Cycling Baja California Norte

Back on the bikes. We cheated a little bit going by car the last week to get to the Mexican border. Our long term US visa will expire soon. That was a good excuse to see a lot of beautiful National Parks in a short time by car. But for now, the car is returned and we’re dropped off by Dan and his dogs Bella & Nala at the marine area of San Diego to start cycling the Baja California.

Leaving San Diego

We say goodbye to Dan and we move on south, keeping the sea on the right hand, heading to the Mexican border at Tijuana. Tijuana is one of the biggest and busiest border crossings of the world. We keep our fingers crossed that everything goes okay today.🤞
When we are halfway from San Diego to Tijuana a lady on a fancy racing bike joins us for a talk. Her advice for the border is “go there where the pedestrians go and not where the cars go!”
“Thanks lady!!!”

Salt Lakes

When we nearly at the border we see a huge outlet shopping mall. A lot of Mexicans cross the border just for a day to go shopping here. We stop by to eat lunch.
At the border we can’t find the pedestrian gate in the first place but after a good search we discover this gate is moved and we go on. It’s not very busy and we don’t have to wait long. The officers at the desks hardly speak English but we’re checked in in just ten minutes and get our six months visas 🤘🇲🇽🙏
When we walk out off the office we see thousands of cars waiting on the Mexican side to go into the United States. Big border crossing? Yes for sure, the biggest we’ve seen so far.

Taking Photos Prohibited 😉

Baja California, Mexico it is.
We slowly start peddling through Tijuana. The streets are more dirty and have had less maintenance. The city smells different, more smog and other things you don’t even wanna think about. But on the other hand, more music and more smiling faces on the streets.
We follow the shortest route on our gps, out of town. Not the best route we discover. Some streets are so ascending, we hardly can cycle them. At the top of the mountain, somewhere middle in town, the pavement ends and it looks like we end up in a dump area with garbage everywhere and with just a small track through it.

Fun hey?

Yeah, real fun... 🙁

On our way down from the hills we decide to take the highway instead the shortest gps route. This works out much better and finally we make progress getting out of town.

Better roads

We arranged a Warmshowers host in Rosarito before we entered the Baja California.
When we arrive in Rosarito it’s time for dinner. To get used to the Mexican food as soon as possible we eat a big Mexican style pizza for nearly nothing 💵.
We’re close at our host but when we arrive near her house we can’t find it. It’s dark already and al houses have big fences, half doesn’t have a house number and there are many barking dogs. When we ask a guy at his house he explains we’re in the wrong street. “Go three blocks back” he says.
We search and ask around at a local store but can’t find it.
When we go back to the place we searched in the first place we try to figure out which house it might be. When a car stops close by, Kim asks again if we are at the right adres here. Answer of the lady “Yes you’re at the right address here, I’m a girlfriend of your host but she lost her phone that’s why she did not answer your calls or messages”
We’re so happy we’ve finally found it. Mexico by night on the first day you enter it doesn’t feel good. Especially because that is what everybody told us not to do!
The strange thing is the guy we asked about the adres the first time we arrived lives just two houses away, 20 maybe 30 meters...
Ix Chel our host gives alternative health care for women and practices at home. “The school of Mother Earth” as she called it. On our arrival she has a client so we meet short and she explains were we can put our tent and can take a shower. We fall asleep early after this long and hectic day.

Frida Khalo on the 500 pesos bills

Diego on her back

The next morning we sleep long but Ix Chel sleeps even longer. Her friend Liz did stay last night as well. With the four of us we eat breakfast and chat a lot. We decide to stay an extra day at Ix Chel, go to the beach and in the evening we go out for dinner together in a authentic local restaurant. After dinner Ix Chel shows us around in the touristy part of town. In the night we celebrate life with wine from the Baja California and have good conversations.

Mexican open kitchen

Ix Chel, Liz and Kim

Guitar man in the background

Sadly we have to move on the next morning so we say goodbye to our new friends and hit the road again.
The road in this part of the Baja California is separated in a new toll road and the old highway. We take the old highway since cycling is not allowed on the toll road. The traffic is okay, all big trucks are on the toll road. We roll in and out towns, town after town.

Say bye bye

Our planned stay for the night is a Warmshowers host with a surfers hostel near the beach but when we arrive at the place. The hostel is closed and the name of our host is unknown by the locals.
To bad... what to do next? We drink something at the Oxxo and decide to go to a campground into the mountains, found on our iOverlander app. (Oxxo = a small shop which sells drinks, small foods, cigarettes and other things you might need to survive the day. These Oxxo’s are found in every town, no matter how small the town is)

Big Brother is watching

Farmers at work

We head to the mountains and climbing higher and higher. Sadly we have to cross a road construction and have to wait for more then half a hour to go through. Luckily in the row of waiting cars a guy starts a chat with us and offers cold beers. We like! He and his driving mate drinks a few too. We guess Bob is not his name.

Road Construction

After the road construction it’s another 30km before we arrive at the campground where we are the only guests, despite it’s quite big.
The camp spot it self is big too, the showers are cold and the local cat steels our cutlery and Swiss pocket knife at night.
In the morning we search the whole area for our stolen cutlery and pocket knife, which were smelling like food and were left outside by us in the evening. To bad we couldn’t find any of it.
We hit the road again, back to the coast.

The traffic is horrible and we hope the rest of Mexico will not be like this. It is noisy all day and the streets and the sides of the road look dirty. Still all the people we see in the towns and on the road are very warm and friendly and are waving and saying; Buenas diaz! Buenas tardes!! Or will even cheer us on.

Trash Mountain

Checkpoints now and then.

Sapje der bij...

We end the day at the Aztec hotel. At the desk of the hotel they ask us if we want to stay the night or if we want to rent the room for 4 hours. Ehm….okay we just would like to sleep here the whole night. When we have checked in we take the panniers off of our bikes and bring all our stuff including the bicycles up to our room. We laugh when we see our room because it even has a mirror above the bed. We think this hotel is used a lot for couples who need some privacy from the rest of their family or even the ones who want to cheat on there other half….
We eat some nice tacos at a vender on the street and get some groceries at the local Oxxo for the next day.

In the mountains

We always know how to make a room cosy 😉

We get the bikes packed up the next day. It is already very hot early in the morning. It is still noisy, with narrow roads and lots of traffic. We stop several times today to get some rest and drink something in the shade. We tried to get a Warmshowers host for tonight, but we did not hear back from them jet.
Then we see another cyclist passing us by. Arjan whisles at him and he sees us. He turns around to come and chat with us. He tells us his name is Pavel and he is from Czech Republic. He has been working in Alaska this summer in the salmon industry to make some money. He wants to visit two friends in Nicaragua and he decided just like that to go from Seattle to Nicaragua by bicycle.
He tells us this is his first Cycle tour trip ever and he is liking it so far.
We ask him were he will be staying tonight and it turns out he also wrote to the same Warmshowers host as we did. We tell him we have no clue if we can stay there too since we don’t have any wifi now. He is in dire contact with the Warmshowers host through their daughter via Whats App and he sends a message to her. Eventually we can stay there as well. But she tells us that the health of her mother is not at its best at the moment so she already says that she is sorry that her mom will not be able to be with us very much during our stay at the house.
We cycle the last part of the day with the three of us and get a warm welcome by the daughter of Carmen and Israel (who are our Warmshowers hosts)
She tells us that her father just went to town on his motorbike to get something but he will be back a little later at the evening. Her mother Carmen is now laying in bed to rest. But when we are in the house to get everything explained bout the sower and where we can sleep Carmen comes to welcome us.

The daughter of Carmen and Israel has a pizzeria that is right next to the house so we decide to go eat at the restaurant with the three of us.
The pizzeria has a good ambiance and it is also very nice that we can get to know our new cycling friend Pavel.
A little later in the evening we get to meet Israel in person too. We hear that Carmen and Israel work at the hospital. They are very nice and warm people and we had a great stay at their house!
The next morning we say thanks and take a nice photo together to remember this nice and warm family! We also got a lot of nice tips for different places in the Baja California so we are now a little better prepared for what to expect and where we can find nice places to see and spend the night.

On the road with Pavel

At our host

Israel is a BMW rider as well

Bye bye and many thanks Carmen and Israel

From here we go on to San Quintin where we have another Warmshower stay at the house of Gabino and Lupita.

Refilling the water bottles

Gabino and Lupita have hosted over 400 cyclists! They even have a map with a lot of pins in it that shows where all the different cyclist came from. Gabino earns his money with buying secondhand stuff in the USA and re-celling it in Mexico on the Sunday market.
Our new Cycling friend Pavel decides to go on cycling the next day, but we want to stay a little longer to get more acquainted to the Mexican weather and lifestyle.
We check out the little town of San Quintin and go to the market where José is now working because it is Sunday. It is a very big market and it is full of people buying and celling stuff like shoes, clothing, furniture and lots more.
We already noticed that every town we cycled through so far are full of second hand stores. It seems this is a big thing here in the Baja.
We return at our hosts house and work on learning our Spanish.
Gabino gave us a lot of good tips where to go and where we can get food and water and other essentials we will need on the road. The day we leave, Gabino goes with his fiends to cycle a mountain nearby so the first part out of town we cycle together with him and his friends. Another great stay at a very nice family!

Thanks for hosting us!!

This day we decide to cycle a short day so that we can camp at the beach. We find a very nice spot and read and relax a bit. The wind is strong and there is not a lot of sun so sadly it is not a nice day for swimming. ut still we enjoy our time here very much. We cook our dinner and go to bed early. Tomorrow will be a big day off cycling.

Beach is coming up

We plan to cycle some days of long distances. We are going into the desert and we will cycle through it for the next few days. These days the temperatures are very hot going between 29 up to 40 degrees celsius.

Lonely hot roads

The desert is beautiful in it’s own special way. The cactuses we see are amazing and some are really incredibly huge! We are surprised that everything in this desert is so green, we even see a lot of flowers.

Long shadows

Ghost towns

Huge cactuses

Flowers

Breakfast in the shade.

Lunch in a 5 star restaurant

At the end of the day we make some time to cut Arjan’s hair because it is too long and he likes it to be a little shorter in this hot climate.
Okay, nice challenge! Kim has done it before so luckily she is not scared to put the scissors in Arjan’s hair! 😉

Kim "Are you sure?"
Arjan "I can always leave my hat on"

Final result 🙂

We find some places where we can eat some local (cheap) food and fill our water bottles. With this warm temperatures drinking enough water is really important. But it seems here in Mexico there are people living everywhere. Even when we don’t expect to find anything there still will be a small restaurant at the side of the road from time to time.

Eating and sleeping at a restaurant

If we need a place to stay when we are in a town we will ask at the a restaurant and eat some food there. We pay for the food and they are more than willing to give us a spot to camp on at the back of their restaurant.
Also we found nice ranches where we could spend the night.

Sleeping on a ranch

Cat company

When we are in the middle of the desert we will just find a nice spot in between some big cactuses and hide behind there, put up our tent and cook ourselves a nice meal on the camp stove.
After a few days we arrive to the coast and camp on the beach. This is the end of the Baja California Norte and close to Guerrero Negro in the far north of the Baja California Sur.

The road to the beach

Camp on the beach

Vultures eating whatever they can find

Bye bye Baja Califonia Norte

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4 Comments

  1. Sacha

    Was weer leuk wakker worden met jullie mooie blog. Mooie zonnige foto’s, hier triest weertje.
    Gr Sacha

  2. JJ Elstgeest

    Hallo Arjan en Kim het was weer een mooi verhaal en mooie foto’s.
    Dat de mexicane zo vriendelijk zijn kan ik me wel indenken maar dat het op sommigen plaatsen een troep is kan ik wel begrijpen het is geen nederland waar de afal moet worden gescheiden in Almelo hebben we nu al 4 afal containers je wordt er gewoon gek van.
    M.v.g. Pa

  3. HB Bodewes

    Bedankt voor jullie erg mooie en sfeervolle verhaal en zeker ook de foto’s
    Wat weer veel mooie mensen op jullie weg naar het zuiden. Jammer van het Zwitserse mes want dat is wel heel handig. Hoop dat het heel goed blijft gaan en dat jullie met volle teugen blijven genieten.
    Kus van Beppie en Rieks.

  4. annelies van den esschert

    mooi verhaal weer, en hele mooie foto,s. Was blij weer over jullie te horen, leuk al die nensen onderweg. Maar ik kan me niet voorstellen, dat een kat met mes en vork ofzo eet, die van mij kunnen dat niet vasthouden. Hoop dat jullie een nieuw mes vinden ergens onderweg, want ze zijn wel erg handig.
    hoop op een giede verdere reus van jullie, hartelijke groeten Annelies van den Esschert.

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