San Felipe, Baja, Mexico
The renewed road to Puertecitos

December 25/2006
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, serene roadtop.

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 Pneumonia?

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.

Prickley Dick
Prickley Dick

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.

Other Puertecitos Links: