The title is sort of a tongue-in-cheek remark as it seems that about the only place Cinco De Mayo is a holiday is in the US. It goes largely unnoticed down here in Mexico.
Got up about 5:45 this morning and enjoyed a slow morning with that great cool breeze coming in the camper windows off the Sea of Cortez. Took my own sweet time about getting going but, after a bunch of internetting, cooking, eating, and cleaning up after breakfast, getting the rig road-ready and all, I headed out at about 9:15 if I remember right and it’s quite likely that I don’t.
I checked Google maps about the distance from Puerto Peñasco to Santa Ana. It showed one route going back up to Sonoyta (at the border) and then down to Santa Ana. It estimated the drive time at about 3 hours. It showed the alternate route, the one I planned to take as being a little shorter but taking almost and hour and a half longer. Huh? Decided I was taking it anyway. When I plugged the route into Dora, she agreed with the estimated time but, since I had asked for the fastest route and this was still the one she picked, I think maybe something was amiss at Google Maps. Anyway, no way was I going back to Sonoyta just to stay on multi-lane highways. I don’t even really like multi-lane highways most of the time.
The first part of the trip we’ve done before, both by bus and in Flipper. It looked very familiar although some of the potholes were bigger than they used to be.
Not a lot to see but at least there’s no traffic. At the end of this stretch there is a Customs (Aduana) checkpoint. Show them your vehicle registration and passport, answer whether or not you have anything to declare, and then, if they don’t decide to search you (they didn’t), you’re on your way. Not too long after the Aduana checkpoint, there’s a military checkpoint. The soldier asked to look inside the camper, making sure that I joined him inside (a first). He looked in maybe three cupboards, the oven and the fridge and that was enough. Sent me on my way. After the section of road construction just past the military checkpoint, the road gets really good for awhile. Unfortunately, after a few miles I had to turn off it to head towards Caborca.
I drove past acres and acres of what I think were asparagus fields. Also passed orange groves with trees full of ripe oranges. Eventually I neared Caborca. And that’s when it happened. My first encounter with the dreaded Mexican traffic cop (DAH-dum…..). I was coming into town and there he was, standing behind his parked car, radar gun in hand. He motioned me to pull over. I quickly discarded the idea of making a run for it and obediently pulled over. I was pretty sure I was OK since I was going 60 km/hr and the last sign I saw said that was the speed limit. He came up and pointed to the 60 on my speedometer. I told him that I thought that was the limit. he said, no, it’s 40. But the sign said 60. he said, maybe a ways back, on the highway, but here it’s 40. Made sense and I really didn’t have the Spanish to argue very convincingly, nor a leg to stand on since I was wrong, so I just said OK. He asked for my license and registration which I handed over. He said something about a ticket. He explained that the ticket would be very expensive, maybe $200 (that’s dólares, not pesos). Now, I’ve read and heard a lot of ploys for dealing with the cops. The one that was easiest for me to pull off was “play dumb”. Only, in my case, I wasn’t playing. I could barely make heads or tails out of anything he said. I excused myself and told him that my Spanish was very poor. He continued to try to tell me things but I just didn’t get it. At various times I asked where I would go to pay the fine. He told me where the office was and asked if I knew Caborca. I explained that I didn’t but if he could give me directions… It went back and forth. At one point he told me that if I paid the fine today it would only be $100. I said, great, where do I go to pay it? At no point did I ever give any indication that I was going to pay him or that I’d ever even considered the possibility. It must have been as frustrating for him as it was for me. I had clearly been going too fast. It was probably, from what I’ve read, about a $25 (US) ticket. He’d have to leave his post and lead me to the office. No “can’t we make this go away” money was going to change hands, obviously. This gringo was clearly much too stupid to try to even deal with. He finally handed me back my registration. Then my license. Then he just stood there looking at me. I asked. “¿Todo bién?” He indicated that yes, everything was fine. Then he said he would like to buy a rig like Flipper someday. Asked how much it cost. I low-balled it so I didn’t look like a rich gringo. Told him it was very old, 31 years. he laughed and said so was he and waved me on my way. Whew!
You can bet that I followed the speed limit signs after that. Of course, I was the only one following them and I had quite a line of vehicles behind me until we reached a spot where they could go around. One was even a Federal cop. Once out on the open road, I was a little looser but still went slower than most of the vehicles. But, if we came into a town or even a 60 km/hr wide spot, I slowed down to the speed limit as the other cars sped by me.
Passed through one more Aduana checkpoint after Caborca.
Reached Santa Ana around 2:30 and managed to find the RV Park with the help of Dora and directions from Roberto on RockyPointTalks.com. Anna, the owner (along with her husband Edgar), came out and got me all set up. Thank goodness there’s a breeze because it’s hot in Santa Ana right now.
The ice cream truck just went by with its theme song blasting. Anna and Edgar’s dogs are singing along.