Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I'm constantly amazed how many people I run into who are doing something similar to me.

Granted, Baja is a section of the trip that, if you're doing the trip, everyone pretty much goes through. It makes for an interesting funnel. And for those who aren't doing the entire trip but are selecting some smaller portion of it, Baja is almost always part of it.

But still - a guy at the border, three guys in Bahia, three guys in San Ignacio, a guy in Loreto... I keep running into other motorcyclists. And that's not counting the ones I'm not even seeing, or see but don't talk to. We're all over the place.

At the Mexican border, I met up with Yoji and rode with him to Ensenada, after hitting up Oktoberfest. In Bahia I ran into a couple of guys in town who were just heading down the peninsula for some fun times. We hung out for the night and traded stories and then went our separate ways.

And then one of the nights in San Ignacio, I ran into three guys who had come down to Baja for some offroading. They pulled into the hotel where I had been spending my evenings, and I chatted with them for a bit. Two older guys and a younger one, two Americans and an Australian. A good sense of humor on all of them made for a nice dinner in the town, and it was nice to get some good conversation in English after 4 days of only Spanish in the tiny little town where I was cooped up with a splinted leg.

And now I'm riding with Paul, a Canadian who's heading from Toronto down to Panama. Once there, he's going to meet up with his wife and his two daughters (12 and 8 years old), and then ride back up to Toronto.

Back up a little bit... I left the X-Ray place in Santa Rosalía and was going to get back on the road, when I realized I needed gas, and had spent my last cash on the X-Ray. So I rolled into town and parked, and upon seeing what the town looked like, decided to wander a bit.

Santa Rosalía is set in between some tall hills. The X-Ray place was up on one side, so to get to downtown I headed down the hill and through the valley. The town has a very interesting history... originally founded due to a French company (El Boleo) setting up a copper mine there, it declined after the mine was shut down in the 50's. In 2009 it was hit pretty hard by hurricane Jimena (then downgraded to a tropical storm, but still very strong), but the town started to rebuild in 2013 when the mine was opened back up.

One of the highlights of the town is the church, which is supposed to have been designed by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World's Fair in France, it was later moved to Santa Rosalía by the mining company.

But the entire town's architecture I found interesting. From above, all you see is uniform red roofs - every single building seems to have an identical one. But from below,  you see the variety of houses and stores which seem to only have one thing in common: absolutely zero space between them.

Three houses on a side street.
After some fish tacos at a street stand ($3 for two and a coke), I stopped in at the bakery for some sweetbread - rumored to be one of the best places to get French-style bread in all of Mexico.

Even though I had nothing to do and nothing particular to see, I found myself wanting to wander around Santa Rosalía just for the buildings. But eventually I decided I should move on, so I got back on the bike and continued south.

I passed Mulegé without stopping - though just from what I could see from the highway, it looked as architecturally interesting as Santa Rosalía, and I'd heard as much from the guys in San Ignacio who were on their way back from there. Nonetheless, I kept moving down to Loreto, to give myself a good chance at hitting La Paz the next day.

And let me tell you - that ride was absolutely gorgeous down the coast of the Sea of Cortez. Almost reddish soil mixed with lush greens and cloud cover gave the ride an almost Hawaiian feel. Beautiful twisty roads, almost no traffic, gorgeous valleys and a mountain range off to the side... I wished I could take more time to see the scenery instead of paying attention to the road, but also was glad to have a road that was curvy enough to take all my attention.

Arriving in Loreto convinced me that the previous two towns weren't just flukes - the architecture and interesting sights continued. I looked up a few hotels, and finally settled on one that I'd found in a Lonely Planet guide (the first time that's actually paid off for me), in part because I saw another motorcycle parked in back. It turned out to be one of the cheaper places, yet still an extremely cool place to stay - quite literally, as it even had AC.

The "outside" of the hotel even had a roof over it, which gave it an almost... Disneyworld feel.
I started unpacking, and talked to the owner of the bike I'd seen - Paul, from Canada. We chatted, and decided to meet up once I'd settled in a bit. I changed out of the motorcycle gear and into my swimming suit, and we headed down to the beach - nearly empty, as I'm finding much of this area to be at this time of year. The water though - absolutely perfect temperature, a few slow lapping waves, and a perfect respite for my ankle.

Paul and I did the usual catch-up on where we'd taken off from, where we were headed to, and how long we were taking, as well as talking shop about bikes and gear. Traded a few stories, and then wandered around town for a bit to see the buildings.

After a quick washing up to get the seawater off, we headed out for some dinner. Even in a practically empty tourist district, it was a little difficult to find a good deal, but we eventually settled on empanadas and a few beers, all for about $10.

After some discussion, we decided that our schedules, riding speeds, and goals matched up, and decided to ride together.

Which... kind of surprised me, to be honest. I've met so many people who are down here doing something similar, but there's a certain amount of things that have to go right for someone to actually develop into a riding partner, and I hadn't quite hit that sweet spot yet. But with Paul everything finally lined up. So this morning we got up and made our way down to La Paz on what turned out to be much less exciting roads than the previous day, but the day went by quickly.

One of the things Paul and I discussed over the last day was how much travel becomes it's own entertainment, with no need to find much else to do. You wake up, you ride, you sleep, and it really, truly does feel like a satisfyint day. Now, with a ferry departing Thursday afternoon, I have some "forced" R&R to deal with, and I have to fill my time in a way that will leave me as satisfied. I'll let you know if I manage to do it.

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