Rolling through the desert today, we saw nature unfolding. A mesa perhaps 800 feet (or should I say 250 meters) was melting into the surrounding plains. During the rainy season, sky water runs down the walls of the cliffs dragging bits along the path, After some time, the walls have eroded in far enough so the mesa floor collapses down the side. After the season is over, the earth bakes beneath a desert sun. Before too many seasons have passed, the mesa will be no more.
At a point during the days journey, Bibi spotted a stash of dead wood on the road side. Driving past it, we watched for more stashes and stopped at the next one found. We sit now before a fire given by the wood. One of the larger pieces is burning now. The bottom end has several stubby arms. Two of these form a cat’s head and paw in the fire. His ears are standing straight up, facing the other side of the fire. And an arm is extended before his face as if playing with a ball of string. Or swatting the flames away.
Dinner is done, dishes are cleaned and bellies are full once again. A glass of wine sipped here, maybe some water there. The closest neighbor is several miles away from us. A peaceful, introspective time. We’re all quietly thinking.
The day gone past was eventful, to say the least. Mario obtained a cash advance at BanaMex. Our cash flow problems are resolved. Short of extremely foolish waste, we should be able to hit all the places we planned. I feel small, not bringing enough money was very stupid. Well, learn from the mistakes.
The morning started on a sour note. While trying to adjust the driver’s mirror to face away from the jeep, it broke off. It wouldn’t budge, so I pushed harder and then it was gone. Nothing more to push against. The mirror was laying on the sand. The mounting base had broken in half. It seems that the hinge froze in place. I used epoxy to join the two pieces back together. It should be dry by tomorrow.
We stopped to get gas in a town called Jesus Maria. When my turn at the pump arrived, the attendant happily fi1led the tank. Once done, he smiled and asked for 91,OOO pesos. Without thinking, I handed him the money. I started the jeep and pulled to where Mario and Bibi waited in the shade. They asked how many liters I used. My reply was a shrug, I’m not sure. How much money? 91,OOO. A quick calculation by Mario shows that to be about 19.75 gallons. Since the tank holds 20 gallons and the needle was a little above ‘E’, I was robbed. I’d guess it waS 18,000 to 20,000 pesos. There was no way to prove it, the money was lost. More foolishness.
Coyotes were howling and laughing in the distance before. Now there is one barking just outside our camp. Mario had to climb on the roof of his pickup to find him with the flood light. Seems he needed to use Bibi’s rest room for himself. He’s marking around the outside of our camp. Territory boundaries? Perhaps it’s his way of welcoming us to dinner.
We set up a lean-to to block the wind which hounded us before. Two of the grommets tore loose and needed a quick repair. Duct tape works wonders. I plan to sleep under it tonight. The temperature is perfect when out of the wind. Cool enough to let you see your breath. Good sleeping weather.
The cat has gone the way of the wind. Blown off as ashes and dust. The coyotes have returned to their plains. Maybe they’ll be back later, maybe not. Mario is being chased by the smoke as he tries to add fuel to the fire. Bibi is wrapped wíthin a blanket near the fire. And I’m listening to the sounds and sights of another fire in the middle of nowhere.
We stopped for gas after almost running out. Both cars had gas gauges which read empty. A major concern we have now is running out of money. No money, no gas. No gas, no home. This fill up leaves me with 2l,OOO pesos. (about $7.O0) Mario the bank has more, maybe $150. We’ll see what happens.
I had to ask Mario for the time, I was off by almost an hour. Normally my internal clock tells me what time it is. Is this a sign that we have left the civilized world?
We sìt before a raging duraflame log campfire. The logs were Mario’s idea to offset the chance that there would not be any driftwood, around. Clever guy. There is soft jazz music playing on the CD player and gentle lapping waves from the bay. We are at Bahia De Los Angles. It’s on the east side of baja, along the Sea of Cortez.
We found this spot with luck and indecision. Today we planned to be in Guerero Negro. Just after we passed the turn off to this peaceful habitat, we pulled over to discuss the options available to us. Since it was about 3:OO in the afternoon and GuereRo Negro was about another 1 1/2 to 2 hours away, we would only get there after dark. We’d then stíll have to find a camp. Too much hassle at night. We made it here with plenty of light by which a camp could be set.
Setup was fairly quick. I’ve setup my tent so many times that it’s almost become a thoughtless reaction. Mario and Bibi have the simple life. You see, Mario has built a camping storage container in the back of his pickup. With a shell on top, it makes a perfect bedroom. Throw down a pair of therma-rest pads and a pair of sleeping bags, it’s just like home. Well close enough.
Mario cooked dinner tonight. Wonderful stuff, Tortellini and Knorr Veggie soup. Mixed together, this stew like substance is warm and filling. He can cook for me anytime. We cleaned up right after dinner. This was weird because we usually hang about and bullshit for a while. Different place, different style.
The ride here was very strange. There were fields which were covered with cactus. Fields of boulders which made me drool for climbìng. With Bìbi along, Mario wouldn’t stop for an afternoon of bouldering, there will be other spots. Both of us have our gear along. One can always hope…
Then there were stretches of road where I became very bored. My eyes were heavy and I thought of sleeping. I don’t understand why.
In each town we drove through that had a gas station, we would stop and fill up. Mario kept saying we don’t know where the next one will be. I didn’t really believe him until we passed several which were closed down. The clincher was the one that ran out of gas while they, were pumping gas into my jeep! I wonder what kind of junk is at the bottom of the tank.
The most amazing part of this leg of the journey has to be the trek through the valley approaching Bahia De Los Angeles. As we climbed over a mountain pass, a valley floor rose up to meet us. It stretched for miles across, the sìght was breath taking. A smooth flat valley floor opening out to rolling hills on the far side. The hills open up to sheer cliff faces and mountains. The hills stretch to the left of the road for a far as the eye can see. A wonderful treat for the optic receptors. On the opposite side, there are small canyons among tall cliffs. I’m certain that the other side of the valley is similar in features.
Driving around the far side of some hills brings us to our first view of the bay. Nestled between the vee of two ridges, the water is deep blue opposing the brown ridges. Driving further shows us more of the bay ítself. Small peeks until the whole is exposed. Once in full, there are brown islands among a blue canvas. Truely inspiring.
The town by the bay is like so many others we’ve passed through, simple and poor. This one is alittle different, there is supposed to be a paved airstrip so somewhere. But the town has no phones. Go figure. We hope there is a gas station in town that is open for business, Tomorrow will tell.
Mario and Bibi just got baçk from a short walk. I guess it’s almost bedtime. Mario has put on Enya, an Irish vocalist. Lullaby music, peaceful and relaxing. Good music by to which to star gaze.
I’ve packed everything back into the jeep. The shower this morning was refreshing. I wait now for Mario and Bibi. There are no signs of life from their room. I hope they slept well.
I sit on the wall around the beach watching the tide flow out. From this position, the bay is perhaps a half mile wide. There is a man-made breakwater in the center which spans nearly to both shores. It come to within 50 feet on this side. The other looks about the same. It’s a nice place for the sea gulls to wait for their next meal.
I’d guess that the water is deep in the channel formed by the shore and the breakwater. Close to the shores, the water runs rough. Lots of ripples and many small whirlpools. But in the center, just a clear steady stream of water.
There’s a guy near me doing some fishing. He cast a line a few moments ago and is now sitting peacefully. He might even catch a fish, for every few seconds, another one splashes the surface with his tail.
There was a note inside the office telling of a record 293 pound sea bass caught recently. I didn’t’ believe it at first, but the head is sitting like a trophy on top of a nearby post. It sits near the workbench for the workers who prepare the catch of the day. The mouth on this beast is easily 12″ across. He made many bellies fill with delights. Of that I have no doubt.
In December of 1992, I went on a trip with friends through Baja California, Mexico. During the course of the days traveling, I kept a journal describing the experiences I had while there. This was the first time I had been to Baja, south of Tijuana. Tijuana is an interesting, busy border town that thrives on tourism. Or at least it seemed to at the time. The rest of Baja is very different. From the vast expanses of desert to the small mountain villages to the magnificent beaches along the Pacific ocean. It is beautiful place with very warm and welcoming people. Visit, its worth the effort.
Once back home from the trip, I bundled the journal and self published it. Everyone I knew at the time received a copy. That was in early 1993. Several years have passed since then. I recently came across a copy while cleaning out a closet in my office. After reading through the journal, I decided to publish it again, this time as a blog. I hope that you find the story interesting and possibly entertaining.
One of my cousins remarked that she, upon receiving the journal, was worried about what I was up to now and that I would be a bad influence on her sons. If any of them would develop the desire to travel because of reading this, I’d take that as a grand compliment.
Expand your world, travel and see the rest of it.