Ruta de Carreteras

I headed out from Santa Ana towards Caborca. I was beginning to get concerned about our late start. My map showed the road going up to Sonoyta and then down to Puerto Penasco. At my current pace, I would be looking at riding the road to Puerto Penasco alone in the dark, which is heavily advised against and that particular road had just had a warning put out on it. I arrived in Caborca and decided to inquire on alternate routes.

I rolled up to a fruit stand where an old man with skin like leather and crystal blue eyes was selling watermelons.

“Ruta de Puerta Penasco?” I ask, point in the general direction and shrug.
The old man smiles warmly and nods. “Si, ruta de carreteras.” My Spanish vocabulary is limited, so I ask “carreteras?”. He points behind me at a semi truck. Eek, maybe that’s a bad plan too, I’ll ask if it’s dangerous. “Peligrosa?”. He assures me I’ll be fine, “pequito, pequito peligrosa…” and draws out my turns in the dirt to find the proper road. I thank him and ride off where he directed me.

The road is paved, one lane in each direction packed with large trucks belching black smoke and rattling along around 50 miles per hour. Continue reading


We woke up the next day reluctant to leave our new friends, but eventually managed to pry ourselves away, pack our luggage and ride off after hugs and promises to meet again in Puerto Peñasco at the end of the week.

Because we slacked off so long, Alan and I ended up riding to Hermosillo in the hottest part of the day. This wasn’t a huge problem until we hit the city traffic and slowed down. Dirt bikes really hate idling in 100+ degrees and before long my yellow “engine hot” light came on and then the “pull over now dammit” red light. We stopped into a gas station to give the bikes a rest.

Alan goes back to messing with his chain, which is still destroying the tire. I check the oil in my bike and it’s not even registering on the dipstick. My DRZ is not usually an oil burner, but he’s not liking this heat. I pour in some of the spare oil I keep on hand and we both have a soda from the machine and rest a while. No one seemed to mind us sitting around the gas station.
I have an address for our host, but only a vague idea of where that and so we set out again with me leading and flipping up my helmet to ask directions from strangers at traffic lights. Before long the yellow warning lights are back on and we decide to hire a cab to lead us the rest of the way. We are exhausted and just want to get there.
Just as we are pulling up to the address, my red overheating light comes back on and Alan’s radiator boils over.

We park the bikes in the garage and Mijail takes us out walking to explore the city.

We had fun with the giant globe, pointing out all the places we have been and want to travel to.

Cool old cathedral

The main square where old people hang out.

I played with the little kids in this fountain and Mijail laughed because they called me “Doña” which is a term for older women. The woman at the restaurant in La Manga called me “Guerita” though, which means “little white girl”. I guess age is just relative.

These are the Mountains of the Bells, apparently when the rocks break and fall, they sound like bells ringing.

When we returned from our stroll, I didn’t see the bikes in the garage and started to worry, but Mijail’s mother had rolled them into the back yard area and taken good care of them.

I wish I would have taken pictures of his parents, they were so sweet to us, making us delicious dinner and breakfast the next morning.

We met some friends for the evening and had some drinks and split a five foot long burrito (not an exaggeration) before calling it a night.

The next day he took us out to the museum, in this very cool castle with dungeons and everything.

They had a display on the Seri Indians that I found fascinating. I really wanted to make it to Punta Chueca on this trip to meet some of them, but it didn’t pan out. ( I’m looking at possibly trekking down there with some other lady riders this winter though!)

Then we went over to his friend Adrian’s house to cool off in the pool before driving up to the top of the Bell Mountains to watch the sunset over the city.

Our wonderful host, Mijail.

Here’s another shot for the ladies.

We took a bunch of goofy pictures…

Okay, okay no more pictures of us.

That cross was erected in memory of all the children who died in 2009 when fire broke out in an understaffed day care. There were additional memorials throughout the city and the people are still in despair over what happened.
The sun crept below the horizon and we headed back down to wander the city.

This artist made really cool paintings with spray paint in minutes.

I would have bought one if I wouldn’t have completely mutilated it bringing it home.

We went home, slept, woke up to delicious Mexican breakfast and then headed out towards Santa Ana.

Can you spot the self portrait?

It was so hot that took to completely soaking my shirt in the gas station sink and putting it back on. It seemed to dry out in minutes. We rested, ate ice cream and drank sodas until we felt ready to continue.

We parted ways here, Alan heading back home to finish some Spanish homework (he was ironically skipping class to come to Mexico with me) before coming back down to meet me in Puerto Peñasco for the big couchsurfing meetup. From Santa Ana to Puerto Peñasco would be my longest solo stint in Mexico, but I felt confident it would be okay…

The Inevitable Police Shakedown

I got a bit of a shock leaving the beach when I discovered sand was jamming the throttle open. Nice to know I can corner that fast in sand if I need to! WHOO-HOO!  It didn’t prevent me from riding, I just had to consciously push the throttle closed instead of letting it snap back itself.  The sand worked its way out by the time we got back to San Carlos. We stopped at a little bar to try some margaritas Roger had recommended. They were indeed very tasty and refreshing!


The sun was going down and we noticed the electrical system on the Boogie was flaking out and he only had one taillight.  Roger joked that if the police tried to pull us over it was every man for himself.  Well, we head out, the boogie leading, me in the middle and Alan behind.  I see blue and red lights flashing in my mirror.  CRAP.  Do I pull over?  Roger said every man for himself…maybe we just keep riding.  So we rode a while and eventually Alan consented and pulled over.  I kept riding.  That was the plan right?!  The boogie pulled off down a side street and I followed.  Roger said this was the best plan because if we had all pulled over, we would have all had to pay a bribe, this way it was just Alan.

We wait.  And wait.  We see the lights start back up and leave so we expect Alan to come along any time, but he doesn’t.  We head back to the scene, but he and his bike are gone.  I am racked with guilt for dragging Alan down here only to have him abducted by the policia, but we determine it is best to head back to the boat and try to find or contact him in the morning.  Cops are pulling people over left and right and we need to get off the road.  Besides, maybe he will be released and find his way home.

As we take one turn after another I doubt he could get back on his own.  Guaymas is a good sized city and easy to get lost in.  But just as we’re pulling into the boatyard I see a big round head light coming our way.  I try not to get too excited, every one head-lighted car (and there are many in Mexico) looked like a bike to me, but it was Alan! 

Apparently when the lights started back up they asked him to follow them to the police station.  Instead they led him to a secluded place to ask for a bribe of 300 pesos (bribes vary widely based on how well off you look, that’s the low end.) He told them he wouldn’t have enough to get home if they took that and offered them 100 instead.  They took it and he found his way back without issue. 

I decided then that Alan was a good choice riding buddy.  I wouldn’t worry about him disappearing so much anymore.  Self-sufficiency is arguably the most important trait a travel partner can have.  You have more freedom when each person is comfortable on their own and you don’t have to worry about their ability to handle situations. 

Boogie Time!

We decided we’d done enough lounging around and we should get out and ride some dirt. Roger agreed to lead us out on some trails in the “Boogie” (as it became nicknamed because Mexicans pronounce the ‘U’ in ‘Buggy’ as ‘oooh’ not ‘uh’). It was ridiculously hot out for such shenanigans, but I couldn’t bring myself to ride without full armor, so we compromised by wearing swimsuits with our gear. I had a nice sundress cover up and I think we got even more looks than usual.

Feel the breeze

Riding dirt in a skirt

Eat my dust

The road dead ended at this tree where there was rumored to be a hiking trail to a waterfall and swimming hole. We parked the vehicles and went off on foot in search of this fabled place.

This eerie landscape looks a bit dry…

Really dry.

We may as well be hunting for unicorns.

The bikes waited patiently for us to return

Let’s boogie!

We know where to find some water…back to the beach! There’s a little town called La Manga up some dirt roads, but first a stop off at some set ruins from the film Catch 22.

I think they are meant to look Greek, but Alan seems to have it confused with Egypt.

We arrive at La Manga and have lunch at this 5 star restaurant

Shrimp tostada

My favorite picture of Roger (carnivore) and Christine (vegetarian)

Quiet little beach at La Manga

We’re all so full we siesta for a bit, lounging on bikes and buggies as locals go about their business. Alan sets out exploring the dirt road around the town and I eventually go out looking for him.

Seems he found some deep sand!

His super moto tires aren’t very good in the sand so I offer to let him ride the Zeb. He zooms off and dumps it down the beach. In his defense, the dirt was -really- deep and powdery.

He was initially stuck under the bike. I jumped in the back of the buggy to come rescue him…but the buggy just sunk into the sand! Alan got out from under and picked it up before I could get a picture.

A local came to help us dig the buggy out.

We gave him a beer as thanks.

Here’s a really lame video clip of my paddling the Zeb back to solid ground.

The sun is starting to go down, so we head back home.

I received a message from a couchsurfer up in Hermosillo to come stay with him, so we opt to head up there in the morning.