We started a rally like none we’ve ever been to. This was a rally that lasted 2 weeks and ended in a different country. I am talking about the ROAM Mexico Rally of 2019.
Many people think of Mexico as a dangerous place for tourists and a place RVs should not be traveling. But we are talking about Baja California, Mexico. This part of Mexico is known for fish tacos, surfing, whale watching, and the Baja 1000.
Before we headed there however, the rally got started in Yuma, AZ. Yuma is known in the RV community as the place to be when you want to walk to Mexico for dental work, prescriptions, and glasses (or being the home of Nick Pappagiorgio).
Getting Started in Yuma, AZ
The rally started on Monday and we had the whole facility at the Yuma County Fairgrounds. The participants were told that the fairgrounds would be mainly boondocking with a few electric spots. However, with plenty of room to sprawl and some creative minds (along with a lot of extension cords), everyone that needed electricity was able to get it.
After parking the 24 rigs and letting people get settled, the rally officially started with the opening ceremonies and a nacho bar potluck. The Mexican spirit was already being spread. The rally was off to a running start.
The next day there was a Spanish lesson and a pinata making class. These activities and many more were spearheaded by the fabulous and tireless Carla Geiger. She did a fantastic job and I am not sure she slept 8 hours total for the whole week. We had use of a giant field for kickball, outdoor movies, and pickup football.
That evening the potluck theme was “Let the Kids Cook” and the kids made some wonderful dishes. There was a delicious variety.
Food Bank Service Project
During the week we experienced a rally first. The Tweens and Teens participated in a Service Project. We packed up the cars and headed to the Yuma Community Food Bank. After a brief orientation we spread out around tables to sort through donated fruits and vegetables for the local residents.
The food bank gets pallets and pallets of fresh food that is not quite good enough to sell but still edible. But along with the donations are items that might be overripe or damaged. It was our job to separate the good from the bad and place about 10 – 15 items in a bag for people to grab when they come and get food for their family.
This was a very rewarding experience and the kids were amazing. Every time we thought we were on the last pallet, the kids blasted through it so fast we asked for another one. This happened more than once and the food bank staff was very appreciative.
More Traditional Rally Fun
The Parade of Homes was that afternoon. It’s always fun to see what other families do with their tiny homes, and this is a great place to get some new ideas.
At one of the STEM events the kids made a solar oven out of a pizza box. This was a great way for the kids to learn about using the energy from the sun, and the Arizona desert is a great place to practice.
Other activities included decorating ugly holiday sweaters, reindeer games, holiday experiments, building gingerbread houses, and a field trip to a camel farm. The kids were kept busy every day and then on Friday evening it was their turn to become young entrepreneurs.
The kids’ marketplace is always one of our favorite events. We are in awe of the talents and ingenuity of the kids every time. I know some parents were running out of money because of the great selection. I even found a last minute Christmas present from one of the young ladies.
As much as I love the marketplace, I might love watching Jill Denkins at the marketplace even more. She is the best customer the kids could have. She always arrives with a ton of money and leaves with all kinds of food, art, and accessories.
We ended the U.S. portion of the rally with the closing ceremonies, the rally cash raffle, and a dessert potluck with a dance afterwards. The next morning it was time to head to Mexico and continue the ROAM rally.
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Heading to Mexico
We lined up bright and early on a beautiful Sunday morning and every rig was ready to roll on time. We headed for the border with 24 rigs going to Mexico.
Each family had a different experience with the officers checking into Mexico. Some people were asked about weapons and we were asked about beer and wine. Go figure.
After getting through customs, we lined up in Mexico and blocked the right lane for quite a while waiting for the rest. Then we had a police escort all the way to San Felipe. This was a full escort with motorcycle officers flying in and out of traffic to block off the next intersection so the caravan could glide through the red lights. It was exciting and quite the spectacle if you go by the looks of the people on the side of the road. Many were waving and taking pictures.
We arrived at Victor’s RV Park which has full hook ups on one side and dry camping on the other. The dry camping side has electricity as an option.
Victor’s Park was perfect for the rally because it’s on the beach, away from town, and across from the sand dunes. It’s close enough to walk downtown, but out of town enough to feel secluded. Victor’s place also has a restaurant on property that makes it nice to leave the cooking to others.
We were told that it is easier (and cheaper) to eat out while in Mexico instead of cooking and it was true. We haven’t eaten at that many restaurants in a week since we hit the road.
There was plenty to do in San Felipe. Kids played on the beach. Mom’s and Dad’s each had a night out. Deep sea fishing boats would pick you up at the campground to take you out. Yes, that’s right, the boat came to pick you up. Many parents were relaxing to recover from the Yuma portion of the rally.
The walk into town took about 15 minutes and seemed very safe, even at night. This little restaurant got a lot of business from the families. It was the spot in town to find the El Pastor tacos.
Some families rented 4 wheelers to ride the dunes. The dunes were directly across from Victor’s and had areas for all levels of riders. Our 11 year old was able to ride on his own ATV and was very happy. This is the first time in our travels I have found a place for him to be able to “drive”.
There was a bus provided to take a ride out to the Giant Cactus Park, Valle de Los Gigantes. At the park there were some Mexicans in traditional clothing that talked about the area and finished with a ceremonial dance.
Since we were in Mexico for Christmas we had a nice potluck on Christmas Eve and a small candlelight service on the beach. There was a gift exchange for the kids and the adults. There were even some roaming carolers singing for people in their rigs. Traditional songs in Spanish and English. (Ok, one song in Spanish and just barely.)
We had to pack up on Sunday morning with about half of the families headed back to the States. Several families stayed at Victor’s and celebrated the New Year there. Four families headed South after the rally in search of whales and more tacos.
Top 5 Things I Learned at the ROAM Rally
- Fighter jets are loud. Really loud.
- If you want ALL the solar, get a Prevost. It can hold a pallet of solar panels.
- If you can’t follow the rules of a town (Zen Town) drawn in chalk on a concrete pad, the leaders of that town will consider shutting it down.
- Jennie can’t, she just can’t.
And the number 1 thing I learned:
- There are 3 sides to every story. In Mexico you go with the one the guys in the badges are telling.
If you need explanations about any of these, let us know. Or sign up for a rally and make incredible memories of your own!
About the Author
William Smith and his family are a tribe of 3 in their 3rd year on the road. You can follow their misadventures on IG. (www.Instagram.com/WanderSmiths)
Check out this video!!
2019 Roam Mexico Rally made by the Fulltime Families team