Monday, July 16, 2007

The First Few Days in Mexico

This is the first opportunity we've had to kick back and relax since we crossed the border on Tuesday morning.

It's Saturday morning and we're in Bahia De Los Angeles.

The first few days have been adventurous, but not without drama.

After getting mexican car insurance at the border I crossed over expecting the worse, but it was relatively simple. Well actually, it was extremely simple.

Once I drove through the check point, where there weren't any actual checks, I pulled off to the side of the road to pick up Bags, Vini, Holly and Ness.

We piled into the car and set off through Tijuana. After taking the first couple of turns in the wrong direction and doing a LOT of retracing steps we headed of to Ensenada.

We stopped in at Ensenada for some lunch and decided to head back up North a few kilometers until just before the 3rd Toll on the Mexican 1D and pull into a quaint little place where we could camp on the beach.

View from the back of the van

There is a nice right point break that peels off the rocks there, but unfortunately there was no swell to get it going while we were there.

We enjoyed a light dinner at the resteraunt that looked out over the ocean and had $1 Corona's and $3.20 Margarita's before getting our first nights sleep in Mexico. Before we left the resteraunt I suddenly realised that I forgot all about handing in my US Visa Waver tag to prove I left the country, and also forgot to get a Mexican Tourist Card which is needed once you pass Ensenada.......... woops!

My first night was spent sleeping on my board bag under a sheet and one of the girls sleeping bags out the back on the van, and while I had thoughts of someone dropping the near by boulders on me, and someone wrapping me up and throwing me in the ocean, I had a pretty good sleep and awoke unscathed.

In the morning there were a couple of guys who had come and parked in front of our view of the ocean. Now most know that I'm not the best morning person, but I knew being cranky wouldn't help anything so I went over and said hello.

Richard, one of the guys, lived in camp area (above the beach camping were a bunch of small homes (like coogee bay homes but smaller) and was a surf instructor. After chatting with him for a while it turned out that his twin brother, also named Richard because his mum didn't know she was having twins and only picked out one name, ran a surf camp called Cuatro Casa's (4 houses) further down south.

We headed back to Ensenada to pick up some supplies before pushing on, but not before we stopped in at the port to pay $6.50 for a form, and $5 fine for not getting our tourist visa, and $22 for our 180 day mexican tourist visa.

We spent a bit of time wandering around Ensenada, and unfortunately a cruise ship had just stopped (every wednesday and Saturday) so all the horders were out on the street. Of course, we looked like tourists so they thought we were with them and hounded us just as much.

Vini bought a new board (which we still haven't been able to find any surf for) and we hauled ass on down to Punta LaBufadora to see the blow hole. Not too bad, definitely a more impressive drive up though the mountains then the blow hole itself, but it was a good detour.

On the way back we stopped off at a Tomale stand and sampled everything we had. It again proved that having a fluent speaking spanish person, Bags, was a god send because we were able to find out all about the different types of food.

Us trying all of the things on offer

We pushed on and headed to Puerto San Isidro and stay at Coyote Cal's for the night and hope to get a surf in the next day.

The road into San Isidro although sealed, is terrible. There are potholes everywhere and it made for some interesting swerve driving. Kind of like daytona, except there were cars and trucks coming in the other direction as well.

Once we finally got to Coyote Cals it was well past sunset, and as we drove up one of the last hills into the place we hit a really big rock........... and "Chrissy" (the van) started to give us some trouble.
Sunset on the way to Coyote Cals

The hostel itself is really nice at $15 US a night, and would probably be even better if there were some swell around the place.

As we left in the morning I slightly scraped one of the speed bumps and continued on the way. About 5 minutes later a Mexican man over took us and was yelling something which I didn't understand. Bag's had a listen and said oil leak.

Oil leak and then some.

There was a trail leading as far back as I could see, and it was pouring out of the bottom of the car.

I jumped onto the ground and felt around, there was a small hole in the bottom of the pan and it was pouring out.

For those that know me you know that my knowledge and ability with cars reaches as far as asking Cory what to do.

No Cory here this time, so I managed to get the chewing gum off the girls and plug the hole well enough to stop the leak. Hooray. For about 5 minutes until the leak started again.

Back to the drawing board.

More gum to stem the flow of the oil and then I decided to try out the surfboard resin I have for ding repairs, surely that would work well.

It did not work well, and stop calling me Shirly. The resin in designed to harden in sunlight, which takes about 20 seconds, but underneath the car with hot oil it was taking a lot longer.

We did the only thing that we could think of...... I sealed the leak as best I could and we had beer and Tequila to celebrate Holly's 12 months abroad.

A couple of people stopped to help out, all American's, and it turned out that it wasn't motor oil, but the Automatic Transmission Fluid that was leaking. That didn't seem as bad.

We stopped the leak as best we could and headed into the mechanics to get it fixed.

4 hours and 4 quarts of ATF later the car was repaired and we were off to San Quintan.

Again we arrived in San Quintan late in the evening, and subsequently drove past it without finding what we were after.

After a day in the hot sun, spending most of my time on the dirt covered in resin, transimission fluid I really wanted a shower, and a rest, something to eat and somewhere to relax.

We pulled into El Rosario and got a double room for $30 (split 5 ways). We went and grabbed some Taco's from the local and headed back to the room for a few beers before going to bed.

In the morning I got up and checked all the levels, oil, water, break, transmission, power steering (who would have thought!) and everything was fine.

Just before we left Vini noticed that were a couple of drips coming out of the bottom of the car.


Same place, same problem.

We asked a couple of people where the best place was to get it done and found it easily enough........ at least this time we could explain what needed to be done quickly.

2 hours later the pan was fixed, again, but this time it was done properly with Bronze instead of a poxy fix.

Here's how the van was looking from below

We even got him to raise the front suspension so that we had a bit more clearance! We checked that back suspension and it was mission the actual shocks and had been lowered. I was going to take 2 hours to get it done, and we wanted to get to the beach at some stage during this journey.

We headed off and pushed on through the desert for what seemed like an eternity. It was hot, but not unbearable, just a normal drive down to litchfeild on the hottest day, but a dry heat.

There's few and far gas stations along the way, in fact it is just a guy with Jerry can's in the back of his car with a "Gasolina" sign. 155 peso's for 5 gallons. Take it, or run out of fuel along the way.

Bags drove the car after our first fuel up and made me nervous as she drove close to the edge of the road, but that was more because I no longer had control of "Chrissy". Bag's drove well and got us down to Bahia de Los Angeles, which is a small finshing town on the sea of cortez.

I've got a couple of pictures of the drive in, and while they look good, they don't do the trip in justice.

I'm not sure if it's the fact that we were hot and coming out of a seamingly endless desert, or that it's just too beautiful to capture on camera, but it's something you have to do yourself to fully appreciate it.

We're staying two nights here so that we've got a whole day to relax somewhere, and that's what myself and Vini are doing right now.

I'm tapping away on the keys as the ocean laps up on the shore, slowly rising and filling what was our beds on the sand under the stars last night, while vini is practicing the into to Nothing Else Matters on the guitar.

Unfortunately Ness had to go back to San Diego today, so Holly and Bag's have taken her up to the bus stop (140km round trip in the desert, love your work girls). Holly has decided to prolong her stay with us indefinitely, now all we need to do is find some surf at our next stop.
Sunrise at Bahia de Los Angeles

To wrap up for now, Mexico is fantastic! The people here are more then friendly, everyone is more then helpful, and everyone we have spoken to has wished us the best on our trip. Of course, having someone that speaks fluent Spanish has made this trip WAY more easy then it would have been without Bags.

The car is going alright now, touch wood, and hopefully the fun and excitement with continue for the trip.

Fingers crossed for some waves!

1 comment:

Janina said...

Hi Justin, how yah doing?
i'm a m8 of Bags n Vin. loved reading your adventure Blogs. Sounds like the journey is kickin along nicely with the few misadventures thrown into the mix as always. glad your van's doing well. say hi to all for me.
all da best