06 August, 2012

Day 32, 630km: Crossing Baja desert

Woke up from my first night in Mexico with a long day ahead of me. I kind of wanted to make up for the short (<500km) days I did in California and set the objective of reaching the gulf of Mexico by the evening. That would be a minimum of 600km depending on where I stayed for the night.

One could say it's stupid going across these amazing regions so quickly, but that's the way I like it.
One could also say it's stupid having these objectives while I'm on holiday but I like the idea of having "challenges", as easy and insignificant they are it gives something to head for during the day.

Into the desert
 And that is very much needed when most of your day is as the picture above. A hot, arid and desolated desert. The temperature varied a quickly, basically 35 degrees C in the land and 25 degrees C when nearing the Pacific coast.

Do we call that a cacti forest? Or a rock forest?
 Luckily the "Parque National de Deserto Central de Baja California" (what an exciting name) gave a bit of a break with what can only be described as rocks forests.

And rocks mountains. How did this happen?
 There weren't many cars on the road, nor many rest areas. So my stops and talks were limited to the gas stops. Luckily most of the Mexicans travelling in the region speak good/some English. The local staff however rarely does so. To stay positive, it gives me many opportunities to learn more Spanish. Si senor es muy bien.

Finally some action!
 Some portions of the road got a bit boring to be honest so I was kind of excited to see something burning in the distance. I started imagining what it could be.

A car burning? Maybe there are people in need of assistance!

I did a quick mental check of what I had with me that could put out a fire. 2L of water, a few clothes. Not much. Made me think that maybe I should get a fire extinguisher, in case my own bike got on fire!
By the time I had expired all mental possibilities for the source of the fire, I neared it and it turned out to be the one I didn't envision, some guys burning old tires.

I am scared of myself
 So after that eventful morning I stopped for lunch by the side of the road, somewhere where the Pacific wind blew consistently so I could cool down. From the photo above, I'm glad to see that my hobo look is being perfected day after day.

 No it's not a significant geographic landmark
 At some point there was a town called "Latitudo 28" or something like that. It was more a military outpost than a town -there are many military checkpoints by the way, which is a good thing I guess- but I thought that maybe 28 degrees of latitude meant something.
So I assumed it could be the tropic of Cancer and took the photo above when I passed the 28 degrees mark. I was excited to be under the tropics!

Well it turns out the tropic of Cancer is more around 23 degrees 26 minutes. Its latitude varies slightly each year. Learnt while checking that the tropic of Cancer marks the northernmost latitude where the sun appears directly overhead at its zenith, during the summer solstice. (For the tropic of Capricorn, same idea during the winter solstice).

So what I thought was a highlight of my day turned out to be absolutely nothing!

Had plenty of time to stop and frame this one. Like the result.
 Well still that let me plenty of time to "play" with the GPS coordinates. A long portion of the road (above) was going almost exactly to the south so I watched carefully the latitude minutes go down and estimated that 1 minute = 2km. Then estimated from the earth circumference more precisely a degree to 110km. Turns out it's 111.2km. Not bad!

Yes, that was a long day.

Nearing the Mexican gulf coast, Volcan de las Virgenes
 The landscape finally changed when nearing the Mexican gulf coast. Passed the 15,000km mark somewhere on its way!

Booya. Time to get new tires soon.
 I reached the first coastal city on the gulf (along my way) about an hour before sunset. Santa Rosalia. A fishing and industrial town of maybe 10,000 souls. Kind of depressing. I decided to continue to the little town of Mulege. I think I had been recommended the place by a guy along the way. Since I didn't understand 50% of what he said, he might as well have been saying "don't go there it's a shithole". But the city's gate looked welcoming.

So according to Wikipedia the place remained free and Mexican during the American-Mexican war of 1846-1848. So that's where the "heroica" comes from. Ended up staying at "Las Casitas" which was a nice little hotel. It was even better once I figured how to turn on the air-con as it was still 30 degrees and extremely humid when I checked-in (had to fiddle with the air-con unit that was hanging form the wall, the room's fan took that opportunity to try and decapitate me but my head is strong). Even far better once the hotel staff turned the water on for my room.

Went off to bed after a Pacifico (local beer that reminds me of Singha) for veinte pesos. Mas barato!

The bed was great and very much appreciated after that long day of driving.


  1. Tu t'es un peu transformé en Mexicain niveau allure moustache.. :)

  2. Hey senor Donde esta la photo de la mulleta!? Tout le monde est inquiet de savoir comment tu geres ce probleme!

    1. Si si la mulleta! Que ca ne s'emmelle pas ds ta roue arriere, Hombre!

  3. Tiens chtite question sur l'itineraire : tu remontes en becane ?

    Pas mal sinon niveau look... Va falloir troquer la gs pour une harley dans quelques temps :-P

    1. Remonte? No comprendo senor! Si tu veux dire remonter Baja California, non je prends le ferry pour traverser le golfe. Si tu veux dire remonter une fois a Ushuaia, oui le plan est de remonter jusqu'au Bresil!

      Comment ca se passe la conduite? ;)

  4. Okay !

    Pour la conduite, longue pause car pas de place dispo pour l'epreuve avant aout... Ca devrait se terminer vite a mon retour de vacance ;-)

    Viendra ensuite le temps de trouver une bonne monture !