Road Trip to Mexico
From Gualala, California to Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico 2013

by Teri Saya


21 JUNE:  After packing a 6 foot roll of canvas (we decided to do a lot of painting in Mexico), musical instruments (congas, tambourine, flute),  a few paintings, sculptures, box of tools, household stuff, and of course our necessities into the car, we left Gualala at 2:00 pm.

With bumper to bumper traffic and a stop in Fairfield for dinner at 5:30, we arrived in Clovis at 11:00 pm.  Art’s sister, Dale, has a lovely house on a cul-de-sac.  She lives here with her pets, Lola, a very sweet shitsu-poo dog.  Sherman, a tortoise who wanders the back yard, and the newest addition, a kitten, PéPé Kato Trouble…..yeah, the name fits, cute but feisty.

We were very tired and so glad to have a place to stay, (Thank you Dale.)   We assumed we would be here approximately 3 to 4 days waiting for necessary things to arrive in the mail.

22 JUNE:  We went to the theater with Dale and saw “Man of Steel 3D”.  Loved it!  Then in the evening we went to Dale’s daughter’s house for dinner.  Gina and Gary own a very nice house just down the street from Dale’s.  We had yummy take out Chinese food.  Present were Dale, Gina (Dale’s daughter), Gary (Gina’s husband), their son Chase, Dean (Dale’s son), Betsy (Dean’s wife), Dena (Dale’s other daughter), and John (Dena’s husband)….whew! I think I got that right.  They are all wonderful people.

23 JUNE:  Did some shopping and had to do some work on the Internet but otherwise we just watched TV and kicked back for the day.  We we’re waiting on the delivery of Art’s laptop that my son, Steven, had ordered for him.  In the evening we went to Al and Deb’s house.  Al is Art and Dale’s brother and Deb is his wife.  They are raising their granddaughter Ember.  Al and Deb’s house is also on a cul-de-sac in a very nice neighborhood.  They have 4 dogs, Lolly, Chewy, Buddy, and Rocky.  Very sweet and rambunctious!  Deb was not able to join us as she was attending a wedding in Hawaii and wasn't due back until the next day.

25 JUNE THRU 27 JUNE:  THE LAPTOP ARRIVED!  Beautiful, streamlined, stealthy black....Art is thrilled!  We're still waiting for the pink slip to the RAV to arrive.  We cannot go across the border with the car if we don't have a pink slip..... at least that's what we were told.  Art gave some of his sculptures to his family.

28 JUNE:  In the evening we went to a Salsa Concert at the Arte Américas Casa De La Cultural Center in Fresno.  Real good music, margaritas, and dancing!

30 JUNE:  Art and I went to the Art Museum where it was nice and cool inside and very HOT outside! Even the squirrels coud'nt stand it!

01 JULY:  Art went to the DMV to change the address on the car registration.  He found out the DMV never mailed the pink slip that we were waiting for.  Then they told him that since the address is officially in Mexico now, the registration is all we would need to present to the border patrol to get the car across.  They said they will send the pink slip to Mexico....(yeah, right!  Like they said they would send it to Clovis.)

02 JULY:  Art is told by the Mexican Consulate here that since we are going to LIVE in Mexico, we had to have visa's.... I ask Art why we cant tell them we are just visiting , use our passports, then once we are there, apply for visas?   Well, I guess things don't work that way.  Oh yes, and of course we can't apply for visas until Friday because that's the only day they take visa applications......(geeez!)

04 JULY:  Independence Day!  We went to Dean and Betsy's house to celebrate.  A lot of family and friends were there.  Went swimming in the pool and had lots of fun!

05 JULY:  We went to the Mexican Consulate to fill out forms for our visas.  The clerk took our applications, photos and thumbprints and then proceeded to tell us it could be another 2 weeks before we get our visas.  Art explained our situation and the guy told us he would try to expedite our request.  Later, we went with Dale to the Foresterie Underground Gardens....It was amazing!

06 JULY:  We went to Dean and Betsy's house.  A mother duck had laid her eggs near their pool last year and now they have 4 additional quacking tenants in their back yard. They're so cute!

08 JULY:  We bought Dale a little gift for having to put up with us longer than expected..... a tablet PC.

09 JULY:  Art had brought one of his sculptures as a memorial for his parents. Dale pulled their ashes out of the closet and Art put some into this sculpture and sealed it. The globe can be lit and the colors are very beautiful! The rest of the ashes are to go into Dale and Al's gardens and we will be taking some to place in the desert near Gueymus, Sonora where their mother was born.

10 JULY:  Went to pick up our visa's at the consulate! Art gave the nice man there a sculpture for helping us get our visa's sooner rather than later.  He told us that it would be better to cross the border on a weekday and not on the weekend.  We decide not to head for the border until next Monday.

That evening we went to a really good Chinese restaurant and met up with Gary, Betsy, and Derek (Betsy's son)

11 JULY:  Went to the annual "Art Hop" in Fresno with Al and Deb. An amazing array of artwork, food, music, and people! Art got to talk to Matt Michem, a local, prolific, and well known artist.  We have a painting by him that we are taking to Mexico.  Art ran into Delia, a friend that he hadn't seen in years. For a nice ending to a great day, we had dinner at Al and Deb's house.

13 JULY: We went to a flamenco dancing show at the Arte Américas Casa De La Cultural Center.

14 JULY:  Our last day here.  We went to Gina and Gary's house for a farewell dinner. No one believed we were actually going to leave.

15 JULY:  We left Dale's house at 10:25 a.m.  Arrived in Escondido at my niece's placed around 6:00 p.m.  Thank you Dale for packing us some sandwiches, crackers, and cheese!

This was the first time meeting Justin, Krystal's new husband and their baby "Savahnna" who is 5 months old.  They live in a very nice, gated community.  It was the second day in their new apartment.  Krystal made a great dinner of burritos and some AMAZING corn bread!  We visited for a while, gave them some wedding / /baby / /housewarming gifts and then checked in at the Super 8 motel not far away.  Justin had to get up in the morning for work and we were tired from the drive, so we didn't make it an extra long visit.

16 JULY:   In the morning, after a quick visit with Krystal and the baby, we headed for the border.

We crossed the border in Otay, CA at 11:25 a.m. with a very short stop by the Federalies and their cute German Shepherd who smelled nada.  They asked for no paperwork, no passports, no visas, no pink slip...they wanted to know why we were carrying congas.  After we passed, Art stopped at the nearest taco stand to have an official Mexican snack.

We learned very quickly that the timing in America is not the same in Mexico....

We stopped in Mexicali to have lunch at VIP's.  It's kinda like Denny's in the states, you see them everywhere.

We rolled into San Lius at 5:30 p.m. and got a room at a place called Panda Inn.  Mandarin style deco with dragons on the doors, Chinese restaurant attached....guess what we ate for dinner?

NOTE:  So here's the weird took us 6 hours to get from the border at Otay near Tiaujuana to San Luis Rio Colorado, and yet it should have only taken 2 and 1/2 hours.......we didn't stop that many times.  (Hmmm- alien abduction you say?)

17 JULY:  The next morning we left San Luis at 10:00 a.m., drove along the border and through the desert for many miles.

We saw signs along the way.....


A storm crossed our path....


Trucks crossed our path......


We stopped at a Taco Truck and had some delicious beef head tacos.
This woman spoke English very well and we had a nice conversation.

It was my turn to drive and we stopped in Altar to get a snack and water at an OXXO.  Art was just getting out and two guys jumped at the car to try and wash our windshield. They started arguing and then it turned UGLY! They started beating the crap out of each other!  Art got back into the car and said, "Let's get the hell outta here!" and as I was trying to get it into reverse, the two guys, who were bloody at this point started beating each other over the hood of the car.  They're rags and windex bottles were still on the car.  I finally backed out and they fell to the ground still beating each other.  I stopped long enough for Art to jump out and knock off their stuff.  We took off in a hurry because someone had called the policia and we didn't want to be held as witnesses.  We passed the cops on the way out.



We arrived in Magdalena at 5 p.m. and checked in at the Hotel Los Cisnes.  A beautiful place with a pool.  There was a very nice young man who helped us unload our stuff into the room and offered to clean the blood off our car.....we gave him a big tip.

 18 JULY:  We left Magdalena at 9 a.m.  It was a very long drive across the desert.  We arrived in San Carlos around 3:30. A quaint little community on oceanfront surrounded by odd shaped mountains.  The weather was hot and muggy.


  We checked into the Hotel Creston. The room was large with 2 double beds and the TV clicker was tethered to the night stand.(steal the clicker? really?) The curtains did nothing to keep out the light, however, the air conditioning worked well. Our room was nice and cool. The pool was just outside our door and there seemed to be a family reunion going on. Many people (mostly children) in the pool.


We had margaritas and a late lunch at a seaside restaurant watching the pelicans dive for fish….speaking of fish, Art ate a whole one!  We went back to the hotel, rested and watched TV for a bit.  Later, we got up and began to wander around the town.....such a beautiful place!  We strolled around the neighborhoods and found some very unique doors.
Click here for photos.

We found out that night that the family reunion in the pool continued after the kids were asleep. People just having a good time drinking, laughing, talking until all hours.....we didn't have the heart to tell them to "shut the hell up!"

19 JULY:  We wandered through town checking out the little shops, then walked to the beach.  In the afternoon, Art wanted a taco and I wanted a hot dog.  We found a street vendor that had both.  The hot dog wasn't exactly what I was expecting.  It was kinda small and shriveled and the vendor insisted on putting on the condiments, but I didn't know how to say mustard in Spanish, so she gave me a double dose of mayo instead.  I was hungry and ate it anyway.  Two hours later I was not feeling well.  Three hours later I was shivering, sweating, and nauseated.  Four hours later I was begging Art to shoot me. (If you've ever had food poisoning, you know what I mean.)  I could not sleep that night, not just from the pain but from the very loud music and partying across the street at the local bar ALL NIGHT LONG!

20 JULY:
  We left early.  I barely had enough strength to get myself into the car.  We were on the road for an hour and 30 minutes.  Art turned into Obregon and got us a room at the Travelodge where I immediately fell into bed.  My sweet, sweet honey went out to the nearest Pharmacy and met with an "in house doctor" (which is unheard of in the States) and got me some meds and electrolytes.  He made sure a trash can was beside the bed and then went out to explore the town, letting me rest. He told me later that this town and the people here were very nice and had a big beautiful church with tall spires where he went inside to listened to the choir sing and then walked over to the library and then the park.

21 JULY:  I was feeling better, but very weak.  Art gave me some chicken soup and told me he was going to get the room for a second night.  I was very glad and slept the rest of the day and through the night.


22 JULY:  We left Obregon at 9:15 a.m.  I was feeling much better and we took turns driving.  .

We headed for Mazitlan.


About an hour before we got to Mazatlan we ran out of gas.  And of course it was on my watch, (damn!)


Thank goodness for the emergency Kiosks every couple of miles.  We pushed the little red button on the SOS pole and spoke with a lady who sent a guy out w/ gas.  He arrived in about 20 minutes and had us back on the road again.  Unfortunately the gas that was put in the car caused problems.  The car started to sputter and stall.  Going through the toll booths, Art had to put the car into neutral and keep one foot on the brake and one foot on the gas to keep it from dying.

We barely made it into Mazatlan where we turned into a very nice looking place on the outskirts called Hotel Oasis. .The rooms here rented out on a 12 hour basis for an extremely reasonable price, which seemed odd to me. We had a large load on top of and inside the car and were glad to see that included in the price was a garage which could be closed and locked. We walked up the stairs and into a spacious, clean room. As I looked around, I realized why these rooms were rented half day at a time. It included a king sized bed with a large mirror on the ceiling above it, a sitting/viewing area with two couches, one facing the bed and the other facing the stripper’s pole which stood very prominently on one end of the room next to the wash basin. On the night stand, in a glued down ash tray, was complimentary mints and condoms. There was a phone and a large tissue dispenser on the wall next to the bed. There was a swivel butler in the wall.  The ancient T.V. which sat up on a rack just at head level had about five channels, all of which were grainy with static except one channel which came in clear as a bell playing hard core pornography....if we weren't so dang tired, this could have been a fun!


23 JULY:  We left Mazatlan at 10:00 a.m.  Once we were back on the highway, the car seemed to be ok.  We thought, good! Maybe the car just needed a rest.  We rolled into Tepic at 1:30 and had lunch.

Here are a few things we saw on the way...




We arrived in Zapopan at around 5 and didn't get to the house until 7:30 p.m..  The car started acting up again and Tom-Tom could only tell us how to get to Zapopan Centro.  The traffic was unreal!  We had taken the wrong turn and were lost.  Finally, Art came up with a plan....he flagged down a cab and told Juan where we wanted to go and we followed him right to the front door of HOME.

NOTE:  Tom-Tom was ok but badly outdated for this country.  It took us to an ancient on-ramp that we had to four-wheel on to get through to the highway.  We decided "Juan-Juan" is the best way to go here.


P.S. We buried Art's Mom and Dad's ashes under this cool looking, scraggly little cactus in the desert on the way to Guaymus in the state of Sonora.

Rest in Peace Alfonso and Concha.

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