We all know “those people” who are addicted to the computer in their pocket. It’s like their lifeline, or their cocaine.
Perhaps I might be one of those people.
It’s not often I get to take a vacation where I’m not connected to the internet. Mostly because of the business. To a certain degree it’s a fear of mine that I will loose clients and business because I am not responsive or cannot fix things because I don’t know their broken. I do take days off here and there, mostly to drive or to fly places. But during that time I know while I won’t get productive work done I can monitor things and give my staff quick replies if they need it to keep them moving forward. Thanks to the ubiquity of the internet and the cool little computer that fits in my pocket.
But this week, the week between the holidays, things are different. For some reason it just worked out that our client work is mostly caught up, we just launched a website last week, finished a project for another client, and have things caught up for most of the rest of our clients. Half of my staff is still working, while the other half is taking the week off. So I suggested to Becky that this would be the perfect week to take time away from the Internet.
You see, there is a couple of beaches on the Bay of Conception (Bahia de Conception) that are simply amazing, however there is no cell phone service there, therefore there is no internet there.
So that’s how this week started, what if I took the week off with no need for Internet?
That’s how a lot of things begin for us… "What if?” And then we typically find a way to make it happen.
What if we bought an RV and drove it to the Baja?
What if we can find a place we love that is cheaper to live?
What if we can camp on the beach?
Anyways, through much discussion we decided on a different beach for a couple of reasons mostly the costs. Fuel is expensive in Mexico. All gasoline is sold by the government owned company Pemex. And they set their prices in January for the whole year. Currently it’s somewhere around $4.50 a gallon. (Fuzzy math) Because every station charges the same there are no prices advertised. It’s something that took me a while to get used to. Something else it took me a while to get used to is paying $250 to fill up Gracie’s tank.
Bahia De Conceptcion is North of Loredo, it’s a beautiful place on the Sea of Cortez.
But it would cost us close to $750 to drive there and back from La Paz. It’s only a 6 hour trip one way, but the fuel is what kills us.
Not to mention it looked pretty busy there when we drove by a couple of weeks ago. It’s not that we don’t like people, it’s more that we like our space. We like to let the kids and dogs roam without bothering other people. And recently here in Baja we’ve had a ton of problems with gringos. We’ve yet to meet a Mexican who caused us any trouble, in fact just the opposite. But the gringos here can be awful!
So we opted to try a different beach, one that we had heard about from a very kind gringo. It’s only a 30 minute drive from La Paz, and we already know that we could see ourselves living in the La Paz region for a long time. So we figured it would be good to go check this place out. On Christmas eve day we packed up the beach toys and towels and silly string in the van and took off for this beach called Playa de Tecolote (Owl Beach).
We had done some research online about this place after we were recommended to go there, we knew what we were getting into, another RV boon docking spot on the Sea of Cortez. People talked about getting stuck in the sand, so we took the minivan just to “check things out” before we came up with Gracie, we wanted to know how busy it was, how was the water, would we like it here, and how was the internet reception?
Turns out I got the minivan stuck.
The frame from back to front was on the sand, and no amount of digging was going to get the minivan out of that pit. (We tried!)
So I walked back to where I had seen a quad (ATV) and as I approached I saw the gringos were getting into their pickup truck. Awesome I thought, this will be super easy it’s already running, I have a tow strap and we just hook up and viola we’re out of the hole I put us in.
But I had never met with just outright cold “no”s before in my life.
In fact they went so far as to explain they were late to a Christmas Party (remember this is Mexico where being late is you didn’t show up today!) and they wished me a Merry Christmas and left.
Wow. That was so rude, and I was so angry!
This is the fourth time I’ve run into terrible gringos. First, I had a guy hitting our dog with a golf club, then there was the people playing extremely loud music next to us at a campground, when it turned vulgar and the kids were going to bed I asked them to turn it down, they cussed at me and cursed me to hell. Then there were the people who cursed at Becky when we were stopped at a campground entrance trying to read the signs and figure out where we were going to spend the night. Not to mention the people in another campground who cursed at us because we pulled into a spot, parked and they suddenly didn’t have as much space next to they’re trailer any more (granted Gracie is big, but the campground was set up this way, nothing I can do to change that).
So when another couple was so insensitive I gave up on asking for help from any other gringos, walked back to the van and proceeded to dig it out.
While digging and trying and digging and trying, another Canadian couple sitting on the beach nearby decided to come and offer assistance. While they didn’t have a vehicle to help they had the brilliant idea of jacking up the van to get the frame off of the sand and then putting rocks or boards or whatever we could find that wasn’t sand under the tires. It worked like a champ.
So thanks to Mr and Mrs. Campbell who helped dig us out without much digging! He explained to me that’s the only way to get out of snow when you’re hung up on the frame. How I grew up in Michigan winters and experienced getting stuck in the snow on the frame plenty of times yet never knew about the jack trick I have no idea. But lets just say I’ll never forget it now.
Oh and too many funny scenes while this was all going on, first, Ever try to put a jack on beach sand and try to use it… no go. So I had to find something big that would take the weight… I happened to have a long hitch extender (there’s a long story there which I won’t get into!) so I dropped that on the sand and put the jack on top of it… while it too sank, it sank at a slower rate so I could get the van up a couple of inches before blocking the tire and pulling out the jack, digging out the hitch extender, putting sand back under the spot, replacing the jack and hitch extender and jacking the car up again… Hopefully you followed that, and if you didn’t just imagine a really slow process where you’re gaining height, but only half as fast as the effort you’re putting into it.
Another funny story came out about the Campbells dog Amy, she was older and a sweetheart, but they informed us that when she was younger she was so dumb you’d doubt she even knew her own name, or perhaps she thought her name was "Amy No!” — this brought much encouragement and laughter to us as we’re dealing with similar situations with one of our dogs!
Oh and we got to talking about our lifestyle as the Campells are world travelers and sailors too. They strongly encouraged us NOT to try sailing for our next adventure as they have lost many friends to the sea. They had one particularly harrowing experience themselves crossing from the mainland of Mexico to La Paz… The forecast said everything would be great and clear, however the Santa Anna winds kicked in and wreaked havoc on them and their boat. They barely made it into La Paz alive. That’s a humbling story!
After saying thanks and goodbye to the Campbells we decided to have our Silly String Party on the beach.
You see while some of us were digging out the van (Becky and I) we told the kids to play at the beach, the water’s edge was only 50 feet from us!
Oh and the silly string? Well it came up in conversation or a book one time and the kids asked what silly string is, so we told them when we found some silly string we’d buy it and have a silly string fight. On one of our shopping adventures we stumbled upon some silly string at a Mexican dollar store. We made the plan to have the “fight” on the beach so we didn’t mess up anyone’s property and that way we could go swimming afterwards to wash off.
Lets just say the kids had a blast with their first silly string fight and the cans of silly string did NOT last long enough (do they ever?)
After that we found a hard-pack road which turned into a 2 track and I’m sure I caused Becky a bunch of stress as we went were only high clearance vehicles should go. (I sometimes think the van is a 4x4, but in reality it’s a “low slung pig on ice”)
We had found a lot of people camping on the beach, and it seemed like a really awesome beach to camp at. (plus it was free!)
But we really wanted a place for the kids and dogs to roam freely, so we wanted to find a place away from people.
There was finally a wash in the two track that even I didn’t feel comfortable crossing. So we had to turn around, but by that point I had seen another spot where we might enjoy camping, so we doubled back, found another road and viola it led us to a paved road which had a dirt turn off towards the spot and the beach. Sure enough it looked really private, there was only one other camper there at the time.
It was at that moment that I realized there was no internet connection there. Great for the Holiday week, but no good for a month of living there.
So we had a decision to make, and we chose to spend a week at a beach just south of Tecolote (owl) beach. We love it here.
But like I said it has no internet.
And no cell reception.
Here’s the things I would have used the internet for in the past few days:
- Getting the wind forecast, it was REALLY windy when we arrived on Saturday
- Researching parts to add to a kayak (handles etc)
- Calling the kayak company to check on the warranty
- Researching the next place we’re going to go and making a plan for that
- Showing videos to the kids about the critters they’re finding
- Reading more about the birds, fish and other critters we’re seeing (to identify etc)
- Researching more about the ferries that cross the Sea of Cortez (they leave from a port just south of us and go past our view 2-3 times a day)
- Figuring out the steps to replace the springs in our awning (we have the parts but haven’t had the time till now)
- Learning more about the symptoms of a scorpion sting and how many stings for it to be fatal to a child or small dog (Wow! The scorpion was huge!)
- To identify the sea snake or moray eel I found in a tide pool
- Posting pics of our adventures to Facebook
- Numerous other things Becky was all thinking of but not mentioning until we were back near internet
Now while I might have an addiction to the internet (only some of it is Facebook, typically it’s email, feeds, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a few others I typically check). I realize I more along the lines have an addiction to researching, to learning, to increasing my knowledge of what is around me.
So the answer is yes, for a period of time us Dignigal Nomads can live without the Internet, it really keeps my education limited and therefore my kids’ education.
I had a professor once explain that in his opinion he was not there to help us memorize content, his goal was to help us learn how to learn. And the thirst for learning was the best thing a person can have. I cite these two statements to defend the majority of my need for internet.
But then again, Monday is coming and that means more client work, more client phone calls, more team phone calls, and plenty of work to be done to onboard new clients, to help existing clients, and to grow the business. So that I can take days off here and there to drive to the next beach, and see if we like it there. We want the beach AND internet!!! Is that too much to ask???
Here are some snapshots of our time at Tecolote beach:
The view from where we parked
One of the cool Lizards the kids found
Winter on the beach in Mexico!
If you look closely you can see Gracie in the middle and the other RV on the left… pretty remote. Cell service was on the other side of the hill behind us.
We found an old dead dolphin on the rocks. He was quite old, and had no major injury
Thys was afraid of the surf
We all had an opportunity to learn about the parts of a dolphin and to feel it. Pretty amazing experience.
We had just discussed Shark teeth versus whale baleen, and now they got to see old dolphin teeth up close. Pretty amazing education!
Two Grave sites on the rocks. Note the lobsters and conch shell on them.
We found out this was a California Needle Nose fish… but it would have been awesome to read more about this guy
Vicious teeth in this guy!
How much venom can a small dog take from a Scorpion? (alas no internet!)
Shells in a fossil line.
You can see the lava rock on the bottom and the shell line towards the top… man I would have loved to learn more about this land and how it was formed!
Kids and the beach… always best friends!
No idea what this guy is!
Becky and the dogs on our evening tide pool walk!
Has way more legs than a star fish or an octopus… found under a rock in a tide pool. What is it?
If you look in the water you can see the (VERY FAST) striped baby sea snake we found… (center of picture black striped) you never know what you’ll find in a tide pool.