Friday, November 7, 2014

Crossing the border...

Hola! We crossed the border at Tecate - and so quickly that we didn't even get our tourist visas (FMM) stamped! They just waved us through, so we went! After a block or so we realized we had definitely passed the place to get it stamped, so we turned and went back to the border and I got out and walked over to find out where to get this done. There is really no easy place to park and accomplish this before crossing, but we'll have to look closer next time. It was a super easy and fast crossing spot! Before we knew it we were on Highway 3 towards Ensenada through the "Ruta del Vino de Baja" - wine country! All of a sudden we realized we were passing wineries, and we needed to use los servicios (the bathrooms), how auspicious. Bill did something very out of character and instead of just stopping on the side of the road to pee, he pulled into a winery! One of the things that really bothered me during our four years of rv-ing was the fact that we never stopped at "attractions" along the highway. I would notice something and there was no way we could stop fast enough and most of the time impossible to turn around. Driving our truck has made this much, much easier, and even though it's not in Bill's nature to do this he knows it's something I enjoy and is making an effort!

We got a very late start leaving the U.S. as we were waiting to see if our new license plates for Bessie (our truck) had arrived at my parent's house. Once we heard they had not, off we went, as we were not going to wait another day. We had our old license plates, from the Subie, and just put those on the truck once we crossed the border so we wouldn't attract attention to ourselves at the numerous "check points" along our route. We crossed about 2pm and immediately turned our clocks back as daylight savings time occurs a week earlier in Baja. We realized pretty quickly that if we tried to make it to San Quintin we'd be driving in the dark - breaking the #1 rule of driving in Mexico. Yeah, so we'll just take care of breaking the rules right from the start!

I still had my old unlocked ATT iPhone 4s with the Mexican sim card I used last winter. I had gone online and loaded it with minutes and 3gigs of data before we left so when I turned it on after we crossed the border I was in business. Bill's new (to us) ATT iPhone5, that we had bought unlocked on Craigslist a few weeks earlier, did not work at all and we got a "sim card error" notice. We were pretty upset, thinking that maybe we had been ripped off and that it wasn't truly unlocked, but after spending a couple of frustrating hours searching the internet for an answer I finally sent AT&T an unlock request. The next morning I had a response confirming that it was unlocked and the steps to get the phone up and running - PHEW!

We stopped for the night at Hotel Jardines Baja, where we had gone with Sini and Bob last year to celebrate my birthday. The grounds are beautiful and the hotel is very nice, clean, about $45/night and most importantly safe for Bessie as she was loaded with our kayaks, bikes and just about everything we own.

Getting to this lovely spot was quite the challenge, though. The last time we were here, Bob had driven his cool Jimmy with the top down and we were only vaguely aware of where we were. The only directions I could find online were that it was 3 miles south of Lazaro Cardenas. Now if you were driving during the daylight you might actually see the sign for the restaurant. We actually did see it in the dark, because we were creeping along looking for it, the problem was that the sign was at the former entrance from Hwy 1, which has since been closed! A temporary (dirt) entrance had been improvised by the owner a couple hundred yards north of the entry road and the sign making it extremely difficult to get onto in less than 3 u-turns! Luckily Bill had seen someone turn off the road, ahead of us, and had an idea of where to go. The two other cars ahead of us that had pulled off to the side looking for a way to get to the road 10 feet below the highway weren't so lucky. Wow - that was difficult, but oh so possible in Bessie!

Our drive the next day brought back a sea of good memories from our last trip when we left the Escapees travel group and headed south on our own with Sini and Bob. Everything was incredibly green after all of the summer storms and Bill was really enjoying driving Bessie around the windy roads. We got an early start and drove about 8 hours, the second day. We were hoping to make it to Mulege or Playa Santispac before dark but Bill had driven all day and was ready to stop for the night in Santa Rosalia at Las Casitas hotel It had gotten good reviews on TripAdvisor - it was a little more pricey than the night before, but safe parking and a really beautiful little spot on the Sea of Cortez.

We had a two hour drive to get to Santispac where we were originally going to spend a couple of days but we both were getting very anxious to get to our destination, unpack and stop traveling! It seems as if we had been working hard all summer just to get to this point which was finally within reach. We did stop at Santispac to see what ravage hurricane Odile had spent there and to check in with Carlos at Anna's restaurant and John who had his 5th wheel trailer parked a few feet from the water's edge. Carlos had gifted us each t-shirts when we were there last February and we had brought him one from Burning Man. They had lost the palapa over the restaurant and were in the process of rebuilding. John's rv had been moved back about 15" from where it had been by the winds, but his palapa was intact and hadn't really had much other damage, amazingly enough! John was the super cool guy who had loaned us his kayaks to take out while we were there for 10 days, last February.

We got back on the road about an hour later and had a pretty easy drive all the way into Los Barriles where we arrived to a dark town around 6:30 p.m. It seems they had lost power about an hour before so we were greeted by Tessa in the dark to view the place that was to become our home for the next six months. The bed was made up and we had easy access to food so we got situated and then went up to Tessa's balcony to get acquainted. She is a lovely person and our personalities and lifestyles are well matched. She is WFRV - whole foods, raw vegan and has a large organic garden. She knits for a living and sells her stuff online and at the weekly organic farmers market in San Jose del Cabo. She has also offered to bring us back weekly fruits and veggies from there!

We spent the last week unpacking and getting settled in. Yesterday felt like the first day of really living here. We finally made it out to the sea for a paddle - me on my SUP and Bill in his angler's kayak where he hooked two and caught one, and although nothing came home with him it's the most success he's had fishing in a long time!  Later I had a continuing education class online for a couple of hours, amd then a teleconference with a client, while Bill made us a yummy vegetable soup. We ended up going over to the Lazy Daze bar where a big birthday party was going on and met a bunch of people, found out one of the cakes was vegan and got invited to join a group going over to the Las Palmas hotel today to hang out at the swim up bar. And this afternoon we received in invite to a neighborhood party - so we're settling in quite nicely and are really loving our life. It feels so good to both of us to have a nice big kitchen to cook in and to just sit for awhile.