Note: in Mexico, "codo" or "elbow"
is synonymous with cheapskate.
David takes a low-budget view of Mexico.
"The truly accomplished traveler will extract the best, and not dote on the rest"
David El Codo Eidell says of himself:
El Codo was born Sept. 20 (send presents early and avoid the rush), 1946.
I grew up in east San Francisco Bay Area and went to Vietnam in 1966 in Uncle LBJ's Brown Water Navy (Basaac River Mekong Delta). Came home thin, brown, and very tired (with some Chinese party favors, inside).
In short, I went to Vietnam to avoid college.
But now for the GOOD part:
Following my tradition of doing things back assward, I first went to Baja, Mexico in the SUMMER (!) of 1964, riding in the back of my brother's new CJ-5 Jeep. I rode on four cases of warm bubbling Cerveza Corona. I was so dumb that I had to ask how to say "no" in Spanish (one cannot enter Mexico for the first time more naive than I was).
We arrived in Mulege as the guard blew the conch shell for the prisoners to return to their cells in the penitentiary up on the hill. We camped by the estuary and were devoured by hordes of hungry zancudos. The next day we camped at Bahía Concepción. A pocket thermometer revealed that August days then averaged about a 105 F in the shade. At night, it cooled down to 80 F or So. I spent most of the time in the water.
In Mulege, I purchased a fifty pound block of ice to use as a seat in the back of the Jeep. The guy who lifted it in for me scuttled away keeping the ice tongs handy in case my obvious dementia got out of control. Who in their right mind would pay six pesos (about 45 cents US) for a seat that melted? When I stepped around the corner to take a leak, my travelling companions promptly chopped the block into shards to ice down the beer.
I returned to the USA and forgot about Mexico for four years.
In late 1967, I travelled to Tijuana, then eastward to Nogales, then down the Pacific Coast to Guaymas and Mazatlan, then overland to Guadalajara, Morelia, DF and Veracruz. I wandered around Puebla for a while before returning home through the colonial cities region. I reentered the USA at Brownsville. It was then that I figured hour how large Texas really is. I drove 80 mph for 10 hours and STILL had a ways to go before El Paso.
From 1967 to 1982 I made "area specific" trips. In short, I found myself sidelined in one village or town for most of the trip, usually because I made friends and in turn, they made me reluctant to leave.
I started towing a pickup behind a converted school bus in 1978. My trips became much longer and more detailed: Rural camping in Michoacan for most of the winter. Camping on my own private cove near Puerto Escondido for six months. Spending an entire Spring and summer on the Caribbean near Xcalak, fleeing before the ravages of hurricane Gilberto in 1988. Winding a 33' superior 66 passenger bus through San Cristobal de Las Casas on my way to Ranch San Nicolas for a summer parked beneath a rain cloud. The following year found me in the Peten jungles of northern Guatemala. I was delayed in a small village by a group of rebels, who spoke to the entire assembled village through a scratchy bullhorn in a language that I did not fathom. When I started to tune up the propane powered engine on my bus, they abandoned ideology and watched me closely.
I found myself travelling through Honduras, finally chickening-out at the border with El Salvador. I detoured to the east coast, but after being hemmed in by summer, I retreated to Lago Atitlan. I was out of the USA for so long that my bus license was 2 years expired.
I believe that I am among the few who have sailed from Baja to the mainland aboard a Mexican shrimp boat. Later I returned to Baja on foot, abroad the ferry and then accompanied a fellow camper back to Tucson. From there I hitched a ride back to Punta Chivato in a twin engine private aircraft.
I may also be the only living gringo to install strobe lights in the flat black interior of a Disco owned by a Mexican Secret Service agent (at least one that was operated by a former tortilleria owner).
Oh yes, I once went deer hunting with a bilingual Indian and his son in Guatemala. The only problem was that we started our hunt in Mexico. But I'll save that one for a future story.
Salud, Pesetas, y Suerte
David Eidell, email@example.com
Perhaps it would be wise to add a caveat to the description of "El Codo" the cheapskate. We all know that I am thrifty but various readers seem to interpret this as meaning "price is everything".
I think "value is everything" would be a more apt description of my propensity to squeeze every peso until the Aztec farts.
"The religion of 'El Codismo' is not merely choosing the cheapest way (that would be a piece-of-cake), but 'being Codo' means that every centavo is utilized to get the best for the Peso: Sometimes I have felt that I have been ripped-off with a taco that cost the equivalent of fifty cents, while other times I felt like a twenty dollar dinner was a bargain.
Too often I run into folks who reach way down into their pockets to shell out an outrageous sum of money for goods or services "Oh well this is Mexico" they explain. Paying twenty dollars for an RV parking spot (the equivalent of six hundred US per month) might be a bargain, depending on the amenities, but I feel that paying twenty dollars a night for a flea bag cubicle with a five foot bed, no bathroom and a bare bulb dangling from the ceiling to be an extravagance.
I have come to the realization that much of my attitude stems from the fact that I approach this subject with a perspective much like a campesino, a country person. The planks of the American economy are such that a person like myself would have no problem falling through a crack. I need to apply my money wisely which is totally different from being a scrooge.
Being El Codo means looking at things from somewhat the same perspective of the majority of the citizens of Mexico. Rather than being a curse, over the years a lack of surplus funds has caused me to seek "The Real Mexico", which is priceless.
And yes, consider me to be "El Codo!" for sure!
Like the Aztec god of war that the restaurant was named after there is nothing subtle about El Taco de Huitzilopochtli. It is easily the most intensely Mexican restaurant that I've ever visited....Traditional Mexicans love to express their exuberance of things Mexican. When the exuberance is coupled with the talent of a skilled host and chef, and finally amplified by the strong will of a cultural aficionado, the result can be spectacular.... (more) by David "El Codo" Eidell.
Carl says: This review of the latest edition of The Rough Guide To Mexico by our curmudgeonly correspondent, David "El Codo" Eidell, reminds me of why I could never face the harsh realities involved in writing and updating a "real" guidebook..... (more). Full review by David "El Codo" Eidellmore) by David "El Codo" Eidell
I awoke a few mornings ago to the sound of pounding surf in my ears and a pungent seashore odor in my nostrils. I relaxed, this was home and it was August and dawn was muted by billows of summer rain clouds. It seemed as though everything happens in moderation in the tropics -- the temperature was neither too hot nor too cold; unlike in more northerly latitudes the sun doesn't rise too early nor set too late during the summer; and pointless enthusiasm is tempered by balmy temperatures. Moderation, I repeated silently to myself as I drifted off again-- That's the key to life around here, mod
.... (more) by David "El Codo" Eidell
Mexico's legislature nixed president Vicente Fox's plans to add a twenty percent tax onto prescription medicine sales. Medicines seem to be one of the few commodities in Mexico that haven't undergone a series of spiraling price increases in the last several months. If anything, competition in border cities has resulted in price slashing on some of the more expensive antibiotics and stomach remedies.... (more)
Friday Feb 15th, 2002
US Customs announced that medicines from a Baja California chain of pharmacies will be confiscated at the border. Starting today, medicines purchased from farmacias VIDA SUPREMA, a Tijuana based chain of twenty pharmacies are "medicinas non gratis" into the United States.... The US Attorney General says that the pharmacy is somehow linked to the infamous Arellano Felix drug cartel and the ban is one way the United States plans to combat profits and money laundering.... (more)
Suddenly Armando yelled, "Dorado under the boat!" It was getting dark. My rod tip made a sudden hard left turn and the drag on my reel began to howl. I tightened the drag and felt the line go slack as water erupted fifty feet off the stern.... (more)
I always seem to have more time than money for my vacation. A combination of daydreaming and shrewd planning focused around my tiny budget allowed me to arrive at numerous options. The first point was that I shouldn't commit myself to a round-trip ticket even though it meant passing up a ten percent discount on the fare.... (more)
Book Review: Bus Across Mexico, is perhaps the first serious attempt to list the thousands of various bus schedules of Mexico's several hundred bus companies. Sixty two of the book's two hundred thirty pages are devoted to general information and description of Mexico's buses and bus lines. The remaining pages are organized so that individual cities and towns have listings of bus lines, schedules, price, and travel time to a variety of local and distant hub cities.... (more)
For RV'ers to the Baja peninsula and Puerto Penasco upper gulf region.... I particularly like the inclusion of handy RV parks on the US side adjacent to major border crossing points... (more)
The latest information on Baja, including the road conditions, check points and fishing
,,,,First time visitors to Baja often find themselves marveling at their barely suppressed sense of euphoria. It's cause is difficult to define, but the elation does not dissipate over time, and is not limited to just a single nationality. Much like JRR Tolkien's description of mortals marveling at the surreal ambiance in the land of Elves -- many find themselves mesmerized by mirages that lift entire islands high into the sky and by the illusion of flying because the sky and sea have become one. It is a powerful yet benevolent narcotic.... (more) Reviewl
PLEASE STATE REASON FOR VISITING MEXICO
My hand started to quiver as I mused possible answers to insert in the space which asked the purpose of my visit on the Mexican Tourist Card:
A) Purchase an entire pickup load of fresh vampire bat guano
B) Help a Humboldt County rose farmer obtain the best fertilizer in the world for his cash crop.
C) Earn several thousand dollars while visiting an obscure part of Mexico
I've probably spent more time in an RV in Mexico than most folks and I can tell you that I am firmly convinced that there is no perfect RV. Most everything is a compromise. For instance, when I park a monster trailer, I can detach and take Nellie Belle to places where a VW van would refuse to go. Your van is much more economical and here's where the great decision on a compromise comes in.... (more)
...The casa, turned out to be a hundred and fifty square feet of rotting boards, crumbling adobe, rusting sheet metal and fermenting palm fronds. The parking space was an overgrown foot trail leading from the muddy road. By carefully backing the bus I nudged the pintle hook against the front of the house....Day two the ants appeared.... (more)
I glanced at Arturo's camp through a pair of field glasses and with a start realized that the entire family was disassembling their driftwood and blue tarp house...."Oye David" Artúro began "I was going to tell you that Pecho, my brother-in-law believes that a very ugly storm is coming". He motioned toward the east.... (more)
"Thousands of Americans cross the border every year in order to save a great deal of money buying prescription drugs....."
"Medicines cannot be mailed or shipped from Mexico to the United States....."
If you wish, you can use the telephone numbers listed below (Farmacia El Fenix in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico) in order to inquire about price and availability of prescription drugs in Mexico.
Its Mexico Or Die! Though burdened by an emaciated wallet, I was determined to feel warm sand between my toes, if only for a couple of weeks....."
"As our token sceptic, David immediately challenged Lorena with, Pennyroyal oil versus no-see-ums? You gotta be nuts! Right? He later modified this statement, however, and offered to give Lorenas concoction a try on his next trip to San Blas, a small beach town long rumored to be the no-see-um capital of Mexico....."
"If you read it and apply Carl and Lorenas vast storehouse of wit, knowledge and understanding to your own experiences in Mexico, the People's Guide method of mellow and adventurous travel will become automatic."