When your plane leaves SFO at 6:30 AM, it means driving your car and stashing it in long term parking at the airport- a real drag. That’s because our first Marin Airporter leaves San Rafael at 5:00 AM, and arrival just before 6 is not enough time these days. So waking up at 3:30 AM began the travel day!

When I spoke to the young woman who arranged for my tickets, she. Said it would be very simple to get from my arrival in San Diego to my flight leaving from Tijuana Airport. Nothing to it, you just cross a pedestrian bridge. It sound almost too simple. It was. I was due to arrive in San Diego at 8:02 and my flight on Volaris left at 10:25. Lots of time.

First no luggage could go straight through. That should have been my first clue. It turns out there is a pedestrian bridge, but the US side is 19 miles from the San Diego Airport. Public transit can get you there in almost 2 hours, oops! A cab can get you there for $45. But it could take an hour to cross the bridge and go through customs. The woman at the Information booth (bless her volunteer heart) asked whether I ever used Uber. I said I did and she said she had a friend who drives for Uber and is an American originally from Mexico. She called him and we made a deal for him to take me directly to the Tijuana Airport for $75.

Are you getting the picture?

Lots of road traffic later Enrique dropped me off and I was checked in at Volaris Airlines. Timing was perfect if you like walking quickly to the gate furthest away from the ticket counter, one of my favorite forms of exercise while traveling. The plane was loading as I got to the gate for my 2+ hour trip to Los Mochis the spot where we will begin our train trip.

Los Mochis is a regional center, lots of agriculture and much traffic on the paved roads, so my taxi took the back roads – yikes… For a moment I thought it might be the final ride – but there were other vehicles… And lots of dust and a fair number of pot holes. My driver joked and said the other way had mucho traffico… Would we get to the city, maybe…

The fields were vast, corn or what is called maize here, tomatoes, and chilis I was told. We drove for about 15 minutes on these farm roads and eventually got to a paved 4 lane road and added civilization including its of familiar names in the shopping centers,

Above is the Walmart Shopping Plaza complete with Starbucks and Office Depot. The Santa Anita Hotel was still about 15 minutes away in what looks like the “old Town”, a nice building in a sea of underused commercial buildings. But it had my room and it does have a restaurant.

We were to meet at 6:30 PM for welcome and info. I went right to bed as soon as I had a bite to eat. The small group turns out to be really small. There are three of us and our guide, Carlos, an anthropologist and two women from the company that put the trip together – they will both NOT be traveling with us!

We must have our luggage and our bodies in the lobby tomorrow morning at 5:15 because the train leaves at 6:00 AM.

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On the planet in California

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