A surprise cellphone call received in Solvang, CA., during the Thanks Giving Holidays.
Marc – “What are you doing for christmas?”
Me – thinking … ‘Did we not have this conversation thrice before and thrice confirmed to spend a few days over christmas with family friends in Prescott Valley?‘ but replying, “Weeeeelllll. I thought I was spending it with you guys in PV, no? Did something change?”
Marc – “How would you like to spend a week over New Year in Mexico, Puerto Penasco. You know. Rocky Point?”
Me – thinking … ‘Ah! That white folks propensity to anglaise everything Mexican even in their own country,’ but saying, “Mexico? Really? Mexico? When, where, what and how much? But, initially, yes, I guess.”
Thus started the first dribbles of thoughts and ideas and plans to confirm and book and travel to Mexico for one week over New Year to a beach front house plus Casita at discounted rates in the secure gated community of Las Conchas, just a three-hour drive from Phoenix. Plans that formed and separated and formed again over indecisions, misunderstandings, conflicting schedules and one illness. Mine. When the matriarch briefly succumbed to cold feet about a beach Holiday for someone not able to spend time in the sun, I resorted to a quick rescue phone call before a planned iPad-to-iPad, FaceTime session to finalize itinerary.
Me – “Eileen. This will be quick. I know there is a sombrero with your name on it somewhere in Mexico. Don’t worry about the beach. We’ll have fun. Go shopping. Buy trinkets. Discover ancient ruins or something. Get with the plan, okay!!!” Peace.
But, plans are easily made before research is done and conversations held about safety and lording drug cartels and the endless stories of cars being hijacked and robbed at gun point that a seemingly innocent holiday suddenly seems not so care free. Plus the added considerations. No US Auto Insurance carrier will cover Mexico on your policy, but a few will provide separate policies on a day-to-day rate. The phone calls to credit card providers informing them of my travels and plans in case a Mexican purchase was flagged by security. The decision was made finally to ‘wagon train’ as much for necessity as for safety to transport the Nelson/Walker family, plus friend, but also all the accoutrements for a week vacation where food and supply were unknown and untested. Thus the Matriarch and luggage were transferred to Tickey to join me in Phoenix before the Mini Van left to collect ‘Tiger’ Lynn at Sky Harbor Airport. Alone and unescorted, Eileen and I started in earnest, ‘South of the Border down Mexico way,‘ packed complete with suitcases, bottled water, ‘tuck,’ dried fruit, snacks, treats and everything we may or may not need in lands foreign.
The complete journey is easily imagined divided into even thirds with the first two-thirds traveled in Arizona and the last third in Mexico traveling South, South-West. Familiar desert and mountains and cacti forests quickly passed by before our rendezvous in Gila Bend. From Gila Bend we trained together down Rt. 85 through Arizona towns Why and Ajo and finally Lukeville, the last of America before Rt.8, Mexican Sonoyta. The local sentiment is that the Mexicans really don’t care much about their border crossing going, but the Americans care greatly about your return. Passports absolutely required home bound. And the same sentiment of care or careless seems to be in place as regards civic appearance as if a line were drawn along the border as the immaculate and preserved Organ Pipe Cactus National Park gave way to a desert glimmering with broken glass and littered with tumbling garbage. Immediately as we crossed this imaginary line, the GPS released all knowledge of maps except compass direction and cellphone reception disappeared. Welcome to ‘Meck-ick-co.’
This last third was an easy single lane highway with little traffic and fewer towns before the coastal ‘resort’ of Puerto Penasco appeared before us in all its dusty glory. My first impression was an immediate comparison to Mocambique shanty towns of my youth with continental architecture, meandering and unleashed dogs, traffic seemingly unrestrained by laws and code books, houses mostly unfinished to avoid property taxes levied on the complete and apparently built void of ordinances and bylaw compliance, roads unfamiliar with theodolite surveyance, often unburdened by modern asphalt topping and pavements unfettered by leveling and evenness. Dust, dust, dust and more dust. Ah, Mexico! And even here in the land of velvet brown people, white is still might. Just a brief stop, a quick smile, a white face, and a house number and location thrown out to the guard and it’s open sesame through security gates to our temporary beach home, meant to exclude only Mexicans.
How is it, after turning my back on eastern oceans for desert sands, that in the space of two months, first in California and now in Mexico, that I find myself once again at the seaside? Here, standing before the Sea of Cortez, as gentle as a mill-pond, the sun having risen left down the beach and now setting to the right over the ocean, Pelicans flying, Seagulls squawking, Dolphins playing, I realized that maybe Marc’s crazy vacation idea may not have been folly after all.
Gas AZ $2.99 p/gallon