Todos de Baja (a Solo Rip to Cabo): Part – 4

Part -1 , Part -2, & Part -3 would just make sense to read first, even though each part might work on their own, my mindless ramblings are potentially more coherent taken together. Choose your own adventure though… right!?

I woke up in Todaos Santos, Mexico in a comfortable bed, the sounds of birds, waves crashing on the cliffs, and rolled over forcing myself not out of bed; I had no where to go with purpose today. I dozed a few more minutes then recalled the fortune I had the previous day. The day had covered the spread from difficulties to luxuries; risky roads and heat to beer, tacos, and the best place to stay a couple nights.

I looked out the windows and saw pink sky. The sun was only starting to change the colors of the sky. ‘I should grab a picture while I have a chance!’ I motivated out of bed dressed only in board shorts. I was a warm night so no need for much more than that to sleep in. As I stepped out front I closed the door behind me to keep the bugs out and had a sickening though as the door clicked. ‘What if it’s locked?’ I checked immediately… it was! ‘Aww, crap! Well,  might as well get the picture.’

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That picture cost me a few hours of collecting my thoughts outside as Pat had already gone to his current building site for part of the day. I had my phone, no shirt, no shoes, and surf trunks.  Still having access to the big house, which housed the kitchen, I made coffee and food. A couple hours of reading, shooting the BB gun, and pushups later; Pat returned to let me in. That was pretty embarrassing!

After talking with the guys the day before about Cabo I realized that I had no reason to go to Cabo San Lucas except that it represented the end of the peninsula; all the way. Part of me did not want to go at all now because if I did that meant that I was now somehow done with the trip. All of the rest of the trip I would be returning home, over the hump, homestretch. . . but I did not want it to end and could just keep the trip going if I never finished, right? Alas, Cabo had to happen and this could not go undone. I planned to run to Cabo, touch the water, and come back to Todos Santos that evening.

The bike lightened of luggage, a half day of rest, and some quick advice from Pat then I was off. The road was in great condition as we were closer to the tourist area of Cabo. The highway opened up and followed the Pacific again; just like at home. Small fishing villages sparely dotted the coast off the highway and down dusty roads. The highway wound up, around, and through small hills for about an hour till I hit the city of Cabo San Lucas. As I came into town there are many more cars and traffic is a real issue but not for the bike. I filter to the front of each light and take off ahead of all traffic.

My way-point is a taco place called ‘Gardenias’ as advised by my #1 supporter and Scarlet Jo look-a-like (Erin). I pull into the dirt parking lot and parked the bike close to the front door. A scrubby looking guy with a sign watches me and pointed to his sign that says he is not paid by the restaurant but works for tips watching the vehicles. I give him 50 pesos to watch the bike thinking that even if it is just panhandling I could use the good karma… I’ll take the help to keep the bike safe.  The front of the restaurant is open. A bar hugs one wall and tables run the length of the place down the other side. A large man behind the bar catches my attention and welcomes me as I walk up. I saddle up to the bar since I am going to be gorging alone. His is forever busy wiping, cleaning glasses, and making drinks but does all of this while chatting me up. I told him about my trip, let him know that this place comes highly recommended, and asked what he would recommend. A long list of tacos he recommends followed… possibly half the menu! Well, I like that kind of positivity in my life…especially when we are picking tacos. I opt for a sample so I can get the most out of this one meal I am blessed to have at Gardenias. 1) Carnitas (roasted pork) 2) Borrego (roasted sheep) 3) Chicharones (pork rind) 4) Barbacoa (BBQ beef) with a sparkling water and a beer. Que Rico!!

With an overly full belly I left the scene of the crime.  On my walk outside I noticed something in the alley behind Gardenias that you don’t usually see…a boat. For some reason it was interesting to me. Maybe the colors, the fact that we were still many blocks from the water, or possibly I was buying time while my food settled.

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The contrast between newer buildings and what might be a homeless captains home.

The mission was still not accomplished. I had yet to get to the beach and complete the Todos de Baja. I was really dragging my feet now and did not want to end the trip …*sigh*  onward to the ocean. My goal: Touch the sea and not get pulled into a throng of visiting foreigners partying on the beach like college kids. I pulled around a bunch of parked vans and taxis at the end of the road and turned left into a ad hoc parking lot with many cars crammed into tiny spots. I wedged into a bicycle spot next to a car and no sooner than I turned off the bike an attendant came over. ‘Hola, amigo! Bikes park over there. He pointed to a sidewalk with motorcycles lined up that I had completely missed. I thanked him and moved over to the sidewalk. With my helmet on, jacket on, riding pants on… I walked into the bar, past the DJ booth, past the bar and servers, down a wooden set of stairs, across the sand, past local hawkers and foreigners gawkers. All kinds dressed as I had been when locked out (beach crowd was much less sober) to the waters edge. The looks I got were priceless!! HA!  I stepped a few inches into the surf and splashed some water on my face.

Then I turned around and went back to the bike.

Mission accomplished; made it to Cabo.

Anticlimactic. On the beach I was once more faced with the ugliness of my countrymen which brought back the feeling that I wanted more of the small towns and Mexican people I had enjoyed on the way South. I wanted to experience Mexico. Not drunk people from the US who could have partied on the beach or at any hotel in The States and received just as much of an authentic Mexican holiday (only they would not have this cultural tale and cheap tourist SWAG after their week of drinking on the beach where all the staff speak English and serve burgers …hmmmm). I zipped over to check out another beach and snap some pictures before I turned the trusty Pachyderm North, now without any reservations about not spending more time in Cabo. As the destination was a disappointment it must really be true about getting there. Huh, go figure, right?

The ride back to Pat’s place was fun in the waning light. Sunset was peaceful and hit the standard for sunsets over the Pacific. Distracting. So distracting that I did not notice my gas gauge until it was nearly dark and the bright amber light came on. The light comes on at about 2 bars of the fuel o’ meter. (here we go again with the fuel tank math). If one tank is 6 gallons and there are X bars on the gauge then… something-something …mashed potatoes! One bar left. ‘Crap!’ If one bar equals 15 miles at a speed of … Oh sweet! A PEMEX!

I filled up and chatted at skinny older man who was my attendant for this stop. He liked the bike and asked a lot of questions. As it turns out he used to have a little bike and loved to tour around on it. We talked for about 5 minutes before I begged my leave as it was dark already and I was already breaking my ‘riding in Mexico after dark rule’. Solo riding means that people approach you more often; no mater where you are.

Running in the dark with my flood lights on and at a slower rate of speed, with the last glow on the horizon nearly completely gone, absolutely refreshing. Bugs hit the windscreen like snowflakes with a terrifying frequency. The air was cooler and seemed to recharge my spirit after riding in traffic, heat, and observing the feral douche in its natural habitat (bars of Cabo). Ok, let’s be fair, I’ll admit it could be fun with friends…but too much to deal with on this trip to for those kind of shenanigans to be any fun to me. My preference would be beers on the beach in Bahia de Los Angeles.  I pulled the bike up the drive at Pat’s and went into the adobe bungalow to refresh.

Outside the property guards kicked up a ruckus. I felt compelled to go outside and see what was causing the disturbance. They had challenged an intruder while diligently standing their post.

After the intruder had been repelled I asked Pat about having a drink on the deck. He had a bottle of local tequila which we had talked about before. Like all liquors the better ones are smaller distilleries, often undiscovered/undistributed, and need not be expensive. I think the brand was actually Cazadores but not a bottle I can remember seeing in the U.S. It was smooth and we sipped our glasses with just a single cube of ice; not bothering to re-ice when that was gone. Only one or two drinks down but easily two hours worth of densely packed quality conversation. We bid each other good night and retired. The guards went back on patrol…

Morning came quick and I rolled over to see the pink sky once again. ‘Not this time!’ I thought…That picture is not going to be taken this morning and I am not going to be stuck outside in just my shorts. I read my book for a few minutes then wanted coffee. Because the guards are not able to bring me coffee I would have to go on that mission myself. Pat had pointed out an interesting building with a cafe where the expats go. He advertised that the prices were fair, food was good, and they had WiFi. His advice had not fallen on deaf ears rather been cataloged for just this moment…a coffee crisis. I donned my gear but did not load luggage because I had also wanted to explore side roads and trails after breakfast hopefully before it got too hot).

After I ordered work called. ‘Shock of all shocks!’ I had submitted/won a larger bid for some international work. The program was very formal, for a difficult client, and our engineering staff was handed over to a subpar manager. Meaning… recipe for disaster without strong leadership. I talked with my friend and coworker about our strategy for the bid and justification of something, something, … it’s not important really. We were both happy to talk to each other and I was excited to share some of my trip. It just goes to show that even when you disconnect for an adventure there are still ways to be connected (if you choose and at your leisure not just a whim; as it should be).

Breakfast gobbled…  work updated… Now, off to see some of Todos Santos back roads! I moved slowly North down the dirt road because it would throw some sand out in front of me occasionally and these 70/30 tires have been terrible in sand so far. I noticed a sign that said turtle hatchery… definitely should check that out! I circled back to it and bounded down a dirt road, past houses, towards the beach. Again, sand is the theme but I am mentally ready for it because I am headed to the beach after all! Somewhere along the route I lost the turtle hatchery but found a trail leading up to a bluff where a walking trail leads to the beach. Moving slow down a sandy trail had me (not the bike) overheating a bit so I parked and walked down to the beach for a dip. For miles in either direction, virgin beaches, not a soul. It reminded me of the Northern Australian beaches where no one dares go due to salt water crocodiles only here there is no deadly reason.

Some time later I wandered back to the bike to find a young guy hanging out by his truck. He wanted to hear all about the bike and we talked for a few minutes. I think he said his name was Buck. He was living in Todos Santos for a couple of years running a business. We did not get into ‘his business’ much before he produced a joint and asked if I would like to partake. As amazing as that location was for activities such at that… I politely declined and cited the bike needing all my attention in the sand. He went ahead. The surf crashed as we talked about his adventure and mine, then parted ways.

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Buck. Good fella making a go of it in Todos Santos.

After hanging at the beach and meeting Buck I decided I should see more of town. (More than John’s palapas, the taco place, and breakfast place.) I watered down, donned gear, and went back into town.

As I turned onto the main street (or my approximation thereof) a drunk guera smiled, gave me the look, and waved at me suggestively. I nodded, being polite but not encouraging her poor behavior, as I passed.  Along the streets the business owners had mobilized to sweep dirt off the road and sidewalks. No less that 50 people, children included, lined the streets sweeping dirt into neat piles. What a cool statement this makes about the people taking pride and ownership of their town. The infrastructure in Mexico is hardly ever maintained by the State so unless people come together under community organizers street sweeping just would not happen and the paved streets would crumble to dirt.

Across town, 800 meters, I noticed a textile store with a huge loom and blankets out front. NEAT! I stopped to talk to the proprietor. A young gal who spoke no English maned the store. I asked about the textiles and it seems that all of them are made on the loom out front. Too bad I was not able to transport one of the large rugs. They were great! I did notice the table runners which would fold up nicely into a saddlebag. I asked how much, then asked for the local price, and came away with two nice table runners. One for myself and another a gift for my dog watcher. They young gal was interested in the bike so I offered to show her. We went out front, started the bike, she sat on it, and then got pictures with her camera and mine.

My new precious cargo safely stored; I bid farewell to the textile girl wanting to spend a few minutes with Pat before leaving back to La Paz  in the afternoon. I putted along the road to Pat’s Place thinking that I could very easily live in a place like this. The pace of life slower, cost of living lower, and some unique living situations mean that one might carve a niche easily.

Reluctantly I packed the gear back onto the bike. This was really it… committing to the return home. Every minute,  meter, and step from here on out gets me closer to a 9 to 5 at the office where executive douches are slowly crushing souls. I hesitated looking at the bike…what if I just didn’t? In the scheme of things would it matter? For the longest time I had been finding diminishing returns of satisfaction from work. Less autonomy, less compensation, and more drones monitoring their stock options at the cost of long term viability for the business and employee quality of life. I talk with Pat to distract myself from that sad reality.

We talk a little while about my plan for heading North, where to eat in La Paz, and I thank him repeatedly for letting me stay. Total legend; Thank you again!  To anyone contemplating a better life in free lands of Baja in-and-around Todos Santos I would highly recommend the professional services of Mr. Patrick Coffman. To see some of his work check out his website at: www.patrickcoffman.com. He will treat you right and his work speaks for itself.

Before leaving town I wanted to first say goodbye to John and Jeff across town for helping me while in Todos Santos. About 5 blocks away from John’s house and I see a truck with Jeff sitting in the passenger seat. I whip the bike around and pull up next to the driver’s door. Jeff recognizes me instantly and we started chatting as I take gear off he says, ‘Are you leaving?’  I say, ‘Yes sir and thank you for helping me while I was here’. Just then John comes out of the store with two big heavy bags, possibly rice. He joins the conversation and we discuss road conditions, the possibility of a next trip, and say goodbyes. ‘Drive safe!’ is always the last thing people say to me in Mexico.

The road back to La Paz is easy in the heat of the day. As long as I was moving the heat was tolerable. Every time I stopped though the temperature skyrocketed underneath the jacket. Within seconds sweat dripped down my back.

The Google led me to a beachfront hotel. I thought to myself, ‘If the price is right… this is the place’. For the price of a good expensive lunch in the The States I was able to secure accommodations right on the beach, in a nice hotel with air conditioning, and breakfast included.

Fourth floor, no elevator, or AC in the hallways. This makes carrying luggage an torturous event. With sweat dripping off all sides I went straight back downstairs to the pool. It seemed to be family hour, kids and parents alike swarming around the pool, so I didn’t go into the pool area but I did walk around a bit and look at the beach. There was a lot of interesting and whimsical art around the hotel.

I retreated to the room for about an hour to take notes. Opting for the shower and air conditioning to cool off. The recommendation by Pat for the ‘Bismarck on Malecon’ was my mission for the evening.  I planned to go down there have one or two beers with dinner to SINK THE BISMARK(!) then come back shortly after dark.

I strolled cockily to the bike to find that the Motorcycle Gods had decided that I do not have enough drama in my life….The bike won’t start! I had left my high visibility off-road lights on again and drained my battery. Dammit!  I go into the office of the hotel with the look that someone had kicked my puppy on my face I explain to them that I require jumper cables because I cannot remember to turn my lights off.  They bring the big boss out from the back and he explains to me it’s no big deal he does it all the time on his bike. Hahaha, okay maybe I didn’t have to feel so bad.  He has the hotel driver meet me at the bike with jumper cables. Everybody is concerned that they need a different cables in order to jump a motorcycle. You know… smaller cables for a smaller battery. I convinced them that electricity does not care about the clamp or cable size (in this case…we are only talking 12v here…) and fire the bike up no problemo! Muchas gracias Amigos!

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I know the battery is flat – I go ahead and reassemble the bike with the bike running, put on my helmet, and explore the coastline of La Paz down Malecon. (The road that runs right along the beach in La Paz) The name La Paz means ‘the peace’ and unlike the first time I came into La Paz (after the road of death) this leisurely ride along the coast is very peaceful. ‘You earned your name this day La Paz!’  

Like any vacation port city there are lots of bars and restaurants. Beautiful views of the ocean to my right and the town to my left. This ride was more for the purpose of charging the battery but was rewarding still. After a 30 minute ride at sunset I returned back toward the hotel, riding roads carved along the mountain, just after dark. It was beautiful riding down the beach with jeans and a t-shirt rather than jacket and riding pants. But after the drama with the battery I wanted more than just one beer with dinner so I asked the hotel to arrange a taxi. The desk manager put my helmet behind the desk and I was into a cab in less than a minute. What great service!

The taxi driver, or rotund older man who you would have guessed his career at first sight, used to live in Tijuana and spoke perfect English.  I talked to him in Spanish but he responded in English… allowing both of us to practice. We have good conversation and he’s a super cool guy. Initially he tried to drop me at a restaurant  that was more popular, ‘Is this Bismark?’ I asked…and he said, ‘Oh crap! That’s right! Bismark!’ We drove two or three more blocks down to Bismark.  As I got out of the car he says, ‘What do you think half an hour?’ I said, ‘Let’s give it an hour.’ thinking about more than one beer. The large taxi man said, ‘Okay, I’ll meet you here in one hour.’

I walked into the restaurant they looked around… Not very impressive. Maybe the food is really good. Sometimes that’s the case – simple looking but not representative of the food. I look around and finally get the attention of a waiter. He says, ‘Sit anywhere!’  I decided to take a seat at the bar thinking I might get better service. There’s nobody at the bar eating.

I thought to myself, ‘Hopefully this means I get all of their attention.’ Not the case. Finally, I got some attention. Far from being needy… I just wanted a beer!  At this point I was thinking ‘Okay Pat, what have you got me into, this does not seem to be very good’. The young guy that eventually helped me speaks at a million miles an hour in Spanish. I asked him to slow down and he still rattles on like a gerbil on meth.I totally gave up on understanding him and I ordered Surf and Turf. Two beers later the food comes out. Except for the fact that they were feeding me beers fairly regularly I was starting to get a little bit impatient.

Turns out it was worth the wait. (Your the man Pat!) They bring me a huge plate with shrimp seasoned perfectly and a large hand size piece of flank steak about three quarters of an inch thick. All cooked more perfectly than I’d ever seen in my life! The knife slid through the meat like room temperature butter. Tender, juicy, and very different from any carne asada I’ve ever had. I pounced on the plate like an hungry bear, motioned to the bar tender when my beer was empty by grunting ‘otra’. After my stomach was so full it hurt, fingers licked clean,  and the plate was a mess I realized that I only made my way through about half of the mound of guacamole. You know the shrimp and carne were good if I could not bring myself to finish the guacamole. The poor guacamole ended up being sent with the plate back to the kitchen. Que Rico!

 

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As soon as I finished my meal my new friend the taxi driver pulled up. I motioned to the waiter for the check, finish my beer, and paid. It was only about $30 US. In the US this meal, with the 5 beers, would have run nearly $70. My friend the taxi driver takes me home and we have a great conversation in the English / Spanish described earlier. He gives me his phone number and I promise that if I’m ever in La Paz again I will attempt to use his services.

By now I am somewhat famous at the hotel. Most of the staff knows the guy on the motorcycle some of them also know the story about needing to jump the bike. As I come into the lobby I hear a kerfuffle and everybody is excited to see me. They are happy to hear about the nice dinner.  I bid them all good night and my thoughts went to the road. In the morning I would be riding through the construction again. With hopes that the morning would bring easy riding, over the road of death, I fell asleep with a full belly and the sounds of the ocean outside my room.

Whether you scrolled this far with your fancy fingers or actually read all the way… Thanks for supporting BOUTSIDE! I have no editors or real help putting this together except what you do. If you see mistakes comment and I’ll fix them.  If you like the stories then click Buy me a Beer to donate any amount you like via Paypal. It will support future trips or help replace gear I smash. Typically 1 to 2 pieces a trip. This trip I lost or broke about $400 worth of equipment.  Finally, LIKE – SHARE – COMMENT.  Thank you for all your support!

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