Bastante Viento

San Felipe, Baja, Mexico

Bastante Viento

Note: all Spanish words will be defined to the best of my ability at the end

The Christmas adventure of 2002 began on Dec. 20th and with very few minutes to spare ended on Jan. 1. The plan was to go directly to Agua Verde and stay, the Rocketman had work commitments that required his early departure. Everyone has all their documents so we ease back an hour on the departure time. We meet in Tecate at 7AM, cross the border and Walt gets pulled in to secondary check in Mexico. I have to make two turns before I can find a place to park, and I thought this year would be easier! I walk back and meet Walt. We made it through Tecate with no wrong turns, and without going into the pointy end of the arrow denoting a one-way street.

On to Ensenada, and I know that Walt does not like the route that I take through Ensenada, but from here on I will be following him. We are rumbling through the business district and I am surprised to see a US icon, a NAPA Auto Parts Store. Almost immediately a Mexican pulled up beside me and indicates that he wants to speak to me. I haven’t made any driving maneuvers that would offend and neither do I recognize the fellow as a long lost friend. I roll down the window and he informs me that I have a wheel-bearing problem on the trailer. I thank him and pull to the curb, fortunately it is parallel parking and there is an entire city block vacant. I get out and look at the left side, nothing. Meanwhile the Mexican has made a U-turn and assures me as he goes by that the problem is on the other side.

Both bearings for that wheel are completely gone. We get the wheel off then knock out the races. The inside race has a number that can be read but unfortunately the seal does not. The hub looks to be semi-useable. Back two blocks to NAPA and we get two bearings and a container of grease, they do not have the seal. The clerk uses a set of digital calipers to identify the seal and gave me two CR numbers. In southern California if the lame-brain doesn’t have a listing for a Dilly trailer manufactures in Sweetwater, Texas in 1983 you are shit-out-of-luck. And if you go to a trailer place it is even worse, they have no idea what the number is but they do have a bag with both bearings and the seal. With one exception this store has the same drab high-priced selection as stores north of the border, that exception was cans of R-12 available for any walk-in customer. Back at the truck another Mexican is telling Dinah that his shop is ½ block ahead on the left, he has a press and does welding. We use the super brown tape that we found two years ago near La Paz to fashion a seal. On that trip the back of the swivel chair in the boat broke in Cabo, we used the tape and a board to the bridge the break. I finally felt the chair should be replaced about 3 months ago, NASA needs to know about this tape. The bottom of the axle needs a file and sanding to get the inner race on. A little over an hour and we are moving again. The Rocketman does not want to take yet more time to exchange money. We pay for that mistake later.

On through Ensenada with no one getting lost. Much better than last year when Walt was leading and toured the embarcadero, eh? Outside of Ensenada the bright gray Chevy van takes the point. The military checks are passing southbound traffic without inspection but, the northbound folks are paying dearly for our freedom. On to Gurrero Negro and the only exception, I still need to take on 5 gallons of gasoline in the long dry stretch from El Rosario. There are at least two enterprises along the road that sell gas but I don’t want to know the price.

We stay in the Mallaremo, I am surprised that they have vacancies. Motel rooms in Baja never cease to amaze me. Our room had a loft that would sleep 10 kids, it was one giant sleeping area on the floor, no place to walk and no other furniture. Access was by a vertical ladder bolted to the wall, even to me it looked like accidents waiting to happen. Forget the ladder, just roll over the wrong way while sleeping and your sleep will be interrupted by falling 10 feet. Does anyone know how to allocate two towels and one tiny bar of soap among 12 people?

We wake up to the sound of rain, I was happy to know that I could still identify it. At breakfast I learn that Walt had gassed last night to the tune of $86. I can’t recall his over charge but I paid $56 for $48 dollars worth of gasoline. I will never go south of Ensenada again without pesos. We talk to several other people at breakfast and that never enters my mind north of the border. By now most gringos are ready for conversation as we try to slow our pace to mesh with Mexican gears. Outside we talk to a fellow that is loading a car top aluminum boat it is painted to look like a wooden boat. He had got the boat and motor for nothing in Ensenada; it had been sitting for 26 years. We see this fellow and his wife the next day and the following day, each time we wave like we had been friends for as long as the boat had been idle.

We had planned for a late start and that was not hard to achieve. Well before reaching here we had seen water damage near the road. Maybe Freud could explain this but suddenly I viewed the roadside wrecks as just another form of runoff. I probably need to explain that running off of Mex. 1 usually renders your vehicle useless with most abandoned exactly where they came to rest. It had stopped raining before we leave but in the next 100 miles we go through several small rain cells. Dinah is so busy giving me driving tips that she doesn’t realize where we are. I say “sweetheart, look out there” pointing toward our first glimpse of the Sea of Cortez. She was amazed it looks like a big tanker on the ocean. Well that’s what it is. This is the approach to Santa Rosalia and the descent causes the truck graveyard to grow at a rather constant pace.

In Santa Rosalia a stop at one of Pepe’s taco stands is a must, in fact that is one reason for the late start. We wanted to be ready for lunch when we got there. Dinah has been reading aloud from a book on Mexican culture, it illuminates many facets that vastly differ from my beliefs and practices. One that I going for here relates to the government passing a law banning the apostrophe. As with the sound of H, the letter W, the apostrophe does not exist in the Spanish language. Pepe’s is clearly above that law.

I thought that we had made a very clear plan, when we arrive in Mulege, we find a place to park our van and boat. Then the Rocketman would show us downtown, the Hotel Serinidad, and much, much more from the comfort afforded by his much newer van. However, getting a room was the first order of business. We got permission to park my van and boat at a high dollar camp ground. Here we first encounter a very talkative retired sheriff from San Diego, he advised of a newly opened hotel that had excellent prices. Walt wanted to get a price from the Serinidad. Walt hardly ever talks about Mulege without mentioning the Hotel Sernidad. We spend an hour looking for it, during that hour we drove by it 5 times. It is surrounded by a coagulated mud flat but then that is a perfect description for a large percentage of the city.

This was a good exercise because it helped me to understand why the co-owner of the boat and trailer can follow it for 70 miles without noticing that a tire is flopping around like a bird with a broken wing. I suspect it has belched a considerable amount of smoke and a few sparks. Without a doubt it has ejected some 30 rollers and the dust cap without getting his attention. I suspect that some of the new divots in Walt’s windshield were the results of these escaping rollers. Even with this enlightenment some of the things that he doesn’t see are unbelievable. In Mexacali an overpass was built at a nightmare intersection, Walt has been through that intersection and under the desnivel at least three times and has not seen it yet.

After pricing the Serinidad we go back and rent at the place recommended by the retired sheriff. The place is owned by a Cuban woman and her gringo husband. She has a daughter of maybe 20 and both mother and daughter have body piercing jewelry. When we rented the room the woman told us that due to high water pressure the water supply to the toilet is best left turned off. She went on the high pressure causes the water to continue to run. I looked in the tank to see sand up to the level of the flapper valve; I will wager that the sand is what causes the water to continue running. After the business transactions are done we retrieve my van and park it there.

We leave Walt talking to the retired sheriff and believe that he will pick us up very soon to continue trying to find some of his very favorite places. We wait and wait some more, another thing on the agenda was to go to the place where we usually camp to see Harold and Judi and possibly others. All of the sand is now clearly in the bottom of the hourglass, we unhook the trailer and head east. We meet Walt on the road after both of us had missed the turnoff. When he rolls in we have the most severe words that we have ever had. A close by camper began to pack his stuff just in case it got worse. He commented later that “I didn’t know if you guys were going to work it out or not”.

Fully reconciled we go down to see Harold and Judi, the folks from Oregon. We describe our raft trip on the Owyhee and they advise; don’t go there before July. The tourist industry has died, as 50% of the spaces are vacant. Harold gave me a couple of jigs for catching small Mackerel for bait. That night we go to a restaurant that Walt has been to before. As we are driving he is not sure of the road, it exits the business district and becomes residential. Walt is still not positive, as the road exits the residential section it becomes completely unlit. I can still see Mulege lights on the other side of the river and by now I am sure there is not a restaurant ahead of us. But by now Walt is certain that this is the road and suddenly lights come into view. The restaurant is on a sand beach and has no floor other than the sand. I look at the menu very carefully and instantly become the target of derision because I decide on fried chicken.

The restaurant is visited by two musicians, both playing guitars. One has an excellent voice and I am sure he did Celito Lindo as good as I have ever heard. Walt gave these guys too much money because we had a hell of a time getting rid of them. We noticed a couple at the next table, a very blonde woman and a guy with a hat. When the food comes I lose the chicken quickly because Dinah’s shrimp have cheese on them. As we leave the restaurant it begins to rain. I have every reason to believe that I will get lucky tonight but after Walt makes a couple of navigation errors culminating in traversing several blocks of a one way street into the arrow. We also met several cars whose occupants were not happy with us. Unfortunately, for me, this takes all of the steam out of Dinah.

Before we left the hotel that evening I had called Dinah’s attention to a large motor home. I assured her that we can not afford one like this but just look at the opulence. A couple was preparing dinner. The next morning I go out to get Dinah a cold Pepsi, the things some people drink, and I am immediately accosted by a kindly gentleman named Don. He had been walking about and had noticed a book on my dash, “2500 Spanish Idioms”. I agree to lend him the book as it will likely be a couple of hours before we leave.

Walt and I go down to the restaurant for coffee and the Cuban woman persuades us to have breakfast. She is featuring the Mulege Slam for $3 US, two eggs, two pancakes, and bacon or ham. We should have been fishing because this is a delightful day very warm with no wind. We are sitting outside and as Don and his wife Joyce are returning from the panderia we convince them to have breakfast with us. I have known Don for an hour now and in Mexico that is like old friends. They are into some magnet magic that bears farther investigation. My tennis elbow didn’t hurt for 4 days and about the other demonstration could that be a replacement for Viagra?

On our way out of town we took them to the beach where Harold and Judi spend several months a year. Judi says if you are staying only a few days please take the spot next to us, they had friends coming Jan. the 5th and holding an empty space that is prime property is difficult. Miles to the south in Loreto we get some of McLulu’s tacos, gasoline for the conveyances, and ice.

We finally get off the paved road and find that the road in to Agua Verde was not the same as last year. Over the top of the first hill the road took a very abrupt left turn, last year it continued straight. Walt didn’t notice that either, I mean he made the turn but didn’t realize it was different. The road was in much better shape than last year. We had been told of a tremendous rain and the rebuilding done on this road lends credence to that. Last year Dinah was so enthralled with the beauty that she didn’t look at the road. She didn’t remember it being that bad all the while I am telling her it is much better this year. The narrowest place is not improved and I suspect it will be many years before any improvement is done there. Four truck loads of dynamite would be a good start because a lot of vertical rock has to be taken out.

Walt and I take his van to access the conditions of the road that can be used at low tide only. This is the only land approach to the place we want to go. I thought that I might be bothered by knowing there is only one three hour window per day for me to leave here, I wasn’t. It looks passable for me with the trailer and the tide is out. We go back and I start in while he turns around. A few minutes later I look in my mirror to see a different truck behind me. The truck follows me turn for turn directly to the beach that we wanted. There is plenty of room and the unpacking begins, the other truck is occupied by the people that were at the table next to us at dinner last night in Mulege. The very blonde woman turns out to be a limey and well you know the guy’s got a hat.

The next morning the wind is up some but boat launching is easy enough. We take John, the guy with the hat, fishing with us the next morning. The water is rough out of our harbor. Both John and Walt get sick and we give it up about noon. None of their chumming helped the fishing. That afternoon I walk back to the ranch/restaurant and arrange for cabrito three days later at 4PM, I had requested two days but that was not possible. Price was not mentioned, I wanted it bad. The wind changes direction and velocity, it blows straight onto our beach for the next 72 hours.

Walt and I are keeping the fire going while drinking wine and young scotch. We are semi-out of the wind behind one of those rocks as big as a house. We keep tabs on Dinah’s progress as she fashions an excellent wind break using three tarpaulins and 1,000 feet of rope. It was a serious wind. I don’t know how Walt reaches these decisions but obviously the wine bottles must be replaced at some point in time. This was the time because he brought two cases of bottled wine and having been tricked before I make sure that the label and the case agree. No wine from an electric cow with one teat this year. Walt leaves after enjoying only 48 hours of this fine weather. Just prior to his departure we walk farther east and find an even better area for camping. We make arrangements to meet in Mulege if the wind is still blowing tomorrow.

During this walk we get into a discussion about Don and Joyce’s motor home. Walt wondered why Don couldn’t afford a unit with a roll out? I said it was a roll out, the kitchen rolled out. Walt suggested a wager and I rejected but countered with; if it is not a roll out I will stay in Mulege for as long as you want me to on these trips and if it is a roll out you never ask me to stay in Mulege again. He turned that down very quickly reasoning that I would not risk that unless I was 100% sure that it was a roll out.

Dinah has gathered a lot of wood and when Rocketman left he was not going to reload the wood that he had brought. The wind is blowing real good tonight and Dinah suggests that we have some Fukarwi fireworks. We already have a large bed of glowing embers so I get the shovel. Fukarwi fireworks consist of taking a shovel full of embers and carefully hurling them skyward. For some reason I decided to throw them against a cliff. The wind and irregularities in the cliff face held many of the embers where they continued to glow. The next morning I couldn’t find even the slightest trace of the event.

There is a new commercial with about six guys that are camping each one has about a 4 day stubble on their face. The theme is, are you tough enough. One guy is going to pour himself a cup of coffee, none of it goes in the cup. Most of it is blown on another guy about six feet away. That was a mild wind and I would advise those guys to stay to Hell out of Baja.

The cardon skeleton that Walt left two years ago had been dragged up to the ranch/ restaurant.

On cabrito Viernes we pack up and head for the restaurant. Just before we are ready to leave I see a very small sail bobbing around in the now large waves. Two Canadians hit the beach on some kind of bedpan looking thing on steroids with a sail. The guy doesn’t have a hat but he had guided kayaks here for 4 years and had never seen a boat on this beach. He questioned “you pulled this across the low tide road’? I replied “that is the only way that I know of getting here”. At the restaurant the food is served and everything is excellent. Dinah eats a lot more of the cabrito than she expected to. The price was $4 per plate, I could get excited if the 3 day wait could be reduced. On the way up the mountain at the narrowest part we meet another vehicle. This is an absolutely blind corner so the meeting is abrupt. A near hysterical woman is using a video cam. They back up taking the inside of the turn and I am sure this is by her direction. I say that is not far enough, I am pulling a boat. To get any more progress backward and uphill the guy has to lock his front hubs. Now Dinah is getting excited about how much margin we have to the edge.

It is well into the evening when we get to Mulege, we go back to the same hotel. Now I am really surprised, Dinah wants to go to the restaurant. It seems she remembered that on Friday a Cuban dish is featured. We walk down and there is one serving left. Considering that I ate about a half a goat five hours ago that is plenty, we shared it. It is very good but seems like a lot of trouble for meat and potatoes. It looks like a flattened ball of mashed potatoes with the meat hiding inside?

The next morning we have breakfast (she is acting very strange) and the retired sheriff is there. It seems that he was here last night for dinner but is allergic to smoke. He had to leave before the meal was ready and that is why one was left for us. We go find Walt and he is looking at a northbound road along the Pacific. This is another day that we should be fishing no wind and very warm. I take a look at his plan but say no I think we will go to San Everisto. Earlier we had said that we would not attempt San Everisto because of the rain but the excellent condition of the Agua Verde road changed our mind.

We begin to sing “Life in the Fast Lane” because of the repeat trips on this stretch of road. In Loreto we do all of the necessary things tacos, gas and ice. We are going to take in a road that is farther south than the one we took the last time because it looks easier. It does join the other road about 15 kilometers from San Everisto. We start in and let the tire pressure down to 25. We should make it by dark. After a while we come across a guy cutting wood he says it is 20 kilometers to San Everisto. We are now running in a very good road that has been freshly worked by a dozer. We find part of this road crew at the intersection and they confirm that San Everisto is ahead. Very soon we are ahead of where the dozer has worked.

I love understatements and to say that the condition of the road deteriorated is perhaps the best of my life. There are washouts that are traversed simply by someone choosing one side and driving off the bank into the streambed and up the other side. Some of these are very steep. There are times when Dinah can’t tell where the previous vehicles have gone, it is abundantly clear that the roadbed is not a choice. We meet another truck and they confirm that San Everisto es derecho.

The number of automotive tracks continues to diminish, the number of cow tracks increases. We get down to one discernable automobile track and Dinah knows that this was the result of a horny man heading for relief because nobody else would drive here. Dinah has the light out and is scanning the terrain. I ask her several times if she could see the bottom. She begins to answers in terms of the number of rollovers the van will do before reaching the bottom if you runoff here. The number varied from 3 to 50. I can’t believe we are not there yet. Now all tracks have vanished and at this point I get out and walk at least a mile because I am sure there is something ahead that absolutely prohibits passage. Can’t find anything. We come to a very narrow passage of fill dirt that has been eroded to the point of being narrower than the width between the tires. Someone has placed the steel door of a ship over the gap for one wheel and piece of timber is used to define the absolute limit for the other tire. Dinah will not stay in the truck. Somewhere after that the trailer high centers taking all the weight off the rear end of the van. I can’t move in either direction. We break out the shovels and spend 20 minutes digging out rocks and dirt until everything is once again supported by tires. Yes we do carry more than one shovel on these trips. That is probably where the trailer wiring was torn apart but then it could have been any one of fifty other places.

Finally I can positively identify the last river bed before San Everisto. Dinah does not believe it and I agree that it looks nothing like it did two years ago but this is it. I stop to let her out to read the road signs as none of them face us. There it is San Everisto 1 kilometer down the left fork of the road. It is now 10:30 or about 5 hours later that I anticipated arriving. Walt will cry because he missed this. As we move through town toward the place we camped before a desert fox darts across the road then comes back and runs in front of us for a short distance. Seeing a desert fox is a lot more rare than seeing a rattlesnake.

That night we sleep in the tent and the next morning I wake up to a beautiful flat sea. I start doing some preparation but not hurriedly. I work on Dinah’s reel before declaring it a total loss for this trip, she will have to use a bait casting reel. I move the boat to where I want to unload it. A Ford truck is approaching. The driver speaks no English and while my Spanish is getting better it still has a long way to go. I quickly establish that this is his property but he does not want any money for rent. His hat proclaims him as El Jefe and I can assure you that he is. He asks which way I came and I show him on the map I also point to where the road work has progressed. He asks if my van is 4 wheel drive. I say no and he goes on camino es muy malo. I did happen to notice that.

The condition of the road has caused me to burn a lot more gas that the distance indicated. I ask about gasoline and he indicated that he could sell me some. His price is $10 pesos per liter or about $4 US per gallon. I ask for 40 liters and he leaves to get it. Other things that I learned he is the guy who owns the freezer and if the wind blows we can come over to camp at his palapa; that would be perfect for a north wind. After the gasoline transaction he goes down to talk to the guys harvesting salt. This operation is much larger than it was two years ago. It would take them many years to fill up one scraper at Gurerro Negro.

We finally get out on the water. Dinah catches a triggerfish on bait but when I clean it there is also some of her plastic lure in the stomach. The action is less that stellar. We go back in grab a sandwich and Dinah says we should go back out because it could be windy tomorrow. It is about an hour until dark and I say ok but we are going to troll. I rig us with two new jointed Rapalas. I had already lost one fishing from the beach taken by a fish that could not even be slowed down. Dinah says that trolling is the most unproductive method of fishing that she has ever experienced. I also wanted to look at the coast farther north.

Two pangas are looking around to the north as well. They are very friendly, or maybe just glad to see a different boat on the water. We go just past them and I start letting out the lures. Dinah’s pole gets a vicious hit and I reel my lure in. She thinks she needs the net and boy do I hustle to get it. She brings in a Sierra of about five pounds and by the time I get the hooks out of the net and out of it she has decided that is not the best way. In my opinion the best way is to get them beside the boat and then they get themselves off. That’s perfect. In the next thirty minutes we each caught 4 or 5 fish all about the same size, most were Corbina. Dinah now says I can see how a person would get hooked on trolling. Before we get back in the wind has started to blow and not from a direction that moving to El Jefe’s palapa would improve. We were catching so many fish that I did not get nearly as far north as I wanted to.

The wind blows all night and the next day we decide to give it up, we have had enough wind. The waves are at least 6 feet high with white caps as far as you can see. We had already decided to go to La Paz, as El Jefe has assured me the camino es bueno. I had to do about two hours of work on the trailer ball as I found it loose after our arrival. I am in no hurry as I have made internal decision; this is the last of camping for this trip. We roll out about 4PM.

We make the turn toward La Paz and within 100 yards it is easy to see the camino ain’t bueno. In the first few miles you cross many sandy streambeds the sides are sharp from recent rain. As we gain some elevation we meet a truck, then in a narrow place we meet El Jefe, he has about 12 guys with him. We stop and at that primer level of Spanish I relate too much wind for us gringos. We negotiate one nasty uphill and even with 4 wheel brakes you slide in places when coming down the other side. The last time through here I had no right front brake. I tell Dinah that I think this next hill is really mean.

It has a very sharp right turn as you approach a very steep and rough section. We get through the turn and about 1/3 of way up the steep part. I think I can see cement work ahead. It is cement work and a bridge that wasn’t here two years ago. Suddenly the van bogs down. I had just had the carburetor rebuilt and the pipes are blowing black smoke. I absolutely can not move an inch uphill, I can’ even spin the tires, the engine just bogs. When I get back to California I will be visiting Dr. Carb and Copeland transmissions. I start to back up and very soon this becomes a no go as well. The trailer is turning into the mountain and I don’t have the room to get it straight. Since the trailer is now in little danger of rolling down the mountain I get out and unhook it. I still can’t move. I am thinking, if I can get the tongue of trailer aligned with the road I can back the van down and then run up the hill. The electric boat winch can be put on the trailer hitch and I can winch the boat and trailer up the hill. That would be time consuming and if you make one mistake you can kiss the boat and trailer goodbye.

A truck is coming from La Paz, a man and two of his sons are taking a small delivery of vegetables to San Everisto. The older son and I make short work of getting the trailer moved. The man gets back into the truck and has barely enough room to get by the van. Dinah comes to me and says that he is going to turn around and pull the trailer up the hill. I move the van to give him more room. His truck has a two inch ball and the trailer has a 1 7/8 inch receiver, it is 2 inches now. He takes the trailer up no problem. I back up no more than 30 feet and take the van to the top. That receiver is not real good for two inches yet as we had some difficulty getting it off his truck. I give him $25 US and Dinah gives each one of them a soft drink. The man did not want a beer and was even skeptical of Dr. Pepper. His youngest son who spoke some English assured him it was ok. He related to me that he would be coming back in about three hours, and would pull the boat to La Paz if I had more trouble. We did not have any other troubles. Dinah declares that she is never going to San Everisto again.

The next morning I get up to a flat tire, a leaking gasoline tank, oil is leaking from the differential, and the broken wires for the trailer lights. From past experience I knew that bar soap would stop a gasoline leak and from memory this “fix” might last for two weeks. This tank actually has a crack where Baja had inflicted previous damage about two years ago. I dry and clean the area and the soap stops the dripping. The tire must be fixed but the rest of this stuff can wait. The boat does not block the view of the stop and tail lights of the van.

We leave La Paz with my internal and unspoken goal of getting to Santa Rosalia. I had noticed a town named Cien outside of La Paz. Why do you name a town 100? Could it be like Wonowon in Canada with the town being located one hundred and one miles from the start of the Alaskan Highway? It is; Cien is at the 100 kilometer mark from La Paz. At Santa Rita we stop and buy a short piece of the perfect cardon, this will be made into a hanging lamp. Here comes Loreto again. We get ice, gas, and tacos in that order. At the icehouse I learn that they are open 24 hours a day. They can’t make change for what I have in Mexican money and they will not take US dollars. They will trust me to take the ice and return to pay them. At Mc Lulus I ask her if she has seen Baja Ray, she bursts into a big smile and confirms that she has. Ray is the editor of a Baja newsletter that I get. Dinah gets a tour of the waterfront and as we are leaving we comes across a second Pemex station. I thought that there was only one, what a find. We stop and pay for the ice on the way out of town.

When we get through the military check I am sure we will make my destination goal and the El Morro Hotel unless we have another flat. As we are going by the south end of Bahia de Conception Dinah is sure that she can see our tracks from two years ago. The running board from the 1936 Plymouth is still as we left it. The gas tank is leaking again. It is beginning to get dark as we hit the El Morro. I dump Dinah, soap the tank again and start looking for a llantera shop. This is New Years Eve but I find one open and get the tire repaired and mounted. Back to the El Morro where I shower quickly and we then head downtown to get something to eat.

We park and find both Pepe’s are closed and not much activity farther up the street. I suggest that we have a sit down dinner and Dinah agrees. We go to restaurant that is associated with a hotel. The food is excellent and Dinah says something like this is world class. Unfortunately the restaurant will not be open tomorrow.

Another late start this certainly has not been a hurried vacation. We have been in Baja for 11days and we thought that it was windy on at least 9 of then. This is a real wind today. As we climb out of Santa Rosalia another refrigerated truck has become run off. The tractor is already gone and two unhappy looking fellows are making sure the contents remain in the trailer. Once on top the wind is really knocking the van around. The traffic is very light and it is obvious that several people have pulled off the road due to the wind. We stop in Catavina to put more soap on the wounded gas tank and put about 7 gallons of boat gas in the van. We are on a pace that might let us cross at Tecate.

Prior to entering Ensenada there is a military check that takes 20 minutes to get through. As I leave Manandera the traffic is getting denser and much more aggressive. I am right there flowing along with traffic when my world turns red and blue. I pull over and get out while the officer walks toward me. He extends his hand and introduces himself. He asks if I know that my trailer lights are not working. I lie like seasoned criminal and say no. He says come back and look. After looking and being appropriately puzzled, I go back to the van and get my light and in record time I spot the problem. He says for a big heavy vehicle you were going pretty fast and I reply that I was moving with traffic. He looks at the truck registration and my driver’s license. I demonstrate to him that I can fix the problem.

He informs that there will be a fine for the trailer lights. Good that should be considerably less than a fine for exceeding the speed limit about 3x. He asks “Ray where would you like to pay the fine, it is $21 US”? I reply that I would like to pay it here and now. He allows that and says about two miles up the street you will find lighted areas that you can use to fix the trailer lights. Dinah does not like this area so I go about 5 miles before pulling into a brightly lit and very modern Gigante parking lot. Now it is too late to try making it to the crossing at Tecate.

We head for the toll road to Tijuana. The wind is still vicious; I am going about 60MPH and am passed by one of the small vans. He enters one of the mountain gaps and slows so quickly that I damn near run over him. Either the driver had soiled their under garments or was getting some very vocal driving instructions. Off the toll road and into the city where the traffic route to the border crossing has been changed. We go directly to the Otay Mesa border crossing as we approach the first thing that I notice is there are no green lights, followed quickly by there are no lights at all. This crossing also closes at 10 PM, still there are at least 10 cars in each line. All of these cars are empty. Fortunately there ain’t many idiots like me so turning around and going backward on a one-way street wasn’t difficult. Back to the old crossing at Tijuana and it was painless.

I didn’t realize until later that I had not violated the direction on a one-way street until then.

Bastante Vento - enough wind
Agua Verde - water green
Gurrero Negro - warrior black
Serinidad - serenity
Celito Lindo - (name) pretty
Panderia - bakery
Cabrito - small goat
Viernes - Friday
Es derecho - it is straight ahead
Camino es muy malo - the road is very bad
Palapa - a structure that will provide shade and may also provide wind protection for campers
Panga - a Mexican made fiberglass fishing boat
El Jefe - he is the boss, not necessarily the top authority but the people’s leader
Camino es bueno - the road is good
Bahia - bay
Llantera - tire repair shop
Gigante - the name of a grocery chain meaning gigantic
Tijuana - Tia Juana - aunt (name)

by Ray Alexander
More articles by Ray...