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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.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Twilight Zone - Hell Getting Here

Quick update everyone. It has been hell getting here, or rather back here. I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, waking up in  the same stretch of Baja for over a week now.

As you know last Sat, we had two flats and came to Gurreo Negro to get them fixed along with picking up other stuff. Then last Wednesday returned to continue. We got dropped off by our new friend mas margaritas and away he drove. We walked about 1 mile and realized one of the tires was low again, so we returned. This time the llantera was open, so he pumped the tire and poured water over it as we both looked for bubbles or problems. None were seen, so we got back on the road.
About 5 miles later on one of regular stops – we work in rounds, like a fighter and every 30 minutes we reset the timer, sometimes we drink or eat, like other times we continue. Our goal is 16 rounds per day. At this round, we were drinking when we hear “pppsssstt”
and the tire that just got a good bill of health blew and was instantly flat.

After getting past the swearing and complaining, we decided to head back to N. Rosarito again, so we stuck out our thumb…after a while of no luck, we began dragging the cart towards our destination. After about 3 of the hardest miles, we were picked up by Tomas and Gabby from Loreto in their old Ryder rental truck, or a least it looked like one. They drove us back to the llantera.

Turns out the tire blew at the value stem and there was no fixing it and we had no spare. By this time the guy at the llantera was different from the previous guy that had given the good bill of health, so we explained the situation. He then went into the back and started digging through his junk, truly…he came back a little while later with a tire exactly like ours, and the tube was in perfect shape. Unbelievable. The tire was fixed, but in fixing it we realized all four wheels were wobbling pretty bad, so we worked to get them tightened using washer, but really didn’t have a lot of luck. By the time we were ready for the road again it was too late to start walking again. I asked one of the guys that was being such a great help to us, if there was place to camp and he invited us to stay in his yard across the street. Turns out his yard in beautifully landscaped with a giant tree and lots of roses and blossoming flowers. Very, very nice.

His name is Alfredo, and after a long Spanglish conversation we found out that half his family is Scottish, which is the same as Rachel and her family. We made plan to return in October to join him and his family for the San Borja Fiesta. SEE PHOTOS

The next morning we hit the road, and although we had to walk the same miles again, we were ready to do it and did over 18 miles. The next day we did over 17 miles, during which we got another flat – if you can believe it. This time we decided to continue forward and swore we would not return to Nuevo Rosarito until October. So we dragged the cart about 5 miles further to the military checkpoint, thinking the would have a compressor or something, so such luck.

We left the check point and continued on, but this time Rachel started flagging every gringo we saw, knowing any smart gringo driving the Baja usually has a 12-volt tire pump (we do too, back home in our car). One couple said they did, and said they would help, but then drove onto the checkpoint. So, we had to return back ourselves, and go back through the checkpoint to the other side. They didn’t have a pump, but gave us a can of fix-a-flat. We were very happy and now this problem and possibly any more could be fixed. We didn’t get a chance to talk much, the man seemed in a hurry and then the military told us to leave – we were causing some disruption because people were trying to talk to us from their cars while waiting to get through the checkpoint, even a nice lady named Carolyn got out of her truck and came over to tell us her and her husband had been following us on Baja Nomads.

The three nights were bitter cold, and really wet. At one point we thought it was raining from the sound on our tents. We stayed inside and got started late, hoping a little sun would come out, it never did until at least 1PM, after which the wind would get going and kick our butts all the way until we stopped and setup camp, which was another problem in this area. It wasn’t long after Nuevo Rosarito that the large cactus, trees and other such plant life got very thin, and finding a good hiding place at night became a problem. We had to drag the cart through soft sand for a long distance to get out of view of the highway, but we managed.
On the third day, right around the lunch hour our friend Mas Margaritas showed up with tortas and Powerades for lunch. It was great, until he told us we were actually 4 miles further away than we had thought. This was a new problem because it was Saturday and we had packages of necessary equipment and supplies waiting for us at the bus station, and we knew they would be closed on Sunday. Fortunately, Mas Margaritas went into town to the station and charmed the boxes out of the manager, even though the sign on the wall clearly said “no factura number, np package” and of course we had no factura number. But when Mas Margaritas arrived back to us, a couple hours later he had both of our boxes.

During the time Mas Margaritas was gone the wobbling of our wheels began to get worse and was starting to squeak. So, although we had about 6 miles to go, we got a ride back into Gro Negro in hopes of catching a llantera before the end of the day and we did. I explained the problem and clearly illustrated it to them by wiggling the two tires I needed fixed. They tore them apart and said I needed new barrings. “No problem, go ahead and get them for me” I told them. So, off in a car one of the guys goes, so I asked the other if I could come back in an hour and check on the progress and he said okay. An hour later when I returned they had “fixed the wrong tires” and not only did they not fix it, they were worse, only now covered in grease.
After a verbal fight between the two of them, obviously one was the boss and the other a younger apprentice that wouldn’t listen, they put washers on both tires. The washer stopped the wobbling, but it also stopped the tires from spinning. So now the empty cart feels like it is carrying a load. No bueno.

We have decided to try a mechanic in the morning before we go back to where we got picked up to continue to walk. The positive side is that in the boxes we received from our good friends Gene Jensen (San Felipe), Cathy Tiwald (San Felipe), and Jackie and Marty Alameda (Click-on Puerto Nuevo) were lots of medical supplies, batteries for our SPOT, freeze dried foods, and other goodies, and 3 new pairs of HIGH TECH running/walking shoes and socks.

Our new friend Jerry Freer, also relayed a message from Timothy Means, the owner of Baja Expeditions in La Paz, that now only can we stay a couple of days at his Whale Watching camp on the San Ignacio Lagoon and will also welcome us to La Paz, where we can have a small press conference in his building. We’ll keep you posted.

That’s it for now.
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