Archive for the ‘Camping in Bahia de Kino’ Category

Reception at La Playa Hotel and “RV Park,” Kino Nuevo

Incidente a La Playa Hotel

We drove into Bahia de Kino, Sonora, last week, excited after a long drive from the Punta Vista RV Park in Santa Ana, Sonora, a renown stopover for travelers on their way to all points south in Mexico.  At long last we arrive at the reception office of La Playa Hotel and RV Park in Kino Nuevo.

Sporting big Gringo smiles, we asked the señora behind the desk, ¿Tiene usted un lugar para alquilar para nuestro RV? (I had been practicing the question for the last four hours while on the road).  Solo por el mes, she told us: 11,000 pesos ($600), about $20/day.  I dug deep deep into my pockets for the pesos, but came up short and had to find the Jaxter para obtener mas pesos.

She had already gone down to check out our old site #17 and discovered that Ariel, the owner, had converted most of the RV sites into individual habitaciones or casitas, something that he had started doing six years ago when we were there.  Many of the sites that were left had no electricity or the sewer had been plugged with cement, and the beautiful saltillo tiles that used to be on the patios were cracked and missing.

We saw two trailers parked in year-long sites, but it looked as though no one had lived in them for a long time.  The site we had used six years ago was still there, but it was in such a state of disrepair that it looked nothing like it used to.  We might have made it work for us somehow.  In the past, the owner, was always more than willing to accommodate his RV tenants in any way he could. The deal breaker for us was no internet signal, so, sadly, we left and headed for Kino Viejo and Islandia.

We were pretty disappointed by the La Playa experience, but Jackie, always pithy and to-the-point, said, “Things just don’t stay the same in Mexico.”

Vamos a Islandia Pronto

Islandia RV Park sign

Islandia Marina and RV Park is a mile and a half down the beach from La Playa.  The park is mostly made up of Canadian and American “snowbirds” and some full-timers, which is hard to fathom because summer temperatures even on the beach tend to be sweltering and muggy, reaching easily into the 100 + degrees.  With a daily rate of $360 pesos ($17 Us), we decided to give it a try for a couple of weeks.

We had quite a few sites to choose from and all were very close to the beach.  There are always a few “quirks” at Mexico RV parks, and Islandia is no different.  Both Punto Vista and Islandia didn’t have enough water pressure to hook water hoses directly to the truck camper water lines.  We had to rely on our 12 volt water pump system to pressurize the water lines.  And the water at Islandia was desalinated locally so it was both briney and very hard.

Water for RV park use is delivered in tanks and pumped into an overhead storage tank in the middle of the park.  My guess is that the tank holds 500 gals. or more 25 ft. above ground.  We definitely cannot drink the water here, or any where in Mexico, so we rely on visits to the local Modelo distributor store, Super San Pedro, where we pick up a couple of gallons of potable water every few days.

Islandia’s park water supply

Very few of Kino’s streets are paved.  What we might refer to as “major” streets, those streets that serve some of the larger business such as the ice-making company, the water desaniation plant, as well as the many small family owned restaurants around town that depend on weekend tourists from Hermosillo and the local Americanos for regular business.  All of the other streets are unpaved, unmaintained, dusty, and hazardous to cars and RV’s.

Islandia Oh Islandia: Dramatis Personae

Because there is such a mix of locals, full timers, and snow birds, it’s enevitable that there would be an interesting cast of characters inhabiting Islandia. Everybody engages in endless conversations here in Islandia.  People stop by for a quick chat that turns into a lengthy, half-day conversation.

Here are just a few of the characters who populate Islandia:

Marco y Jose, los hombres de la guitarra.

I met Marco Rodriguez and Jose walking towards me one afternoon whilst I was taking pics.  Muy amable hombres.  I asked if I could take their picture, and they kindly assented.  Later in the afternoon when I was walking back to Islandia, Jose was sitting on the curb playing a beautiful corrido using his thumb to pick a melodic flurry of single notes.  When he saw me, he smiled broadly and started playing La Bamba.   I said to him, Ah señor, ¡reconozco esa canción: La Bamba!  From then on, every time I passed him when he was playing, he’d start playing La Bamba.  One afternoon I was chatting with Philippe, one of the park owners who speaks fluent English and Marco walked by strumming a huge 12 string guitar, a favorite of los mariachis.  When he saw me, he smiled broadly with his toothless grin and asked me if I played (Phillipe translated).  I said Si pero solo toco un poco la guitarra.  He ran into the office and came back with another guitar.  He gave me the 12-string and started playing, of all things, Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”  Music as it turns out is part of every Mecan’s life.

  • Joae, a Mexican botanical cactus expert (Ah, señora, no toque la catus; es muy toxico!)
  • Harvy the Canadian and his wife Linda who is prone to referring to her husband, as well as all husbands, as “the fuckers” (Jackie: Ooh, spicey; I like spicy)
  • Charlotte lives alone with her three Chihuahuas, one of which has only one eye, likes drive around town in her ATV
  • Evande the fish monger, who has helped me with my Spanish and sells the most delectable camarones grande for $6.00/lb
  • Daniel “Zappa look-alike” and his curando Maria
  • Wes the “mosca man” who uses a special fly to create compost and who has a a sign in his coach advertising for a female companion to accompany him on his Mexican jaunts.
  • Marthi Salido and her “catrina” baby
  • Cato the Blue Footed Boobi rescuer
  • Tony “Mr. Kino” Charles, nudist, real estate broker, and former local pot dealer (“Shit, I’m friends with the local dentist; I taught him how to play golf, now we’re friends and he gives me free dental work for life!”); says the owners of la Playa, Ariel and Rosie, are “money launderers for the cartel.”
  • Various supporting Islandia dogs and cats
  • New “cast” members arrive almost daily

We leave for Totonaka RV Park in San Carlos tomorrow where, hopefully, we’ll find better wifi, better water pressure, and a new set of Mexico RV Park Dramatis Personae.



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Our visit to Bahia de Kino pics:

Jackie and Louis on the dock, Pelican Island in the background

View from the Islandia RV Park:

Isla del pelícano at sunset


Jackie, Louis, and the Sea of Cortez: Un paseo tranquilo por la playa solitaria.

Our Rocinante:

Boon docking at Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville, OR

Boon docking, dry docking, off-the-grid, dispersed camping, independent camping, free camping, park loting, Wal Marting, pioneering, living in the third-world, and just pull over to the side of the road, for God’s sake!

First, before I go any further, a caveat:

A good deal of these Mexico travel posts will be random and out of order, primarily because it takes a half-way decent internet signal to connect to my blog site and then to upload text and pictures. Unfortunately, more than half of Mexican RV parks have extremely poor internet signals, so I write in the mornings and post when I can.

An aside:

There’s a good deal to be said for being self-reliant.  I’ve found the Mexican people as a rule to be more self-reliant than anybody else I’ve ever come across.  I think that can be said of the Latin American world in general.  This maybe true, maybe not; just an opinion, but I’ve seen evidence of this everywhere I’ve been thus far in Mexico.

For example, I’m always hearing or reading that if we ever have a mechanical breakdown, no need to worry; Mexico has superior mechanics.  They can fix anything.  And if they don’t have they tools they need, they’ll create their own.  Unlike many American mechanics whose idea of auto repair is simply a “remove and replace” method of car repair, in the typical Mexican Pueblo, there are no north-of-the-border style auto parts stores.  Certainly not here in Bahia de Kino.  They’re all in the bigger Mexican cities.  So if an alternator rotor is shot, they’ll just figure out a way to fix it without replacing it.

Because he couldn’t afford to buy one, Pablo, a local ironwood sculptor we know, built a table saw out of an old circular saw blade, a thick piece of plywood, and a salvaged washing machine motor, pulley and belt.  It worked beautifully for cutting the ironwood to size.

This self-sufficiency and ingenuity is part of the culture.  One morning when Jackie and I were on our way to the local panaderia for some fresh baked pan, I came across this old Toyota pick up in front of the local ferretería.  Who needs a 1-ton flat bed truck when an old Toyota will do?  The pick up is probably 80’s era with a load capacity of about 1000 lbs.  By the look of it, the weight of the concrete blocks far exceeds that rating.  The driver hopped in and nonchalantly drove away.

The local hardware store in Kino:

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