Bienvenido a México
To us it feels like the real adventure is about to start. So far we’ve been traveling in our comfort zone. Our route from Mexico all the way down to Patagonia is the real deal. A totally different culture, language, climate, food and drinks.
To enter Mexico in Tijuana we have to take the foot passenger entry. Our bikes don’t fit through the tourniquet. The door on the right side is locked and nobody wants to come and open it.
After unloading our bicycles, Ben makes a wheelie and goes through the tourniquet. Next Linda hands over all the luggage one by one through the openings of the metal bars. Miss Sunshine makes a wheelie too and then the 4 of us are in Mexico.
At the security scan just around the corner we need to unload the bikes again. This is annoying, but we are getting faster in the unloading and loading part. And the good news is: we get a visa of 6 months and the sun is shining.
In the city of Tijuana many people are waving to us and want to take pictures. We don’t want to stick around too long because we want to reach Rosarito. A much safer place to spend our first night in Mexico.
Everyday we will be on Highway 1 on the Baja. Going offroad with our loaded bicycles in a no go. Even bike packers are having difficulties getting through the desert sand.
The toll road (caseta de cobro) from Tijuana to Rosarito and Ensenada is actually off limits to cyclists, but we are allowed in and can cycle safely on the wide shoulder. This is a short video of our journey on Baja California.
Not as bad as they say it would be
The 1 isn’t as bad as they describe it on the Internet. The road seems new to us and almost every day there’s a wide shoulder. Only at the ascends there isn’t any. Traffic is quite low and waits till it is safe to overtake us. People only honk nicely and wave to us.
Typical Mexican breakfast
Also in Mexico we’re welcome to stay for the night when we knock on a door. At one of these homestays we’re having a deja vue. In Poland we had cow stomach soup for the first time. By accident Ben even had it twice. Now we are having it again!
A huge culture shock
Besides Highway 1 there is nothing until you reach a town. The culture shock is BIG, especially when you are on bicycle going through small and remote villages.
Everything is dry, hot and sandy. Even the little villages look like the desert. The stores are on dirt roads on each side of the 1. We enjoy the colorfulness.
Valle Tranquilo reminds us of our slow travel adventure. Cycling the whole world and when we have to cross an ocean we will find a sailing boat or freighter. Next ocean crossing will be from Argentina to (preferably) Africa.
Valle de los Cirios
After the sign “Valle de los Cirios” there are no more stores or houses until we reach Cafe Restaurant Helyken. One of our safe havens on our way South.
Valle de los Cirios is a wildlife protection area that covers a third of Baja California. It’s characterized by scrub and desert landscapes featuring many cirio (Fouquieria columnaris) / Boojum trees.
Cacti are all around us. Different kinds, big and small. This no man’s land silences the mind. We make very long days.
We’re lacking good and sufficient food. We long for fruit and yoghurt. The supermarkets that we see once in a long while should not bear this name. The shelves are almost empty. When we do find an orange it turns out to be rotten.
We’re rationing. Fortunately we are having enough Spiz protein powder. It’s what we are having for breakfast and lunch. Dinners are sober: hash browns, a can of tuna and lentils.
Baja California Sur
Two cycling days before we reach Baja California Sur we notice a different type of cacti. Is this the reason why they call it “Valle de los Cirios”? These cacti have leafs on top that look like flames. The trunk could be the “cirio” (candle).
Sea of Cortes
After all these cacti in the desert we are happy having a long downhill to the Sea of Cortes where we reach Santa Rosalia. We go straight to Viva la Vida Cafetaria for 2 delicious main dishes, an infusion, a nice chocolate de Oaxaca and a very good cappuccino.
Mulegé is the first nice little town we see on Baja California Sur. The Indians call it the Great sandbar of the white mouth. It’s an oasis with many palm trees and a river running through the town. It’s green!
From Mulegé to Loreto we pass a lot of pretty beaches. The first playa at Bahia de Concepcion is Playa los Naranjos. But the playas get prettier: Playa El Burro and especially Playa El Requeson look spectacular.
We’ve been on our world bicycle tour for more than 2.5 years now. We never had a real holiday since then.
During our winter break in Greece at the end of 2020 we were in lockdown. Summer 2021 we wanted to be in Nordkapp and during the winter in the Netherlands we replanned our route and got rid of our stuff. In 2022 we had another deadline: crossing the Rocky Mountains before October. We only had a visa of 3 months for the US.
Now we’re in Mexico, having a visa of 6 months. No more deadlines for a while. We enjoy a little break in La Paz. We do some tours without bicycle.
With public transport (Eco Baja Tours) we go to Balandra Beach. This is a Natural Protected Area thanks to the participation of thousands of citizens from La Paz that recognize Balandra as a natural and cultural icon of Baja California Sur.
Balandra is more than just a beach. It is considered a wetland surrounded by three different species of mangroves. Besides their role as hurricane barriers, these mangroves provide refuge to species with commercial value like shrimp and snapper fish and they represent a primary food source for herons, frigate birds, pelicans, and ospreys.
During a street art tour we learn a lot about the history of La Paz. It used to be a desert, like the rest of Baja. The indigenous people lived in the mountains to survive. The Spanish colonizers didn’t survive at all.
In the beginning La Paz was known for its pearls. Once all the pearls were gone it changed to a fishing hotspot. Due to overfishing a huge scallop and the parrot fish were almost brought to extinction. Now there are more restrictions and the main business is tourism. Locals fight nowadays against tourism taking over nature. They prevented a resort being built on Balandra Beach and a dock for cruise boats at Pichilingue has been blocked as well.
We are having a coffee tour at Gratitude Coffee Makers. Sergio tells us about his love for coffee and his way of doing fair business. We like the micro plantages the most and we enjoy the taste of the natural fermentation of a cortado Puebla.
With two grinded coffee bags, a can of cold brew and two bottles of kombucha we say goodbye to our new friends.
Isla Espiritu Santo
They all call it Isla Espiritu Santo tour, but we actually go to La Lobera just above Isla Partida to see and swim with the huge sea lion colony.
The boat ride takes quite some time. After 2 hours we are at the spot where we want to be. By that time Ben is too cold to go into the water without wet suit. Linda does go in and she enjoys the playful sea lions.
For lunch all the boats gather at Playa Ensenada Grande on Isla Espiritu Santo. It’s a beautiful beach with turquoise water. But to be honoust: Balandra Beach is much prettier.
Bye bye Baja California!
On our last day in La Paz we want to do the highlights one more time. We take a stroll through town and go to the best fish taco place in the world. Gratitude is closed on the weekends. Otherwise we would have loved to
go for another cup of coffee love.