Starting Monday morning: went over the house closing checklist thrice, then went and got a taxi to the airport since I couldn't get the freaking Uber app to scan my credit card. I hate it when clever programmers say something will work automatically and leave no manual override for focus when it inevitably does not.

Anyway, Volaris wasn't there in the morning, so after hanging around for a while in my uncomfortable mask I decided to go for a walk. Went about 4 miles to Walmart, where I bought a quart of yogurt, and walked back. On the way I stopped at the Cola de Ballena sculpture, which was of course closed off like everything else, but at least one of the benches hadn't been scavenged by the locals, so I sat down and drank most of the yogurt. I drank the rest on the way to the airport, because it was very hot and I was thirsty.

Volaris didn't get there until around 4PM, and since I didn't have a boarding pass (because my flight had been canceled by Volaris), I was put in a separate line and not seen until last. And at first the clerk refused to change my flight for that day's, but finally she saw that it had been canceled, (which I had already told her in the best Castilian accent I could muster), and handed me a boarding pass. I was good to go!

On landing in Tijuana, I was one of the first out of the plane, and since I didn't have any luggage I was possibly the first to leave the airport. I walked as usual through the Canyón de Zapata to the San Ysidro crossing. Didn't stop for tacos because they were restricted to take-out orders only and those are too messy to just sit down somewhere and eat. Finally I took the shortest route, taking a right just past the school and continuing down Via de Juventud Oriente. Also didn't find any licorerias open, and I asked at a farmacia but was told no, so I didn't score any pure alcohol to use as mouthwash, hand sanitizer, and camp stove fuel for the summer. Guess I'll have to make my own still.

There was a long line at the border crossing, and they were operating very slowly. They've got billions to spend on a new ugly wall, but not enough to put more people in booths to check in the travelers and commuters. There was one tall, pompous agent with a drug-sniffing dog walking around. The canine alerted to one poor woman whom the tall guy and another female agent humiliated in front of everybody else for several minutes, finally pulling something resembling a blunt out of her right rear pocket. I'm sure they sleep soundly at night after so bravely defending the United States of America from these terrorists.

There were, luckily, still some exchanges open after I got out, but no Grocery Outlet from where I had hoped to score some beer. Probably just as well. I got short-changed at caja 5 of Baja Mex by about USD3, because while the cashier counted my money as about $661 pesos she only typed it in as $601. It took me a while to notice this, and by then I was holding people up so I tried to say that, but either she didn't understand me or didn't believe me, so I just took the $27 and change and moved on. I was cursing her and myself for the next mile at least, but finally just laid the blame squarely on myself and cooled down before I reached the Beyer Boulevard trolley stop. I figured if I were so tired that I could let something like that slip, I was in much more danger than just losing 3 bucks, and that realization made me think it was a good deal if I survived the night.

When I got to America Plaza, I headed towards the airport. My legs were already tired and sore, but I had to walk to stay warm anyway so really had no choice. I didn't find a single car rental place along Harbor Drive nor in the airport, though I saw signs for a "Car Rental Shuttle". But then walking back, I saw lots of signs saying "Car Rental Center" and "Car Rental Return" with arrows pointing straight ahead down Harbor Drive. Finally there was one that said "Left at Laurel Street", and I thought great, I can remember that. But I never saw Laurel Street. I passed Grape, and Ash, then Broadway, and then the lettered streets like G and E, and finally I was all the way down at the entrance to the Gaslamp district. Tried to find my way back to America Plaza because Starbucks would be opening at 4 (I thought), but anyway I didn't find it and again, probably just as well, it would have just messed up my stomach.

Along that stretch I had seen a tourist map that I thought showed Laurel Street as being past the airport, farther down Harbor than I had just walked, and that triggered a whole new stream of curses for San Diego, the idiot that made all those signs just to confuse people, and tossed in a few random curses for good measure. But I was wrong again, and when I got almost back to where I had seen the "left on Laurel" sign, I shone my flashlight at the intersection—and there it was, Laurel Street. in another few minutes I saw offices of Avis, Enterprise, Hertz, and maybe another 10 or so. But they were all closed. A shuttle bus pulled up and I asked the driver what time they opened, and he said "Not until later, but if you take the escalator to the third floor, somebody at Avis will help you." So I did. Went up, used the restroom, found the guy back in the car dropoff area, who told me the 3rd floor office would open at 0600. So I waited a while, but was afraid I'd fall asleep and get thrown out like a bum, so went back to the airport, now open, and used their wifi for a bit. About 6:30 I got another shuttle back to the rental center, went to Enterprise instead, and he gave me a price of $70-something. That sounded great, because I had checked online earlier and their website had only offered me the top-of-the-line cars, at $500 and $350 per day, respectively. So I ended up driving out with a black Hyundai compact. Trying to keep from falling asleep after over 24 hours with no sleep, I was driving with the window down, screaming until I almost lost my voice, slapping my face and pinching a pressure point above my right knee. When I got to the rest stop inside Camp Pendleton I stopped and slept for about 3 hours. Then I continued north.

I had to keep up the slapping and pinching until I got close to Oakland, at which point the denser traffic and cityscape gave me an adrenalin rush. At some point I realized I wasn't going to avoid the bridge toll, which I had hoped to do by crossing over to the peninsula near San Jose, but by that time I figured I'd be grateful if I got home alive no matter the cost. I got lost in the City, after a confusing set of signs as to which way was the 101 to Golden Gate Bridge had me making a last-minute left turn when I should have followed the curve right. But finally I found Divisadero, drove to the top, and stopped and asked directions. Down the hill, take Lombard left. Got it. Did it. Made it back to P-town before my lady was done cooking dinner. She treated me to brisket over rice, and a fine bottle of red wine, which I lit into like there was no tomorrow. Some time later I blacked out, and woke up hours later out on the balcony, cold and alone. Went out to the car to sleep for a while, as it was warmer than the house. But lacking a pillow, my neck got sore, and I only got a little sleep that night too. I'll be better prepared tonight, even though I won't have the "Enterprise Hotel" to sleep in any more, having returned it this morning. I was afraid I was going to have to pay for a scrape where I had hit a San Francisco curb while making a last-second attempt to park, but the Enterprise guy apparently decided to let it go as "normal wear and tear". My total came to about $87 with the minimal liability insurance I had signed off on. And the Bay Bridge toll will come in with a $3-something surcharge, so that's OK. I survived.

Some things I neglected to mention: why didn't I just Google it? Well, I hadn't fully hatched my plan before I left La Paz, and once on my way wifi access was spotty. And I was counting on FreedomPop once I got back to the states, but it didn't work in San Ysidro and still doesn't in Petaluma. I'm guessing it has to do with the switch to 5G, and my phones just don't have the capability, but I have no idea really. And: why didn't I take Megabus as usual? They're not running. They may open mid-month, or they may go out of business. I just don't know. I did find out that I could fly from Cabo to San Francisco directly, and would not have to deal with the TSA at all, something I hadn't realized, not having flown from overseas into the US for a long time. I might just do that next time.

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last updated 2020-06-04 07:16:43. served from tektonic.jcomeau.com