I have been putting off writing this posting for sometime. We have been out of Baja for some three weeks and I am still left with so many conflicting opinions and feelings. Admittedly we only got to see the Northern portion of the peninsula before beating a retreat when faced with the aftermath of Oldie and the possible landfall of Polo, but what I saw didn’t capture me. Overlanders talk ad nauseam about Baja gushing about its untamed beauty and picture perfect beaches. Sure we got the odd beach to ourselves and the constant mountain backdrop, but it just wasn’t mind blowing. This is where a personal reality check is necessary while travelling.
We evaluated what had bought us to Baja, we even looked back at our note book where we had jotted down must see highlights for the trip, on the page titled Mexico there was not one word written about Baja, in fact the whole damn page was blank. The realization dawned on us that we were there because that is the typical overland route, in other words we had no good reason of our own to have been there. We had barely even broken the spine of our guide book, when we eventually did our spirits were not exactly lifted. As any regular reader will have noticed hiking plays a large part in our travels. Baja it would appear was far from a hikers paradise, there were “trails” to view cactus gardens or old missions, but these were (I am going to sound like an obnoxious prick here) walks and nothing that a real hiker would consider interesting our challenging.
The only real prospect for prolonged hiking* was San Pedro Matir National Park. Here we were a little under prepared in that we did not have a topo map of the area and the map provided by the park only covered a 2km loop. However we did find our way onto some longer trails, walking aimlessly and happily for hours, only heading back when we saw storm rolling in. Unfortunately it more sprinted in than rolled and we were drenched in warm rain and the storm was directly overhead, the next thing we saw was a white flash as a bolt of lightning touched down a few hundred feet away from us, we actually felt tingling sensations pulse through our bodies, which was quite invigorating and very fucking scary. We spent the balance of the rainy afternoon making plans for the balance of our time in Baja and adjusting timelines in Mexico to more closely reflect our own interests.
It was on the drive back down from the mountainous park that we a discovered that the mechanic in Seattle who serviced the Hulk had not tightened the driver’s side rear wheel nuts, the first sign was a loud ping and the second was the wibbly wobbly wheel I could now see in my side mirror. One of the bolts sheered completely whilst the others were all close to popping. The initial fix for the remaining 4* was easy enough, just tighten them as the mechanic should have after the service. While all this was going on our phone was vibrating like crazy, this is when we learned Hurricane Oldie had battered the south of the peninsula.
We decided to press on South, but only made it to El Rosario where we stopped for lunch at Mama Espinosa’s. We chatted to the owner who said that the road had been impassable for the last day beyond Catavina, our planned destination that afternoon, as we ate are lunch the place started to fill up with expats and locals fleeing north. After talking to many of them it became clear that the destruction had reached far further north than we had realized and that by continuing south we would be putting ourselves in a dangerous position and would become a drain on precious resources.
We made the call to head back up to the US for a week or so before heading into the Mexican mainland.
So we cannot fully judge Baja, but what we saw wasn’t for us. However the people we met were without exception some of the warmest and most generous that I have met anywhere in the world, and the seafood was excellent.
*At least in the North
*4 out of 5 nuts according to one mechanic we met was good, 3 was ok but 2 bad, er thanks but I still like 5.