It wasn’t until we uncorked the tequila bottle to a loud and satisfying POP, almost like a champagne bottle that it dawned on us how far we’d come up in the world. We left Cyutlán at around 10:30 AM. Cuyutlán, being on the beach is, well, pretty much at sea level. Granted, we were probably camped at maybe 3-4 feet above sea level but still, we were essentially starting at zero. According to the Church’s guide, Jocotepec, near where we stopped, is at about 5,000 feet above sea level. That’s a pretty significant drop in air pressure. According to the interweb brain trust, atmospheric pressure at sea level is about 14.7 psi and one loses around 0.52 psi per 1000′ of elevation gain. So, in 5000′ we dropped from 14.7 psi to 12.1 psi. That’s plenty to cause the sealed tortilla chip bags to turn into tight little pillows and for the pressure inside a sealed container to blow its top off or at least give you a really good POP when opened.
Anyhoo, we headed up the highway towards Colima. It wasn’t long at all before we got to see the volcano, Volcán de Colima.
As I said in my last blog, we’ve decided to start heading north so that we can spend a little time at our new little digs in Puerto Peñasco before heading further north for the summer. Rather than just turn around and cover the same ground we’ve already traversed, we decided to head inland and see some of the sights as well as maybe get a little relief from the 90º+ daytime temperatures we’ve been experiencing. Lulu could stand it forever and I can take it for a pretty long time but, the humidity accompanying the heat was keeping me in a drenched t-shirt almost all the time.
We chose Club Roca Azul as our destination the first day. There are at least 2 other RV parks in the area but we knew Roca Azul was open and had space available because we’d received invitations from both Rafa, the owner and Teo, the manager. It’s location on the western shore of Lake Chapala made it sound like a prettier park than the others. Who knows? It’s all a crap shoot until you get there. One thing I can tell you for sure, if you’re heading to Roca Azul, follow the Church’s directions. Dora wanted to take us through Jocotepec but we resisted. After visiting the town yesterday, I’m glad we did. The road would take you right through the middle of town on very narrow streets. There’s also a festival going on right now which further snarls traffic up. And, once you do get through town, you have about 2 miles on a small, cobbled, rutted road with lots of overhanging foliage to scrape the top of your RV. The Church’s route is also cobbled but you don’t have the other obstacles.
We weren’t sure what to think when we first pulled into Roca Azul. It’s not just an RV park. It was once some sort of vacation complex and Rafa and his staff are working to bring it back to its previous glory. There’s a huge unheated pool as well as a smaller pool heated by underground thermal streams. There are 2 RV areas. One is pretty traditional with side-by-side sites with patios, etc. We chose instead to park in the cul-de-sac area. The sites are not really well-defined but that’s okay since there is plenty of elbow room.
The lake isn’t really useable since the shoreline is pretty marshy but it makes a beautiful backdrop. I suspect it used to be higher since the structure around the faro (lighthouse) looks an awful lot like a boat launch ramp.
We wanted to go into town for some groceries, cerveza, agua mineral, etc. Looking at Google maps wasn’t helping an awful lot because it wasn’t clear where the various stores were. I knew that there were some folks on Facebook’s “On The Road In Mexico” group who were staying here so I just asked for some info. Got a response right away. This led to meeting some other folks here and to even more information. Then, when I got back to the camper from meeting these folks, I had an e-mail from Teo with a whole bunch of info, maps, etc. to make the stay here easier.
Yesterday we walked the 2 miles into Jocotepec with the plan to get the groceries and then get a cab back since our hands would be full and our packs heavy.
There was a festival going on in town. I’ve asked several folks what it was but so far I haven’t understood the answer well enough to write it down. Anyway, several blocks around the cathedral and town square are blocked off to vehicle traffic and filled with booths selling food and junk. There are carnival rides and midway-type games. We found the store, Bodega Aurrera, which had everything we were looking for. We came out with two full packs, two boxes of beer, and a half-case of agua mineral. We asked the security guy if we could get a taxi from there. He didn’t seem too encouraging unless we just happened to find one in the parking lot. Although there’d been one when we went in, he was gone now and there were no others in site. Walked out to the street and saw a few go by but every one had a fare already. This wasn’t looking good. I really didn’t want to have to cart our bootie back on foot. We loaded ourselves down and started walking back to the heart of town to see if we’d have better luck. One empty cab passed us but turned our wave down saying he was going to pick up a fare. Fortunately, once we got to the street that leads back to Roca Azul, there was an empty cab who agreed to take us. Fifty pesos. Pretty good considering the bumpety road he had to traverse.
Our next move will be to catch a bus in Jocotepec to take us to Guadalajara for a little sightseeing.
Although we haven’t evaded the mosquitoes entirely, there are fewer of them (I think) than there were on the beach. And I’m basking in the more moderate temperatures and a dry t-shirt.
Cuyutlán to Roca Azul (Jocotepec): 152 miles
Total to-date: 7,342 miles
Oh, by the way, I had every intention of driving up here on the libres (free highways). Wasn’t really interested in paying sky-high tolls again. However, Mexico got me again. We saw the sign to exit to the libre. Like many exits in Mexico, it wasn’t really well-defined and, this time, there was construction going on so that the exit looked like the entry to a gravel quarry. I passed right by before I realized that was it. Not easy to get off the cuota (toll road) and turn around so we just continued on. Dora liked it as it shaved an hour off our trip but Dora doesn’t have to cough up the dough. The toll was $186 (~$12.85US) just like George and Steve at Coconutz said it’d be. A few miles after passing the toll booth we had another opportunity to exit to the libre. We figured we’ve already paid the toll, might as well continue on and get what we paid for. We’re smarter now. Seems that the toll we paid was for the road we’d just been on as there was another toll booth before we got to the turn-off to Jocotepec. Another $186 so figure around $25.00US for the privilege of using the toll road. ¡Ay!