Mar de Cortés

El mar de Cortés dame energía. Puedo usar el gran potencia, más que todo la tierra y tan profundo como el cielo. Un volcán de poder. Crea los ríos que entran el gran entero de agua para regresar desde todos los lugares que sube. Con la adrenalina de los calles que cayó, siguiendo el proceso de cíclico hidrológico, para ser todos los partes, para mover sobre todas las rocas hasta que flote en el gran mar.

La persona que vea el mar después de cruzar el desierto encontrará un sentimiento más maravilloso de pueda imaginar. Esta persona se dirá cuenta a los conexiones del mundo incluyen los elementos que existen entre su cuerpo, la que existen entre la tierra y los aguas del lago, arroyo, río, nublado, nieve, cascada, bahía, y finamente, el mar.

Six Degrees of Separation

The 28th parallel marks the border between Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur. At 28º of latitude, this also makes us 6 degrees south of our starting point in Santa Bárbara, at 34º latitude.

Over mountains and through the desert, we have gradually entered a world entirely different from the environment we left behind. Each pedal on the bike has brought us into new towns and areas of Mexico we never thought existed.

Unprotected by the confines of an automobile, we interact with locals at every intersection. Curious about our traveling by ‘bici’, people are more than willing to stop for an interesting conversation. Whether over morning aguas frescas and café or a road-side taqueria, these interactions have really shown us the whole countryside. A fisherman by the coast treated us to a fantastic dinner of lobster tacos and a worker in the desert showed us how to get a delectable fruit from a cactus.

Food is especially appreciated after pushing a hundred pound bike up a canyon. Cooks such as Mama Espinoza in Rosario show us their quality “quesabirrias,” and are thrilled to see us order 5 more plates. With each plate, they share more than just delicious pico de gallo topping a full flour tortilla, they show us the very things that make their hometown unique.

Eugy, the owner of Nueva Chapala, told us the entire story of how his family settled as ranchers in the Valle de los Cirios. With pictures hanging in his restaurant of 150 years of the desert’s history, we truly got a peek into life in this area.

The special part of spending time with those who have welcomed us into their homes is understanding the similarities between cultures throughout Baja. At nearly every stop, people were hilarious, telling jokes about cyclists, truck drivers or the difference between ‘exacto’ and ‘correcto.’

As incredibly hospitable as all these people have been, there are distinct cultural differences that have been persistent for these two weeks in Mexico. Burning trash has been a roadside sight throughout. In Guayquil, we talked to the cafe owner lighting a heap of plastic bottles and various food wrappers. “No tenemos suficientes recursos para hacer otra cosa.” At least 60 kilometers from the nearest other town, this little truck-stop has no other option than to burn the trash so it doesn’t pile up and blow away in the afternoon desert winds. These trash fires become their resort to lack of other option.

At some points it becomes a matter of tradition over anything else. As customs become rooted generation after generation, it becomes natural for actions to be excused as acceptable. Dating back to the Mayans, people have been eating sea turtles as a ceremonial act. In Santa Rosaliíta, we stayed with fisherman who have been in the area since their grandparents’ grandparents fished the same waters. Nestled on a point where the desert meets the sea, this has been the way of life for every high tide and low tide for hundreds of years. On Sergio’s birthday, it was considered tradition to eat the sacred animal. Captured Sea Turtles in Sergio's net

Similar to disregarding trash on the streets, these small town citizens have not seen other parts of the ocean. They do not know that this drastically reduces the world’s endangered sea turtle population. They don’t have the privilege to understand the interconnected nature of the ocean.

Looking back on all the places we’ve gone so far, its easy to count the differences. But it’s remarkable to remember how humble and welcoming all of our hosts have been. After all there are only six degrees of separation between us.

Nacer del Sol

As the sun glimpses the eastern horizon in the morning, the olive green branches above reflect the same mesmerizing hue as the grass field below the tent. When the clouds emerge vibrantly orange, the rooster begins the day’s symphony. And as the fiery orange welcomes the stronger yellow rays, the rooster’s call fades to the background, as the birds chirping becomes the melody. Silhouette outlines of the surrounding olive trees start to produce shadows on the dew covered ground, slowly evaporating as each blade of grass stretches toward the sun, as if the water droplets began a morning yoga routine using the distant cows’ mooing as a metronome. Between the two layers of green, the glowing grass and the lightly-coated leaves, the pale brown of Earth. And with this melodic rising of the sun, the Earth begins to show its true colors. To the birds’ chime, out of the darkness it emerges as if it is a champion boxer entering a fully packed arena. And slowly unveiling its form, hidden behind the branches, this land has more than its boxing opponent, the previous night, could have dreamed. Each branch, supporting a red finch, contains an ever-growing encyclopedia of growth, continuance and wonder. As the minute melodic tune gives way to the bright drum-beat of cars, people and places, we can consider ourselves awake and ready for the day!

What does your morning alarm sound like?

Día de los Muertos!

A cemetery is not what I would picture as the location for a day of celebration. 

But in Ensenada, they view the cemetery, and death altogether, under a whole other light.

“We are not afraid of death. It’s something everyone must go through, so might as well enjoy it, right?” Eduardo Kanter explained as he was decorating his brother-in-law’s grave with vibrant flowers.

Eduardo y María Kanter

Día de los muertos offers Eduardo and his wife, Marina, the chance to remember their past loved ones for what they are, part of the family.

Within this carnival-esque gathering, each family had a unique tradition. At one gravesite, a full brass band of trumpets and tubas was playing the deceased’s favorite tunes. At the next, a family placing a meal of pan de muerto at their grandmother’s altar. 

These festivities gave the community a chance to come together to happily celebrate those who are no longer with them. They view it as a way of remembering the importance of ‘los seres queridos‘ or loved ones.

Everywhere one looks they see the bright orange flowers, cempaxúchitl, adorning the tombs. And the streets surrounding the cemetery were full of candy skulls, taco carts, elotes, fruit stands and face painting stations. 

Flowers at each and every corner,

Redefining what it means to be a mourner.

The gatherings for Dia de los Muertos mark a large part of their Mexican heritage. The kids get time off of school to remember the importance of the generations that came before them.

Berta’s whole family arrived at 7 a.m. to set up a picnic on her mother’s grave, eating tamales and drinking aguas frescas because that was always the mother’s favorite meal. The merry picnic continued well into the afternoon and through the full moon’s evening rise.
Tokens of Appreciation
Cempaxúchitl, also known as Aztec merigold, is a special flower–Berta said that its 20 petals are for the 20 people that surround you in life and in death.


Pan de muerto– This bread, covered in sugar, is baked for the occasion. The loafs are topped with crosses baked into the crust, signifying the bones of the deceased. 

Waiting at an Intersection

What can we expect as we cross the border?

We’re excited to meet people who come from a different walk of life, and embrace their reality into ours. A major intention as we enter this new land is to adapt to their language, so that we can connect on a deeper level aside from telling them how dank their food is. On a bike there is no shielding ourselves from the surrounding environment. The lack of A/C and a windshield, as brutal as it may seem, is actually a traveller’s privilege.

Local people have watched years of tourists pass their homes with little or no recognition of their cultural practices and environmental surroundings, only using their roads as a means to get to another destination. Beyond our own endeavor of this trek and the money we are trying to raise, it is our major concern that we give back to the people native to the land we are crossing.

Many Americans that have tried to offer insight and advice to us about this trip have mentioned how sketchy of a country Mexico can be… Yes, we absolutely expect and are prepared for a few sticky situations to be encountered along the way, but those will bewell offset by the warm welcomes and friendly faces we will encounter.

Appreciate each moment for what it is, not as you wish it to be.

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When you’re riding a bicycle for hours on end, many thoughts come into your mind. Specifically, we’ve often contemplated exactly what changes we will see along the journey… As we become closer to the equator, what will be the big cultural changes? As we ride further and further away from ‘home’, how will we be received? A lot of times our fate will lie in the hands of our hosts, so how can we expect to know what we are going to get? How will we be able to handle the adversity thrown our way, from bike mechanical issues, to illness, and more. From the food to the people who serve it to us, what type of surprises will the ride contain? How will the constant changes in our environment dictate our ability to ride? The only way to find out….keep pedaling.

Biking, Burritos, and Bodysurfing

The first week of the bicycle tour has been full of generous gifts, spectacular food and unexpected surprises. Southern California showed us triple-digit temperatures and stellar ocean waves as we went 250 miles down the coast.

We spent our first night camping out in Point Mugu State Park at Sycamore Campgrounds. Despite it being an entirely booked out campground with many families camped side by side with little privacy, we were able to score our own secluded “hikers and bikers” site with a fire pit all to ourselves! Pro tip: if a state

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campground is full, park your car outside the campground and walk in as a hiker. Jokes, riddles, a good campfire, and the company of the legendary Peter Miyakawa made for a memorable first night of our long journey ahead.

The following days were spent visiting our families and friends in West Los Angeles and Redondo Beach. While there were definitely many emotions that came into play saying goodbye to our incredibly loving families, the overarching memories that will stick with us and help keep our morales high throughout our trip are belly-aching laughter, exquisite meals, and big warm hugs.

A massive thank you goes out to the Hamilton family in Laguna Beach, the Hoffman family in Carlsbad, and Jordan Lampi in Pacific Beach for their warm hospitality 🙂


 

Despite sitting on our asses all day, becoming a bike tourist is hard-earned title. The word “hill” has an entirely new meaning when your bike weighs over 100 pounds; each foot of incline makes a considerable difference.

As we approached San Diego, there was a steep incline from the beach up into La Jolla. Three rotations on first gear got us about half a foot further. To make it more embarrassing, cars were zooming by a speed limit sign that said 50mph; we were barely cruising 3mph!

Following the coast along Highway 1 granted views of dolphins, whales, and plentiful pelicans. Each little beach town along the way had their own set of beach shacks, surfers and grub spots.

 

“This burrito was so good, I’m ordering another!” Biking for 50 miles each day through a southern California heat wave, we build up quite the appetite, making each town’s breakfast burrito joint that much more appealing!

As we continue on to a land of elegant tacos and tortas, we can’t help but wonder how the rest of the journey will compare to this first week, and the question repeating in the mind:

What constitutes a good adventure?

Barreled

 

Gearing Up

When traveling on a bicycle, one must take only the essentials….an ukulele, a soccer ball and a set of swim fins.

After many runs to REI and the local bike store, Santa Barbara’s Bicycle Bob’s, for the right supplies, we laid out the special items that made it into the finally packed panniers.

If you could pack your life onto a bike,

how would it be and what would it look like?

A lot of our items were given away to friends and family, and even more found themselves in bins at the thrift store or stuffed into recycling bins. Even moving from a van onto a bike left me in a state of contemplation: do I really need this??

A Spanish translator and a solar panel are worth their weight in gold, but heartfelt goodbyes needed to be said to the surfboards, slacklines, and knitting kit left behind.

Certain items will be cherished as reminders of our Isla Vista home; a jar of local honey, leather-bound journal, and clip-in pedals are more than the space they take up.

With a fresh start and a heavy bike, we start pedaling southbound!!

 

Here’s a brief list of some items we have packed:

  • Spot GPS Locator
  • MicroFiber Towel
  • Ukulele
  • Backpacker Guitar
  • Traveler’s Backgammon Set (!!!)
  • BioLite Solar Panel
  • Sea-To-Summit Collapsible Pot
  • MSR WhisperLite International Stove
  • Coffee Sock Filter
  • Bialetti Espresso Maker
  • Soccer Ball
  • Sunglasses
  • REI Quarter Dome 2 Tent
  • Headlamps
  • Journals
  • Photo Album
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Maps of Northern and Southern Baja California
  • GoPro Hero 5
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
  • Pocketbook Spanish Translator
  • Sleeping bag, sleeping mat, etc.
  • Helinox Chair Zero
  • Bike Lock
  • Bodysurfing Hand Plank & Fins
  • Eno Hammock
  • Passport 🙂
  • Jars of: honey, maca powder, cacao powder
  • Buck Knife, pocket knife, etc.
  • Bike pump
  • 2 pairs of socks (each) and 1 pair of boxers (each)
  • Bike Shorts
  • Sandals
  • Smiles!