Saturday, May 6, 2017

Getting to San Vicente... C'mon Along!

(sing along) Over the Mountains and Thru the Plateaus...
Getting to San Vicente

Hello, all!

We wanted to write a bit about our [crazy] monthly 4-hour trip to our San Vicente Ministry Center.

San Vicente (also Misión San Vicente Ferrer) is a farming village in Baja Norte, Mexico, 125 miles south of the USA-Mex border. A delegation of the Ensenada Municipality, there are about 4,000 inhabitants, with another 1000 people in the surrounding ejidos (farming divisions) and farming companies. San Vicente is nestled at the northern edge of the ‘San Quintin Valley’, one of Mexico’s biggest farming areas. Situated 50 miles south of Ensenada and 50 miles north of San Quintin, it sits right on the ‘Mexico 1’, also called the Baja Trans-peninsular highway, which starts at Tijuana (TJ) and ends in Los Cabos, which is the southern tip of the Baja peninsula.

For us, SV being on the highway is a huge plus. It means that we are able to travel on relatively stable roads that the Mexican government keeps up, since the ‘Mex 1’ is the commerce artery between TJ and the south. Note the ‘relatively stable’... rock slides, hillsides sliding into the ocean and heavily-driven roads that require on-going construction have meant some pretty wild driving. You see, when the government does road construction, they just divert you through an open field...

We’ve been working consistently in San Vicente for 11 years. Chris did a couple of weeks training Community Health Workers back in 1998 and in 2002 there, but a permanent, on-going ministry started in 2006. Our vehicles have been properly beaten up by Baja driving.

So, why does a 120-mile trip take 4-hours? Well, the Mex 1 crawls through three major Mexican cities (no expressway by-pass), and we have to go up-and-over four major mountain passes to get to San Vicente.

Our trip has ‘stages’:
<>through Mexican border customs, then through Tijuana to the ‘Mex 1’. On a good day, it’s just road-rally speed driving and dodging potholes. On a bad day, we get diverted through central TJ...
<>we pass by (or through, depending on the divert) Rosarito, a pay booth and onto the gorgeous coastal Mex 1 ‘cuota’. Right now, the road is intact, but since the south end of this section literally goes over the San Andreas fault line, it gets torn up real easy. For about 2 years, we had to divert through the desert, because a significant stretch fell into the ocean in 2014, and additional 35 miles/1 hour to the trip then. Either way, this involves going through an ear-popping mountain pass (#1)...

<>then through Ensenada, Mexico, a beautiful port city on the Pacific. Traffic can be snarled, but we get through, buy supplies and aim south on the ‘Mex 1’. By the way, the stop-offs for groceries are not counted in the trip time here... [confession time: our favorite taco stops are along the way here, and we usually grab a tasty and inexpensive lunch...]
<>then it’s the torturous drive through Maneadero, the city with the highest traffic accident numbers in Baja. Roads in severe dis-repair, aggressive drivers, numerous trucks and local vehicles that belch smoke as they try and get up to 15 miles an hour... torturous...
<>we break out of Maneadero, up and through the second mountain pass (#2), then down into the Santo Tomas valley. Numerous wineries in view of our drive...
<>then the really high mountain pass (#3), ears popping as we crawl up, weave around, crawl down, pin-turn after pin-turn and finally onto the plateau. This is white-knucle driving, with so many trucks trying to push through, and other trucks barely making 15 miles an hour on the climbs...
<>the plateau is weave-weave around some minor mountain peaks, and drivers are constantly trying to pass and make up time...
<>final, moderate-height mountain range (#4), and then... there it is! San Vicente comes into view, at the lip of the Valley.

San Vicente sits on a valley-plateau, about 16 Km inland from the Pacific coast, with a minor mountain range between it and the ocean to the west. There is a significant mountain range to the east, with peaks going into the 7,500-feet level. It’s basic climate is chaparral desert, but does get some coastal breezes in the evenings.

The fastest we have ever made the trip was 3 hours and 25 minutes. The longest was... wait for it... 8 hours and 15 minutes.

We arrive, un-load into the ministry center, and get our bearings. Drink lot’s of Oral Rehydration, the shift to desert dryness with altitude always hits us when we arrive.

The trip back requires the same route and amount of time... replay!

SO, thanks for listening to our travel-log... blessings!


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