Now that we have been in Mexico for over a week, it’s time for a little observe and report on the area, particularly the peculiar things that we’ve seen and done in our time thus far. As with pretty much any travel that one does not only within the US, but especially outside the US, there are always those moments that are strange, comical, awkward, or downright true to form for the place you are visiting. While these moments happen all over the world, and most likely in nearly every country, they are moments that are particularly fitting for not only Mexico, but Baja, and then Todos Santos.
While I doubt I have as many Baja moments as our friends Mike and Penny do, since they’ve been spending much more time here than Matt and I, we’ve already had our fair share of them where we laughed, raised our eyebrows, or had to chalk it up to being in another country. Here are some of those moments…
-Only in Baja are you not only walking down a dirt road, but are you likely to get passed by much more than a car or truck. You may get passed up by a foreigner driving her four-wheeler, dressed in a tank-top, skirt and huge sunglasses, all the while holding a yoga mat strapped across her lap as she flies past you, kicking up the dust. You might also get passed by a group of locals riding horses and leading cows or donkeys that had gone astray and had to be reined in again.
-All in the same moment, you have both feelings of fear and exhilaration at tossing your toilet paper into the toilet. You cross your fingers, hoping it will be flushed down Mexico’s tiny pipe system, as you have been disobedient in putting the used paper in the small garbage can next to the toilet. According to some locals, there is a special place in the afterlife reserved for the creators of Mexico’s plumbing system, and I can’t imagine it’s a good place to be.
-When faced with ordering drinks in a restaurant, it’s actually cheaper or at least the same economical choice to order water or its normally more expensive counterparts, such as lemonade, soft drinks or even a beer. The water served is bottled water and therefore more expensive than tap water, which is what we’re used to ordering for free in the US. Tap water is certainly free (I think, but I still haven’t risked ordering it), but still comes at a cost when you later find yourself frequenting the bathroom all too often, again faced with the decision to risk a successful flush of paper or an embarrassing retaliation of the pipes.
-There is little need for hot water, let alone a hot water heater. Sometimes the water that comes out of the cold spigot is even warm because the pipes are exposed to the sun. It’s a little scary when both spigots have the same temperature, and you’re asking yourself, “Which is the cold water?” Cold showers are preferred, as many as possible throughout the day to stay cool, and you can still find yourself sweating it out in the shade with a breeze blowing through. Bottom line: it’s hot, hot, hot. And sometimes even the cold water isn’t enough to find reprieve.
-All in one day, you hear the local gossip about a drunk local driving his car into a fence at 5:30am, thinking he was arriving at the pharmacy that was a good ten miles away, a 75 year old woman leaving her husband for life on a boat and her transportation of choice being a Harley Davidson, and a story about a local cowboy trying to lasso a donkey on the side of the highway.
These are just a taste of Baja so far, and I imagine we’ve only just begun to experience life in Todos Santos. One major difference in feeling in general in Mexico versus the US is that of lawlessness. Not lawlessness in the sense of crime being rampant and government being corrupt (though that might be present in other parts of the US or Mexico, we haven’t experienced it, so no comment on that), but lawlessness in the sense of more freedom. The other day we rode in the back of a pickup truck owned by an Australian guy that gave us a ride to the local market about a mile down the road. It was the first time I’d ever been in the back of a pickup truck, and as we bumped along the dirt road, holding on to the sides and bracing our butts for the impact, I have to say I felt a little thrill knowing it couldn’t be done in the US. I can see why a lot of Californians might enjoy this part of Mexico, because it’s beautiful, safe, cheaper than CA, and has a feeling of greater freedom. The day we were leaving San Diego, the news was listing off all the new laws that had been passed in California, like 18 years old being the minimum age to use a tanning bed, and it just felt a bit oppressive.
I won’t go too far on government, laws and such, as I don’t have experience in anything like that, but have only observed these differences thus far. We are still having a wonderful time here in Mexico and have enjoyed what it has to offer, no matter how odd it may be. Who knows what else we’ll see over the next week and a half…