We have a van and a boat, and it’s impossible to get them to the same place at the same time, so we left Lodos safely floating in San Carlos while we made our way back to San Diego and then started our road trip down the Baja.
Traveling is humbling. You meet adversity, stay in dodgy places (Baja Cactus) and always experience something new and foreign. I continue to be in awe of meeting the kind and generous people of Mexico – they are patient with our poor Spanish, honest and almost always welcoming.
We traveled nearly 1,000 miles vertically down the Baja, stopping in Ensenada (at the Marea Vista) for a first short day, then two longer days, stopping in El Rosario, the infamous resting stop for the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 – an international desert road race that goes roundtrip from Ensenada to La Paz, traveling over the rough and tumble landscape of the desert sometimes at speeds in excess of 100 MPH and Santa Rosalia – an old Copper mining town with a French influence (and an outstanding historic bakery).
Kirby drove the entire way – all 944 miles of it. We were stopped 9 times by Federales and Military police wanting to know what we were doing on these quiet roads and why we were there, always waving us through with a smile and often well wishes. I think the new president is making good on his anti-corruption promises, which is why we encountered so many of these roadblocks.
Sometimes we slowed to give the charities a few coins at the toll booths that are often vacant and not taking tolls; the locals take the opportunity to gather money that goes directly to their communities instead of snaking its way inefficiently through the government first.
We listened to Michelle Obama read us her book Becoming, and I felt like I was changing listening to her story and voice, seeing the serene nothingness of endless miles of cactus, saguaros as old as the redwoods and millions of desert flowers blooming. We even spotted a few notable birds (tanagers, hummingbirds, hawks, orioles, ospreys, herons, vultures and shrikes), no doubt migrating this landscape for cooler weather north.
We visited towns by road that we’d only seen by sea and on foot – participating in a glorious small town Mardi Gras parade in Santa Rosalia showcasing their finest dancers, princesses and princes on top of handmade floats while friendly Federales cleared the roads and parents cheered their support, trying to catch candy and prizes tossed to cheering children lining the roads.
We finally arrived in La Paz today (Sunday), where we will drop the van, get some sleep, see some friends at the marina and then catch a flight back to San Carlos on Tuesday to begin our slow sail back south again.