When you stop putting effort into your hygiene, you will eventually look like a hobo after a bar fight. If you put up stop signs and add lines to a Mexican road, the population will eventually learn to ignore them. Our driving habits, like my attention to my appearance, are only getting worse.
Over the last few days we’ve been doing a lot of driving. It’s not what we envision for the entire trip, but we’re eager to get past the Baja peninsula. It’s not that we don’t like Baja, but we’ve already done the trip this year and are stoked to find our way Southward to places yet unvisited. Tomorrow we’ll be off to Mazatlan by ferry, and that will signal the beginning of unmarked territory for us. Besides swamp ass and hemorrhoids, all of the week’s driving has given us a new appreciation for Mexican long haul truckers, and has caused my attention to traffic laws to become more, shall we say, relaxed.
We made a long push in a single day from Bahia de los Angeles, through Geurrero Negro, and across the peninsula to the Sea of Cortez. We rolled right on through the French mining town of Santa Rosalia and into Mulege for an early taco dinner. Over the last week we’ve kind of overdone it on street tacos, and ended up ingesting way too much carne asada and pork. The resulting acid reflux reminded us that we really ought to diversify. This is Baja California, and the fish taco is king, so in Mulege we ate tacos de camaron y pescado.
We carried on and finally came to a stopping point at Bahia Concepcion. Usually this bay is calm and warm, so we figured we’d stay for a couple of days to relax. We made our way down a rocky road to a small cove and pulled up to a palapa on the beach. I still hadn’t landed any fish, so I planned to do some surf fishing off of a small island near our campsite.
As luck would have it, we woke up to high winds and cloudy skies from a storm that was rolling across the peninsula. I decided that instead of fishing, it would be a great idea to go paddle boarding. The winds were strong like bull, so I ended up paddling to the island and exploring it on foot. Sheena gave the paddle board a try and ended up falling off for the first time ever after being swiped by a rogue wind gust. The water was only waist deep, but I still basked in the sweet satisfaction at seeing her plunge into the chilly water, ending her eight month streak of not falling off. We rounded out the day with shark tacos and the first bottle of Nate’s World Wide Quadrupel, which were both great, and made the decision to cut our losses and push on the next day.
When we awoke our minds were already on the road before we emerged from the van to find calm weather and a glassy smooth bay. All signs said Stay Put, but so early in the trip we haven’t been able to shake our sense of urgency. Urgency to do what, I’m not sure. We lifted anchor and set off on the tortuous road once again on our push to get through the desolation of Baja California.
Our goal was to make it to Loreto, our favorite town on the peninsula, for breakfast before heading on to La Paz. We rounded a bend on one of the mountainous sections of road along a ravine and came across a full sized 18 wheeler that had tried to take the corner too fast. Its back end had skittered off the side of the road and both rear axles were suspended over the edge of a cliff. Its young driver sat on the side of the road with a shocked look on his face while a tow truck driver assessed the daunting work in front of him. I asked Sheena to take a picture but her pity for the driver made her unable to press the button. Like watching a hobo lose a bar fight and then taking his picture, it’s hard to kick someone when they’re down. No matter the entertainment value.
We made a quick stop at Loreto for breakfast of eggs, cactus, and chilaquiles and continued on. Really putting the “Drive” in Drive Nacho Drive. By evening we made it to La Paz, the capital and cultural center of the state. Cabo San Lucas may be the cruise ship, tourism, and college spring break drinking capital, but La Paz is a real city with real history and culture. After a dinner of stuffed potatoes and beans we parked and spent the evening strolling along the waterfront malecon. Entire families walked up and down the boardwalk late into the night, kids rode their bikes and rollerblades, a group of young people took turns dancing to a radio, and a young girl in sparkly red shoes pushed a stroller with a doll in it. Unbelievable. You know, the fact that Paris isn’t the only place left where people still rollerblade. The happiness of La Paz’s people wore off on us and we decided then and there that we would eventually settle down in a place where our children can enjoy the kind of community and outdoor living that we found in La Paz.
After another regretful night spent camping on the beach at Pichilingue next to a truck pumping polka music into the wee hours of the morning we bought our ferry tickets for Mazatlan, ate our breakfast sitting in folding chairs on a white sand beach, and then pointed Nacho south toward Cabo Pulmo. We passed a man grazing his goat on a leash in the median of a busy roadway, we emptied the contents of our library on the floor after hitting one of Mexico’s ubiquitous topes too fast, and I rolled through stop sign after stop sign in 2nd gear. In one case we rolled through a stop sign in front of a cop. I didn’t care. He didn’t care. The lines and signs are just a remnant of good intentions ignored.