23. La Penita de Jaltempa, Mexico - Beach Side Bluff Campsite

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March 30, 2007

Based on my reading of the indispensable Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook, Adrienne had all the symptoms of giardia.

Malaise, excessive gas including sulphuric-tasting burps, bloating, a diminished interest in food and, most problematically, the urgent need to visit the bathroom every half hour.

Lying prone on the dirty bench seat of a VW van for two days is not pleasant, and was made only slightly more endurable by the Glamour and Star magazine from October 2007 that another camper had given us.

We self-medicated (never knowing for sure what had been wrong) and she gradually improved (over the next week) but the timing of her initial convalescence was unfortunate, as the patio at our cliff-side campsite at the La Penita Trailer Park offered a striking view of the never ending golden-sand beach below.

Other than a few fishermen who sat under palm-leave lean-tos (for shade) and monitored fish lines that were tied to upright sticks that were wedged into the sand, the beach was virtually empty.

This was one clear benefit of not arriving in Mexico until the tail end of the winter season: the RVers who book full the campsites in Teacapan, San Blas, Penita de Jaltemba and the other towns along the central Pacific coast each year have, for the most part, started to head north.

Before arriving at Penita de Jaltemba, we had spent two nights at San Blas, three hours drive to north.

We had camped the first night at Paraiso Miramar RV Trailer Park, 15 kilometers south of the town, and with a refreshing pool that overlooks the bay and modern bathrooms, it was easily one of the most attractive campsites we stayed in the entire trip.

The facilities aren't nearly as nice at Playa Amor RV Park, where we stayed the second night, and we also had the misfortune of having three young couples set up camp right beside us - despite the campsite being empty - and blare ranchero music from their car stereos late into the night

Playa El Borrego in San Blas is home to Stoners Surf Camp, where former Mexican short and long board champion, 'Pompis' Cano, is the main instructor.

We took a pass on lessons from Pompis but he still generously gave us a few tips before we headed out on our rental boards into the gentle breaks and sandy bottom.

Key Facts & Figures:

-Paraiso Miramar RV Trailer Park: $12/night
-Playa Amor RV Park: $10/night
-Surfboards, Stoners Surf Camp: $5/hour
-La Penita Trailer Park: $20/night (5th night free)