Day 1: 115 Miles

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Hola from the playa at Punta Banda! Day One of this Mexico adventure was exciting at times, novel at times, frustrating at times, and a good test of my driving skill set.

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By traveling with a tour, I gave up some freedoms and independence in exchange for (assumed) certain comforts and security. There are nine RVs on the tour, including the Wagonmaster. The “giving up” part was readily apparent this morning; it took an excruciatingly long time to get all walkie/talkies working, and for all the members of our group to use them properly. Waiting for others to return from grocery shopping or to get fuel – time wasted but unavoidable when part of a group.

As a single woman I was not willing to drive Baja for the first time alone, and thus, the necessary evil of the tour. But, I am beginning to wonder what the perks are in face of the disadvantages. We stayed an extra day in the United States because of conflicting dates in the tour materials, throwing Maria’s flight plans home off kilter. My walkie/talkie kept failing today. We passed lovely campgrounds in Ensenada to settle for the night in Punta Banda, where the beach is a bit scuzzy. And, after driving all day, in order to go on the planned excursion we had to take a city bus. (Maria and I opted not to go.)

Now, I am no wilting flower, and I have certainly taken public transportation in foreign countries. But not when I have paid for a tour. If no private transportation can be arranged, at least taxis could be hired. At approximately $100 per day for this tour, the value added is eluding me.

As we passed through Ensenada without stopping, the one thing I really wanted to do there was out of reach – have a margarita at Hussong’s, where the marg was invented in the 1940s. Once again, the good of the tour outweighed singular desires.

Even though Maria has been visiting Mexico for over 30 years, driving through the country is a new experience for her. It is certainly a new experience for me. We knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore as soon as we crossed the border and two inspectors boarded Nellie, inquiring about alcohol and walking the length of the rig. I produced documentation for Olive and Boss Tweed, which satisfied them. They left after giving Boss Man a few scratches under the chin.

At times the roads are exceptionally narrow; my mirrors inched by telephone poles and the mirrors of passing semi tractor/trailers. We drove through some beautiful wine country, prompting me to buy a bottle of L. A. Cetto Petite Syrah at Mega Foods; “when in Rome” and all that. Well, blech. As I write this, I now have an Old Fashioned in my hand!

Maria is a joy to have on board. She is a neat-nik like me and understands that small spaces can look junky in seconds. During down time we’re binging episodes of “Breaking Bad.” And, what a cook! She is spoiling me rotten with home-cooked meals at the end of the driving day. I will certainly miss her when she leaves me in Cabo, for this and a myriad other reasons.

Hang on, everybody! I think we’re in for a somewhat bumpy ride, but it’s all part of The Fantastic Journey.