Always Take the Long Way

The new and improved (?) Mike. Shaved his head our last day in Hopkins.
The new and improved (?) Mike. Shaved his head our last day in Hopkins.

After Hopkins, we had some decisions to make, namely, which way should we go home? Our original plan (the one before we spent all of our money…) was to hit everything we missed in Mexico on the way back, then go up the California coast to Washington, then, maybe, catch a ferry to Alaska and then back (to avoid driving ALLL the way through Canada and back), then hitting the Rockies for some more hiking/camping/wilderness fun all before getting back to NY and then Florida… this all sounds rather exciting doesn’t it? Almost makes a girl wish for different decisions… like ones that don’t result in me sitting in my living room typing this right now. Almost. Except then we’d be somewhere  (probably Nicaragua by now…) with a very, very sick dog and that is not anyone’s idea of fun.

Barley update: Officially 7 (ok 8… it took me a while to finish this) weeks since the diagnosis and he is free and clear of all symptoms (blood-related and otherwise) of “tick fever”. New fun though. After we arrived back in Florida, he started wetting the bed. Seriously. Like he peed on me in my sleep. Apparently if he has to go in the middle of the night, it’s always on me… brings me back to a pooping incident…. anyway, moving on…

So we took Barley to our local vet here (The Palm Bay Animal Clinic – they’re great BTW (that’s By The Way for the acronym-challenged)), since we needed to anyway, and got him checked out. After an exhaustive list of symptoms, treatments, time frames, etc. Barley got poked in every single hole he had (Every. Single. One. Seriously…. I’ve never seen a dog get catheterized before and I never want to see that again) to get to the bottom of this new and exciting development. Seeing as we were unemployed at the time (a situation we are rectifying quickly) we hoped this was not super expensive. It wasn’t cheap, but it didn’t break the bank. Two days later the doc gave us the news. It was serious, but it was treatable. Barley is now diabetic. For dogs, there is no way to treat besides insulin, except in few cases where it can be managed with proper diet. The onset of diabetes at this stage in his life is rare… 6 year old dogs don’t get diabetes. 12 year old dogs do. And puppies that are born with it. So, best guess is he got it because of the rapid weight loss from the tick fever. Now he gets fed every 12 hours with insulin after each feeding, as well as a specialized high-fiber dog food. So… being in Nicaragua (or wherever), sleeping in a tent with one dog that wets the bed, and trying to figure out what is wrong with him this time… while trying to communicate in another language…. would not have worked out well.

Knowing this still does not prevent me from raging bouts of jealousy when I see all the people we met (or the people we hoped to meet) doing totally awesome things in the coolest places we’ve never even heard of.

OK so where was I??… Oh yes, decisions, decisions…

So … back in Belize, we wanted to go to the Belize Zoo. It’s an open zoo where you can interact with the animals (or simply view them in the open and not in cages) and it’s supposed to be very cool. I was looking forward to going. The Tropical Education Center across the highway from the zoo offers dorms, private rooms and camping. They do not, however, allow dogs in the rooms. Since it is hot as the dickens in Belize pretty much year round, we hoped for a room, so we could go to the zoo (something tells me they don’t allow dogs in a zoo where monkeys and other creatures roam freely). So… we didn’t stay, we didn’t go to the zoo, and I didn’t get to see the monkeys, the jaguars or the jaguarundi (which is like an adorable smaller version of a jaguar, that would also kill you so those ones are caged). WAH! Instead, we headed for the border and back to Bacalar Camp.

Getting out of Belize is far easier than going in. Except the guy at the immigration desk confused the hell out of us and the Banjercito girl, but we figured all that out with the help of the lady who cleans the bathrooms. Go figure.

Back at Bacalar, Aki was still there and had somehow gotten his tent on the roof. I never did find the stairs…. I’m just going to go with the theory he uses his awesome Buddhist meditation mind skills and levitates up there. He’s really light so he could probably do it.

Sunrise at Bacalar Camp on our journey north
Sunrise at Bacalar Camp on our journey north


We spent just the one night there, used the WiFi and found our next stop. We were still up in the air about how we would get back through Mexico, and which border crossing we would use, so we chose a neutral next stopping point. It took us north and at that point, it was all that mattered.

We drove next to Catemaco again (and it took For-Freaking-Ever. Sunup to sundown to be precise), this time staying in the RV park near town. The Villas Tepetapan RV park is scary. Seriously, if you look at the website its great, right? Looks super nice. No no no no no. Stay away. The owner is great but seriously dude… buy some bleach, dump in in your (cess)pools, and then maybe, MAYBE, it might be worth staying there. I kid you not there were clouds (CLOUDS!!) of no-see-ums and mosquitos. The entire place was a nightmare. Don’t stay here. You have been warned. They do have WiFi so if you’re SOL you could stay here just for that. I’m pretty sure it’s one of 3 places in the whole town with it. Wear your deet-infused nylon suit if you do.

So the owner guy told us the route most people take through Eagle Pass, and it seemed doable. It would get us out of Mexico in like 2 more sleeps. But, where is the fun in that? We decided to try a slightly different route. Try Teotihuacan next (sorta/kinda on our way), see some more cool ruins and then go from there.

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Teotihuacan (the ruins part) was awesome.The city was quaint and had good tortas (sandwiches), which is always a nice change from the taco stands. The RV park wasn’t super easy to find but we figured it out and set up camp. A month in an English-speaking country totally ruined my Spanish so asking directions and understanding the answers got a lot harder. The park has a nice lawn, cold showers, and decent WiFi (if you know where to stand). The owner was also breeding her Dalmatian so there were about 8 adorable little puppies causing trouble and attempting to break out all the time. I wanted to steal them all! We spent one night just relaxing and the next day at the ruins site. These pyramids were impressive. Way better than Chichen-Itza. Probably a bigger site, with way more to see, and um, you could CLIMB THE PYRAMIDS. I guess I’m still not over that tourist trap rip-off.

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Camp – there were some SERIOUS rigs there

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I love the guys who drive donkey-powered vehicles.

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Its hard to appreciate how high up this is in a picture… Its really freaking high, let me tell you.

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And what ruins site would be complete without vendor shops? I still want one of those woven embroidered tops… maybe next time.

While in Teotihuacan (seriously, if you can pronounce that, tell me how) we compromised on the return trip plan. We wouldn’t spend a fortune or a ton of time, but we would see more of Mexico. This meant, instead of going north for two more nights, we would head west and hit at least two more spots on our way back. I didn’t “win” that argument (I wanted to stop at least 4 places and take a full two weeks to get out of Mexico), but marriages are about compromise, sometimes… and of course, there was the budget to consider. Or, lack of budget.

And here are some more photos in case you needed more…

High-steppin... these steps were HUGE. I thought people thousands of years ago were shorter....
High-steppin… these steps were HUGE. I thought people thousands of years ago were shorter….
Sorry folks, it wasn't the aliens... or is that just what the aliens want us to believe??....
Sorry folks, it wasn’t the aliens… or is that just what the aliens want us to believe??….
Awww look how cute we are!
Awww look how cute we are!
Clocktower... visible from camp. If you see the clock tower you can (sort of) follow it to the campsite
Clock tower (or bell tower – not sure)… visible from camp. If you see the clock tower you can (sort of) follow it to the campsite

Next stop: Guanajuato!



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