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
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
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
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
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)