San Diego to Guerrero Negro (Baja) 27th November. 6,100 miles

 

Crossed the border into Mexico on Saturday 18th November at Tijuana. Although there were lots of people going through, most were locals who just walked through with no formalities. We nearly missed the immigration office and could have ended up as illegal immigrants with no entry permit or stamp. But, we filled in the usual forms, paid an exorbitant 37 dollars entry and were on our way.

Tijuana was the usual chaotic untidy type of Mexican town we were used to. We cycled along the border for several miles where two high metal fences separated by a hundred yards of U.S patrolled no-mans land kept the Mexicans out of the USA. It was something like a Berlin wall.

The coast road to Ensenada was rolling and quite scenic. We spotted a school of dolphins just offshore.

We stayed in a rather grotty motel for 120 pesos (9 pounds) as no campsites were around. Road now goes inland through mixture of desert and dry farmland. The roads have a good surface but are very narrow and some with no shoulders. Some sections are dead straight to the horizon, which we measured at six miles.

Campsite at Santo Tomas turned out to be free as nobody asked for money, but we paid 9 pounds for a meal with beer in a posh restaurant opposite.

A Motel again in Colonia Guerrero. Joan tried to beat them down, but they insisted on 10 pounds a night. The lack of campsites here is not much of a problem and we expected it. The motel prices are about the same or cheaper than campsites in Canada.

The shortwave radio (Grundig YB300) we bought in San Diego is working well. We can tune into BBC world news on every hour if we wish.

David had a Mexican haircut in El Rosalito. It was 40 pesos (about 3 pounds) which was possibly much more than the locals paid. His pile of white hair contrasted vividly with the all black hair already on the floor.

The weather is pleasantly warm to hot, but the breeze is cool when it blows. The evenings are nowhere near as cool as further north. One very obvious difference in the scenery in Mexico is the vast amount of rubbish strewn everywhere. There seems to be no system of clearing rubbish from the roads and it just accumulates.

Decided to stay 2 nights in a motel in El Rosario and have a rest day by the beach. The road to the beach looked easy on the map, but was about 15 miles each way on barren cactus strewn hills. It was also sandy and in places so deep our wheels sunk in and we had to walk. Ended up at a Fish camp which seemed to be a sort of Mexican fishing village but it has no houses, just a jumble of run-down shacks and caravans with some boats. They were fishing for several sorts of shellfish and spiny sea urchins. We never found out what they did with the sea urchins. The surrounding countryside and roadsides are strewn with piles of seashells of all sorts.

After leaving El Rosario, the road winds inland through spectacular desert scenery. A type of cactus tree called Cirio grows here. It is a tall spindly tree with spines and contorted branches and is only found in the Baja and nowhere else in the world. Other traditional types of cactus also grow here like the huge 50ft high Cardon cactus, which everybody thinks of as typical Mexican. We cycled on through miles of desert with only the occasional cafe.

At Catavinia, the hotel was expensive (40pounds) and so we stayed at a nearby campsite. There was no running water -just a large tub. Camping at the same site was an Austrian couple on a motorbike also going to Tierra del Fuego. They started in Los Angeles and were planning to get there the same time as us, but they had an engine!

The cycling now required some careful planning in order to get to somewhere with some sort of facility such as a cafe. There were no motels for hundreds of miles. We had to carry at least six litres of water to make sure we didn't run out. Although, if we did, we would flag down a vehicle and ask for some.

Some places that the guidebook said had facilities had obviously been deserted years ago.

At a store in Punta prieta, we asked if there was a motel or campsite nearby. "There's one a hundred miles up the road but you can camp round the back" was the reply. We camped in what looked like a breakers yard and a petrol generator chugged away until 9pm.

70 miles a day across desert was getting very hard work and the 70 miles to Guerrero Negro was no exception. Although we had a slight back wind, the road cut a perfectly straight line for 50 miles across a featureless barren desert. The end of the road was always on the horizon in front. Even if there was some sort of landmark on the horizon it never seemed to get any closer.

Finally at Guerro Negro we found a motel with very basic rooms for 6 pounds a night. We booked two nights.