• South of the Border

    Posted by Murray on January 18, 2011

    Comment of the day – (to Loren by a small boy at a gas station)

    Small boy – You look like a Ghostbuster
    Loren – Maybe I am one…

    The funniest thing (for me) about crossing the border from US into Mexico was watching Lozza do battle with the eccentric boom gate on the Mexican side. The system is that you drive/ride up to a certain point and a sensor installed in the pavement triggers the boom gate. Upon the first attempt, the boom gate went up as designed and then promptly flopped back down like Homer on the lounge a few metres in front of Loren’s bike as he moved forward. During the second attempt, the red and white striped bar came hammering down at the precise moment Loz was underneath, coming within millimetres of taking his head clean off. The 3 immigration officials thought it was hilarious and offered no assistance or explanation of their weird gate – mind you, it was VERY funny. The third attempt Lozza gassed it almost into a wheel stand and then had the task of negotiating the unusually large and randomly spaced metal speed knobs embedded in the bitumen that could easily tip over a bike.

    2 hours later we had completed all the necessary paperwork including tourist permit, vehicle import permit, copies of licence, passport, immigration paperwork and after the bikes were searched and VI Numbers checked and stocked up on pesos, we were on our way south of the border.

    It is always amazing to experience the differences from one country to the next, immediately after crossing the border. The difference from US to Mexico was very apparent with road conditions being vastly different to north of the border and the presence of the odd donkey or two strolling along the road looking for a succulent cactus to mung into.

    The road blocks started very soon after leaving the border. By the end of the afternoon we had been stopped three times, sometimes searched, other times the authorities wanting to see vehicle permits. All three times after the official work was done, they seemed more interested in the bikes, engine size and the fact that we were going all the way to Argentina. Generally very friendly dudes, even if they do have sub machines guns hanging off them.

    The ride from Cananea to Hermosillo was great. To finally get off the highways was a welcome relief for both of us. Late afternoon lighting on the deserted road and the surrounding mountains doted with various species of cactus was brilliant. The fact that it had cracked 28 degrees C was an added bonus. Sundown found us winding down a sketchy dirt road to a sandy riverbed of Rio Sonora where we set up camp after some interesting riding through the sand. The fact that I took 45minutes to set my tent up (new tent and all that) and Loz took 5 didn’t detract from the beauty of the area, the feeling of being miles from anywhere and bush camping by a river in Mexico (and of course, the occasional donkey wondering past up the river). The next 45 minutes were spent fiddling around with the MSR cooking stove, disassembling and reassembling it 14 thousand times until both agreeing that the jet was having a bad hair day and lets cook our feral pasta over the coals. Yep, seasoned campers, that’s us! The stove top espresso kit worked a treat over the coals as well.

    Rolling into San Carlos was gorgeous. Located on the Sea of Cortez, looking out towards to Baja Peninsular, the brilliant blue ocean was a stark comparison to the dry harsh desert-like landscape we had been peering through our visors at for the last 4 days through the south of USA and north Mexico.

    Our route through Mexico is very vague at this stage and is a balance of where we want to go, what we want to see and the current security status of each location. We are aware of the current unrest in certain parts of Mexico and have found that chatting to locals provides the best and most accurate information, unlike the newspapers. During some route planning that evening, I chatted to some police officers on the streets of San Carlos, enquiring of the safety situation here and in the neighbouring state of Chihuahua (small furry rat that is commonly known as a dog). “Muy tranquilo aqui senor, pero muy mal en Chihuahua bang bang” “Here in our state of Sonora it is very peaceful, but in Chihuahua it is very bad” (he was very animated in waving his hands around and making bang bang noises whilst speaking, like he was auditioning for Australian Idol). Hmmm…… log that piece of information.

    Arriving into Alamos on dusk revealed an appealing ambience, the town was very much alive with locals setting up their nightly food stalls. The dress code for the northern parts of Mexico appears to be a white Stetson, white belt and white boots complete with a colourful cowboy shirt and denims. Except these days the cowboys have traded their steeds in for late model oversized Dodge Rams, Ford F350 pickups and various other fuel guzzling throbbing machines. Alamos, originally a silver mining town, is now a historic village with great architecture and a slow pace.

    Dinner that night comprised delectable street food – tortilla’s topped with chopped chargrilled steak, salad, guacamole and the hottest chilli salsa known to mankind.

One Comment | Leave a Reply

  1. Donna on January 18, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Poor little bike… I’m guessing the stovetop espresso maker was in the left pannier!? What a beautiful country… loving the pictures!