2017 DEC – BACK AGAIN

Dec 14th, Thursday

After 18 months away, I am finally on my way back to my boat. As each month passed I would agonize over whether I should just give up this sailing idea and sell the boat, or keep at it. I am excited to be returning now – even if it is only for one month. And so glad I did not sell the boat.

My last 6hp outboard was ruined after my dinghy was dunked and I nearly drowned. I had found my old 6hp outboard to be a challenge because it weighed about 60-70 lbs which I found difficult to manhandle onto the dinghy in rocking bumpy seas. So I determined to buy a 2hp motor of about 20 lbs to replace the ruined 6hp.

That was easier said than done! I spent the whole of the next season in Puerto Vallarta looking for a small outboard and even though many places advertised them, they didn’t actually have one when I called. Nor could they get one. So when I returned to California I searched for a 2hp and finally found one.

UNSCHEDULED STOP FOR PARTY SUPPLIES

Then I discovered that I could not fly with my little engine; it is listed as hazardous. And shipping it was $400 shipping costs. Then someone suggested the bus system! A Greyhound bus from Orange County to Tijuana takes 3 hours, I was told, and costs just $22 plus $35 for the outboard. And the bus from Tijuana to Tepic to Puerto Vallarta will take 31 hours and costs $110 with no extra charge for my luggage.

We left Orange County at 10:20am and headed south for the border. As soon as we crossed the border into Mexico our driver turned off and stopped at a duty free liquor store. Our Greyhound bus driver exited the store empty handed and I thought I had badly misjudged him. Nope… we drove down the road, did a U-turn, drove back, and there outside the store was a young man waiting and clutching a large brown paper bag of jingling booze bottles!!  Viva la Mexico. They do things differently down here.

The trip took 3 hours, including the side trip to the bottle store.

I remember now how Mexican bus drivers are a breed unto themselves. I would be on an airless bus crammed with people on their way home, when the driver would suddenly pull over, stroll over to a street vendor and buy some tacos. And everyone (including me) sitting sweltering on the bus never murmured. We all just sat patiently waiting for the driver to collect his tacos and come back.

The bus left Tijuana at 4:00pm. We will reach Tepic tomorrow midnight! I was excited to find when buying my ticket, that the two front seats on the bus were still available. All the others were taken but I got a front seat/window seat. However, upon reflection my joy faded as I pondered the anomaly of the best seats, to my mind, being available versus the end result of a head on collision.

We crawled out of the bus station, just crawled along. With the driver was another gentleman in a suit; I assumed he was the backup driver. We went along carefully and the driver’s caution became obvious – he was a newbie – and he had just missed the first turn off. The second driver leapt up, groaned aloud, grabbed his hair and did an Impressive display of histrionics. He yelled, and waved, and groaned, and implored the gods. I loved it…! I had front row seats to the drama. Then his concern became obvious as we passed under a sign that said SAN DIEGO. We had to drive through a building construction, a back alley, and a parking area to get turned around in the proper direction again.

 

2 1/2 hours later … Are we there yet?

Somehow I managed to buy a ticket on the crappy bus that didn’t have free wifi, didn’t have plugs for charging devices, and didn’t have a TV at every seat. Well, they advertised that they did, but once on board they admitted “it not fixed”. They did have a TV screen above the driver so I watched a Lassie Go Home type movie where the main actor kept kissing the dog then kissing his girlfriend, which I thought somewhat unhygienic. This movie was followed by a story set in a small African village – where they all spoke fluent Spanish.

The next movie was a horror pic. It’s the dead of night on the bus, quiet and dark, and everyone is fast asleep. Except me. So even though I can’t hear the subdued soundtrack, and can’t understand Spanish, nevertheless I have become invested in the movie. The Mother is being hunted and stalked by her deranged son. He has already slaughtered the loyal friend, and the little kid from next door is hiding in the cupboard. And just as the maniacal son lunges at mother, the person in the seat behind me lurches, kicks the back of my seat, and coughs. Guess how high I can jump out of my seat?? Then the climax approached and suddenly the bus driver decides he is falling asleep at the wheel and puts on some cheery mariachi music. Now everyone on TV is being slaughtered to merry music. It kinda spoilt the movie for me….

8 hours later – OMG we haven’t even started down

Then at midnight and in the middle of nowhere, they pulled our bus over into a siding and made everyone get off the bus. My immediate thought is Dark + nowhere + lots of guns = Bandits! But no one was panicking so I followed suit. We had to collect all our luggage from beneath the bus, and drag it all into a building where they scanned it. Then they let us all go again. Whatever they were searching for, luckily they didn’t find it on our bus.

And now someone has started to fart. It’s going to be a long first night.

13 hours later – we’re heading down!

Dec 15th, Friday

It’s the start of my second day on a bus. All the stops are at a bus terminal for the long distance buses. They usually stop for 20-25 minutes and kick everyone off. They then take the bus off for cleaning, which I am sure includes dumping the toilets. And they have the timing down pat to suit the timing of the human body.

They woke us around 5:00am for a pit stop and we all got off for toilets and food. Then they woke us at 10:00am again at the next terminal for toilet and food. I checked my navigation software – after 20 hours on the road we are only halfway down the mainland to PV.

 

At noon we drove into a fairly big town. At the red light two teenagers approached the bus waving bags of fruit. Our bus driver opened the door for them and they walked the aisle selling their wares. I bought a bag of freshly cut fruit for $1. From another I also bought a bag of delicious caramel fudge. The kids got off at the next bus terminal about a mile down the road. I am reminded of the entrepreneurial spirit of the Mexicans.

At the bus terminal the driver announced to everyone this was a pit stop. And nobody moved!! We had fruit, we had fudge, and we didn’t need to pee. Nobody moved. So the driver shrugged and got off alone to take care of paperwork.

The thing I love most about Mexico is they make you accountable for your own actions. You want to drink bleach? Use an electric hairdryer in the bath? Fall down a hole next to a Do Not Trespass sign? Sure, go ahead, you’re an adult, or being watched by an adult, but don’t blame us if it doesn’t work out well.

In America you are coddled all the time, and when you mess up its never your fault. You can blame someone else, and if successful also collect a big payout for your pain and suffering.

Take driving in the States… you know without a shadow of doubt that you are driving into a construction zone. Firstly the highway construction company puts up warning signs at least 2 miles before you actually reach the zone. Then when you approach the road works there are yellow flashing lights and orange plastic poles lining the way so you don’t get lost, and maybe even a person waving a flag. When you are driving in the construction zone proper there are brightly painted drums and lights marking the zone between the oncoming traffic and yourself. The only way to have a head on collision is to first crash through the drum barrier.

 

#1 – just FIVE yellow posts warning you of merging from double highway to single lanes

 

#2 – just 3 posts guiding us across the intersection from double to single

 

#3 – and the last 8 posts – thats it!

Not Mexico. Here you have to be an adult to drive and wth that title comes an expectation of common sense. We were driving down the southbound double highway. Suddenly there are flashing lights indicating road works. No 2 miles advance notice here. Then immediately there are drums guiding us from the southbound highway into the fast lane of the northbound highway. And 200 yards later the drums end.  No more drums.  No more flashing lights. No nothing. And for miles and miles you are expected to remember that you are now sharing the road with oncoming traffic. That’s it. If you can’t remember that you were guided off your double highway, really, should you be driving at all? In Mexico clearly the answer is No!

38 hours later – PV at last – dang!!!

Well that’s interesting. At 5:00am when the second driver handed back the wheel to newbie, they stopped the bus on the side of the road and #2 got out and walked towards the back of the bus. After a few moments we drove off again without #2 getting back on. But 8 hours later we pulled over to the side of the road and after a moment the missing driver got onboard looking groggy. He must have been sleeping in the bottom of the bus with the luggage? Man, I wish I could speak Spanish then I could ask. Well at the next pit stop I found an English speaker and she told me that they have a little room under the bus with a bed and toilet and the drivers sleep there between shifts. Puzzle solved.

It’s 8:30pm and we have reached Mazatlan. I love this city and spent about a month here as I moved down the coast before. From here to Tepic, where I change buses, it’s about 130 miles. The driver says that’s a 4 hour drive. On my boat it’s a day!

It’s my second day and second night on a bus, and this is getting decidedly old.

 

Dec 16th, Saturday

I switched buses around 2:00am in Tepic. It’s poring with rain so it’s slow going. We reached PV at 6:00am. It’s the morning of the third day.

That’s 2 days and 2 full nights on a bus.

The $400 shipping fee for the outboard is looking like a bargain right now!!!

Blissful showers in the marina hospitality lounge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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