Banámichi and North

When I left Kino it was 76 degrees and drippingly humid. One hour inland it was 97 and bone dry. It was still dry when I got to Banámichi, but at least it was cooler.
I’d driven up the southern end of the Ruta Rio Sonora. With such a fine name, you’d think the road would be good, but you’d be wrong. Parts of Sonora 118 have been repaved in the

Sonora 118, La Ruta Sonora

last few years, but others seem to have been ignored for a decade. 118 is narrow and twisty, but there are many places to pull over. Beautiful views of the river valley and of redrock cliffs.

I pulled into Banámichi around 4:30, hoping Hotel Los Arcos would have a room available, and it did. Costly. A splurge. But it was lovely and as a bonus, there was wi fi.

Entrance to Hotel Los Arcos

My spacious room held a comfy bed. The bathroom had plenty of hot water and plenty of water pressure – both rare in less expensive places. The bathroom vanity was made of a 2″ slab of mesquite and held a talavera sink.
The ten rooms at Los Arcos surround a courtyard full of potted plants, cozy sitting areas, and small ponds. The perfect place for a book and a cold beer at the end of a hot day.
I took my things to my room, spoke briefly to owners Lynn and Tom, formerly of Colorado, and went for a walk. Evening was falling, so shadows were long and late sunlight intensified colors.

Doorway of an empty building

I found Banámichi to be a mix of buildings that have been maintained, beautifully restored, or abandoned. I strolled about twelve blocks, taking in the sights and sounds of supper time in small town Sonora.

Back at Arco Iris, I settled into a chair in the courtyard with my Tecate. Two Canadian miners nodded at me as they left their rooms and headed out for the night shift drilling core samples in a quest for gold and silver. Word has it the Santa Elena mine is pulling out plenty of both, netting a nice profit for SilverCrest Mines, Inc. The miners went to work and I sat outside until long after dark.

The night was stunningly quiet. An occasional car rumbled up the street. That was it. Even the cars stopped by eleven or so. And then silence. Delicious silence.

Breakfast the next morning in the courtyard. Leisurely.

Courtyard at Hotel Los Arcos

Then it was time to head north. Past small towns, slowing for the topes on both ends of each pueblo. Through dips, some deep. Some had warning signs reading Vado Pelegroso, dangerous dip. Take that sign seriously if it’s rainy season. The vados on Sonora 118 are often tributaries to the Rio Sonora and can run fast and deep.
One other thing about this highway: the only bridges are foot bridges. You won’t drive over the river; you’ll drive through it. The road is simply not passable during rainy season.

As I headed north, I stopped a few times to take in views and made one longer stop just north of the village of Arizpe to wade the river. I saw an egret searching his breakfast and tried to sneak up on him with my camera. Through the river, down an embankment and up to a barbed wire fence. Then I walked the fenceline until I was in the perfect position. And he stepped into the bushes. Deciding he was camera shy, I went back to my car.

Three hours after leaving Banámichi I was in line at the border. Familiar faces greeted me, noted the luggage and cooler in my car, and asked where I’d been this time.

Well, Kino, of course!

Of course, they responded. Of course.

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