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The Pack Family Journal is a place where we gather text and images of our lives, adventures and travels. This is a very personal site, written openly and honestly. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

An Wild Trip to La Paz

John and Rachel Pack

[All Images]

BANG! From over the stereo and underneath the coach came a loud sound that we could feel under our feet; “What the hell was that?” Rachel and I both said aloud in unison. “Now what?” is actually what we were both thinking.

Because of the never present shoulder, we had to wait until we came to a place wide enough for us to pull the RV off the road and investigate the sound. Both Rachel and I got out and looked under and around, but didn’t see anything. We assumed it had to be something in one of the compartments that had fallen or rolled. We got back on the road again—only this time, no stereo.

I was driving deliberately slow, listening to the RV, the road or any sounds that were not normal. BANG! This time there was no music and I was focused on all sounds. Again Rachel and I waited until we could get over, and then got out to investigate. This time we found the problem immediately; our inside right dually had lost its tread and had managed to knock our back bumper loose as it passed beneath. “Damn it!” Rachel and I both said aloud in stereo. “Not again?” is actually what we were both thinking.

Just 24 hours earlier we had a blowout as we ascended the mountains just 20 miles south of Loreto. We hadn’t sat for more than five minutes when a Federal Highway Patrol car pulled up. Between his zero English and my Spanglish, we determined he just wanted us to move up and out of the road, so with flashing lights from his patrol car we limped forward a few hundred yards to a wide area of the shoulder and pulled off. Then, just as we were feeling the relief of having someone to help us, he drove off leaving us there on the side of the road.

I walked to the top of the ridge to see what was beyond, only to find more of the same. At that point we decided we had to get back to where we could get help, so we turned the rig around and headed back the way we came at a staggering speed of five miles an hour. After two hours of big rigs passing us on the winding two lanes descending the mountains, we arrived back at Puerto Escondido and Tripui Resort, where we had been earlier for a meeting with Alma, the manager. We were late leaving Loreto and missed our appointment; this time she was there.

The Tripui Resort is on the right side of the road leading to Puerto Escondido, a boater’s haven and part of the Escala Nautica (Nautical Ladder). We explained the situation and apologized for missing our earlier appointment. Not only did Alma understand about missing the appointment, but she allowed us to stay the night for free. From the road, the resort appeared to be a small store, stark RV park and an office. But once inside the property gates a whole new world opened up. This was more than it appeared from the outside; this place had nearly 200 individual RV sites, each unique with beautifully constructed ramadas, outdoor kitchens, sun decks and nearly every one of them had large sport fishing boats. This is a fisherman’s oasis.

The llantera (tire shop) in Loreto came and changed our blown tire for our spare and we spent a wonderful evening at their resort. We had rescheduled our meeting with Alma for 10 a.m. the next morning. Our meeting with Alma only took about 15 minutes and Tripui Resort became a new advertiser of Mexico Living.

That was yesterday. Today we had a problem with no resort and no spare. We had just passed El Cien, about six miles back and thought it was our best bet, so we headed back the direction we came for the second time in 24 hours. El Cien was once a small village alongside Baja Highway 1 and, at some point in time, it was a working village, but today it was a nearly a ghost town. The only thing there was a dead gas station with the skeleton remains of two pumps, a small cocina (kitchen) and a llantera.

The llantera was a small shack of tin and scrap lumber. A large woman and two elderly men sat out front. Thrown about were lots of used tires in various stages of wear. It was clear that one of the men owned the shop and the other was just a buddy helping out. We were able to find a tire to fit that actually had a good load rating and he sold it to us for 400 pesos. Not too bad, I figured.

Neither of their jacks could raise the RV high enough to remove the tire, so they put a log from a tree on the floor jack and propped the RV up on that. Rachel had to turn away; she just couldn’t bear to watch. He only had a single socket for his air gun that fit our lug nuts, and on the first lug nut the socket snapped in half. For the next hour we watched as these two old guys replaced our tire using long steel bars, a sledgehammer and fire—Yes, fire. For quite a while they were having difficulties getting the tire to seal off the rim and couldn’t get it inflated. Finally, he put carburetor cleaner on the side wall and inside and lit it with a match. POW! Just like that the tire was sealed.

Once again we were heading to our destination, La Paz.

When we arrived in La Paz, it was already getting late in the afternoon, due to time lost dealing with the tires. Rachel had put together a list of all the RV parks, their prices and amenities. We had books on all the RV parks, and even purchased a list online. But after another hour of driving from one empty RV park to the next, we came to find out, after talking with one of the former RV park operators, that as of March the last RV park in La Paz closed their doors for good. All of them were being turned into condos and resorts.

Ten miles north of La Paz in El Centanario, and the closet park to La Paz, was Maranatha RV Park. A very nice, very clean park with a pool, playground area, private showers and buildings that resembled a hotel surrounding a large covered patio area, big enough to hold 50 people or more. On the corner of the property, near the highway, was a coffee shop called Café Exquisite that had WiFi internet. When we arrived at the RV park, the parking lot near the patio area was packed with cars and there was some sort of meeting on the patio. A couple hours later live music began and a patio of people sang for hours. At approximately 4 a.m. it all finally got quiet.

Turns out that the park is part of a Christian camp that has large events nearly every weekend and the occasional group of school kids during the week, for overnight pool parties. The property began as a landing strip many years back when the current owners’ father would fly down on missionary work. Today it is still used for missionary work.

Fortunately, the city bus stops on the highway in front of the café and for eight pesos we were in downtown La Paz in 20 minutes. Of course, there is no drinking on the property. Not too bad considering attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.

Be sure to follow us next month as we explore more of Baja California Sur and destinations beyond . . . that is if we make it there!


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