After a surprisingly good nights sleep in the flora and fauna of downtown LA we continued on the road South towards San Diego and the border with Mexico. We spent one night camped by the sea and then continued on to Encinatas just outside of San Diego.
The next day we got lost almost immediately after leaving the campsite and found ourselves on a steep and dusty road that looked like it was made for testing tanks. Turns out it was and some how we had followed our GPS to a US military base; after a formal chat with some guys in uniform we were allowed to carry on through the base. We spent the next few hours riding past guns going off, tanks moving around and what sounded like ground missiles firing off in the distance, all very exciting.
We had been kindly offered a place to stay by Scott and Laurie where we were welcomed with a great meal, got to meet some of their friends and shared our stories of getting lost in army bases. Scott and Laurie had an incredible home and a garage full of tools which they let us use to get our bikes looking all shiny and new. That afternoon we continued onto San Diego proper and spent the evening with Pam and Walter, friends of Scott and Laurie. After another day of final preparations we left Pam & Walter ready to cross the border into Mexico. Thank you so much for all of your help with everything, Pam, Laurie, Scott and Walter, we had a brilliant time staying with you!
After so many months cycling through America we were excited for a change, and maybe also a tiny bit apprehensive; after 3 months of people telling us not to go to Mexico, it was hard not to wonder if they might be right. Cycling towards the border we felt the same excitement we had felt when we first landed in Alaska, slightly nervous but happy to be there.
Before going over the border we had one last meal in Burger King (sorry) and kitted ourselves out with some ‘desert style’ headwear in preparation for being cooked alive in Mexico.
Crossing the border was a pretty relaxed affair, after negotiating a turn style that said ‘MEXICO’ above it we were in Mexico, no questions asked. The queue of people coming the other way though looked a bit more serious and was a few hundred meters long.
Once in Tijuana everything was instantly different, we made our way across the city trying not to look too out of place with our lycra and fancy new headwear. Mexico was really colorful, full of new sounds and smells and it allowed us to test out our spanish skills. Stopping off for a coconut we noticed the sun setting that reminded off the advice we had been given on several occasions about cycling in Mexico. First rule of Mexico cycle club is don't cycle at night, second rule of Mexico is dont camp close to the road. That first day we ended up cycling on into the night to reach our destination, about 20 miles north of Enscenada.
The following day we cycled into Enscenada, a bustling town where we tried to sort out visas which we had forgotten to do in Tijuana, with nothing sorted out we headed out of town as the sun was setting. For the first time on our trip we got a puncture, and quite a large one at that.
Having fixed the puncture we made our way to our camp spot for the night along frighteningly quick roads and then on dirt roads which seemed to last forever.
The next day the heat was really starting to bear down on us, we climbed for most of the day and ended up in the small town of San Vincente. The riding was made more bearable by found fruits and vegetables which were a welcome treat. Finding a hotel for the night, our first since Alaska we headed out into town to eat some Mexican food.
The next few days were some our toughest yet, we made very slow progress as the roads had little or no hard shoulder and the trucks passed so close they almost touched our panniers we were forced to cycle in the verge next to the road.
Camping on the beach one evening, we cooked our food with the tap water only to find later that the reason our meal was ultra salty was that the water had come straight from the sea, yummy.
The next day we cycled into the desert proper, via a small town where we ate fish tacos and stocked up on heavy heavy water. On the road out we were greeted by signs that we had not seen since those cold days in Alaska.
Climbing the hills out into the desert I started to feel a bit unwell, it got worse until I couldn't cycle anymore and we were forced to camp next to the road.
The camp site we chose was one the most incredible places we have ever camped, an incredible sunset was followed by even more spectacular stars.
Trying to beat the heat we got going early the next morning. Still feeling pretty bad, we stopped off at a petrol station/campsite/cafe/restaurant place to shelter from the 40+ heat. There we met a group of cyclists who to our surprise had also cycled from Alaska! After sharing stories of cold cold cold Alaska, we noticed that they were carrying almost no equipment. They explained that for this stretch they had decided due to long distances between water stops and the heat they had hired a support vehicle to carry they luggage and water.
Feeling refreshed and a little bit concerned about what lay ahead we cycled through out the day and into some of the most alien landscapes. Cardon cacti could be seen for miles, some of them almost 20 meters high and very old.
Over the next few days we camped under more amazing stars, ate fish tacos, and carried on trying to sort out our Visa troubles via the British embassy in Mexico city.
After days in the desert we reached the town of Mulege on the sea of cortez. This place was hot, unbearably hot, any amount of physical exertion, walking, breathing, will result in the ‘just had a shower’ look. After speaking with some locals we were offered a place to stay by the sea in a small raised Palapa, an open- sided dwelling with a thatched roof made of dried palm leaves. With a tree full of fresh limes and the sea at our doorstep we felt like we were on holiday.
Hot days were followed by torrential rain after sunset which raised some questions about the integrity of the roof on our hut, this usually happened at about 4 am, rain would start dripping on your face and would result in frustrating attempts at assembling the rest of our tents.
When the leaks became too much we took matters into our own hands, found a ladder, and repaired it with whatever we could find, mainly banana leaves.
After three of the most sweaty days known to man we made our way south to Cabo San Lucas in the hope that the immigration office there could sort out our visa, they couldn't, so we spent the rest of the time poking iguanas with sticks, drinking tequila and poking tarantulas with sticks.
So after weeks in the Mexican desert we made our way back up to La Paz, packed our bikes into boxes and got on a place to Cancun where we would go our separate ways for a month on holiday with our lovely girlfriends, Jess and Rosie!
La Paz, MexicoDate
29th August, 2013Tweet