Oh look at that. Day 47 and also my first day of being 47 years old.

I woke up several times in the night to re-inflate my mattress pad. That big agnes pad was expensive but not Baja-proof. I was out of alcohol so I made a quick little fire to heat my coffee water. I’d never had such an easy time getting campfires going. There was endless fuel lying around, even the kindling. Even bushes of dry twigs that I could mash down on top of my one piece of paper.

The road followed the coast. Almost flat but not quite. To the west, green layered cliffs rose weirdly. What was the green? I tried to find a good rock of green stuff but it all crumbled like dry cake.

I came to a small fish camp. Swarms of seagulls circled overhead. I pulled in and rode out to a shelter where three guys were chopping up the day’s catch. Two dogs helped with the scraps, their muzzles dripping with blood. I asked if I could buy a fish. The guys looked around at their stacks of butchered manta rays. I didn’t really want to buy a manta ray. They held up a little shark. Actually, I didn’t want that either. Finally one guy pulled out a parrot fish. I pulled out some extra plastic bags and he had that fish in filet form in less than a minute. It looked like plenty of fish to me but he joked that it was only enough for breakfast. When I asked how much he wanted, he shrugged like I was supposed to take it for free. I gave him 50 pesos and I’ve no idea if that was too much or too little.

Fish tucked away, I started back down the road. Immediately I started worrying about the fish. Was it leaking inside my bag? How long before it went bad? Did I even remember to eat breakfast? What the hell, the beach was pretty. I’d just stop and enjoy this nice place and try my hand at cooking fish.

Because I brought fish-cooking gear. A thousand years ago, when I was agonizing over what to bring to Baja, I’d settled on bringing the lid and pot gripper for my MSR pot. That lid occupied some prime packing real estate inside my frame pack. It definitely needed to get used.

I had some garlic and ginger and a packet of coconut oil. Which didn’t seem like enough oil so I put in water to poach my fish. It cooked super fast. It tasted bitter though, sort of disappointing. But at least I got to use my fish cooking set-up. And delay myself on the beach. It was a gorgeous, unspoiled beach. After I cleaned my pan, I played in the water for awhile.

The elevation profile for the day was deceptive. Flat compared to that last bit of mountains, but there were definitely still hills. I took my time. The end of the trip melancholia was starting to weigh on me. Much as I try not to think about all the things I’ve got to do before that flight back to Korea, the list of must-do’s was writing itself in my brain. My days of living outside were numbered.

The route headed inland. I came to a spooky gray moonscape, littered with rusted mystery machines. Maybe some kind of old quarry, could be the setting of a MadMax type movie.

I crossed a bridge over a conveyor belt carrying black gravel to a ship anchored at the end of a pier. The next town was San Juan de la Costa. The sky was getting dark when I reached the town. There was a store next to the river but it was just a beer store. You could tell by the crowd of drunk guys in the parking lot. The store with food was at the top of a hill, of course. I filled my water bottles and bought too much candy. Now to find a campsite. By this time, it was truly dark, and suddenly I was back riding on the highway. Not much traffic but still. I put on my lights and hunted for a camping spot. Actually not very easy to do in the dark and also there were lots of invisible bugs biting my face. I’d been trying to ignore them all day but they’d obviously waited till darkness to start feeding for real. I fumbled around on a few pull outs, trying to find someplace not too exposed or icky. Finally I found a spot next to a beached boat. Once I was zipped into my tent, I could see the no-see-ums clustering on the mesh.

2 thoughts on “Baja 47

  1. Gretchen, Thanks for such a good story. I’ve been reading with a vicarious enjoyment. Would love to hear a final synopsis about your bike and what gear you took or should have left behind.


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