The Journey South

It's 1,700 miles, give or take a few, from our doorstep to the village of San Francisco (known fondly to locals as San Pancho) in the state of Nayarit in western Mexico. In a move we deemed liberal-bordering-on-lackadaisical, we divided the miles up over four days. What we didn't take into consideration: a mile that takes approximately one minute in the U.S. takes approximately three minutes in Mexico. And that's if you manage to dodge the potholes, non-roadworthy cars, random pedestrians, stray wooden logs, surprise speed bumps and occasional cows. 

Our journey began on a dreary day in Boulder, and the drear followed us all the way to northern Mexico. We spent our first night in Santa Fe, a town on which I've always had a gushing crush. We stayed with Joe Romero who runs Romero Rentals in the capital district. On our inaugural trip to Santa Fe about 10 years ago we stayed with Joe, and it's great to see he's still doing what he does best: hosting road-weary travelers and making damn good breakfast burritos for his guests. Ever need a place to stay in Santa Fe? Please, please, PLEASE consider a stay with Joe. It's a decision you won't regret. 

On our second night, we stayed in Franklin Mountains State Park just outside of El Paso - a beautiful place, and because it was below freezing with wind gusts of 40 mph, a beautiful and empty place. We huddled in the van with our sleeping bags and our new van bedding (thanks, Robin!) and awaited sunrise before heading to the border crossing. 

With Starbucks in hand and our puffy camping faces smiling, we crossed the border into Mexico early Wednesday morning. The gloomy weather followed us as we hightailed it to Chihuahua and further points south, finally stopping for the night in the tiny village of Rodeo. All the stories you hear about driving at night in Mexico? Believe them. (Except for the bandito bullshit - other than via news-hungry, fear-mongering media outlets, I've never personally witnessed anything even remotely of this nature. All I can say is, I feel safer in Mexico than I do in the U.S.) 

Day four began with the sound of barking dogs, crowing roosters, diesel engines and what we finally decided was a forlorn cow. The winding road led us through Durango to Mazatlan via the most stunning stretch of civil engineering mastery I've ever seen. We whizzed through the Sierra Madre mountains on a road that spans canyons and blasts through mountainsides, from bridge to tunnel to bridge to tunnel for at least 40 miles. It was breathtaking (as was the toll.)

The road dumped us onto the western coast of Mexico, where we sped south to Tepic before zigzagging our way through sugarcane fields and nut tree orchards, arriving in the colorful and funky village of San Francisco just after dark last night. I had a teary smile on my face as we paraded down the main drag before parking in front of our casita, a modest place with turquoise concrete floors, high ceilings and the slowest, spottiest Internet I've encountered since 1998. (Just uploading these pictures and saving this post has given me multiple WTF moments.) 

Next time, I'll introduce you to our lovely little village. She's a simple one, with a great personality and a few intriguing quirks. I know you'll just love her.