We are now in Mazatalan after taking a ferry to the mainland and having just finished our cycle through Baja California, Mexico and what an awesome adventure it has been!
The people have been friendly, the food excellent and the landscapes beautifully alien. Some days we have felt like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (partly filmed in Mexico) rolling into quiet dusty towns and on other days like long isolated missionaries scanning the turquoise bays hoping for a Spanish Galleon to peep out from behind a rocky island. Jess has been particularly smitten with the Baja due mostly to the intense heat; the beaches; the easy availability of peanut themed snacks; and a bizarre infatuation with cacti.
Although I’ve never had so many dreams about rattlesnakes before, the camping has been seriously cool. We often don’t bother with the fly sheet allowing us to look straight up through the mesh of the inner tent at the stars and watch the sunrise without getting out of bed. For two nights we even had a third camper named Zora, a 40kg lion of a dog who kindly but noisily saw off any coyotes that strayed too close.
The two main sports in Baja are off road truck racing and fishing and we’ve had an introduction to both. We’ve been taught how to dive for clams and eaten them ‘ceviche’ style barely 10 minutes after catching them. We’ve also enjoyed freshly caught Snapper, Grouper and Yellow Tail kindly shared by the fisherman who caught it and cooked over the open fire of a local beach bar. The truck racing experience occurred as we were driven to this bar by ex-Baja 500 champion Rob, this was quite frankly terrifying but Rob at least was reassured by having a doctor in the car.
We also need to thank Rob for the equally unforgettable experience of snorkeling with whale sharks. These gorgeously speckled gentle giants can grow up to 12.5m long and weigh 25 tons and even the ‘babies’ we were snorkeling with were a good 5-6m in length. Later we also had the opportunity of snorkeling with sea lions. Snorkeling is the ultimate way to get up close and personal with a sea lion as not only are they breath-taking when swimming underwater but they are also a lot less smelly!
However there have also been darker moments of the trip and I am still recovering from some serious foot wounds after an ill-fated and unnecessary mission to rescue Jess. Let me start this tale from the beginning:
After a hard few days cycling we arrived in Playa Buenaventura and I settled in for a long day of resting. Meanwhile, my indefatigable travelling buddy found a Sea Kayak and set off to reach a distant shore. This shore was 5 miles away if you paddle in a straight line. Jess definitely didn’t paddle in a straight line. After half an hour Jess had vanished into the distance, after 2 hours I began to wander what I would do if she didn’t come back, after 3 hours the wind seriously picked up and after 4 hours I decided we needed to launch a rescue mission. This was in part an attempt to find my friend and partly an attempt to assuage any anger Jess’ bereft mother may have directed my way upon my return.
A friendly local named Kenny offered to drive me to the nearest headland to see if we could spot her with a pair of binoculars. I readily accepted but forgot to bring my shoes and upon stepping out of the car got a thistle in each foot. Despite the pain I quickly determined my feet were simply not big enough to accommodate the number of thistles required for me to abandon my best friend. Three steps later I had decided to return to the truck; let Kenny look for Jess; and preserve my feet for later.
This strategy seemed to pay off, Kenny informed me he had spotted Jess on the far shore walking up the beach (presumably either foraging for food or looking for wood to start a large fire and attract attention). Back to camp and the planning of the rescue mission was in full force:
- Should we attempt to launch a boat in this squall or make the several hundred kilometer trip in the car?
- Would Jess’ beach be visible from the road?
- After being isolated for so long would she remember her previous life or have been driven to madness?
Moments before the final plan could be swung into action, who should appear but Jess more than 5 hours after she left, completely sun-burnt but also completely un-phased and smiling as usual. Whoever it was that Kenny spotted, well hopefully they are ok too!