three days on the road

December 2

day one of the road trip North.

Which is hard to do, considering what kind of weather we are going back to – west coast winter at its finest! 

We had a fabulous dinner last night at Steinbeck’s , the one restaurant at the marina we have not been to this year. Before that we chucked in the towels ( literally) around 430 after a day of cleaning and vacuuming and puttering:  when Lawrence poked his head into the master stateroom where I was on my knees vacuuming and streaming sweat and suggested a last swim at the pool I was in my bathing suit in seconds. 

The pool is a far cry from a month and a half ago – when we get there at 4:30 not only is the sun heading down but the temperature is too. However last night I was hot from hanging out in the boat and cleaning, so the pool was a welcome temperature. After a little while in that, though, the hot tub started looking good. We met a young man from a large sport fisher who had just come in, and started chatting with him. Turns out the boat is situated usually in Costa Rica, and was just up here for some tournaments… and this fellow is one of three crew members. Had a lovely discussion about fishing! and how great the fishing is up north. Interesting life, the owners are only there very part time, so these guys get to hang out in wonderful hot places and work but also play. Hard work but lots of fun. I would think. Depending on the owners!

Before we became too wrinkled we went back to the boat and got all gussied up… and teetered (in my high wedge sandals) over to the other side of the marina to the restaurant. 

Higher prices and smaller quantities but oh my the food was good! Great last night for the boat portion of the trip. 

The boat was all cleaned up and shiny, so we slept in the camper. Unfortunately we discovered we are out of propane, and have had no luck locating any. 

December 3 –

This morning I had to go back to the boat to make my tea and Lawrence’s coffee – no way we were starting the day without that! 

and then – everything was done, the truck was fuelled up, we attached the trailer to the truck and we were off. A little later than we had hoped but it was a short leg today – to Puerto Escondido. 

Uneventful drive, several of the detours have been cut out and we were back to real pavement! Still a few “devestations” as Lawrence calls them… bumpy and grimey but we made it.

We arrived in Tripui in time to find we indeed did have a spot – same one as on the way down. Beef dinner on the beach with the Walkers had redirected to dinner at the restaurant, which was fine with us. Several of the locals came over and chatted with us, including a couple from Parksville. Boating and trailering – just the kind of people we need to talk to ! Lots of stories to tell and ideas to share about successful retirement. 

Part of the ( well, maybe most of the) joy of travelling by land and by sea is you meet a whole  variety of people with a lot of knowledge about things we are interested in.The guy in the motorhome living full time in the trailer park section, the couple with the sailboat on the hard with the small fifth wheel who have chartered all over the Caribbean and have plans for the south pacific – by charter – but have their own boat here that they brought down from Vancouver Island… both probably well into their 60’s and dreaming big! the older fellow getting propane ( when we finally found out where to get it) who has lived down here in a house he built years ago – there are so many people who have made the decision to ditch winter and have found their paradise in the Baja. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg ( bad simile…) ( how about tip of the volcano, more appropriate) – I am pretty sure everywhere we will travel there will be people with stories like this to share with us. And yes, not all good. But when I do look at news from our first world privileged corner of the world, I am thinking there is no where that doesn’t have a dark side. 

Dinner was great, we all dove into a huge margerita each – I think my meal was the best, a combination of everything mexican – of which I ate the Chili Rellano … and the table finished the rest! 

Now we are having breakfast, after a walk around the marina at Puerto Escondido – another day on the road, this one could be a bit hairy. 

december 4

Day two of the road trip was fun. After picking up propane in Loreto ( thank you Jan and Sy for the information) we headed north. It took a while but I suddenly realized I wasn’t gasping and clutching at the handles in the truck – I spent a lot of time snapping pictures and gasping at the view though. We did go through a rain storm, rainbows, dust storms, heavy winds, several very thorough security checks – and bumped through Santa  Rosalia, who has yet to repair the worst part of the storm damage on the highway. We made it to Guerrero Negro JUST as the sun set, literally – we were told the trip  usually takes four hours. Hah! switchbacks, where we met ( the suddenly increasing numbers of ) huge motorhomes, faces set in grimaces and hands white knuckling the steering wheel…. we are going in the wrong direction! Everyone is heading south!!!

But we made it, and I remarked to Lawrence that from my perspective it didn’t seem as gruelling and scary as the trip down. He suggested there were a few white knuckle moments for him, but overall – yes… we are not getting complacent.  But it’s comforting knowing what to expect.

So dinner in the restaurant ( dorado… delicious) and breakfast in the camper this morning ( dishes… why so many dishes?) after a restless night AGAIN ( bad karaoke in the bar next door followed by about four or five hours of motorcycle racing on the main drag which is just a few hundred metres away from the camper… followed by dogs. ) 

Lawrence is making emergency repairs to the boat cover, which got ripped apart in the heavy winds we went through, and then it’s on the road again! 

Later that same day: 4:57pm buenos tardes… time change…lost an hour? we have done this leg in 8 hours, approximately 442 km from Guerrero Negro to Incenti Guerrero – this was the hairy leg. Pardon the expression. Lots of up and down and non existent shoulders, some heavier traffic ( motorhomes heading south!) and crazy shifts in flora and geography. Very, very beautiful, and some of the vistas as we ( carefully) crested the hills were breathtaking. AND I SAW A ROADRUNNER.  Also saw a coyote, a little later, but he was deceased. No sign of an Acme Anvil anywhere. Or a piano. Probably a truck.

One of the joys of this leg of the trip is passing through the Cirillo sanctuary – boojums – dr ssuess trees… they were looking fabulous this time around! 

The good news is we are now in the land of low sulfur fuel – ULSD… Lawrence found some genius in La Paz who has developed a gizmo ( very tech) that forces the engine to do a regeneration and thus burn off the soot and sulfur that has accumulated in the diesel particulate filter. It’s software, and we have a little laptop devoted to talking to the engine through a gizmo that is plugged in … absolutely marvellous , allows the truck to use the high sulfur fuel it gets in south Baja. But now we are feeding it good fuel, so it’s all great. The truck continues to astound me, pulling the boat and supporting the camper up some pretty steep hills. Just keeps chugging! 

Something that doesn’t fail to amaze and yes , upset me, is the amount of garbage down here.  Even in the middle of nowhere, strewn on the side of the road and way out into the cactus desert, bottles, garbage, plastic, plastic, plastic.  It is a huge issue in my mind but maybe not something that can be dealt with yet. We saw a large cage in one town where a woman was throwing a plastic bag of garbage onto an already full overflowing pile. Where do they take it? there are no dumps, it just seems to go everywhere. Each individual home is generally clean and tidy though. The other thing is the incessant wind – it blows what garbage it picks up and distributes it everywhere.

The other issue is perhaps one of drivers and safety – when a loaded truck falls off the edge of one of those non-shoulder roads, the load ends up strewn everywhere. Car parts, bits and pieces, bottles, and plastic tote crates.. and yes, even many many pounds of red tomatoes…

left where the truck was crashed. And there were several rather devastating signs of a crash and burn.

And of course the ubiquitous shrine.  Still taking pictures of them, usually as we drive by so they are mostly blurry, but that is how you see them – out of the corner of your eye.  And with the shrines, and sometimes without, are the piles of bottles – lots of beer bottles, and some soft drink bottles too. I imagine friends and family coming out on the Dias de los muertos – and having a few beverages with their deceased friend.  In one spot, there was just a case of Dos Equis sitting there, beers still in the box… someone’s makeshift quick shrine to an absent friend? 

Along one section of road, outside of and through a rather large town that is quite well to do because of agriculture ( think Driscoll’s berries) there was a shrine every half Kilometre.  I was gobsmacked, and it is a straight road although rather narrow, and along one side are all the shops, all nice looking and brightly painted, and along the other the greenhouses and huge acreages of the various agricultural companies. 

I finally decided, watching the drivers along the road, that the shrines and memorials were because the pedestrians, walking to and from work, to and from school, or to and from the shops… were probably being picked off by the drivers. Just a thought. 

And of course the animals don’t fare much better. Along some of the more desolate desert stretches, white bones shone in the sunlight –

and the occasional desiccated carcass too picked over for the vultures. Scrawny animals shuffle through the dust and scrub looking for something to eat – however it wasn’t always like that, we did see some healthy looking cattle and horses along the way. 

And don’t get me started on the dogs. Enough said.

We stopped at the onyx store I had noticed on the way down, just on the road to El Marmol, where the onyx is mined. I  wanted to get some onyx, and thought this would be a good place – and although I didn’t get any onyx bowls or large pieces, I was pleased we stopped there.  First of all, he had a rather sweet and healthy looking black cat – always a plus with me – and a few sweet mexican puppies. He was a lovely man, no english, and my spanish fails me when under duress.. but he seemed thrilled I would by his little trinkets, and kept patting my shoulder. I vow that next time we come down like this I will know more spanish and be braver about using what spanish I have! It’s only respectful…

also would help with the brawny uniformed young men at the checkpoints, would be nice to know what they are really asking us!

Anyway – sun has now gone down, legitimately 5:25 – Lawrence is watching the footage from the dash cam and laughing, gasping, and marvelling at how we are still alive.. no, I am just kidding about the last part.

Time for a glass of wine and then dinner at the restaurant – maybe they will have a hockey game on the TV! last time we were here, it was a basket ball game followed by pre presidential election stuff – and we all know how that turned out.

OK I think I have talked enough and hopefully have illustrated where we are. 

Tomorrow is the leg to the border.. we are hoping we can figure out how to get through Tecate – we had good intel for the trip down but are a bit unsure about the northern drive through. Fingers crossed all goes well!