I would like the bike a little more drunk please

After a few weeks settling into our temporary hometown of La Ventana, Jacqui and I had an epiphany: we are the only people who ever seem to drive our RV. There are a lot of RV's here, but they stay constantly parked. It seems every other person brought an extra car, an ATV, a motorcycle or bicycles. Whereas every time we want to run errands, we have to pack up the whole house, take it off leveling blocks, and drive sluggishly to pick up a few groceries. So this brought on: Operation Find Alternative Transportation.

Our first thought was how awesome it'd be to have a small, beater motorcycle or scooter to ride around. I'll tell you right now, if you want something cheap with an engine, buy it in the US. Back in the states a junky motor-vehicle is an eyesore, and something your neighbors or significant other is constantly convincing you to get rid of. But here in Baja, anything that moves, or limps along for that matter, is a viable means of transportation. There seems to be no social stigma I can see about piling your entire family, groceries, and whatever cargo you have onto the back of a tiny scooter that’s billowing black smoke. Because of this, it’s next to impossible to find an old motorbike for sale.

So a bicycle became the only way to go. Once again we found it would have been cheaper to get a good condition, used bicycle in the states. However, getting a bicycle professionally repaired here is incredibly inexpensive. So a used, poor condition bicycle becomes a frugal man's best course to take.

Ados y Nana bike shop in La Paz.

I managed to find an old mountain bike for $46USD that suited me nicely at a pawn shop. It definitely needed work and had obviously been poorly spray-painted red. However, I was in love.

Post-tune-up along the waterfront of La Paz.

Jacqui's bike was harder to find, and more expensive, but we finally found a beast we decided was perfect for her at a posted price of 1300 pesos (about $100USD). But, worry not, Jacqui and I have been listening to Spanish tapes and reading our dictionary, so I was ready to use my excellent negotiation skills. I approached, greeted the woman good afternoon, and asked her if she could sell the bike a little cheaper… or so I thought. You see, the word cheap is barato, but if your pronunciation is a little off, you might slur out the word borracho...which means drunk. My negotiation of price was met with hysterical laughter.

However… it was successful. This señora was good-natured and agreed I could have the bike a little more drunk. With a wink, she proposed 1200 pesos and 4 cervesas as her counter offer. A purple bike with front shocks for about $90USD left us more than happy, and with a good story.

Jacqui trying out her new bike!

Adjusting the gears on Jacqui's new bike.

Finally, we had to figure out where to put these bikes. They certainly were not going inside the Dolphin since we're already crammed for space, so we decided to visit the local welder. I spent 30 seconds drawing up a diagram of what I thought could be the perfect rack. I wanted it to come out from the center of our spare tire, fork upwards and be removable with a pin. To me, this did not sound like an easy or cheap thing to make. 300 pesos later (roughly $24USD) we have a fully custom bike rack.

Operation Find Alternative Transportation, complete.

Easily slides into a permanently welded tube, then locks in place with a pin.

While we were there I had him weld on a quick shovel mount for 100 pesos. (about $8USD)

One happy customer!

Day 1: Crossing the border

After finally crossing the border, day 1 in Mexico can only be described as amazing. Jacqui and I started our day extremely early, waking at 5am to drive from San Marcos to the Tijuana border. Best way to describe the crossing….. shockingly easy while still being utterly confusing.

Immediately at the border crossing station our poor Spanish skills were making things difficult. But nonetheless, a couple back and forth trips between the bank and the immigration office and we’d successfully gotten our Visas. Then it was through the gate. Well, kind of. We were instantly signaled with the red light… the red light that means, we’re getting searched! I was dreading this part. I figured we’d have to dig through everything, even the roof box, a task that could easily take hours. But, the very official lady looked at us, casually strolled through the Dolphin, half-heartedly opened a few cabinets, then stepped out and said we we’re fine to go. This of course required a ‘we’ve-made-it-into-the-country’ high five between Jacqui and I, and we were off.

The Dolphin was instantly put to the test since the steep climbing did not wait for us to catch our breath to begin. These roads are the type I dream of driving on with my old BMW, Sonia. Climbing, descending, curves, bends, danger, cliffs, and glassy smooth roads. Regardless, even in our 6000lb Dolphin I was having fun, and enjoying Jacqui’s fear-whimpering.

However, the smooth roads were not to continue. After finishing the majority of hills, the flats and valleys were full of washed out roads. It seemed like every few miles we were again detoured onto a parallel dirt road. But the Dolphin trekked on and we finally reached El Rosario, our driving goal for the night.

Or at least that’s what I thought. When you travel with Jacqui you’re are bound to end up driving down a road you shouldn’t. She got it in her head we needed to drive 4 more miles to Punta Baja. Well, 4 miles really isn’t that far, and shouldn’t take long to drive. Unless, that is, you’re driving down a pot-hole-infested, lumpy, mountain dirt road in a vehicle that handles a little less well than a giant loaf of bread. But we made it, and I am unbelievably happy that we did.

At the end of this road the scenery opened up and we found ourselves nearly surrounded by beautiful ocean. You could hardly call this a town, maybe it could pass as a village. Dozens of scattered fishing boats just sitting on the ground, a few small, hand built homes, a few others that have been abandoned, and nestled around them some small RV’s and trailers that clearly hadn’t moved in years. We instantly knew this is where we were going to spend the night.

So Punta Baja is where we concluded our first evening. We found a very nice fisherman named Don Chuy that we wanted to buy some fish from for dinner. Jacqui and I, having basically no Spanish skills, were finally able to muster together “Tengo pesos. Tiene pescado.”(I have Pesos. You have fish.) The man chuckled, brought us some freshly fileted fish he had caught that day, and refused any money.

Don Chuy

Beaches, sunsets, puppies running amuck trying to make us fall in love with them, and fresh fish from unbelievably friendly people. Buenas noches dia uno.