Red In The Water

Days In The Desert

One word about traveling random Mexican backroads in a Vanagon, no.

After lounging, drinking, and enjoying a lovely movie in a fabulous theater in La Paz, Alyssa and I decided to head out of the hustle and bustle of the city for the night. We found a quiet neighborhood down a smallish paved road to park the van and enjoyed another peaceful Mexican noches (night for you non -spanglish speakers). Due to a distaste for Google's driving directions and my bullheadedness/stupidity, in the morning we decided to ignore the main road and head up the coast on the little road we started on the previous night. The first hour on the road went fabulously. The scenery was beautiful, it was quiet, mostly empty, and the driving was easy peasy. As the day progressed we started to see fewer and fewer people and the road got rougher and rougher. The last 10km of the road were intense. I'm talking first gear, engine floored, mountain climbing, wheels spinning, rocks bashing the underside of the van. INTENSE. Alyssa's crying, I'm white knuckled on the wheel, but we can't even find a place to turn around at this point and a real road is 80 kilometers and THREE hours behind us. The only choice we had was to push on. I paused when possible to try to calm Alyssa's nerves and floored the van the rest of the time.

We made it! The town is smaller than any town I've seen in the states…. No gas. The only restaurant sounds like they're having an EDM music festival and won't answer their door. It's us, about 50 locals, 4 boats, and a few dogs. We tried our best to calm down and spent the night by a windy beach. At this point, only I know that we're 90 km from a real road, we're the only 2wd vehicle in town, and we might have just enough gas to make it out. Why tell Alyssa, right? She worries too much anyway.

In the morning, I found a local whose english was just about as good as my spanish and got him to draw us a map in the sand. I asked him about the condition of the road out of town. He said "bueno". I thought, "Well, at least we don't have to backtrack in defeat". So, we headed out on a new road. Right at the riverbed and 90 kilometers to Mexico 1. The road was even worse than the one we came in on… We used absolutely every inch of the van's off -roading capacity. We didn't make it past second gear for two hours and we spent most of that time in first with the back wheels spinning. We barely, and, (if you know me, you know I don't exaggerate when I say barely) made it. There were times that we couldn't go faster than a walking pace, because we had no more horsepower and traction available to make it up this rutted out, ridiculous goat path called a road. We literally got passed by three guys on donkeys and they just smiled at us while I'm sure they were thinking "Look at those crazy gringos. They'll never make it!". This whole time, I'm shutting the engine off on every downhill, because I know we might not have enough gas to make it and we managed to spend all our peso cash on food, drink, and fun.

After about the fifth good hard hit to the underside of the van by a cantaloupe-sized rock, we see a tiny cardboard sign next to the road that says "Se Vende Gasoline". I'm ecstatic!!! We won't have to live in the desert until someone shows up! Then I remember we have no money… We stop the van and manage to scrounge together 200 pesos in random change and I find a 5 dollar bill in my guitar case. The gas guy comes out to us and of course he speaks no english. I think he initially tried to charge us "Gringo prices", but after a few minutes, realized that we had very little money and needed gas desperately. He softened and sold us 15 liters for 200 pesos and 5 USD. We asked him about the road, but of course neither of us knew how to say road in spanish and the lovely spanish book we picked up had only taught us how to order a roast beef and hail a taxi :( We drove on and as it turns out, other than a small lake fording, we had made it through the really rough section. Two hours later, we pulled on to the smooth pavement of Mexico 1 and vowed to newer take a random dirt road again.

The first two golden hours!

Evidence of our fright on the last few kilometers of day one:

Day two Alyssa was too scared to film…

So, there you have it.
We have officially earned our rightful place in a long line of adventurers who dared to travel the old highways of Baja, Mexico.

Some things are not meant to be experienced more than once, however.
I'm not sure Alyssa would survive another trip like that.

I know I wouldn't.

She'd kill me.