Saturday, January 27, 2007

Still January 27, 2007. It’s now 5:40 p.m., and we’re in Mazatlan, for better or worse. We left Huatabampito at just after 8 o’clock this morning. We didn’t stop except for gas, toll booths, and driver changes, and we got in here about half an hour ago.

Impressions of the road from Huatabampito to Hwy. 15: very flat, growing more and more verdant; mountains in the far distance cut out of grey construction paper; in front of them, a mist that softened the landscape almost up to the peaks, but not quite. Old women walking beside the road, towels draped over their heads against the sun. More old women, wearing babushkas. Horses, the ubiquitous dogs, one burro. More goats. I enjoyed this road. The countryside reminded me of parts of California. Then we got to Hwy. 15 and drove south through Los Mochis, Guasave, Culiacan, and on to Mazatlan. We noted that as we drove south, the highway got better and better. The distant mountains turned out to be not all that mountainous, and when we got to them we found they were covered in vegetation – not just cactus, but trees and bushes. All in all, I enjoyed today’s drive.

Then we arrived. I missed the exit north of Mazatlan that apparently would have brought us directly to the area where all the RV parks are, so I had to drive all the way through Mazatlan (an unenviable experience) to get to the road marked Playas (beaches), go to the north end of town – I think – then turn around at a roundabout and head back down the road until I saw a sign that read RV. That was it. I pulled in. They say they can put us up at least for tonight, and maybe longer if somebody that’s here now leaves tomorrow morning. This place is called “Las Jaibas”, and it isn’t mentioned in our guidebook. It costs $20 US per night, full hookup, wi-fi – except the wi-fi isn’t working very well, so I’ll have to take the laptop up to the office to put this entry into my journal.

We spent a fortune in tolls to get here today, so we really should stick around for a week or so to make it worthwhile, but I have a feeling it’s going to be difficult. When push comes to shove, I think we’re more “sit on the beach, feed the stray dogs, watch the dolphins” sorts than “sit six feet from your neighbours and listen to them get noisily drunk” types. It’s been a while since we were last quite this crowded, and there’s a woman across the way who has one of those laughs. You know the one – the brain-splitting cross between a whoop and a screech that just makes you want to punch some(body)thing. When we arrived, the manager had to come running from one of the sites to look after us. He explained that it was happy hour and they were all trying to get a little happy. So maybe this will all settle down in another hour or so, when everybody gets sleepy. Calm down, I say. Breathe.

R is actually adjusting a little better than I am. There’s an Englishman – a Londoner – two rigs down from us, so R is going off to have a chat with him. R also went for a bike ride while I was cooking dinner. He discovered that there is a bigger, more spacious RV park right next door, so if I had just kept driving a few feet farther, I might not be experiencing quite this strong an attack of culture shock. Apparently there are other RV parks within cycling distance, so we’ll be going for a bike ride first thing in the morning to check them out. Checkout time here isn’t until noon, so we will have plenty of time to look around.

If we can find a bit of calm here in Mazatlan and settle in for a few days, I really would like to take a bus downtown and see some of what there is to see. Our guidebook mentions an aquarium, a museum, and a very good public market. Also, there’s a hotel that I want to photograph for my sister. It was built by a relative of hers by marriage. See? I’m feeling better already.

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