South by West- camping from Alaska to Nicaragua

Travel time: January 2003 - January 2008  |  by Jerry Bazant

4- San Carlos

San Carlos Marina; Gringo Gulch; CEO trucker; Ultimate RV camper; Snoberia; Where are US flags; Shoping Soriana; Small McDonalds; Beware of Mexico;
------------------------------------------------------------- 

Our original goal before we undertook this journey was to go sailing in the Sea of Cortez. However trailering a 26' sailboat some 5 000 km into a foreign country that speaks a different language is not a simple matter. We had some information, read magazines, searched Internet, talked to people but didn't find anybody who actually made a trip like that.
Eventually we decided to put a camper on our truck and drive south to find out how difficult it would be and if we really would like to do it. The nearest place in Mexico with a marina where we could launch our boat was San Carlos in Sonora, our next destination....

...San Carlos Bay with Tetas de Cabra mountain behind...

...San Carlos Bay with Tetas de Cabra mountain behind...

Approaching the town we saw huge billboards in English advertising Real estate. The four lane road was lined with palm trees, their trunks painted white. There was no garbage in sight. The houses along the road and in town were expensive. San Carlos is nestled along a long bay, steep hills, and small harbor. The sea shore is lined up for miles with hotels, gated developments, Club Med and other tourist traps. San Carlos is  very nice town but completely American. Mexicans call it "Gringo Gulch.
The San Carlos Marina is big and modern with slips for a few hundred boats. It has a launching ramp and crane, exactly what we need to get our sailboat in the water. But trailering the sailboat down here would come next year, now it is time to go camping in Mexico....

...launching boat in San Carlos Marina...

...launching boat in San Carlos Marina...

We stayed in the Totonaka campground on the outskirts of San Carlos. It was almost empty and we found a nice shaded site [When we came back in March, it was packed with RV's]. Shortly after our arrival came a huge 5th wheel camper. The driver looked like a retired CEO impersonating a truck driver. He was trying to back up the trailer into 20' wide angled campsite and his wife was directing him with hand signals and a radio. CEO was maneuvering the camper back and forth but the damn thing would not fit! They pretended this was normal trucking and I wondered about their communication. Did she call him honey or was she using truckers language ?

Finally he made it. Down came the leveling jacks to keep the rig level, wheels were wedged and blocked, side walls popped out, water and power hooked up, satellite dish pointed and they disappeared inside to watch a favorite soap opera or football. The CEO [pardon me the truck driver] spent the next day giving a haircut to their poodle.

...earthquakes knocked down few tits off the "Goat Tits" mountain and it looks different than what Spaniards saw...

...earthquakes knocked down few tits off the "Goat Tits" mountain and it looks different than what Spaniards saw...

They should have gone to the Mirador RV Campground. This was the "Newest RV campground in San Carlos with the most modern, American style facilities"  claimed the flier at Km 21. It looked like a Wal-Mart parking lot, you could park an eighteen wheeler, but each site was a drive thru, perfect for the CEO. Facilities included a swimming pool, store, bar, restaurant, rec room, internet, laundry and beautiful view of the seashore.

Its hydro outlet could power the "ultimate RV" with a fridge, freezer, A/C, stove, hot water, toaster, dish washer, microwave,  washing machine, air compressor,  satellite dish, DVD, TV, laptop, outside lights and more- even a bathtub. Everything you have in the house would be in this "ultimate RV", you were camping in style!

When a caravan of these monsters comes to an ordinary Mexican campground and hook up to the hydro, they suck out the power and voltage drops. Then lights start to dim, TVs flicker, A/C doesn't hum and caravantistas are roughing it out.
 

...Soriana Supermercado beats Wal-Mart Supercentre hands down...

...Soriana Supermercado beats Wal-Mart Supercentre hands down...

The road went past the "American Style" campground up to Mirador- View point high on the hill overlooking shore. The view was magnificent. Blue ocean, islands, rocky shore, bays, and a mountain that the Spanish explorers called [because of its shape] "Tetas de Cabra - The Goat Tits". We even saw whales blowing off in the distance.

Just before the view point was a big sign, advertising a new development. "THE MOST EXCLUSIVE ESTATES IN SAN CARLOS. AMERICAN HOUSES FOR MEXICAN PRICES". A very steep road went down to these most exclusive estates, behind a huge guardhouse, into a beautiful bay and man made harbor.  Gated, walled up and completely isolated from the Mexican world, this was Snoberica America.

Who wants to live in place like that, seeing only other super snobs, I was wondering?  Well, security was very imporatnt for people that got robbed, shot at, snipered, mugged, anthraxed and carjacked in their own country. It puzzled me that in San Carlos I hadn't seen any American car showing US flag or God Bless America bumper stickers. Only the license plate indicated that the car came North of the border. What happened to the patriots? Don't they drive outside the US? Or could it be that they leave their flags and bumper stickers behind and become tourists.  But why? I would like to ask some, but didn't have the guts, just a dumb Canadian with a Maple Leaf flying on the antenna.

 
Guyamas is a big port city half an hour drive from San Carlos and we went there for grocery shopping. It was an eye opener. Soriana Supermercado was better than supermarkets in Canada or Wal-Mart Supercentre. It was big, clean, with varieties of exotic pastry, fruits, cheeses and vegetables. Sales people wore face masks, plastic gloves and hair nets. The mall had many outlets and fast food joints. One looked familiar. It had small Golden Arches and a 4" sign that read McDonald's. Mexicans cut the giant to size.

...small McDonald's still sells Big Mac...

...small McDonald's still sells Big Mac...

When we were preparing for our trip, people thought we were crazy. "You could get killed or robbed. Mexicans are crazy drivers, you will have accident, highways are terrible [some are], you will get Montezuma revenge." or " They will steal your tires, go with a caravan, it is safer,..." advised us one "expert" that took an escorted caravan tour of Mexico. Well, thanks but no thanks, we are not joiners and like to go our own way in our time.

Nevertheless, we had some trepidations about coming to Mexico. Our fears were slowly peeling away and we could see Mexico in a different way, other than the two-week packaged tourist or escorted caravantista. Mexicans were very friendly and when I spoke to them even in broken Spanish they went out of their way to help us. We knew we were going to enjoy camping in Mexico.

© Jerry Bazant, 2009
You are here : Overview The Americas Mexico 4- San Carlos
The trip
 
Description:
This journey in our pick up truck camper took us West from Ontario to British Columbia and Alaska, then South to Nicaragua. Later we trailered a sailboat and cruised the coast of BC, Alaska and Sea of Cortez in Mexico.
Details:
Start of journey: January 2003
Duration: 5 years
End of journey: January 2008
Travelled countries: United States
Mexico
Guatemala
Belize
The Author
 
Jerry Bazant is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 12 years.
Picture of author