First Winter Away - 2005 travel blog

sunset

another view

beautiful spot


Unfortunately the end of the eleven year drought in the western US has also had a moistening effect on Mexico. The rain during the night was slumber inducing, but when it continued this morning, our plans for this, our day "off", were put on hold. We used the time to organize the countless photos we have taken so far and then headed out to town in our truck. This may not sound like a big deal, but we do drive a big truck and while the main streets of Mazatlan are multi lane, they are filled with people on bikes, slow moving buses, open air "cabs" and aggressive drivers ready to seize the slightest open space. And of course, we didn't really know where we were going.

We found the Walmart where Ken was able to stock up on his technology needs and headed downtown for lunch and window shopping. From observing what others were doing, it was not clear what a legal parking spot looked like. While we inched along wondering where to leave our precious vehicle, a motorcycle cop pulled up behind us lights flashing. He didn't really speak English, but he knew cop English and he made it clear that he thought Ken had run a red light. Neither Ken nor I had seen a red light, but that was immaterial. He asked for Ken's license which he reluctantly handed over. After a bit of halting conversation back and forth, the cop repeated that Ken had run a red light and Ken repeated that he was sorry. Suddenly the license was back in Ken's hand and we were on our way. We had heard that the way to handle such an event was to offer a bribe to these poorly paid civil servants, but the thought is so alien to us that it didn't cross our minds until the traffic stop was over. We solved the problem by paying a barefoot man with a bucket $5 to wash our truck while we were gone. He found us a spot on the curb, helped us get into it, and did a thorough job, telling us not to pay unless we were satisfied.

So far we must admit that many of the stereotypes we have heard about Mexicans have not been true. People have been uniformly friendly and helpful. We try in our feeble Spanish and they try in their feeble English and eventually things happen. While many areas are strewn with garbage, these are often areas where there isn't any where to put the garbage. Where people have control over their own space, things may be simple and primitive, but they are tidy. On the train people waved at us enthusiastically in every town we went through even though we now realize that there are trains like ours many days a week. Because labor is so cheap we are assisted at every turn. I can't remember the last time someone pumped our gas at home, but here it is still the done thing. In stores staff follow us around trying to make sure we are finding what we are looking for.

Two more caravans from rival companies to ours have come to our campground tonight, having also enjoyed the snow at Copper Canyon. We even found a couple from the same subdivision where we live and it was fun to compare notes. They are looking forward to a few more days here, but for us, alas, things have come to an end. We look forward to a 270 miles drive tomorrow with the night spent on the ferry crossing the Sea of Cortez. We will be sleeping in a cabin away from our rig, so your faithful correspondent will have to get back to you once we are back on the road in the Baja.

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