We’ve tacked on another 770 km (478 miles). They’ve been through the flattest, straightest roads through the hottest winter deserts to the grand winding desert mountain passes. We’ve sweat in the heat and squinted through the blessed rain all the way from Guerrero Negro to La Paz.
The people and places along the way have offered up the deepest hospitality and the most open playtime for Augustine. We’ve moped along in our rudimentary Spanish while sleeping on our desert cots. People have honked and waved and smiled and a few have flipped us off and cursed us along the mostly sunny roads to La Paz. Its been a grand journey through Baja and we’re ready for mainland Mexico.
We arrived in La Paz on January 30th after a single session of 65 kilometers through the rain and massive construction zones stretching for kilometers at a time. After crashing at a cheap motel for the night we were taken in by the wonderful Glenda, She brought us into her home as if we’d been there before and instantly fed us a huge lunch without any questions.
We’ve spent a bit of time milling around town and playing the tourists that we hate to admit that we are and are plodding along in our preparations for our trek over to mainland Mexico. Needless to say our gear has taken a bit of battering along our journey thus far so some gear patching and waterproofing are an order.
As January draws to a close and the deep months of February draw in, we think of our friends and family languishing in the northern reaches of the earth. Hang in there. The sun comes back. There has been a few times in the last couple of weeks I prayed for cloudy skies, rain and wind as I baked blistering under the Baja desert sun. Hope everyone is well!
January 16th (Guerrero Negro to Southeast of Benito Juarez)
Spent morning finishing up website while Ance Washed clothes and rounded up some supplies. While getting ready to head out of town, couple from San Diego came and chatted with us while I finished up some swapping of tubes and we loaded up the bikes. My watch had recently gone belly up and they offered an extra watch they had kicking around.
We didn’t even catch they’er names but THANKS SO MUCH!
Yesterday a horde of cyclists and one motorhome(er?) took over the hotel we annexed from the following countries/places:
Road today totally flat and monotonously beautiful in its unpretentious good looks and thorny ways. We are slowly making our way to the Sierra de San Francisco range where we’ll angle more south then east. Don’t expect much hills until then. Should be about a day or two. Augustine pretty awesome tonight. Had Barbie riding a tiny tea plate for a bicycle. “Be steady, don’t fall down, you’ll get an owie.”
Found out before leaving Guerrero Negro that my father had another heart attack. In his twenties (I think) he was diagnosed with leukemia. After his bone marrow transplant he’s carried within him what’s called graft versus host disease. GVHD is essentially a rejection of the donated bone marrow to cure him and can cause a wide host of health complications. For him, his heart is among the complications. He’s skinner than I am and is now going into his second major heart surgery.
If you’d like to learn more about leukemia or donate towards fighting its causes and towards its treatment (not necessarily for my dad) check out: http://www.lls.org/. Your knowledge and support will aid in the recognition and treatment of leukemia and GVHD.
January 17th (Southeast of Juarez to South of Sierra de Francisco)
Chilly morning in Mexican terms. Meaning, I shouldn’t be such a wuss. High Overcast day interrupted with breaks in them in the afternoon. Stopped into Vizcaíno for lunch. Found a rural Mexico version of Costco. Re-loaded on some supplied and set off.
Flat with little dips. You get lost in a wondering of thoughts. The rhythm of your legs steadily guide you into a kind of trance of breath and sweat. Then somehow you wake and you’re thrust some 45KM across the globe and your hot, still blinking and huffing through a few pueblos. Today called Los Mártiters.
Soldiers, which seem to be universally amiable in Baja while you are heading south, took interest in us. They asked in the simplest Spanish they could conjure for use, where we were from and where we intended to go. When we spilled “Argentina,” they popped the balls of their eyes and mentioned that Argentina, was quiet a ways a away. We had to agree.
Sat in the sun set reading. Augustine rolled and played in the dusty sand without a care in the world.
January 18th (South of Juarez to San Ignacio Oasis)
Spent a great deal of evening waving at locals commuting to Guerrero Negro and other nearby towns to celebrate those precious Saturdays where the mortar and pestle lay at rest and you can, the world round, mount the rim and stare out into a vastness of possibilities. Thousands of flies hungry and board tonight, ready to annoy millions of people, finding only three of us in the desert.
Woke a bit later than normal (8AM) due to a bit of tossing and turning the night before. We all found ourselves awake with soft ungroggy voices wondering what each of us were doing up. Augustine just wanted some water and said she had dreamed of cakes. Which is what she says she dreams of everyday.
Turned out to be only a 2 hour and 30 min day. The first part was made up of the flat cadence of the last 4-5 days. Getting into a rhythm that is not quiet alive, but not dead either. Mechanical.
Totally clear and hot, scouring the lonesome cactuses and my forearms, Ance’s shoulders and creating creeks of sweat from under Augustine’s helmet. Got the finger while trucking up one of the first hills today. I guess because we’re gringos and bicycles on the road are annoying. Maybe its a symbol that encapsulates the social-economic imbalance cast by the imperial capitalistic shadow of America and the west. But hey, I am just peddling my bike man.
The latter part of the riding made up of steep climbs and flatish lazy drops only to curve upward again. Pulled into San Ignacio for water and some supplies. Found ourselves eating lunch at a deserted RV park on the banks of a green/blue pond fed by a spring and small river nearby. An oasis in the desert is quite the site. We were brought back to Canada, where the water was cool and abundant, only here there are palm trees and scorpions.
Swam in the cool water listing to the palm trees sway in the hot easterly wind, sweltering through the desert mountain passes. While cooking dinner, the sun began to dance in its typical dress of brilliant oranges, yellows and pinks towards the horizon. As I glance off through the thick canopy of palm trees, which apparently the Spanish conquistadors and missionaries imported and planted, the low casting light reveals an anxious swirling mass of flies.
As I stared at the orange dusk light catering to each flies dreams of being a butterfly with brilliant wings, I could hear the bustle of a municipality of air. So much to do before total blackness. Land on palms catching the last hint of light and warmth before swirling in the chaos of the waning breeze. I heard Mr. Zip buzzing timidly for Miss Zap for a rendezvous on the fallen palm, rocking on the oasis shore. There they’d stare at the falling, sleepy sun and dream of being humming birds, sucking at the nectar of life and sparse flowers, zooming, souring, faster and quicker and insanely through wind or light to the next sunrise and sunset.
I stared, wondering about the lives of flies and dreams of butterflies and humming birds with only moments to live and precious few dreams to fulfill. Ance says my contemplation of flies and their dreams are a bit odd.
We cooked and ate until dark. Watched the last light of the sun fade in a mournful glorious pleading light and witnessed the stars bloom in a field of darkness. I realize that an oasis in the desert is a mirage in the day and waking dreams at night where everyone dances, from cockroaches to birds, and everyone hopes and dreams, even flies.
January 19th (San Ignacio Oasis to South of Las Vírgenas)
Spent the majority of the day in the towering gaze of Volcan Tres Vírgenes. Had a swim in the morning, cold and awakening. Soon after heading out of San Ignacio, the sun became fairly oppressive. As we neared the base of the volcano, it was like some kind of weight or gravitational force emanating from the towering obstinacy of the Three Virgins’s kept us rolling at an excruciating 4-5 miles an hour.
Passing slowly through what constituted a town, 5 or 6 buildings and an empty concrete bus stop, a boy in a bright blue t-shirt that you could see miles away, sat on his tricycle motionless in the blazing sun and empty sounds. While we passed, his papa, standing in the shade of his house, called out to him to watch our passing and wave.
Stopped for lunch on side of the road in the blinding raw light and heat at 1PM. Sweat through tuna salad tortilla wraps, Augustine hid in the shade of her trailer. After summiting the ridge just past El Mezquital, finally broke into a drop that destroyed the bondage of climbing, baking sun and grasp of the virgin volcano. Beautiful drop from the first half of the day. Sheer curving cliffs with a road teetering on the edge of glory.
January 20th-21st (South of Tres Vírgenes to San Lucas and then South of Mulegé)
The 20th started with a strong oppressive sunshine we were unable to dodge for breakfast. So we ate and sweat through breakfast. Short climb to a totally unexpected drop into Santa Rosalía. Industrial entry into town with a massive star wars looking GeoThermal farm. Stopped at a Super Mercado. Retiring man, John, sitting in his Ford invited us to his house in San Lucas to rest, eat and camp.
Steep short climb out of town. Showed up at John and Beatriz house painted the brightest blue, not knowing what really to expect. At 75, a retired military man, John speaks a one-word-at-a-time Spanish to his Mexican wife where he’s managed to create a kind of oasis in the Baja brittle desert. His wife Beatriz never enduringly attempted to feed us tortillas and an array of dishes apparently prepared for an army of people.
Augustine found friends in the back yard, where three or four other houses, all with children were strewn about. We saw her little throughout the evening as she chased around boys, kicked a ball around with one of Beatriz’s granddaughters and apparently made rounds to everyone’s house where she managed to get a sucker, a book and a toy horse. I try and imagine what it is like to be a child listening the rapid flow of a language I don’t understand and a host of smiling adults just taking me into their homes for candy and gifts. Augustine must think Santa Clause lives here.
John offered us El Presidente rum that put me to sleep with dreams of Mexico winning the Alamo and/or Texas, calling us the States of Mexico with tasty tacos, dusty streets and a more rational healthcare system.
On the 21st, we left with hugs to the neighborhood, all the kids and John & Beatriz. Made it quickly to Mulegé. A great little down with a real live river flowing through it. Made it a bit out of town to a totally deserted non-touristic rocky beach on the Sea of Cortez. We might stay tomorrow if the weather is hot and clear.
January 22nd (South of Mulegé Rest Day)
Rest day on a windy beach. I took the 11km trek back into Mulegé to round up some water and check into an internet option with a USB dongle (No, our dongle still does not work). Had a great exchange at TelCel where a Señora sent me to meet up with Señor Hugo as he spoke English and I obviously was making a fool out of myself trying to get the details right on how this internet stick was supposed to work. Upon leaving town I conducted a wild circling goose chase to find purified water to fill up our water sack.
After getting back to the campsite, we all swam in the rolling waters of the Cortez while the wind whipped up a frenzy on our tent, totally bent one of the main poles. Used dish soap for the very first time in my life to wash my hair since our bar of soap turns into a useless smooth rock in salt water. Everything is covered with a layer of sand and dust blowing in through the tent webbing. Ance and Augustine made Winnie the Pooh and Mike Wasowski sand and shell sculptures on the beach.
First full day of rest in nearly three weeks.
January 23rd (South of Mulegé to North of San Blas)
60km day with glorious tailwinds and great winding climbs with quick spurting drops. Spent most to the day in a daze riding on the shores of Bahia Concepción. Probably one of the most beautiful bays, with its turquoise waters and craggy cliff faces, I’ve ever seen.
Stopped in at San Buenaventura for lunch. Windy. Windy. Windy. The wind that picked up two days ago rushes in spurts of angry chaos. Blowing plastic bags and diapers and dust clods from Ensenada to La Paz. Though we might get out of it by crossing over the pass outside of the Conception Bay area, but it continues restless and chaotic.
Lentils for dinner. Surprisingly tasty. We’ve been carrying those things since San Diego. Possibly Loreto tomorrow. Tired beyond reason tonight. Bed 7:30PM.
January 24th (North of San Blas to Loreto)
Made 40km in 2 hours. Flying like birds on their last wings to heaven. Stopped for lunch just outside a military checkpoint in Juan Bautista. Then a legitimate mountain pass slapped us in the face. Fighting for kilometers we hit the microwave towers and drifted into Loreto.
Cantered around town asking in our halted Spanish if anyone knew where La Segunda Gabino was. Eventually found it and an old man on the street saved us from staying the night in a hotel by instructing the gringos on how to use an old fashioned manual door bell.
Sandra and Geraldo welcomed us in as Gabino’s friends with no questions asked. We restocked on food, got some cold Coronas and slept in a real bed without nylon sacks for blankets and dreamt of squeaky chains and sweaty days.
January 25th (Loreto to just North of Lugúi)
Met up with a fellow cyclist, Tyler, for the second time and met another, Keegan, also staying with Sandra and Geraldo. Had a slow morning of a breakfast that Sandra made for us all followed by too much coffee and a glorious shower.
After departing the house it was a bit of a cluster to actually get out of town. Being Sunday the only place, apparently, to get purified water from the tap was closed. We also got two flats while rolling around town looking for water. I almost yanked my eyeballs out.
Finally got out of town and made a slow lumbering ride to get to the base of the big climb to come tomorrow. Got to campsite around 4PM. Pulled off onto small dirt road and took a ride all the way to a great hidden beach were a couple of locals were fishing. Sierra La Giganta towers amazingly in the background like a massive rock wall in the distance. All pictures do a sort of disservice to its stature.
January 26th (North of Lugúi to North of Ley Federal de Auguas Número Uno)
Rain at 4:30AM on and off until we set-off onto the road. 5km of easy riding then hit a steep 8km wall of a climb. Just before summiting, ran into a road friend traveling by Truck/Camper, Juoell, from Switzerland. Stopped for a bit to chit-chat and ramble about beautiful Baja and its people.
Continued into rollies until little shack shop. Augustine got to run around with the owners kids for lunch. From the impossibly close epic peaks and mesas we drifted into a huge wide open valley with the Huatamote river lazily flowing below. One last steep climb before mounting a Mesa and took a ridiculously easy and slow drop for 20km. Peddled very little the last part of the day. Pulled off the side of the road just before town. The air is heavy and thick with moisture.
January 27th (North of Ley Federal de Auguas Número Uno to North of El Coyote)
We’ve ridden the flats of the flat today. They’re so flat the road disappears in the distance as if the road becomes the mirror of the sky. The hours drag on slowly as in a hazy mirage of hot reflecting dreams, not of sex but simply sweat and dirt and asphalt.
Rolled through Ciudad Insurgentes straight to Ciudad Constitución for lunch in the baking heat near a little playground where Augustine climbed around and sweat. Muggy hot sweat drowning glory of a kind of summer we’ve been chasing since July from Juneau.
Man washing cars with a rag and bucket in the parking lot. Dressed nicely in kaki green pants and ironed stripped button up shirt and wearing impossibly perfect sunglasses covering his cataract eyes. He stopped and chatted with us, or we tried to chat in our broken Spanish and he smiled forgivingly. He ended up giving us 50 Euro cents that he’d found in the parking lot. Apparently, with what little Spanish I was able to muster, he makes 50 pesos a day washing cars outside of the grocery store.
Trucked on in the heat and found a busy dirt road heading off to a ranch. Everyone honks and waves to us as if we’d known them for a thousand years.
January 28th (North of El Cayote to South of El Ciento Veintiocho)
Woke and broke out of the tent early to soak in the cool air while we could. Sky was clear and heat began to bake everything in the sun’s steady blinding gaze. Stopped in Santa Rita for lunch. Ladies there knew Gabino. His hospitality for cyclists is famous throughout Baja.
Hot. Hot. Hot. First sun burn in awhile. Land continued to be flat seemingly in perpetuity. It creates a ride where you skim on the surface of your consciousness, moving from thoughts, dreams, hopes and desires, then coming back to your own breath and sweat, the parched grass and grandfatherly leather cactuses giving you the finger. Its a beautiful brittle scorching stretch of heat that seems vaster than the sky and time itself.
Poked a hole in our 10 liter water bag today. Going to have to figure out a different water situation in the coming days. Gear at this point is looking pretty ragged, holes and caked in dust and abuse.
January 29th (South of El Ciento Veintiocho to South of San Agustín)
Overcast warm moist towelette day that clings to you like a dunked and warmed diaper in the microwave. Greasy hair, salty skin and legs that operate like pistons on their own accord. Stopped at Los Pocitos this morning for water and a little snack for Augustine. Big beautiful family. Chubby handsome four year old boy clung to an orange in his arms like a teddy bear the whole time we were there.
Day of ups and downs and squat looking mesas. Augustine’s obsessed with going to school. Had a little family uncoordinated rock out jam session with Augustine on her bike horn, Ance on the pots and pans for drums and me clumsily blowing on a harmonica. Stevie Ray Vaughan would not have been impressed. Scenery is pretty but monotonous. La Paz possibly tomorrow.
January 30th – February 3rd (South of San Agustín to La Paz)
On the 30th the desert turned into a torrential down pour of muddy roads, wet skies and a gray light cast across the universe. The rain began in the morning while making pancakes and soaked into every piece of cloth we wore.
We set off while the rain began to beat its heaviest. After traveling most of the Baja Peninsula we ran into the largest section of road construction work on the wettest day we’ve been riding since Tijuana. It was a sandy, sloppy, bumpy gloriously soggy adventure non-stop all the way into La Paz where we took shelter at a hotel.
From the 31st the wonderful Glenda (also friends with Gabino) took us into her home and fed us immediately. We’ve spent the last few days being general slackers, walking around town and put our bikes in for some maintenance and adjustments – we are having the valve holes drilled out to fit standard size tubes.
As we get ready to depart to mainland Mexico tonight we wish everyone well and hope you’re all contemplating your next adventures with hungry eyes.