Saturday, 2 February, 2008 – San Diego USA to San Quintin, BC, Mexico.
Following this morning’s email, we went to pick up our car. We had opted for a ‘freecard’ option, guaranteed a medium sized car and got one better, a Nissan 2.5 litre Altima. Very luxurious, but made of tin-can metal & plastic.
Next challenge was to get onto I-5 South. They say that all roads lead to Rome but in San Diego, all routes lead north to L.A. So eventually we joined I-75 to some island in the bay, then turned around the way we had come and finally turned south on to I-5.
The border crossing was a doddle, but the difficulties appear to be coming back into the USA, where there seemed to be a queue 10 lanes wide and several miles long. Allow 2 hours on a good day they say.
The first stretch of Mexico was boring. Tijuana is just a busy ‘any town anywhere’.
But there was a nice stretch of road once we got out of town. Very busy though and with lots of townships, so the
going was slow, on average 30 miles p. hr.
Made the one and only cactus stop of the day at Puente El Mirador, a view point over the Pacific, as the name suggests. Saw Bergerocactus emoryi and an Opuntia sp. plus loads of Agaves
Got stuck in Ensenada as this year’s carnival procession took priority. Too busy to take good pictures.
Stopped at the bar that claims it invented Margaritas, and again the staff warmed to us when they heard us talk Dutch. Ian, Cliff, suggest that you take a crash course in Dutch. Or else just say ‘Ja, ja’ when I ramble on in Dutch.
Also forgot that although things look more like Chile than England, it is in fact still winter here so that on an overcast day, it was pitch dark at 5:30 p.m. That meant that Alain had to drive in the dark on Mex1 for about 45 minutes and that when we got to San Quintin, where we had planned to stay in Hotel La Pinta, on the bay. We got lost and ended up stuck in sand. Not the fine stuff that we find in Chile, but the stuff you find wet on UK beaches. Should not have been a problem, but it was. We felt very lonely until we saw head lights appear in the distance. An hour later and we were 8 cars stuck in the sand! We were the only ones facing west, the others were coming from where we wanted to go. Their mistake was to slow down to see what was wrong with us. Once stopped, wheels spun and cars sank. But it did give us an army of squat Mexicans who really took to us when they discovered that we were not Americans. ‘Ah, Holland! Amsterdam!!’ they said, showing off
their geographic prowess. By combining our powers plus the skills of Carlos, one of our new Amigos, who was expert at getting stuck and had learned many tricks to get out, we first freed the others and they then got us out. By 8 p.m. we
ended up at the bay, but failed to find the hotel and rather than get stuck again, found an alternative route to MEX 1 and settled for one of the boring road side Motels.