Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mexico: from the desert to the classroom

Que tal! Hola from beautiful city of Guadalajara Mexico! I’m finally getting around to squeezing out some dialogue to give you salivating readers your fortnightly feeding of our meaty, salsa-infused, barbacoa-esq travels. We’ve been here in GDL a week now, fully immersed in the Mexican life. Atley, Ferg and I are each living with different Mexican host families as organised by our spanish school. None of our families speak English, so every interaction is a baffling game of wits, acting and hand signals. We’ve been going to Spanish school for two weeks now, and it’s been an excellent experience. To be honest, I’ve had so much Spanish swirling through my brain for the last while that it feels weird to get my head back into writing purely in English! Writing this better not make forget the Spanish words! But there’s no time to dilly-dally, so I shall pick up our travel tale where we last left it, in the historic town of Loreto, about half way down the amazing Baja Peninsula.

The roaring sunset over a religious celebration we attended in Loreto
Shade - a luxury that Dual-Sporters rarely find in the Baja.
Loreto was a much-needed 2 day break from the roasting 37 deg days roaring down the molten tarmac ribbon that winds its way through the 1600 kilometres of the Baja Peninsula. It was there we had our first proper night out with NON-english speakers. After resting the day before we had rejuvenated enough to poke around the town, looking for a bustling bar to wet our whistles and critique the locals from afar. Alas, we didn’t have much success finding an open establishment on our own, so we wound-up our Spanglish tongues and got chatting with 2 young Mexican guys who were enjoying some cervezas  on the side of a pedestrian walkway. Amazingly enough we were somehow able to explain to them that 1) we were looking for a bar, 2) yes we’d drink their beer and, 3) yes we’d like to go to a bar with them. It turned into a memorable night; playing pool and consuming enormous tequila shots, and doing our jolly best to communicate in another bloody language! But all in all our first Spanish-only social session went very well, and we were all excited with the fact we didn’t crumple and forget everything we’d learned.

See photo for location.
Emergency support crew in action.
More amazing pacific coast Baja all to ourselves
The road unknown.
As soon as we met Matt The German, he mentioned his adventurous hopes of turning off the main Baja highway and exploring some of the back roads. We didn´t really know what we´d be getting ourselves into by doing this, so whenever we were talking with a local, we asked them about the road quality and whether we should leave the pavement for one of the many un-signed dirt roads that we saw on our maps. This usually ended with them thinking we were awkwardly trying to order a taco from them, before they politely backed away, flinging tacos from their taco buckets, crying what surely meant, “BACK WHITE DEVILS, BACK!” A day or two out of Loreto saw us stopped 1km down one of these dirt roads, a vast, hilly, rocky desert surrounding us, discussing whether or not this really was a good idea. Interestingly enough, our Cactus Level Risk Assessment determined that we were all indeed willing to venture into the unknown, to live the Dual Sporting dream that sparkles in the eye of middle-age men of every race, creed and sexual orientation. So we set off down the dusty track, which soon turned into gravel, then eroded gravel, then sandy dirt, then quite sandy dirt, then into a wide open cropless field of sand and desert grass skirted by a cacti-packed landscape. Surely this wasn´t the way, so we didn´t turn into the field, but went around it, quickly ending up in the pig pen of the last farm of Estero Salada, population 110. The semi-crippled farmer hobbled out and delightedly cackled some words into Atley´s helmet over the Spanish audio tapes he had playing in there, and in a few moments we were back-tracking and turning into the large, open field, meandering towards a sandy track weaving up between 100 foot high sand dunes. Every map we had showed this as a graded road, and it goes through this guys field....? We didn’t flinch, but careened up the steep dune trail, with barely a fall amongst us, to bask in the amazing desert view that demonstrated quite clearly just how isolated we really were. But we saw the ocean 15km in the distance, maybe, and we knew that everything was going to be alright. Evvvvvverything.

This was after ascending the sand dunes, then looking around to see vast amounts of empty desert.
Cowering from the sun at the end of a harrowing day.
The sweet prize at the end of the day.
Chillin Baja style
“Never fear,” one of us cried, “there´s an arrow on a cactus! With some spanish words on it too! This HAS to be the way,” so we set off over the sand, following donkey footprints and using the keen sense of desert navigation our city lives had instilled in us. The track now varied randomly between 1 and 10 inches deep of loose beach sand, causing quite a few unexpected variations in the direction of travel of the bikes, and thus some frustrating tip overs. I stood on the pegs, squeezed the tank with my knees and nodded to the elderly citizens in Fort Mac who’d taught me about motorbikes, and I rode out to the Pacific Ocean. It totally was worth the 4 hours of technical, hot riding, to be presented with an untouched, unpopulated stretch of smashing, relentless, vicious Pacific ocean and the immensity of the distant horizon beyond. I waved to Australia across the water as I peed from the tallest sand dune I could find, and was pleased to be at a beach that reminded me of Squeaky Beach or Waratah Bay during their most venomous surf. We camped about 200m back from the beach, out of the sand blast zone, and had an easy meal of 2 minute noodles offered with a medium quality Mexican tequila.

Moustache guy revelling in some leg shade
Riding sand on heavy loaded-up bikes... awesome!
Who likes desert camping¿ We do!
The Mexican equivalent to Dual Sporting.
The exit route from our remote beach camp was another 4 tiring hours of offroad, sandy travel before we returned to the reasonableness of the paved highway. Soon after we departed in the morning, due to our on-the-fly route selection, we sailed into another back yard of a Mexican family. We discussed route selection in spanglish with the guy there. He offered us all a much appreciated break from the relentless sun, so we tied our steeds up with his donkeys and enjoyed a cool glass of water under his shady entranceway. He told us that the section of trail we were riding made up part of the famous Baja 1000 offroad race and that if we ever returned that we were welcome to stay with him and his family. Baja pescadores are a generous breed.

A perfect time for Ferg to learn about river crossings
We made it!

"I wonder what I am going to have for dinner?"
The very bottom tip of the Baja is where the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez violently mix, resulting in a spectacularly-eroded string of cliffs, coves and beaches. When the idea was put forth by a bikini clad French-Canadian gal called Gen that we take a small boat out to the very tip of this peninsula, and snorkel back to town, via the 8 or so isolated beaches, we three nodded in unison. So we stepped out of the hostel swimming pool, finished our beer, grabbed snorkels, goggles and the bottle of tequila and set off on foot through the busy streets of Cabo San Lucas to the marina. Some high speed Spanish from our lovely guide Gen had the deal cut with an eager boat captain, and in moments we were motoring through rows of very expensive boats and yachts, savouring in the blue water, warm sun and amazing landscape. The coast was indeed visually amazing, and after a quick stop to say hello to the sea lions, we were jumping off the bow into the splashing waves of the furthest beach from the town. Truly a wonderful privilege to be in such a location, we celebrated with tequila swigs then headed out beneath the waves to explore the under-sea life. That afternoon was a highlight of the trip, as we casually snorkled and swam round each rocky point, to laze at the next empty, white-sanded and beautiful beach.

Heading out to the southern-most tip of the Baja via Small Boat
Happily stranded in paradise
Yet another facet of Dual Sporting
This is where we waited for the ferry
The ride from Cabo to the ferry port at La Paz was fast and easy, scenic and enjoyable, until we got our first taste of Baja rain. Then it was wet, and visibility went down to 5 metres. Luckily it only lasted half an hour, while we crossed a mountain pass, then we were back riding though damp green Mexican jungle. We stayed in a hotel opposite the ferry terminal that night to facilitate an easy morning following. Our tasks there were to complete the bike importation paperwork and buy ferry tickets, which turned out to be very easy. For a moment Ferg sweat the good sweat when he couldn’t find his registration document, but as per usual it had been "put somewhere safe," and it just took a few minutes to remember where the great new hiding spot was. After that we rolled into the ferry waiting line, read books for 2 hours, then were directed into the guts of a large, multi-level ferry designed to carry a great number of transport trucks between the Baja and mainland Mexico. On board we were thilled to watch one of the bar staff members get dressed up and sing 18 songs in a row on the karaoke machine to 25 or so disinterested truck drivers. The ride was pretty smooth, the scenery interesting (I love boat rides) and the beer cold, so we couldn’t complain. It was about US$120 for each of us with our bikes to travel, and took about 8 hours. Importing the bikes cost about $40 but required a $400 deposit to make sure we remove the bikes from the country and don’t sell them for millions while we’re here.
Goodbye Baja. Next stop: mainland Mexico.
A perfect way to end another day of riding

The post-Baja Adventurers

Once on the mainland Atley departed early the next morning with an eager look on his face, as it was his birthday, and he was riding to The Wendy. We had no such agendas, so hit the slow road and stayed at a nearly-beachside town that night called La Cruz. There I met more excellent Mexicans on which to lavish my fumbling Spanish, and had a jolly night in the hotel bar talking turkey. The following day we decided to veer off the direct course to Guadalajara, and head into the mountains between Mazatlan and Durango. This turned out to be an excellent decision, and took us 4 hours to ride the twistiest 150km of road ever! It was a single lane road, with just a painted line dividing us from the roaring transport trucks that sometimes needed the oncoming lane to make the very tight and steep curves. Overtaking was particularly hairy, and was generally facilitated by the helpful flashing turn signal from the trucks in front to tell us it was clear ahead. There was generally a switchback turn every half kilometre, we averaged about 35 km/hr all up and our brakes got a big workout. There were no guard rails to separate us from the exciting cliff drops back down the mountain, and the views between the trees were of vast areas of heavily-treed mountains and valleys - a seemingly untouched, pristine landscape, since pre-Dual Sporting times when enormous face-eating lizards dominated the lands. It was definitely another moment that was very difficult to capture on on film, but we did our best. That night we stayed at the shabbiest hotel yet, in a small remote mountain town, and appropriately cost us each US$7. We kicked back on the veranda and watched the town wind down for the evening, while sharing a delicious can of warm, soggy Spam, the perfect meal if one were living in a bomb shelter, post-nuclear attack.

A sneak peak from the road side, inland from Mazatlan.

Hilltop village after an amazingly twisty and windy ride.

Our charming $7-a-night hotel
Please don't let me touch the sheets.

The next day we stretched our legs on some fast open curves, a real treat after the ridiculously tight bends and slow riding of the previous day. We passed through Durango but didn’t stop to engage in drug warfare, rather, pushing on to the colonial town of Zacatecas, one of the best towns in Mexico to spend La Dia De Independencia, which randomly, was that day! McDondalds gave us wifi to find a great hostel in town, and the great hostel gave us 15 young people from the world over, on the roof, with guitars, tequila, beers and ready to par-tay. I’ve been meaning for years to celebrate something, so I allowed Mexican Independence day to be this thing. After an hour on the roof with everyone, we shared 4 cabs to make our way to the town centre where a huge fair was under way. I was fascinated to walk through a sea of 1000 or more Mexicans, being the only fair faces in the place and getting many stares. We had several people ask if they could have their photo with us, which I can only imagine was related to Dual Sporting, so I duly taught them the Dual Sport hand wave. We first visited a cobblestone bar that appeared to be connected to a Cathedral, then after, a nightclub, where I was given salsa instruction by the lovely Angie from Monterrey in northern Mexico. Ferg was most excited to have many drinks bought for him by a rich young Mexican dude, then like the chameleon he is, remained perfectly still and thus invisible when the 6000 paso bill arrived. I believe his consumption list included a flaming drink, which would have been a treat to show on this blog, but sadly was not captured by the grooving onlookers.

Scenic roadside turnout, a perfect spot to dump some trash amigo!

The end of the road, although the map said otherwise.
Zacatecas is a Spanish Colonial kinda place
We had the great honour the next morning of having our 15 new friends sit round and watch us pack up our bikes, while they excitedly asked key Dual Sporting questions. We’re fools for not having taken a group photo or video, but it was indeed a lovely note to leave the town on. We rode that day to our current home Guadalajara, and stayed a night at The Tequila Hostel, as arranged by Atley. He had been in town for a couple of days already with The Wendy, and was quickly becoming a local with his creepy Mexican moustache. On the way there we were ravaged without warning by a flash flood from the sky. Rain like I’ve never seen before SMASHED down on us while we were navigating the city streets, taking us from dry to saturated in 20 seconds. Visibility went to 2 metres and it was every man for himself (even though Ferg was following me because he doesn’t have a GPS!). When we got to the hostel, I straightened my arms and at least one litre of water came out of EACH arm. Atley and Wendy joined us at our hostel that night for a great party on the hostel front patio, to again celebrate Mexican Independence day. We had no idea when the actual day was, but Mexico seemed pretty content to celebrate it repeatedly, so the only polite thing to do was follow suit. The name of the hostel was quite fitting, as we were screamed at in Spanish unless we allowed tequila to be poured into our mouths, then forced to dance on the tables. Oh it was horrible. Really. I would much rather be updating a spreadsheet at work. Mwaaahaaaahaahaha. Sorry Paul.

After the calls of "VIVA MEXICO!" died down (a little) and the tequila bottles began to run dry, Atley and The Wendy decided to hoof it back their hostel. Streets were rivers and shoes were damp, but the mood was jolly as The Wendy had cleverly appropriated an icy cold bottle of ale for their homeward journey.

A few blocks down the river saw pretty blue and red lights reflecting onto the buildings beside them.
"¿Que es esto!?" Cried the couple in unison!
"It's us! The jolly ol' Mexican Police force!"
Atley and The Wendy reached out to meet their wonderful new friends.
"Hello new friends! We would love to take you both back to our police station to meet all our other friends! You can even wear these nice bracelets we got you!" Proclaimed Snr. Plod.
"I'm afraid Sir that we simply do not have the time right now."
"That's too bad. Then we would love to have something to remember you by, perhaps 200 pesos?"
"Jolly good! Adios!"
And the happy couple skipped merrily home, pleased with their intact kidneys and lighter wallets.

"And then the bike went BRROOOOMMMM and there was sand EVERYwhere!"
The following morning was understandably blurry and slow. We relaxed by the hostel pool for most of the day, then in an emotional farewell, parted company, and went to meet our respective host families. Atley’s tears reminded me that under the rippling muscles and nerves of steel Dual Sporting bestows on us, we are just regular guys who had an idea to kick the work desk back against the wall and go live our lives before they’re taken away from us by something stupid. His sobs rang out loud and true, and I patted him on the back like Mum used to do to me when I was 5 and James whipped me up the back of the head one too many times. He may have called me Daddy, but I couldn’t be sure, and I daren’t embarrass him by asking.

My bike likes the interior courtyard, but it's a bit of an event riding it through the living room to get it out.
My host mum Teresa and her daughter shelling green tomatoes to make up more delicious salsa for my eggs!
Meeting my host family was awesome. I was pretty sure they told me to ride my motorbike into their living room, so I did, and it looked goood. With zero English spoken, it’s been tough going, but I’m definitely getting better. Having some time away from the travelling life has been greedily lapped up by Atley and I, but I think Ferg is yet to be broken by the Dual Sport demands and can't wait to hit the road. These days we fill our mornings with Spanish class at our school in downtown Guadalajara, and our afternoons and weekends with whatever we want. Today I washed the odorous Baja sweat from my motorcycle clothes after writing a page in Spanish summing up my life (which I mostly copied from a take away menu from the local taco shop). We’ve made quite a few friends already, from fellow Spanish students, to the English teaching students and even with the school staff. It appears that everyone the world over is eager to celebrate Dual Sporting and those who bask in its heavenly glory. Praise hail the gentle yet knowing engineers at Kawasaki whose diligence and competence blessed us with our iron steeds of joy, branded the KLR 650.

And now, an exciting video. Make sure to watch it on full screen, on a computer not a phone, with a full beer, twice.

The song is called La Luz Del Ritmo by Los Fabulosos Cadilacs

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Beach breaks, cactii and torta asada

Buenos Tardes de Guerrero Negro en la Baja California Sur, en la soleada Mexico! It’s been a while since our last blog entry, and for that we must apologise the only way we’re able – with a fresh juicy post for you to consume wherever you are in the world, whether it be East Burwood, Timberlea, Paris or Los Angeles :) The more we travel, the more awesome people we meet, and the more readers are clicking through our humble blog, which is definitely exciting. Although not QUITE as exciting as the fact that I’m currently shielded from the relentless afternoon Baja sun, lounging on a clean double bed, ceiling fan on high and a few cans of Modelo Cerveza to catalyse the next couple of hours of typing that I just signed myself up for. So here we go!

Donning my blogging hat
The last post had us in, “The Valley, man”, the neatly trimmed outer suburbs of LA, staying at Casa de la Gozz, while we patiently waited for Ferg to complete his battle with The Paperwork Phase. We can now confidently say that The Paperwork Phase fits in the same category as rectal and fluid mechanics examinations. There were phone calls, there were hours spent on hold, there were tracking numbers, there were bank cheques and there were USPS money orders in pre-paid express envelopes. There was miscommunication, there was misspelling on important documents and overall there was a general disinterest from everyone he dealt with, to actually help. Thank you California Departmentof Motor Vehicles and The Stupid Insurance Company He Used, for your relentless ignorance, misinformation and lack of customer service. And what a perfect test for the young man to undertake as Step 4 of 27 of his MattAndAtleyShow Inititation Period! Alas, as you’ll surely understand, the majority of the other initiation events were, are and will be unsuitable for a mass communication medium such as this, so you’ll have to think back to your own school boy, frat house or stonemason events to colour your imagination on this one.

The Valley, man.

"Look into where?"

The New Guy
The Paperwork Phase did however leave us with many free hours of each day - which basically meant 14 amazing summer days in LA, with local hosts to direct, guide and feed us! Temperatures ranged from between 32 and 38 degrees, blue sky every day, 3 motorbikes to ride, surfboards to borrow, a big backyard pool in which to wallow and smoothly continued the glory days of which Unemployed Guys Looking At Stuff eternally seek.

Chillin at Venture Beach
We spent 3 days in the waves of Malibu and Ventura beaches, lurching around on longboards, trying to learn how to surf, but we just couldn’t seem to master it like the army of attractive young ladies out there at the Leo Cabrillo break were. Needless to say, we watched attentively as these girls paddled out to the enormous rock feature in the middle of the beach, and caught their waves only a foot or two from the jagged, sharp rocks that started the wave breaking. Clearly not really a beginner surfing location, but we still had a blast.

The Gozz couldn't believe all Australians aren't pro surfers. Lucky we are.
We toured the Californian Museum of Natural History where we stumbled around many different fully assembled dinosaur skeletons, such as Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops, which wandered these very same North American landscapes as TheMattAndAtleyShow, some 65 million years prior to our own epic adventures.The Edmontosaurus made me shed a tear to be reminded of the West Ed Mall, but I quickly moved on to the Velociraptor to hide my tender emotions from the eager and mewing museum-goers. When we exited the museum we discovered a traffic cop parked beside our bikes, ogling the various long-distance touring mods the internet told us to bolt onto our bikes. He pretended he was trying to enforce some kind of parking law, but had Dual Sporting written all over his face in great dirty big letters. We nodded politely and agreed to move our bikes from their illegal placement, all walking away with the clear understanding that this guy was most definitely just about to get into Dual Sporting.

Massive dinosaurs = awesome!

Some kind of weird goats in the Sahara
Continuously living by our mission statement, Unemployed Guys Looking At Stuff went looking at paintings at the Getty Museum in LA. It was that strange museum world, where the audio guide headphones separate you from Other People Looking At Stuff, and leave you sauntering though grand halls, in your own world, head filled with facts, figures and key information about the surrounding artworks, in a daydreaming kinda way. It was a different museum to most, in the fact that it was the personal collection of some superrich guy, and that meant the entry fee was perfectly priced for Adventure Motorcyclists: free.

The Getty gardens

Careful Ferg, you don't know what's in there.
Not limiting ourselves to purely day time activities, one particular Friday night we journeyed out to the local Mexican Cantina, to see how the people of The Valley spend their evenings. We were not even finished our first beer, when a drunk old lady swaggered up to our table and cried, “You boys are coming dancing with me!” We politely smiled, hoping she’d go away, as the dance floor was empty and we’d just arrived, but she knocked into the table like an old war horse ready for battle, and none of us could say anything but squeak,“Ok.” There’s something awesomely awkward about being led through a room full of leering people, by a stumbling old broad, as she puts down her cocktail on the table of a man who would certainly appear to be her husband. He grimaces at the three young Australians in her wake, who all put their beers down on his table too, with a smile, to then go open the dance floor at a Mexican Cantina LA. And in that situation, there is only one possible thing one can do..... dance your little heart out!

Moves we learned at the Mexican Cantina
As The Paperwork Phase was scheduled to draw to a close, we readied our bikes, equipment and souls for the next chapter of our travels. And it was on the second last day in LA that Ferg set off to go pick up the all import motorbike ownership and insurance documents from our secret underground mail receiving facility at David and Elizabeth’s place. Alas he was not so excited on his return, as he held out a hand written note from the DMV that stated the ownership document was still a month away. Stressful news for the new guy, as he felt he was holding us back from the dripping taco’s of the Mexican Baja, so very close away, but luckily Photoshop and The Internet saved the day, and we just made our own ownership document. Thank you Swinburne Multimedia Bachelor Degree!

Ferg's temporary ownership document til the real one comes in the mail
With the real document arranged to be FedEx’d to our other secret underground mail receiving facility in Guadalajara, Mexico, we said our teary goodbyes to our new family, The Goslow’s, and departed LA in a blaze of lawn-mower-like, KLR650 glory, and headed to the place of perhaps the best weather in the world: San Diego!

The Gozz's ROCK!

“San Diago, a whale’s...” did not disappoint, and we were soon basking in the friendly company of travellers from near and far by a nighttime bon fire on the beach, organised by the hostel in which we were staying. The revelry went long into the night, and even to the house of some locals, and we quickly decided in the morning, with very foggy heads, that San Diego deserved another day of assessment. This assessment involved $2 fish tacos, $2 pints, swimming in the amazing ocean in both day and night, and meeting more awesome people genuinely eager to support the Dual Sporting mentality.

San Diego hostel adventuring
Our crossing into Mexico the next day was as smooth as a well-broiled bean paste. They tried to shoo us through, but we stopped and obtained the correct stamps, paperwork and insurance the internet told us we’d need later on. We sampled our first taco stand, with excellent reward and after little to no English being spoken by locals, Ferg astutely observed, “My interest in learning Spanish just went up about a million percent.”

Mexican bike insurance cost US$120 for 60 days of basic coverage

Have you ever ridden in the back of a truck or ute and come to the same realisation as the Mexicans, that it's awesome?
Later on that day, at a stop to get some Mexican pasos, I spied a solo Dual Sporter. He rode up to us, on his fine Yamaha Tenere 1200, fitted out for long distance travel, and introduced himself as Matt from Germany, riding from Alaska to Argentina. We chatted easily, and soon enough he was riding with us to our destination that evening, and has been with us ever since.

No gay.
We put in some long hours of riding that day, eager to distance ourselves from the apparently-troubled border town of Tijuana, and found ourselves that night at a lovely hostel on a cliff in the town of Erendira. Having nothing for dinner, Atley and Ferg set out onto the night time beach to gather us a seafood meal, on the recommendation of the hostel manager.They came back with fearful expressions and a bucket full of big black mussels!It turns out the waves were big, and the rocks were pointy, but the mussels were abundant, so into the pot they went and soon enough we were dinning on fresh mussels on rice – as good a meal as any hobo motorcyclist could hope for. 

Coyote Cal's Hostel

Dinner of mussels found by Atley and Ferg on the beach by the hostel
German Matt was carrying 2 new tires for his bike, and the old ones were looking a little worn, so the next morning he was directed across town to the local tire guy, who fitted them for 50 pasos. That’s $4. Bargain!With that done, the four of us set off down the meandering Highway 1 of Baja Mexico. Civilisation had pretty much disappeared by that point, and the scenery was that of a vast sprawling desert, with cartoon-like cacti and red, rocky, rubbley hills. This continued until the highway hit the Pacific coast again, and we were presented with the endless ocean, smashing against the beaches below. With so much remote coastline available, we decided we’d best camp on the beach that night. And what a great decision that was, especially for those of you who pound their fists on the kitchen table and shriek, “Come on boys, more Dual Sporting!”

Baja off-road rest area

Lonely guy mews into the wind

Moustache guy flicks hair casually in the scented ocean gusts
Once we’d appropriated supplies from the nearby town, the trip out to the coast wasn’t as simple as before. We had some small mountains to cross first, on sandy, gravelly tracks. But we were eager, and forged on like Aztec warriors battling Spanish war ships in 1522, past steep ups and downs, one, two, three bike tip-overs, then eventually to a super steep sandy decent that German Matt barely managed to stay upright on. Atley and Ferg went around it, but I was already half way down it, so decided I’d have a crack. Alas the steepness, sandiness and ruts were too much for me to handle the fully loaded bike on, and I bounced down and fell, bending a few minor things on the bike but escaping injury myself. Atley caught it all on camera, for your viewing pleasure below. With the mountains crossed, we stopped for a well deserved beer, while I made some adjustments to my bark busters to allow my clutch lever to once again work. We then set out over the flat, sandy plains,to the crashing ocean beyond where we were well rewarded for our intrepid dual sporting, with a 10km stretch of Baja Pacific coast all to ourselves for the evening! Chef Atley whipped up a delicious sheppards pie from the crumbs in the bottom of his panniers and we had a big fire with the abundant drift wood. Another supremely successful day for Adventure Motorcyclists the world over.

So it turns out if you hang your dirty washing in the sun and wind, the smell goes away and you're back in business.

Mark Atley: "Nah I didn't fall over but I heard a few good crunches."

Mark Ferguson: "You said throttle right?"
The following day was hot, dry, dusty and another 300km of joyous desert travel. When you are next shopping for desert motorcycling attire, make sure you buy an all black suit. Without full black gear in the desert sun, it's impossible to garnish true understanding of what it means to say, “Es mucho mucho caliente.”And I said it, that day, the previous day, and also the days after those other days. We finished that day at The Bay of Los Angeles, un paquena ciudad on the eastern side of the Baja, on the Sea of Cortez. I doubt a lengthy series of grey lead pencil sketches could never describe the satisfaction of diving into that warm water at the end of a long hot sweaty desert ride in all black attire, but I tried, with something incredibly poetic such as, “Es bueno senor. Senor? Hola?”

The Baja highway varies between long straights and twisty roads on hilly and canyony ridges

Matt to Atley over radio: "Hey guy, your right pannier is about to fall off."

These wooden structures in La Bahia de Los Angeles proved an excellent device to wee behind

Mark Ferguson: "There's something sticky on my hand and i don't want it."
The next couple of days blend together in my mind like a delicious guacamole and salsa enchilada dipping sauce platter dropped on the floor of a Taqueria on a hot Baja afternoon. We basically rode motorbikes through the desert, swam at the beach, ate tacos, tortas and burritos, drank Mexican beer and went to the toilet many times more than usual. Yesterday ended with us deliriously riding into an abandoned RV park, to find 2 kids drinking dirty water from a tap. We tried to ask them where the campground office was, and they said it’s in town, then ran off awkwardly. German Matt wasn’t impressed by the murky inlet water, but we were all exhausted and decided that an abandoned RV park was probably just the place for us to get some  R’n’R. Then we spotted the storm. She was a grey and black cumulonimbus beast that must have been about 6.7 km tall, and its ferocious chortlings whisked our attention away from the frisbee we found in a bush. We began moving our things from beside the bikes, under the biggest sheltering veranda we could find, as an electrical symphony began to crack and shoot like banditos asking for more salsa. The wind picked up, and the dry area under the pergola got smaller and smaller, until Ferg was crouched down tightly beside Atley’s leg, whimpering and bleeting like a lost lamb. Luckily the storm passed after about an hour, and we set up our various sleeping arrangements under the same tin roof. We were paid several visits during the night, by loitering locals, perplexed police, inquisitive insects and dingy dogs, but it wasn’t until the breathtaking bugle playing from the adjacent army barracks that Atley was awakened from his rejuvenating slumber at 5am.

Thank you unknown Arizonians for hosting us on your deck and cooking on your awesome outdoor kitchen!

The resting mules
We generally plan our daily route that morning if we have a sweet pirate map like this one
Hand basins make adequate temporary cooling bathes.

This is actually us about 2 hours out of Vegas and still 2 hours from LA. 38 degrees even after a super early get up, it was mucho tiring.
From there, via some cow brain tacos (mmm mmmmm), we rode tobeautiful Loreto, where I sit now, on a huge balcony, sipping icey-cold cervezas and completing this here blog post. Tomorrow we will stay here, as it is time to rest our weary bodies from the desert assault, and bask in BajaCalifornia Sur. Sorry if this post was lengthy and verbose, but it’s hard not to get carried away when all I hear is a lingering voice from the street crying, “Dual Sporting, Dual Sporting, DUAL SPORTING!”

The cow brain tacos from this taco stand in Loreto created uncomfortable gastrointestinal events, without invitation.

The terrain just north of Loreto is lush and green, a stark contrast to the huge areas of rocky desert.

Matt: "And then you get the sockets, do up the bolts, and it's all good man."

Puentos Paulos