Day 11 Miles: 147
Hyper-Vigilance, No Auto-Pilot
One of the rigs in our group is staying behind and re-joining us when we come back in seven days. This drive is not for everyone! When I read about the trip I thought 2,100 miles in 28 days sounded so civilized; less than 100 miles per day, and many days when there would be no driving at all. Well, things are a bit different than I imagined. The roads are challenging, with pot holes, crumbling shoulders two feet above the desert floor, hairpin turns overlooking valleys sixty or more feet below with no jersey barriers – only roadside shrines to the deceased, and lanes nine feet wide. That leaves very little room for error when your rig is 8.5 feet wide, and so is the semi passing you, on a curve, with half of your fog line ground into the dirt. This is all compounded by the fact that we drive well below the speed limit as a group. Each day behind the wheel is tiring and, at times, nerve-wracking.
Adios, Caca Hole!
We left that gawd-awful Palapa 206 campground early, in fog, because no one wanted to be there. On a curve we caught glimpse of a car which had very recently overturned. Thankfully everyone appeared to be out safely, and many were stopping to render assistance. A mother with an infant in her arms sat on the vehicle next to the tire, still spinning.
Castles On Sand
Arriving in La Paz, we caravaned through town, down the malecon, then 24 additional kilometers through mountain passages so narrow, they must have rationed dynamite during road construction. We camped at Playa Tecolote, a free public beach. It is very popular with locals; we camped on Friday and Saturday nights and there were parties and tents and music going on all around us.
Unlike Playa Santispac, on an inlet, Playa Tecolote is directly on the ocean. We fell asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the shore.
You really have to be careful when you park at Playa Tecolote; the sand is very soft in spots. One of our group, in a truck with a camper, had to be pulled out by a Good Samaritan with a 4 X 4 and a chain. I picked a great spot, but even the “good ones” can fool you; a tour bus tire sank into a hole as everyone stood there and watched (and took photos, of course!).
Playa Tecolote has a couple of bars and restaurants, and it wasn’t long before the praises of the Stuffed Clams at Palapa Azul were reverberating through the group. Maria and I made the pilgrimage. She feasted on coconut shrimp while I sipped a potent margarita and waited for my treasure.
The clams in Mexico are huge; when we ate them on one of our first nights in the country they had been tenderized and fried a la razor clams. For stuffed clams, the clams are cut into pieces, put back in the shell with bacon, cheese, peppers, onions, and spices, wrapped in foil, and baked on hot coals. Oh my goodness gracious! If I was a dog, I would have rolled around in them, they smelled so delicious. They tasted even better.
Given that I am eating the local wildlife, I guess it’s only fair that the local wildlife is eating me. I have all sorts of red bite marks on my lower legs, and they itch like the dickens! I haven’t seen any mosquitoes, so who know what the heck is finding me do delicious. Thankfully Olive isn’t scratching.
La Paz = Peace
On the morning after our arrival Maria and I hitched a ride into town with tour members Ron and Bill, to see about getting her a bus ticket to San Jose del Cabo; due to a major miscommunication by the tour company, Maria had to leave the group in La Paz instead of Cabo to make her flight. The buses were already full for the day, so Maria bought a ticket for the following day and we were off to see the city.
La Paz has a lovely seaside boardwalk with lots of restaurants and museums.
There are beautiful churches, street vendors, outdoor cafes, coffee shops, and clothing stores.
Maria and I were a bit surprised by the tiny sizes and exorbitant price tags. We haven’t seen many skinny, wealthy women!
I was also surprised by the local Sears. The store was bright and shiny, with colorful displays. You couples holding hands shopped together. Older women sat chatting in the makeup department. Shirts and skirts sold upwards of 1,000 pesos, or around $58. Who knew Sears could be high-end?
On Our Own Again
On our last night on the playa and Maria’s last night with the group, we played cards with Ron and Bill while sipping Piña Coladas. Everyone is sure going to miss her!