For the second time in just a few days I found myself up and moving long before the sun. Our intended departure was 3 a.m. and we were pulling out of the hotel seven minutes early. Dan told me I could sleep once we crossed the border but there was no way I was doing that. This was the beginning of our adventure together and I wasn’t going to miss a single second.
Next stop…the U.S. – México border.
The first order of business upon our arrival at the border was to get our visas. At 3:30 a.m. it was pretty quiet there so the process was quick and easy. We parked the car and went inside to the office where a nice man named Carlos handed us an immigration form to fill out. Once that was done he reviewed them and asked a few questions before sending us to the cashier to pay the fee. A six month visa was 500 pesos approximately $27. Once paid up we headed back to see Carlos so he could finish processing our visas. All in all the process took about 15 or 20 minutes. From there it was off to play red light green light.
In Mexico when you go through customs they use the red light green light method. You choose a lane and if you get a green light you keep going. If you get a red light you are stopped. Red was our color that morning so we were directed to a lane where you drive up onto a platform that holds four or five cars. The border guard told Dan that I would have to get out of the car and go down this dark sidewalk while Dan was to remain with the car. As this was a first for me and my Spanish is still very limited, I was a bit uneasy but you know, you do what they tell you to do. So, off I went.
Not knowing exactly where I was going, I just kept walking until I found a border guard standing on the sidewalk holding a machine gun, dressed in camo with his face covered by a bandana. I asked where I should be going and he pointed behind me without uttering a single syllable. This was also a bit unnerving. The only thing that gave me comfort was that I could still see Dan. After a few minutes they had all the drivers exit their cars and walk to this small building to wait. Next these red lights started flashing and sirens started sounding off. Then this giant X-ray machine started moving along a track over the cars. The whole process took about five minutes and when the X-ray was complete, they sent the drivers back to their cars and they drove off the platform into the waiting area in front of me. I was only about fifteen feet from Dan and the car but I was not yet allowed to get back in the car yet.
After a few minutes a guard came over to the car and asked Dan to get out and open the trunk. He started asking questions about what was in there, where we were going etc… Dan speaks pretty good Spanish, which seemed to move things along. After a couple of minutes I was allowed to return to the car and just a minute or two later they opened the gate and let us pass.
The sign over the road read, “Bienvenidos A Tijuana”. It took almost four months but I was finally back in Mexico!!! WOOOHOOO!
It was still very early in the morning so there wasn’t much traffic. The road was mostly a narrow two-lane highway full of twists and turns. We stopped for coffee and gas just a short way into Mexico and then we were on our way.
As the sun started to rise we were driving through wine country. There was a heavy fog in the upper part of the mountains with a light grey mist on the road. The countryside was beautiful with its muted colors of gold, brown, green and red. I’m not sure what I really expected to see but I was certainly fascinated by the views all around me. Everywhere I turned there were hills and mountains and before I knew it we were traveling along the Pacific Coast.
There was still a dense fog hanging in the air but you could see the snowy white foam from the waves as the crashed upon the shore in the distance. I was so excited about the drive and all the things that awaited us. Of course, it’s easy to be excited at the very beginning of a 20 hour road trip.
I think what I loved most about the trip is the way we travelled through such a variety of areas. One minute you were cruising through the mountains, the next it was a desert flat land, and then there were green valleys. There is an area along Highway 1 that is unbelievably amazing. Everywhere you look there are boulders and rocks with cacti and flowering plans sticking out of them. I felt as if we were back in the stoneage.
As I said, this is a two-lane highway and you have to remember that this is Mexico. The roads are not like I am used to in Florida. You have a stretch that seems pretty nice and then all of the sudden you are in pothole hell. It kind of reminded me of a trip I took through Ohio one time. LOL
We were in pothole hell when we nearly met our maker. We crested a ridge and about 250 yards in front of us was a semi truck cresting another ridge heading straight at us going at least 50 mph. He was in our lane and when he saw us he jerked his rig back into his own lane. At that, his trailer started to fishtail. There was no shoulder on the side of the road and on either side it was a good eight to ten foot drop into the boulders. I literally saw my life pass before my eyes. All I could think is that it took me 49 years to get here and be with the man of my dreams and we were never going to get to start our adventure.
Dan, of course, was in complete control and had already determined where he was going if the trailer tipped over. His plan was to take a sharp ninety-degree turn into the rocks. This is would have been the last place on earth we would have wanted to be in an accident. Out here there was no cell service so there’s no telling how long it would have taken to get help. Fortunately, our angels were watching over us and the trucker’s trailer didn’t tip. He passed by us and it took me a few seconds to start breathing again. With the help of our angels, we live to fight another day!
One part of the drive that I was not prepared for was the military checkpoints. Between Tijuana and La Paz we went through five of them. Some are in predetermined spots and others crop up out of nowhere. Each time you are greeted by military men in camo toting machine guns. Most have their faces covered with bandanas. I’m sure that’s partially to keep off the sun but then there is also the fact that they don’t want to be known by the drug cartels. For the most part it’s a quick thing. They ask where you are going and for what purpose. At three of the stops Dan was asked to get out of the car and open the trunk. Maybe it’s because our car was so loaded down with stuff. Again, I think the fact that he speaks Spanish made these checkpoint stops go a little more smoothly but there is something a bit unnerving about being stopped by the Mexican military.
My absolute favorite part of the trip was when we came to the Sea of Cortez. Have you every seen something for the first time and it was so beautiful that it literally brought tears to your eyes? Well, that’s how I felt when I saw the sea for the first time. Dan looked over at me and I had tears streaming down my face. Of course, I cry at everything so this was no surprise to him. “What are you crying for?” he asked. “It’s just so beautiful!” I said through my tears. He just laughed and laughed.
The aqua waters were sparkling with such clarity you could actually see the bottom from the highway. The contrast of the brown and tan mountains sandwiched between the aqua blue sea and the bright blue sky were spectacular. It was simply breathtaking! As we travelled down the highway all I could think of is how blessed I am to have first found this amazing man to share my life with and to be starting our life together in paradise! And to think this is only the beginning!
Next stop…. La Paz!