Charlie got to my place shortly after 5am. We loaded up his truck and headed South. With bits of traffic in the spots where you’d expect it, we made it to Calexico just before Noon. McDonald’s was our rendezvous point and we partook of their fine cuisine. Mark was running just behind us, coming from Phoenix, so we went to Pep Boys to get some octane booster to mix with the Pemex gas in Mexico and picked up some Mexican auto insurance. By that time Mark had arrived. While Mark ate and got gas, for his Jeep – not from his lunch, Charlie and I picked up some ice for the coolers.

It wasn’t much of a wait to get across the border into Mexicali and we were soon following the signs to San Felipe. Just a word of warning, the signage isn’t often clear and is sometimes flat wrong. At one point there was a San Felipe sign pointing to the right that we foolishly followed. After a minute or two of heading West, we figured it had to be wrong and flipped a u-turn and quickly got back on track. Charlie had his portable GPS…nice to have a modern day bread crumb trail to make sure you can find your way home. We decided to stay on the main road heading South regardless of what the signs told us to do. This worked good for us ‘til we got to the road construction which routed us back West for a little ways. We got to the first place to make a u-turn to get us back on track. The oncoming traffic was turning left in front of us. Unsure of what the driving rules, we decided to rely on the policia parked across the street who motioned to us to make the turn. Seconds later we had another police car trying to pull us over. Charlie, in his best Spanish and Sign Language, told them “Policia waved us through” while making u-turn motions with hands. Surprisingly this worked and the police sped off to hassle some other Gringos. Though we escaped the Mexicali Blues, this would not be our last run-in with the policia on this trip.

We were happy to be on the open road and away from town. The speed limits were painfully slow, between 40-80kph. With our earlier near miss, we initially tried to keep our speeds down, but they gradually creeped up as we headed South. It would have been nice scenery if it weren’t for all the trash, broken glass, tires, and upside down rusted cars along the road.

Our original plan was to camp on the beach the whole trip, but since the daylight hours were fading as we rolled into San Felipe, we opted for getting a motel room. El Capitan ended up being our casa for the first two nights. Though in retrospect, we probably should have just camped on the beach. The room was decent, a small place to crash, shower, drink, talk, and avoid the policia. We unpacked some of the stuff from the truck and had a couple Coronas that I had brought along for a starter before hitting the streets of San Felipe.

The main drag, Malecon, is along the beach, one block over from our motel. Even though it was a Thursday night, we were a bit surprised at just how dead the town was. We walked a few blocks to the end of the strip. Deciding it was time for a shot of tequila, we went into Rice & Beans and ordered our shot. Being that I have studied tequila more than Charlie or Mark, I asked (okay insisted) that I get to choose the tequila. After a moment’s disappointment that they didn’t have Patron, we opted for a nice shot of Don Julio. The guy was really nice and told us to come back for breakfast in the morning. We asked how late they served breakfast. He said Noon, but he’d make us breakfast later if we wanted.

We figured it was a good idea to get some food in us before we got too serious about drinking and started walking back down the strip. Tony’s Restaurant had caught my eye on the way up. We went to the open air upstairs seating over looking the street and ocean. We scored our first tacos (fish for me, asada for Mark and Charlie) and some Pacificos. I had many fish tacos on this trip, but I liked Tony’s the best. The atmosphere and service were also the best we had.

After dinner, we explored the town further – one road over. We stopped at La Ponderosa (aka Margarite Ville) and had a bucket of Pacificos while sitting at an outside table. The bartender was a young guy and spent most of his time talking to us. We asked him if things picked up on the weekend, which he assured us they did and recommended Christy’s across the street.

Christy’s Piano Bar definitely seemed to be the only place in town that night with any activity, though there was no piano to be found. We had a pretty fun time drinking there and talking to the locals. Charlie did his best to teach the bartender to make a lemon drop shooter, which ended up being a lime drop shooter. It was pretty bad. The vodka that came out of the Absolut bottle surely wasn’t, and I didn’t much care for granules of azucar. One of the local girls thought it was macho, though I felt it a bit too foofoo for my taste and stuck with Pacificos the rest of the night.

We headed back to our room. Mark seemed happy to find out that I had brought some Captain Morgan Private Stock with me. Mark had brought some snacks for us. I have to admit that I was a bit surprised by his choice of green-filled Shrek Twinkies. Though after hearing he had Sponge Bob cereal for breakfast, maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. Mind you, Mark is 35 years old with no kids. I figured if he imported them from Phoenix, I would at least try one, probably my first Twinkie in a decade, and it was pretty much as bad as I remembered. We then proceeded, for I’m not sure how many hours, to talk politics and philosophize as only one can do after so much alcohol. I’m not sure how many of the world’s problems we solved before decided to go for a walk around town. Before we left we had a discussion about whether we could carry alcohol with us on this walkabout. I’m not quite sure how, but Charlie and Mark had come to the conclusion that it was only glass that was illegal, but in a cup it would be okay. I was personally thinking that at 2am, you could probably do whatever you want. MAN, were we wrong!!

I’d say we got about 12 steps from our motel before we were stopped by the policia. Mark had a plastic cup with about an ounce of rum in it. After a bit of discussion and trying to convince them of our logic, they told us that it was illegal on this side of the street, though across the street on the beach side was okay. It quickly became apparent that they just wanted some money to leave us alone, though they didn’t say it for a long time. They said that we had to follow him to the police station and if Mark’s alcohol level was high (duh!), he’d have to stay the night in jail and pay the fine. If it was low, then he could pay the fine and go. Trying to start hinting, we asked how much the fine was and they said ‘probably like $100’ (dollars, not pesos). Shortly after they said we could give them the money and there would be no trouble. Mark said he only had $21 in his wallet, which was actually true because he hadn’t been to an ATM yet. They immediately dropped down to $50…and then to $40. All along, I thought they were just going to take his $21 and were just trying to see if he had more. It was about that time their methods of negotiation got more serious as one of them took their handcuffs off his belt. At that point, not wanting to risk seeing Mark go to jail for the night, I slapped another $20 onto his $21 and they were happy with that. They tried to give Mark his rum back and said he could drink it where ever he wanted. Mark refused to take the cup back, for fear of entrapment. After several attempts, I was more worried they were going to fine us for littering or something and took the cup and walked across the street and threw it in the trash. Now alcohol-free, we did walk around town a little bit before calling it a night.

El Capitan

The beach in San Felipe

Margarite Ville

Rockodile at Night

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

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