Gringo millionaires

After a continental breakfast just up the street from the Hotel Bahia, I walked back, checked out and got my five dollars back on the key deposit. I pushed out early from the bar in back of the hotel and rode Avenue Lopez Mateos south to the highway. There are plenty of Pemex stations on the way south out of the city, and no shortage of fuel. Traffic is hectic, but that’s the same in any city.

I took a side trip to the end of the winding road at La Bufadora. The ride was interesting, but I didn’t feel like paying for parking in the tourist trap town. The vendor stalls weren’t open yet, but I could tell by the number of them that this place was popular with the tourists. I turned around and rode back the way I came.

Every town on the road south is dusty. If there’s a wind, there are dust devils. If the town is large enough, businesses line the highway fifty or a hundred feet back. Cars struggle to scramble over the edge of the pavement to get to them. In towns, topes or speed bumps slow and interrupt the flow of traffic, so watch out. Many aren’t well marked. Hitting one of these and speed will launch you high into the air if you’re not careful.

After fueling in El Rosario, the last town on the Pacific side of the Baja, the road turns inland away from the Pacific. It was only 54F (12C) when I pulled out of Ensenada at sunrise, and it didn’t warm up until the road traveled farther inland, finally making 80F (26C) by the time I hit Catavina and the La Pinta Hotel there. The La Pinta chain has hotels in Ensenada, San Quintin, Catavina, Guererro Negro, San Ignacio and Loreto, each complete with restaurants and bars. They’re pretty nice places to stay given that they’ve been around since the highway was completed in 1973.

Catavina

Catavina

The Pemex beside the La Pinta in Catavina was closed (as it was during my ride in 2001) but I was told that it was “open last month”. Never fear though, there’s always a privateer wanting to make a little cash, and just 100 feet away was someone selling gas out of a drum for 35 pesos a gallon. He was even wearing a Harley t-shirt!

For comic relief I started up a conversation with a disheveled gringo who was hanging around the gas stop. He informed me that he had been the inventor of a well-known chocolate treat – “Reeses Pieces” but with jam rather than peanut butter, if you can believe it. His story was that he had been cheated out of millions when the peanut butter treat came on the market. I gave him 10 pesos for his story and he was happy to go away.

The hotel bar had Sol, so I was happy. I sat back and relaxed and had a couple of cold ones before dinner. A group of bikers arrived and joined me in the bar. They were waiting for some friends who had left after them, and would be arriving after dark. I didn’t envy those after-dark arrivals in the slightest.

I retreated to the restaurant for a very nicely prepared spaghetti and chicken dinner. It was excellent. I retired early and slept like a log.

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