Revisiting and Meeting New Baja Friends

We woke up in our sleeping bags to Jon whistling, the guy who'd picked us up the evening before when we started hitchhiking out of La Paz. He shared some melon with us as we woke up, looking out on the view of La Paz. We helped him with a couple things, then he dropped us off down at a gas station on the main road.

We walked for a good long while along the road, there wasn't much traffic. We passed a Mexican backpacker from Atlanta who was doing far more walking than catching a rides. At the top of a hill we paused and invented a jumping game to pass time, eventually the guy from Atlanta passed us up again. We got to walking, then leap frogged him once more.

We arrived to the next checkpoint on foot, there had been several on this road down through Baja - guys in military fatigued holding big guns, mostly looking bored. We walked on through it, shortly after finally catching a ride from a truck driver who was ultimately going to Mexicali, all was good.

We cruised and cruised along with the guy, conversation was at a minimum, but we still managed to communicate a bit. He was my age and had been driving trucks since he was fourteen. Bridget and I took turns napping in the back, we also stopped a couple times for beans and the like, continuing on into the night.

We at last arrived in Guerrero Negro where he was pausing for some days, but being late he said we could sleep on the top bunk in the truck for the night. Bridget hopped out quickly to try and use the bathroom at a restaurant  they turned her down so she peed behind the building. "No bathroom, they are mean!", she said to the trucker as she came in, he didn't understand.

In the morning the trucker got us to a slightly better spot, we had another mission at hand. When we'd originally passed into Mexico we'd neglected to get proper tourist visas. Being that we were hitchhiking with truckers and locals on the way down, no one had ever checked us. From what we heard, this was relatively common, it was on the way back out that they checked, and specifically at this checkpoint we were coming up on. The actual US border would not matter since the tourist visa was only for people traveling a ways south, not needed for border towns and whatnot.

I'd looked at a map and saw a looping road that looked like it could bypass the checkpoint and drop us out on the main road about a half mile past it. The whole loop looked like a few miles, so we got to hoofing it. A few times we attempted to cut through the desert to save footsteps, but came across fences and things that sent us back to the road. A couple military caravans passed us as well, but luckily they just smiled waved or acted indifferent.

We made it to the main road, past the checkpoint undetected. We got a ride quickly from a guy just learning English who took us up a town or two, then got picked up by a big rig with a husband and wife driving team. She spoke quickly in Spanish, a lot of the communication was based on tone and feel. We cruised and cruised though, I slept in the back for stints, waking up in curves in the road.

By dark they'd stopped just shy of the turn off to Erendira, the town we'd stopped in during our first days in the country. We'd stopped there because a guy who lived there had given us a ride and let us stay with him for some nights, becoming friendly with some of his neighbors as well, we'd told them all we'd stop in again before leaving the country.

We made a quick hotdog and coffee stop, then soon enough Bridget and I were on our own again, on foot walking the windy, hilly and dark turns. At this point the chances of catching another ride were extremely low, all we wanted was a place that was flat and out of sight to camp for the night, after a good while we found it and bedded down until the morning.

We walked through the mist at first light, catching a ride quickly to the turn off, then at the turn off getting a ride from a guy with a horse trailer. He dropped his wife off and then drove us straight to Luciano's driveway. The village was not very big, everyone sort of knew each other. We started on down the driveway when out popped a guy from another house, "What are you guys looking for he asked?", he seemed suspicious, but friendly.

We told him we were looking for Luciano and told him our story. He was in fact very friendly, saying we could stay with him if Luciano didn't have room, he also invited us in for a beer, it was Saint Patricks day after all. His place was pretty chilled out, one wide open house. He'd later get into the details about how he wanted to convert it into a bar, he'd actually built the place with that in mind, the bathroom even had a urinal.

After getting comfortable there we remembered our mission, to meet back up with Luciano. He was home and happy to see us, we were happy to see him. He was much older than he looked, I think seventy, but looked like fifty, a smiling face even with serious demeanor. He had a scientist's mind with balanced philosophy, he was great to talk to and loved to listen equally as much.

We got set up in the guest house, which was basically a 10x10 foot shack with an ocean view, absolutely beautiful and ours "as long as you want to stay", and "help yourself to anything in the kitchen, I'm leaving in a couple days anyway so it'll go bad and we'll be doing a big grocery run on the way back anyhow. You're still welcome to stay while I'm gone".

The subsequent conversation, showers and feast were much needed and excellent.

We headed up to Kevin's again after catching up, Kevin was keen to drive into town for more beer. He paid for a case, then took us on a mini driving tour. As I said, the village was not all that big, but that made for close knit stories and a history worth talking about from days ago to years ago.

Back at Kevin's we got decked out in random green clothing he had laying around, drank down beers, played cards, then caught up with a bunch of his friends who dropped in for a while to watch a soccer game.  Eventually everyone made there way home, Bridget included, soon it was just Kevin and I drinking the last of the beer and shooting the shit.

He took me through all the details of his bar dream, from how he'd designed the place and what structurally needed to be done, to the types of people he could draw down to enjoy it and even the politics of the village in regards to accepting the jumping sports bar he envisioned. He went as far as to make the offer that I could stay for free if I wanted to come down for a while and help set it up, get it going.

The beer and excitement soon expired, I moved on down to the little guest house to enjoy Bridget's company to end the night, at last to sleep. Happy Saint Patty's.

Luciano split town the next day, as he said we were still welcome to stay. Before he left we borrowed his car to drive into the town, albeit just a mile away, he had a space there where he intended to eventually open a book store, but for now it was just storage with a hell of a lot of books. He told us to check it out and take a book or three each if we saw something we liked.

We stayed for several more days, bouncing between hanging with Kevin and reading our new books, I'd chosen a book about string theory called "The Elegant Universe". We also caught up with Jesse when he was back in town, he's who initially picked us up south of Ensenada and took us to this village.

Another night with Kevin lead to plenty of tequila, Bridget wound up heading back to the guest house earlier in the night. I discovered later that she'd been taking shots from a glass double the size of mine and Kevin's and it seemed like he knew that, deceptive glassery. I found her head over the deck looking into the dark of the ocean, sick as I'd ever seen her.

After getting over a hangover I decided I'd head down to the rocks and gather some mussels. I used my pocket knife in the low tide and got to cutting them off to start filling my bucket. I figured I was doing ok, but then a mexican kid made his way over to me. We didn't speak really, next thing I knew he was sawing off dozens of mussels at a time and throwing them in my bucket. In less than a few minutes he'd gathered more than I had in the past half hour.

Before I knew it the bucket was full, he just smiled and went back to his walking. I was blown away, the bucket was filled to the brim and almost too heavy to carry back to the house. Later that night I brought the bucket to Kevin's and we got to cooking them, there was far more than we needed and it was quite the feast.

We had one last easy going day in this paradise, Kevin was talking about a ride out of town and even suggesting we stay with some people on the other side of the peninsula. Basically, we were all set up for one last adventure in Baja and a ride half way to it. We were up for it.

March 15, 2012 to March 21, 2012