After we left Puerto Peñasco, we headed down the bumpy road towards Highway 15. A few miles past Caborca, we pulled into the Aduana (I think) complex. I’d read that this is where you can get your vehicle temporary import permit (TIP) if you didn’t get it at the border. Since there isn’t a Banjercito (government bank) in Sonoyta, they can’t process payments for the TIPs so you have to get it further down the line. Both Baja California and most of Sonora are designated “Hassle-Free” zones where no special vehicle permits are required for foreign-licensed vehicles. However, we plan to venture south of the Hassle-Free Zone so we needed to get the proper permit. I’ve read various reports about this procedure from “piece of cake” to “OMG!!!!” For us it was mostly a piece of cake.
The signage at this place is not very useful. Before we knew it we were showing our vehicle registration to the agent. The only place to go from there was back out to the highway. I asked the agent if we could get a vehicle permit here and she, in perfect English, told me that yes we could. Then she had to give me some kind of convoluted directions to get back to the station entrance where we could park the rig and walk into the office. After essentially doing a u-turn on the highway, we re-entered the Aduana station and parked alongside the curb just behind the lane designated for “Autobuses”. An employee assured us it was fine to park there, even though it certainly didn’t look like a parking spot. I love Mexico.
We went into the office armed with originals and copies of our passports, visas, vehicle title, vehicle registration, insurance and driver’s licenses. The only thing they wanted was the registration, my passport, and my visa. They even made a copy of my visa for me since I hadn’t gotten copies yet (“no problema”) and didn’t charge anything for the copy (very unusual). There were very few customers so our entire transaction took about 20 minutes altogether. We had to make a $200 deposit on a credit card. This is refunded when we turn the permit back in when we leave the country. The purpose of the deposit and the permit itself is to keep people from bringing vehicles into Mexico and selling them or dumping them. The system is computerized and each person is only allowed to have one vehicle imported in his/her name at a time (there are a few exceptions like a car and a motorcycle or a camper and a 4-wheeler, etc.). If something were to happen to Flipper such that we couldn’t take her back out of Mexico, we would not only lose the deposit but I would also not be able to import another vehicle. And you can’t just pull the permit and turn it in. It has to be removed by an Aduana agent. Anyhoo, we’re all legal now and we happily pointed to our new windshield-mounted permit as we passed the Aduana lady that had helped us earlier. She gave us a big grin and a thumbs-up.
We continued on Santa Ana but, instead of staying at Edgar and Anna’s as I had twice before, we decided to drive another 12 miles or so to Magdalena de Kino and stay at the RV park part of the Kino Hotel. We stayed once before on our way north when we met all the European overlanders in their heavily-built, militaristic-looking RVs. This time we were the only ones there. The proprietess was sort of hesitant to let us stay at first. We had a hard time understanding what the problem was. Turned out that they’ve been cleaning up the RV lot and weren’t done yet so it was a little weedy. We assured her this was absolutely not a problem. The reason we chose to stay here rather than with Edgar and Anna is because they don’t have any actual designated showers or bathrooms for RVers. They do have full hook-ups but, if we can avoid using our holding tank for anything more solid than dish scrapings, we do. And, the price is the same at either place so, what the heck.
Tuesday morning we got up, had breakfast and hit the road. It was pretty chilly in Magdalena when we left with a brisk wind blowing from the north. This north wind gave us a very nice push down the highway. Once again, Dora got us through Hermosillo without a hitch. By early afternoon we were pulling in to Totonaka RV Park in San Carlos. This is where we stayed last spring and where we left Flipper while we sailed up from La Paz before that. The folks here are great. They always remember our names even when we’ve been gone for 6 months or more.
After we got the rig set, we unloaded the bikes and rode down to the marina to see if the Marina Cantina had ever reopened. It had but now it was the Hammerhead Bar. Had a couple of beers and then pedaled to JJ’s for dinner. However, JJ had live music and it was too loud to be able to visit at all so we split. JJ assured us that there’d be no live music Wednesday night if we wanted to come back then. We rode down to Rino’s Tacqueria next door to “Over the Edge” where we each had 3 tacos al pastor. They were excellent. Tacos at little stands like this are still the best bang for your buck you can get. They have by far the highest “flavor to cost ratio” of any other meal choice other than making your own food at home.
Yesterday, Elli took us to Guaymas where I renewed my banda ancha card so my internet access wouldn’t be reliant on RV park wifi. We also picked up some stuff for Thanksgiving. We bought a 14 pound turkey which we’re splitting with Elli and Bill. Late in the afternoon, Elli picked us up and drove us up to show us the little casita they’re renting while they work on the boat. It’s pretty darn sweet, especially at $20(US)/night with Dish TV and wifi included. After a round of sundowners we went to La Palapa Griega for dinner and to see Mark Mulligan perform. Mark is a Jimmy Buffett wannabe who is very popular with the gringo crowd around San Carlos. He’s an Arizonan who performs around Arizona and northern Mexico, including Puerto Peñasco. We really enjoyed him. His music is nice, easy laid-back beach music, a la early Buffett, but with a Mexican influence. I even took him up on his offer of all 8 of his CDs (“no repeats”) for $600(MX), a little under $50(US). Listening to his CDs right now in a playlist that also includes early Jimmy Buffett, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Kenny Chesney, and Zac Brown, among others. Because nothing says “Happy Thanksgiving” like beach music. We’ll be joining friends Brian and Barb later today for Thanksgiving dinner.
So Happy Thanksgiving to everyone from the shores of The Sea of Cortez where it’s 82 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. We’re certainly thankful.
Puerto Peñasco to Magdalena de Kino: 187 miles
Magdelena de Kino to San Carlos: 202 miles
Total to-date: 6,264 miles.