At one point along our drive, after hours of detours due to road construction work, I said "Maybe we should turn back." I meant it. My rationale was that I'd rather backtrack on the crappy highway we knew than continue to creep the remaining hours over humps and bumps, along shoulderless roads with slow traffic to a place we didn't know. We'd never been to San Carlos before. John kept driving southward.
My culture shock was apparent to me. The contrast between wealth and poverty in the towns along the way made my eyes bulge and my breathing tense. Mansions and modern-looking businesses in the midst of minimally kempt and roughly put-together homes. Huge piles of dirt or gravel on the edges of roadways, even in the middle of towns. Of course the dried grasses, saguaro cactus, and parched earth of the Sonora desert added to a sense of desperation. Our time in Mexico decades earlier had not had the same culture-shock effect. But I was younger and more flexible back then! Years had made me more comfortable with the known.
All the warnings from Canadian and American family and friends, upon learning we wished to snowbird in Mexico, came rushing back to me. "Be careful." All indications were that North Americans perceived Mexico as a dangerous place. It didn't matter about all the mass shootings of innocents in the U.S. The Mexican intra-drug-world murders and kidnappings seemed much scarier to them.
Long ago I learned to register a warning of any type, then to try to understand it in its context. Mainstream news media have a way of making the little seem large in our minds, especially if a story triggers fear. Decades earlier, when we traveled in Mexico, we learned that many of the people we encountered believed America to be a most violence-loving society. What could we be without all those good old news reports?
I had my own concerns weighing heavily on my mind. Would John and I be able to maintain the plant-based, whole foods shift we'd made from meat and dairy consumption months earlier? Everyone with experience eating out in Mexico said "good luck" when I wondered if we'd find enough food free of animal parts to sustain us.
And of course there was the water issue. How sick could we get from consuming bad bacteria-laden water?
Would we be able to keep our dogs safe? How much unsavory debris would we have to make sure Charlie and Gingee avoided? How bad would the flea and tick problems be? Would they be stolen and sold?
After the friendly and gracious greetings from the Totonaka staff and other campers, we settled into our sweet little RV site. We safely fed and walked the dogs, made dinner with and took showers in clean water. As night approached, I found myself glad that we had not turned around and aborted our Mexico travels. The second half of Hwy 15 had not been as bad as the first half. And Totonaka, though a little rough around the edges, was pleasant and just happened to be filled with other British-Columbian license-plated RVs.
That first night, I slept peacefully even though in the middle of the night, Mexican music blanketed the park like a thick fog. Normally, I hated being awakened by noise at night. But there was genuinely something soothing about the thump thump thump of the music. When I'd had enough listening to it, I drifted back into a deep sleep.
A rough video of a rough drive from
Nogales, Arizona to
San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico.