The first bad sign should have been when we showed up the first night and there was no food and no cold beer. That would establish a pattern for the weekend. Namely: no food and no cold beer. The second bad sign was when the tour guide showed up to pick us up in the morning (well, actually almost afternoon and none of us had had breakfast or coffee) in a van with no brakes!
This last weekend was a combo of Sartre's No Exit and the Gus Van Zant movie Gerry. Hours and hours and hours of driving through the hot desert, only to arrive at the hot springs (yay, hot pools of water in 100+ weather!) and find out that we were on a work crew and were expected to earn our keep! I cleared brush in the hot sun. The dudes moved boulders and filled in dirt. The desert sure is pretty, though. Hard to take a bad picture of it.
In Tecate we got one of our only good meals. That's a calamari taco on the left. I also had shrimp and fish. The salsa bar was beautiful.
A cultural difference of note, which is probably true in many other countries, is that you order at a counter, get your food, sit down and eat, and then go settle up. It's kind of funny how nervous this makes me. It's a nice way to do things. Very trusting and relaxed.
We could drink on the big red bus. For the first few hours it was super fun and exciting.
We drove over a harrowing road called "El Rumoroso". It began with a scary mural of two cars racing into the mouth of a skull and the phrase "velocidad es fatalidad". There were SO MANY crosses put up where people had died. Hundreds.
Sometimes there were rusty cars down in the canyons.
We finally turned off on a dirt road to get to Guadalupe Canyon and I asked the driver how long it would be. He said "depending on conditions, about an hour". It took about four hours, going ten miles an hour on a very bumpy, dusty road.
As the sun was starting to set, we arrived at a place where we all had to pile into four wheel drives to get to the hot springs. The road was fucking crazy. I've never done offroading like that. It did not look like a road at all. We arrived and had to set up camp in the dark. Our tour guides had stayed back with the bus, so once again we went to bed with no supper.
Here's the hot springs. It was really pretty.
This was the large pool. It was warm, not super hot so it was somewhat refreshing. It was pretty awesome at night.
Turns out the tour guides had made no plans for meals so they had bought the stupidest groceries imaginable that could not really be cobbled into any kind of meal. I made guacamole with unripe avocadoes. Imagine that, IN MEXICO using avocadoes that fucking Togos would have rejected. We had bacon for dinner. Just bacon. Also, there was not really any coffee, just some sugary dehydrated stuff, and the nescafe we had squirreled away as a backup was never seen again. Also, there was no ice and not enough water. Only the thought of our pets depending on us to make it home carried us through.
More pretty scenes. This is in the morning light.
Our kindly benefactor, Jorge, ferried some of us out in his Mitsubishi and we met up at the bus. I was pretty convinced I was going to miss my plane home, even though I had 9 hours until it took off. We loaded up the bus, and the driver immediately drove through a big gulley and got the bus thoroughly stuck. The whole back end was buried and the tail pipe was crushed. We dug out the bus and stacked rocks under the tires in the blistering sun. Our first attempt did not work and it seemed like we were screwed. Luckily, Jorge helped out and towed us, and we made it out after about an hour of trying.
This picture was taken right before the bus got stuck.
The plan once we got back to Tecate was going to move maddeningly slow, so our group carried all our camping shit and walked over the border, got in the car, and got the fuck out of the area in some sweet, sweet air conditionaing. Me and Gbomb actually ended up at the San Diego airport quite early, marveling at such things as all the water you could drink and food such as sandwiches that were available for purchase.