June 8, 2012 - We peeled ourselves away from the comforts of San Felipe and were ready to tackle some dirt roads leading part way down the east side of Baja along the coast. Our destination for the day was Puertocito. But things didn't turn out that way.
Road information is completely unreliable in this part of the world as we found out later. Where we were told the road was "gravel, but graded and ok for a passenger car", we were in fact guided by a construction crew through some of the worst of it. But more on that later.
From San Felipe, the road to Puertocito is paved but potholed. Long-lost hopes of the "American Dream", Mexican style, are reflected in forests of "for sale" signs, both for houses or "beachfront resort land" lining the road to Puertocito. Since we haven't seen a single river in a week or so, I wonder how one even gets water to most of this place.
Our hopes of finding a place to stay in Puertocito evaporated minutes after arriving. The place was deserted, not a single soul to be seen, even after riding up along the bay and back. The gas station was abandoned and everything was covered in fine layer of sand. Even Chernobyl had more character. We pushed on towards Gonzuaga.
Past Puertocito, the brand new road snakes along the coast and makes for great riding.
Twenty or so miles before Gonzuaga, the road abruptly ends and dumps you unceremoniously in the desert, ending a quiet slumber and constant engine hum. After some adjustment, we motor on, but then a detour routes us into uncharted waters. We're off track and the GPS shows no roads or tracks at all. Half an hour later, I flag down a pickup truck and confirm we're actually on the right track to Gonzuaga.
We run into a construction site in full operation and after some hesitation continue on. The sand gets deeper and we are rooster tailing sand as we crawl ahead. After deciding this certainly cannot be correct, a pickup truck with two construction workers shows up, guiding us through. We plow through some more sand and end up at the top of a bluff after carefully avoiding rumbling old and battered Caterpillar equipment. A short but very steep "brake-plus-sliding" drop puts us on level ground and onto more of the old gravel road. We are again reassured we are minutes from Gonzuaga. Even Uri Geller couldn't levitate a car through all this.
Out of nowhere a military check point appears and after the now standard questions and answers, we see the Gonzuaga gas station in the distance. It's closed, as usual.
The one and only place to stay is Alfonsino's and their price was not even in the hemisphere of acceptability. We decided to buy some water and push through, an additional 58 kilometers of what is rumored to be the worst of the track, back to real pavement.
Somewhere along the way on a flat spot, Jan decided to repair a failing handgrip.
Onwards we went and stopped a few hours later at Coco's Corner, a known spot along the way run by a Mexican guy who is a double leg amputee. It's amazing how he gets around. In the 22 years he's been here, he has managed to collect eight telephone book-sized volumes of names of passersby. A veritable institution in this part of the world and a de-rigueur stop for two-wheelers.
A recent entry catalogued the travels of a guy who is traveling on foot to the end of Mexico. It took him nine days to walk from San Felipe, pulling five gallons of water and his belongings. This just to prove the point that no matter how crazy you think your trip is, there is always someone who has one up on you.
It reminds me of the time I was in Pakistan in 2006, when I ran into an American woman, traveling solo, who had been walking around the world for ten years, solo, with barely any possessions on her. Years ago I read about a guy who cycled from Sweden to the foot of mount Everest, climbed to the top, and cycled back home.
The end of the pavement was in sight as Jan pulled over to mention he'd forgotten his camera at Coco's. With the sun setting rapidly, turning back was not an option and we pushed on.
Nightfall saw us arrive in Bahia de Los Angeles, a town devoid of all merit safe for lots of beaches and deep blue water.
The hotel pool is occupied by the local seagulls, but for $40/night we are not going to complain after a long day in the saddle. Tomorrow Jan gets to ride back to Coco's to pick up his forgotten camera while I chase an electrical Gremlin on my motorcycle.