The renewed road
Several people have reported the highway to Puertecitos is nearly
completed --just the last few miles needing a coat of asphalt.
So I drove to Puertecitos yesterday to learn the truth, which
is --the last two miles are perfect. Black and smooth and an
effortless drive to the town. In reality, it is the 2.5 miles
BEFORE the last two miles that needs blacktop. For
some unknown reason, there is an unfinished gap in the highway
starting at kilometer 71 that stretches for 4 kilometers. Then
a smooth piece completes the journey into Puertecitos.
I did not see anyway highway equipment anywhere
along the highway to Puertecitos. I believe the machinery intended
for the gap is now devoted to the widening of the highway north
of San Felipe. So it may be some time before the gap gets an
opportunity to consort with its neighboring ribbons of dark,
November 14, 2006
The road to Puertecitos is almost completely paved
again. Work has recently accelerated on the project and at last
report the road was excellent up to two miles north of the town.
Some of the 'Zono de Vados' or 'dips' are not yet marked so
keep the petal off the floorboard or you will get airborne in
a few places.
June 24, 2003
I decided to take the day off and drive to Puertecitos,
a small community 52 miles south of San Felipe. I hadn't made
the drive in four years. What can I say about the road condition
that hasn't already been said about a bipolar person with Galloping
First let me warn you. If you plan to drive to
Puertecitos make sure you have spare tires, spare shocks, spare
sunblock and spare Gravol. And a priest in the back seat would
be handy for frequent confessionals, because you are going to
be using language that'll make a Marine blush. Also, it might
be a good idea to get a few hours of arcade games under your
belt before attempting the trip. Luge the Grand Canyon would
be a good game to practice on.
The trip will start well. Once you're past the
Military Checkpoint near La Hacienda, the road is going to be
a pleasant companion for at least 20 miles. Then it'll start
to show a few personality flaws. A little testiness here and
there. The occasional blemish. By the time you reach Lidia's
Camp at km 50, you'll be negotiating potholes the size of motorcycle
jumps. At many places you'll be thinking that no road at all
would be better than what's in front of you. Lips and islands
of hard-edged asphalt are going to have you damning the design
engineer who was short-sighted enough to deploy only four shock
absorbers under your bucking backside. At least that's what
was germane to my 1986 Plymouth Caravelle. The poor thing made
more noise than the Tin Man caught in a hay bailer.
Interestingly, the further down a bad road you
travel, the more evidence you'll find for humor. I guess it
takes a special kind of person to live at the end of a horizontal
scree. Near km 66.5, I came upon an effigy along the side of
the road that was marked as an historical Baja site. It was
the remains of a car in which sat a paper mache cactus with
raised arm, alongside a facsimile of a surfboard. The hand-painted
sign said the spot was the resting place of someone who tried
to find the perfect surfing beach. The green cactus, nicknamed
Prickley Dick, silently lofts an open hand that describes
itself as a beer can target. The side of the car wreck
promises cold beer in 2.6 miles, presumably at the Cowpaddy
Luncheria, now closed for the season.
The last mile or so of the road to Puertecitos
simply doesn't exist. It is exclusively terra-too-firma, peppered
with rocks and potholes. But refreshingly, it is a better drive
than the 20 miles before it.
One of the problems with the last half of the
Puertecitos Road is that on several occasions it pretends to
be your friend and then suddenly, without warning, does a Lucrezia
Borgia. There are stretches of seemingly good road where you
might tend to accelerate to take advantage of it. Then, as the
inevitable chasmic potholes appear without warning, the brakes
are punched silly by a foot electrified by panic. Not the best
way to enjoy the scenery.
The town of Puertecitos hadn't physically changed
much in four years. I noticed the palapa-style building that
had formerly been used for local social get-togethers was now
a restaurant with attendant trinket shop at its side. And both
Pemex stations were closed. Most of the population had already
left for the summer. The few remaining ones were shade-bathing.
I spoke with a few Puertecitarios who seemed a little disgruntled
about what had happened to the town in the past ten years, since
Rafael Orrosco died.
The Bay and Town of Puertecitos
It is the Orrosco family who owns the land that
cradles the tiny port. It seems Rafael was happy to let the
American population of the town collectively make whatever improvements
they wanted to make. But now his children have taken a different
tack. There have been several lease increases and part of the
town has been sectioned off and a kind of restriction policy
has been declared by the woman who now manages the property.
A fence has been built around the American homes and a gate
is closed and locked at 10PM every night. Local Mexicans cannot
launch their boats from the shore in this area and have been
discouraged from 'loitering' in the vicinity.
If a home or trailer was wired into the local
grid, it was provided with electricity for about 2 hours a day.
Other than that, there are virtually no amenities. With lease
costs approaching $1000/yr., there doesn't seem to be much to
commend Puertecitos. One resident said, "If I didn't love
it here, I'd be out of here in a minute." He cited the
view of the bay as his principle reason for staying and remarked
the town was simply suffering from mismanagement.
On the way back to San Felipe, I noticed a bad
road is very much like sharing a chromosome with whomever you
meet along the way. Both of us raise our hands in silent acknowledgment
of our brotherhood. We're the family tied together by a length
of broken thread.