After a few days acclimatizing to Mexico in Ensenada, we steered the RIG East towards San Felipe. After such an extended stay in America it felt odd to be back on the road proper, and with the extensive paranoia in the States about traveling south of the border, we were a bit spooked.
This part of the world had experienced some severe weather over the previous couple of weeks. It had been savagely wet in San Diego, and the same weather system had hammered the East coast of Baja.
These regions typically get a few inches of
rainfall a year, but received many time this amount in just a few days. The town if Ensenada was a wreck, and as we rode East towards San Felipe we came across huge washouts, where storm floods had taken out great lengths of the road.
The first was pretty straight forward, and Char had a play at steering the big Beemer through the flood debris. The second was more of a challenge, and made cars were getting stuck in the deep sand.
As we pussyfooted around the task of getting bike and trailer through this mess, a couple of spritely 450 enduro bikes pranced up and we got chatting to the riders. Charlie and Kim had come across the border to rip it around the desert. Charlie's got a house at Pete's camp just outside San Felipe, and immediately invites us;
"Come and stay at my place, there's loads of room and no one's using it. It'll save you the camping fee!"
Yet again we're shown incredible kindness by complete strangers. We end up staying at Charlie's place for over a month, for nothing more than utility expenses. Big thanks Charlie, we had a fantastic time.
San Felipe got well and truly under our skin. We arrived with no plans to stay more than a couple of days, and never really expected to like the place.
Certainly the guide books paint a grim picture, with not a single positive word to say. I paraphrase, but the essence of their message is;
"Loud vehicles ripping it along the beach, folks misbehaving... Baja's great but not this bit. Do yourself a favour and crack on South for something worth visiting"
We're not generally keen on these ex-pat communities, they seem to insulate against the local culture and population. But we felt really happy here.
We sank into this great laid back lifestyle, in our luxury beach house courtesy of Charlie. Eating well, enjoying a drink or two, and meeting some great people that make this their home for the 'winter'.
Everyone seems to lead a great lifestyle here. It's a funny place, almost like a playground for the ex-pats and their amazing collection of toys. Seems every house has at least one dune buggy, a couple of ATV's, and maybe a jet-ski or a boat. Living the good life.
Everyone is super friendly, and we're quickly absorbed into the community. Everyone says hello, and we get to bore people with the same old motorcycle-round-the-world traveler story. Bless them, they're all too polite to tell us to shut up.
So we soon find our routine. The weekly visit to El Dorado 'swap meet' for vegetables, shrimp the size of your fist, and social intercourse. Yoga a few times a week on the roof, margaritas in the sun, and pretty soon I get involved in a whole new project. How do you fancy racing dirt bikes in the desert Gabe? hmm mm
We first caught wind of Andy Lord months ago when we were in Seattle, as fellow Brit overlander, we we've been keen to meet up. So it was kind of overdue when Andy turned up at San Felipe and we could finally put a face to a name.
Andy's been on the road for close to two years now, and took an interesting route across Europe, Iran and Pakistan, before exploring South East Asia and then shipping to North America.
I had naturally assumed that such a well seasoned traveler would be at some ultra enlightened level of travel Zen... So it was a reassuring shock when he turned up on a woefully overloaded F650GS, great bundles of non-essentials lashed onto every available surface. Way to go dude, we're all human eh!
Andy's reputation as a traveler of sedate pace preceded him, but I can now testify to this rumor. He's still in San Felipe as I write, good work buddy, slow is good.
On a brief quad bike jaunt, Char showed a non-characteristic zeal for off road riding. Maybe there's a way forward here..
A night out on the town.
Breakfast with race team Kriega, great to meet you guys. Congratulations in the Baja 250, second place in your class is quite an achievement, see you for the 500 maybe!
We were also able to catch up with Don, Dale and Andy. Don hosted us for a long long time in the Seattle area. Don and his wife Joni treated us like family, and we feel extremely lucky to have met them, great to see you again Don.
The trio spent a week or so exploring Baja, and managed to squeeze more than their fair share of adventure to this short trip. Don joined us for a day of race pre-running, and did amazingly well.
During race practice we blew the engine on Kay's WR400F, and stripped the engine to find this interestingly shaped piston.
The second of our San Felipe beach residence's. We are incredible lucky to come across this kind of scenario, and to meet people who are happy to help us to this degree.
Kay and Marsha fostered a couple of abandoned puppies. We gladly helped with the two little chaps.
That is a fine pair of puppies.