Our New Life
In 2006, during the same trip on which I proposed to Sheena, we visited the Greek island of Santorini. We had heard that the most amazing sunset in the world could be seen from the town of Oia, high on the edge of the caldera of the island’s blown out volcanic center. We made our way to Oia one evening and took our place on the cliff’s edge. As the sun plunged slowly into the sea, we kept waiting for the sky to ignite in the most beautiful sunset we’d ever seen. It never happened, and the sunset from Oia went down in history as the 128th best sunset I’d ever seen.
A couple of days ago when we finally left Arizona, we reached the Mexican border at Sonoyta just as the sun reached the horizon. We crossed over, and a few minutes later the sky exploded into flames like a cheap polyester suit, creating a rainbow of color that filled the sky. There’s really nothing like a desert sunset, and hardly a better visual display to welcome us into our new vagabonding life.
In crossing the border so late in the day, we violated our first self-imposed rule of Mexican travel: no driving after dark. Given the delays in our trip thus far, and the relative safety of the road to Puerto Penasco, we decided that it was okay just this once. Don’t get me wrong, when I say “safety” I’m not talking about banditos and narcotraficantes with guns. I’m talking about cows. As soon as the sun goes down, the country’s livestock takes to the roads.
Sheena napped in the passenger seat, and when she awoke at the outskirts of Puerto Penasco, she was wielding some fierce hunger-induced anger; a term we’ve come to call “hanger”. We stopped at the first sign of a street side taco stand for fear that she would get any hangrier.
If there were to be an embodiment of heaven on Earth, it would be the Mexican taco stand. The one we found was fronted by a piece of plywood with the words Tacos al Pastor spray painted on it. We sat in the ubiquitous plastic lawn furniture that graces every taco stand in Mexico, and ordered several tacos and quesadillas. From a rotating spit of meat and pineapple and the well practiced hands of the taco guru, our dinner was crafted; fresh flour tortillas filled with roasted pork, cilantro, onions, and fresh guacamole, a plate of limes and grilled and salted green onions, an assortment of salsas, and bowls of radishes and cucumbers. We washed it down with a bottle of sangria flavored soda called Topo Chico, paid our $10 bill, and were on our way. The Mexican taco stand. Pretty much the best thing ever.
Puerto Penasco, or “Rocky Point” to Americans, is a small resort town at the northern end of the Sea of Cortez. As the closest bit of ocean to Arizona, it is quite popular with the college crowd during Spring Break. January isn’t a hopping time of year here, as evidenced by beachfront resorts all along the water front with empty parking lots. We drove Nacho northward past all of the resorts along Bahia de la Cholla until the road turned to dirt. We continued on until we came to Puerto Penasco’s northern outpost; a small bar and restaurant called Wrecked at the Reef. For $5 per night we could camp on the beach in peace, a good distance from the concrete resort jungle.
Reaching the Sea filled us with an overwhelming sense of joy, and we’ve been riding a wave of endorphins ever since. When we arrived, I went down to the water’s edge and sat for a while. This is your new life. No matter how often I remind myself, I still can’t believe that we’re doing this. We opted to simplify our lives to save money, and our lives got so much better. Now we’re on this adventure and our lives have gotten magnitudes better. Can it get any better than this? I guess time will tell.
Yesterday I put on the snorkeling gear and headed out with the spear gun to see if I could catch us dinner. My visualizations of being an underwater fish-dominating Rambo went unrealized, as I only spotted a couple of small fish hanging out by the reef. Next time you dirty rats, next time. This morning before leaving Puerto Penasco for Baja’s Pacific coast, Sheena headed out on the paddleboard. After scooting around Bahia de la Cholla, her streak of never having fallen off the thing remains intact.
As I write this, the sound of crashing waves fills Nacho’s interior. In the morning we’ll wake up without aid of an alarm clock when the sun warms our little home. We’ll roll out of bed to the sight of enormous waves crashing on the Baja coast. We’ll sip our coffee and eat breakfast outdoors before going snorkeling. Or fishing. Or surfing. This is your new life. Holy shit, this is our new life.
Epic border crossing photo! Stolen moment =)
Glad you made it to Puerto Peñasco. My fam lives in Phoenix and that is a great place when it is empty. It only gets better. I love your blog and that you have contacted Pat and Ali. Hope you get to meet up with the Bumfuzzles. You two are my favorite blogs. Safe journey!
Comment by jeffrey carter on January 7, 2012 at 6:34 am
Loved reading about your first day/night!
Comment by Elmira on January 7, 2012 at 6:36 am
Jeffrey, Wish we could have stayed in PP for a little longer, but had to get moving to meet up with some friends on the Pacific. We’ve been in contact and will be meeting up with Pat & Ali once we catch up with them. Looking forward to it!
Comment by Brad on January 7, 2012 at 6:40 am
Wow, your first 24hrs gave me chills! Congrats, sending excellent VW vibes your way!
Comment by Jon on January 7, 2012 at 7:54 am
On our recent trip through Baja we violated the ‘no night driving’ rule, time after time, declaring, ‘that’s the last time we do that,’ after every violation. Here’s a link to some photos from that trip https://picasaweb.google.com/miguelspacheco/Baja2011
Comment by Miguel Pacheco on January 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm
In the immortal words of Borat, “wowaweewow!” Awesome start to the trip and that beachside campsite looks amazing! There are few better ways to get a fesh perspective on life than waking up on the ocean. We’re currently working/traveling through Chiapas and can totally relate to your attitude; “wow… This is life!”
Comment by Tor on January 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm
Rambo fishing! They make it look so easy on tv.
Comment by Jamison on January 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm
Good Morning you two. Awesome!! Your blog is so perfect. I feel more at peace just seeing you both so at peace and your new adventure!!! Dedication and determination you both set out for this new exciting adventure will touch all of our hearts in so many ways. Geo of course is doing well. He lets me know when he wants water out of the bathroom sink. Actually first time I was brushing my teeth, he jumps up on the counter and I finally remember that is the way he drinks his water. Of course he didn’t care that I actually got toothpaste on the top of his head. Shelly is being really good girl. She will come over to me when I am stilling down and will circle herself on my lap and rubs up against me and sits down and I am able to give her a kiss on top of her head like her Mom does. She coming around. Got more mail for you guys. Luv you both Mom
Comment by Barb Wieber on January 7, 2012 at 4:33 pm
Never fallen off the paddle board…that’s because she’s riding waves in AZ just wait until the Pacific Ocean. We will all want to see pictures of the moment, so have your camera ready. What about some video of your trip? The taco pictures look yummy, but some quality video of the chef would of been choice!
Cheers and Safe Travels,
Comment by Tony Stahl on January 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm
Love it! You guys are really living the dream!! Great sunset photo! I agree, ya can’t beat a desert sunset! :)
Comment by Nikki on January 7, 2012 at 5:36 pm
Congrats on the crossing! we are so envious and hopefully not too far behind you. We are enjoying Las Vegas and Southern California a bit longer before we head into Mexico. Hope to catch up with you soon.
Wendy & Jim
Comment by Wendy Pearson on January 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm
And so it begins… Fantastico! Of course you have your fishing license, but just remember not to take any shellfish, as that’s illegal for any foreign national. They are quite serious about it. Also, I see you have a tripod. You should mess around with some lightpainting with Nacho. The third photo would have been a good candidate. Just take a flashlight (maglight, 2 million candle power, etc..) and literally paint you subject with the light. You’ll get some killer results without having to use a flash, and after however many years you are out there, you’ll be pros at it and have a crazy amazing portfolio. And with digital, it’s easy to see if you need more or less light; just paint less or more, or stand closer or further away. Put it into action, and you won’t be disappointed! Safe travels!
Comment by Todd on January 7, 2012 at 6:58 pm
Comment by Patti A-La on January 7, 2012 at 10:29 pm
Here’s to your new life!!!
Comment by Charmon on January 7, 2012 at 11:03 pm
I Love you both. You are an inspiration to myself and others. I can’t wait to read every word! And even though it had been years since I had seen you last, it felt like no time had passed and now I miss you like you had been there the whole time! Sheena, way to rock the board!!
Comment by leah on January 8, 2012 at 4:37 am
Dear Brad and Sheena,
As I look at your wonderful pictures and great thoughts as you travel from place to place, this thought comes to mind; Yesterdays dreams, become today’s adventures, which become memories, the building blocks of life. LOL. Grammie
Comment by Grammie on January 8, 2012 at 5:25 am
Brings tears of joy to my eyes. Love you guys.
Comment by Coreen on January 8, 2012 at 5:44 am
Sigh! You know those postcards that say “Wish You Were Here?” Boy I wish I were! So does this mean Brad has given up the title of “Esquire?”! LOL–Sheena will get that one.
Comment by Holly Cain on January 10, 2012 at 3:20 am
Tears of joy have reached my eyes in your regard. Thank you.
Comment by Will LaFleur on January 10, 2012 at 7:36 am
Very jealous! I’m so happy for both of you, keep posting!
Comment by michal on January 10, 2012 at 10:42 pm
You two are off on an amazing adventure , safe travels wherever you go. MY wife and I have traveled to Mexico a few times and all over the USA and Canada in our 1987 Westy Prudence and we understand the joy of waking up in your van on a beach. It doesn’t get any better . If you are any where close to La Manzanilla on the Pacific coast of Mexico stop for a bit it’s a great place and I’m sure you will find a few other Westy’s there.
Jerry and Sofie
Comment by Jerry on January 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm
Love seeing the world through your eyes, Brad. Thank you for sharing your epic adventure!
Comment by Coreen on February 1, 2012 at 4:03 am
Great entry. Loved the enthusiasm, the optimism it exudes. I am reading in chronological order and it’ll be interesting to see how your outlook on everything progresses through the months (and years).
Comment by Kenneth on June 27, 2012 at 12:27 pm
[…] the day that we crossed the Mexican border at the very onset of our around the world drive, I spoke of sunsets. On that day, and perhaps it […]
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