Merced County Times Newspaper
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Memories Of Mexico Over Past 20 Years

From Ship to Shore: A Column by John Derby

John Derby Headshot
Times Publisher John Derby

In 20 years, one accumulates so many vivid memories of trips taken to Mexico, starting with the most amazing trip of all, sailing out the Golden Gate to a land hundreds of miles away, and not knowing what kind of challenges we would have out to sea.

Our original intention was to sail around the world, but after 32 days at sea we ended up in a bay called Bahia Conception, and fell in love with it and its people. We have returned every year since.

Now we do not sail down the coast, but drive a pickup truck full of supplies to last us the winter. It is not that there are no stores where we live, but they are very small and selective. In order to find what you want, you will have to stop at three or four stores, and maybe even come back if they are all out.

This was the case with romaine lettuce which could not be found. Three days later, one store had three heads of romaine lettuce and one went home with us.

The drive down this year was filled with memories because we purposely stopped at places where we had good memories from having stopped in the past 20 years. A longtime favorite was Celito Linda near the town of San Quintin which served the special crab claws in butter and paprika. The taste was excellent and the crowd of gringos looked like the same faces we had seen the last time we were there many years ago. They were now actually restoring the old hotel which was reputed to be one of John Wayne’s favorites.

Taco soup at the hotel in Catavina was still on the menu at a very modest price and tasty as ever. The Don Gus hotel had not changed in the town of Guerrero Negro. There was even the speed trap outside of town with the local cop trying to add to his income by working the road while off duty.

The last time he caught us, he wanted $100, but we only gave him $10.

The rotisserie chicken at El Rosario was good as ever, served along with mashed potatoes and gravy, but nothing surpassed the special dip they served with the chips. We always thought it was made with squid but were told it was not. We never did find out what it was made of.

Rolling south to Mulege we picked up fresh vegetables, and other supplies. It would be the last town of any size before arriving at our beach home. Drinkable water would top our list of supplies needed to make it through the first few days.

We were the only ones in the small restaurant at Posada Conception, and lucky they were open because the cooks only arrived a week before us. All the other regular restaurants were open for business and waiting for us after a long dry summer.

Movie night was held at PePees on Monday and it was an excellent first run movie we had never seen. The hamburger we had for dinner could have come from any fine American restaurant.

Tuesday, a fresh fish vendor stopped at our door selling huge shrimp and bass. We took a kilo of both, but this would be too much, and half had to be frozen. We had the shrimp for lunch and the fresh bass was scheduled for Friday night. What a life.

Thursday night we were at JC’s and diving into a plate full of oysters “Rockefeller” — a special of the place since the owner grows his own oysters. He had as entertainment the Mulege Mayor, one of the finest guitar players in the area.

We danced until our joints were sore, and then tucked ourselves into bed for the next day of memories.

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