I started this under as: My Incredibly Strange Trip Driving To Mexico
but I have now transcribed all of the journal entries I made or this adventure and I am going to post the newly written journey that this was under the title of:
FINDING MYSELF IN MEXICO
So if you enjoyed reading Adventures in Mexico please check out my book in progress that is posted on this blog as:
FINDING MYSELF IN MEXICO
When I was 27 my boyfriend and I were in need of a spiritual journey to get our lives back on track. We chose driving to Mexico to spend a month in a small fishing village my boyfriend had been to twice before I had ever met him. He was very enamored of this place and being he had already been there twice I trusted his opinion. I had only been to Mexico by way of a couple of walks into Tijuana from a parking lot in southern California to spend the day shopping and eating and then walking back to our car parked across the border, so my knowledge of the real Mexico was non-existent. I will never call this trip a “vacation” but it was an experience I will never forget for a variety of reasons. This was my first time spending time with people living in a third world environment and it sure did make me appreciate all the things I am privileged to enjoy living in the beautiful country of the United Stated of America.
January 15, 1984
Today is the fourth day on the road and the first day without the sun. We left at 9:00 Thursday morning four days before I am writing this. We got out of foggy Oregon and into sunny California about noon. We were in search of the Giant Redwoods on the coast. We stopped at several places along the way but never found the giant trees we were looking for. We did see a herd of wild elk along the side of the road. At the same place that the elk were at we found a map showing that there were big redwoods to come that looked like the ones we wanted to see. That evening we stopped in Eureka for the night. We stayed at a Motel 6, the first one I‘ve ever been in. It was what you could call your “basic room”, it had a bed, a shower, two chairs and a table, a black and white television which cost 99 cents to use and there were no frills. We were pretty low on personal energy after our first day on the road starting at 9:00 in the morning and ending ten hours later. We went to a pizza parlor a couple of streets away and went to bed and slept soundly, we didn’t need any more frills than a bed.
On Friday, the second day on the road, we drove for about an hour and a half on a road called the “Avenue of the Giants”. It was the location of the enormous redwoods we had been seeking and there were a lot amazingly gigantic redwood trees on this road and we even got to go drive through a giant redwood with my car. We got to San Francisco about 5:00 and we spent two very frustrating hours driving around looking for Greg’s sister Robin’s house. We had written instructions she has sent Greg so that we could easily find where she lived but none of the street’s matched up with where we were and when we stopped at a gas station to ask directions none of the people spoke English, they were all oriental. When I was so frustrated I was ready to tell Greg to just leave San Francisco without staying there, Greg stopped at a flower shop to see if they could tell him why the directions to Robin’s house didn’t work and he brought me a bouquet of carnations back to the car. This was the first time he ever bought me flowers (and I was thinking probably the last) because he could tell I was about ready to kill him for his incredibly bad sense of direction and also because he found out the reason the directions didn’t work was because he had told his sister we were coming into town on the Bay Bridge and not the Golden Bridge, which explained why none of the streets on her map made any sense. He once again attempted to find where his sister lived after having received new instructions on where to go based on where we came to town. He then spent another hour being lost and finally called his sister and she met us where we ended up, which actually was fairly close to her house, and she led us back to her place. We went out to a bar that night which was called the “I-Beam”, it was a new wave kind of a place and Duran Duran had just played there. It was fairly weird but not as weird as it seemed to be when we first walked in the place. There were a lot of gay people and what I guess what could be called ”punk” rockers and some people who looked like us as well, whatever that means!
The next day, Saturday, we went to a place I was told was a well known cool place to go for brunch called “Bloody Mary’s” and it did have good drinks and we did have hang overs. Then we went to the Fisherman’s Wharf for awhile and then we went to “Golden Gate Park”. It was a pretty cool place and had a very cool aquarium in in that had a Manatee, it was the first one of those I had ever seen in person. We went to an excellent Greek restaurant for dinner, I had lamb baked in parchment paper for dinner. We then went back to Greg’s sister’s house and watched TV for the evening. Greg’s sister was pretty strange, it was the second time I had met her but the first time was only for one evening at Greg’s house when her and her brother and father flew to Eugene for Christmas a couple of years ago.
January 16, 1984
We left San Francisco at 9:00 in the morning. I can’t say I was unhappy to leave this confusing city. Today was not our day, we kind of followed Murphy’s Law of anything that can go wrong will! It was a pretty boring drive to Las Angeles. We stopped for lunch in a town called Coalinga, we had to drive ten miles off the freeway to get to it. It turned out that it wasn’t very big and was recovering from a major earthquake that had occurred in this area recently. We ended up eating at an A & W right off of the freeway after we toured Coalinga and found no place to eat and went back to I-5. We went another fifteen miles down the freeway only to find there were four restaurants there that any one of which would have been a better place to eat at, oh well, live and learn. Such is the nature of traveling to places you have never been before.
Next event for the day was unfortunately entering Las Angeles at 5:00 and ending up spending two hours stuck in rush hour traffic. I called a friend we were going to go visit and he was just leaving his house so we started towards Anaheim since we had already planned on visiting Disneyland the next day. After an extensive search for a motel we discovered upon checking in to the one we finally located that we liked that in the winter Disneyland is closed on Monday’s and Tuesday’s which of course the next two days. Greg was going to try and find a guy who owed him a lot of money who was supposed to live in Anaheim and discovered when he called the phone number the guy had given him that is was a bad number. Our consolation prize for the evening was that the motel was nice.
Since Disneyland was closed we went to Sea World instead. It was a really cool place. We got to see Shamu, I was expecting him to be a “hoakie” act and instead it was really a trip. He was a big ham and you could tell he really enjoyed performing. The whole place was fantastic and I got to pet a small whale and a dolphin, I am glad Disneyland was closed. We spent the night in a little motel called La Mesa near San Diego. We were super exhausted.
We started our trek into Mexico today. We (I guess really I-since Greg doesn’t speak it at all and I took Spanish in Junior High, High School and 2 years of College) are having a little trouble picking up our Spanish but it is slowly coming back to me. We an interesting time getting across the border once we arrive in Sonora. First we had to stop in the immigration office and show proof of our citizenship, a driver’s license and voter’s registration card were all that were required, and then purchase “Mexican” insurance for my car so we didn’t get thrown in jail if someone decided to run into us. After we got our official papers we were stopped about two hours into Mexico, something Greg had already run into the first two times he drove down here, and depending on how rich you looked the Mexican police would tell you that you needed to pay a certain amount of money to continue on. While we were at the side of the road where the police ran their “mordida” (bribe) operation we saw a big motor home being totally searched and torn apart because the people refused to pay the “mordida” because it was illegal. We were smarter than that and paid the sum they asked which was about $20 for us as we were driving my pretty innocuous looking 1982 blue Mustang II with a four cylinder engine, not an expensive looking car and we were not dressed like we had money so it was a cheap price to pay for easy passage. We spent the night in a town called Sonata at a motel called the Excelsior and ate at the restaurant of the same name next to the motel. We had “Pollos Fritas” which is fried chicken, not exactly like the fried chicken I grew up on but it was edible and I was tired and hungry. The motel was even more basic than the motel 6 we stayed at in California, it had tile floors, a bad bed and it was very noisy all night long. It was the first exposure to a motel where the bathroom became your shower, literally as there were no shower curtains to keep the water out of the rest of the bathroom and the toilet paper was kept inside a plastic container so that it didn’t get wet when you took a shower. I had never experienced anything like it.
More to be posted as I transfer my handwritten travel diary to my computer!