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The Little Green Bus

A Diary of Larry and Loralee Brown's Driving Adventure to the tip of South America

Driving through the Mexican desert
San Diego to Mexico

March 25:
Today we got the car back. When we last talked to the mechanic yesterday, he was worried about finding parts because the transmission was a different year than the engine. So of course, we worried about that all night. This morning when we went to check things out, the tranny, the engine and most of the rest of the "stuff" was all put back together. Home free!! Well not quite. We walked a ways to the bank and as we were drawing upon the ATM, just one second literally before the transaction was completed by having the money pop out, the power went out. We actually heard the machine counting out the money, but alas none came out. Long story short, the lady came and got our card out but we have to have our Credit Union get the money back from the Mexican bank, GOOD LUCK!! We plan to drive only about 125 Kilometers today but best be on our way. We really do still plan on seeing Guatemala on THIS TRIP! Love to all, L and L

March 23:
Hi again, we left Puerto Escondido yesterday with clean clothes, full water tank etc but we didn,t get far. I was driving, and I broke the car again. Yep, transmission! Since we were stuck in the road, what else was I to do but jump out, run around, and let Larry drive!! Boys are just better at these car things. We had 3rd and 4th gear only so we managed to get it going enough to get off the road. Best have lunch!! After that, packed a bag, locked up the van and prepared to catch a bus back to the nearest town. While apologising to the lady of a near-by house for parking there, she pointed out a mechanic who lived across the road. He came up, figured out that the gears weren´t working!!! but while that was going on, a Green Angel showed up. Green Angels are guys in green trucks, paid by the Dept. of Tourism, who cruise up and down the highways looking for cars in trouble. What Luck, we have seen 4 of theses guys since entering Mexico and here one comes to save us!! It was decided that the hills we were in only lasted a little while longer and then plano y directo, flat and straight. We barely made it up the first hill but with momentum and luck and the Green Angle following us, we made it. We are now in a hotel in Salina Cruz, its Sunday, have to wait until tomorrow but we have located a VW mechanic. We took a bus into town, found internet and here we are. For all of you who said this was all part of the adventure, Enough of the adventure OK? Guatamala is just down road, see you there! Love to all L and L P.S. Salina Cruz is in the state of Oaxaca. It is a bustling port city with all of the services that a busy city can offer travelers. There is even hot water in the showers! Now we are going to see if we can get down to the port and walk around. ĦHasta luego! L&L

March 21:
When we last wrote we were in Zihuatanejo. A lovely place where we stayed a couple of days catching our breath. The next day we moved on to Acapulco. We stayed in Pie de la Cuesta, a small town a few miles north on the rocky coast. As it turns out, we believe that we stayed in this very same RV park about 25 years ago with our Peace Corps buddies, Daryl and Barbara Wall when we visited them in Mexico City!!! We arrived early enough that we got really good help from the lady running the RV park and rode the bus into Acapulco. For about 40 cents US we rode the bus for a solid half hour bumping along the little narrow paved road. Acapulco is big time!!! We got off the bus right on the water front and wandered around taking another couple of buses while we looked for a couple of travel guides that we thought might be available. Well, we scored a much better Mexican map, but little else. We have struggled mightily with AAA's Mexico tour book and with Sanborn's insurance travel logs. They neither give accurate nor detailed help. Well, we have made it so far so we are now in a position to look here in Puerto Escondido to see if there are any better guides. We rode the bus back to our campsite in Pie de la Cuesta right at the rush hour. The bus was an ancient International truck with a very loose and noisy body on it. All the windows rattled as did the doors. The driver actually had to turn the steering wheel 60 degrees or more to have any effect on the front wheels. And while he was wheeling, he was making change, shifting the five speed transmission and two speed rear axle, and smoking a cigarette. It was a wild ride! We had seen what we wanted of Acapulco that day, so we pulled out for Puerto Escondido after just one day. So we tried really hard to avoid driving our little green VW with the Tweety bird on the front tire cover through the traffic nightmare that is ACapulco's center. Well, three hours later we finally got on the correct road. Mind you, we had the new map book. No matter, it still indicates that you can drive from Barra Vieja to Mexico Highway 200 even though the bridge that you must cross to get to the highway has been washed out for 28 years! Don't ask! Needless to say, we couldn't get all the way to Puerto Escondido, so we spent the night in a flea bag hotel in Pinotepa Nacional, Oaxaca. At least it was relatively quiet until all the roosters in town started crowing at zero dark thirty. The rooster chorale was followed some time later by all of the dogs in town howling in unison. What is it with a couple of gringos trying to get a little cotton picking sleep, you guys? Yesterday we got into Puerto Escondido fairly early and did some major errands. WE mailed our daughter Marni's birthday card--it's today--whoops! We stopped at the ATM. We had the oil changed in the car and we shopped for some provisions. Busy day, huh? We are camped again right on the beach. You gotta love these mexican beaches, man. We are between a French Canadian couple from Montreal and a couple from Sebastopol, CA-- How about that for a co-inky-dink? He was working in the Probation Dept at Sonoma County when Larry was in the Public Works Dept. We are now a couple of days drive from the Guatemala border. We are hanging around here kinda listening in shock to CNN in the local restaurants. In case you didn't get the reference, guac or maybe quac is guacamole. We scored 7 avocados for 8.5 pesos, about 85 cents US and Loralee has been making one of our favorite avocado dishes, guac. We have not had any negative reaction from locals about the war, but we are not thrilled about it nonetheless. I suspect that the terrorists will really be after the US after this is over. Thanks for sending all of the neat replies to our emails. It is good to here from all of you. Way to go Sherry for your little mexican penpal from our favorite orphanage near Ciudad Obregon. Blessings to all, Larry & Loralee

March 17:
Hi gang, We have had a beautiful week since we last sent news. We drove down Mex 200 and are now in Zihua!! It is really a quaint city, built on hillsides overlooking the sea. Its hot but sea breezes keep it livable. The beach is beautiful and the beer and quac are pretty good too. We came through lots of very tropical landscape with banana plantations, papaya, coco, etc. growing everywhere. We only got lost 3 times and that was all in the same city, just trying to get to the otherside. The mosquitos have found us, actually, they just found me. They leave Larry alone, probably because he,s so hairy, or maybe just too mean. Here´s some Spanglish humor for you. What do you call a skinny cow? Una vaca flaca! what is a taller mechanico? Wrong, not a taller mechanic, that would be un mechanico mas alto, its a mechanic shop!! Oh by the way, tweety bird still rides on the front of the van and is called Piolin in Spanish. We expect to be in Guatamala within a week. Wow, even with the long delay, it seems to have gone quickly! Hope all is well with all of you and thanks for the e-mails, we look forward to them everytime we get into the computer.

March 9:
We left San Carlos after 15 days of delay. We picked up the car only to find out the water tank which we had repaired in Mesa was leaking again. Luckily we found a soldadura de plasticos, who fixed up in a couple hours time. We actually pulled out of Guaymas about 3:30 so we knew we weren´t going far but we were going! We had reference from our road quide for an orphanage which was a bit of a detour but offered free RV parking. Well. . . it got dark before we got there, something we try to avoid, and the road was so rutted we began to realize we really are crazy just as all our friends suspected. After asking directions at every little roadside business we finally stopped to shine the headlights on a sign hoping it would give us some clue. As we did a police car pulled up behind us and turned all his flashing lights on. (Remember, we were 26 miles from nowhere) He strolled up and asked us if he could help. We actually were very close and he just led us the rest of the way. That night we talked to the Canadian person who runs the place in Spanish, due to the fact that Alejandro, a staff member was there, and before they bid us a good night, we had an invitation to join the children for breakfast. What an experience, about 30 happy healthy children were so curious. We had brought a bag of McDonalds toys with us and handed those out. They politely waited their turn, there eyes sparkling with delight. Later we toured the grounds, the older children were in school, and the little ones came right up to us. I held out my arms to a little guy about 3 years old and soon had the biggest hug ever. As we were packing up the van to leave, we had lots of help. Larry was trying to hook up the water tank again and Luis, 2 years old siddled up to him, took Larry´s arm and promptly put it around himself and settled in for a hug. Ok, so we then convinced ourselves that we really did want to leave, and pulled out, knowing full well we will be going back again! We stayed in Los Mochis that night, and made it all way to Playa Las Glorias, about 40 Km from Guasave. We have stayed over an extra day in order to have the oil changed in our new Engine on Monday Morning. Then off to Mazatlan!! More later, L and L

P:S:In case anyone is interested, the website for the orphanage is

February 28:
Still in San Carlos, Mexico. After 2 sets of the wrong parts, decided to convert the engine back to a standard VW bus engine. This way, parts will be available locally here and down the road.

February 15:
Throttle cable snaps. Roadside repair. Pull into San Carlos (Guaymas Mexico), engine goes BANG. Check with a mechanic on Monday. Not good, bad piston and rings need replacing. Staying in San Garlos while the engine on the Little Green Bus gets torn down and rebuilt. Waiting for parts from USA.

February 13th:
Driving south through Arizona to Mexico. Windshield wiper flies off. Bolts fall off left rear tire. Seems VW vans have bolts instead of lug nuts, and they require daily tightening. Cross from the US into Mexico at Nogales. Lots of copies of this and that - stmps here and there and plenty of money. The mexicans have figured out tourism. Spend the night at an RV park in Santa Ana, Mexico.

February 8th - 12th:
Stay with friends Roy and Sandy in Tuscon (?) Arizona. Working on equipment problems. The top nearly blew off when a hay truck went by. The stove doesn't work right off big propane bottles (it's designed for little bottle). The water tank leaks in the Little Green Bus. Several days to order part, wait for part, install parts, and test for leaks.

February 6th, 2003:
Leave Mike and Marni Blakely's house in the Little Green Bus. They head east to visit friends in Tuscon before heading South. Camp overnight in Borrego springs. Freezing cold. Need to buy more blankets.