Tuesday, March 16, 2010

There's no place like home

The last day of our trip to Loreto was mostly uneventful. We checked out of the Malarrimo Hotel (decent and even charming in a bare bones kind of way, but overpriced for what you get) in Guerrero Negro early in the morning and headed south.

The landscape had flattened out, making driving easier and less stressful.
We stopped for gas and headed out with a sense of excitement knowing that an end to our road trip was finally in sight.

Other than getting stuck for a half hour or so behind a huge piece of machinery that took up both lanes of the highway (we think it was an electric sub-station maybe), we didn’t have any real excitement until we hit the fifth of the six military checkpoints on our journey.

As soon as we stopped and put the window down, the soldier who motioned us to a stop very impatiently and abruptly ordered us out of the car. This was unexpected based on our previous experiences, but we quickly got of the car and stood off to the side so he and his fellow soldiers could search the car. We kept smiling while they poked and prodded our belongings and didn’t expect any trouble as we weren’t trying to hide anything.

The soldier who’d ordered us out of the car was going through a big straw bag I had packed with odds and ends, one being a new LED mini-flashlight that George had bought me expressly for the trip. He pulled the flashlight out of the bag and grinning he asked, “Is this for me?” He was looking right at me and I just shrugged and said, “If you say so.” He didn’t like that answer and asked again. As uneasy as I was, I wasn’t going to give him permission to steal from me, so I said the same thing again. It was an uncomfortable few moments and I’m not sure I responded the way I should have. But George and I both kept our demeanor neutral and polite, so maybe that’s what counts in the end.

Maybe he was just bored and decided to have a little fun bullying the gringos. Whatever the case, he gave up or lost interest and tossed the light back into the bag looking annoyed. But he did let us continue on our journey and we were more than relieved to pull away.

The incident was minor, but definitely disconcerting as it was the only unpleasant exchange we’d had during the whole trip.

As we neared Santa Rosalia, we groaned as we saw more mountains in the distance, but it was exciting to be so near the Sea of Cortez for the first time in our trip. We’d read a little about Santa Rosalia but were still surprised by the town, which was hilly with narrow and hard to navigate streets.

We stopped for a quick lunch and hit the road again. By this time, we were both very anxious to reach our destination, so other than slowing for views of the beautiful bays south of Mulege and one final military checkpoint, we weren’t going to stop unless absolutely necessary!

That final military checkpoint more than made up for the bully at the previous stop. The soldier who motioned us to stop asked where we were from and where we were headed and when I told him we were from New Mexico he looked puzzled until I said, “Nuevo Mexico.” He laughed then and very sweetly motioned us to leave.

The rest of the trip seemed to take forever. That last hour was agony, but finally we reached Loreto.

Hallelujah! We were home.

Next up: Getting our bearings and a nasty case of the flu

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