September 26, 2014 ($185mxn)
Mision Dolores (140km)
I am not necessarily someone who goes to church routinely, but I have been known to trespass private property to get to one. About 85 kilometers south of Ciudad Constitucion, at the sign for “El Ciento Veintiocho” on the main highway running down the Baja peninsula, we turned into a dirt road running East towards the Sea of Cortez with the objective of reaching San Evaristo, which is a small village with the promise of amazing fishing that lies on the coast.
I recall the scene on the way in having dark, gray skies, with heavily dense, large clouds ahead of us. The landscape had desert green bushes all around, some small and solitary mountains here and there, and the road was a combination of dirt, for the most part, with small sections that were partially paved. It seemed as if many years ago the pavement was simply poured on the dirt road without preparing the ground first and most of it was now broken.
The heavy rains in previous days had small, fun creeks running across the way for us to cross. The weather was not done with the rain, though; it began drizzling and slowly increased to formal rain. Fortunately, we could see a building some distance ahead where hopefully we would find refuge. “Private Property” was the sign at the gate, guarding the entrance to the site, which had several buildings, one of which seemed similar in architecture to the Mision we saw in Loreto.
With minimal thought, we left the motorcycles at the entrance and, against the sign’s indication, jumped over the gate into the property. After a few minutes’ walk, we balanced over rocks laid across a small river running across the property and continued walking about 10 more minutes to reach the buildings. The Mision was locked, but the largest building of them all, appeared to be a house with a big roofed patio, where we found shelter from the increasing downpour. A few moments later the groundskeeper found us and, contrary to how the situation of three strangers trespassing private property anywhere else would go about, he greeted us and offered us to stay for as long as we needed.
The groundskeeper explained the owner of the land is not from around the area and rarely shows up. The land is often used for events and social gatherings, such as weddings. Having been there and seen the size and beauty of the place, surrounded and isolated by so much nature, the social events that take place there must be some of the most memorable, but arriving at the location requires off-road capable vehicles and it’s not necessarily close to any city. Not a place for everyone, I suppose.
When the rain died down, we thanked the groundskeeper, said goodbye and began our walk back to the motorcycles. We reached the place where we had balanced over rocks to get across a small river. Yeah, well, that small river was now a 30-40 meter wide, rapid-flowing, full size river! I was initially impressed by how quickly the river grew with the rainfall in a matter of an hour or two. Secondly, I was wondering how were we supposed to get back to the motorcycles now; that river was not going to stop flowing any time soon.
We searched around, among the boulders sticking out above the surface of the water, a way to jump from rock to rock and eventually get across. The jumps were too far apart, though, and the river was running too quick. With only a couple more hours of daylight, we split up and walked downriver, hoping to find a spot where the riverbanks came close enough, the water slowed down, or there were rocks to walk across. Just before the sunset, with the light beginning to dim already, I saw a naked homeless man on the other side of the river. His hair was out of control and had a scruffy beard. The homeless man was also waving at me, but I could not figure out what he was saying. I saw Tom close to me and I tried telling him about the naked man waving on the other side of the river, but Tom filled me in and said that naked homeless man was actually Dominic who had stripped down to his boxers and swam across the river!
Dominic found a section of the river where the water was not flowing as quick and allowed us to swim across. He then walked to the motorcycles and came back with a pair of fins we used for spearfishing and one of the waterproof Wolfman saddlebags. We took turns placing our items and clothing in the saddlebag and swimming across the river. Not being a strong swimmer myself, I drifted with the current and had to take a break while tightly gripping on to a rock in the middle of the river.
I keep using the word “adventure” when I refer to parts of this trip. Now, “adventure”, in the subjective way, can mean anything depending on whom you ask. Even in the objective definition of the word, one can find differences but, for the most part, its definition involves words phrases such as exciting experience and unknown risks. Having said that, I feel it is safe to say this day off-roading motorcycles, trespassing private property for shelter, and swimming across a river definitely qualifies as an adventure.