On the road to San Blas

As I believe a lot of campers do, we planned out our next stop using the iOverlander app. This is pretty useful as it has a lot of spots to choose from and the reviews are helpful in picking somewhere suitable. We headed for Teacapan, a small town on the river that forms the border between Sinaloa and Nayarit. There seemed to be a nice campsite here on the lagoon, with surfing on the beach. 

It was a few hours drive to reach the designated point, where we were greeted with a barred gate. This is also the problem of relying on the app, some spots are now shut. The last time anyone left a review here was two years ago. Fortunately there was another spot close by at the restaurant so we drove down. The restaurant was clearly shut, but it looked like a nice enough place to park. We spoke to a guy who was involved with the building project next door and he phoned the owner to ask. We parked up and waited for the owner to arrive. A short while later he turned up and told us we could stay as long as we wanted, no problem. We parked up on a sandy spot by the restaurant and settled down, happy with our first free spot. 

It wasn’t long before the local police arrived, there were collecting coconuts. We went over and offered the owner some beers for letting us stay and we hung about sipping a cold can. It was nice to see the local police with the owner, this probably meant we were guaranteed no problems and didn’t have to worry about them telling us to leave. As night fell, we drained a bit of fuel from Ruby for the guy who had phoned the owner, his scooter had run out and he couldn’t get back to town. Then, we headed inside for the night. It had been a long day of driving and the bugs outside weren’t too great, so we were happy for an early night.

The following morning we walked down to look at the waves for surfing. They were breaking an incredibly long way out from the shore, I estimated around half a mile in places. The water was dark and you couldn’t see the bottom even in the shallows, no one else was in sight. Despite the fact that it would be nice to have the beach to ourselves, we didn’t feel safe paddling so far out into the unknown. Who knows what currents could be like here? So, we played it safe and instead diverted our attention to planning what we would do next. We were out of practice with the concept of moving regularly and had no idea what the next stop would be. We decided to stay another night and leave the following morning, giving ourselves time to arrive somewhere new. 

I had a go at getting rid of the persistent knock sensor code on our ECU, without much luck. Something we will need to look into later. It was also at this point we discovered we had a black window living in the engine bay, not ideal!

Since the engine swap, we still have the issue that the oil light comes on at idle with the engine hot. Thinking that this could (hopefully) be due to have a slightly too lightweight oil, we resolved to swap it soon. While I was still apprehensive of the new engine, it had made it this far without any issues. 

We were still keen to surf, so our next stop was decided as San Blas. Here we could stay in the surf camp. Again, it was a fair drive, with some steep inclines and descents. So far we had taken the toll roads, but we now decided to save our money and avoid the tolls. The tolls are supposed to be safer, but we hadn’t seen anything to worry us so far. The tolls also get quite expensive, some are official tolls which can cost up to 130mxp, others are local tolls where the local have taken over the toll booths. These are up for haggling, we paid 60 pesos to go through one after some arguing, he wanted 100. Still, with a budget of 500 pesos a day, it would be easy enough to spend it all on the tolls and this is what we wanted to avoid. We decided to see what the other roads were like and turned off the main road. 

The free roads were a bit slower, the limits lower and so on, but this didn’t really matter for us as we weren’t inclined to blast along at the maximum speed limit anyway. They were more interesting to drive. The scenery more diverse. Mainland is very green, trees, vines and flowers line the road. A pleasant sight after so much desert for so long. 

It was mid afternoon by the time we descended into the town of San Blas and found our way to Stoner’s Surf Camp.

Having got ourselves parked up and given the cats some time out of the campers, we grabbed our boards and headed for the beach. The surf was pretty good, if a little unpredictable with a strong current in places. It was nice to be back in the water after a while. What was even nicer was having access to proper showers afterwards, a definite luxury. 

While the surf was quite good, the camping wasn’t the best. It wasn’t so quiet next to the road, and we felt we couldn’t let Aimee run free. It wasn’t too expensive at 160 pesos per night, but we knew that just down the coast were free surf beaches. So the next day we moved on in the afternoon. First, we spent a few hours exploring San Blas.

We walked to the main town square, where the newer church sits next to the remains of the old one.

We then walked around the town and to the river that flows through it, a pretty view.

Then it was time for some brunch, we headed inside to the market and got ourselves some American sized, Mexican priced, freshly made milkshakes and cheesecake, because, well why not?

With plenty of time left in the day, we walked to the other end of the town, here the river is greener and full of floating plants. The mosquitoes are also incredible, don’t stand still. Ever.

Ready to leave, it was only a short drive around to the next spot. We knew that there were crocodile tours in the area, and Kikki and Hanno were thinking of going. We, on the other hand, were not so sure. We had already seen a fair share of crocodiles in Florida. In the end it turned out we didn’t need a tour to see them at all. There is a large lay-by on the main road with several cars. I didn’t realise why we had stopped here until we got out and looked over the netting to see the edge of the lake covered in crocodiles, a few metres away. 

With that box checked, we drove another ten minutes onto Las Islitas, a good surf beach. Driving along by the sea, the beach is lined with restaurant after restaurant. It is clearly a touristy area, although now for the most part they are deserted. We drove on a little further to a spot marked as Stoner’s Point. Here there was a restaurant on the beach, and some kind of big industrial operation going on the other side of the road. The machinery emitting a constant high pitched whine. We wondered if that stopped at night or not. This was also not quite where the surf was, so Hanno and Kikki took Bruno as the more capable vehicle to see what happened to the dirt road. Not long later they reported back, it wasn’t possible to drive all the way to the surf beach, although we could camp down there. We decided to opt for Las Islitas, hoping to surf in the morning. Our surf app promising big waves.

Our little spot was not too bad, next to the road but fairly quiet. We gave Aimee free run till a local cat turned up and started chasing her and Chico. At this point she ran in front of a fortunately very slow car and was confined to the van again as untrustworthy. We went for a swim in the shallow bay to cool off and hoped for waves in the morning. The sandflies and mosquitoes here are no joke, and we spent another evening inside. The sandflies are the worst in my opinion as they are small enough to go through our double mosquito nets, therefore we spent the night with the windows shut and the fans on full as it was hot and stuffy. the mosquitoes are absolutely massive, but make very little noise which makes them a little harder to pinpoint than normal. I can see why this place has an unfortunate reputation based on the insects.

In the morning we attempted to find the 6ft waves. What we actually found was a near still sea, we double checked we were in the right spot, we were. The phone confirmed the surf beach location, while a glassy sea greeted us. Disappointed we drove down and decided to try the other beach. We drove further down the dirt road, and parked on the next bay with several other cars. From there, it’s possible to continue down a stony path on foot, to the surf beach, lizards criss-crossing in front of us all the way.

Here, there were a few surfers in the water. We watched as they surfed from behind the point into the bay, while the waves themselves were ok, they were a matter of metres from the rocks and as beginners we didn’t trust ourselves to be that accurate. So we walked back to the campers and decided it would be a swimming kind of day instead. 

We walked back down the beach to the restaurant to get a drink and see if there was any more internet, I felt the need for more of a ‘long term plan’. Lee was adamant the signal was better down there, I think he just wanted a cocktail as it turned out to be worse than where we already were.

That evening, we changed our gear bushing, a task that seems to need doing every 6 months or so. It was nice to wash off in the sea after, it was incredibly humid and even undoing a couple of bolts left us both dripping. We observed as the locals lit small fires on the beach, and then poured water over them so they smoked. This was supposed to keep the sandflies away. We tried it, but I find that it only works if you literally stand in the smoke. You can either be eaten alive, or have smoke in your eyes, what a choice! On the positive side of things, we were finding it easy to camp without a problem. Again, the police had turned up. We saw the flashing light stop by us and got that familiar sinking feeling, here we go again… Lee got out. They wanted to check if we were ok, we assured them we were and off they went. Again, no issues. Still, we were a bit bored of the bugs and the lack of promised waves, so we decided we would move on the next day, we had a hike in mind. 

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