Saddle Tramps - Baja California - Moto Trip: The Americas
We take on Baja California.
The morning of
August 17th we were up early as we had our first major border crossing. We
packed up and said our goodbyes to Johanna's parents before riding a short
distance to the border. We had researched it, and felt we knew what steps to
take for a quick, successful crossing. Unfortunately, it appeared we had bad
information, and Google wasn't much help either. We passed through the border
so quickly, we were on the other side in Mexico in minutes. Our data said the
Aduana office, and all related areas were after you enter Tijuana. But we drove
around for a while trying to find them, and after a while decided we must have
missed something. Our only option was to re-enter California, then turn around
and re-enter Mexico. The line into the US was long. Really long. So long people
were going down the highway in reverse to avoid entering the queue. Luckily
we're on motorcycles so we were encouraged to lane split and move to the front.
When we went back into Mexico, we made sure to take the declarations lane,
where we had a very smooth experience getting all our entry paperwork and
temporary vehicle import permit (much smoother than the internet claimed it would be). Once that was done, it was a quick drive south
on the 1 until we found a near empty campsite on the beach. We set up camp and
relaxed with some beers while watching the waves crash from our tent.
We were up with the
sunrise, and took a short ride to the town of Ensenada. After a quick breakfast
we continued south down the 1 until we found the 23, and rode that about 21 km
to the end, where we found La Bufadora. After parking we were assured by the
parking attendant that he would watch our bikes if we talked to his friend on
the phone, who promised us he could get ANYTHING we wanted. I told him we just
wanted to see La Bufadora, which ended the conversation. We continued down the
hill towards La Bufadora, and we suddenly realized how touristy this place was.
For about a kilometer we were surrounded by vendors shouting at us constantly
to come check out their wares. We were offered enough Pina Colada samples that
we could have had a full drink by the time we reached the bottom.
arrived, and watched the geyser spray up between the rocks. We got our
obligatory photos and headed back to the bikes. Luckily the vendors had grown
bored of us, as busloads of tourists had arrived and were there to get drunk
and buy tourist shit.
We got out as quickly as possible. We rode back to
Ensendada then turned East on Highway 3. This was a great ride that at first
wound up through some beautiful scenic hills before putting us on one of the
flattest, hottest, and emptiest stretches of road we've ever seen. Just when we
thought the saddlesore was too much to bare, we found a small town and filled
up at the Pemex before having a nice, cheap lunch. 4 km later we turned off on
a sandy path and rode far enough away from the highway to set up our camp by a
dry riverbed. It was the perfect way to end the evening.
The next morning we
were up with the sunrise once again and quickly packed up our camp. We made good time, but
on our way back to the main road had our first drop of the trip when Johanna's
bike slid out from under her on some deep, slick sand. Luckily it was low speed
and she was uninjured, and we were quickly on our way again. We grabbed some
huevos chorizo at a local restaurant and continued on into the desolate and
seemingly endless straight Mex 3, which after a military checkpoint turned us
onto the Mex 5, which also seemed to be endless.
By this point it was about 10
am and the heat was becoming unbearable. The only relief came from the wind
when we were traveling over 60 miles per hour, but even that was unusually hot.
Hoping to find some shade and a place to cool off in San Felipe, we were
disappointed to find it was essentially a ghost town, the locals just hadn't
realized it yet. We found ourselves passing endless "beachfront
property" which amounted to a gate and a sign, with nothing beyond it.
Apparently that's as far as many developers got before giving up or going
bankrupt. We rode on as fast as we could over the variable quality roads,
passing a number of giant cacti and abandoned homes, but little else.
we made it to Puertecitos where we found a beach front campsite with an amazing
view. The price was a bit steep at $20, but we needed relief from the heat and
were happy to take it. Soon after Johanna started feeling the effects of heat
exhaustion, but luckily we were camping by the ocean, which helped cool her
The next morning we
were up early yet again and found a market where we proceeded to buy a ton of water
and Johanna drank several bottles before we were allowed to set out. We also
discovered our spare oil bottle had leaked into Josh's tool bag, but unfortunately
had no way of dealing with it at the time. Josh attempted to retighten the
bottle and repacked the bag, now coated in oil. We rode for 50 miles until we
reached a gas station/market where we could restock our supplies, as our fuel
was getting especially low.
By the time we were ready to ride again it was
almost 10 am, and 100 degrees. We poured water over ourselves and into our
pants pockets before throwing on our jackets. This worked surprisingly well
once the wind hit us and we managed to stay cool for quite a while. It didn't
take long for the pavement to end, as they were still working on completing
this highway. We made our way through a zig-zagging mess of rocky, rough roads,
never quite sure if we were on the correct one, as none of them were marked.
But finally we arrived at the legendary Coco's Corner. Run by the equally
legendary Coco, it is literally the only stop for miles in the excessively hot
wasteland. We shared a coke with Coco and took some photos of his eclectic
home, where the walls and ceiling are covered with souvenirs from the 20+ years
he's been there. A lot of riders have passed through and left their mark there,
and it was on our list as a must see stop in Baja.
After re-soaking ourselves
with water, we said our goodbyes to Coco and continued on the dirt for another
20 km winding through the desert. Finally we made it to Mex 1, and continued
South. We rode for hours, only stopping for lunch at a small house that was
crowded with truck drivers. The tostadas were amazing, and very cheap.
Unfortunately for us, there really wasn't much out there, and we just had to
keep going. By the time we reached Guerrero Negro, it was nearly 6 pm. We saw a
run down looking yellow building off the road that said it had rooms and wifi,
so we went to investigate. The rooms were 300 pesos, but surprisingly large and
clean. We took it immediately, as it was the first bed and shower we'd seen in
We decided to stay
an extra day in Guerrero Negro to recuperate and catch up with what was
happening in the world. But after that we hit the road again, continuing South
to Mulege. This was an uneventful day, and when we arrived we managed to find a
cheap RV Park to camp in. It was run by an older American who, upon learning we
were from the US, began ranting about illegals and how Trump needs to get the
wall built. We didn't want to engage him further, and so decided against
pointing out the irony of his hatred and racism towards Mexicans while living
in Mexico as an immigrant. Incidentally, we had one of the worst nights camping
yet, as it was so incredibly hot we had to sleep with the tent doors open, since even the mesh was too hot. The host had a pool, which was a breeding ground for
mosquitoes, but at least he had a lot of animals hanging around. It was a rough night, and we couldn't wait to leave in the morning.
"Who run bartertown?"
After a few hours of
riding we made it to Hotel El Conquistador, which we found on our maps.me app.
The staff was very accommodating and allowed us to park in the lobby. This drew
a lot of attention from the locals, who apparently had never seen bikes as big
as 250cc before. They were especially curious the next day as we packed up to
leave, with a crowd gathered by the time we started the bikes up.
through some of the most boring, dead looking terrain to date, until we finally
got to La Paz. We were hot, sweaty, and hungry, so we pulled into a restaurant
called Los Super Burros. We assumed this was just the name, and ordered some
Asado tacos and an Al Pastor burrito. The food was great, but we noticed the
meat tasted different than we were used to. Looking around at the décor on the
walls, we noticed everything had a donkey on it. Hand painted donkeys, the
donkey from Shrek, etc. And no meat types were mentioned on the menu such as
chicken, pork, etc. In broken Spanish we asked the hostess if the meat was
burro, which she confirmed. That was fine with us, as so far on our travels
we've eaten Alligator, Kangaroo, and Guinea Pig, (and Johanna has eaten a lot of
bugs). It was actually really good (though a bit salty), and we hope to have it
again on this trip.
After filling up on donkey meat, we found a hotel a few blocks away for $350
pesos per night and hauled all our bags up to our room and took some much
needed showers. The next day we only had one goal, to figure out the ferry from
La Paz to Mazatlan on the Mexican mainland. After some internet research, we
decided to go in person to buy our tickets. The staff was polite, and the room
air conditioned, and before long we had our tickets and a cabin booked for the
next night. We'll let you know how it went on the next update!