rock pools, underneath a section of rock, towards Playa Balandra. Our main destination. Willow had heard that there was an interesting rock formation named ‘The Mushroom’. Formed by the erosion of the cliff face. As we passed around the corner, we met Balandra, full of local Mexicans enjoying the lovely weather. A long line of people stood next to The Mushroom, anxious to take a selfie with the odd looking rock.

Making our way around to the others
The Mushroom

After grabbing a picture, free of people, we continued making our way around the beach, bumping into Ina, who was letting Abbie stretch her legs. We found the rest of the group, laying in the sun, enjoying some cold beers and quickly followed their lead. It was Saturday and the beach was filled with Mexicans. Being close to the mainland ferry, this was clearly a popular escape for the nationals. Being there, I could understand why.

I must admit, life felt great. I had just learned that Birmingham’s fixture with West Brom had been postponed due to concerns of the growing global pandemic. With all that was going on elsewhere, here we were free from concern. Life was continuing as normal, and I left smug knowing we could have been in Vancouver, which has starting to close down, due to the growing numbers of confirmed cases (and it was snowing).

As we lay basking in the sun, we were passed by local venders selling an array of appealing fresh fruit. One seller even had his small kid with him, trying to sell bags of popcorn.

Walking down the beach, I found a spot with a small amount of signal. I had received word from Gerry (our tenant), that the toilet had been fixed. My mate Ronnie also messaged me saying our tenant was happy. That was a massive weight of my mind. We rely heavily on our rental income to live out here, and so an unhappy tenant could easily escalate into a dire situation. Something I would try desperately to avoid. With that situation sorted, I rejoined the group, popping into the refreshing water to cool off.

As the day wore on, we started making our way back to camp, stopping off at the bars for some cocktails, hoping that yesterday’s attempts at negotiating wouldn’t cause an issue with us ordering some drinks. At the bar, all had seemed forgiven, the bar manager happy to whip us up some delicious cocktails. Danny befriended an American guy, who was visiting the area with his dad. He was desperate to spend some time with people his own age, so we invited him to join us later for drinks and some party games.

What … No Birmingham!
A nice afternoon treat

After cooking some grub, we gathered in a circle to play charades, joined by Matt from the bar. We split into two teams. Americans verses the rest of us. The game was actually really fun and lasted for hours, the mimes particularly entertaining! We got so wrapped up in the game that we forgot to actually keep score. I reckon it ended as a draw anyway. The booze hit Danny quite hard, who was finding it particularly challenging to stay seated on his incredibly small camping chair. Eventually, the questions started to repeat, but it kept us well entertained for most of the night, we lit a small fire to see out the final hours before we went to bed. It would be night’s like this that I would miss the most when we all went our separate ways.

We managed to sleep undisturbed that night, the guy in his pick up clearly had enough fun the night before. We fancied another beach day, and decided to venture to the beach Willow and I found on our last trip. Once again, John and Ina rode on ahead. We decided to bring Aimee with us, not wanting to keep her trapped in the van all day. We thought she would be keen on exploring a new territory. Oh how wrong we would turn out to be! It was incredibly hot that day, and did didn’t take long for her too start struggling, meaning we carried her for large sections of the walk up to the trail up and over the cliff.

She did walk a little bit

Eventually making it to the beach, things didn’t improve from there. The sound of the waves crashing in the bay upset her further. We picked a spot on the far end off the beach, near a sheltered section under some rocks. The noise was apparently worse there for her and she quick scurried away into some nearby bushes.

Two guys pulled up to the beach on a small dingy and started erecting a canopy in the same spot we had seen the odd aged couple the day before. Once it was set up, the elderly gentleman returned with his younger companion, who quickly popped in some head phones, conversation clearly not on her agenda. We were soon joined by the rest of the group, Aimee wasn’t the only pet struggling with the heat. Bodhi wasn’t really cut out for walking in such conditions, so it took them a while to navigate their way to us.

Still, the sun was out and we were once again enjoying the sizzling heat, whilst enjoying some cold beers and watching the nearby couple. Things got more interesting when the elder gentleman tried to get the attention of his ‘date’, waving madly and banging the table until he had her attention. At one point he started having a go at her, although I couldn’t quite here the reasons for the fall out. She would probably be back cleaning the boat in the morning.

The luxury ship with a helipad was still moored not far from the shore. We tried to take a picture of the flag to get a better idea of where it was from. Danny would later Google image search the boat and find it was used regularly by Steven Spielberg when he visited the region. He would often lend it to stars such as Leonard DiCaprio and Lewis Hamilton. Maybe we were closer to a celebrity than we realised!

Aimee still wasn’t happy and even managed to wriggle out of her harness, delving further into a bush filled with ominous looking spiders. I managed to get her back in her harness and decided to take her back to Ruby. Not able to relax knowing she was unhappy. Ina was feeling under the weather, so John asked me to bring their camper to the start of the cliff trail head, to save her having to travel too far back.

Creepy looking spider

The walk back was not a pleasant experience. Aimee let me know of her displeasure all the way across the beach. As he came to the trail up the cliff, Aimee kept down and practically ran up the track, managing around five minutes off walking before starting to desperately panting. Carrying her once more, I slowly made my way back towards the other end of the trail, repeatedly having to stop to let her walk a for a couple of minutes.

We eventually made it to the final descent and she was still not doing well, attempting to hold her, whilst gingerly trying not to slip on the loose gravel, my footing eventually gave way, causing me to drop her. In a panic, she clawed into my side before hissing at me angrily to show her displeasure. Since that moment, she really does not like me holding her for too long. The incident clearly a lasting memory for her. I don’t really blame her to be honest.

With the worst part of the trail complete, I just need to pass the section of bars and make it down our beach section to our camp. This was now made more difficult as Aimee was too hot to walk, wanting to seek shelter from the heat in any passing bush. She now also was not happy about me carrying her, so a ten minute walk turned into half an hour.

We did eventually make it make and I think we were both relieved for the ordeal to finally come to an end. Definitely a lesson learnt for the future!

With Aimee sorted, I tried to pack John and Ina’s bus away so I could move it to the start of the trail. If only I could figure out how to put it into drive. Spending a good five minutes playing with the sticks behind the wheels, eventually getting it to do what I want. I managed to drive a mere couple of minutes on some washboard road, before all sorts of items threw themselves enthusiastically on the floor. The experience definitely made me appreciate driving in Ruby, which in comparison was a much smoother drive.

Bus shifted, I returned up and over the trail to the others. After explaining the journey back to Willow, who at that point was wondering what took me so long, I had time to enjoy a well deserved beer before everyone decided to head back. Most of he day was now gone, as had peoples beer. So much for my relaxing beach day!

Without Aimee, the walk back this time was far simpler, and I managed to walk back to the otherside without an hassle. Willow did manage to slip in almost the exact spot I dropped Aimee. Reassuring me that it wasn’t just me being a clutz.

We offered to ride John and Ina’s bikes back, as it would allow me to stop off at the bar and at least savour a cocktail to try and salvage something from the day. Shortly we were joined by Danny, Ola and Rachel.

Back at the van, our group were visited by two guys, Corey and JR. They had arrived in a T25, hoping to be a part of the cancel Vanlife App gathering. Corey and JR both have popular Instagram pages from their many VW adventures around North America, and so it felt like we already knew them, even if it was the first time we had met.

JR was very interested in Ruby, and came to check her out whilst I prepared some pasta for our evening meal. He had previously travelled with his girlfriend in their baywindow ‘Sunshine’, although they seem to be no longer together. He talked about plans to buy another VW and liked a lot of the design features we had installed in Ruby.

With the pasta cooked, we enjoyed a simple meal before joining everyone around the fire. After the previous night’s partying, things were a lot more chilled out on this occasion.

Night time fire

In the morning, we would finally be saying good bye to everyone and start heading in our own direction. With most of America starting to shut down due to the Coronavirus, nobody knew what was best, with some thinking about heading back incase the border shut. We decided that we would play it by ear, and see how things developed around us. It couldn’t get that bad down here right?