Our Next Trip South 2007
Spending some time in the state of Sonora Mexico
All in all our stay in Kino was very pleasant. From there we went back to Hermosillo and south on the toll road again to San Carlos, which is just north of Guyamas.
Driving a motorhome in Mexico is a little different from driving the freeways in the US. A little about the Toll Roads. They first and foremost are not Freeways as we from the west coast of the US understand them. Sometimes they are two-lane, sometimes four-lane. Sometimes the lanes are not divided and sometimes they have a center divider. From kilometer to kilometer they can change as the road is continually being worked on. Small intersecting roads can cross them at any time and they go through many, many little towns with lots of topes (speed bumps) and pedestrian crossings. Sometimes what appears to be a tope will just be a white line painted across the highway - it works though. Everyone slows down. The topes can be several strips of asphalt a couple of inches wide and high or what looks like half buried cannon balls or when they are really serious a three to four inch high two foot wide strip of asphalt with grooves in it. When we see the trucks and busses slow way down we know to almost stop before crossing.
From Nogales to Hermosillo is the oldest part of the highway and in the worst shape.
In places you will be sharing the road with tractors, cattle grazing on the shoulder and of course many busses and trucks. Although not as many as 29 years ago. The trucks tend to take the free road. Along the shoulder of the road there might be cattle or horses grazing. Some are being herded by cowboys others have just escaped. Did I mention topes!
McDonalds signs pop up out in the fields in the middle of no where. Just a sign saying McDonalds - not where it is or anything else about it. Lots of Pemex stations, some with and some without diesel. So far the check points we have encountered have been a pass through without stopping. However if you happen to be a truck going North prepare for long waits at inspection points. At one such check we saw trucks backed up for four kilometers - two deep waiting to go through. Mostly the Autopista skirts the center of the bigger cities which makes it easier on The Driver. Except when the co-pilot misses a turn!
As we continued south the road as a whole seemed to be improving. More sections are completely finished and a lot of it was very new. In fact so new we ended up a section that wasn’t supposed to be open for travel yet. The newer sections are very good, no steep grades or sharp curves, just gentle climbing up and down the mountains. A far cry from our last trip. What is now the Libre (free) road is the old road we took. This time the climb over the mountains into Tepic was no problem at all. The autopistas are very well marked for directions and turnoffs; some have emergency phones and water every so many kilometers.
The road between Hermosillo and Mazatlan is very expensive. We are charged as an autobus (motorhome) and auto (the jeep.) That particular section was over US$90 total for 286 miles. The traffic is lighter on the toll road then on the free road as the majority of trucks and some busses opt for the free road. How ever that doesn’t mean you can just relax and drive. There are times the shoulder just drops off and times when it is only two-lane when you might find a vehicle trying to pass coming at you in your lane. But the improvement from ’78 is dramatic.
Gasoline is more expensive here but diesel is quite a bit cheaper. But our miles per gallon have gone down in both vehicles. Bill continues to put additives in the cars tank. We passed through a couple of inspection points but were waved right through. The only time we were inspected was a the border and it was very quick, all he did was walk in and look around then left.
San Carlos is a small town built right along the Sea of Cortez just north of Guyamas. We stayed at Totonaka RV Park right across from the beach. However at that particular spot the beach left much to be desired and the neat looking restaurant overlooking the water was closed. The spaces are back-in but big with plenty of room to maneuver. Full hookups, patios, 30amp outlets and Wi-fi (no charge.) Also a book exchange. Further into town are a couple of marinas and lots and lots of big modern homes on the cliffs built and lived in by Gringos. We found a grocery store where we purchased produce and bread then went looking for a panaderia but only found a small one. We stayed in San Carlos a couple of days. One day we took the jeep and drove into Guyamas to check out the road south. Glad we did it, don’t want to drive the motorhome through there. We will back track a little and pick up the toll road again just north of the San Carlos turn off. What a difference between Guyamas and San Carlos. Most of San Carlos is new and “gringoized”. Guyamas is still old Mexico. Fishing is its main business and it seems the tourists haven’t discovered it yet. Streets are narrow and busy. Cars, trucks, busses, bicycles and people going every which way. Kids at each stop light trying to wash your windshield or selling cold drinks or candy. Saw in passing a McDonalds with an “Auto Mac” drive through. From San Carlos we got back on the autopista and drove to Navojoa for the night only 132 miles.
Navojoa is a very old town. And I think the campground we stayed in is almost as old as the town. It was easy to find, just as we came into the town but….Luckily the guidebook said there would be construction equipment parked in the front section of the place or we would have missed it. We drove in and wound our way past all the equipment and building supplies around a used to be baño and saw the parking pads ahead under huge eucalyptus trees that were planted front and back of the spaces. They had not been trimmed for years. We stopped and looked around and finally saw one where the trees weren’t quite so droopy and we would fit. Bill and Jeff got out to hook up the utilities. They came back inside laughing. We wouldn’t even try the water or sewer and the electricity was like someone had thrown spaghetti into a wooden box nailed to a post. The actual electrical outlet was exposed to the elements. Did manage to very carefully hook up to the 15amp outlet. At least it ran the lights. The place has or had the potential to be a very nice park but it has gone to ruin. And it’s the only place in town. We stopped here because we wanted to visit the old section of town and to visit Alamos another old colonial town up the highway a bit. Found out later Alamos has a couple of decent campgrounds… We took the jeep to Alamos where we ate lunch and spent a couple of hours exploring the town. Well worth the trip. Wonderful old church and buildings surrounding the main square. Old adobe buildings and old homes that have been restored by the Gringos living there. Back in Navojoa we went to the old part of town and found a church built in the 1700s the beams inside are hand hewn mesquite beams, the wall were three feet thick and the floor worn down by years of feet. Also found a couple of young boys in gazebo weaving bracelets. They made it look so easy. A very interesting place to visit.