September 27th – October 2nd, 2014 ($450 mxn)
San Evaristo (52 km)
Time and time again, I am amazed by the hospitality that is commonly offered to the traveler. Whether it is in the form of an authentic conversation at a restaurant, getting directions to an address, a meal, or even a place to spend the night. I am usually fortunate to encounter generous people on my travels.
Tom, Dominic and I were extremely fortunate on our way to San Evaristo, when Dominic’s motorcycle slipped from beneath him and sprained his ankle on the rain-damaged, rutted dirt road we were on. Dominic was in no riding condition; he could not bear any weight on his left foot, and we were in rural Baja California with no hotels or stores nearby, only humble houses here and there. While Dominic sat tight, Tom and I rode back to a ranch we saw on the way in and found help in the way of a few men and a truck coming to pick up Dominic.
Jose, the head of the family from the ranch in Las Animas, offered us shelter and food for a couple days, while Dominic recovered. Their hospitality included as much or little as they had; we ate eggs, beans, cheese, and tortillas every day, all of which were delicious. We had a roofed area to pitch our tents on, and we also had the company of a big, welcoming family who we conversed with, played cards, spoke about life, showed us around their ranch, and even showed us how they made their own cheese on site!
After two days at Jose’s, Dominic felt good enough to continue on, since Jose had said the road from there on to San Evaristo was in better condition than what we had seen. Well, Jose had not travelled that road since the rain from Hurricane Odile, and boy was he wrong. So much so that a horsemen we encountered later warned us, “You’re going to have to haul those things” referring to the motorcycles, and boy was he right.
It took us two more days to finally reach San Evaristo. Sections of the dirt road were washed away so that there was no dirt left, only countless rocks the size of baby heads remained. Riding a motorcycle over this terrain was impossible, and many times we literally walked one motorcycle at a time between two of us across these sections.
We had left Jose’s ranch early morning, and it was now dark when we had to find a place to spend the night. We camped in a grassy area with a few cacti here and there, some desert bushes, in an open space, overlooking islands in the Sea of Cortez, from where the sun would rise the next morning creating an everlasting memory. I think every traveler has a list of the best spots he or she has ever camped at. This San Evaristo lookout is very close to the top of that list of mine.
We thought we were close to San Evaristo since we could see the water now so we hurried to get back on the road the next morning. No more than 100 meters and the baby heads were back; it was hot, our spirits were running low, so was our water, salty sweat ran down my face making its way through powdered dirt to the corner of my mouth, I felt weak and miserable from the physical struggle of walking the motorcycles over the rocky terrain. There truly was nothing else we could do but to continue, at whatever rate, we would make it eventually.
Hours later, we reached a split. To the right: what seemed to be a smooth ride down to La Paz. To the left: San Evaristo, potentially, over that rocky, ill-maintained hill. We battled with that left for a bit and were now considering taking the right instead, and forgetting about San Evaristo altogether. I put my motorcycle on its kickstand and began walking up the hill, just to scope the other side. I was able to see scattered houses along the hills and a few others close to the beach. The beach! That had to be San Evaristo. We had made it! The news revitalized us all and got up that hill without a problem, riding triumphantly into town.
For the next three days, we did absolutely nothing but camp at the beach, spearfish for most of the day, and enjoy our catch. Mrs. Elizabeth and her family, residents of San Evaristo, was nice enough to welcome us and cook our fish for a very low price and a family meal. Mrs. Elizabeth’s son was a fisherman, as most people in town. Every morning, he and a few others would ride pangas out to the islands to collect their fish traps. We talked him into giving us a ride out to a rocky point, in search of more spots to fish than those readily available from the shore.
At the end of our stay, we said our farewells to Mrs. Elizabeth and her family, and made our way down the coast to La Paz, on a much, much smoother road.
That’s how it took us five days to get from the highway across to San Evaristo. We endured injury, dehydration, disappointment, fatigue, frustration and were about to skip ahead to the next town, taking the easy way out. Why does a traveler expose himself like that? Why go through the struggle or take the risks? Is it purely to feel the sense of success and accomplishment, or the thrill of adventure? I’m not sure how to answer. It certainly made me feel accomplished, similar to completing a strenuous hike, but to another level. It definitely was, by any standards, an adventure. I’m glad I met new people and saw their way of life, entirely different from my own. I was spoiled with near perfect fishing conditions and had fresh scallop while I was still floating over the location we picked it up. I may not be sure how to answer the “why” of the things I’ve done, but I am sure I would do them again.