Days 151 - 156: Ranchos y Ninos

Loreto to La Paz 384 km

We have finally reached the end of the Baja.  I say finally because our hope is that the intense heat that we experienced might lessen a little on the mainland.  Although we would generally not recommend cycling the Baja in September...because of the heat and unpredictable winds these were the only disadvantages.  Otherwise, being on the Baja in September was pretty great... Very very few tourists, light traffic, so much green because of the rain, and a pretty relaxed vibe everywhere we went.  So, if you don't mind 42 degree heat, September might be the time to go....

Our last sprint took us over the steepest climb we had seen in the Baja, through more flat desert land, and back over the mountains to the city of la Paz.  I decided to give our daily journals for this update... To an idea of our day to day adventures...

Here are some photos for starters:

Baja Peninsula: Part 3

If you can't see the slideshow click HERE, to be directed to our full Picasa gallery.

September 21: Loreto - Ley Federal del Aguas #1   106 km
We set off at our usual time...7 am or close to.  We needed to fill up in water before we left because we would be facing a very steep climb from the coast back to the mountains.  For the last couple of weeks we have been filling up our gallon jugs for about 3-7 pesos (20-60 cents), but for some reason these refill stations have been harder to find, so we wasted some time looking for one without any luck.  The only one was not yet opened.   So we set off with some water and planned to fill up down the road, I may have gotten a little panicky because for the first 10 or 15 km there were no stores at all.  But then we met a road worker to kindly filled up our jugs at his office, in exchange for money for a Coke.  The road followed the rugged coast line for about 40 km before turning inland, and up a steep switch-back style hill.  We had been warned about this hill, some said that they had seen cyclists walking their bikes up it.  So we were mentally prepared.  It turned out not to be too bad... Some steep climbing, but nothing that we had not seen before.  Shortly after we reached the top there was a little Rancho, with a restaurant and water for sale.  We ate some lunch here and then took our daily siesta for a couple hours before setting off again in the heat.  We thought that the afternoon would be fairly fast (always a mistake to assume this...), we had some rolling hills, then another climb of a few hundred meters, then we would have a gradual decent for about 30 km.  The gradual decent would bring us into the flat desert lands on the other side of the mountains we had climbed over... Unfortunately the wind from the Pacific Ocean was blowing fairly fiercely so the gradual decent felt more like a steady climb.  We had hoped to make it to Cuidad del Insurgentes, but we were pretty beat by the time we reached the little town of 'Ley Federal del Aguas #1'... Or Federal Law of Water # 1....  We asked if we could camp somewhere in the town, and were directed to the town park, and a little gazebo.  Pretty soon all of the town children came to talk with us, they were pretty awesome, and also amazed and amused at our very limited Spanish skills...they thought everything about us was hilarious, from Glenn's badass farmers tan, to our dish washing methods, to our little tent or casita... It was a welcome distraction from our exhaustion!

September 22: Ley Federal - El Coyote Rancho  83 km
Again we set off early, before the Ninos returned.  The defining feature of the day was flatness and unfortunately headwinds... We were back in the desert, but because of the rain it was green and quite beautiful.  We rode through the towns of Cuidad Insurgentes and Cuidad Constitucion, and picked up some supplies for our next stretch of sparsely populated country.  This part of the Baja, although technically desert has a rich agricultural industry normally using irrigation but because of the recent rains this had not been necessary.  We rode past many a farmers field and eventually this changed into the familiar desert landscape of cacti and sand.  After about 60 km we took a midday rest in a little park where hundreds of flies also liked to hang out, but being tired and hot enough, we weren't too bothered by this.  By the time we set off again the headwind had picked up, so we only managed another 23 or so km before reaching a little ranch called El Coyote.   We were offered a place to camp, and they even had a shower that we old use (bliss!), they were a super friendly and joyful family.  As we had a couple of beers and some dinner many of their friends stopped in to say hello and chat for a while... It was a wonderful place.  Again...we were in bed early in preparation for another hot day!

September 23: El Coyote - San Agustin Ranch 97 km
Another hot long day with head winds to help us out.. As we set off at first light fog and mist filled the air.  For two ours we rode through dense fog, using our bike lights so that the vehicles would see us.  We were wet...but for once not from our sweat, but from the mist in the air.  This actually helped us to stay cool for a short time.  Then the fog cleared as we headed back into the mountains leaving the flatlands behind.  It is always a bit of a relief to have topography again after long stretches of flatness.   But then the heat set in again.  We managed 75 km before lunch, so we took a long rest it he town of El Cien, and then pushed on a little further to a little Ranch at San Agustin, where once again we were welcomed to camp anywhere.  Something miraculous happened that evening, it got a little but cool.  Not cold, but cool enough that we weren't sleeping in pools of our own sweat, and sometime in the middle of the night I even need to pull by sleeping bag over me.... It was very refreshing.

September 24: San Agustin - La Paz 78 km
When we woke it was still cool, gloriously cool.  We set off early and for two hours I felt like someone had injected me with energy... The timing was also perfect, because we were climbing back over the mountains for the first part of the day.  Just before we reached the summit and headed down into La Paz we hit 8888! And yes, we did a little song....this time live on the bikes !


Shortly after the above video we reached the summit and got to glide back down to the sea of Cortes and the city of la Paz.  We had organized a warm showers stay with Eduardo and his family in La Paz, and they were incredible hosts.  They welcomed us in offered us food and drink and in the evening took us down to the malecon for a little tour.  They also introduced us to a strange but delicious street food called 'tostielotes' , basically you take a small bag of flavoured tostitos, cut it open on the side, put some cooked corn on top, then some sort of cream sauce, cheese, and hot sauce. Then you take your fork mash it all up, and enjoy!  It was actually really really delicious. 

September 25: Ferry to Mazatlan 20 km
Today we boarded the ferry to Mazatlan, on mainland Mexico..  The ferry did not leave until five, but we needed to buy tickets so we headed out to the ferry terminal (20 km out of town) mid morning.  On the short hot ride past several beautiful clear beaches, and lovely views.  When we reached the terminal and tried to purchase tickets, none of our credit cards would work.  Luckily there was a bank machine, but our debit cards also would not work.  Our last option was to take out cash on our credit card at the ATM, never a good option, but it was all we could do and luckily it worked.  Otherwise we would have had to ride back into town to try to get money out.  I rested in some shade while glenn went to one of the nearby beaches as we waited for the ferry to board.  I rejected the beach as I was beginning to feel a little under the weather and didn't want salty sticky skin for the next 24 hours.... We finally boarded the ship and settled into some very comfy seats in a very air conditioned room.  As night fell everyone made bed for themselves, and we did the same.  The boat gently rocked us to sleep.  Unfortunately my stomach was rocking a little more chaotically and my sleep was not so restful.... 

September 26: Arriving in Mazatlan
We arrived in Mazatlan around noon, it is a cool bustling town.  We have found a place to stay ...and my stomach is still acting up... We had planned to head off tomorrow morning, but my stomach will dictate whether or not we are able!