Monday, June 15, 2015

Chapter 8: Punta Prieta to Guerrero Negro

Chapter 8: Punta Prieta to Guerrero Negro

Nuevo Rosarito - Last week the nights were brutally cold and we were not prepared for cold weather, so it was a bit tough. We also run out of medical supplies, tape and gauze (primarily for me). Rachel is only now getting a couple of small blisters, and my feet have been one big blister on top of other big blisters. But, no worries, Rachel is really good at taping and bandaging, so there are no infections and lots of quick healing; overall the feet are getting better and better.

Last Friday night we had a tough camping location with some off road to get to camp. We hide each night out of view of the road, and try to find a safe place for the night, however the foliage and rocks are decreasing making it much harder to hide; and this night it required going further off road then normal. Saturday morning after leaving camp and hitting the road, and climbing a huge mountain, we realized we had two flat tires. As usually there was very nice Mexicans to the rescue. A family driving by in a flatbed truck filled with scrap metal asked us if we wanted a ride, they took us approx. 10km to Nuevo Rosarito to the tire shop, but as luck would have it it, it was closed and from what we could find out, it looked like it was closed until Monday. Fortunately, the family said they would be back in two hours to check on us. we sat around and waited, and sure enough in two hours they did return. They said they were going to Guerrero Negro and they would take us to the tire shop there, so we jumped in back with the metal and drove to Guerrero Negro.
We got the tires fixed and got a hotel (La Posada de Don Vicente, first hotel on right) for a shower and some rest. We decided to stay here until Monday and get caught up on emails and work on the Baja Blues Fest and a some other business. We also have a ton of photos and video to upload before we leave, so now is a good time.
This was a real bummer at first, but now we think it was a blessing…my boots have worn through and both Rachel and I have our boots duct taped. We found some tennis shoes at a segunda here in Guerrero Negro and have decided to give them a try over boots a little while, after all I couldn’t possibly get more blisters. We also really need the medical supplies, so everything happens for a reason.
The good news is that our new Mad Max 2, our wagon is amazing and other than the flats, it has been absolutely the best piece of equipment we have had – THANK YOU Christine, Raine for the wagon and Sal and Maria for the awesome retrofitting and craftiness.”
As it turns out, it took until today, Wednesday May 30, to get everything completed since most places were closed on Sunday. We are returning to just north of Nuevo Rosarito this morning to continue our trek with new tires, new supplies, new shoes and a new route. It has been a great break spending time here and getting to know our new friend Mas Margaritas and enjoying many great meals and cold cervesas. He is also giving us a ride back to our starting point.
For those of your watching our live tracking we do apologize for forgetting to turn on the tracker once or twice, and once for leaving it on and it turning itself off and once for throwing our packs into the back of our new friends (Sal and Maria’s) Subaru Brat and walking packless the last couple of miles while Sal drove ahead and scouted camp locations for us, and Maria walked with us, while the tracker remained on and attached Rachel’s backpack. It was the end of a long hot day, and the tracker wasn’t a priority, oops, sorry. We will be taking care not to do it again.
We greatly appreciate the incredible support and wonderful new friends we have made. It’s been truly amazing! We love the stops people have made to say hello on the road, and the incredible efforts people have made to support us. Thank you all very, very much. We have made friendships that will last a lifetime and we aren’t even close to finishing yet.
That being said, our friend Jerry Freer, who walked the peninsula himself two springs ago has recommended a new route that agree is better. We will turn at San Ignacio to the Lagoon then follow the coast to San Juanico, from there the road is paved all the way to Insurgentes. From there we will continue south to La Paz.
Again thank you for the support. PLEASE visit our site Baja Walk and take a moment to review the challenges of our charities and if it’s within your means, please help those in your area, or that tug at your heart, their challenges are far tougher than ours.
We have added a few new video and a bunch of new pictures.
It has been hell getting here, or rather back here. I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, waking up in  the same stretch of Baja for over a week now. As you know last Sat, we had two flats and came to Gro Negro to get them fixed along with picking up other stuff. Then last Wednesday returned to N. Rosarito to continue. We got dropped off by our new friend Mas Margaritas and away he drove. We walked about 1 mile and realized one of the tires was low again, so we returned. This time the llantera was open, so he pumped the tire and poured water over it as we both looked for bubbles or problems. None were seen, so we got back on the road.
About 5 miles later on one of regular stops – we work in rounds, like a fighter and every 30 minutes we reset the timer, sometimes we drink or eat, like other times we continue. Our goal is 16 rounds per day. At this round, we were drinking when we hear “pppsssstt” and the tire that just got a good bill of health blew and was instantly flat.
After getting past the swearing and complaining, we decided to head back to N. Rosarito again, so we stuck out our thumb…after a while of no luck, we began dragging the cart towards our destination. After about 3 of the hardest miles, we were picked up by Tomas and Gabby from Loreto in their old Ryder rental truck, or a least it looked like one. They drove us back to the llantera.
Turns out the tire blew at the value stem and there was no fixing it and we had no spare. By this time the guy at the llantera was different from the previous guy that had given the good bill of health, so we explained the situation. He then went into the back and started digging through his junk, truly…he came back a little while later with a tire exactly like ours, and the tube was in perfect shape. Unbelievable. The tire was fixed, but in fixing it we realized all four wheels were wobbling pretty bad, so we worked to get them tightened using washer, but really didn’t have a lot of luck. By the time we were ready for the road again it was too late to start walking again. I asked one of the guys that was being such a great help to us, if there was place to camp and he invited us to stay in his yard across the street. Turns out his yard in beautifully landscaped with a giant tree and lots of roses and blossoming flowers. Very, very nice.
His name is Alfredo, and after a long Spanglish conversation we found out that half his family is Scottish, which is the same as Rachel and her family. We made plan to return in October to join him and his family for the San Borja Fiesta.
The next morning we hit the road, and although we had to walk the same miles again, we were ready to do it and did over 18 miles. The next day we did over 17 miles, during which we got another flat – if you can believe it. This time we decided to continue forward and swore we would not return to Nuevo Rosarito until October. So we dragged the cart about 5 miles further to the military checkpoint, thinking the would have a compressor or something, so such luck.
We left the check point and continued on, but this time Rachel started flagging every gringo we saw, knowing any smart gringo driving the Baja usually has a 12-volt tire pump (we do too, back home in our car). One couple said they did, and said they would help, but then drove onto the checkpoint. So, we had to return back ourselves, and go back through the checkpoint to the other side. They didn’t have a pump, but gave us a can of fix-a-flat. We were very happy and now this problem and possibly any more could be fixed. We didn’t get a chance to talk much, the man seemed in a hurry and then the military told us to leave – we were causing some disruption because people were trying to talk to us from their cars while waiting to get through the checkpoint, even a nice lady named Carolyn got out of her truck and came over to tell us her and her husband had been following us on Baja Nomads.
The three nights were bitter cold, and really wet. At one point we thought it was raining from the sound on our tents. We stayed inside and got started late, hoping a little sun would come out, it never did until at least 1PM, after which the wind would get going and kick our butts all the way until we stopped and setup camp, which was another problem in this area. It wasn’t long after Nuevo Rosarito that the large cactus, trees and other such plant life got very thin, and finding a good hiding place at night became a problem. We had to drag the cart through soft sand for a long distance to get out of view of the highway,  but we managed.
On the third day, right around the lunch hour our friend Mas Margaritas showed up with tortas and Powerades for lunch. It was great, until he told us we were actually 4 miles further away than we had thought. This was a new problem because it was Saturday and we had packages of necessary equipment and supplies waiting for us at the bus station, and we knew they would be closed on Sunday. Fortunately, Mas Margaritas went into town to the station and charmed the boxes out of the manager, even though the sign on the wall clearly said “no factura number, np package” and of course we had no factura number. But when Mas Margaritas arrived back to us, a couple hours later he had both of our boxes.
During the time Mas Margaritas was gone the wobbling of our wheels began to get worse and was starting to squeak. So, although we had about 6 miles to go, we got a ride back into Gro Negro in hopes of catching a llantera before the end of the day and we did. I explained the problem and clearly illustrated it to them by wiggling the two tires I needed fixed. They tore them apart and said I needed new barrings. “No problem, go ahead and get them for me” I told them. So, off in a car one of the guys goes, so I asked the other if I could come back in an hour and check on the progress and he said okay. An hour later when I returned they had “fixed the wrong tires” and not only did they not fix it, they were worse, only now covered in grease.
After a verbal fight between the two of them, obviously one was the boss and the other a younger apprentice that wouldn’t listen, they put washers on both tires. The washer stopped the wobbling, but it also stopped the tires from spinning. So now the empty cart feels like it is carrying a load. No bueno.
We have decided to try a mechanic in the morning before we go back to where we got picked up to continue to walk. The positive side is that in the boxes we received from our good friends Gene Jensen (San Felipe), Cathy Tiwald (San Felipe), and Jackie and Marty Alameda (Click-on Puerto Nuevo) were lots of medical supplies, batteries for our SPOT, freeze dried foods, and other goodies, and 3 new pairs of HIGH TECH running/walking shoes and socks.
Our new friend Jerry Freer, also relayed a message from Timothy Means, the owner of Baja Expeditions in La Paz, that now only can we stay a couple of days at his Whale Watching camp on the San Ignacio Lagoon and will also welcome us to La Paz, where we can have a small press conference in his building. We’ll keep you posted.



G. Negro
Damn, will we ever leave this place? Don’t get me wrong, Guerrero Negro is not a bad place, but enough is enough. This morning we had another flat, and we hadn’t even gone anywhere, thanks to the llantera. Plus after the llantera fixed our barrings, the cart would not roll – literally. Completely empty it felt as if it had a full load. So, we had to stay another day, because nothing was open on Sunday.
Tomorrow we will be leaving hell or high water, nearly everything that could go wrong has, and all has been fixed by good luck, or simply by a series of miracles; either way we are good to go. However, even with the good luck, none of it could have been possible without the help of our new life-long amigo Mas Margaritas. Today alone he has taken us from the mechanic, to the llantera (different one), hardware store, laundromat, back to the hardware store, a couple more times, the Internet cafe, then Baja Pack to ship some equipment back home again, and on and on. We even had a chance to pick up a new tarp, for both protecting our air mattress from the cholla, but to also create a larger shade area when we’re hiding from the sun. We are so thankful!
I also want to give a few plugs to not only Mas Margaritas, but to some local Guerrero Negro businesses that you should know about, and one you should not. First, if you are ever in need of a mechanic in this neck of the woods, I give a 10 out of 10 stars to Los Liebres Taller; the owner is Noe Villavicencio and he is not only a mellow, soft spoken man, that speaks English fairly well, honest, meticulous and a thorough mechanic. His shop is the first building on the right as you enter town. It’s surrounded by a big white wall.
The second is Juan Carlos, he is the owner of Llantera Ezqueda. The shop (sort of) is on the south side of the street, next to small grocery store and a seafood cocktail cart, about in the middle of town. Very pleasant man, a long time amigo or our friend Coco. Good guy if you need tires.
Both of these men were a big help to us today. Gracias amigos. Oh and besides all that, neither of them charged us a dime or peso, even after we tried to insist on paying. Gotta love Baja.
The other business that needs a little plug, is the new Mr. Pollo chicken restaurant, just a block east of the Pacifico agency (talk about convenience). Their chicken is just about the best I have ever had, and both Rachel and I consume mucho pollo. Friendly staff, clean, inexpensive and extremely tasty.
As for the one to avoid. The llantera directly across the street from Motel Don Vicente as you enter town. They fixed two tires, and the barrings, all of which lasted only a day or so, and the barrings not at all; hence the two new friends Juan Carlos and Neo.
We now have all tires, in addition to a brand new tire, tube and wheel we found in town if you can believe it, for only $160 pesos – amazing. We even got all new bolts, nuts and washers for the steering system on the cart, so we are rock solid. We are excited to get back on the road and start walking. With our new shoes, new cart and new enthusiasm, watch our daily miles start to grow.
As for the need of a burro, no way Jose. I am the burro, or El Burro as Coco calls me and although I am stubborn and occasionally smelly, like a burro; I will walk when Rachel says walk, unlike a burro. And to Graham, we would have to disagree that our cart wonnot make it. It made it down the San Felipe trail (Highway 5) no problem and that is the roughest road we have yet to encounter…anywhere. We are going to continue doing what we’re doing and we will make it, even if this burro, has to carry it all by myself. However, we appreciate the suggestions and support.
We’ll keep you posted and please stop and say “hola” if you see us on the road. We will be out of communications for about a week after tomorrow. Our next destination is Vizciano, then on to San Ignacio.

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