about (m I had no choice really.
On a long term van tour of Mexico I was headed back north to cross into Baja and in Sonora, someone hit my van at high speed on the driver's side and flipped me and crushed everything. Including the van. My 2 dogs (Brady 13, and River from Veracruz 2) were thrown clear somehow and were found the next day by a farmer in the desert. Minor cuts only, they were fine. I survived. Some bangs and bruises. We were all a little traumatized. I've put a lot of miles on in the last years and not even a curb clip. But these long desert highways, even in sunny noon time daylight can be super dangerous even if you're standing still. The old lady who hit me going who knows how fast did not have insurance, (Or brakes) which is common especially in poor areas. Make sure you're covered with MX insurance if you drive here. *Just a side note: My US Geico paid nothing.
I was taken to an odd little town on the Sea of Cortez where houses are built out of pallet wood crates and there are no services. A tall handsome guy in a fedora had a concrete cabana near the sea and he let me rent it for some inflated gringo price but still. He was very kind. Many people helped me collect my things off the highway, and lots of guys crawled inside the van looking for my passport, phone, wallet and other things that had been tossed around. I had been on the road for a long time though and was super organized, It was pretty easy to find everything even through broken glass and upside down. I'm grateful.
I needed a landing pad. The beach casita of the handsome stranger in the fedora would suffice. Basic but a bed, a table and chairs, a fridge, a stove. No hot water but it's not necessary as the summer heat heats the pipes so much you could burn your hands from tap. Winter is a different story. I'm used to cold showers now. I could smell the salt and view the sun scorched desert that leads into the sea. Rugged mountains to the east and Isla Tiburon in the distance. There are a couple of tiendas that sell sodas and odd chile lime neon colored chips. A couple taco stands if you can find them and figure out their very irregular hours. Fresh markets aren't here, sadly. There are no cafes, pizza, tortas, NADA. But I didn't come here by choice. More notably, there are HUNDREDS of abandoned, feral dogs on the streets. Mexico is known for its dizzying array of beach/street/roof dogs but this was more than I've seen ever in 25 years of travel here. And these dogs seemed really needy. Unlike beach dogs in tourist towns who swim in the Caribe and get steak scraps from good restaurants. This was next level. I got to work bathing and feeding and pulling ticks while I waited for Mexican insurance to tell me next steps.
Starving, with ticks the size of grapes hanging off their ears, walking on three legs, covered in mange, lots of eye infections. Despite all of this, these dogs were incredibly friendly and happy to have some WATER and company and of course food and care. There was a big front porch at the casita and shade is also at a premium here. Every single one of them stayed on the porch for a couple months. We all walked the beach together in a huge pack daily. No one walks dogs or treats them as family here. They think I'm a unicorn.
The verdict from the insurance was that my car was totaled and I could sell it off for parts but since it was a 2004 Toyota, it would cost more to put it back together than just pay me off. I got a second opinion from a body shop and decided to take parts money and $4000 and decide later. You can buy a car here "not legally" as a foreigner and hope you don't leave the state or go back to US the buy a car there and import it back here or wait for your residency which changes monthly with rules and back up from C ov id...so I just walk everywhere. Most cars in this town are scrapped and don't have tags or windshields or roofs sometimes. I'd rather have a bike and a cart to be honest...I'm not eager to get back on the road and my dog Brady won't even get INSIDE a car now. I've driven the entire country twice and honestly, I feel I've been dropped here on my head (literally) so I'd stay put and help these animals. So here we are. I moved to a more central house that felt more secure with folks around and a big tall fence for the dogs. It's not as breezy or beachy of course but again, priorities. I can walk to the pharmacy and the tienda and people know I exist here. Rustic and cool are fun for a weekend in Mexico but as a single female and someone whos dragging 40lb bags of kibble every few days, being closer in was key.
I had sold my farm and home in 2019 and couldn't quite find any place that felt like home in the US from Florida to OK to AZ to TX to GA and back. Looking to downsize and nothing fit. So I just kept driving. Almost to Guatemala. More on the hacienda and my restaurants in ATL here from my past lives if you're new to my story.
And for years of blog posts all the back to 2009 and the homestead, farm and hacienda and mid life unraveling micheleniesen.blogspot.com