On The Move - Woohoo!!
Freedom!! at last. The little sardine can, posing as a car, zoomed around the corners as if they barely existed. Before too long, I was driving like a Mexican. It's pretty amazing what a 1.1 litre engine can do when it's only hauling a little tin can. 100km/h in fourth gear uphill? no problema! I don't even know what kind of car it is. It just says "Chevy" ...nothing else. It only costs $35/day ...plus $50/day for insurance ...hmmm! Baja California Sur sure seems to love its' highway warning signs. There is no shortage of signs such as "Respete el limite de velocidad" ..."respect the speed limit". They could have saved a lot of money since no one seems to pay attention. It doesn't help that reduced speed limits appear in the middle of nowhere, for no reason at all. The road doesn't change, there are no more curves than usual, there is no village, yet the speed limit suddenly drops from 80 down to 60, and sometimes even 40. Everyone just flies through at the customary 100+. If a gringa tourist would slow down she'd only create a traffic hazard with impatient Mexicans trying to pass her. Other local favourites are "mas vale tarde que nunca" ..."better late than never". That's very similar to the announcement I used to make on the Greyhound buses when running late ..."better late than dead". And gems like "don't forget to dim headlights" ...isn't that obvious with oncoming traffic? And just in case one decides to ignore all the signs, there are signs stating "no maltrate los senales" ..."don't disregard the signs".
Rock strewn, cardon cactus forests greeted me all along the twists and bends of the rarely straight "Transpeninsular numero 1". Even when rolling along at 90 - 100km/h (speed limit is 80), Mexican drivers would catch up and pass when safe, or unsafe. It was downright exhilarating to be on the move again. With each beautiful, delicious curve and corner, I pined for my BMW F650GS ...especially with Patti sitting in the back ... or riding her own. This must be one of the gnarliest motorbike roads I've seen in a long time. Then it all came to an anticlimactic halt at the first military checkpoint. There we all sat for at least 1/2 hour while a group of Mexican teenagers had their pimped SUV searched with a fine tooth comb. They searched everyone, and my search took about 5 minutes. I suppose they're not too worried about gringas, pushing middle age, smuggling guns and drugs while heading north. The gun toting, teenage soldiers, were polite to a fault and there was absolutely nothing threatening about the checkpoint.
Campsite along Bahia Concepcion.
I briefly popped into Mulege and felt quite disappointed, until I discovered that the entire village was actually off the highway. Stretching along the river bank was a quaint, albeit dusty Mexican village worthy of some more exploration. Darkness was setting in, so no time for exploration. It's 21km's to Playa Santispac and I prefer not to drive at night in unknown countries. I understand it can hurt quite a bit when a little Chevy tin can hits a cow on the road. The cow probably wouldn't like it either.
At Playa Santispac, I went to sleep to a lullaby of waves against the sandy shore, accompanied by the throaty bass of the trucks lumbering downhill, with their retarders on full blast, off in the distance. The beach is huge, and I picked a spot as far away from "party central" as possible. With each beach I explored, a sight of monstrous RV's greeted me. Satellite dishes, Internet dishes, generators, TV's, Radios. Yup! that's roughing it. Being a light sleeper I was very grateful for my own little piece of paradise with only a few other peace lovers off at the other end of the beach. Nature called several times during the night. As I graciously squatted, the full moon faintly shone through the thin layer of clouds. The beach was beautifully illuminated by the faint glow. It would have been even greater if Patti were with me ...ahem! ...I didn't mean squatting together :-)
Personal piece of paradise.
The wind had died down overnight and the waves gently woke me after the best sleep I've had so far. No earplugs, no snoring, and only a small hillock of used tissue in the corner of the tent. The cold is on its' way out and I'm now looking forward to Tuesday in La Paz, where I will finally start cycling.
I still haven't decided where to go today. Do I hang out here? do I head a little north?
The Road Less Travelled, on the way to San Isidro.
Had to turn back 1km later, lest I rip out the bottom of the tin can.
Boulders the size of my head ..and I have a BIG head... stopped me dead in my tracks.
Waiting for a juicy turista morsel.
Smartass turista mocking the buzzards.
Twas time to head back south and I was on the lookout for two Canuck cyclists, with whom I was trying to meet up. We had been in contact via email. I finally spotted two gringo cyclists at one of the beaches at Bahia Concepcion. It turned out to be them. Maybe we'll run into each other again in La Paz, where I'll finally get to do some cycling.
Once back in Loreto, it was time to do some more exploring along the roads less travelled. On to Mision San Javier!! 32km's by dirt road. First one has to drive a few km's along an arroyo (dry river bed). They just send a grader in there to buldoze a road, and that's that. It gets rid of some of the bigger rocks and leaves the smaller ones handy to puncture gas tanks and crush mufflers along the way. So I promptly drove the little tin can right onto the old river bed. I was starting to worry that I wouldn't be able to make it before dark under these conditions. Then I finally realized that there was an actual road within the river bed ...gringa loca! So back I went onto the dirt road.
Cacti along the way.
Soon the tiny road started twisting and climbing into the mountains. There were little rivulets of water now and then, and the desert scenery was incredibly green. All contrasted with a beautiful background of reddish brown cliffs, rocks and sand. Small oases of palm trees appeared along some of the little streams, which were now carrying water due to the recent rains. With each hairpin turn along the single lane dirt road I caught myself muttering "this is effing beautiful" ...except I wasn't saying "effing". When getting out of the car I was immediately struck and entirely awe inspired by the quietness of the desert, interrupted only by the gentle gurgling of the little creeks going by.
Looking back towards Loreto, on the way up to San Javier.
San Javier is a cute little village, which they are trying to make into a tourist attraction. The mision San Javier is one of the best preserved Jesuit Missions in the area. A new looking cobblestone avenue leads to the mission. They're actually building a new access road, due to be finished who knows when. It was pretty quiet up there and I decided to head back into Loreto, until I drove past a cute little inn with rocking chairs in front of the rooms. Time to relax and read, I tought. As soon as I alit from the car, two full grown german shepherds greeted me. They seemed friendly, but somehow thought they were still little puppies. One kept jumping right on me and gave me a little gash in the skin on my arm. I yelled at him and he just kept jumping at me. I even shoved the little bastard away from me, right into a tree ...no effect. He jumped right at my face and hit me below the eye with his non-manicured paw. I know when I'm outpawed and outnumbered, so I beat a hasty retreat to the car and drove off cursing in English and Spanish.
Mision San Javier.
It was now dusk and I had 32km's to go on a bumpy dirt road. I kept my eyes open for a camping spot in the desert but didn't see one that looked hidden enough before it got dark. So down I went, rattling the shit out of the little tin can. I sure hope no one from Baja Budget is reading this. I'll never get my deposit back. The drive back down in the dark was actually quite beautiful, and offered a very different perspective from the daytime. It actually felt less dangerous, since I couldn't see the steep dropoffs and canyons. Once again, the Mexican drivers coming uphill at night were all cautious and courteous to a fault. The crazyness seems to be confined to the main highways. The night was once more spent at Loreto Shores RV Park in Loreto.