Todos Santos

I’ve been spending a few days in Todos Santos, a small but spread-out village just inland from the Pacific coast. It’s one of those ‘sleeper’ villages that has attracted a lot of attention (and US money) in the last few years due to its laid-back atmosphere and proximity to the major cities of La Paz and Cabo San Lucas (Los Cabos), collectively being re-branded as the “Cabo Rivieria”. Authentic Mexico it certainly is not. Numerous artists and would-be US retirees have set up here, but it’s not hard to see why. It’s also right on the Tropic of Cancer (so having crossed that marker I’m now officially in the tropics!)

I’m very much enjoying it though as it’s still a quiet enough place to unwind after days cycling through the desert. English is prevalent here, and all the signs of a tourist town abound – lots of cafes and restaurants, spas, boutique hotels, ‘health/well-being’ places etc. I found a coffee shop (La Esquina) that serves organic coffee, which I think must be my first since Ensenada. Very welcome indeed. I also checked the friendly GotBajaMaps store – quirky souveniers (not that I’m buying any as I have enough luggage…) and very helpful local information.

I also picked up a local rag called the “Gringo Gazette”, a free bi-monthly English-language ‘newspaper’ that is published from California but seems to think of itself as based in San Jose del Cabo. Either way, it’s a sloppy publication that seems to promote xenophobia and the colonial ‘us and them’ attitude that characterises new developments in ‘developing’ countries. Change is happening quickly in this part of the world, but really it’s the same story seen many times before. Money’s talking here but it’s not the peso.

I’m staying in a smaller little place called El Pescadero, where I can camp and enjoy the view of the small pool (I’ve yet to try, surprisingly). It’s a nice little spot to enjoy my time here, except for the 12 km commute I’ve been doing back into Todos Santos. Oh, and the heat, the dogs…ok, just kidding, it’s a pretty sweet deal.

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On a (sugar) high

Fresh after my haul of figs in Vizcaino (which also included a couple of mangoes) I rode to San Ignacio – an oasis in the desert. As well as being famous for its Jesuit/Dominican Mision, it is surrounded by date trees (and it has a lagoon!). For many a day ahead of time I looked forward to finding fresh dates, or at least vast quantities of local dried ones. Being a sometimes-ignorant developed world individual, I had no idea when date season actually is, considering their year-round availability (how many of us could actually say when the banana/mango/pineapple/lemon etc season is?). Turns out I’m a few months early. But after wandering around staring up at all the dates patiently hanging in huge quantities, I found a little shack in the village that was selling some. I’d even taken to foraging again (and found several of mixed quality) but the dates I bought hit the spot.

Dates and figs – I’ve gone from the lows of the dry, hot desert to the high of my favourite kinds of sugar-filled fruit. It’s still hot, dusty and half of me is in the desert (the other half next to the Sea of Cortez), but the dates and figs have made life happy again.

Agnes gets a look-in at last; figtastic

Since holing up in San Diego for a few days I’ve had Agnes packed up in my bag. She didn’t appreciate it but I was enjoying the hostel in SD and then the motels in Mexico. Camping just didn’t seem quite the same here…

But I found a hotel here in Vizcaino that did a pretty nice camping setup and it was a heck of a lot cheaper than the other options so Agnes got her first taste of Mexico tonight and she picked a great spot. Right next to orange and fig orchards. I thought picking right off the trees was a bit rude so just hunted for what had fallen on the ground. Figtastic! I found far too much that I can realistically carry along with, so I’ve literally stuffed myself with figs this evening and feel far too full to go to bed. I’ll be digesting this lot until tomorrow lunchtime. I wonder what I’ll have for breakfast…

Agnes seems happy and we’re going to get ourselves reaquainted pretty shortly.

Baja: cycling in a different world

In all sorts of ways the last few days have presented many differences compared to any of the cycling in the US, and most of it is challenging.

I left Ensenada and have pedalled my way through various small towns and villages. Once you leave Ensenada, a tourist honeytrap, things get remote pretty quickly. Adjusting to this new way of riding has been more than I anticipated.The heat has kicked in, the roads are less reliable (“hey, let’s do some roadworks but for now we’ll just dismantle the road surface and worry about the new one next year!”), the hills are more frequent and the scenery more stark.

In the US it was pretty easy to judge daily distances appropriately even though I had a book to help out. Here, I have a map but knowing what actually constitutes a ‘town’ is the fun part (or not). I’ve scaled back thoughts of long days trying to make it across vast stretches of this region. Away from the coast I’ve already had temperatures in the 40s. Trying to avoid the ‘midday sun’ would mean practically cycling through the night. It’s been that hot.

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