January 23, 2008
I was awakened early to the scuffling and snorting of the racers as well as the sound of rain dripping outside my window. It was a very cloudy day and the rain I missed in Bahia Concepcion apparently caught up with me in San Ignatio. I watched the Wide Open guys head out, finished loading up the bike, and headed on to Coco’s Corner.
Passing Guerrero Negro I crossed the line separating Baja California Sul and Norte, as well as re-entered Pacific Standard Time – for some reason that still stokes me I make that switch going north/south. I also rode through the Vizcaino Desert, the only place on earth where the cirios tree grows. To ride through this pin-prick point on the globe and experience these unique creatures was a great feeling. And I also discovered another benefit to enduring all this cold and wet - wildflowers in the desert. Flowers carpeted acres and acres of desert in a blanket of purple and gold. A very cool sight to take in.Of the entire ride, the only difficulty I encountered was the cold. I had planned on a warm – or at least nice – month in Baja, not anticipating one of the coldest and windiest. The cold air began to cut through my suit and the minimal warm layers I had on underneath, and not for my handgrip warmers I would have really frozen solid.
I had considered going to Bahia de Los Angeles for the night but decided to go farther up the road and head to Coco’s Corner on the famous Mex 5 – a devastatingly rocky and turbulent stretch that spans about 70 miles from Mex 1 (Trans) to Puertocitos on the Cortez coast. Coco’s is one key stop I wanted to make on this trip not only because his two acres of desert is famous, but also because my Latin American nickname (from a service project in Honduras back in college) is Coco too. I had to meet him and get a picture of us. How many Cocos do YOU know? So I chose to go for it and I’m really glad I did.
After averting some real potential for adventure (read: ran out of gas), I headed north on the Mex 5 and experienced first-hand all the reports of the bone rattling rocks and washboards of the last unpaved highway in Mexico. It wasn’t as hardcore as the road to Mike’s Sky Rancho but came close in spots. The experience of Mike’s helped however, and Coco tells me that’s the hardest section of the highway.
As I rounded a bend I saw a car coming the other way and it was Coco. I recognized him from pictures I’ve seen of him and we stopped to talk. He asked me where I was headed and I said, “to see you!” He then gave me a rack of keys, told me which trailer I would be staying in (I didn’t realize he had trailers – I had planned on tenting it), to feel free to hit the cantina/storeroom, and that he’d be back in a bit. And then he drove off. So here I am, someone he’s never met before, and I have the keys to his place. Amazing. So I rode to his “compound” and read for a bit after taking a bunch of pictures of this amazing place in the middle of the desert.Coco came back after a couple of hours and we sat in his trailer and talked for a good bit. He told me the story of how he got out here and I was enthralled. Ask me about it sometime if you haven’t heard it before. Let’s just say he used a lot of imagination and gumption, and when first moving out here was in a wheelchair and was pulling hundreds of pounds of supplies and tools! So he had me sign his registry and I read through a few pages of statements from people from all over the world who have stopped in and chatted with him. If you’re ever by here, look me up on January 23, 2008. I was the only visitor/camper that day – at least the only gringo.Later in the afternoon one of Coco’s friends (Chico) came by and we sat and chatted for a bit. Then as night began to fall, a family of four from San Felipe – and obviously friends of Coco’s – swung in too. So here we are, huddled in Coco’s tiny trailer, and I can catch a few words they are saying. What I do catch – and it’s reaffirmed when Coco winks at me – is that there’s a lot of joking going on at my expense in regards to the young daughter of the family that’s there. They all have a good laugh, many times throughout the night, and I’m content to let it be. Where else and when else will I be in Coco’s trailer with five of his local friends on a cold and windy January night? This is pure Baja, and I’m basking in it.
It’s supposed to rain tonight, or tomorrow, but Coco says I won’t have a problem on the road. Now having been on it I can see that had I come this way at the beginning of the trip I would have been fine. But my trip would have been different. I probably wouldn’t have met the people I did, in the way I did, and while I certainly would have met other interesting people, I know it was the way it was supposed to be. I am grateful to my heavenly Father for all the serendipitous happenings on this trip. And tonight with Coco and friends is just another one of those gifts to me.