Sunday, October 28, 2012

Return to Mexico Day 05 - Oct 15 Nogales, MX

This morning I awoke to the bow-wowing of Mike's neighbor's hound and try as I might I couldn't get back to sleep. It was nearly  6:00 O'clock anyway and time for me to roll out so up I got. Mike and Lou were still zoned out so I did my best to tippy-toe around without making too much racket and soon I'd done the hosing off routine and was packed up. I wanted to say goodbye and thank them for their wonderful hospitality but figured they'd appreciate it more if I didn't disturb them. I’ll catch up with them later.

Today I'd ride south to the border crossing at Nogales. This would be a repeat of how I entered the country last spring so even the GPS routes were set up making this a no-brainer. Well, for me at least, apparently Garmin is still dealing with too steep a learning curve. One thing I learned long ago, if the GPS tells you to go somewhere suspicious sounding - like ride way the hell out of the way for instance - it pays real dividends to pull over and restart the process. Today the beast wanted me to travel via SAN DIEGO in order to reach Nogales, MX! Ha ha Garmin, that's real funny. The way I cured things was to change the destination to Nogales, AZ which apparently Garmin can find without too much difficulty.

I stopped for breakfast at the International House of Pancakes just outside of Nogales. After the oatmeal deal I spent some time getting the bike ready for the crossing, filled the gas, washed a ton of bugs off my visor, swapped the GPS software out for the Mexican maps version, moved my passport to the tank bag where it was easy to reach and generally got things organized. The border cops like it when you're ready.

The border crossing went smooth as could be, both the American border guards and their Mexican counterparts seem to find it amusing when an old geezer rides up on a bug-splattered Ninja. They waved me right through and I soon found myself banging away in heavy crazy Mexican traffic with all the worker bees. 

The high point was when a Mexican bike cop pulled along side of me and struck up a conversation about the Ninja and where did I live and yadda yadda yadda to the point I became worried about either getting lost or crashing. His English was fair but I'm half deaf so I begged off by saying my ear plugs were working overtime and if we were to carry on we'd have to pull off the road. He grinned, said "ride safe!" and went on about his official biz. Last I saw of him he was blipping his siren and flashing his lights at some poor local in a truck. I love traffic like this, nice and light, well organized...never make eye contact.

When clear of town I rode south and eventually arrived at the same place where I'd acquired the temporary vehicle import permit, around 20 miles or so. I asked the first official looking guy if this was also the place where you did the "returno" process and he pointed at the building and said "Si, eet's that one amigo." So, being familiar with this particular understaffed place I got in line behind two Mexicans and waited for over half an hour while an extremely confused Mexican guy worked his way through whatever the hell he needed and I finally got my turn. The gal in the booth took one look at my docs and said "I'm so sorry but you need to take this across the street, that's where they do this work." Nice. Gracias senora… 

So off I went, first to have my passport stamped thereby exporting myself out of the country and then rode over to have the bike done. The trick in any of these places is to find out which one is the correct one for your requirements; otherwise you get to enjoy the grand tour of officialdom ala Mexican style.

Once finished however, it was all nice and pat and I set out for the ride back to the Motherland. The final encounter with Mexican officialdom occurred a few miles up the road where the Ninja-suited Federalis were out in force stopping travelers going in both directions and doing their vehicle searches in earnest. I bumped along at walking speed and they all nodded and of course smiled at me and waved me through. In a way that ticks me off a little, it's as though they automatically assume I'm harmless and incapable of doing wrong. Maybe I need to work on my appearance a bit...

A few miles up the highway I came to a toll road option that said it went to the good old USA border crossing and at four bucks I opted for it. Negotiating downtown Nogales is not my idea of a fun time and who knows, maybe the lonely biker cop would be waiting for more conversation? 

I pulled off to the side of the toll road for a view of the Nogales Burbs. They may seem a little rough around the edges but when you consider the weather is mostly warm you wouldn't need much.

Finally arrived back at the border where crossing was relatively easy although the US border guard really wanted to talk bikes which probably pissed off the poor guys waiting behind me. We waded through his own experience with the requisite Harley which he no longer owns and nowadays lusts for a Kawasaki "Just like yours." This has happened before so I don't mind chatting it up with them; it is after all a lot better than having your bags searched.

The next stop came shortly after his station where the drug doggies completely ignored me and another polite grinning guard waved me through. Lots of grinning going on there; why exactly I'm totally uncertain of but at least they all seemed friendly enough. Maybe I remind them of their grandfathers? Which brings up the question of did their grandfathers all ride Ninjas?

Anyway that was that, it’s a done deal for El Nino goes back to Mexico. We were soon on the road banging along at 75-85 mph in sunny southern AZ. I headed north along the same general track I'd taken in the morning, rode through the Pinal highway forest preserve something-or-other and after a few hours of that I decided to pull the plug for the day.

I love these big guys

This is the road north out of the Pinal preserve place. Fantastic scenery lasts for miles and it's a great ride on a bike. Traffic is nearly non-existent and there no end of stuff to look at. Plenty of rest stop ops too.  

Last spring I'd stayed in a really clean but cheap motel - The Grand Vista in Coolidge, AZ - and I headed their way. The room is as before, clean, working air conditioner, complete kitchen with a fridge that makes a constant rattling noise, and most of the linen is without holes. I like this place and at forty bucks it's a home run. Plus Coolidge is home to some nice little family run restaurants that serve great food. Like cottage cheese with sliced tomatoes and burger patties. Yum. Low carbs.

Tomorrow I'll head north again, probably just back-track along the same route I took to get here but I know it will be interesting as everything will have a new view. Sort of like looking out the back window of a bus or car. Presuming you're not the one driving, eh?


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