(Note: September 2012 - I just found this in the drafts for this blog- seems we didn't finish this one and post it... so here it is anyway.
Distance: 80km on bike
45km on bus
Sam didn't sleep well.
Feeling unwell again.
Terrible wind! First break at 7km.
How could we make it 100km to San Quintin?
Rode hard into wind. Managed to do 24km/h
Stopped for coke in small town.
At 51km mark Sam exhausted.
Got a bus. At first just us. Bus dies. New bus. Quickly fills.
Decide to ride to San Maria - beach.
Go the wrong way. An hour to dark. No hotels.
backtrack - through mud, over sand.
Find a resort.
Expensive and not that great.
Sam is up half the night. Sick again. Very sick.
So this entry is out of order… sorry. We will go back and fill in the gaps, but this one couldn’t wait for us to get our act together and catch up.
Sorry if it makes no sense, and is rambling… My brain is in slow motion. However I promised everyone an explanation today, so here it is- the abridged version of the past ten days.
On the day we’re up to in our narrative, Sam started to feel sick again… At first it was tired muscles, that we could attribute to not enough sleep. But halfway through the day we couldn’t ignore it – he has always been able to ride through it, but not this time. He just sat there, deflated. But I’m putting in too much detail – all of this will be explained in the complete account.
After pushing our bikes through muddy sand dunes we ended up in a place called Santa Marie. Not the thriving beach town we’d been anticipating, but rather a resort in the middle of nowhere.
Overnight the illness grew worse, and Sam hardly slept. The next day involved an ill-fated move to the small, run-down hotel down the beach (think Mexican fiesta starting at 9pm). Sam had been shivering for hours, his fever was burning and he was slightly delirious. It was worse than China, and I was anxious.
Back at the resort we stayed put out of necessity. Sam was too weak to travel even a short distance and we were far away from any civilized towns.
He has been through so much already on this trip!
So we decided first of all that we had to get back to the USA rather than delving deeper into Mexico and, secondly, to return home where Sam could get the treatment he needs to actually recover from this!
Which brings us to the climax of this abbreviated tale…
Although, come to think of it, I really am too tired and my brain can’t cope with any more thoughts today.
We left Ensenada just before midday. We didn't know where we would finish the day or how far we'd go... we just planned to ride.
It soon became apparent that more planning would need to be undertaken in this part of Mexico.
Towns were small, and far between. Many had shops, but they were shut. We had entered 'real' Mexico - the desert!
The wind was strong and dust was blowing all around us. It was worse when the huge trucks sped past us, blowing dirt into our mouths and eyes.
There is really only one road down Baja, and it only has one lane. And no shoulder.
About 35km outside of town the road was ripped up. Rattling over the rocks we hoped it wouldn't last long - our bikes and our butts were taking a beating!
Almost 10km later the pavement returned. At first we were glad - smooth sailing again! But at least over the rocky section the cars and trucks had slowed, and we'd had plenty of room to ride safely. Now we were back in the fast lane, with trucks barely missing us as they overtook on narrow bends.
We were climbing up through a series of mountains. And no one wanted to be delayed by even a few seconds for a couple of cyclists. With the grit of dust grinding in our dry mouths we moved up the mountains as fast as we could. It was only 490m high, but we were drained at the top from concentrating so hard on staying on the tip of the road.
We managed to average 40km/h going down the hill - even with a strong crosswind. It felt good to be going fast!
The town of San Vincent was further away than we thought - and the first town we'd seen for hours. We arrived as it was getting dark.
We hadn't eaten much since breakfast so we quickly checked into a dodgey hotel that cost far more than it was worth, $22, and headed back onto the street to find some food.
We found some great deals - tacos for about 80c each, two scoops of icecream for $1.50, and treats at the bakery for 70c.
Throughout the night we were woken every time someone arrived at the hotel and yelled 'Hola!' down the concrete corridor, since there was no reception and no other way to find the owner.
It was meant to be an easy ride to Ensenada. 85km along the coast. But we both unexpectedly experienced sore muscles. We stopped to stretch on more than one occasion.
As we left Rosarita we came to our first military road block, where they were checking cars and trucks. But no one paid any attention to us so we just rode on through.
Approaching a toll booth a man with a gun, a big gun, sprinted towards us. He motioned for us to move to the side, onto the path running around the outside of the toll booths - he even put down the gun to help me lift my bike up, and then smiled and motioned for us to continue.
We rode through two other military checkpoints and one more toll booth and these experiences were repeated. No one seemed to bother about a couple of cyclists.
We stopped on the outskirts of Ensenada, where we found a decent hotel for $25 with ocean views and internet.
Since we were still 8km outside of town, our eating options were limited, but there was a pizza place across the road. And every day they had two for the price of one.
We were skeptical about the quality of pizza in mexico, and we had good reason to be. When we opened the box we found that the crust was sprinkled with sesame seeds... and the hawaiian pizza came adorned with glazed cherries.
For a few weeks Mexico had been on my mind. Most Americans we told we were headed to Mexico warned us against it - one lady made us (forced, no really!) read a newspaper article about the drug gangs and all the killing and murder in Mexico.
But from most of what we read, including official warnings, the violence is limited to small sections of Mexico, not where we planned to travel. And most (some of them said it was too dangerous now...) of those Americans who actually travel to Mexico said we'd be fine - but that the traffic would be our biggest enemy.
Still, many of the cyclists we'd met had decided against Mexico and others were still turning the idea over in their minds - like us.
After a lot of research and reading the blogs of others who recently crossed the border we decided to go for it.
At first we simply walked through the border, no-one checked our bags, asked for any money, or even gave us a second look, but then we remembered that it was a good idea to pay for an official visa so we tried to find where we had to do this.
We were pretty surprised to see six other cyclists applying for their tourist card at the border at the same time as us. And boy was the border busy! We could just imagine how busy it must have been before people worried about travel to Mexico.
It took us about an hour to fill out the forms (with the help of a Spanish couple), pay the entry fee and get our passports stamped.
The Spanish couple and a Canadian couple had decided to catch a bus to Ensenada, about 95miles so that they could avoid having to cycle across the section they perceived as 'dangerous and hilly.' But we decided to ride to Rosarita with an American couple. An American man who works in Tijuana was to guide us through the first part of the city on his way to work.
Finding the road signed for Rosarita and Ensenada was fairly easy, and despite one steep hill it was an interesting ride - right along the border fence. The warnings about traffic were mostly correct, but once we were out of Tijuana and on the toll road it was a lot better. And the traffic was never as bad as Indonesia (which we'd been led to believe).
So now we're in Mexico. And food is cheap again! For US $8 we got a massive feast of chicken, tortillas, salsa, beans, salad and drinks. We could barely eat half of it!
I think we're going to like Mexico.