Our ambition for this morning was to wake up, have breakfast, shower and be on the road by eight o’clock. I believe we actually hit the road sometime after 11, on account of a brainstorming session that lasted until two a.m. You win this round, tequila.
Finishing all of our beers, plus ten others from the yurt & breakfast’s fridge likely didn’t help either.
On the upside, during the session we did hammer out a plan that will take this trip to the next level. For the time being, this is heavily classified material that only those with DFN Level 9 Seguridad authorization are privy to.
We fueled up on a killer breakfast before hitting the road – bacon and smoked ham made by the Y&B’s owners, fresh fruit, shredded hash browns, scrambled eggs, and homemade bread and preserves. Soon after leaving San Ignacio we passed the Three Sisters volcanoes (Three Virgins, maybe?) So much of the terrain from the previous two days of driving has been arid, but this area is lush and green, with vegetation going up the sides of the volcanoes. Somewhere ahead of us there must be a cabbage truck – there is a fair amount of mashed cabbage on some topes announcing a curva peligrosa and we keep seeing cabbage for the next hour or so. McBurger and Diesel are on the case.
Driving towards a ridge we see a sign announcing an “infierno”. No idea what this is until we crest the ridge – it’s a HUGE and fast descent, the road twisting along the mountainside with a drop of thousands of feet next to us. No guardrails and because of the curves, only a very small segment of the oncoming road is visible. Beautiful and dangerous, much like ourselves.
The infierno leads us to the coast and into Santa Rosalia. Our first view of the town is the dump and the restaurant directly across the road from it. Immediately after that was a copper mine garrisoned by heavily-armed guards. The ocean view is spectacular but the town is fairly rough around the edges – very industrial, a rotten fish smell everywhere, vultures grubbing on roadkill, and women seemingly non-existent. Although we’re hungry, the dump and the rotten fish smell persuade us to continue to Mulegé.
Mulegé is a small, tourist-oriented vacation town, but as it’s currently the off-season, it’s very quiet. Several of the restaurants we walk past are closed, but a really nice place called Las Casitas is open so we grab a seat. We’re the only patrons so the owner Javier hangs out, gives us the lowdown on the town. Great guy, very nice, a real caballero. We sat on the patio but checked out the bar inside – classic, old-fashioned place. One corner of the bar had a mini-library. The food was awesome and we slammed down Ocho Equus.
We poured some for the homies:
On the patio was this poignant advice:
We walked around town to check out the river a few blocks away…
… then found a shop selling hats, shirts and hammocks. After a classic shopping montage we purchased a couple of hats to keep the sun off our faces, and to look cool.
Without a doubt, the best scenery of this trip was when we rounded a curve onto Concepcion Bay. In certain seasons, this is widely known as the best whale porn site on planet earth. Despite not seeing any whale-on-whale barnacle bumpin’, the view is astounding – the color of the water is a gradient between every shade of blue and green, with pristine beach and a completely untouched archipelago of islands throughout the bay. Since we were motorin’ and some dude at the beach wanted a hundred pesos for us to check it out, we didn’t get any good photos so let me google some for you.
One thing we’ve learned since crossing the border is that Mexican speed limits are completely inexplicable. You can be in an 80 km/h zone which changes to 60 km/h for no reason, then to 40 km/h for no reason. No turns, no intersection, nothing. As such, we’ve decided to completely disregard speed limits, and drive 110+ km/h at all times, meaning we are often doubling the speed limit, and occasionally tripling it.
We came upon a new sign today that said “zonas de curvas peligrosas”. So instead of having a sign around each dangerous curve, this was more of a general announcement for a whole area of 1000 foot drops and sharp turns with no guardrails or further caution signs to warn you. While in one of these zones today we were stuck behind a pack of slow-moving traffic, mostly due to three large trucks, plus an overloaded pick-up and a Rav4 that had passed us a few miles earlier. There were occasional places where people could have passed and a few did, but most of the pack was content with crawling uphill at 15 km/h behind the trucks. We weren’t, so we tried first to pass the Rav4. We were successful, but for some reason the asshole hit the gas when we tried to pass. We settled behind the first transport, an oncoming car went by, and Murphy easily blew past. Next was the overloaded pick-up, who did the exact same thing as the Rav4 but more successfully… He cut us off trying to re-enter our lane, forcing us to drive in the opposing lane over a blind crest and a turn. Murphy had to jerk the car towards his fender to show we weren’t fucking around and we squeezed in, but it was pretty ridiculous. Had a car come over that curve or around that corner, we would have been toast for sure. On the next 18 wheeler Murphy used the Cole slingshot maneuver and easily blew past on the inside. This left one pick up and the last transport. Fortunately, there was a golden chevron arrow pulsing on the track and we cut hard, hit the booster, and in an explosion of mushrooms and stars we went to plaid and blasted past leaving the whole convoy in our rearview.
We were fairly skeptical about making it to La Paz at a decent time, but after the curvy windy ascent the road flattened into a straight shot, high plains kind of drive. There was a great plume of smoke coming from something burning to the north of us. We stopped at a great taco shack in Cd. Insurgentes (City of Insurgents? Weird) and helped ourselves to a sampling of the al pastor, carne asada, and pollo tacos with all the fixings: cabbage, radish, cukes, habanero onions, grilled jalapeno, guac, key limes, and 3 salsas of varying levels of scorchness. The taco tally ramps up even further, we’re gonna start keeping track.
After scarfing we came by Cd Constitucion which actually seemed like it had a decent strip of places to check out, but we were still motorin’ so we breezed on by.
A couple hours along that road and the sun started setting. Around 8pm we rounded a corner and saw the coastal lights of La Paz in the distance. It was a much bigger city than we were expecting and the line of lights reflected off the water for miles. Unfortunately, our excitement was stifled by a solid hour drive through construction zones on the way into the city. Detours from the main road lead us onto washboard dirt tracks which instantly brought up flashbacks of the mongol rally graveyard near Altai. At one point we came to some sort of military checkpoint but it wasn’t clear which way to go. I ended up driving towards a guy waving a flashlight but there was oncoming traffic that way so I went around the other side of him. He was laughing at me and pointing back to some building I think I was supposed to have stopped at. I waved and kept going past, completely burning around the checkpoint without stopping and talking to anyone. The guard just kept laughing. Ah well.
We drove straight to the center of La Paz and found a hotel on what looks like the strip. We’ve got a killer plan and, weather permitting, we hope we can pull it off tomorrow. But for now, it’s Saturday night and this place actually looks kind of happening, so we’re gonna scope it out.
DFN Mexico Advanced Analytics
Taco count: 24
Beer count: 60
Number of nights camping: 0
Insect bites on Murphy: 417
Curvas peligrosas: 184