1300 miles. 4 vehicles. 6 people. 2 dogs.
Ride along with us as we take an overland adventure trip through Baja, Mexico.
Morning arrives in Gonzaga Bay. People are up and plodding around with various its-almost-too-early-to-be-alive tasks such as coffee, breakfast, and the sort of hikes you take with a small shovel. Medi has made a big pot of coffee (oh so needed) and Sid even made some espresso (a nice morning boost). Phin uses the fire pit to cook us up some breakfast burritos (now THAT hit the spot). All of which causes us to make the shovel hike as well.
We break down camp, reassembling our rigs for the road. While doing this, I pull my back lifting one of our gear crates. It’s an old injury that sometimes resurrects itself over something heavy or sometimes just bending for no reason at all. Random in its decision to attack really, as I can lift heavy things all day long without issue. It just goes when it goes. Luckily this time is not as bad as in the past when it will often require me to sit and sleep on the couch for 3 days, but this time I was lucky and it’s only about 1/2 gone. Highly uncomfortable and rather painful but it won’t break the trip. Reagan will be doing the majority of the driving from here though. 🙁
After stopping for some supplies at a small market near the bay, we hit the road bound for Coco’s Corner. But first we happen upon a group of fellow Americans with a flat tire. They are unable to break the lugs to get the flat tire off, so we stop to lend assistance.
The road to Coco’s corner is a long, winding, washboard, dirt and gravel desert mountain road. The dust flies, the teeth rattle, and the heat rises. Each time we stop (to relieve ourselves, to help a man with a dead battery, etc) we drink a beer. It almost becomes a little game. And each stop becomes a little more relaxed and fun. 🙂
Phin finds himself with a leaking tire. Time to stop along the road and patch it up. While doing the patch several vehicles pass us, including one truck completely decked out for this sort of travel. Cartel runner? Maybe. But he stops and gives Medi a cold bottled cerveza just to say hi. Who said the cartel were bad guys?
Finally we are close to Coco’s Corner (some of us with quite the buzz on). Now if you don’t know about Coco’s, it is actually the home and well-known Baja 1000 waypoint staffed by a man named Coco. He has had this place for many years and he is nearly a legend in these parts. His place is even listed on official maps of Baja.
Pulling into Coco’s Corner, we are greeted with what appears to be a small compound surrounded by a fence. Inside of this compound is one main structure, a handful of old campers, two vault toilets (one for women and one for men naturally), a whole series of junk turned into art, photos and keepsakes on the walls left by many travellers (last year Medi left his underwear, this year he attached his AAA card to them), a “cafe” where you can buy beer, and all of this surrounded by what seems to be miles and miles of desert mountain landscape. Unfortunately, Coco is not home today so we will not get a chance to meet him, but he has left some friends in charge. We order beer for the group and start to take a look around this eccentric and fascinating little site.
Time to get back on the road. We add our empty cans to the art of Coco’s and drive back into the desert. After rattling our way over many more dusty roads, we finally reach pavement – the Mexi1. Here we pull over for some repairs as the roads have shaken loose the roof racks of Phin and Medi. While they work we feast on Cheetos and Tecate. I also see a young boy from a nearby structure come out to watch us work. He keeps his distance and merely watches us with interest. He picks up a plastic patio chair which is missing a front leg, and balances on it to be more comfortable. A boy who lives here, sitting on a three-legged chair, watches us fix our roof racks like it’s a television show. Remember the perspective from Day 2? Another mark here.
As we reach the border between the northern and southern states we are greeted with 2 things. One is the largest Mexican flag you can imagine. This thing would easily cover a football field, and maybe even a small town. The second is a checkpoint; but not military. They ask us if we have any fruits or vegetables. We do not. They charge us a 20 peso toll, tell us to roll up our windows and close our ventilation systems, and have us drive over a spot in the road that sprays fruit fly juice on the underside of our vehicles. Seriously?! Fruit flies only hang on the bottom I guess.
After a while of driving, we arrive at today’s destination: Guerro Negro. Here we plan to rent a small house that is part of a hotel in the area. Unfortunately the house has been rented. After some haggling, we end up getting 3 rooms instead (Sid opts to sleep in his car). Phin takes the smallest room (complete with a cute little porch area with rocking chairs) we take the next biggest two doors down, and Medi, Kristen, Layla and Jasmine take the apartment across the parking lot. Yes, I said an apartment. This “room” has a laundry room, full kitchen, dining area, entry room, living room with couches, and a bedroom with bathroom. Looks like we are all hanging out in their room tonight. But first: SHOWERS! Ahhhh. After camping, the dusty roads, the fruit fly spray, and just being in the car for two days it is a very welcome respite.
Phin has brought with him a spaghetti feast for us all to enjoy tonight, and we added caesar salad to the mix. Spaghetti in Mexico?! Sure why not. We set about preparing the food, having some drinks, hitting up the free wi-fi, and chatting together. We set up one of the long camp tables in the entry to make room for 6 people to sit down to dinner. After some time, we are ready to eat! The meal is very good. A little slice of home here in the middle of Baja with some of the best company I’ve had the pleasure to meet.
A bit drunk, I remark to the group how its funny that the 6 of us – mostly unknown to each other – can come together like this and just…click. From making sure no one is too far behind on the road, to everyone pitching in to do their part, to the way we all seem to communicate, to telling our stories and jokes we are already feeling at home with each other. This seems remarkable to me and already I know I have made some good friends on this trip. “I love you man!” Ok, drunky…time for bed.