Before dawn, on February 1, the Gumbos departed the Nogales Home Depot parking lot and, after a brief stop at Starbucks, headed for the border. They wanted to leave early because its a fairly long, stressful drive from the border to San Carlos and, what with 3 other RVs in the parking lot, all headed for the same RV park, Duwayne and Darla Jean wanted to get there before the check-in process got too congested.
The Gumbos cleared the first border-crossing hurdle when they were asked if they had anything to declare (at customs). After answering “no”, they were waved on but were stopped about 200 yards further by an official who wanted to take a closer look. After pointing his flashlight into the truck and 5th wheel, he also waved them through and the Gumbos were on there way! (Interestingly, after all the trouble that was spent getting proper pet clearance papers, no mention was even made concerning Precious).
At Kilometer 21, there is another stop where visitors must apply for (and pay for) their visas. This took a little longer than expected because the Gumbos were also required to purchase a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for the 5th wheel. This was not expected as reports said that TIPS weren’t necessary in the “Free Zone” (that area extending from Nogales to San Carlos and Guaymas). However, the $60 permit is good for 10 years so it may come in handy in the future.
The trip from Nogales to San Carlos is about 233 miles and takes a little over 5.5 hours. It passes through the fairly large town of Hermosillo where you must drive your truck and 5th wheel through a congested town with lots of “topes” (speed bumps). Some of the topes are marked with signs, others aren’t and the Gumbos managed to hit an unmarked one while traveling at about 40mph. Not a good feeling and when they pulled over to inspect the damage, they found cupboards open with food all over the floor.
There is also a LOT of construction going on between Nogales and San Carlos with endless detours as the highway appears to be enlarged from 2 lanes to 4. This meant for slow driving conditions and a fair amount of stress. But, by 1pm, the Gumbos arrived at Totonaka RV Park in San Carlos. This would be the first time they had access to power, water, sewage and cable TV since leaving Seattle in November.
After getting settled, Duwayne and Darla Jean were greeted by quite a few friends from the Northwest. First, there was Ned and Carla Jean (really, Carla Jean!) whom the Gumbos knew from their sailing cruise in Mexico back in 1995. Ned and Carla Jean are currently traveling in their trailer and are also parked at Totonaka. Then there was Jim and Crissie, also fellow boaters who had their boat moored in San Carlos as they prepared to sail across the Sea to Puerto Escondido on the Baja Peninsula. And finally, there was Ray and his new bride Maria. Ray is also a fellow cruising friend who has his boat stored in San Carlos and lives in Guaymas. The entire crowd went out for shrimp tacos and pizza!
It turns out that Totonaka RV Park is, for the most part, a very nice place to spend a month in Mexico. It is centrally located and the beach is right across the street, with other VERY scenic beaches just a short drive away. There’s a pool, a pickle ball court and dog runs for the pooches. The place is about 90% filled with RVs from British Columbia.
There was even a place set up for all the Americans to watch the Super Bowl!
The only negatives about the RV park are:
There are little stickers all over the ground that manage to attach themselves to Precious – and they’re a pain to remove!
Water pressure is almost non-existant, it takes at least 30 minutes to fill the tank.
The promised 5 U.S. cable channels turns about to be 1 (and sometimes 2) fuzzy channels.
But, what the heck – the Gumbos are in MEXICO!
Duwayne has been taking advantage of the nice temperatures and flat terrain to do some morning bicycle trips. He has found some places that appear to be free camping zones and also some beautiful estuaries with nice wildlife.
Unfortunately, Mexicans have not yet embraced the idea of a clean environment. Trash is routinely deposited just about anywhere.
The first week in San Carlos was spent visiting the marina, spending time at the beach, eating cheap shrimp ($12 for a kilo of jumbo prawns), drinking cheap tequila ($9 for a fifth of GOOD Cuervo – not that gold crap that is sold at home) having dinner out with old friends and, of course, practicing drums.
- A technical note. Two things you may have noticed: 1) the photos included here are a little lower-res than usual. That’s because the lens on the Canon DSLR has started to malfunction and will no longer focus properly. So, all photos are now taken with iPhones. And, 2) The map at the right that shows the Gumbos’ current location is rarely accurate. That’s because the “widget” that this blog application uses to display map info insists that a physical street address be entered. Since the Gumbos rarely stay where there’s an address, map info can’t be entered. And, for some reason, even though the Gumbos ARE currently at a physical address, the application doesn’t seem to recognize MEXICAN addresses.