A long post on BajaLife, in which we meet new friends, with 4 legs or none

Pete’s camp – Puertocitos – Gonzaga Bay – Coco’s corner – Punta Prieta – Nuevo Rosarito – Guerrero Negro – Hotel Martitha

To kick things off, a further note on Señor Wayne (y Señoras Barb and Cheryl) — Wayne is a dude. We have met a few, genus Gregarious Americanus, on our travels, and even amongst this grouping Wayne stands out. It would be too lengthy to describe all the ways in which Wayne, Barb and Cheryl (WBC) made us welcome and cared for us during their own holiday, but to name a few; the properly drinkable tequila, the dune buggy ride(s) and Cheryl’s Sea Shell Shop. And the Bloody Mary’s. We have met a lot of US ex-pats on our travels in Baja: many of whom are drunk, all of whom are friendly, and some of whom can do both at the same time. WBC – and their friends Steve and Zia – really sought to help us and understand what we’re doing. Wayne – it’s been great, we salute you and we are sad to leave your sphere of influence. Your Bait shop stickers adorn various fridges and bars on the route South, so perhaps you will be with us a while longer…
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Wayne, the man, in his element

 

Onwards and south into Baja we go.  We get more warnings that “it’s going to get hot” (it’s already chuffing hot), and interesting and entirely useless hints like “look out for the sidewinders, you can’t see them they hide in the sand.”
Leaving Pete’s Camp and San Felipe we took a lift (thanks Wayne) to just outside Puertocitos. We enjoyed their company so much and were headed for a basic trailer they have on the other side of town, so it made sense to travel together. It was also a chance to teach Cheryl two new words (‘Stodgy’ and ‘Bollocks’) and their appropriate usages. We stopped off at some hot springs on the way, for the novel experience of sitting in a rockpool with near-boiling water trickling in on one side, and waves coming over the rocks from the other. Healing, maybe, memorable, certainly and lots of Pelicans to look at. We are still tourists and can’t resist shouting ‘Pelican!’ with excitement every time one flaps lazily past.
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Never tire of watching Pelicans do their thing

 

Bones duly warmed we drove on via a hotdog shack called Cowpatty’s. Baja is spotted with storied vendors of food or beer, and this is one. They’re always owned (I dream) by ex-CIA assassins hiding out for a few years before they reluctantly return to Active Status to help secretly avoid a global calamity. Certainly characters, and the owner of Cowpatty’s reminded me of that dude in Narcos who they call in do the really nasty stuff no one else will. He did make decent hotdogs though, which is a good cover and worked for us.
We had also by this point stopped to say hello to – surprise! – two more touring cyclists, Bruce and Jess. More on them later. By mid-afternoon we’ve arrived at a bay beyond town, where there is nearly nothing and the nothing is shut for the summer.  Wayne has a locked-up trailer here with a shelter out front and a water supply, perfect. We say a too-short goodbye and amble the bikes over some gravel to the shade. Water is all we need and it’s a beautiful spot, and the hose-shower is honestly the most enjoyable we’ve had a for a long while.
A couple of hours later, Bruce and Jess arrive.  It turns out they are also Southbound, heading for ‘Buenos Aires by Christmas’.  We have a number of matching kit items including tent, stove, and solar-chargeable nightlight. Clearly we are going to be BFFs and have many adventures. They have nifty ear-defenders too which I’ve never seen before and admire from afar…
6 o’crack the next morning (to beat the heat) we’re on the road headed to Gonzaga Bay along very quiet, spectacular coastal roads.  It’s hot with long climbs and nothing too steep, with epic views as a reward. Around midday we roll through a military checkpoint to a store at Rancho Grande, just off the coast. There is some uncertainty from here on – the heat, the road surface, whether there is a road at all, and just what and where is Coco’s corner. All four of us try to avoid the worst of the heat and roll off again about 4.30, up a newly built section of road on a very gradual hill. The temperature, though, is far from dropping and after about 10 slow miles we’re all feeling pretty beaten and after a couple of stops find a flat camp spot just off the road and settle in. Jess, who’s birthday it is, challenges us to tell a story from when we were 30. It is harder than one would think, to be specific about the what’s and when’s of 10 years ago, in Matt’s case.
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A lovely swooping descent on the road to Gonzaga Bay
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Not cooling down much, into the hot afternoons
The next morning starts before 5 with tent rustling and breakfast prep, and letsgoanddofunstuff are first out of the gate. Today will prove to be probably the hardest piece of riding in our whole trip so far, with the hardtop road ending pretty sharpish, to be replaced by a mixture of hard packed dirt, loose dirt, big rock dirt, light gravel, mid-range gravel, lovely smooth bridges, and back to the enemy of all cyclists, newly-laid deep gravel just before it’s topped-off to create what will shortly be an epic and beautiful hill road of about 30k all the way from the sea to the high point of the peninsular. We hit it just at the wrong moment, really, where the old road had been blasted out and the new one not yet sorted. Something of a struggle, the road combined with wind ensured a certain amount of walking, though with higher elevation the heat was a little less and our sense of humour stayed entirely intact. We also got to spend a little time with the legend that is Coco. Why his legend evolved I’m not 100% sure but he’s named on maps, featured in articles in National Geographic, and complete strangers sign their pants and leave them at his Corner. Not bad, Coco, not bad at all. I felt obliged to have a single beer at 930am, as this is the done thing.
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Hacking our way uphill, this is one of the more rideable sections of “road”
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Coco’s corner at Coco’s corner
Emerging from the gravelly rock dust onto a final couple of miles of pristine tarmac, we hook up again with Jess and Bruce who have had equal amounts of uphill fun on a slightly different route. None of us know exactly where we’ve been. They’ve both been suffering with a mystery illness and are feeling a little green, so after a few miles we find ourselves alone again and on a long, long, long gradual downhill to Punta Prieta, through an immense valley of Cacti (Valle de Cirios), to a restaurant. We are tired and hungry, and I just about manage to communicate that we’d like to camp out for free, por favor, if they have a space. We end up having a great night’s sleep on a concrete floor within 6 feet of a 24 hour truck stop. Ear plugs, check.
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4-star camping at Melany’s restaurant
By this time we had established that Bruce and Jess (Wolf and Songbird, look them up) were routinely carrying enough water for a week and enough food for another week. Oh and a drone. They are immeasurably calm, funny and are approaching their adventure with it seems much the same idea as we are, although Jess has, it is rumoured, got a “plan” all the way to Argentina. Which we most definitely do not.
The next day’s riding is pretty easy, with some serendipitous 50 mile sections between towns of mostly-downhill, and a cooler feel as we get closer to the Pacific. Desert still, but Osprey nests and a breeze from the East are reminders that whilst we are still not in Kansas Toto – the conditions are a bit more bike friendly. Neuvo Rosarito is a Very Small Town Indeed, with a surprisingly well-endowed camping spot next to another restaurant – a shower, washing station, swing, basketball court, hammock (which I fell out of), and many baby animals including a cute and camera-shy donkey. Oh and some chunky dogs, soft as you like, including this one who we named Bruno.
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Osprey nest on the road to San Ignacio
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Easier riding through Candle Valley, heading down and south towards the Pacific
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Bruno (we think, it fits anyway) keeps us company at the end of the day
A comment, at this point, on two observable Mexican phenomena. Firstly, dogs.  Mexican dogs are nicer than American dogs. This is just my opinion but it also “happens to be true, which gives it that force, that extra ooompf”*. They are friendly and rough round the edges and like sitting close by.  Secondly, truck drivers. The trucks here are the most considerately-driven vehicles we’ve ever seen. We’ve invented a new game where we score points according to the degree of enthusiasm with which we are waved at, honked at or over-taken-with-care. It’s great. Car drivers here too are incredibly considerate, except for a solitary example – an American, unfortunately – but even he couldn’t put a dent in the great experience which is riding Route 1.
At Guerrero Negro all four of us camp out the back of the Ojo De Liebre restaurant, which is a rare Warm Showers find. It has an in-house puppy so we’re all happy with that, and as the only clients of the restaurant we eat amazingly well, if a little late. The riding is now monotonous technically, as we continue to descend very very gradually towards San Ignacio on straight roads surrounded by flat desert and hazy mountains to the east. It’s great riding though with winds mostly behind or just across us, so not too taxing. We’re now in Baja California Sur, planning a little adventure before getting to La Paz. Dirt roads towards the coast are rumoured to now be paved, so we’re going to take a chance and head to Scorpion Bay, avoiding busier sections and even saving some distance. Watch this space.
At this point in our Adventures with Bruce and Jess, we happen across Adrian. Adrian is the kind of thing I imagined might happen on this trip, and he’ll be the start of our next write-up.
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So now we are 5, for a short while. This is Adrian. 
*More Bill Hicks 🙄
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