Friday, December 17, 2010

Desert Days: Southern Baja to the Mexican Mainland (28th Nov - 8th Dec '10)

For our last week on Baja the peninsular treated us to another stretch of long, open road, with a tough climb up over a mountain range and then a few days pedalling across a horizon of desert. I thoroughly enjoyed the simple, quiet camping lifestyle that we had on Baja, where our camp life was dictated by the rise and set of the sun and where it once took us a few days to realise that we had crossed into a new time zone.  Time didn't really matter so much in Baja.
The last week in Baja, from the town of Loreto to the capital of La Paz we were joined on the road by Steve from Alaska, whom Jules and I had first met back in Oregon. We spent a number of nights camped in small towns, ranchos or bush camping in the desert and we enjoyed the evenings watching for shooting stars and entertaining ourselves with word games (it's simple things..).  The desert slowly gave way to a number of small roadside stops and then the outskirts of the city of La Paz.  We cycled through the town and along to the pretty oceanfront road, finding a nice hostel in the centre of town to spend a couple of days wondering the sights. 

In La Paz we had to say goodbye to Aiden and Steve but we gained a new friend, Jesse, who joined us on the cargo boat for our night trip across to the Mexican mainland. We arrived in Mazatlan on the pacific coast and spent a few days hitting the town's crowded streets, finding the quiet back alleys, absorbing the smells and colours of the market and trying the great assortment of street food. Tacos, tortas, burritos, elote (creamy corn kernels), nachos, ice-creams and churros (deep-fried battery, sugary goodness). In both La Paz and Mazatlan the calibre of street food had jumped up a notch and we spent much of our time happily meandering through the streets stuffing ourselves with food.
In between all our eating, Jules and I had to weigh up our options and work out our direction for the next couple of months. For much of our trip we have not had to make decisions regarding our route as there have been few options. This was particularly true for Baja where there was only one road that connected to the south of the peninsula. However, from Mazatlan we had a choice, whether to head south along the coast (our original plan) or inland up into the mountains. Our cycling mates, Russ and Lorely, were heading up to the mountains of Sierra Madre and it looked an interesting, if fairly difficult, route... Well we are always up for a challenge, so we headed away from the sun, ocean and surf and towards the badlands, cold weather, and 3000m of climbing - on the road to Durango..

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