I had a restless night in Camalu’s police station. After leaving the internet cafe I just headed down there and asked to sleep. They were a great bunch. Mexican police have gotten a bad name but I have found them to be decent, kind people. That was my third night to stay in a station. I have been in the country over a week now and have not been asked to even show my passport. Even been waved through two military checkpoints. Only get asked the normal human interest questions that civilians would ask.
In the station a prisioner persistantly rapped on his cell door for over an hour till he got tired, or saw he couldn’t get what he wanted.
I laid out a piece of plywood to sleep on in the covered patrol truck parking lot. It was around the back in the forecourt. An officer told me I could sleep in his truck. I did so but it was too cramped so around 2.30am I dragged my sleeping bag over to my glorious piece of plywood
Stopped on the way out of Camalu for breakfast. It was at one of those dingy roadside shacks.
I am astonished at how expensive Mexico is. For a country where the average worker earns just $9US per day I paid 7 for a bowl of soup, tortilla bread and 2 cups of coffee. A pizza costs the same as in the USA and many other items are even more expensive.
Sitting next to me was Art. He lived in Oregon with his Mexican wife. They had four children. She left him for another man, didn’t want anything to do with the kids. Art reckons she had problems. He got deported, she got to stay. I guess that’s because she was born in Texas even though he called her Mexican. The children are in care. He lives here working as a barber.
I wished him good luck. There are surely countless stories like Art’s.
I ran on towards El Rosario. El Rosario will be the start of the desert in about 3 or 4 days time.
Many people are concerned about my welfare in the desert…. Except me. I have been told the traffic is light and that will do me fine. Here the roads are very dangerous. Very narrow, tight on the curves two lane highways with very little shoulder. Gone are the 2 meter wide shoulders. I think that was just for show up at the border area and around the tourist town of Ensenada.
Almost every vehicle travels at high speed breaking the speed limit. They go two or three, trucks and all overtaking even on a solid yellow line. I think the Mexican Green Party should start a campaign not to paint the roads, save a bunch of paint, as nobody bothers with road markings. It is no surprise to say they are the worst drivers so far on the run over taking (no pun intended!) the Mass holes, as they are known in Massachusetts by a huge margin.
In many places now there is little or no shoulder. Sometimes bushes are overgrown making it difficult to pull off the road into the gravel. Besides I have to keep an ever constant eye open for snakes. They blend in with the gravel or sand. Luckily you can usually hear them hiss when they are ready to strike. I asked one person how I can tell the difference between a rattler and the constant insect noise. Don’t worry I was told when there is one around and ready to strike you will know, its hiss will be louder than that television. I guess if you can hear it over the constant racket on the road.
Believe it or not it’s safer to run with the traffic to your back. I persisted running towards it for several days and got blasted out of it many times. Then you got to worry about the overtakers. A mirror of sorts would be nice, like cyclist use but on a headband.
RUNNING WITH MY ANGELES VERTES ESCORT HECTOR AND OMAR BEHIND ME
As I said running with the traffic to my back is safer as I wear my high viz vest and they will just pull out and over the line, second nature to them anyway. It’s when two trucks are coming at speed from the same distance out. They rarely slow down so Sandwich Mangan has to be ever alert and get onto whatever gravel I can find.
I stopped in a couple of stores in Vincente Guerrero for a Mexican flag for Nirvana. Couldn’t find one. Instead I sat outside drinking soda. A couple of nice ladies tried giving me a few pesos!
Thanks, but no thanks! It continues even down here in Mexico people think I am a down and out. I told them I am living my dream and thanks for the offer.
Just on the way out of town I got stopped by a man who jumps out of his ambulance. His name is Hannibal, he owns two ambulances which he paid for out of his own money. He hustles for diesel to act as the local EMT. Hannibal trains others free of charge so as they can volunteer their services to the community. He is very busy on the road. He tells me the towns local government, tourism secretary have been looking out for me and want to welcome me to town. There is also a plan being drawn up to help me through Baja state. I have only 15km run today, so what could I say when he said he had a place lined up for me for that night. Today was my shortest day of the run.
So Hannibal takes me over to the Welcome Home Outreach Ministry.
On their website they have this:
The San Quintin Valley is a primary agricultural hub with farms in the area growing such crops as tomatoes, strawberries, onions and other vegetables. Farm owners hire agricultural works at about $9-10 per day to work the fields, and they provide ground on which the workers and their families “squat.” A majority of these farm workers have migrated from the Mexican mainland state of Oaxaca and built makeshift shelters for their families. These settlements are referred to as “migrant camps” and the children enrolled in the Welcome Home daycare come from these camps.
The owners are Steve and Jackie Scott from Oregon. They are very passionate about their great project. They also run a house building program where volunteers come, usually from the USA and offer their services, some for a couple of months, others came for a couple and have stayed for years.
The volunteers stay in dorms in the ministry. Everyone I met had a cheery face and just loved what they were doing.
Hannibal came over to me that evening. He said the local politicians wanted to meet me in the morning. He would provide me with an escort in his ambulance for the day.
He asks me what time I want to depart. Breakfast is at 7.30 and of course super optimist, or stupid that I am says 8am!
Next morning this website crashes. I noticed it when I awoke at 7am. I had half an hour to figure out what was wrong or go hungry trying to sort it. Untechinical me discovered it had expired its disk storage quota and shut down ( shame on the host company not giving notice)
So I upgraded and was 5 minutes early for brekkie!
When food is at stake
Just put a bowl in front of me.
Hannibal’s phone rings at 8am. The politicians are waiting at the spot I finished at yesterday. We are still at the breakfast table and I still got to pack up my messy room into Nirvana.
I tell him to tell them to go get a coffee we will be there at nine!
We arrive, I give an interview and tell them how delighted I am to be here. One of them tells me he once had to go to Belfast and was equally scared to go there as I was to come here but when he was there he didn’t notice anything at all and had a lovely time there.
Another tells me had he known I was staying in Camalu and in the police station that he would have come over and brought me to his Hotel California. Then I tell him it’s just as well he didn’t as he would have been more than an hour waiting.
” What do you mean Senor Tony? ”
” Oh the Eagles song, Welcome to the Hotel California,You can check in but you can never leave”
We all have a laugh. then the Tourism Secretary who is called Ramon says when I get to El Rosario I can stay in the Sineai Motel on the ministry department. I make a note of that and can’t think of anything smart to say.
We go over to a pickup and there are 4 cases of bottled water for me. one of them says he is sorry it’s not Guinness! They must think I am a camel!
HANNIBAL IS ON THE RIGHT (ABOVE)
More photos, handshakes and I am off running through the dusty streets out of town with Hannibal escorting me from behind with the flashers. All other vehicles have to wait till they can overtake. I am running in the middle of the right lane. After a few days missing the Green Angels or Angeles Vertes suddenly make a reaparance. I can’t help thinking because Hanibal is escorting me but am sure it’s because the tourism secretary is there.
Now I have a two vehicle escort with the Angels behind and Hanibal behind in his ambulance.
On we go. I am feeling great, nice and strong due to my 2 easy days. We run by another govt office and that official is waiting for me with his secretary. I stop for handshakes and photos.
My Spanish is coming on. I spent almost all of 1983 travelling in south America and 10 weeks back packing in Centra; America in 2002. I can have a basic conversation and usually make myselfunderstood. My structure leaves a lot to be desired but I can work my way around a missing word by adding an extra sentence. Every day words ar flying back thru my subconscious and there is no prize for guessing which word of the two I could remember and which I couldn’t tonight when ordering an ICE CREAM and then asking for a SPOON.
Hannibal who lived in the USA speaks fluent English and does any necessary translating.
I run on a few more k’s and get stopped by a journalist and give my first Spanish interview!
On through the Quintin Valley and into San Quintin a small bustling town. People are surprised to see this spectacle. They just stare at me. Many are delighted when I wave and say ‘ Buenos Dias.’
In a small village a bit further on there are a few people gathered around a shop staring over. I suddenly run over, go inside the shop, buy 5 Cokes for me and my 4 escorts, have a laugh, tell the customers what I am doing, we all laugh again and I say.. ” See Ya Loco’s! ” More mirth…. I am sure they were saying.. ‘ Imagine him calling us mad and him running around the world! ‘
This was about 30km run. Hannibal had to go but the Angels, Omar and Hector stayed for another 18 as they didnt have enough diesel to go any further.. Did I run a truck dry! All the crawling along at between 8-10kmph was hard on their consumption. The Tourism secretary had a place in Palapa’s Tanto resort for me but they couldnt go the extra 8km with me. They offered to drive me there but I refused as I would have to get back in the morning and of course even though they say they will their schedules get changed around a lot. So to independent and to be free to leave when I wanted in the morning I ran the last 8km of my 55.5km day on my own.
As it turned out the resort was closed and I ended up camping out there in a straw roofed bar by the sea shelter. A caretaker came in late. I could see the light in his camper but just stayed where I was. For dinner I had oatmeal, biscuits and mint tea.
I didn’t have much left for breakfast just a couple of black mushy 3 day old bananas and a few biscuits. 14km up the road I remembered I had a few cereal bars bought in Wal-marts, California stashed in Nirvanas day bag. Just as I was pulling them out Omar and Hector pulled up. What timing as there was about 4km of steep hills ahead!
I threw Nirvana in the back and ran on. We came to a military checkpoint and were waved through. By now I was really hungry. Then I noticed a shack at the side of the checkpoint that sold refreshments. I went over and bought the Cokes and had a pot noodle. I couldn’t believe it a shop at a checkpoint.
On we went, about another 5 or 6 km to El Rosario. The lads said arrangements were made for me to stay in the police station. Hold on i said and pulled out Tourism Secretary, Ramon’s card.
How could I forget a name like Sinali, I had thought it he had said Sinai. The Secretary was phoned, the arrangements were made for me to stay in the desert frontier town’s motel.
The first stage of this is 123km towards Catavina. I stocked on supp up for this 3 day run. Have also been told I am getting an escort for at least the first 40km. Quiet roads ahead