Unfortunately, I had grossly underestimated the cost of living on the border and there was no leftover savings just a few short months after our move. We never bought that second car and never did any traveling or exploring too far from home. I had overestimated our free time as well, go figure.
The traveling I had in mind hasn't happened largely because we try to use our vacation time to visit our kids, but that second car could have really helped out in the past few years as our truck broke down time and time again. I recently had the chance to purchase a vehicle through the company I work for and I just knew I couldn't pass it up. I'll be making payments for the next year that will make things really tight for us financially but I know it's worth it and I'm thankful for the opportunity. It's a little Toyota with a high reliability rating that's excellent on gas. Polar opposite of the Chevy we've been struggling with for years.
Knowing that we were getting the new car this week made it easy to accept an invitation from friends for a day trip to Samalayuca for Father's Day. Normally I would have said no, fearing that the Trailblazer would leave us stranded in the middle of the desert with no way to get to work on Monday. But with the promise of a new car on the horizon, we threw caution to the wind, packed up the truck, and headed South.
Thankfully the ride was uneventful for the most part and free from any car problems. There is a checkpoint on the way which is normally closed but was up and running last Sunday. The officials saw the Texas plates on our truck and pulled us to the side of the road. I immediately got nervous because although everyone had assured us that we weren't driving far enough into Chihuahua to need a permit for our truck, I was second guessing that as soon as I saw a man in uniform. However, it was no problem at all. After Gordo explained that we were just going to Samalayuca we were waived right along.
Samalayuca is just about an hour outside of Juárez, if that, and famous for it's white sand dunes. It's close enough that the trip doesn't feel like a huge production and far enough to feel like you're still getting out of town. The dunes are quite the tourist attraction and on the weekends they are filled with people four wheeling, sandboarding or just hiking. With the high temperature being in the 100's that day, we didn't go to the dunes, but instead passed them up to hang out by the pool at Centro Recreativo Dunas Campestre.
There were 5 pools, all connected but on 3 levels, a lake for fishing (catfish and tilapia), horses that could be rented for a ride around the campground and a very long water slide (maybe half a mile?) that was not operating when we went. There was a restaurant on site as well as a small store selling ice, matches, pop, snacks and other camping essentials.
The price to get in was 40 pesos ($2.60 US) for adults and 20 pesos ($1.30 US) for children and if you wanted to camp you would just repay that same amount as you leave the next day. There was a water spigot for washing, a grill at each campsite and a men's and women's restroom that each had 2 bathrooms and a shower.
There were a lot of people there so the pools got a bit too crowded and dirty for my liking after a while. I'm hoping that this was just due to Father's Day because I can't wait to go back and camp. I love everything about camping. Setting up your own little temporary home, cooking over an open fire, spending time with your loved ones, unplugged. All the necessary ingredients for a good time.
Up until now I never really knew of anywhere we could camp around here and it's something I really missed. My family went camping regularly as I grew up and while the Chihuahuan Desert is nothing like the wooded KOA campgrounds of the Midwest or Northern Arizona, it definitely has it's own charm and beauty. It's not for everyone, that's for sure. But personally, I can't wait to go back.