continued from 32 N 111 W
Once back in the truck, we headed south on I-19 through the town of Green Valley and eventually to Nogales. Once we crossed the border into Mexico, I thought I could feel the anxiety level move up a notch or two. When I realized it was just gas from the previous night’s dinner, I was relieved. Once in Nogales, we went to get Mexican auto insurance. I found the man’s office who sells the insurance to be quite charming. Well, as charming as a 5x6 room w/ no windows and only a typewriter can be. After finally getting change for my $20, we were on the road again… feeling secure in the purchase of car insurance from a man who can’t operate a typewriter. From the auto insurance, it was back on the road 20 KM to the temporary visa office. After making copies of every document known to man (Does it really matter if I got a B in English 101??) and waiting until the commercial of the Mexican soap opera the office clerk was watching, we had our visas.
Once again, we were back on the road. Route 15 in Sonora, Mexico is a fine road. 4-lanes, little traffic, smooth and as long as you don’t need a shoulder to pull off on, you’re set. Other than the randomly placed speed bumps (where children stand in the middle of the road and ask for spare change), it is much like traveling in the US. While on our way to the next confluence, we started getting hungry and needed some good, old fashioned Mexican food. In the small town of Imuris, we stopped and had what were the best tacos known to man. For $3 per person, we each got 4 carne asada tacos, cucumbers and a bottle of soda. As if that wasn’t a good enough deal, the bano (bathroom) actually has a working lock. When you go, tell the owner, Manuel, that Adam sent you.
From Imuris, we continued through Magdelena and Santa Ana and finally to the exit for Querobabi. We were getting close as just 8 short miles away was the confluence we were looking for. We drove on this road until the pavement ended and the small town of Querobabi began. We passed the wooden sheriff in the middle of the road and took a right onto the railroad access road.
While traveling on this road, we noticed it was getting narrower and narrower. After about a mile and a half of this road, it stopped. While looking for a place to turn around, I spotted a wider, better road just 10 short feet away… on the other side of the railroad tracks.
This is where the story gets good. You see, we overestimated the ride height of the Nissan when we attempted to cross the tracks. We soon came to our senses as in about 4 feet and 3 seconds later, we were high centered on the railroad tracks.
After getting out, assessing the situation and scratching our heads for several minutes, we decided to “rock” the truck off the rails. No luck. It was at this time that we saw an elderly man on a horse approaching us. When he came up to us, he had a puzzled look on his face almost as if to say that he had never seen 2 gringos high center a truck on the railroad tracks near Querobabi. Whatever… Aaron asked him his name and got a long, drawn-out sentence in which only the words “Frisbee” and “Romero” were understood. Apparently, Mr. Romero loves to play Frisbee. I also pieced together that Mr. Romero is the local comedian in Querobabi as he finished everything he said with a laugh. In broken Spanish, I asked Mr. Romero when the next train was due. In even more broken Spanish, I was told me “Manana a las uno (tomorrow at 1:00).” I neglected to take into account the fact that this man was sitting atop a horse and had probably never owned a watch or calendar. I was going to ask him for his email address, but figured he probably had dial up and is to busy to wait for the pictures to download. Finally, we jacked the truck up high enough to place wood, rocks and whatever else we could find underneath the front tires. With me standing on the rear bumper for added weight and stupidity, Aaron put the truck in reverse, dumped the clutch and we were off the railroad tracks. Whew…
After getting the truck stuck in some soft sand and finally out, we proceeded back up the narrow road we were on to the Querobabi, crossed the tracks at an actual crossing and went down the better, wider road. After about 3 miles of travel on this road, the arrow on the GPS pegged left and said we were 1.5 miles away from the confluence 30 degrees north by 111 west.. With no trail to go on, we proceeded like Lewis and Clark… for about 30 feet when we ran into the 1st of several barbed wire fences. After we crossed that first barbed wire fence, we only had 1.5 miles of mesquite, thorn bush, cow dung and barbed wire fence to go. Because we are male, we were particularly impressed with the “good time” we made. After about 20 minutes, we were there. We moved the GPS around until the coordinates all zeroed out, “high-fived” each other and thought we were set. Aaron took some pictures while I relieved myself on a nearby tree and then we returned to the truck as close to the same way as we could.
Eventually, we found the truck and took off. Windows down, stereo blaring, making huge amounts of dust, we were in heaven until…. Aaron nailed a small tree stump and blew out the front right tire. Lucky for us, Aaron had a spare tire… and a pump to put air in the spare. While we changed the tire, the train that doesn’t come until tomorrow at 1:00 came by. Mr. Romero was right on. We put the small “donut” tire on, threw the flat in the truck bed and proceeded on VERY SLOWLY.
Eventually, we reached a dirt road. That dirt road gave way to pavement and finally, we were on highway 15 again heading north towards the United States. While on the highway, everything went smoothly for about 6 miles. BANG!!! The right rear tire blew out with a force stronger than that of a fat man on a toilet after eating an entire can of refried beans. So, here we are. It’s 6:00 PM in Mexico and getting dark. We are 100+ miles from the border, there is no town in sight, we have a flat tire and our spare is already on the right front. Lucky for us the tire blew out about 200 feet from a used tire store… that was open. We pulled in and told the nice man working there "dos" when he asked if we needed a tire. The man, who was quite macho with his low cut shirt and gold chains, looked through his inventory of 7 tires and found two that would fit. Though we didn’t speak the same language, we were able to negotiate 2 bald tires and a rotation (Aaron was due anyhow) for $30. The man at the shop was apparently part of an apprenticeship as he had another, younger man do most of the work. Apparently the apprentice was rather new to the job as he looked at the lugnuts with a blank stare on his face. Eventually, "righty-tighty/lefty-loosey" returned to his mind and the lugnuts were off. Though he did good work, his speed was not that of a NASCAR pit-crew man. While waiting for our fresh rubber, a man in a truck stopped and started talking to me. He had a gold tooth and told me he was from Gueymas, Mexico and "Si tu tienes una esposa, no tienes dinero (if you have a wife, you don’t have money)." I’ll have to remember that.
Finally, we were on the road again. Because the new tires had absolutely no tread left, the hum they emitted was sweeter than the theme song to C.H.I.P.S. Once we got back to the US border, the INS people started asking questions. Apparently, there aren’t a lot of people who go to Querobabi for the day to do GPS. After explaining where Querobabi was, what GPS is and having our truck thoroughly searched, we were turned loose.
From there, it was back up to Phoenix. With no railroad hyjinx, blown tires or truck drivers sputtering out words of wisdom, I finally had time to gather my thoughts and go over the experiences that I had just had. Tacos, Tires and GPS… From today on, I will always get a chuckle whenever I think of any of them.
NOTE: We did not see any other signs of a visit in the area (where footprints are easily left). If the other visitor did visit the day before, he visited a different spot than we did and from a different approach.