Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hola from Baja California

The border crossing went smoothly for all nine rigs -- the Wagon Masters, Ben and Nancy, were in front, then the seven customer's rigs, and then John and I in the Tailgunner position. Our job, in addition to learning the route, is to watch for any of our group who might need help along the way.

Once we had been waved through the US/Mexican border crossing in Tijuana, we began heading south along the Pacific coast. We followed the snaking border fence for a few miles, but finally left it behind for the decidedly nicer view of the Pacific Ocean. This stretch reminded me of Big Sur in California – it has the same rugged cliffs, winding roads, and amazing drop offs.

By the end of the first night, we had translated most of the road signs (those near the border were conveniently bilingual), negotiated several toll booths (for a couple rigs this meant learning the hard way to bypass the “Exclusivo” lanes, the equivalent of our Easy Pass. They had to back out), and realized that cars, people, and stray dogs will all dart into your path with no warning.

Our stop the first night was an RV park by a small tidal bay where egrets and other shore birds dined on small but plentiful fiddler crabs, and humans dined on excellent tortilla soup, a Mexian plate consisting of a chile rellano, taco, tostada and enchilada, and, of course, margaritas. We toured a fabulous world-class museum of collected art from the Maya, Aztec, and several other cultures that the owner of the resort had accumulated over 60 years of collecting. We were treated to a beautiful sunset with the mountains in the background and a sunrise just as beautiful the next morning. Day one done!


Day two found us on narrower, windy roads that snaked through the mountains for miles and miles. We hugged the right-side white line as oncoming semis, tankers, and RVs sped by in the oncoming north-bound lane, and it is a wonder that no one lost a mirror or worse.

We passed through several small towns where the colors were bright, the buildings shabby, and almost every business sign was hand-painted. Each town had what seemed to be an obligatory stray dog that sniffed along the roadside or lapped water in roadside puddles. We saw prickly pear farms, a woman hitchhiking as she balanced a box on her head, and two men who had come into town on horseback.

We were waved through our first military checkpoint, as soldiers dressed in camo, rifles at their sides, watched from the middle of the road. We gassed up at a Pemex, the only brand of filling station in Mexico, and used our pesos for the first time. In Mexico, green pumps are gas instead of diesel, and diesel is in black pumps -- good to keep straight!

Everywhere we went, the people were very friendly. Construction workers, playing children, and even some of the soldiers smiled and waved to us as we passed through. Day 2 ended in Colonia Vicente Guerrero, in a campground owned by an Italian woman and her Mexican husband. The Margaritas here are excellent!


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