Friday January 20 2012
From Tucson, if you drive south on I-19 for about 40 miles to a place called Arivaca Junction, turn left at the giant longhorn scull, drive 23 miles over narrow winding roads, you will be rewarded at the end with The Sweet Pea Cafe. From the outside, The Sweet Pea could be any one of thousands of little cafes in countless villages all over southern Arizona. But when you step inside it is very different, almost incongruous with the surrounding area. A cute little room with floral decor and cloth table cloths. A very nice waitress named Amber recommended the corn chili chowder. We both ordered a cup and wished we had ordered a bowl. It was delicious! Sweet corn, potatoes, poblano peppers, in a creamy broth. This alone was worth the trip. I also ordered a wrap with spinach, smoked turkey, and provolone. Also very nice.
As for the rest of Arivaca, all I can say is carry a loaded gun in full view and do not under any circumstances make eye contact. And for heaven’s sake, do not take any photos. As we were looking for 3rd street, between 4th and 5th avenues we were a bit surprised that all of these streets were unpaved. Most of the permanent buildings were old mobile homes. Those were the ones that actually appeared habitable. There were two buildings on the paved street which seems reasonably well maintained. They were the church and the cantina. We took a photo of a very unusually decorated fence and an old fire hydrant and were in the process of taking a picture of a rather impressive aloe vera plant ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe_vera ) when we were accosted. As we began to slowly drive past the plant, which was in the front yard of a mobile home, a woman’s voice screeched “What are you taking pictures of?”. I explained to her that I wanted a photo of the aloe vera plant. “oh”, she grunted. We drove on and turned onto another dirt street and went looking for the main street, which seems to have been the only paved street. After a few turns we found the paved street, but as we turned onto it an old beater car fell in behind us and I think it was the same lady. We went a little way and pulled onto a dirt parking area to check the map and the old car passed by and turned off. When we took off again the old car was again on our bumper from nowhere. We drove on out of town with our shadow and when we turned into the Sweet Pea Cafe, the old car went on by again. We never saw it again but we high tailed it out of town. We drove the 23 miles back to the giant longhorn scull, turned right and back to I-19 bound for Nogales and then to highway 82 to highway 90 and finally to highway 80 and ended in Bisbee. On our way to Bisbee, which is a copper mining town we went to elevations of 6,000′. Bisbee itself is more than a mile high. We found an RV park overlooking an open pit mine which had to be 600′ deep. The town is in a canyon with steep hills and cliffs on both sides of the main road. It is worth seeing. This will be our last night in Arizona. Tomorrow we cross into New Mexico.