A Grueling Driving Day (Or San Carlos to Guamúchil, Redux)

Today was a cautionary tale about keeping your driving days short in Mexico. In Canada and the US, I wouldn’t hesitate to plan a 1,000KM day if I was traveling on main highways, but more than 500KM at this time of year, when the days are short, is all I’d chance in Mexico. Still, I left San Carlos early enough this morning that I actually had a backup plan in case I wanted to push on to Culiacán since all I had on the table was a measly 450km and an 8AMish start time…

I took the libre through Guaymas to save myself a toll and pulled into a Pemex once I was free of the city, putting in $500 worth of fuel, which got me half a tank, so fuel prices are slightly better than last year.

After that, it was construction, construction, and more construction all the way to Ciudad Obregón. There, it was HUGE, vehicle destroying, potholes all through the city. I’m not exaggerating. I’ve only ever seen potholes that size on main roads in Quebec. Hit one of those and you’re not getting out with a tow truck and some major damage. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in a car low to the ground with no view of the obstacle course that lay ahead!

Once I finally made it through, it was construction, construction, and more construction all the way to Navojoa. Very slow speeds, too, since we were sharing the opposite driving lane. It was about 300KM to get there from San Carlos and it took over four hours to arrive. WHEW. The only stops I made were for toll booths and the Red Cross, who were collecting donations.

I learned another really important lesson today: if you think you need a bathroom, jump on the opportunity to use one even if you’re planning to use one only about 20KM away in case you encounter construction, traffic, a billion red lights, and a really bad accident resulting in a detour along the way…

Needless to say, I was very happy to reach the Soriana in Navojoa! I had lunch there, a really good slice of pizza, and then I picked up a new pump for my water bottle since I don’t like the style that comes with the casita and I wanted a spare for home anyway.

I was really parched by this point, having already downed the 2L of water of cold water I had with me and only infernal-temperature water left. I looked in the Soriana coolers to see if they had Electrolit, but struck out. Thankfully, the Oxxo across the street had some that was icy cold and I drained a whole container in just a few gulps! It did the trick, and I followed it up with a cold bottle of water over the next hour. I’m glad I was introduced to that stuff last year. No matter how much water I drink, it’s hard to stay hydrated in this climate.

I had one stop shortly after Navojoa by what I think is the major crimes unit and I didn’t ‘like’ this guy. He just made the hairs on my nape prickle. I gave him vague answers in broken Spanish and was finally sent on my way.

I saw a couple of things today that made we wish I had a navigator who could take pictures for me, or a driver so that I could take the pictures myself! One of them was a clever ad for a limeade drink that said, “Limón y nada.” “Lime and nothing” sounds like the Spanish for “limeade”, the product, and also insinuates that the product is all natural.

Another thing I saw that absolutely delighted me was a rather long stretch of road with a bunch of goats eating the weeds along the shoulder! They were not impeding traffic, just having a buffet. There was so many of them!

Finally, I saw the first signs announcing Maz! Home stretch! And speaking of Maz, it was SO GOOD to finally hit the Sinaloa roads. They weren’t great by any means, but much better than those in Sonora!

It was a tough driving day, very technical, but not stressful, not even when I was driving through the big city traffic. I’m a better defensive driver than I would have thought and definitely getting comfortable driving in this country.

My ETA to Guamúchil had started off as 1PM, but had stretched to 3:30PM as I approached the off ramp to the Culiacán libre. I was beyond done for the day! I found the motel from last year without any trouble, but they insisted on $700 when I only paid $550 last year. I wasn’t going to quibble over 12CAD. The rooms are still rather shabby, but clean, and I recognise the value they offer for the price, like access to the pool and a bottle of cold water waiting in the fridge! Speaking of the pool, I was in it minutes after arriving. 🙂

I’m off to have dinner. Early by Mexican time, but late by my body clock. 😀

Home tomorrow. I can’t believe it!

4 thoughts on “A Grueling Driving Day (Or San Carlos to Guamúchil, Redux)

  1. It is obvious you are far more comfortable this year.

    I mistakenly said Mega for pizza on Facebook but I meant Soriana. Glad you found it. When we were there a class of older teens were there seeking out NOBers to interview. It was fun talking to them and we saw them later in the restaurant celebrating a birthday with pizza, cake and coke. They asked us to join them.

    • This day last year was soooo stressful because I didn’t have firm landing plans!

      I was wondering about the Mega thing, not having remembered seeing a Mega in Navojoa! I stopped there for pizza on the way north in the spring, too!

      That sounds like fun times! The only teenager I encountered today had an attitude and pretended she couldn’t understand me. *sighs*

  2. I feel for you, driving around the Mexican coast without air conditioning. Brave woman! I’d never have survived my trip last year without the a/c in my truck, and due to its age and propensity to ice up, I lived in constant fear of it dying on the road. But fortunately it never did, though there were a few times it wanted a break.

    I have a tip on taking pictures. Just use your cell phone, but count on taking about 20 snaps for every one you expect to come out decently. I managed to do that while driving around, and with a little tweaking in Photoshop, got enough photos to keep my readers interested in what were otherwise (frankly) long, boring drives.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we have considered getting something better than an aging iPhone 4 to use to snap pictures while driving.

    • My AC went out when I was in Texas a couple of years ago, GAH. I’m hoping to have it fixed next month at the same time as the clutch!

      I sometimes take pictures when driving, but not in Mexico. There is just too much going on and too few rules to the road so anything can happen!

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