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New Mexico: White Sands National Park

  From February 2022 On one of our first days in Las Cruces, we drove out to White Sands National Park.   East of the city,  I noted the turn off for Aguirre Springs Campground where I stayed in 2018 .  As we approached the national park, we rose in elevation to the point that we were in the snow again.   There are a variety of "trails" at the national park.  We took the longest one at the end of the road, Alkali Flats, which was about 5 miles.   Basically, you walk through the sand using line of sight to the next visible marker.  The semi-frozen condition of the sand actually made it easier to walk uphill.  Where the sand thawed in the sun, it was one step forward, 1/2 step slide back.   In the middle of it all, Julia had to sit down and take in all of the wonder.   We hiked some some sand dunes a few years ago at a Jockey Ridge State Park in North Carolina, but White Sands was on an entirely different scale for size and beauty.   

Puerto Vallarta: Lowlights and Wrapping Up


From December 2021

I've covered the highlights of our trip to Puerto Vallarta over the last few weeks.  So were all aspects of Puerta Vallarta a picture post card?  No, not everything, although I liked it well enough that it would be high on the list of places to relocate, if I was going to relocate, which isn't happening in the short term.  

Mexico has a very different social safety net than the United States.  I would argue that it isn't necessarily worse--just different.  Over the last several decades, the United States has experienced a widening gap between the very wealthy and the rest of us.  We have a lot of poor people living on the edge.

In Puerto Vallarta, there seems to be a strong middle class, and people in the working class seem happy with less.  But it hasn't escaped the problems of many other cities.  Drugs and alcohol abuse is evident. There are drunks/addicts doing their thing and getting sick in public and bathing in the fountains.  There is petty crime, but I did not hear of violent crime.  We felt safer here than we do in U.S. cities of comparable size.  People look out for each other. 

For the severely disabled, there is free medical care via a second tier health care system.  Waits are long, and not everything is available.  

Perhaps one of the most initially disturbing sights to me were disabled children on the Malecon, begging throughout the day with the parents standing behind the wheelchair. Young children are also put to work to help support the family.  The most visible example of that  are the dozens of kids selling trinkets at the beach to tourists eating dinner.  Those are things you don't often see in the U.S., but different is not necessarily worse.

There is urban sprawl here, especially to the north of the city--developments and gated properties catering to Americans and Canadians.  Puerto Vallarta is getting to be more expensive with growing tourism and the influx of dollars.  We come for the beauty at cheaper prices, and end up driving the prices up for everyone. 

We are already planning our next trip to Mexico sometime in the next couple of years.  While we loved Puerto Vallarta, we're going to explore a new destination and hopefully stay for a longer time (months instead of weeks). 



  1. I corresponded with a couple who relocated to a town in central Mexico 30 years ago and a woman who blogs from Merida about life in Yucatan. I'm not sure how long she's been there, but they all sounded pleased with their decisions and encouraged me to travel in Phoebe.

    1. That sounds like it would be an adventure! For our next trip to Mexico, we will probably take my Nissan truck, if it's still in good running condition.


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