For those of you following along, we survived the drive from San Diego to Loreto, B.C.S., Mexico. We didn’t get out quite as early as we intended on Tuesday the 7th. We crossed the border around 5 pm, which is about the same time the rest of San Diego was trying to cross to Tijuana. So we made it as far as Ensenada day 1.
We were transporting some building materials for our missionary friends, Don and Lorraine Karsgaard. It ended up being a blessing, since we declared the materials and paid the tax. I have read varying rules about how much is allowed to be carried across the border without tariff. If the $300 per person amount was to believed, we would be all right since we had seven passengers. However, some sources said that only applied to adults. That might have been a little more of an issue. The problem is that there seems to be no definitive answer and much seems to be at the discretion of the agents. It is not that we were smuggling anything, but it might have looked like it. Picture the Hulk (our lifted green 1997 Suburban) with two cargo boxes on the roof and the cargo area literally packed to the top with our belongings. It could look suspicious. Suspicion could mean they wanted to inspect everything and that would mean a painful and time-consuming unpacking and repacking job. But, since we declared our building materials and paid the tax, when we were directed to secondary inspection, I was able to present our receipt and we were waved through. Praise God. So the whole border crossing took less than three hours.
We stayed in Ensenada at a super cute villa right on the water next to Marina Coral for less than $100. (Thanks to Brandy’s awesome travel and internet skills.) Unfortunately, there was no central heating or cooling, but they did provide wood for the fireplace. I finally got the fire burning about 30 minutes after everyone was in bed. The next morning we had to re-pack anyway because one of the cargo boxes had slipped sideways and nearly off the rack (saved only by the bar endcaps). A quick stop at Costco for a couple of liters of coconut oil, more peanut butter, other staples and fine dining at the Costco Cafe and we were headed South again.
We drove through hours (and hours and hours) of a Preserve which meant little traffic, poor roads and nowhere for bathroom stops. Pretty, in a desolate sort of way. We stopped for the night in Guerrero Negro, but unfortunately with the long stretch of desolate beauty was also a lack of cell towers. So, we had to find a room old-school – by driving through town and looking for a “nice” place. It was around 10 or 11 at night and we just wanted to lay down. One of the down sides of traveling with a horde is that we need mucho room. Not many suites available in Guerrero Negro. We did find the Cowboy Motel that had three double beds and a foldout sofa. It had a rustic look. So we decided to would be satisfactory. Apparently, it wasn’t just a rustic look. The toilets flushed into the cesspool literally three feet from our door. The room consisted of three double beds side-by-side and a couch. I refused to let anyone sleep on the sofa bed or the couch. When we pulled the cushions off, the trash between them was revolting. It was a vintage couch, and not in a cool, hipster way, more of a disgusting crack-house way. I got my sleeping bag and pad out and slept on the floor which I felt had at least been swept since it was installed circa 1972. Not many complaints from the kids, but they were asleep when we got there anyway. The morning shower included a neat feature – after your shower was done, you stepped into a quarter-inch after shower foot bath on the bathroom floor courtesy of a shower curtain that was 6 inches too short.
Back on the road with a few more military check-points manned by armed Federales. Standard questions: where are you coming from, where are you going, how many people? At least that is what I think they were asking in broken English. To their credit, my Spanish can’t even be called broken, more like shattered or demolished. By then end of the day, I answered “San Diego, Loreto, and seven.” Not really sure what they asked. One guy looked at me like I was crazy. Maybe he thought driving 5 kids through the Mexican desert was crazy, maybe I told him my name was San Diego, I was feeling Loreto, and the heat was 7. Either way, he stepped back and waved us on. We got back to the boat by about 4 on the third day.
When we stepped inside, Hope’s first reaction was that she liked the way the boat smelled. I thought it smelled predominantly of black-water tanks and stagnation. But hey, I guess that’s what home smells like to our boat kids. Everyone was happy to be back to their beds and stuff they hadn’t seen in three months. I realized how normal being away for that long seemed to me but was utterly foreign to the rest of the family.
So now, we are unpacking and trying to find places to stow all our stuff, repairing broken boat things (holding tanks, yay!), getting the boat ready to set sail again for our journey around Baja. We took a quick trip to drop Brandy and Hope off on some friends’ boat (Waponi Woo) for a Ladies Only Sail (girl power!). The other 5 drove to La Ventana to retrieve our fish tank, plant and surf boards from David and Kenyon. I am helping Don out with some projects around the house and will be preaching for him so he can share at a prison in La Paz. I will be driving the Hulk back to San Diego Sunday, flying from Tijuana to Loreto Tuesday afternoon and then heading South in the Sea of Cortez after I preach on Sunday the 2nd. We anticipate arriving back in San Diego by the end of April. Hopefully, we will be able to post vita Twitter throughout April, so stand by for more updates soon. We look forward to hearing from you.