<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> RV Beach Camping in Mexico
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Camping On A Baja Beach [With No Hookups!]

By David Eidell

This is an excellent way to learn energy management techniques and water conservation as well. Recreational Vehicles that connect full-time to "hookups" allow the owner to consume energy and water like there's no tomorrow. Once disconnected from the umbilical lines, however, we soon find out the storage capabilities of our electrical, fresh water and waste water systems. No two RV's are exactly the same and the usage, of the "utilities" varies from coach to coach as well.

Water conservation is very important. Real beach "pros" use clean salt water to wash dishes in an outdoor "camp kitchen", then rinse each item in a series of two fresh water rinses. You'll need three dish pans to do this. The first rinse will dilute the salt water from the wash, and the second fresh water rinse will eliminate any trace of dish soap or salt. Air dry dishes and utensils. Joy, dish soap works especially well in salt water.

Bathing can consume an enormous amount of water. Many folks use an outdoor "solar shower" that is hung from a step of the roof ladder. Inflatable solar shower privacy enclosures are available at a very modest cost. Use burlap bags to make a porous floor for the shower if you don't like sandy feet. Bathing in salt water is common. I like to do this after dark, so my soap bubbles aren't so noticeable. I can usually "skinny dip" on a full beach, and I've found that this practice is the norm rather than the exception. After washing, I can step into the solar shower and rinse the salt water out of my hair and off of my skin. Zest, soap seems to work best in salt water.

NOTE: Mexico has undergone a transformation in the bottled drinking water industry in the last few years. Sterilized water, is now commonly sold in handy water plants. It is filtered to almost distilled water purity, then sterilized to hospital standards. No mineral taste, and safe beyond comparison! Use municipal water to refill your RV tank, and use this water for cleaning, rinsing, and bathing. Add one half teaspoon of pure liquid chlorine bleach to three gallons of water if you're nervous about the quality of your dish rinsing water (final stage). Most municipalities in Baja that cater to beach campers, have water supplies that are safe to bathe and rinse in. Check with a neighboring camper to make sure.

Thirty gallons of fresh water capacity, coupled with two five gallon bottles of purified water, should last a pair of campers more than a week (usually a lot longer than a week.). By comparison, however, camping solo, with an "unlimited" supply (actually 150 gallons) of fresh water, I've used more than 100 gallons a week (!) if I lived "normally", taking leisurely showers, and letting the water flow freely when rinsing dishes.

Conserving electricity is a bit easier. Most newer coaches have electronically controlled refrigerator freezers, and they consume battery power regardless of which energy source they're switched onto. This "control power" is about half-an-ampere, which can add up after a few days, because it's always "on". Water pumps consume very little, but ventilation fans consume a lot of power. Even small fans will drain a battery if used continuously overnight. When the sun finally sets in Baja, set a camp fire and enjoy the evening outside. A single reading lamp doesn't draw very much power (unless you go to sleep without switching it off). Timing your battery "charges" with trips to town, is extremely common in a motor home, but us trailer folks have our hands full because of the relationship of the tow vehicle to our living quarters (detached).

Disposal of gray and black water, should be done in an area that offends neither Mexicans, nor fellow tourists. Mostly, when you're camping on a remote beach somewhere, with no hookups, other campers can direct you to a designated spot (always far from water and habitation), that has been assigned for this use. I continue to use a waste treatment liquid in both tanks in order to control noxious odor. Mexico isn't all wilderness desert though, with helpful fellow tourists around. A suitable dumping spot is one that is remote from houses, and is also far from standing water or wells.

If you're in a city or suburb, and really stumped, ask around in a Pemex gas station. The words "Agua Sucio" ("Aw-Wah' Sue'-See-Oh) usually conveys the message rather clearly. Mexican buses have to dump their tanks somewhere, and every town will have a designated "spot". If the inside of your dump hose isn't flushed clean after the gray water flushing, then you'll have to close your eyes and pretend that it is clean. You can always pour a bunch of sea water through the disconnected hose, later. Your best bet, to find a suitable dump is to talk with someone living in a rural house (or shack). They'll go way out of their way to show you where you can dump and probably even help you do it! I always offer a dollar bill for their assistance, but if they refuse to accept a tip, don't force it. Maybe they'd prefer a soft drink instead.

I plan to introduce specific articles about energy management, that hopefully will clarify some subjects that I've briefly touched on here. Not only have I lived for years in Mexico, disconnected from the power grid, I have tried just about every single method of battery recharging and monitoring there is - from solar panels to a diesel genset powering giant battery chargers, I've done it all, and I hope that my experiences will be of benefit to all of you.