Motorcycling Mainland Mexico and Baja Peninsula
Motorcling Trip #4
10 days, 1,800 miles, Feb 2012
Ray & Jenny Jardine
San Ignacio to Guerrero NegroThe night was decidedly cold, and the morning dawned clear and crisp. We were anxious to pack up quickly, take advantage of a genuine American/Canadian breakfast (eggs, sausage, bacon, french toast, fruit salad, juice and coffee). We waved farewell to David and Laura, then wheeled out of the beautiful palms of San Ignacio, and back into the dry desert mountains. The wind was still blowing, although not as strong as yesterday afternoon, and the morning air at 55 mph was definitely cold. We stopped in order to put on a warm jacket underneath the riding jacket. We stopped for gas at Vizcaino, and while the attendant filled our tanks, I asked him what town we were in, and how many kilometers to Guerrero Negro. We were planning on turning off the highway several kilometers before Guerrero Negro, and we didn't want to miss our turn. A large sign indicating the turnoff to Laguna Oja de Liebre marked our dirt road out to Campo de Valenas, where we hoped to be able to go out on a whale watching boat ride. The dirt road led us through sandy desert and evaporation ponds for harvesting sea salt. There were myriad roads through the ponds and it was easy to get lost - which we did. I was about ready to backtrack to the junction where I knew we had turned the wrong way, when two Mexicans in a pickup truck happened by and offered to lead us to the right road. We spent 20 minutes zooming behind the pickup truck.
Eventually we made it to the beach and the whale-watching establishment. We wandered inside and learned that the next boat was leaving in 10 minutes and they had room for us. Before we knew it we were in a panga heading out into the laguna, with Antonio at the helm. We didn't see anything for the first 10 minutes, other than spouts of steam way out in the sound. Before long, though, we were surrounded by gray whales, mostly in pairs, mothers and calves.
The next few hours have to be experienced to be believed. The whales are not afraid of the pangas and they're not aggressive toward the pangas. In fact, they are very gentle and careful while swimming near the boats. Each whale seemed to have a separate temperament. Most of them were somewhat aloof. But a few were curious, or at least very tolerant of our presence, and they liked to come right up to the boat, so close you could reach out and touch them - mothers and calves both. One of the mothers rolled over on her back and swam just a foot or two under the boat, upside down, and did not make a splash or a disturbance of any kind. She was so gentle, it was just profound. Gentle giants. I thought,if ever there were a species that is worth saving, this is it. They are magnificent creatures.
I got to touch a couple of them, and so did Jenny. Their skin felt like rubber and surely they could feel us touching them, and I wondered what they thought, what was going through their minds. The whale watching service has been in operation for many years here, and the same whales come here every year, so maybe the whales have reached an understanding that humans are not to be feared in this bay. Whether that is good or not, I'm not quite sure. It was a memorable experience that we wouldn't have missed for the world. Ironically, it was not part of our trip's itinerary, but we decided from La Paz north that we would just wing it, and take it as it comes. We rode back out to the highway, and in another 15 minutes had arrived in the town of Guerrero Negro. Jenny writes: I'm glad Ray decided to ride through town because I enjoy getting off the highway, slowing down, and seeing what the town has to offer. I noticed, though, that Ray's head turned abruptly at every motel we drove past, so I gathered we were going to be staying the night here. We rode a mile into town, then Ray pulled a quick left turn onto a muddy, bumpy dirt road. Where in the world is he going now? Then a left into a muddy, bumpy, dirt driveway, and there in front of us was a terrific looking little motel (Don Gus). Now how did he find this place?
Ray writes: We unloaded the bikes, then road 2-up back east into town to find something to eat. The first restaurant to catch my eye I thought it would be a good place to eat, but the parking lot was full of cars and jeeps with California license plates. I like to avoid establishments that are overrun by Americans. I can get that in the States. Down here, I want to interact with the locals. So we drove on and found a quiet little Mexican place. We went in and I ordered a combination plate and Jenny ordered grilled fish, and both were excellent. The only other customers were a couple who had come down from Ensenada who had drove down to enjoy the warmth. He was from Brazil, and she was a black lady from Maryland. Both were really nice, and we enjoyed talking to them.
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