It seems like forever ago that we made the uneventful border crossing into Mexico at Otay Mesa, near Tijuana. When I say it seems like forever I mean it. I literally can’t recall the date but if I had to guess (and I’m usually wrong) I’d say it was about seven weeks ago.
Seven damn weeks out of the 26 our visitor visa allows are gone. Most of those weeks we left on the Baja Peninsula.
I’ll be honest when I say I knew little about Baja. I always kind of looked at is as California’s awkward appendage and thought little of it save for the debauchery of Tijuana and the place down south where Sammy Hagar made a tequila that I have not nor will ever try.
After all of the craziness that we went though in the United States, we only went a few hours south before we parked for a week at Clam Beach RV Park. I was expecting a tribe of crazies like us, those foolishly adventurous enough to drive to the end of the world.
What I found was a lot full of big rigs with California plates, the weekend getaways for the residents of San Diego, and most of them empty. At 350 USD per month for parking, why wouldn’t you just leave your RV at the campground all year and just come down when you felt like it?
We spent our week working and trying to figure out all of the gadgets that we’d brought along, ostensibly to make our work lives easier. Still working on that.
It wasn’t long before we decided to try our hand at wild camping; dry camping with no services like water or a toilet. We selected a place further south of Ensenada and found ourselves slaves to GPS coordinates left by those who had come before and then went bouncing through an arroyo toward the Pacific Ocean.
One of the good things about wild camping is that there’s no one around. You usually have the place all to yourself and in our case this place was a rocky outcrop overlooking the water and rocks where sea lions and pelicans fought for space. It was lovely.
The bad thing about wild camping is there are rarely toilets and I think that will the bane of my existence for the entirety of this trip. Unless I can simply abandon all modesty and take a shit in front of the entire world.
We continued south toward the highway that would take us east to the other side of the peninsula. We chose Ceilito Lindo RV Park this time, mainly due to the fact that other users of iOverlander raved about the crab served in a spicy paprika sauce.
This crab would be my undoing the next day.
Cue another night of wild camping and just as we pulled off the highway into another arroyo my gut lurched and I panicked. The stone toilet I built on that beautiful beach is going to be one of the things I describe if I ever have a job interview question like, ‘What was your greatest achievement?”
“Well, boss man sir, I managed to build a toilet from stones on a deserted beach in Mexico in just enough time to avoid shitting myself.”
He’ll likely decline to shake my hand as he shows me out the door.
After we watched a pod of dolphins play just offshore the next morning we headed inland. I wasn’t really expected much in the way of scenery; I do think deserts are beautiful but my main experience with them has been in the Middle East.
What I saw took my breath away. Much of Baja’s interior is part of Mexico’s biosphere reserve network and the landscape sports towering cacti and boulders so big it seems impossible for them even be there in the first place. It was everything that Hollywood tried to create in Italy for the spaghetti western and failed miserably at.
Oh, and there was a naked guy too.
I’m sure there will be more occasions when I wish we had a dash cam and it’s really impossible to believe this unless you were there, but it’s true. High noon, blazing hot, naked guy walking down the middle of the highway, sunburned cock swaying to and fro. I don’t know if he pissed off the wrong people or the peyote was particularly good that day but yeah, naked guy. We thought about stopping but then saw a police car just a few minutes later headed his way.
I’ll always wonder about the fate of naked guy.
We crossed the peninsula and ended up in the tiny town of Mulege. Home to a small population of expats this is one of those places where you go when you really, really want to be left alone. We spent the sweltering week at a campground there working, then continued south, camping along the Bay of Conception.
Loreto was our next stop and while it was slightly more lively than Mulege we had another problem to deal with. Yeah, we somehow spaced the fact that it’s still hurricane season and one named Newton was headed right for us. So we did some really stupid stuff like actually go out in the hurricane but all’s well that ends well, even when you’re a dumbass.
After a few nights camping on the beaches south of Loreto, we headed to La Paz. Will had his work trip coming up so we had to find a place for me spend nine days alone. The woman who owned the campground was a fascinating lady but again, I was all alone, not another camper in sight. Unless you count the weird Dutch guy who stayed for two nights and told me emphatically that Americans are narcissists.
Given the current political climate, I wasn’t inclined to disagree with him.
Will returned from his trip and we decided to head down to Cabo to retrieve a piece of equipment. I mean it when I say nothing prepared me for Cabo. It’s a beautiful place but so jam packed with mega resorts and more under construction that it felt more like Cancun, complete with Señor Frog’s.
For all you Americans who freak out about Mexico, you sure do come down here and spend a shit ton of money, well, as long as you’re surrounded by a familiar hotel brand, high walls, and security guards.
We rounded out our tour of Baja with a trip back to La Paz and ferry tickets that would take us across the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan. And as I stood at the stern of the ship and watched La Paz fade into the darkness I had a lot of thoughts about Baja, most of them good.
But now that we’re on the mainland I feel more like the real trip has begun. The highways heading south are uninterrupted except for those pesky border crossings until we get to Panama.
There’s nowhere to go but down from here.