Thursday, February 28, 2008
Mmmh, still dreaming of the view. The views in Mexico are spectacular. Needless to say, by now you must have figured out that we are either lost in the wilderness, decided to stay in Mexico or are back at home.
Well, we are back. Sorry for the slacking in the writing the blog. I needed a break...a complete disappearance from the real world. It was beautiful!
When we came home, there was no power for another 2 days. A big storm had wrecked the Bay Area, and we just kept camping out at home. After all we had the flashlights handy, and the camping cooker, too. In a funny way, it seemed to make the vacation longer, or at least the transition to the real world a little smoother...
There is no immediate next travel adventure planned this year (yet!) but there will be a bunch of small trips, some of them will involve exploring my immediate surroundings in beautiful California, but most of them will involve motorcycle racing.
I'm not racing myself this year, but I am supporting Jim Hoogerhyde, Eric Schiller and Mickey Fimbres from the SFMC race team this year (San Francisco Motorcycle Club) racing the AFM and John Willenborg who will be racing Supermoto USA.
Racing adventures will be posted to the Jen's Werkstatt Tech and Sundry Blog. See you there!
Posted by Jennifer Werkstatt at 4:21 PM
Sunday, January 6, 2008
We wake up in the morning to a gorgeous sunrise. It's really cool, you turn your head one way to watch the sun set, sleep, then turn it the other way to see the sun rise again. Both are equally spectacular. I'm cuddling my sleeping bag while Alex makes coffee. Hmmm, coffee. Nothing like a cofee in your sleeping bag on the beach under a palapa. We have some empenadas de datil that we had bought in san ignacio for breakfast, too. So Good!
We slowly pack up, enjoying the morning and not really wanting to leave, and then, careful what you wish for, the KLR has a dead battery??? and won't start. When I hit the button, nothing happens. Immediately a whole diagnosis process starts unspooling in my brain. charging system? I have a spare regulator but no alternator with me. how do you say donde esta el most cerca alternadore rewind place around here? or maybe the battery took a crap? how far down are my tools buried? or did i leave the lights on? but since i don't lock my bike usually this seems unlikely.
Anyway, starting with the easiest thing to do since I really don't want to get the tools out, we rope the boys of the family neighboring into push starting, to no avail in the (albeit hard packed) sand, until the tall dutch guy from last night gives a hand, and with combined forces the KLR starts and runs. I ask them if the front light is getting brighter, and there is some disagreement in the family camp, but I'm going with what the lady of the palapa says, namely that the head light is indeed getting brighter when I rev the bike, so it looks like the battery is dead but the bike is charging, which means I won't get stuck out in the desert. Phew!
So we make our way out to the paved road again, me going fast to charge the battery so when we have to stop and switch off the bikes at the border from Baja California Sur to Baja California Norte, the bike starts right up. I'm guessing what happened is that when Alex took my key out of the ignition so the bike won't get stolen, she must have turned it to the park position where the tail light stays on, and in our drunkenly happy state we didn't see it when we got back from dinner and it drained the battery.
We skip Guerrero Negro although that is where I had the bestest seafood cocktail ever last time I was there because I am anxious to get to the Bay of LA to find a good hotel before it gets all booked up for New Years. For the same reason we also skip the short-cut-dirt-road-with-mision that was recommended to us by a Mexican KTM rider that we talk to at the gas station. He is traveling with 2 friends two-up on a K-bike. He just spend a day doing the 1 hour short cut he recommends because he ran a flat, which reminds me that although I have the tubes, skills and tools to fix a flat, we don't have a pump anymore since Pige left, which is another reason to stay on pavement for now until we hook up with Jim and John who do have a pump.
It is extremely windy again going there, but at this point I am almost getting used to it, but just almost. It still scares the living bejesus out of me when the front wheel seems to sidestep a half foot or so from the wind gusts.
When we get to Bahia de Los Angeles we are a little disappointed because although everybody was praising the beauty of this town it looks pretty dismal and abandoned this time of year. At first we try the beaches up north, but the restaurants are going to be closed and we would like to have a nice lobster dinner for New Year's Eve. In town most hotels are booked, but eventually we find Guillermo's, a hotel right by the beach that also serves dinner. Awesome!
We lock up Alex's bike to the front gate at the road so Jim and John can find us if and we settle in the room, looking forward to showers. But the water doesn't get hot. Could this be the one time we forgot to ask if the rooms have hot water, and then they don't? Not unusual in Mexico, but it hasn't happened so far.
After several attempts to keep the boiler lit over the next couple of hours we make the owners give us another room where the shower actually works. By this time Jim and John have actually arrived. They are totally beat because what they had calculated with a casual glance to be 100 miles on dirt turned out to be 170 miles in the dirt and they got lost at one point on top of it, due to inadequate (speak non-existing) signage at the various intersections. In the end they were on reserve both with gas and personally but rolled into town at sunset. They had already pictured a cold night out in the middle of the desert.
We all finally get to take showers one after another and then make appearance one after another in the bar to drink margaritas. Eventually we sit down to the best lobster dinner. According to Jim, better than Mama Espinosas. That's saying something!
Full bellied and ready to party, Alex, Jim and I go next door to another hotel where they have a big baile for New Year's. John is just too beat and doesn't care much for New Years and stays at the hotel.
When we get there they are about to do a pinada for the kids. It is really fun to watch the two old guys doing it, the way the guy working the pinada seems to be having more fun than the kids and the way the guy handling the kids choose who is next. He doesn't take the loud kids, but the little and the shy ones, and when their turn is up he snatches the stick and the kid by wrapping them both in his arms and lifting them up and away. He does it with so much kindness and love it's a beauty to watch.
All the kids are really well behaved sitting in the chairs waiting their turn, until one kid hits the pinada real good and it rains candy. That's when the dormant spirits erupt and the kids rush the pinada like a tidal wave to gather as much candy as fits in their hands, eat it on the very spot as fast as they can and then stuff their pockets for later until they can't take no more.
It is still early and there are more and more people coming to the dance. Eventually the band starts and the dancing commences. Alex dances with an American that has lived here for a long time and I dance with Jim. The music is very fast so after a while we take to watching the couples to figure out how they do it. There is really only one step but you have to dance really close and be a unit with your partner and it's really fast. After a few songs we are getting a handle on the whole thing. It's really fun and I wish we all weren't so tired.
At around 11 Jim is falling asleep which is no wonder after 170 miles of dirt so he goes to bed, and Alex and I stay at the party. We just have to know what happens at midnight. We are hoping for fire works like in Germany and there were a few fire works earlier that night.
We take a break from dancing and go to the beach to have a beer there and look at the water and go back just before 12 o'clock. But when midnight rolls around all they do is a little cheer to el Ano Nuevo and that's that. People keep on dancing and having fun, but we are definitely ready for bed, so we call it a night and go back to the hotel.
Feliz Ano Nuevo, Happy New Year, Froehliches Neues Jahr!
It's interesting how different people celebrate the new year, and now I know how the Mexicans, the Germans, and the Americans do it. I'm going to have to think about whose customs I'm going to sample next year.
So for this year, I wish everybody a great year, full of beauty and kindness, love and prosperity, and, if you have any, that you may be able to keep your New Year's resolutions...
Posted by Jennifer Werkstatt at 8:09 PM
Nothing like waking up in the morning in the midst of palm trees and watch the sun rise. My personal breakfast chef Alex makes Italian coffee and cornflakes with milk and bananas.
Then we get on another straight, boring and windy stretch of road to get to Guerrero Negro. The turn off to the bay of the whales is some 10 miles before that and is the smoothest dirt road ever. It's hard packed dirt so it's more like concrete and supersticky. It takes 10 minutes for 10 miles and we arrive at the biosfera.
There is a museum about whales, a whale skeleton outside, a restaurant and a way more commercial whale watching outfit than Antonio's. It's very touristy, but since there is nobody there except for a few other way too early travelers it's actually really nice and we sign up for the whale watching. In March I'm sure this'll be like a zoo, not of whales but of tourists standing in line for the whales like at Disneyland.
But not now. Now it's peaceful and quiet and mellow.
The little fishing boat brings us out to the bay and the guide starts looking for whales. No idea how he does it, but he can tell before the whales come up and we can point our cameras in that direction. My camera doesn't have a good zoom on it so after a while I decide to put it away and just enjoy the moment and buy a postcard later which will be a much better picture than I can ever take with my well loved but limited camera.
Although we don't see too many whales there are some that come up really close and spout off. The guide does his best to find and get close to the whales, but if I was a whale Mom trying to give birth I wouldn't want to be close to an annoying little boat either. And whales or not, it is just so beautiful too to be out on the water after all this desert.
When we get we weigh our options onj what to do after we get back, which is something I can do great with Alex, we decide to just stay on the beach since it not too windy and there is a restaurant nearby. Turns out that camping is free, and we roll out our sleeping bags underneath a nice palapa. No tent necessary today. The sun sets on the right and rises on the left, and the wind protection doesn't obscure the view of the ocean. The perfect spot!
Speaking of weighing the options: that's something I love doing. I like looking at all the different possibilities, figure out what is important to each one of us and then make the best possible decision from there. It takes time, but hey, I'm on vacation. I have all the time in the world to make it the best possible one. Some people find this way to tedious but I enjoy the process, and in this case we made a great decision because the palapa could be right out of an advertising commercial and the food at this place. is. out. of. this. world. or maybe just very Californian, light and sophisticated in taste and cooked to perfection. I had possibly the best tortilla soup ever and this is no exaggeration. Then I had a coctel de almejas, since the cocinera assured me that the mussels were just caught today and were the freshest sea food they had. Then I had a taste of Alex's chile relleneos com frijoles, and they were so good that I had to have my own order and we had margaritas with that. So there went another three course dinner.
They cooked the whole dinner with candle light too, since there was no electricity.
After that, needless to say, I had to *roll* myself, happily and satisfied, down to the beach. Our neighbors had made a fire and we went over to say Hi. Turns out they also had beer and we huddle around the fire and talk. He is American and she is from Mexico. Later, a young Russian couple and a Dutch guy join us and we talk about environmental issues in Russia and America. Very interesting conversation. The American has traveled as an adviser in agricultural matters all over the world actually, not only Russia, but also Europe and Africa, and the Russian girl studies Environmental Engineering in Santa Barbara, so I learn a lot about some of our current issues with that, and we also exchange a lot of view points.
It becomes a late night. I love exchanging information with people of different viewpoints. I fall asleep with the satisfying feeling that a great exchange has taken place and that it can be easy to connect different cultures.
Posted by Jennifer Werkstatt at 7:08 PM
so in the morning we ride out to San Ignacio, 40 miles of dirt. from there, we are planning to go to scorpion bay south of there and then to Mulege on a a road that is called ice road for a reason unbeknownst to me. Alex doesn't want to do the whole stretch since it still stressful to her to keep up a faster pace, so the plan is that she come out with us, watch the whales and then goes back by herself and stays in San Ignacio or Mulege and get some painting done.
But on the way there it becomes apparent that Alex is not sure that she can make it back by herself, and there is hardly any other cars on the road in case she would fall, so Paige, Jim and John go on to Mulege and I decide to go back with Alex. We plan to meet again in the Bahia de Los Angeles or bay of LA as people call it, on new years eve.
There are also no whales as|Antonio tells us, which is a real bummer, and apart from being able to spend more time with Alex who is going back to Germany right after we get back this also gives me the chance to up to the Ojo de Liebre where they say might be a few whales arriving from Alaska. Apparently the knocked up whale mommies are anxious to give birth and are the first ones to arrive. But all in all we are just to early and it will be no comparison to march when the whales literally come up right next to the little fishing boats they take you out in and you can actually touch them.
the Bahia de San Ignacio is not much more then string of fishing huts by the beach. Antonio opens up his little restaurant for us and makes some fresh fish tacos for lunch. Mucho gracias Antonio! It was very good and I was starving.
Belly stuffed, Paige, Jim and John leave and since it is, for once and get this, *wind still* we hang out in the sun and enjoy the beautiful view over the water and admire all the millions of sea shells the beach is made out of.
on our leisurely way back through the ever changing and astonishing landscape of dunes to salt flats to cactus forests we stop to take a lot of pictures of cacti for Alex. Last year she painted a lot of pine trees, and this year I guess it'll be cacti.
Back in San Ignacio we order way to much food and stuff ourselves yet again with great food and then go to the camp ground right by the duck lake in San Ignacio in the midst of a palm tree forest. We pitch the tent under the palapa and make it an early night.
Posted by Jennifer Werkstatt at 6:39 PM
Thursday, January 3, 2008
in the morning we get up leisurely since all we have to so is get to san ignacio to meet jim and john and its only about 80 miles on pavement. we want to look at santa rosalia and the iron church designed by gustave eiffel of eiffel tower fame. there is a lot of military roaming about in santa rosalia, and we later hear that this town is extremely corrupt. it must be since we see two truck loads of troups in this tiny town in the matter of an hour. it's a shame because it looks like a cute town and it would be fun to hang out there.
we look at the church but can't really go in because there is a wedding. we run into some other travelers that thought they knew paige, because how many women with pink pig tails on motorcycles are there? turns out, more than one, i guess there is another one in LA.
we do the remaining 40 miles to san ignacio, and try to find a hotel. this is the first time we run into booked out hotels, so we have to Enter The American Sector and take rooms at the La Pinta. they do have a swimming pool, but in this weather who cares?
at about 4 we make it to the zocolo and wait for jim and john who show up a little later all wind blown and tired from a 350 mile ride to get here. i'm glad they are here and we get them situated in the hotel and have lobster for dinner in town and make plans for the next day. alex isn't sure if she wants to come to scorpion bay down south but we decide that she should at least come out to the bahia de san ignacio and watch the whales with us, because that was really the whole point to meet in san ignacio.
i can't wait to go out on a boat and jim know's this guy antonio from antonios ecotours, so we'll find him tomorrow
Posted by Jennifer Werkstatt at 9:01 AM
the next day the wind picks up and we decide to go into Mulege. we do laundry and scout about town. it's really cold and since most of our stuff is at the laundromat we freeze sitting down at a taco stand.
since there is nothing else to do i do a little shopping and find a beautiful frieda kahlo sarong. not that i need a sarong since it doesn't look like there is any beach in my future, and in san francisco i'll never need it, but maybe i can hang it on the wall. alex likes it so much that she gets one too in a different color, and paige wants one too but now they are out so she we get her a diego rivera one. paige also finds me a beautiful mexican dress that fits perfectly and that i wear for the remainder of the evening.
i spend a couple hours at the internet cafe which is warm and then we go find margeritas. i have about 4 of them and they are extremely strong. already after the second one i'm in doubt if i should continue but what the hell i'm on vacation. we bar hop and get some food after drinking and then find a see saw. i don't remember that part very well, but there are pictures and it doesn't look like i did anything that could be used against me. phew!
Posted by Jennifer Werkstatt at 8:51 AM
Thursday, December 27, 2007
I wake up with a good headache, but nothing that a couple of ibuprofens can't solve. the fire spinners form bend pack up to go south in search of warmer weather. there is rumor on the beach that there are 80 mph wind gusts in San Franciscito, and that the wind is coming south, too. not the best weather report, and I am really glad that I packed San Franciso style with lots of layerable clothing.
We decide to stay put and take our chances, especially since it is very calm in the morning, and it turns out to be a nice warm day. Alex and I stay at the beach while Paige goes to Mulege in search off a mani pedi, unsucessfully as it turns out.
But she comes back with lentils and other veggies, and we finally get to have our own gourmet cocinera up a dinner of lentil stew and salad. Paige is pretty beat, but Alex and I are all awake now after lounging at the beach all day and we go to the new bar on the block that we have heard about when we had lunch at the beach restaurant Bertha's. It just opened last month, the owner is 27 and they have pool.
We order margeritas and start chatting to the local americans. One of them turns out to be the drummer of Van Halen, he is a very nice guy without any attitudes and he plays pool like a god despite him already staggering around the pool table, and we meet his wife, too, and a couple other expats. Turns out he had played at Bertha's earlier today. we had heard there was music but were too lazy to walk over there. He actually lives at the beach part time in a two story palapa. Proof again that you don't need much. A two story plywood palapa in Baja at the beach with a view of the Bahia? What more do you really need I ask you?
When we get back to the beach the water has calmed down so the sea looks like a lake and the reflection of the moon in the water is so beautiful that we stand by the beach and watch the moon and the incredible stars. No wonder they call this the Bahia de Concepcion. It does look like Paradise. I sleep like a baby that night.
Posted by Jennifer Werkstatt at 4:40 PM