Driving in Central America, Offshore Fishing, Diving, Bass Fishing, People Meeting, Beer Sampling, and Reporting Back to You

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Alive and Well - Nov 1-3

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mexico borderdrive to mexicorelaxcactustope signdrivinggroupshark islandriding in back

It was November 1, 2005, and our trip was finally upon us. Our route was to take us from Austin, Texas to the border of Mexico outside Yuma, Arizona – thousands of miles away.

In the early afternoon we made a last check, said goodbye to some friends, and got under way.

Arriving bleary-eyed at the border in the early morning, we began the adventure of entering a foreign country.

Like all borders, getting into Mexico was a pain. However, this border was largely self-inflicted.

When Kyle, Ben, and Carl drove to Mexico in 2000, they didn't get the exit paperwork done on the truck proving they left Mexico. Which meant that technically Kyle legally already had a truck in Mexico, so couldn't temporarily import another.

Stonewall Through the Border

We’d read that the border officials had a host of games they’d play to extract a little propina (tip) or make your life tough.

Though we’d mentally prepared for this, linguistically we hadn’t. At this point of the trip, our Spanish was immensely limited. But no one was taking “no” for an answer, and Kyle sat in the boss’s office and stonewalled. We offered money. We told them we were filming a documentary for the Discovery Channel. That the truck had been sold and there was no way we could possibly show it. But the boss wouldn’t budge. Since Latin America is getting computerized, apparently it’s harder to be corrupt!

Somehow we figured out that the importation permits were tied to his passport number, and that if we used another ID, like a birth certificate, we’d be able to get another permit. Luckily, they’d even take a faxed copy! And with a phone call back to Texas, we were in business.

Astonishingly, thought the boss wouldn’t accept a flat out bribe to “fix” the numbers before, “el jefe” wanted $1000 to help us with this semi-legal method.

Lesson: don’t tell them you’re filming a documentary.

Fortunately, a sweet girl in the office took us aside and told us another secret – there was another border crossing just down the road that was much smaller, relaxed, and use the birth certificate method.

Arrived. Didn’t have the certificate notarized. Went back to Arizona. People commented how funny it was to see a boat in the middle of the Arizona desert.

Crossed again. Success!

Total time for the entry: four hours, six crossings, four cities, and twelve beers.

How Mexico Looks Different From the States

In your day to day life, when your surroundings always look the same, you stop making note of them. Driving on the highway, you see the curbs, but you don’t make note of them. After all, they look just like every other curb you’ve seen. Why examine it?

But when you match up an image and it doesn’t match, your eyes become alive. You notice things with child-like awe.

In rural Mexico I noticed the lack of pavement.

In the States, everything is paved. Parking lots, curbs, sidewalks – it’s all hard, impervious cover. Little more than the roads were paved in Mexico. And after all, why bother?

Buildings look different. Nearly every building has metal rebar poles sticking from the concrete roofs.

I wondered aloud why they didn’t cut off that rebar and make it look nicer.

It’s a simple answer – tax code states that unfinished buildings are to be taxed at a lower rate (or not at all) than finished buildings. The upshot of this is that no one finishes their buildings, and everyone has rebar sticking out everywhere.

Bahia de Kino

Our destination was Bahia de Kino, an idyllically calm beach town on the Sea of Cortez.

En route, we had some great tacos at a crossroads, made some friends with the local kids, and gave them an enormous sack of bunch of teeth-rotting candy. Everyone seemed happy.

The tacos were great. Sauces were great. Grilled onions were awesome.

And though we were eating on the side of a highway, it didn’t much matter. On doctor’s recommendation, I would always take a Pepto Bismol or two before eating anywhere that looked sketchy. This looked fine, but it was still early in the trip. No reason to risk it.

We stopped a lot and took some great photos of the different terrains that we were passing on this first leg of the trip. Flat places, mountains, but mostly desert.

The road to Kino was under construction. “Desvacion” is the correct word, I think, but we’d just say that it’s under “devastation” which seemed equally appropriate.

Arriving in the middle of the night in Kino was a total bummer. We must have got there at two in the morning, and had to wake someone up to rent us an over-priced ($45) room. Lesson: get there earlier.

At this early part of the trip, we would worry about our gear quite a bit. As the weeks wore on, it mattered less and less.

During the night, someone got up, revved a car loudly, and took off. I woke to Kyle and Ben running out of the hotel room in their underwear thinking that someone had just stolen the truck. We were fine, but it didn’t help anyone sleep any better.

Not too much at all in the town. Seems to be a place where Americans come to winter, bringing the RV’s. For relaxing in the sun, on a beautiful beach, and having a place with good RV hookups, this is the place.

But we were itching to go bass fishing, and made tracks.

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