Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010: Loreto- La Paz, 220 miles, 5 hours.

Go over to the shop in the morning and of course Fernando is late in starting to work on my bike. This means I will have to stay in Loreto another day, as I can really only keep my stuff in the motel room till noon and its 11 now. I quickly realize that Im totally cool with the extra day here. Fernando shows up and puts the carb back on the bike and its running well. I decide to use the extra day to do visit Mission San Javier, about 20 miles down a dirt road up in he mountains. I know, I said I was sick of dirt but there is a big difference between a fully loaded bike and one completely free of any cumbersome luggage. I figure I can get there with relatively no problems. Then Gerardo sweetens the deal and insists I take his little Yamaha TTR 250. Im happy to oblige. The first few miles are sweet paved asphalt, then dirt and gravel hairpins climbing up into the mountains. Stop a couple of times to take pictures and the bike wont start at first, but I manage to get it going. The dirt roads straighten out and Im flying along in 5th gear, blazing by other 4 wheeled vehicles making the same trek. Get to the little town of San Javier, population 150 and recipients of electricity only 3 months prior. Check out the main square and the Jesuit mission and head back to the shop. I make good time, but the shop is locked up. No big deal, Ill go by in the morning and swap bikes and be on my way. Its Sunday and the whole town is dead and I spend the rest of the evening reading by the sea on the malecon, sampling the local fare, and finally finding a spot who will serve me a cup of coffee.

First thing next morning I go to pick up the bike. Goodbyes all around and then I'm off to Fandango, the coffee shop with wifi I discovered the other day and spend an hour or so hanging with Carlos the owner (cool guy, same age as me) and his girlfriend. Carlos and his girl speak great English and he also did a similar bike trip across Mexico an a Royal Enfield. We exchange info and promise to stay in touch and soon I'm on the road to La Paz. I see Brandon once again, the bicyclist Ive been running into from time to time on the road. We stop and chat for a while and I keep on going. Heading inland, the sea disappears from my left and the stark desert landscape with mountains and cacti everywhere engulf me. Stop for some roast chicken at Ciudad Construction and actually do something smart when I return to the town to gas up after seeing a small sign saying "next gas, 190km). Had I not done this, I would have run out and 2.5 hours later I see water again and I'm in the capital of Baja California Sur, La Paz.

La Paz is a big place, and its nice to be in the first real city Ive seen since San Diego. I pull into a coffee shop on the malecon with the waves lapping on the sea wall right out front and try to get in touch with Roni, my Israeli connect who is supposed to give me the key to the apt. of Kevin, a fellow Advrder who is generously letting me stay in his place even though he is in the States until Wednesday. The next couple of hours is a little stressful, as Roni's phone is busy and Ive been having to ask for help from the coffee shop chick to try to make a call down here on their phone. In the meantime I meet Fred, a retired Dutch/Canadian whom I help with setting up his Ipad. He insists I come over sometime for a beer, while insisting even more adamantly that he is not a homosexual and not trying to hit on me. Cool Fred, Ill take that beer and thanks for not trying to bang me bro. I also manage to lose my keys for 45 minutes before finding them in my pocket buried in the lining. I get on Skype and call Roni, who shows up and I follow him to Kevins spacious apartment where I get settled in and once again, hit a coffee shop on the main square. I'm looking forward to chilling here for a few days and taking care of errands that Ive been unable to do until reaching a city with the resources to do so. Also, a quick visit to Cabo to hang with Alex and enjoy the nightlife is in order.

First thing I do when I get up today is get the bike washed. I see that the horn that was just installed has rattled off and melted to the exhaust pipe. Ive never had so many fucking problems trying to get a horn permamnently attached and working, I swear. I vow not to wait another 5000 miles to replace it. Next, laundry. I also see a gym which I buy a week pass for and work out in a gym for the frst time in a while, trying to put back on some of the weight Ive been losing. Rest of the day taking it easy, walking around and planning the next few days. I figure Ill take the ferry to the mainland on Monday and in the meantime do some bike tweaking, get some supplies, get tourist visa and vehincle import documents straight, go to Cabo, and even chill at the beach one day. Oh yeah, I should be enjoying myself and as well right, not just running around like a man on a mission.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010: San Ignacio – Mulege (85 miles, 2 Hours), Mulege – Loreto (85 miles, 1.5 hours)

Get up early and see a note under my door that Alex has left with his info. If I end up going to Cabo, I’ll definitely look him up to hang out. In the meantime, I decide to skip the whole whale watching thing and make the short ride to the coastal town of Mulege. As I head towards the coast, the views of the sea appearing after riding in the desert once again impresses the hell outta me. Before Mulege, I make a quick stop at Santa Rosalia to see the church made completely of stainless steel and designed by Gustav Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame. The town was built by a French mining company in the 1800's and remnants and architectural design all point to this, a little like the French Quarter in New Orleans but here in the middle of Baja. I leave after an hour or so and get to Mulege. Mulege is a laid back, ex-pat hangout/vacation spot and it seems like a nice place. I settle in my room and run into a trio of bicyclists I ran into on the road earlier getting a room. These long distance bicycle guys are pretty hardcore, many of them working their way from Alaska to the bottom of South America. Intense enough on a motorcycle, can't imagine doing in on a bicycle. I take a walk to the old mission, grab a light dinner of soup again and hop on the computer at the internet cafĂ© to catch up on the blog and retire early. From here it’s a relatively quick push to LaPaz, with a night at Loreto tomorrow in between.

The next day I grab some coffee and pastry in the morning at a local coffee shop/real estate office (you read that right) and meet the owner Robin and a cool AdvRider named Randy who is trying to move down here and start a dirt bike rental and tour business (there’s a thought…). I go back to the room and plan on taking a quick ride to the beach before packing up. A bunch of other long-distance bicyclists have arrived and everyone is hanging out on the patio. One of them then reminds me that I lost an hour crossing into Baja California Sur and that I have to stay another day or be out of there in 20 minutes. Fuck, I didn’t realize that. Its tempting to stay another day, but I’m itching to get on and I pack up the bike, say goodbye, ride out to the beach fully loaded to take a look around and some pics, and then it’s a short 86 mile ride to Loreto. On the way there, I see the most stunning views of the sea on the trip, a lot like the California 101 but with turquoise water that you can see right through, with desert mountains to my right. About 15 miles from Loreto, the bike starts hesitating in 4th and 5th gear when travelling at higher speeds. This is unsettling and I realize I’ll have to get it sorted out in Loreto before I leave for La Paz. I figure it is not too serious, a problem with the fuel delivery is what it feels like. I roll into town, get a room for about 16 bucks and go to the only moto mechanic in town. His shop is the front yard of his house on a dirt road, but he is out of town. After a while and some more searching, I find an auto shop and there are a couple of guys there who know a lot about bikes. We eventually discover that the carb seal is cracked and the air being sucked into the carb at speed is interfering with the correct fuel delivery, causing the hesitation, I opt for a carb cleaning and get my horn finally installed as well. The owner of the shop comes over and he speaks great English. Gerardo is in a wheel chair and has recently lost BOTH legs in a car accident. He is in awesome spirits though and says that when you are a speed demon, you cant whine about it when if you have to pay a big price someday. Damn. Makes my problems seem like no problems. He has a Yamaha TTR 250, a smaller, lighter version of my bike which I take out for a spin and thoroughly enjoy. His wife, from San Diego, comes by and picks us up before dropping me off near my motel. I take an evening stroll, have a super light dinner and wind up in this coffee house drinking great java and taking advantage of the free wifi. The plan is to hopefully pick up the bike in the morning and head to La Paz, 220 miles away and settle in for a few days to take care of paperwork, errands, and secure my ferry ride to the mainland.