Ruth, with our friend Andrei at the Orheiul Vechi Historical Complex at Trebujeni, Moldova. Photo taken December 2, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

First, the big news...

I mentioned in yesterday's post that we were working on an exciting development that would affect our normal travels during the month of February. And yesterday afternoon we signed the deal, so now we can tell you all about it.

We had committed plans between now and February 2nd. Tomorrow (Monday) night, we fly back to Mexico City. Early Tuesday morning, we take the bus from Mexico City back to Valle de Bravo where Sherman (our motorhome) is waiting for us. Then, we're going to relax in one spot for a month. I think we're due for that. And on January 14th, Ruth's cousin Helen and husband Tony are coming from England to spend two and a half weeks with us so we can show them Mexico for the first time. They depart on February 2nd.

And then a new adventure begins for us!

We were offered a job leading a caravan of RV'ers through part of Mexico. The dates didn't really work for us, but the caravan company adjusted things a little and made it work. A few emails back and forth and we had an agreement.

We will be the "wagon masters" to lead a group of 10 RV's through from Guanajuato, Mexico to Melaque on the Pacific coast. We'll be with them for just over 4 weeks. It's actually an 82 day tour, but the person leading the group when they cross the border has a family commitment that he has to meet and so we will take over while he is gone.

Our approximate route from February 5th to March 5th.

We've done all of these roads before, many more than once. And we've been to all of these places, so it'll be fun to show them to a group of people who have never been. 

We had to put a lot of thought into this. We know that big group tours are not typically our style, but we've often thought it would be fun to lead some new RV'ers into Mexico. This offer allowed us the opportunity to do exactly that, and with only a one month commitment to get our feet wet. If we enjoy it, then we may lead future trips. And if we don't, well then it'll be over fairly quickly!

Normally, there is a procedure to becoming a "wagon master". You would typically be a paying customer on an RV caravan. Then, another year you might sign on as a "tailgunner" who brings up the rear and is the wagon master's assistant. Then, you might be ready to be the wagon master on the third trip. 

But we have a lot of Mexico RV experience and wouldn't have been willing to do this at all if we had to go through those steps. So they made an exception for us, and we are confident that all parties have made a good decision! We think it'll be fun!

Anybody want to join the tour? I think they still have a couple of spots open....


I was going to tell you about our busy day yesterday, but instead I think we'll publish another post later today...so stay tuned!

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51 comments:

  1. I think you'll be great at it! Hope it pays well too.

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    1. Thanks Sherry, we think we should be good at it but time will tell. We are happy with the rate of pay but time will tell. ;-)

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    2. Not really a moiney maker, but it can pay for your winter. Most people do it becuase they like people. I do not do it with my wife, she has the wrong personality, I do it with my sister.

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  2. It will be nice to share your knowledge and love of Mexico with others. Enjoy!

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    1. We love to share our love of Mexico so hopefully we can pass this on to others.

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  3. That is awesome, what a fantastic opportunity, you 2 will be great at it!

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    1. We sure hope we will be good at it and by only committing to one month it will be a good way to see if it is something that we might like to do more of in the future.

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  4. Glad you two are excited about it but there is no way I would ever lead a large group...

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    1. Well we will see whether we will like it or not by the time we are finished. It is only a one month commitment, opposed to a three month one. We love Mexico and love to show and tell others about it so we aware hoping this will be a good fit.

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    2. Its all about attitude. Not that there can't be a customer who is a pain in the butt, but we always tell people not to expect 1000 trails. If they go in with an open mind, they have a good time and come away with a new impression of mexico. I originally did this to help out some Parks where i am treated like family. It took a year for Gabriel, the owner to talk me into it.

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  5. That sounds like a fun adventure. Safe travels.

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    1. That's the way we are looking at it, just another adventure! :-)

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  6. Well, if there's anyone who knows the "lay of the land" so to speak, it's you guys. Nice to have a gig, and be where you want to be.
    Have fun.

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    1. Thanks Bob, we are really hoping with our knowledge of Mexico it will be huge help to making the trip go smoothly, that and a great bunch of people. ;-)

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  7. You guys will do a great job. It there's anything to worry about its the paying customers. Many people have different points of view on the topic of best bang for their buck. Just to let you know I'm all set up for spending ten days down in mainland Mexco over the holidays , five of those will be on a cattle ranch outside of Caborca. Travel safe!

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    1. Thanks for your vote of confidence Daryl! That is our only worry, hopefully we a will have great bunch of people and that we can all get along well together and that everyone will have an amazing time.

      Spending time on a ranch in Mexico sounds like a wonderful experience. Have a great holiday.

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  8. Sounds like you will enjoy it, hope all goes well for you guys.

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    1. Thank you George, we are hoping for the same.

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  9. Sounds like a fun adventure with great potential if you enjoy it. And definitely better than honing your snow shovel technique which I suspect is what I'll be doing in February.

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    1. We think it will be a fun experienc too, much better than shoveling snow!

      Hope you manage to escape at least part of winter, even if it is only for a week or two.

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  10. Oh boy, this should be interesting!

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    1. Yes, we are sure it will be interesting. We always like to mix things up, you know us. ;-)

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  11. "Interesting" is the word! It will be very interesting to follow your adventure considering the entertainment and frustrations we have experienced just by being parked beside caravans.
    "How do we like Mexico so far? The only thing I have seen of Mexico is the rear end of #16."
    "What route did we take to get here? I have no idea."
    "We have to get to bed early, there is a drivers meeting at 6:00 AM"
    Over walkie-talkie to drivers: "Lets kick it up to 40 MPH shall we?"

    You will have fun. I can hardly wait!

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    1. Yes, we expect it to be interesting but we are up for it. The nice thing about this caravan is that the travels are spread out over three months with lots of time at different areas but not a ton of driving. More time to enjoy the country and the culture rather than the back end of the unit in front of them.

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  12. WOW...you two have hit pay dirt. Sounds like it is really going to be an exciting experience. Congratulations.

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    1. Thanks Paul and Marsha, we are going in it with our minds open and hoping to have a great time doing something we love.

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  13. This caravan adventure will be fun to follow along with. The night stops will be interesting, too. I don't suppose they approve of boondocking. I can't think of a better couple to do this with.

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    1. Well it will certainly be different from our normal style but yes, we think it should be fun. No boondocking on this caravan tour but there are some caravan tours where they occasionally dry camp, I think those are tours that do the Baja though.

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  14. you will be great wagon masters..make sure you where your hat..probably too young to remember old tv program Wagon Train, be he always had his hat on!. of course we will come along with you vicariously thru the blog

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    1. Thanks, Sam and Donna! No can't say we ever heard of a show called Wagon Train but then we are Canadian and back then didn't get all the American programming up in Canada. We'll have to wear our Tilley hats, they are closest thing we have to a cowboy hat. :-)

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  15. My name is paul, I am the other wagon master on this trip. Fortunatley, by the time Kevin & Ruth take over I will identified any trouble makers. Ther eill be a blog fro the trip started at www.mexicorvbuddies.com/Spring2015.php. It will lead into kevin & ruths blog when they take over. It actually is a lot of fun, I just finished leading a Fall one. That one was my 4th. I am sure kevin & Ruth. will be good at it. BTW there is an piggy backed Copper canyon & Mazatlan 24 day trip on it starting on jan 10th that is well priced if anyone is interested. $2950 US or $3350 Canadian, includes all Rv parks several meals, transport hotels, tours up in Copper Canyon & tours in Alamos, El Fuerte, San Carlos & Mazatlan. Send me an email to beddows1@telus.net or call1-855-327-7555 if interested.

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    1. Thanks for the additional information Paul. We are looking forward to this new adventure.

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  16. Make that http://www.mexicorvbuddies.com/Spring2016.php

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  17. That should be an interesting gig. Looking forward to hearing how you find the experience.

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    1. We are looking forward to it too. Quite different from our normal way of RVing, staying in RV parks will seem like a luxury to us.

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    2. Not so fast, there are a couple of days of boondocking. Chacala and quite possible Cuitzeo if you can't make it up the hill.

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    3. Had totally forgot that Chacala didn't have a park.

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  18. Wonderful. Wish we could join in but not a good year for us...

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    1. Sorry you aren't able to make it this year. At least you can follow along and see whether it is something you will want to do another year.

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  19. Congrats on the new gig! Extra money is always nice, especially in a place you love. Hopefully the month of $110/day newbie hand holding will be worth any aggravation. If not, like you said---it'll be over quickly!

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    1. Thanks Doug!

      Hopefully the hand holding will be over by that time and they will be well broken in. ;-)

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    2. Actually its $100 a day. But that is US $. I did Fall for just expenses from Vancouver-Vancouver and since I kept track I ended up getting $4000 for 55 days, less than $100 a day, but it was a very small group and run at close to break even. My main motivation was to give my sister a free vacation, she lives close to the financial edge and would never be able to afford one otherwise.

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  20. Being wagon masters should be an interesting experience:) After watching the leaders on our Canadian trip, I think the hardest part might be dealing with the members of the group:))

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    1. We forgot that you were in a caravan tour when you did the East Coast of Canada. Yes, we are aware that could be what will make the work rewarding or not but then again we manage a campground all summer so we have to deal with many different people and issues and figure it can't be too much different. Another reason that committing to one month rather than three is good for getting the feet wet for the first time.

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    2. Yeah, there is always the possibilty of having somebody awkward. The larger the gorup the less likely that is an issue. On the oher hand, some of my best friends are former customers. We actually have had a few campgound owners. The timing for those (in Canada)is perfect as they are usually closed in winter. Most people take a mexican caravan because they are scared to go alone. In some ways that is the wrong reason, but I would say about 25% end up returning on their own. The main resons besides the perceived danger is to learn how to handle the paperwork, find out where you can safely take a rig (physically) and get to attractions dificult to do on your own in an RV. We actually have one repeat customer this spring. We give them a discount and allow them to opt out of tours they do not want to repeat. In this case the route has changed sinc ehe did it last due to the Maz-Durango hwy.

      The other problem is keeping them together. Things like toll booths tend to separate the group. We use toll roads except where we can't and where the Wagon master knows the free road option is OK. This company pretty much gives its wagon masters a free hand in that regard. The biggest issue is speed, some want to go slower, others faster. It takes awhile to find the sweet spot.

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