On the way to Culiacan, there are 2 police barricades but they are on the opposite side of the highway. The roads are in great shape, especially remembering how they were 25 years ago in Baja California.
The most distressing, violent thing around is the continuing mega-farms growing corn, sugar cane, and what I believe now to be peppers.
There is only one steeper hill and this has a slow lane for trucks like mine. Buses continue their crazy radical roaring past cars, trucks and animals, swaying and spewing, but keeping upright!
Arriving in Culiacan, it appears to be a large city similar to all the other cities I've been in. People are on the streets, vendors selling from little carts or little buildings with big patios and lots of red and white plastic arm chairs.
The park is full of people, children, playing structures, and parties. Most of the stores are closed.
I see a battery place open – it’s Sunday – so I stop and buy distilled water for 1/3 the price I was charged in Los Mochis, or overcharged I should say. Here I buy 10 bottles for 50 pesos, still a lot, but in Los Mochis I bought 2 for 28 pesos.
I am able to speak Spanish with the vendedor – and he understands me! I fill up my two batteries on one side of my truck – the 2 I didn’t fill at Las Glorias, although tomorrow, I will probably fill the rest again.
Not a good sign, to have to keep putting water in the batteries…
Then I find a Caffenio, after finding a Star Bucks and asking where their competition is at! A few blocks away of course.
I speak my halting Spanish with the young womyn there, who keep giggling as we speak. We have a long conversation – they are kind and patient enough to speak slowly with me – and I think they are laughing at my halting Spanish but when I go to the bathroom, I see I have a huge black grease mark down my nose! So much for making an impression!
Scoping out a couple of places to park in this very crowded city, it is after 2pm when I realize I am not going to find a good place to park with good internet access in Culiacan, which is the only reason for me to stay in the city.
The young womyn at Caffenio tell me theirs is the most peaceful of the 6 Caffenio locations – and it borders the 4 lane highway – you know, the ones without a shoulder. The others are in the middle of the city bordered by lots of businesses, cars, trucks and no empty space.
But where I parked at this one, there is evidence on the ground of at least two car windows smashed. My first thought parking was I couldn’t park there for long, certainly not overnite!
So I decide to head to the beach and take my chances – with the internet that is, and getting there before dark & in time to find a good park. I read about Ceuta Beach right next to La Cruz about 100 kilometers from Mazatlan, where I have to be in 10 days.
Now I have to decide libre o cuota, free or toll way. I drove the supposed “free” way from Guasave to Culiacan but ended up paying $33 pesos just before entering the city. Maybe they mean ‘free-er “ than the other road.
It is almost 3:30pm by the time I hit the road. All the people I have met and talked with in Culiacan have been like all the other people I have met here – gentle, helpful, kind, going out of their way to understand me. Similar, but much softer, to New Yorkers.
I decide to take the cuota road, as it appears to be much shorter and I assume what I pay in pesos I’ll make up for in time and saved mileage.
So you can imagine my shock when they charge me $167 pesos or close to $14.00. wow! I have also filled up my diesel, just in case, which set me back $900 pesos or almost $80. Oy vey.