Thursday, November 9, 2006

We're famous

Today we left Playa Santispac after two very pleasant nights there, and headed north to Santa Rosalia.  There we encountered the rest of our caravan, parked along the malecón.  They were heading into town to visit the famous steel church there designed by Gustav Eiffel, and the nearly equally famous bakery next door.  We passed them, though, and parked further along highway 1, on a very different quest.

We were looking, of course, for Ms. Tioga.  Perched way up on top of a hill at the end of a winding and rutted dirt road, we knew Odyssey could not make the trek, so we parked in an empty lot in front of the old foundry works, and made our way uphill on foot.  We had no directions, only a Google Earth aerial view (linked from the DataStorm Users Map), and it took us quite a while and several wrong turns to find the team.  We were exhausted when we found them -- each wrong turn involved ascending and descending a steep grade.

But find them we did, and we had a great visit with George and the whole team.  You can read about it (and see the photos taken by Little Mavicito) over on their web site.  We had a nice lunch downtown at one of George's favorite spots, and he was even kind enough to walk us to the bank, right past the aforementioned church and bakery.  We ended our visit by giving George and Little Mavicito a tour of Odyssey, then bid a fond farewell as we left to catch our group in Guerrero Negro.

Now we over here at Our Odyssey enjoy a small following of readers.  The numbers have been somewhat larger while we've been here in Mexico, largely due to the general interest among RV'ers in Mexico travel.  George and the Team, however, have a huge contingent of readers, and their post about our visit with them today sent so much traffic to our web site that it overwhelmed our traffic counters -- we're now famous.  George is a popular guy, and we are honored to have had the chance to spend an afternoon with him.

In other news, I committed previously to report here on Mulege.  We spent yesterday evening there for a group dinner, and we had a chance to walk the town and browse the shops.  Most of downtown is intact and in good condition, and most businesses are open.  We even spent some time in one of the internet cafes when it looked like our DataStorm might be down for the count.  That being said, the area along the river is in bad shape.  A huge wall of water crashed through there, snapping 12"-diameter palm trees like they were matchsticks, and obliterating many structures in its path.  The Villa Maria RV Park, where the rest of the group was staying, has just finished clearing out the debris, and is apparently only a shadow of its former self.  However, the town is clearly recovering, and visitors will find all the needed services in town.

Today's drive from the Sea of Cortez all the way to the Pacific coast was a bit harrowing.  The road is in excellent condition, but this stretch of road has some very narrow sections.  Ten foot lanes, sharp drop-offs with no shoulders, and 50-mph speed limits make for some knuckle-clenching moments as 18-wheelers whiz past you mere inches away at combined closing speeds of nearly 100mph.  Odyssey, being only a hair over 100" wide and having a left mirror that is considerably lower than those on the trucks, had no problems -- I merely had to brace for the inevitable right-then-left jerk of the coach from the air pressure wave.  When we pulled into camp, however, we learned that the tailgunner had his left mirror decimated by a passing truck.

Tonight we are back with the caravan, at Malarrimo RV Park in Guerrero Negro (map).  The town is named for a warship that ran aground near here ("The Black Warrior" in English), and the adjacent Malarrimo restaurant, where we had yet another group dinner, is full of artifacts purported to be from the wreck.

Tomorrow we have a tour of the salt works, followed by a free afternoon.  The big tourism draw here is the nearby gray whale rookery, but this is the wrong time of year to see whales.

We got some more disappointing news concerning our itinerary, which is down to its final five days.  Our final two nights in Mexico were supposed to be in Ensenada, at the Estero Beach RV Park.  Several days ago, I noticed that the annual Baja 1000 race was scheduled to start in Ensenada on the 16th, with participant registration on the 14th, the day after our scheduled departure.  Of course that meant that the race teams would be swarming the city during our stay, which would make traffic miserable but probably imbue the entire town with a party atmosphere.  In any case, I brought it up with the wagonmaster, who assured us that the situation was under control, presumably meaning we had rock-solid reservations.

Well, tonight we were informed that Estero Beach sold our reservations out from under us -- I would guess that accommodations of all types in Ensenada (and other points along the route) sell for treble or quadruple normal rates during the race, and the lure of the lucre aced out any sense of commitment or responsibility on the part of this park.  So be forewarned about Estero Beach:  you may think you have a confirmed reservation, made well in advance, but if they can sell your space for more money, you are SOL.

I seriously hope that Fantasy will take the other 13 tours they have in Baja this season and place them elsewhere, just to punish these clowns.  For us, this means that we will stop shy of Ensenada (I think they said San Vicente), and Ensenada is, essentially, deleted from our itinerary.  The other consequence of this is that we will have further to go, on our last day, to reach the border crossing in Tecate.

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