20 January 2012

Transpeninsula Mexico 1


For more than four years I've been undergoing intense fronterization in Tijuana but the farthest I've managed to wander down the Baja peninsula is San Felipe, just a couple hours south of Mexicali.

Here I am, on the tip of one of the most unique ecosystems on the planet, a narrow runway of harsh desert splitting the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez where the only obstacle separating the tepid Gulf of California from the massive waves of the world's largest swimming pool are a few hundred kilometers of mountains, valleys, deserts and forests. This is an environmentalist's ultimate playground, the bacon strip of the Western Hemisphere's bikini wax, and I'm an ass for ignoring it as long as I have.

That said, the New Year bucket list called for a premature spring break in Mulege, some 15 hours and more than 1,000 kilometers down the Transpeninsular Highway, aka Mexico 1, territory that up until 40 years ago was accessible only by plane or boat.

South of Ensenada the road is mostly two lanes that aside from a few clusters of bends and the occasional hairpin turn are mostly straightaways. It's excessive with speed bumps but decently paved and fully accessible to not just monster trucks. Aside from horses and donkeys chewing stuff on the side of the road, much of the terrain is still sparsely populated, and understandably so. After a while it's easy to see why anyone who lives out here would savor their solitude. Nothingness is addictive. Or at least easy to fall for, as the photos from the drive prove.

The game plan:

Day 1: Tijuana to Guerrero Negro, just over the Baja California Sur state line about 700 kilometers south along the coast. Day 2: 200 kilometers across the peninsula to Santa Rosalia, a colonial French mining town that's home to a 19th century church designed by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame, then on to Mulege and finally Playa El Requeson, just south of Mulege, where for the next four nights home will consist of a tent on an empty beach sandwiched between a saguaro battalion and water the color of mouthwash.

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