In the last article, I ended with the question, “Why is Baja so alluring?” Believe me, I get asked that question from friends and family on a regular basis. The simple answer is: You’ll never understand unless you’ve been there. But that answer never seems to satisfy anyone. The obvious answer is the beaches and escaping another cold Ohio winter. But that doesn’t really cover it either. Let’s face it, there are plenty of other beaches much closer than Baja that one can visit in February.
But you may ask, “Isn’t Mexico dangerous? Aren’t you worried about getting shot, robbed, or kidnapped?” You probably think all of Mexico is dangerous because of the recent news. Every country has neighborhoods that experience violent crimes. You wouldn’t travel to remote places in our own country looking for trouble, and the same holds true for all places on the globe. You must do your research ahead of time, just like you would when traveling to any country. I stay in touch with retirees from the US and Canada that go to Mexico every year in big lumbering RV’s, and they never feel unsafe in their travels. There are also many Americans that go solo riding in Mexico, unarmed I might add, and feel completely safe and secure. In short, don’t always believe what you hear on TV. You have to talk to others, like myself, who have been there.
I will however offer some caution. Going to Baja is not as easy and safe as going to Disney Land. Like I said, you have to use your head, and you have to be prepared to extricate yourself from sticky situations. Gerber Knives marketing slogan is, “Fend for Yourself”. You better be able to do just that if you undertake this type of travel, but I promise the rewards are worth it. You aren’t going to be able to call for AAA if you get a flat tire. In fact, in most of Baja, the only call you are going to make is yelling to your companions. Cell phones only work in major population centers leaving the majority of the country without access to signals. If you break down, you better have both the resources and the knowledge to deal with it. Dealing with it doesn’t always mean fixing it, though. Sometimes it just means being able to rely on your wits, charm, and the help of someone you can barely communicate with.
So, back to the mysterious allure of Baja, and why in the world would you want to go there. Beaches? Yes. Amazing scenery? Yes. Friendly people? For sure. The Food? AMAZING! If you think Taco Bell is Mexican food, you are completely missing out! As much as I am a total food nut, the food is still just a small part of the draw.
On January 2, 2010, I had a leg that was swollen to twice its normal size from a crash that occurred on December 31st. Meredith, my girlfriend, and I had been crammed in the back seat of a Jeep Cherokee, driven by a man named Antonio, along with his son. We had traveled about 200 miles over several hours on some horrible dirt roads and still had 80 miles to go before reaching our truck. In the pitch of night, we were stopped at a military check point run by the Mexican army outside the town of Gonzaga Bay.The nearest paved roads, power lines, phone lines, or anything you or I would consider to be a glimmer of an actual town, were about 40 miles away. A VERY young Mexican army soldier shouldered his rifle to help me out of the Jeep so they could perform the standard drug search. Afterward, the young Mexican, Meredith, and I (with the help of a cane), stood together in this desolate place, 40 miles from any artificial light. The sky was brilliant with stars, truly spectacular, shining the way God intended them to be seen. As Meredith and I stood mesmerized by this stunning sight, I noticed the young soldier next to me also looking up. He caught my gaze. I pointed up and simply said,”Beautiful.” He smiled in the dark and replied, “Si, very beautiful.” That moment, that brief connection between a very young Mexican soldier and an injured American tourist, is something I will remember for the rest of my life. It was one moment of Baja magic; one among several others I cherish.
In 2 days we leave to make the drive cross country for my 3rd (and Meredith’s 2nd) trip to Baja. Because once you have been there, you have to go back.
If you want to follow us on our trip, starting February 9th you can track us here on this page. Have you ever been to Baja? What is the most exciting ride or vacation you’ve ever been on?
Follow their GPS tracker on this page › and check out photos below:
Update 2-9-2012 1pm EST:
One state down, 2100 miles to go!
Update 2-9-2012 9pm EST:
We are somewhere in Missouri now, been on the road for 13 hours. Turned driving over to our 3rd US rider from southern Illinois and I am going to try to get some sleep in the back seat for a few hours. Should make Albuquerque around noon tomorrow.
Update 2-10-2012 9am EST:
Good morning from the Texas panhandle, somewhere west of Amarillo. Yes folks, this is where God just ran out of ideas. I think I can see a squirrel a few miles away….
Update 2-10-2012 10:30am EST:
Train keeps a rollin…
This is the 5th time I have driven through NM, but the 1st time in daylight. This is beautiful!
Update 2-10-2012 11:30am EST:
90 miles east of Albuquerque, more snow than home! Anyone have suggestions for lunch in ABQ?
Update 2-10-2012 5:30pm EST:
Found a fresh made burger here.