That time I played Tour Guide

From Pete’s Camp near San Felipe, I gassed up and traveled south to Bahia San Luis Gonzaga in search of good food and another beach to camp on. Road quality fluctuated quite a bit during those 177 km. The mostly undivided two-lane highway started out as what I consider average for the US. About 20km south of San Felipe, maneuvering around the road damage was a little more intense than dodging the potholes and cracks in northeastern New Jersey with the added excitement of signage in a language I am trying to learn. Disminua Su Velocidad (slow down) and Curva Peligrosa (dangerous curve) were quickly understood and added to my vocabulary, but I don’t recall anything warning me that I would test my reflexes and suspension for the next 80km. Somewhere around Puertecitos, Tramo En Reparacion (road work) had been completed providing a beautiful blacktop for the next 77 miles.

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Fresh tarmac and the Sea of Cortez

If the solid reputation of the food served at Alfonsina’s Restaurant in Bahia San Luis Gonzaga wasn’t enough to reel me in, the possibility of camping  for free in a palapa on a nearby beach made this location a very worthwhile stopping point for the day. Alfonsina’s is also a relatively expensive hotel. While I was stuffing my face with the best fried fish tacos I’ve ever had, a large group of tourists in side by side utility vehicles swarmed the parking area. They rented every room in the joint.

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The view ain’t bad, either.
I had a chance to chat with a couple of fellas on the tour. Bob, an older gentleman, and I had been talking about motorcycle touring for a while as I prepared to ride off in search of the aforementioned palapas.

“Where are you going next?”

“Bahia de L.A.”

“Are you going to Coco’s?”

“Absolutely.”

From the recesses of my mind, a few concerns started making themselves known. An important part of the road from Gonzaga to Bahia de Los Angeles which passes through Coco’s Corner would be unpaved. I had the right bike for the job, spare tubes, an air compressor and tools. I also had my Spot GPS notifier if I was in a life-or-death situation. During this conversation, I realized that I was uncomfortable with my lack of experience riding this rig on dirt trails and minimal understanding of how to change a tube other than what I’ve seen on YouTube videos. I sorta wished I had a buddy with me for this stretch.

Along the way down, I had seen other motorcyclists filling their tanks and would wave. A crew of five fellas on mostly BMW and one KTM adventure bikes pulled into Alfonsina’s parking lot while I was chatting with Bob. Pretty sure I saw them at a gas station back in San Felipe and waved, but they didn’t wave back. One of these guys heads up to the hotel’s office and comes back sounding distressed.

“All the rooms are booked! Where are we going to stay?! There aren’t any hotels around here and it’s gonna get dark soon.”

Hold that thought, Bob.

“Hey, adventure guys! Do you have camping gear?” I turn and ask.

“Yeah,” one of them responds while another mutters something I don’t understand.

“There’s beach camping in palapas on the other side of the runway. Want to come check it out with me?”

“What’s your name?”

“Robyn.”

“I.F.R.”

Uhh… should I be worried? Then I realize it means “I Follow Robyn.” We start our bikes, I say goodbye to Bob, and with my new entourage behind me, we find our way to the palapas.

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They didn’t know what a palapa was until now.
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We can’t all be in the picture at the same time.

There was a store back at the main road, so one of the guys went and came back with beer and hot dogs for everyone. We set up our sleeping arrangements – three of the guys would share a palapa, one would just use a lightweight sleeping bag on the ground, another set up his tent outside, and I would have another palapa to myself. The youngest of their group and I took a bath in the sea before the sun would set.

One of the guys scavenged wood for a fire, but couldn’t find any kindling. I used a tactic I had learned while camping off the Denali Highway: drink a can of beer, cut the top off, fill it with rocks, top it off with gasoline, light it on fire and build a teepee of wood over it. (Way better than dipping anything into your gas tank.) It worked well enough to impress these guys.

Around the campfire, I learned that they were planning to meet their wives and children who would bring fresh clothes in Cabo, so they were disposing of socks, shirts and underwear rather than worry about washing them. I also learned that one of the guys is a retiring CEO for gold mining company. After years of devoting nearly all of his time to work, he’s finally making time for the things that make him truly happy: his family and himself. Sure, he’s financially wealthy, but if he died today, would anyone really care that he had nice stuff? They seemed to appreciate my story of taking gigs to make money so I can travel solo on a budget and my positive energy. We stayed up an hour or two after the sun had set just shooting the shit as one of the guys went down to the water to pee.

“Hey, guys! Come down here and don’t bring any lights! Am I on drugs or is this real?!” The water lapping at his feet had a bioluminescent glow. It wasn’t bright enough for my phone’s camera to capture, but enough to dazzle all six of us for a few minutes.

We each eventually made our ways to our respective sleeping zones. Chilly air was now coming down from the mountains to the west. Those of us in palapas or actual tents were sheltered from it. The guy in his slumber party sleeping bag layered up his clothes and eventually passed out.

An hour before sunrise, I could hear the grumbles and groans of men who didn’t bring actual camping gear. “My back hurts.” “My muscles are so stiff.” “How did it get so cold?!”

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There was some unburnt wood and a few remaining embers. Someone made a fire to warm themselves before the sun would to it’s job.
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The five amigos and I packed our shit, and together we would ride down the unpaved road to stop a Coco’s,before parting ways at Bahia de Los Angeles.

The road to Coco’s Corner wasn’t as treacherous as I had been concerned about.  It was easy to maneuver after letting some air out of my tires and lowering my bike’s center of gravity by standing on the pegs. Once there, one of the fellas bought a round of canned beers and we signed Coco’s book. The group had their own energy which didn’t vibe with Coco, so rather than try to talk with the living legend, I wandered around the property by myself and forgot to inquire about purchasing a sticker. (Internet rumor says he was out anyway.. but if you have a spare one, PLEASE send it my way.)

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Coco might not have appreciated the guys, but he did warn me that the road continuing on would get more dangerous with larger rocks to ride over and around. We should go slower than we did on the way in. I paid very close attention to those words and thanked him.

Before riding off, we each took responsibility for the person behind us incase anyone should go down. I stayed on my pegs as much as I could, occasionally resting my rear on the soft bag across my passenger seat. It was a blast.

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When the unpaved road rejoined the tarmac, we all pulled over and refilled our tires with air.
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Cacti
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We took pictures of the Bahia de Los Angeles before dropping into town and parting ways.
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