Oct. 13-16: Mexico at its best

Oct. 14-16We’ve come far during the past week! Yesterday morning we arrived on the Mexican mainland and have since driven almost five hundred kilometers. But let’s proceed chronologically.

IMG_1335On October 13, we left quaint-but-humid Los Barriles (pictured above) and drove to El Arbolito beach, just past Cabo Pulmo National Park.

IMG_1336The road to Cabo Pulmo wasn’t the best: lots of potholes, large pools of rainwater, and the occasional mammal (cows and goats).

IMG_1338However, the two-hour drive was worth the effort. We were able to camp right on the beach, and a strong breeze helped us forget about the heat the night before.

IMG_1340Harry wasn’t allowed back in the water yet as his ears are still getting over an infection, but he enjoyed running on the beach.

IMG_1358As usual, he also begged me to play fetch with him.

IMG_1362Quite a happy camper once his favorite ball got thrown around.

IMG_1364Inspired by so much canine joy, I opened a bottle of Pacifico beer and attempted to take a pre-smartphone selfie by using my camera’s ten-second timer. For better or worse, the shutter opened split seconds after I had slipped off the wet rocks. Note the beer bottle’s fate… I got away with a bloody bruise on my elbow and the realization that ‘pretty good’ sometimes is good enough.

IMG_1363I spent the rest of the evening watching pelicans and seagulls (and drinking another Pacifico).

IMG_1370Following a beautiful sunset, the night was clear and cool.

IMG_1371On October 14 we drove to Pichilingue harbor (via Cabo Pulmo, pictured above, and La Paz) to catch the fifteen-hour ferry to Mazatlan. Thankfully we weren’t stopped by police this time around.

IMG_1374The San Jorge is a sizable vessel that appears to have been in service in Europe earlier — most of its non-safety signs are in Dutch and English.

IMG_1375We were the only tourists aboard the San Jorge; everyone else drove large commercial lorries. We also were lucky to be directed to a spot covered by the ship’s bridge. The sun was burning down, and I wouldn’t have known how to keep Harry and la bestia cool otherwise.

IMG_1376This life raft made me think of my friends in Denmark and nearby Malmö.

IMG_1380We left Pichilingue harbor with a little over an hour delay.

IMG_1381Noticing that many of the truckers were drinking beer even though the galley didn’t sell any, I asked one of the guys where they got it from. I was instantly invited to join two of them in their air-conditioned cab where we enjoyed Tecate, smoked cigars and discussed politics and–of course–soccer.

IMG_1383The sun set soon after we had passed La Paz. Unfortunately, what had initially been a blessing turned out to be curse: covered by the ship’s superstructure and surrounded by massive trucks–several of which had their engines running to power their ACs–la bestia stayed so warm that it was impossible to sleep inside. I eventually took out Harry’s crate, repositioned it on the ship’s forward deck, and put my air mattress right next to it. We managed to fall asleep after getting used to the movement and noise.

IMG_20151015_090903Despite the one-hour delay, we arrived in Mazatlan almost on schedule and drove right into the foggy and steamy city. I immediately noticed the Chihuahua-style pick-up trucks with heavily armed and fully cloaked police officers driving up and down the Malecon. I understand that they are part of a show of force by the state, but for some reason they did not really make me feel safer…

We had a good breakfast (chilaquiles verdes with two fried eggs, fruit salad and fresh orange juice), filled up the tank and then drove southeast on the cuota (toll) highway. We were stopped once by a federal police unit but, to my relief, merely got complimented (chingon!) on my Spanish.

IMG_1384As I wasn’t sure where to find a campground for the night, I decided to leave the highway mid-afternoon to look for one. It so happened that we were near the town of Tequila, famous for the agave liquor that was reputedly first produced here.

IMG_1388Agave plantations line the local roads; no surprise that the region has been recognized by UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage.

IMG_1393Google kindly pointed us to a small campground in Etzatlan. En route we stopped for ice cream and a stroll across Magdalena’s main plaza (above).

IMG_1394Meanwhile, la bestia blanda was protected by two parrots who screamed expletives (I swear I didn’t understand any of them) every time someone appeared on the sidewalk next to her.

IMG_1395We reached Delia’s Trailer Park before sunset. It really isn’t a trailer park but rather a well cared-for grassy lot with lots of trees. The bathroom is tiled and has a clean shower, and there’s WiFi. Most important: since Etzatlan is at 4,600ft (1.400m), there are barely any mosquitoes, and the temperature went down to a blissful 55F (13C). Finally a good night’s sleep!

IMG_20151016_112813Harry couldn’t be happier here, not least because…

IMG_20151016_113634… the owners have four rescue dogs: two adorable Weimaraners (pictured), one tiny German Shepherd — and “Three-Legs,” a recently adopted mutt who, following a car accident, had to get one of his front legs amputated. He’s happily hopping around on his remaining three. Watching the dogs play and doze in the shade together has been a wonderful afternoon “activity.”

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