05.10.16 Wellton, Arizona to San Felipe, Mexico
So we woke with excitement and trepidation this morning, we were off to Mexico!
After the days of waiting for the documents to arrive, it has almost seemed like a full stop has been made at the end of the USA trip, and we are now into a new one. There is some trepidation, as there always is when entering a new unknown country by road- making sure we have all the correct paperwork, thinking about what the roads will be like, and the driving will be like- will they be courteous like in the USA, where everyone drives and rides respectfully of each other? Or will they drive like the other Latinos? Like Italians, who are all grand prix racers fighting for their spot on the tarmac?
We had a sixty mile ride to the border, and left around 9.30. There is a US government website that shows wait times at the border, and it had stated a 60 minute wait, which we hoped might be cleared by the time we got there.
In actual fact, when we followed the signs around to San Luis border, we nipped through past a customs officer, turned right, and Paul said to me ‘we’re in Mexico!’- no fuss, no wait, or anything! Although once we got off the bike, a border patrol officer came around the corner and was telling us, ‘here, here come back here’, we had completely missed where we were meant to stop and have eveything checked (there were no clear signs), so we just turned on around and went back to where he was guiding us.
The officers there could not have been more friendly, Paul went straight in to get his passport checked, (and to see how it all worked so he could tell me), whilst I quickly had to summon up my very rusty Spanish, unused for three months, and have a Spanglish conversation about where we are going. Before we knew it, both passports had been checked, stamped, the vehicle was temporarily imported and deposit of $400 US had been paid, in order to ensure that we take our vehicle out again.
Then we were off, the first 10 miles or so was straightforward with Paul following the Sat Nav. Like a lot of border towns, once you leave the main thoroughfare, it was all rather shabby and run down, and there was a lot of rubbish lining the streets. The landscape though remained desert like, and very similar to the last 200 miles or so of Arizona.
We found ourselves following a tanker lorry along the main road, and it was time for a right turn, stll following the Sat Nav, on what were supposedly paved roads, we soon found ourselves riding on sand covered roads (not too bad), potholed roads (slightly worse), and then alongside a river on 5 ½ mles of washboard ripples (our least favourite, as you will all remember). We have to go so slowly, but even then the whole bike and sidecar clatter up and down, constantly shaking, and it feels like everything is going to fall apart. By the time we reached the sanity of the blacktop at the other end, and stopped for a drink, we were both extremely red faced and stroppy. Paul even told me that he had hoped the bike would break in two, so at least he wouldn’t have to ride on that anymore!
As we started off along the highway, the breeze was quite pleasant, there were some beautiful mountains, and alot of Mexicans overtaking us! Some went past waving, and a guy in a Jeep gave us a huge thumbs up.
As we began to slow for our turn, the guy in the Jeep was stopped at the side of the road, and he was gesticulating for us to pull over. We duly obliged, and he was soon speaking in his perfect English asking us where we were going, advising us about the road conditions (better than before), that there would be a military checkpoint a little further on, and that we would have a fantastic time. Welcome to his country, Mexico! How lovely, so different from what we had been told by so many people. But, this backs up what we learnt when travelling two years ago, wherever you are, if there’s a border to be crossed, the people either side of the border will be very afraid of those the other side, and tell you ‘they are bandits, don’t go there’- of course, it’s very rarely true.
Anyway, there we turned onto highway 5, which would take us all the way to San Felipe, where we were heading to stay with our friends Yvette and Paul. They have been in the USA exploring for a couple of weeks prior to Paul doing the Baja rally which starts on Monday in Ensenada, Mexico.
The road was clear, straight and running alongside desert, which turned into salt flats, and the waft of the sea.
We passed a few broken down vehicles, but the best one was a truck with a few cones around it, which on closer inspection, we saw had the driver, suspended, roadside from the side of his truck sleeping in a hammock! Of course, he was in the shade- but even so……..
We arrived at San Felipe about 3.30 pm. Paul and Yvette had given us the address to head to, and hopefully we would all arrive about the same time. As we rode through the town Paul suddenly turned right into the supermarket, and I thought, oh, are we shopping? But no, he had spied Paul and Yvette in the car park- they were waiting for Juan, the guy to take them to the Airbnb they had booked. So off we went in convoy until we reached our destination, a lovely house, with a small pool and an ocean view, what more can we want for now?
Welcome to Mexico!