Viva la Mexico
After a week in Mexico we have yet to experience any hazardous situations. The ones everyone warned us about. Apart from some odd looks we have only met nice people, willing to help us and interested in our trip. The gap in language is still a problem, but we will try to pick up Spanish as fast as possible.
Crossing the border from San Diego to Tijuana was very smooth. Even though the process itself is a bit complicated for cross-country travelers, everyone was able to speak English and the guys at the checkpoint made lots of jokes. Once on the other side, the surroundings change at a moment’s notice. Instead of shiny skyscrapers, we see little huts and big piles of rubbish.
We spend the day at the beach and then park close to the airport for the night. In the next morning we pick up Jirka, who arrives after a combination of flights from Czech Republic. We had stayed in contact after our adventurous hike in Kluane National Park (Canada). When I asked him to join my trip to Central America he accepted straight away. With Clara, who is already on board since Los Angeles, the main gang is now complete.
We have a long drive ahead of us to reach the Gulf of Cortez in Puerto Peñasco. We had decided to drive along the mainland instead of taking the Baja California. The ferry from La Paz to Mazatlán would have been more expensive then we are willing to spend.
The first night we sleep in the middle of the Gran Desierto de Altar, surrounded by various kinds of cactuses. The sight of these really big cactuses is still new for me, even after spending quite some time in the desert areas of the Western United States.
Arriving in Puerto Peñasco we realize that it’s a very touristy town, occupied by burger places and american retirees instead of mexican culture. We continue along the coast, searching for a nice spot to go for a swim. When trying to access the beach along the way, we almost get stuck in the wet sand of the flood plains. Tires spinning, drifting sideways we make it out only just.
A few minutes later we follow a small gravel road towards the ocean again. We pass the little town of Santo Tomas, before continuing through the sand dunes. At some point we reach a big closed gate. There is no sign of private property so we continue through the opened exit, wondering where we are.
Behind the gate we find ourselves in a little township with really nice looking houses. We park close to the beach and go for a swim. In the ocean we see dolphins fooling around. It is a really nice coastline and nobody is around. When we go to explore the town, we realize that all the houses seem to be abandoned. Some places are empty and others are fully furnished. We even find working electricity plugs and running tap water.
It seems to be the perfect spot to camp for the night, but also too good to be true…We expect someone to show up any minute, but nothing happens. Unsure about what to do, we start cleaning our dishes on a front porch, when we hear a car coming towards us.
It is Hernando, who introduces himself to us using both hands and feet. He is the security guard here, working for the American owner of the whole place. Surprisingly he tells us, that it is ¡No hay problema! and that we can stay for the night. We even get the password for the Wi-Fi! Thankfully we drink a few Gin Tonics together and invite him to have dinner with us in the camper.
The next day we make our way to Bahia de Kino, which is a really nice little town with a beautiful beach. We eat in a restaurant next to the ocean and park our camper for the night. On the beach we meet Johannes and Augusto, two very nice mexican guys. Being able to communicate in English is very helpful to make some friends. We sit together on the beach until late in the night, watching the stars and talking. We also get a lot of priceless tips for our trip through Mexico, which we wouldn’t have found in the guidebook. Gracias! ;)
It is already so warm, that Jirka and me sleep in our sleeping bags under one of the beach huts. The following day we take the long and curvaceous drive to the great Copper Canyon. We take our time and sleep two times along the way. The overall canyon system is larger and in portions deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona! We have really arrived in Mexico now, where people in the small villages look at us as if a bunch of aliens have arrived to invade their village. I guess I would also be stunned to see a mexican cowboy riding through Cologne on his donkey! Mexican woman walk around in traditional dresses and every man wears a big cowboy hat. It is realty a shame that we cannot communicate with these people…I promise to improve!