the desert, act 2

More desert, and more

I can’t believe it’s been only 1 week since I last wrote an entry, it feels like we’ve seen so many places.

please check out photos that belong with this post here

 

26th May Guerrero Negro to Viscaino

So again we entered another desert, but this, the Viscaino Desert was not as harsh or vast as the desert we had spent most of the previous week crossing.  This type of desert was flat, with actual sand and sort of scrubby plants, the wind blew in the right direction so it meant we could cycle pretty far in no time at all, most cyclists would probably use this as an opportunity to go a long distance in a short time, but Leah and I just took it as an opportunity to get guilt free late starts with shorter cycling time.  Anyone who knows me will know I am good at faffing, and I think Leah is as good if not better at it than me, so as I have said before, it takes us a while to get going in the morning. Viscaino was pretty unremarkable but we found a camp site, it was the most money we’ve paid for any spot in Baja but this place had wifi, and a load of orange trees, so we filled our bags with oranges, and strapped them on top of our bikes, and when we thought we couldn’t take any more we shoved a few more in our bags. We spent some time in Viscaino waiting at the bank to pay our tourist visas, something we probably should have got round to doing about a week before.

27th May Viscaino to San Ignacio

28th, 29th May San Ignacio

Our next destination was San Ignacio, it is a desert palm oasis.  I think in the 17th century Spanish Missionaries came and built this huge church there, with them they brought date palm trees from Morocco, so the whole village is made up of palm trees surrounding a huge fresh water lagoon.  We approached San Ignacio by sweating up a hill, to be met by this amazing view of the palm oasis, we really couldn’t believe we’d found our own oasis in the desert.  We chose a campsite on the lake, and quickly decided we were going to take some time off in this place. Giant bull frogs live in the lagoon and we were kept awake by their calls, it was so loud, like hippopotamus having sex or something!  We spent a couple of days swimming in the lake, taking the pedalo out, trying all the different taco stands  in town, and eating ice cream, and of course we checked out the old church and the cave painting museum, there is a lot of pre-historic history in the surrounding area, there is a huge volcano close by and a big lagoon where whales come down from Alaska each winter to have their babies.  The campsite owner Manuel had lived in San Ignacio his whole life, he spent a lot of time with us, telling us about the area, and we spent whole mornings with him speaking in Spanish and he’d patiently correct us.  I think that’s what we need, as we are just passing through places we keep having the same conversations with people each day, but by sitting down with someone and staying in the same place we got a good chance to practice.  We called Manuel our Dad of San Ignacio, and we were really sad to say goodbye to him.  What a legend.

30th San Ignacio to San Lucas

I’d thought that a couple of days off the bikes would mean that we were full of energy and ready to go, but it was so hard, we’d done some work on our bikes whilst we stopped in San Ignacio and it just made riding feel so different.  Everything felt really effortful that day, my bum hurt, and it felt like someone had put bricks in my panniers.  The weather in Baja South seemed noticeably hotter too, but anyway, that day there were some amazing down hills passing the volcano, and then down towards the Sea of Cortez.  The Sea of Cortez is the water which  separates Baja California with mainland Mexico, and this was our first site of it, having previously been only on the Pacific Coast side we felt so excited, it felt like we had really got somewhere.  We bombed it down the hill to the coast.  I had sort of expected to find a beautiful beach but instead we found a copper mine, it was dusty and rocky and we didn’t stop in the town of Santa Rosalia for that reason.  We headed another 10 or so miles out of town to the first campsite we found.  This spot was different to any others that we’d stayed in before, the bay is known to be a good fishing spot so it’s a place that Americans like to come to, we found that lots of people buy a space and bring their giant R.V’s down there.  We had a lovely night there, Gina, a holidaying Californian took us under her wing, she was pretty merry and insisted we have some beers and dinner with them, before she played songs  on her guitar.  It was a really fun night and we managed to get up in time before the guy came round to collect the money.

31st San Lucas to Bahia Concepcion (Playa Sanispec)

1st June Bahia Concepcion (Playa Sanispec to Playa Buenaventura)

We cycled in the heat and the hills to Mulege that morning, another palm oasis with a lagoon and a quirky town, after spending about a week in the desert and speaking with only Mexicans we were now in places where American’s come on holiday and to retire, so there has been a real contrast.  That day we made it to the bay of Concepcion, famous for a series of beautiful beaches over a 20 mile stretch, we shot down this huge hill to be faced with the most amazing beach with turquoise water and white sand, we decided instantly to stop there.  We were greeted by Brad and Elisha, 2 Australian’s who were on a surf trip from Miami to Costa Rica.  These guys were awesome, so kind and interested and interesting.  They had said that they’d seen us on the road a few hours before, and had had a conversation about us, Elisha had said she’d wanted to hang out with us, and there we were.  We sank quite a few beers that evening on the beach, and spoke about our respective travels; these guys both worked on chartered sail boats, so they had plenty of juicy stories about the things that obscenely rich people get up to.  These guys left pretty early the next morning, but I hope our paths cross again further down the route.

Again we were kept awake by nature, the fish flipping in the ocean all night.  We spent that day swimming in the ocean, it felt like a bath it was so warm, clear and still. We camped under a palapa which provided good shade, I spent a long time that morning doing yoga and stretches  (note to everyone who knows me – my knee is doing fine).  We decided to do some beach hopping along the bay, it was only 12 miles of cycling but foolishly we left at the hottest time of the day and without much water,  even going down hill the wind was so hot it felt like a hot hairdryer in my face.  We arrived at Playa Buenaventura, another beautiful beach but this time with a bar/restaurant.  The owners son, Nathan said we could stay in his house for the night which was so nice, we had fun hanging out with Nathan.

2nd June Bahia Concepcion to Loreto

3rd June Loreto

We ate an amazing breakfast made my Nathan’s Dad and step-mum in their bar before heading out in to the heat, I was pretty nervous about this after getting so hot the day before.  I think the temperature was around 36degrees celcius and when going up hills it was really hard work.  The ride to Loreto was 60 miles so we just had to get on with it, we filled up with so much water, I calculated that we drank 12 litres of water between us, just during the time we were actually on our bikes.  The road went along the coast for around 10  beautiful miles before heading into more deserted land, cacti and vultures seem like such a normal back drop to riding our bikes now.  I use this thick oily factor 70 sunblock, which combined with the dust from the road and salty sweat I often feel like a bird caught in an oil slick. It sounds gross and it is a bit of an endurance challenge but I am still loving it.

Every now and then we’d stop somewhere for shade and water before we finally made it to Loreto. Here we have completely lucked out.  Yesterday when Leah posted a photo on her facebook site, one of her friends saw that she was in this area, and said that she had her friends parents lived here in Loreto.  The powers of the internet meant that in no time at all Kathy and Nick had invited us to stay at their house.  We made it to their beautiful home that evening, 3 miles down a dirt track and right on the beach.  It’s so nice we just decided to take the day off. Thank you so much Kathy and Nick, you’re amazing We will go out on the kayaks and head in to the town later today.

Back in Buenaventura Nathan had this book called ‘Cycling Baja’.  This was published in the 80s so made a funny and interesting read, but I imagine it would have been a bible back in the day.  The book roughly tells you how long it should take to get to certain places, it seemed pretty accurate from how we’ve travelled so far.  It says to give 5-7 days for the up and coming final stretch of Baja, and it also describes the route as ‘difficult’ the only part of Baja in this category.  So yes, tonight Nick is going to sit us down with the map and help us prepare for this last stretch.  We’re planning a new strategy of getting up before sunrise to cycle in the cooler part of the day.

As you can see our time in Baja continues to be filled with kindness and adventure, and we continue to have huge smiles on our faces.

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