Our journey through Mexico was eventful every step of the way, and today's story is just proof of that. This story starts in the evening on the day before we almost got hit by a train and lost everything in the Sonora Desert. We were just outside Rocky Point, skirting the coast going south. According to Google maps, the coast was right by us but all we could see was sand on either side. The air wreaked of the sea but it was no where to be seen. It was dark and John was exhausted after the days events having spent the day driving through the desert of Mexico.
We decided to pull off, just off the side of the road. He drove the truck to a spot seemingly close to the sea on the map and stopped there, parking the truck on a flat area. When we got out and looked at the ground with the flashlight, I noticed the sparkling ground. Looking around further we started to see ridges of earth, with square shaped patches of land covered in these tiny little crystals. After relieving himself nearby, Rebel joined us and noticed the ground himself. Like any dog, his idea was to lick the ground. His response to lick up more confirmed what we both thought, we were on a salt flat.
There appeared to be some small buildings nearby but there were absolutely no lights anywhere nearby, save for an occasional car on the somewhat distant road. The air was rich with the smell of the sea and the ground underneath the salt was moist, sure signs the ocean was nearby. I had never seen the sea before this, so seeing the ocean was hot on my list of things to do, especially considering how we decided to travel along the coast to Acapulco. I find it ironic that I've never seen an American coast. The closest I got was seeing the Gulf of Mexico once while in Florida, which isn't technically the ocean. In an attempt to find the shore, John started walking away at a quick pace away from the road.
Rebel and I went running after him, with Rebel yipping with anxiety. For a wolf dog, he can be a wussy on some things, like the fact that he's afraid of the dark. I had a super bright flashlight called the big larry light turned on the low setting with my hand covering half of it. We didn't want to be super lit up as we could see headlights off in the far distance, and we weren't interested in attracting any attention in the supposedly cartel rich area that is the state of Sonora. We needed a light as the whole area was pitch black dark, a type of darkness I've not quite experienced before.
We wandered on, me voicing my worries of losing the truck as we got farther and farther away. John continued on with confidence, citing he had a good idea of where exactly the truck was. Knowing his sense of direction is a million times better than mine, I continued to follow him. The smell of the ocean grew stronger and we began to encounter petrified sea plants standing in the flats filled with salt. The ground grew much softer, only being really firm in the small burms that separated the flats. There got to be a point where the ground grew no softer though, as we kept walking only to never reach the water. I couldn't help but be struck by memories of watching movies of people trecking through the desert, swearing they could see and smell the water that was just an illusion. The difference was there was water here, just not nearly enough of it.
We continued on searching for water, to no avail. After awhile, we decided to turn back, and John navigated us back to the truck with ease. I got started with setting up our bed, which at that time was constructed out of our clothes in the bed of the truck. Within a few minutes, we were settled in our makeshift bed, falling asleep.
We woke up at daybreak. Looking out, it was incredibly flat and barren. By the daylight we confirmed for sure that we were indeed parked in the middle of an inactive salt flat. We probably would have been arrested for this in the states, but this is Mexico, anything goes so long as you aren't hurting someone. We weren't bothering anyone so no one bothered us, if they even noticed us at all. After letting Rebel go to the bathroom we wandered around a bit more. There seemed to be roads, firmer larger burms throughout the flats. The gps was telling us that we were very close to the ocean, and that we were indeed in salt flats.
After a bit of discussion and dabbing, we decided to try to find the ocean. John continued onto one of those dirt roads in between the flats. I assume these are service roads, as they were specially built and firm from having been driven on. He drove in the direction opposite of the road, straight for the water. According to the map, we were going to hit water in about 500 feet, 1000 at the very most.
We kept driving and our surroundings stayed the same. The salt flats started to look softer and like they contained more moisture but they never had any standing water. According to google, we were in the ocean and had been for awhile but there was no ocean. By the time we turned around, google maps was telling us we were a half mile off the coast in the ocean. The air was thick with the ocean smell but there was no water, no waves.
As I did through most of Mexico, I was controlling the phone with the map. At a certain point, eventually intending to write about this later on, I tried to place a pin on google maps of where I was to save it for later. Something I didn't consider was the fact that I had no data service and that we were using downloaded offline google maps to navigate. I was prompted with a login script, which blocked our future offline access to those maps until we logged on with wifi.
We were forced to drive back to Rocky Point, to that same coffee shop that we were at the day before. Due to the costly mistake of deleting our maps and forcing us to return to the town we were just in the day before, John was angry and we were fighting. This leads into the story of the train incident, in which we almost lost everything in our attempt to make up and come to an understanding.
This just goes to show the level of freedom you experience here in Mexico. Every night during our journey through the giant country that is Mexico, we just pulled off the side of the road and parked to camp. If the terrain permitted, we'd pull off further from the road, but sometimes we were right up on the road, or even in construction areas. We never once feared for our safety in these spontaneous camping excursions, as we never experienced anything negative out of our roadside camping. Anyone that questioned what we were doing quickly realized that we were camping and generally left us to it.
It was such an alien experience as it's illegal to be homeless or to even sleep in your car, in much of the United States at this point. I have many memories of having pulled over on the side of the road because I was tired to sleep and being harrassed by law enforcement for doing so. Yet there I was in the Sonora desert of Mexico, sleeping 6-8 hours on the side of the road like the whole country was a camp ground. It was almost like a welcome, to let us know we had arrived somewhere freer.