written by michelle
Day 7-9 (9/11-9/13): Phoenix, AZ- Bahia de Kino, Mexico (450 miles)
Well, we made it to Mexico! At first, it was pretty anti climatic. Not knowing what to expect, I was both anxious and excited. We followed the signs on the highway “Int’ll Border Crossing.” We had all of our documents ready- passport, driver’s license, motorcycle title/ registration, and Mexican motorcycle insurance. Just prior to crossing the border, it already felt like Mexico- the bright colors, the fun music, and the hustle and bustle of the streets. Eventually, we saw the cones lined up leading us to the crossing. One-by-one a patroller called up each individual car. We were up next, Evan went one way and I went another. We were each asked where we were headed and to open one of our bags. The patrollers took a quick peak and away we went. They didn’t check our passports or anything! Just a couple hundred feet later, we saw the large “Bienvenidos a Mexico” sign.
We pulled off to snap a quick photo, then followed Evan’s pre downloaded maps on his phone to our destination- Bahia de Kino.
Upon seeing the first speed limit sign, we were reminded the speed limits are posted in km/hr. Although we tried to remember the conversions, we quickly realized speed limits do not matter. People drive the speed they feel like driving and if you are going too slow, they will pass regardless of road conditions or visibility. We were about 15 miles into Mexico on the highway when we saw a sign (in Spanish) that instructed tourists to exit to get their proper documents. We made the necessary stop to take care of our tourist and motorcycle permits (they checked all our documents, but never did stamp our passports). We were hopeful it would be a quick stop, so we didn’t take off any of our motorcycle gear. In the second of four lines, we ended up stripping off our gear, as we were sweltering hot. About an hour later, we were on or way.
We arrived in Bahia de Kino just before dusk. We ran to the beach to get in a quick rinse before dinner. The beach was gorgeous and shrimp tacos delicious!
We spent the next two days in Bahia de Kino (with no motorcycle riding): swimming, walking up and down the shore, working out in the park, etc. We picked up ingredients to make beach lunches at the grocery store- and never spent more than $3 on our meals!
Bahia de Kino was a super chill, non-touristy town. Locals were busy living their everyday lives, so the beaches were empty. There was evidence of abandoned homes from past hurricanes. The water was warm like bathwater and the beaches were filled with large seashells in perfect condition. The town lacked proper trash disposal, so unfortunately there was a lot of trash scattered throughout the town and on the beaches.
Although we love eating at the local hot spots, we also value mixing it up with cooking our own meals. Not only does it help with keeping our budget in check (although we can typically eat out for a few dollars each), it also helps us eat well balanced meals and we truly enjoy cooking. We have been pleasantly surprised how easy it is to cook delicious meals with only one pot!
The next morning, we were scheduled to head out and work our way south to Mexico City. We had a flight booked from Costa Rica to make it back to Chicago at the end of October for my sister’s wedding. As we looked at the map, we worried this would force us to rush the trip way more than we had wanted. We want to be able to enjoy the little towns, take detours, and stay an extra night or two in the places we really enjoyed. We aren’t on this trip to rush. We would rather not make it to the end and enjoy the journey than rush the journey just to make it to the bottom. So, we ended up deciding to change our plans. We changed our flight to my sister’s wedding to depart from Mexico City instead of Costa Rica. This will allow us to explore Baja, take a Spanish emersion course, and travel as we please. It will also not rush us through Central America! Whew- that feels good! The only negative to changing the plans is we will not make our scheduled 4 night sailboat cruise from Panama to Columbia. This means we need to figure out another plan how to proceed to South America. Only time will tell on that one.
Day 10 (9/14): Bahia de Kino- Playa Santo Tomas (175 miles)
With extra time on our hands, we headed back up north in the morning towards Baja California. We took a really cool dirt road that had numerous washouts with very sandy detours. We passed through a couple Seri Villages. The Seris are and indigenous group in Mexico that have stayed true to their culture. The two Seri Villages in Sonora, Mexico are Puenta Cheuca and El Desemboque. Since we t0ok a dirt road that was off the beaten path, they don’t get much traffic thru their villages. Both villages seemed to be poverty stricken. We seemed very out of place as we drove through. The locals were very friendly- many were exiting their homes and waving to us as we passed by.
We had our first special forces checkpoint. Mexico has routine military checkpoints, but this one was different. This was set up in a temporary location and the employees were working undercover. We saw men standing in the road with flashlights directing us to stop. Initially we were a bit unsure if we should be scared or not. Upon stopping, they asked us to remove our gas tank lids and checked inside our gas tanks with a flashlight. They then told us we were good to go.
Night was fast approaching, so we began to look for a place to set up camp. After a couple failed attempts, we found a dirt road that had plentiful camping opportunities. We made it just in time before dark.
Day 11 (9/15): Santo Tomas- Puerto Penasco (70 miles)
We had a short ride to Puerto Penasco. We wanted to spend the night here to get our bikes checked out by a motorcycles shop that got good reviews online: Bikes On the Beach. The owner was very familiar with DR 650’s and was super helpful. He replaced my horn, adjusted both of our valve clearances, put on new break pads for both bikes, corrected my suspension and handlebars, fixed a vacuum leak on our carbs, and made some adjustments to Evan’s carburetor to fix his issues with poor gas mileage. All for $160!
The route (more or less):