Saturday, December 27, 2014


Sunrises are usually not my "thing" - but on Coyote Beach, there is nothing better. Unless, of course, your sunrise is punctuated by the appearance of the fins of a whale shark...

For Christmas, we did something for ourselves that we hardly every do, unless driven to do so by weather, or some other existential circumstance: we stayed put for longer than a day. AND, we actually paid for camping.

And it was delightful.

Jelle and Debi had told us that Coyote Beach puts on a fabulous potluck for Christmas and initially we were like “Oh, that’s nice,” not thinking that we’d have the opportunity to partake. But, after spending about 24 hours on the beach, we realized how nice it would be to spend Christmas with the community of Coyote Beach and so we planned our meal contributions for the potluck and even moved to a better palapa further down the beach.

We enjoyed some beautiful hikes with our friends down the road, Martha and Kurt, the ingenious creators/owners of Black Dog Cycle Works.

Libby, the namesake of Black Dog Cycle Works herded us up and down the mountains that frame Bahia Concepcion.

Overlooking Burro Beach and Coyote Beach

Our neighbors on the beach lent us their kayaks.

A blue-footed booby came along for the paddle

And day by day, we let go of the tension and stress we’d stored up throughout our endeavors to get the bikes (and ourselves) ready for Central/South America.

Christmas Eve was delightful… luminaries (paper bags with sand and tea lights) were lined up along the beach (a yearly tradition around the bay) and we were invited for a lovely potluck by other neighbors on the beach.

The local boat parade

One such neighbor, who is a gifted photographer, showed us photos she had taken the previous year of the whale sharks that had graced Coyote Bay with their presence. We all joked that maybe we’d get lucky and get some whale sharks for Christmas.

Oh yea. Ha. Ha. Ha.

I’ve literally traveled all around the world hoping to catch a glimpse of these creatures (as have many other divers, including Roel). So I’ve learned not to hold my breath looking for them anymore.

The next morning, we were gearing up to ride into town and Skype our families, when yet another wonderful neighbor came running down the beach shouting Roel’s name, a pair of binoculars dangling from his hands.

Well, it turned out that since Santa hadn’t received a “Dear Santa” list from us, he took a peek at our Bucket Lists, and delivered a whale shark to Coyote Bay for Christmas.

While we peered at the water looking for the tell-tale duo finned creature to appear, I had tears streaming down my face. Christmas Miracles indeed come in all forms.

Our wonderful next door neighbors were happy to let us borrow their kayaks, again, and so we paddled off into the bay, searching the waters below us with each stroke of the paddle. An hour and a half passed without another fin sighting and so we eventually resigned ourselves to heading back to shore and watching for the whale shark from land. We were about 50 meters from shore when two fins surfaced near Roel’s kayak, and a grin spread across my face as I watched Roel whoop and laugh as he watched the whale shark swim right underneath his kayak.

We waited around for him to surface again, and when he did, he swam right between our kayaks. I was so stunned and in the moment, that I nearly forgot the camera that I was holding, until Roel shouted “Stick the camera in the water!” Duh!!! So, apologies for the crappy photos, but I hope that through the written account you can appreciate what a momentous occasion this was for us.

It was a very merry Christmas, indeed.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Christmas Spirit is always apparent in the smiling faces of children.

Merry Christmas to all of our friends across the world! In the spirit of the Holiday, we want to share with you what has made our Christmas this year... An amazing school teacher in Mulege, Laura, has taken in 11 children who have been orphaned due to the substance addictions of their parents. With the help of some of the Coyote Beach "locals", Laura brought "her" kids to the beach for a day of fun in the water, Santa, lunch, a pinata (of course), and a bit of motorcycling  Many of these children have never been to the beach, much less, had an opportunity to play in the water. Seeing these smiles lit up our Christmas. If you are coming to Mulege, please consider loading up your panniers with pencils and school supplies - I wish we had. They share a 1 room house. Anything would help. If you'd like to help in another way, their Facebook page is Casa Hogar en Mulege or send us a message for the local Gringa contact here in Mulege.

Also, if you're interested in donating via PayPal, their e-mail for PayPal donations is:

For many of these kids, it was their first time at the beach and definitely their first time in kayaks, on paddle boards, etc.

Santa made an appearance with toys and games for the kids

Everyone enjoyed lunch after swimming and motorcycle rides...

Giving the Pinata a good whack!

And the pinata breaks to much gleeful shouting!

Big smiles all around as these kids share their pinata winnings

Laura and her ninos...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Paradise FOUND!!!

No really, the next morning we found paradise.

We woke up and had some fun with the GoPros to give Mike some extra time to pack up and picked him up at his campsite along the road and continued 45 kilometers to Mulege.

One of the more elaborate cemeteries we passed along the way.

It’s a quaint little town and we immediately encountered Mago’s Bakery with FAST wifi

This RR is brought to you by Mago's

After a few hours chatting with the owners, Mago and Robbin, and chatting with fellow customers, we had recommendations for camping areas south of Mulege around Bahía Concepción, and Roel and Chris (who we’d met at Horizons Unlimited in Mariposa, CA), had a very Mosko Meetup

Roel had met a Dutchie who told him that there would be a group of orphan kids visiting Coyote Beach, where they were camping, the next day to play in the water and use the kayaks and paddle boards of some of the campers. We figured at the very least, we could help in the water, but perhaps we could add some motorbike fun to the mix...
So we set out for Coyote Beach and thoroughly enjoyed the 20 mile ride to get there.

Upon arrival, we were warmly welcomed by many of the annual visitors to Coyote, and found a lovely palapa under which we could set up the NEMO and protect it from the sun.

Ahhhhh… this is the life.

Trip planning with a view...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Make Sure Your Map is New-ish. And Fuel Up Frequently.

Leaving El Eden

We left Rosa’s Eden early after our rest day, intending to make a big day of it.

The highway was in great condition (for the most part) and ran through a beautiful National Park, Valle de los Cirios, filled with cacti. And not filled with gas stations. This is when we discovered that our map is actually 11 years old, and many of the gas stations listed on it are now defunct.

Just an itty-bitty pothole here and there

Fortunately, there was a guy on the side of the road in one of the small towns selling gas, and we all fueled up. Given the load he is carrying, Mike’s fuel range is pretty limited, so he made sure to top up at every opportunity. Which was smart... we should have done that, but we got very lucky and happened upon this guy:

There was nothing for miles around, and with the sun beginning to set, Roel began investigating dirt tracks that went up into the hills where we could stealth camp for the evening.

Getting a good leg stretch in

Though Mike is on a Super Tenere, the way he is packed up, he is not comfortable going off-road so he decided to camp next to the highway while we went up into the mountains. This led to quite a bit of anxiety for me as I continued to worry about him all night long. Given the experience we’d had in Australia, I ONLY camp hidden in the wild regardless of whether it’s the US, Canada or Mexico. So all night, I worried about him being harassed, or worse, because all it takes is one person with bad intentions who wants to ruin your evening. Perhaps this is a really negative way to view things... I'm sure he could get through all of the world camping like this and be perfectly fine... but I personally wouldn't be able to sleep.

The next morning we got up and out early and rode to where Mike had camped alongside the road and waited while he finished breaking camp. We're so used to setting up and breaking down camp is practically an automatic task for us: it takes me less than a half hour to break camp (Roel usually makes coffee while I’m doing this), pack up the bikes and be on the road. 

We rode to Guerrero Negro on the Pacific coast, and found a lovely spot to have coffee and enjoy some internet. And then we continued South in the direction of Mulege. We stopped for lunch in a small town and enjoyed some chicken, pasta salad and fries for about 40 Pesos each. It wasn’t a bad price, but it’s pretty obvious that we are going to be paying tourist prices when we stop at roadside spots, so we’re not going to do this anymore for a while.

We were hoping to make it to Mulege, but given how low the speed limits are and how much slower you travel with an extra person who you cannot communicate with via headset, we wound up making it only to Rosalia when the sun was setting. And wow, what a shock that was.

Riding by Tres Virgenes Volcano

The road leading to Rosalia is stunning… it takes you by the Tres Virgenes Volcano, through lovely cactus groves around winding roads with sweeping curves and the scenery is other worldly.

And then you drop down into Santa Rosalia where the dump is literally next to the beach and loose trash is flying all over the place. It’s an mining town, and there is no clear route through town, so we wound up riding around and getting lost in “rush hour” traffic on the one-way lanes.

By the time we made it out of town, it was dark and I was extremely nervous to be riding around in the dark, as not riding after dark is pretty much the #1 rule to abide by in Mexico. We found a main road off of the highway and decided to look for camping along this. Roel found us a dirt track that led off road a bit so we could be hidden and again, and since it was a bit of a rough track, Mike opted to sleep next to the road, more or less. We had no idea where exactly we were camping given that it was dark so we wanted to be out by 6:30am. Mike was a little perturbed by this as he’d heard that camping in Mexico was completely safe (and the subtext was of course that he’d have to wake up at 4:30am in order to be out by 6:30am). I felt bad for being so rigid about how we do things, but ultimately, I had to remind both Mike and myself that everyone travels differently and has different deal-breakers regarding what makes them feel safe and comfortable... this is one for us. Each to his/her own, and if he wanted to meet up in Mulege, that would be fine.

Ensenada to Eden... no joke.

We were the only campers, and so the kind attendant at Mona Lisa Campground & RV Park let me into a hotel room so I could have a hot (salty) shower, which was a welcome treat. They directed us to a palapa that they made sure we understood was usually rented for a hefty fee, and told us we could camp there instead so we would be warmer. We expressed our gratitude and mentioned that our friend would be joining us. No problem. Between my rusty Spanish and their patience, we reached what I thought was an agreement that Mike would pay 50 pesos for the night.

When Mike (who is Colombian and speaks fluent Spanish), arrived, the guard came over, told him where to park his bike and accepted his 50 pesos.

Fast forward through three sketchy cars that came and parked in the lot to pay 50 pesos to do goodness-knows-what, and a group of a dozen rowdy teenagers that had a campfire a few meters from our tent that we had retired to by 8pm, and Mike has set up his tent and is about to fall asleep despite the racket. The guard comes over to him yelling that he has to pay to camp (because according to them he had only paid to park), and they proceed to have a rather unpleasant exchange that winds up with Mike breaking down his tent and simply sleeping on his cot to avoid paying $25.

After a night of spotty sleep and pretty consistent stress over our well-being, Mike’s well-being and the well-being of the bikes that were right next to us, we woke up with pounding headaches and packed to get out of town. I somehow paid only 50 pesos for Mike’s night on his cot and they seemed happy to chalk it up to a mis-understanding. Ugh. What a racket.

At least the view from Mona Lisa Beach made up for the poor nights rest.

Before leaving town, we headed to immigration, got our tourist visas and passports stamped, (for those thinking about traveling down here, make sure you do it here or in Tijuana if you want to continue into mainland Mexico. They will make you ride back all the way if you don’t have it at the ferry!) headed to Telcel to discover that Verizon had lied about my phone being unlocked, gassed up and got out of dodge.

It was after noon already and with only 3+ hours to ride before the sun would begin to set, we knew we would have to begin looking for camping sooner rather than later.

The highway was in excellent condition and the scenery was beautiful… Low, sculpted hills and even some young vineyards dotted the landscape. The speed limits were extremely conservative and annoying. And we seemed to be the only ones even close to abiding by them!

We came to our first military checkpoint and they just waved us through. Whew.

The sun began to set and Roel and I began to have the discussion about where to camp over our headsets.
Yes, we usually exclusively camp wild and free, but in Mexico, particularly this part of Mexico, we didn’t want to be taking any chances. There appeared to be good wild camping galore, but I reminded Roel that looks can be deceiving and this is not the area to take a chance with what might be at the end of a road that “appears” to be abandoned.

Just before entering San Quintin, I saw a sign out of the corner of my eye and caught the word “Palapa.” I signaled to the guys and we turned around and decided to check it out. Down a dirt road and off to the right is ‘El Eden.”

No really. That’s the name of this campground. And after where we slept the night before, I felt like Rosa’s campground really was Eden.

We camped under the palapas on the left of the photo

She welcomed us and told us to camp wherever we liked and that she would go turn on the gas so we could have hot showers. For 50 pesos each. Less than $4.

Couldn't resist the locally produced strawberries that Rosa offered... and no harm done, I'm relieved to report

The setup of the place is lovely and it is evident that a lot of thought, care and love has gone into it’s creation. There is a playground, a pagoda, palapas of all sizes (since it’s cold and the weather called for rain, we are camping
underneath one of them).

The pool at El Eden is lovely, and they have two smaller pools for children

The buildings are all brightly painted and the fences and palapas are artfully erected. It is such a peaceful place to be, and it has such a nice feeling with Rosa’s children, her 4 dogs and the school children running around next door, that we decided to stay and have a rest day.

El Eden's "Guard Dogs"

And for the first time in three days, Rosa’s Eden did what no amount of water, Advil or Paracetamol could do… it cleared our heads and relieved the pounding.