Over the winter holidays we were lucky to host our two daughters, Carson and Peyton, and son-in-law, Matt, in San Carlos. We enjoyed our first Feliz Navidad in Mexico and tried our best to show them sights surrounding our new home. Among the activities doting event calendar was an ATV ride through Adan’s Off Road Tours. Several friends spoke highly of the 3-hour tour recalling their own northbound drive through the center of town, past the soaring peaks of Tetakawi and navigating through the tiny fishing village of La Manga. We had heard the convoy into the desert took participants to the base of the mountains and along the beautiful sea coast. This was going to be fun with the jovial Adan as our guide.
Before departure on this excursion we donned helmets, settled onto our respective vehicles and received a few pointers. It was then that I noticed the promotional signage stressing that participants should, “Unleach Spirit of Adventure”. Aaaaah, Mexico! Where things are often lost in translation. My first experience with this took place while visiting Oaxaca several years ago with my sister where I ordered a light dinner. My salad arrived complete with small, roasted grashoppers sprinkled on top like croutons. This was due to this slight hiccup in my misunderstanding the Spanish word chapuines. One word can make a difference in written communication. In San Carlos there are many including the ever flashing sign on the usually empty Gringo Pete’s Condominiums touting rentals by the “Day, Weak or Month”. Interesting spellings abound on just about every restaurant menu in town. But enough about misspellings…with throttles engaged and engines roaring we headed toward the unknown.
First stop, a visit to the movie set of the 1970s film Catch-22. The movie is a saterical look at the life of a World War II bomber frustrated by the world around him. The movie was based off of Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel of the same title. What looked like bombed out rubble for the movie set in 1969 still looks just like rubble today. Impressive? So what does one do in the paradoxical situation of a specified stop to look at deteriorating structures? Take family photos of course.
Further into the ride we took in the beauty of the mountains. Zooming through the dust we found ourselves stopped at the wire gate of a cattle ranch near the base of the mountains. There a local rancher gladly opened the gate to let us pass. Three semi friendly dogs scampered along as we gunned the engines toward two water storage pilas that provide water for La Manga. The pilas are filled from the waterfall oasis high on the mountainside. Dismounting our ATVs we climbed up the mountain until we reached a palm tree lined area where the wind whistled through the fronds imitating sounds of rushing water. We searched but were unable to find the true water source so we made our way down and back to the waiting vehicles for more excitement.
Heading out toward the beaches we noted the course became increasingly narrow and tumultuous. It was at that point Peyton’s ATV bounced into a rut exactly the size of her left front tire bringing our dusty caravan to a full on halt. Matt was able to prove himself the perfect brother-in-law by pushing her four wheeler out of the trench. Following this heroic effort we hurtled toward the sea landing near Cactus Island. There we took in the exquisiteness of the rocky coast and snapped a quick family photo to document our trip.
Knowing the sun would soon set rapidly decreasing the desert temperature it was time to turn our AVTs southward. Back through the pathways we steered taking moments to view the panoramic scenery and splash through occasional mud puddles left behind from the morning rain. We raced through La Manga carefully avoiding the daring, yappy Mexican puppies nipping at our tires. We then jostled along the dirt road toward the pavement of San Carlos.
Turning back onto the road of civilization we slid past Tetakawi, through the Bahia Sector and survived the 7 way intersection commonly known as “confusion corner”. Our posse maneuvered through traffic on the main boulevard ending our encounter at Adan’s shop where we posed for a final photo with our fabulous tour guide.
Glancing up at the sign I thought did we “Unleach Spirit of Adventure”? Considering the word leach is defined as remove, unleach must imply to add. So did we add to our lives a little spirit of adventure during our 3-hour ATV tour? The answer is a resounding, yes.
January 5, 2020
“Where the road ends, the fun begins.”– unknown