Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Day 11 – La Paz to Loreto on Mexico’s Highway 1

Awake at 05:00am, I showered and packed up the small amount of gear I'd brought aboard the ferry, then went down to the lounge to wait for docking. Breakfast was a cup of coffee. Mmmm.. Out on deck the sun had just risen and it was going to be another beautiful day.
Sunrise on the Sea of Cortez
Finally off the ship we were herded through the first military security check point before being allowed to leave the docking area. For me it consisted of a smile and wave through but the next one was right around the corner less than a half mile away.

This was a more serious affair that included car searches and drug sniffing dogs handled by the Federaliies. Not my favorite deal but the regular army guy standing by me decided I posed no threat and waved me through. Two times and I was ready for public highway travel. I stopped outside of the dock area and changed into my riding gear, then I was off.

Man today must have been Bastille Day in La Paz, there were more cops and army guys and federalies than there were people. Some kind of function was going on along the waterfront and evidently whenever more than a dozen Latinos assemble it calls for a full out military alert.
I spent the better part of two hours riding around town, at first just admiring it and then desperately trying to get the hell out of Dodge. The military had all the roads leading where I wanted to go blocked off and they were keeping a close watch on everybody.
My GPS wasn’t co-operating  again so I reverted back to the good old reliable AAA travel map and that helped, it got me to where I figured I should be heading. At one point while refueling I asked the attendant for some help, told him I wanted to head north. He looked puzzled and replied “So just ride north then.” Damn hard to argue with that approach and it serves to illustrate why we guys don’t like to ask for directions.
I worked my way back and forth over some of the same territory and finally ran into a couple of BMW riders who live in Mexico City, Luis Mier and Carlos Andrade. Both of their bikes sported ADV stickers and that served as an immediate sign that they and I share the same interests. I introduced myself and explained how my GPS was acting and Luis offered to look at it since he had the exact model on his bike. It turned out that the memory for setting up routes was full which prevented me from establishing new ones and once we erased some it freed up memory and fixed the problem.

Luis then set up a new route leading to Mexicali which is the most likely spot I’ll cross the border along with a couple of interim stops. That helped a ton and I set off towards the town of Loreto where I’m staying tonight.

Around 1:30pm I stopped for lunch at a little place way out in the sticks. It was a little family run operation with living quarters attached and the whole family involved in running the place. While I was there a group of three Americans started talking to me and it turned out the gal has been a motorcycle officer for the City of LA for seventeen years. You’d never guess it to look at her she was so skinny.

Restroom facilities located in this little buildng

Lunch was exactly what I wanted, Huevos rancheros with lots of warm tortillas and chili pepper sauce. I scarfed it down with a big diet cola and then got ready to leave.

As I was rearranging stuff in my tank bag my helmet rolled off the saddle and the impact popped the visor clean off. This wasn’t the first time for it but damned if I could get it hooked back on, one side seemed to fit OK but not the other. The kid who helped out in the restaurant finally couldn’t stand watching me fumble around out in the hot sun and came to my rescue. This was fine with me as my eyes aren’t as sharp as they used to be and we all know I can’t’ hold still as needed for tricky work. It wasn’t easy for him either but between the two of us we got it hooked back on and I was once again on my way.

Along the way north I encountered today's 3rd military check point where I waited in line while the soldiers scoped me out. This was the third or fourth one for me and the guys are always a lot more interested in the bike and looking at the travel stickers than worrying about me. None of them seem to speak more than a few words of English and after eyeballing El Nino they kick me loose without ever asking questions or searching me. This time the soldier checking me out noticed my gold teeth and mentioned it; he made extraction motions indicating what the bad guys like to do when the opportunity presents itself. I'll try to develop a tighter smile in the future. 

The regular soldiers are just kids for the most part while the Federalies are scary as hell with their full bore weaponry and black ninja face masks. Those guys haven’t been interested in me so far and I’m glad, they remind me to much of the Nazi SS troops. I've watched them work over several suspicious looking (to them) guys and they're not very friendly.
I’d have loved to take a picture of the regular soldiers but it was too risky with the Federalies around so I took one of a restaurant on the opposite side of the street hoping it would help me identify where they were located at a later time.

The country side was much the same as I rode through it, miles and miles of dead looking cactus growing in a brushy foreboding looking landscape. It was hot but not insufferable and I made good time.

I stopped for more photos along the way and eventually arrived at Loreto where I found a nice new hotel complete with an attached sandwich shop. Dinner was great; three tasty beef tacos with a small scoop of beans and fresh salsa washed down with a cold Pacifica. Yummy.
Tomorrow I’ll continue my journey north but I haven’t decided where I’ll go for sure; that's the fun of traveling the way I do, I never know what's coming next.


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