The next morning I’m off and running down the peninsula. It’s redolent of California’s grape/wine country with dry hills surrounding valley vineyards with some nice twisting turns. Eventually the terrain opens up into full on agricultural area and traffic gets a bit more congested.
I fill my gas tank in El Rosalia, and have a couple of fish tacos and a coke at a roadside stand. Lunch costs about $2.50 US. I do love the food here.
Now the traffic disappears almost completely, the road gets to twisting and turning, and the scenery is becoming seriously breath-takingly beautiful, as I’m torn between focusing on the riding v.s. the scenery. The landscape changes from tortured mud hills to granite boulders reminiscent of the high Sierra Nevadas, only sans snow, and then there are the Dr. Seuss like boojum trees everywhere.
You might notice that most of these twists and turns don’t have a shoulder to speak of or the ubiquitous guardrails so common back in the US, and it’s interesting to see how that affects one’s riding style down here. It feels like someone took your security blanket away, and I find myself not pushing the turns quite as hard as I might were the outsides not a launching pad into outer space.
I stop in Catavina where my map shows a Pemex station, only to find that the pumps are out of order and are being repaired. It’s getting late in the afternoon and I look into the kinda fancy looking hotel. Rooms here are $90 US per night, and it doesn’t look all that fancy, so I check the map, and figure I have enough gas to reach the junction of route 1 with the turn off for Bahia de los Angeles where my map shows the next Pemex station. The deserts of the world are littered with failed enterprises. It’s tough to make a go of it under harsh conditions in remote locations.
So even if there’s not much off-road adventure herein, at least there is the anxiety of possibly running out of gas in the fading daylight and increasing cold of the high interior of Baja without a sleeping bag. I’m torn between riding conservatively to reduce my fuel consumption and riding balls out in order to get to the next gas station before they close in these remote locations. I opt for the latter, and wind it out. Spending the night curled up next to a gas pump holds little appeal to me, especially as the temperature drops as the sun sinks lower in the sky.
Eventually I see the familiar green and white of the Pemex station loom into view, but I’m crestfallen as I approach it close enough to see that it’s been abandoned.
I’m thinking I’m now properly f@#ked, when I spy my salvation. Enterprising locals have started a cottage industry here to assume a role that the nationally owned Pemex gas company has been unable or unwilling to fulfill. God bless them. The local gasoline vendors that is. I pay a higher price than normal for my gas, and am thrilled to be able to do so.
The sun’s getting low, but if I haul ass, I figure I’ll make Guerrero Negro at about dark. I make it just as the last light of the day is disappearing below the western horizon. I check into the Hotel de San Ignacio, where they allow me to bring my bike into the back courtyard, and I head back out across the street to Don Gus for dinner. This is the first town I’ve stopped in in Baja where I haven’t been surrounded by English speaking ex-pats or native Mexicanos who speak better English than most of my friends. It’s been a long day, and I’ve ridden hard. I sleep the sleep of the dead.
Day 4 in Mexico -
Today’s ride begins flat, straight, and in a word: boring. Roadside trash is an all too common occurrence on Mexican byways. It’s a given, that if you charge people to go to the dump, some of the poor will out of necessity dump their trash where there aren’t any fee collectors.
As I approach San Ignacio the terrain becomes more interesting, and the road does too. Now the geology is showing signs of volcanism, as the rocks are similar to a lot of the basalt seen in the American southwest, although there’s a slightly redder hue to these boulders than I’ve noticed before.
As I drop into the palm tree oasis of San Ignacio, the contrast to the surrounding desert seems surreal. The ground here is lava, so the source of this water could be underground streams coming from far away through lava tubes left from the escaping gases as the lava cooled. Whatever the source, this is a seriously beautiful little corner of the world.
I stop to listen to a presentation in the town plaza, and have a late breakfast before heading out for the east coast and the Sea of Cortez.
I begin to wend my way down off the interior plateau to sea level.
Santa Rosalia is a cool looking town on the Sea of Cortez. They had industry and a port here, and so the historical buildings are made of frame with clapboard siding, all of which had to be imported to this landscape that is devoid of any commercial grade lumber. It’s a charming town with a vibrant downtown area, by the beautiful blue sea.
I’m almost to my new digs in Mulege, and the road is a nice combination of sweeping turns and tight twists, with a few straightaways. I catch a speco view of the palm trees in the valley below and ahead as I approach the town, but as usual, I’m tooling along too fast to brake in time to catch the small turnout where I might take a photo. The town itself is smaller than I had imagined, but it seems nice.
I stop by my new landlord’s business, and introduce myself. He seems cool, and steers me to El Cadil around the corner where I have a couple of cervezas and catch part of the NFL playoffs. I’ll return later to catch the end of the game and sample one of the most awesome pescado al ajos, (fish with garlic), I’ve ever tasted. The Mulege River at dusk.
The casita seems about what I expected it to be and I settle in. I’ll post some more observations as I make them about Mulege and its’ environs, and will resume a narration of my travels when I leave for my rendezvous on the mainland. Cheers! And thanks for reading if you managed to get through this far.