We follow a few simple rules when driving: (1) Don’t let the gas drop below a quarter tank, (2) Don’t drive at night, and (3) Drive four hours or less per day. I don’t believe we’ve ever violated rules one and two. We’ve violated rule three twice: once driving from Death Valley to Oceanside, California, and once driving from the Baja Ferry Terminal in Mazatlan to Jocotepec, Mexico.
We didn’t intend to violate rule three. We’d planned to stay in Tepec after our night on the ferry (see E’s post here about the ferry). Then in route to Tepec we read about a quirky campsite in Tequila (yes, that Tequila), so we drove on an hour or so. Well, the campsite was full, so we drove on another hour or so to Guadalajara. While eating a late lunch there, we read about another quirky campsite near Jocotepec, Mexico, so we drove on another hour or so. We arrived at dusk.
The campgound, Roca Azul, was tucked behind a fetching subdivision and in front of the even more fetching Lake Chapala. Upon pulling in, we got the sense, as we have with prior campgrounds, that this one was stuffed with snowbirds. Our sense was correct. Canadian and US license plates lined the road in front of the lake. We found a shaded spot around the corner from the lake, closer to the playground, and next to a retired couple from Toronto.
In addition to the playground, Roca Azul featured two pools (one heated, one not), two tennis courts, two basketball courts, and multiple soccer fields — a semi-professional team from Guadalajara was practicing on the fields while we were there. Everett and Paheli acted like we’d discovered Atlantis. The grounds were also meticulously landscaped and manicured. Ficus trees were trimmed into cuboids and cylinders. Fuchsia and tangerine flowers stemmed from Bougainvillea vines and bushes. And flying amongst the vegetation and the lake — which was just murky enough to dissuade me from paddle boarding — was a wide assortment of birds, including many I’ve never seen before: black-crowned herons, black-necked stilts, vermillion flycatchers, yellow-rumped warblers, to name a few.
Since Roca Azul was outside of Jocotepec, we woke early the morning we departed to eat breakfast and walk the malecon in the city center. The malecon was surrounded by the nicest public park we’ve yet seen in Mexico. It features courts and fields and bridges and piers and a large water playground (that unfortunately wasn’t running at that hour in the morning). It also features eccentric yet alluring sculptures, including the one above and below. We could’ve stayed all day in that park. But alas, our next destination was three and half hours away, and we didn’t want to violate any of our rules (again).