Sunday, January 14, 2018

Baja,Part III

On Thursday I drank coffee and hit the road at 9:30. I was a bit groggy from a night with a large group of kite surfers who offered me tequila and Pacificos. Los Barriles is a kite surfing town and the kite surfers are friendly. Walking through the streets, a truck full of police stopped me to solicit a 'safety' donation and I declined.

4 kilometers into the 110km ride to reach Gustavo and Carmen, the mountains began, and they did not end for 70km until El Triunfo. There were several almacens along way and I stopped once for a yogurt drink, cookies, and water. I man stood alone in his almacen, blasting rigaton. I drank alarge orange drink in the almacen and he asked me if the orange drink was rico and I assented, indeed, the orange drink was rico. 

The mountains were green and covered in desert scrub and cactus. There was light rain and strong wind. It was beautiful and isolated in the mountains but hard, undulating climbing, where I averaged about 10km per hour. When I hit the valley to La Paz, I rode in my hardest gear, 30km per hour to the city, the last 10km in heavy traffic. 

Gustavo and Carmen had secured a large room in the center and I was given a key by the receptionist. I entered the room and saw battle worn bicycles and clothes hanging from the bikes to dry. Surely I had encountered a family of narcociclistas. It had been five years since I had seen Gustavo. He had become brother in the time we had ridden with Urs in the desert of Northern Argentina. I had made it, but I still had to find him on the streets.. I set down my bike, showered, and found them at a small eatery. 

We drank beer in a modern place and then found a cantina where the locals danced. We were popular and locals bought us large bottles of beer. and joined our trio. An old man joined us, only to fall asleep next to me after joining us at our table. 

It was a very good time and it reminded me of small places in Colombia, Argentina, and Chile: wooden tables and chairs, instant friendship with strangers, and large, cold bottles of beer. We retired fairly early and slept soundly at 9:30, all of us having completed a long day of riding. We were to ride to Cabo San Lucas for la navidad, completing a loop I had contemplated and which had now materialized.

In the morning, we took a taxi to a beach 30km outside the city, Balanta. It was very windy and slightly chilly but all 3 of swam in very shallow waters. We caught a ride to the other side of the beach and ate conch meat ceviche style with tostadas and drank beers. Afterwards I wandered the streets and ate some concoction of corn, mayonnaise, cheese, and picante. We would have two days of riding until Cabo San Lucas, the end of the,which Gustavo and Carmen had been riding towards for nearly three weeks. 

A large cow walks through downtown Los Barriles, harassed by dogs. 

Departing Los Barriles, soon before the climbing began in earnest. 

                                  Surely the road will not pass through these mountains. 

An old church in Triunfo, a small town I passed through on my way to La Paz. I was racing through  the mountains because I wanted to see Gustavo and  Carmen. Typically this isn't my way of riding but  the prospect of seeing an old and new friend compelled me to ride swiftly.

The mountains now behind me, a very flat and fast road to La Paz. At the rate I hadbeengoingin the mountains, I did not see how it was to be possible to arrive in  La Paz until very late in the day.  The gods were forgiving and provided a swift course to the city, although 15 of the final kilometers were in heavy, and admittedly dangerous, traffic.

 A great reunion. The family of narcociclistas finally reunited: with Carmen and Gustavo. We had discovered a local cantina and several locals joined our table.

 This man had joined us, but quickly succumbed to fatigue. 
 The great veteran narcociclista, Gustavo.

 Gustavo, making coffee
 The beautiful Carmen, a new member of the family narcociclista. It was her first such adventure on a bike, and she and Gustavo traversed a severe and difficult stretch of 1,600 kilometers.

The following photos were from our day trip via taxi to two beaches outside La Paz. Neither the water nor outside temperature were very warm, but the remote beaches were pleasant.

 A concoction of corn, cheese, mayonnaise, hot sauce.

 A hostal's cat assuming a position of comfort amidst the nativity scene.