(October 18 – written by Dave)
Today we reached the Sea of Cortez. Or at least that’s what I grew up knowing it as. It turns out to have many names, such as the Gulf of California, the Sea of Cortés or the Vermilion Sea. And to make matters more confusing, it is locally known in Spanish as Mar de Cortés or Mar Bermejo or Golfo de California. If reaching it on bikes wasn’t hard enough, now we’ve got to sort through what to call it.
Anyway, we were happy to see the water and the descent out of the mountains – water means downhill to us.
We were up early again this morning to beat the heat. That means more sunrise photos, nice cool air to ride in and not so much traffic. San Ignacio is sometimes teased for being laid back, or lazy. That meant a quiet ride through the square, back out to the highway and for most of the morning. We had a good climb right of town, then we reached a big open plateau with views dominated by the Volcano Tres Virgenes (Volcano of the Three Virgins). We basically rode alongside this volcano for the better part of the morning. Eventually our last big climbed peaked out on the shoulder of the volcano with great views out to another big mountain called Cerro La Reforma.
At some point on the plateau we were passed by an army patrol. We see several of these every day. Mostly they are some sort of jeep with at least a couple guys in the back. One of them is always standing, facing forward. I have not taken a photo of them mostly because I don’t want to get the camera and make a scene. But today, I already had the camera out taking photos of the volcano. So I thought, what the heck, I could pretend to take just one more and snap the army dudes. It worked – or at least until one of them reads this blog – ha.
Both of us had in our minds that it would be downhill from that last climb and we did have some nice downhill. But we also had a couple stiff climbs. And there was no shade anywhere. We had stopped for a cold drink in a small town called Bonfil (mostly just a pub and store). We agreed to stop at the next shade to have our sandwiches. We found none. We got some nice views of the water and enjoyed the downhill bits but we were getting hungry before pulling at the first Pemex only 3k from San Rosalia.
We ate our snack and had a few cold drinks and guess who should ride up – none other than Aled. We met him north of San Diego. We’d heard he was trying to get through Baja quickly and even with a week of Spanish study in Ensenada, he had caught us. He is making really good time. It was fun catching up with him. We may see him again in Central or South America.
As we rolled up to the hotel we spotted both Frederik and Seb – they had taken a day off to let Seb recover, staying in the same hotel as us. After we got checked in, Kendra showed up with her still broken bike. She ended up not coming over to our hotel last night as Aled was able to help her instead. She was not 100% confident in the outcome so she rode the bus here today. She’d been to bike shop since arriving but wanted someone else to have a look.
I started playing with her bike and before long Frederik was in the middle of it. In fact Frederik took over and did a great job getting the shifting pretty close. Frederik gets the official trip mechanic title. We are pretty sure that she bent the derailleur hanger or derailleur itself. Neither parts bend back very well so we did the best we could. While we were working, Nina and Martin showed up – also staying at our hotel. There are loose plans for a group meet up for dinner later.
While we were working on the bikes, Nancy went out and bought our lunch. This entailed buying ½ a BBQ’d to order chicken and some bread from a famous bakery in town, plus some cold drinks. She did all that shopping on her own – her Spanish and comfort with Mexico is getting better day by day.
Tomorrow we head to Mulege where we may take a day off. It’s a short ride but supposed to be scenic. We ride along the coast. We’ve heard reports of poor pavement so it may be a slow day. We are planning on yet another early start to beat the heat and traffic. We’ve had about 3 days of rain on the trip so far and the forecast for the next 10 days is all blue and hot. Ho-hum, another perfect day in paradise.