San Carlos to Guamúchil

I left San Carlos earlier than planned this morning because I had to go back to the TelCel office and had no idea how long that would take. I actually have no idea what time it was when I pulled out of Guaymas, fuming at TelCel, but excited about the day ahead.

I got clear of the city and pulled into a Pemex with an Oxxo attached. I got 500 pesos of fuel (I love saying 500 in Spanish — quinientos, not cinco cientos!) and then went in to get my second coffee of the day, feeling like I was embarking on a proper road trip!

When I got back out, there was five guys doing a really nice job polishing all the windows of my truck! One thing I’ve decided is that I hate fueling and I am going to tip the guy who does my fill even if he doesn’t do anything else. I also like having shiny windows and have decided that that’s worth a few pesos. So I gave each of the guys one peso for their hard work and enjoyed my spotless windshield for five minutes until a GIANT bug splattered across it. No problem, a called a window washer over at the next populated area. Am I getting the hang of this or what?! 😀

The first milestone of the day was leaving the ‘free zone’, where I now needed my temporary import permit! Real Mexico at last!

Early in the day, I got to a mess of construction and a worker stopped me and said something very fast. All I understood was a word that sounded like the French contre-sens, which told me that I would have to drive against the traffic. I was going to ask him to repeat himself and then thought, ‘No. Tell him what you understand and try to get a si or no answer.’ So I said “If I understand correctly, you want me to go left and then drive against the traffic?’ Yes! It was a long detour with no cones or markers and the people in the other direction didn’t really care that I was going the opposite way and were quite content to nearly mow me down. That was the start of my ‘OMG, so glad I’m not doing this in an RV!’ attitude. 🙂

After that, the drive was very steady compared to that in San Carlos and I got into a driving groove. It was hot, which kills my appetite, so I wound up not stopping at any one of the myriad of taco stands I passed.

All the bridges in Mexico, even little insignificant ones, have name, so when I passed the ‘puente sin nombre’, I got ‘I drove through Mexico on a bridge with no name’ stuck in my head for the rest of the day. 😀

The first city I crossed was Ciudad Obregon and I was really glad I wasn’t doing that in an RV! But then things got really interesting in Navojoa where I followed the Los Mochis sign to the libre, which was like an average road in Quebec, one pothole after another. I realised very quickly that I was off main MX 15 and turned back around to take the road through Navojoa, which was smooth going.

I really liked the look of Navojoa; it was exceptionally clean, with well maintained buildings. I thought of stopping at the Soriana at the south end of town for snacks, but was well stocked with coffee and granola bars and really didn’t need anything else.

The next big milestone was crossing into the state of Sinaloa!

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I have now been to four of the 31 (plus MX City) Mexican states! Baja California, Tamaulipas, Sonora, and Sinaloa!

The roads in Sinaloa are MUCH better than in Sonora, comparable to the drive from Quebec into Ontario on highway 417.

My destination was a Pemex station in Los Mochis, where I arrived around 3:00, WAY too early to stop and truck camp! The bed of the truck is full and it was hot and sticky anyway, so a motel was in order. I decided to keep going and check out each motel I’d pass, giving myself a deadline of 4:30 to find something decent, regardless of the price.

Shortly thereafter, I saw the first sign for Mazatlan! Home stretch!

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I stopped at one point to get more fuel and my bladder decided that it had had enough holding all the coffee, thank you very much, and if there’s no baño here, you can go behind a bush! Thankfully, there WAS a baño and it was impeccably clean. There was no toilet paper or soap, but no problem, I had wet wipes in my purse. Ladies, carry wet wipes!

After four 65-peso fares and one at 20 pesos, I was DONE with cuotas (toll roads) and when 4:00 came along with no suitable motels behind me, it was time to get onto a libre (free) road, where I was more likely to find services (I’d done my research!). I stopped at two cheap but terrifyingly dingy motels and arrived around 4:30 at a motel in Guamúchil that looked decent.

They wanted 600 pesos, 200 pesos more than I was hoping to pay tonight, but it gets dark VERY early here and it was time to stop. Not negotiable! I asked if 600 pesos was their best price and the guy looked at me, quirked a smile, and said that he could do 550 pesos since I asked so nicely in Spanish. Done!

The room is okay, not as nice as what I have gotten for less in the US, but decent and I LOVE the balcony over the pool, where I am writing this post.

Sorry, should have taken this one in daylight!

Sorry, should have taken this one in daylight!

I sat with the AC on for five minutes and that revved up my hunger, so I went down to the restaurant. I got out of there for 100 pesos, including a good tip, and had a cold lemonade and a huge plate of enchiladas with rice and beans, plus chips and salsa! THAT cheered me up immensely!

The rice and beans were soooo yummy it was all I could do not to lick the plate! The enchiladas were filled with chicken and had a spicy red sauce, the first truly spicy food I’ve encountered since arriving. It was just at my limit of tolerance and very tasty. I just cooled my tongue off with a bit of rice or beans when I couldn’t stand the heat any more.

I was surprised that such a meal is real Mexican food, not Tex-Mex, although they didn’t drown it in cheese and sour cream the way the meal would have been north of the border. Plus, it’s corn tortillas here, not wheat.

I was amused when the server brought a pole with a hook on it for my purse (bolsa)!

It was getting cool when I got out of the restaurant, so I wrestled my suitcase out of the truck to find my bathing suit and ran up to my room to change. I headed back down and swam for a half hour until it got chilly, a really nice end to the day.

I didn’t stop as much as I should have today but that was typical for me on a day with easy roads, nothing to do with a fear of stopping or anything like that.

Going off script today says a lot about how I feel about being here in Mexico — safe. I have standard driving rules (like giving myself a deadline for stopping) and obeyed them. I now have an hour less to do tomorrow, although the libre might eat up that additional time as it will be slower going than would have been the cuota. I’m going to try to be out of here by 7:00 as Contessa agrees with my expected travel time of seven hours to Isla.

Now, I’m off to try my landlady again…

6 thoughts on “San Carlos to Guamúchil

  1. OMG you are going to be on the Isla manana.

    Good day for you. FYI we have never tipped at a Pemex in over 14 years, we were told it is not expected. I will wait & see what Croft reports. Smart girl for going off the cuato to the libre to find a hotel. The price is a tad steep but you have to do what you have to do to feel safe and secure and the swim was a bonus. Good price for dinner.

    We love driving thru Navojoa, so much to see and soak up. Most restaurants in Mazatalan/Stone Island aka Isla de la Piedra offer either corn or flour tortillas, your choice.

    Your Spanish seems to be muy bueno, you will have no problems this winter.

    • I have always tipped at Pemex. Never much, five pesos if they clean the car window, maybe ten pesos for the motorhome if they do a good job on the windshield which is not easy for a short person. I usually wait until I give them the tip before asking for any additional services. They are always happy to check the oil or tire pressure if you ask but I carry my own oil as I think Pemex products are over priced.

      As far as being expected, I think the ever-present tray of small coins on top of every pump indicates that most people do tip and that tips are probably pooled. There were rumors that the guys who work the pumps are not paid but I do not believe this. I suspect they are paid but probably not much because of the tipping. I think it is much like wait staff in Canadian and American restaurants where tips make up a good part of the income of the staff.

      Chris and Juan always tip at Pemex as does my Mexican lawyer friend so, if they do it, why shouldn’t I? It keeps them happy for the next gringo who happens along.

      • I look at it this way. I am barely doing any driving on this trip to Mexico. The 5 pesos here and there are going to add up, but barely in the grand scheme of things. I would feel differently if I was tipping upwards of $2 a day every day!

        The first guy I tipped, in San Carlos, was obviously surprised by his tip and I got a huge smile and gracias, senorita! that told me he’s not used to the gringos tipping. I’m thinking I helped make tourists look good.

  2. I’m told tipping at Pemex is done if they do something extra, but, really, I’m so grateful to not have to do it myself that I’m glad to give the 5 pesos!

    I’m glad to hear that my decision tonight was ‘smart.’ Keep waiting for the person who is going to call me a life risking moron. 😀

    I prefer flour tortillas, but am watching my carbs and have been doing corn tortillas in Canada for over a year now, so they are a very familiar part of my diet!

    My Spanish is full of mistakes, but getting me through! 😀

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