Loreto and Mulege
oh how we missed you.
Jen grabs one last coco ice cream (couldn't miss a day) and we head out of La Paz. Our engine is purring like a kitten, but also doesn't seem much stronger than one... Were it not for the long weekend and holiday we would wait around for a consult with Rogelio; but we have places to be.
We drive a few hours to Loreto and stay at a place in town primarily for wifi. I have a few client calls and need to wrap up some plans before we head (further) into the desert. Our hotel is a gorgeous spanish style and there's a delicious pizza joint a block away. We get pizza and a bottle of wine to go and eat in the room and i work to the background noise of the super bowl with spanish announcers. Not exactly the same without the commercials and hype we would get back home (or if our team was playing), but fun nonetheless!
We depart in the morning for the beaches of mulege. The 4 hour drive was among the most beautiful of our trip home. We hardly remember the epic vistas and curvy roads through the gigantes on the way south, but finally figure out that it would have been a miserable uphill climb for us going the other way- and it's likely been blocked out of our memory for good.
Just before the beaches we (and everyone else) get stopped at a military checkpoint. They search every vehicle and we get an especially vigilant private who looks through literally every cabinet, nook and cranny in the bus. He removes, pats down and rubs every garment, dish and towel we have and we stand in the sun for 45 minutes in awe at his precision. It's clear that Baja is keen on removing whatever small portion of the problems faced on the mainland may have trickled this way.
We pass beautiful beach after beautiful beach, each lined with RVs all an arms reach from one another. We understand from others it's actually a slow year, but to us its nothing short of shocking. When we drove south we did so before tourist season and while it was incredibly hot, it also meant we had each of these amazing beaches to ourselves. We chose the best spot at every beach, enjoyed peaceful solitude at every stop and barely saw a gringo in all of baja. This time, we're working to adjust to the masses.
We stop for a photo atop one especially picturesque vista and then continue on. We soon realize that one of our brakes seized up in the process. We can smell the burning and when i try to touch the hubcap its scorching hot. We weren't sure we planned on going any further, but the decision was made and we pulled back onto playa santispac where we stayed a week heading the other way.
We turn toward the furthest north point, remembering that we would catch the sun for longer before sunset and hoping for an empty piece of sand between two RVs. Better yet, we spot a westy and pull in front of them with the only thing further up the beach being a permanent RV that's moved in since our last visit. We setup camp and just as i begin pulling out the jack to check out our brake, we hear the voice of a familiar friend. John, who we met 2 1/2 years ago on this very beach is not only still here, but he lives in the rv just in front of us! He always said this was the beach for him, and amazingly enough he's found a way to live here full time since we left.
We catch up, i borrow his bigger jack to free up the brake (seems to have done that mostly on its own), and jen grill's up some chicken and potatoes before heading over to john's front "porch" for dinner. We sleep great here among the peaceful bay. Unless we step far enough towards the water to look left at the line of RVs you'd almost forget they were there. We'd still prefer the beach to ourselves...but also admit we may have been a bit spoiled (as usual).
In the morning we wake and enjoy meeting our other neighbors. The westy couple is from colorado just at the beginning of their journey south and just getting use to the feeling of having freed themselves from jobs and mortgages to do so. I'm certain we'll see them again as portland seems like a perfect future home for them!
We also spend a few hours talking with Brad, who's traveling in a completely different mode and is as close to the best example I've crossed that you can literally leave and make this kind of travel happen with absolutely nothing... IF you're willing to do so. He had no plan, did no research and bought no gear. He used the last of his cash to fly to san diego and buy a $100 bike and started pedaling south- nothing more.
The more he talks the more amazed by his story we become. The worst part, he explains was when it was cold and he was sleeping with only a garbage bag, doing pushups every hour in the night to warm up. A few weeks later he tells us, a friendly mexican gave him a sleeping bag. Later still another mexican stranger gifted him a tent. Only two days ago, when he blew a tire (without a spare) on the desert road to rosalia...a few mexicans stopped and gave him the wheel off their bike. His story is not only an impressive piece of confidence on his part, but an amazing example of how kind, caring and giving mexico and its people truly are.
I urged him to start a blog or somehow share publicly the fantastic stories he's already writing down in his journal. No question others would be just as enthralled as we are...hopefully we'll be able to share that blog soon!
We wish all our new friends (and an old one) happy journeys- and head into mulege for lunch and wifi.