The Baja race participation was becoming life consuming, and was never something that Char had anticipated getting caught up in. This adrenalin race stuff wasn't what she signed up for at all, so we struck a deal. I can race, on condition that we take a holiday first. Take the beemer South down Baja and play tourist for a week or so.
We'd tried some off road on the beemer, and found it to be thoroughly unpleasant. So rather than the direct route south from San Felipe (along horrible rocky old roads) we took a huge de-tour up to Ensenada, before dropping down the West coast.
Heading down from Ensenada we were treated to some superb lanscape scenery, great expances of cactus (cacti?) fields bustling for space with thousands of huge smooth boulders.
The weather was perfect, bike running a dream and both appreciating being back on the road.
Our destination was the small town of Guerror Negro. We'd been told of whale watching trips in small fishing boats, and fancied giving it a chufty.
It turned out to be a truly fantastic experience, way beyond our expectations.. For $40 each we found a chap to take us out in a tiny fishing boat, it can't have been much more than 18' or so.
As soon as we reached the beach we could see whales out in the bay, coming way out of the water and spouting great fountains of mist.
What we hadn't expected was to see these incredible creatures up so close, and for them to show such obvious intrigue at us and the little boat. It didn't seem they were bothered by us in the slightest, and they actually came right up to the boat and seemed to play with it.
It's an odd experience to have a whales head within a few feet of your own, and state into it's huge eyes. They came so close we were able to reach out and stroke their funny rubbery skin.
The experience of a lifetime, I'd recommend it to anyone.
For us, a few days was plenty at Guerror Negro. Keen to see the famous Gonzaga Bay, and feeling brave enough to attack the dirt road, we took the unpaved route back along the East coast.
This too was a real highlight. Taking it slowly on the ancient Beemer, we were able to really appreciate the rocky landscape.
The key to this walking pace progress on such an unsuitable bike, is calm exceptance. We knew it would be tough, and weren't expecting any more than 20MPH. So for hours we slowly trundle on, shaken with every bump, but happy in the kowledge we're getting gradually closer to our destination.
First stop was Coco's corner. Coco has been living out in middle of nowhere, on this dirt road between MEX-1 and the coast. He's been involved in the Baja desert races for years and years, and has a kind of cult following amoung the desert racer crowd.
After losing one of his legs a long while back, he recently lost the other. He's a character, that's for sure. Full of fun and humour.
We caught up with Coco on his 73rd birthday. He showed us records of the hundreds of travellers that has stopped by over the years, and had us sign in. Char followed the Coco tradition and volunteered a pair of knickers, adding them to the already extensive collection.
Gonzaga was as spectacular as everyone had told us it would be. Without camp gear, we begrudgingly coughed up the $50 rate to stay in the only hotel in this little fishing village.
But my word, was the visit worth it! I woke at about 5am, and sat up in bed to see the most spectacular sunrise I've ever seen. What a way to start the day.
The ride from Gonzaga to San Felipe was tackled at a similarly sedate pace, but again, we were prepared for it and enjoyed the trip.
The landscape was great, and it's always nice to ride along the coast. For the first time since I was there, I was riding in terrain similar to Mongolia.