TDL and I have a habit of changing our plans at the last minute. If we have something planned (a trip, grad school, moving…) and it suddenly doesn’t feel right, we will drop it at a moment’s notice and go on to whatever is bigger and better (to us, at the moment). So I guess it was no surprise to anyone when a planned weekend trip to Silver City, NM turned into us grabbing our passports and heading for la frontera.
I am not sure how I first heard of Hotel La Posada del Rio (probably in my favorite periodical, Edible Baja), but I am so glad I did. It was the impetus behind our last-minute plan change and staying there really made our weekend special. You see, I am a bit of a hotel/inn/B&B junkie and will gladly go to an unknown destination just for a good hotel. Usually (and La Posada was a perfect example of this) this leads to getting to explore “off the beaten track” type neighborhoods/cities and meeting great people.
This trip started on Friday, as soon as I could drag TDL out of work. We showed up at the stunning Hacienda Corona de Guevavi in Nogales, AZ right before sunset. (Our destination was Mexico, but we stayed in the border town of Nogales to get out of town as soon as possible while avoiding driving in Mexico at night.) Hacienda Corona is a stunning, sprawling ranch that is unlike any other inn I have stayed at. (Here’s my Tripadvisor review) We checked in and immediately ran outside to grab sunset photos.
To save a bit of dinero, and to maximize time at the hotel, we brought some portabellos and some tasty sausages to grill, so after a delightful happy hour chatting with some other guests (who had come to Nogales all the way from PA just to get custom-made cowboy boots!), we grilled up our dinner by the pool.
The next day, after a tasty breakfast, we packed up and headed south. This was our first time driving into Mexico, and I would be lying if I said we weren’t a little apprehensive. I had purchased Mexican car insurance before leaving (call your insurance company, and they can transfer you to the company they recommend), but that was the extent of my preparation. Darrin, the owner of La Posada del Rio, had assured me in an email that our biggest concern was potholes. I called him before we left that morning to get a better feel for the directions (stupidly, we forgot our GPS), and he gave me all sorts of fun stops we could make along the way. The Mariposa border crossing in Nogales was easy and quick, as was the stop to get our visas once we were out of Nogales. A seven day visa was free. Our first stop was Imuris, for roadside carne asada tacos. You can choose any roadside stand you’d like; we decided on the La Familia stand and were very, very pleased. (Forgive me for my horrible picture, I was trying to be covert.)
Our bellies full, we traveled to Magdalena de Kino, where we wandered around the idyllic plaza principle.
We got back in the car and headed to Cucurpe, our next stop. Or so we thought. Thankfully, after peacefully driving 20 minutes, TDL started to question if we were headed in the right direction. He stopped and asked- no, we needed to turn around. Then ensued an ordeal that involved going through (and paying) the same toll three times, asking for directions no less than ten times, and more than an hour (maybe two?) of our day. FINALLY, shaken up but grateful for the kindness and assistance of so many strangers, we found the small side street that led to Cucurpe and, eventually, Banámichi. Here, the road really started to get potholed, but the scenery was amazing.
I started to have panic attacks after driving for awhile without seeing signs or any indication that we were headed the right way. The road is so empty and desolate, and I hate being in a car anyway, so panic was pretty inevitable. I kept it pretty much together though, and was relieved to see Cucurpe.
We decided not to stop to check out the petroglyphs and old mission in Cucurpe because we were worried about running out of daylight after getting lost. After Cucurpe, the road gets even more potholed, winding, and desolate as you pass over several mountain ranges.
The panic attacks continued as I admired the scenery and tried not to lose my shit. At one point we considered pulling over the only other vehicle on the road to ask if we were going the right way. We decided not to, TDL reassuring me we still had enough gas and daylight left to turn around if we didn’t soon see evidence we were heading toward Banámichi.
(So as to avoid making this the longest blog post ever, I will continue this in another post. Stay tuned to see if we ever make it to Banámichi…)
(Hint: We do. And it is fabulous)