February 18, 2008

Hola Mexico 15/01/08
Jim escorted/guided/joined us to the border. It was a calm sunny morning, our last 40km of good roads, wide shoulders and American-courteous drivers.
We departed from Jim our host, savior, and new friend just at the border, before the Mexican formalities.
We turned on our cell phone and received a SMS from Ramis’ mother, informing an Israeli cyclist (a week ahead of us) had all his stuff stolen, just south of Tijuana. This story added to all the crime stories of the last 2 months in north Baja California made Gal more terrified and even persuaded Rami we should catch a bus south, away from the dense tourists area.
After a quick hour of searching fro the American formalities (Gal needed a formal exit) and cutting lines of a million Mexicans and Americans, we entered Tijuana.
In 10 minutes we were at the local bus station waiting for a bus to Rosarito, a bit south, where Yvonne & Howard, whom we met through Couch Surfing were expecting us.
The bits we saw of Tijuana were not interesting, a 3’rd world country city, distorted by too many US tourists, crossing the border to do what they cannot do back home (like walking in the streets with a beer).
At Rosarito, while waiting for Yvonne to pick us up (from the local McDonald), we ate an excellent Mexican dish (the tastiest thing we ate since we left Israel). It’s common knowledge that Mexican food is fantastic…
It was dark, so Gal, here bike and all our luggage went into Yvonnes’ car and Rami followed them on the roller coaster called the Baja California highway. After a good adrenaline rush, we left the highway to the quiet hills.
We enjoyed Yvonne and Howards’ hospitality and company (and the tasty Sangria).
The next morning, after a good breakfast, we followed them, searching for a bus to Ensenada, again – away from the main traffic and crime. After an hour or 2 of 15 km/h, we reached a bus stop at the edge of town on the highway and we departed from Yvonne and Howard.
Half an hour later we (and our stuff) were on a bus, which was playing a Van-Dam film (does he still make films?), heading south to Ensenada.
Yvonne & Howard, thanks for a spoiling first night in wild Mexico. It’ll take a while till our next night inside a house or a warm shower!

Still in California.
The border.
On the bus from Tijuana.

Finally – cycling! 16/01/08
After 1 hour in the bus we were dropped in the center of Ensenada. Across the street were a bank + ATM, so we now had many Pesos. We started cycling south. The road was wide and it was an urban area, so the driving around us was OK.
We stopped at a small hardware shop and bought a blue tarp known as “our plastic cover”. It was 1/3 the price than in the US. We were proud of our new plastic cover. It even had build in holes for tying it down. And it was blue (ah, we mentioned that already). We were now ready for hiding from the tropical rain, or, with Gals’ luck, for rain in the desert.P.S. – on our previous Silk Road trip, the plastic cover was a ‘tool of the month’.From the shop we headed to a Taqueria, for the local delicacy: fish taco. We bought a bag of home made frijoles (red beans) and Tortillas (Mexican bread) for dinner, at the shop next door. It’s very calming to carry dinner so early in the day – one less thing to think of.
We continued cycling, out of the urban area. 4 of the 6 lanes disappeared, leaving us with a narrow road and too much traffic. Very quickly Gal started cycling on the parallel dirt road, slowing us down.
Our first cycling day was short, only 36km, but at least we were cycling.
It was 16:00, we were looking for a place to sleep, not wanting to camp out wild (due to the north Baja crime wave). We entered a school/college. We asked a teacher about camping and we spent there the night. We cooked our dinner at the cafeteria kitchen, practicing our Spanish with the cafeteria worker and fell asleep to the music of the school band.
It was our first night in our new huge tent. Our previous tent, The North Face “Tadpole 23”, was fantastic in all weather, but too small. It was supposed to be a 2 person tent, but our mattresses barely fit in it. Our new MSR Mutha Hubba 3 person tent is huge with room for most of our gear with us, but we are afraid it will not be as warm.

Our firsr campspot, a school.

Company 17/01/08
We were cycling through hills in the desert. 2 cyclists reached us from behind, Evin & Jeff, from the USA. We explained we are slow but they insisted on checking.We reached a right turn, 20km to a beach. Jeff suggested we check it out. Rami was skeptic especially about the unpaved portion of the looped planned or the 20km climb back. It was getting late but we still headed there. We reached a small village on the beach, just after sunset, passing the local police station. Gal mentioned she read about police corruption…Wisely, we both insisted on finding a place for the night before buying beer. We continued another 2km in the dark, on a terrible dirt road, till we reached the worst beach for camping. Probably a beautiful beach, but impossible for camping. The nearby hotel wanted $25 per person – out of the question. Jeff and Rami searched for somewhere to sleep. Rami knocked on a door and an old couple opened and quickly agreed we`ll camp on their land, near the beach.It was too cold to enjoy the small fire or dinner, so we crawled into our tent and sleeping bags.We woke up, for the first time in over a year, on the beach. A beautiful, deserted beach, all to ourselves.
The old couple from the house brought us many bottles of drinking water and some bags of Doritos and Cheetos in the evening. In the morning, they showed us the toilets, not before they returned home to bring a roll of toilet paper. Before we left, the woman prayed for our safety. This was the first of many hospitable gestures we received from total strangers in Mexico.
We cycled that day through hills. All 4 of us talking, at times, and the 'others' ahead at times. When cycling together the passing cars gave us much more space.
Even though Jeff & Evin were much faster (and lighter) than us, they bravely decided to continue with us. Towards sunset Gal and Rami took responsibility of finding a place for the night. Soon we reached a 'nothing' village in the middle of nowhere.
Rami asked a local about camping and we were invited into the village. Jeff searched for a secluded camp spot in the bush behind the village, but Gal, taking the recommendation of the locals, due to the crime wave in north Baja, insisted we sleep nearby (but away from the children). Rami went to the village shop and returned with a few potato's + aluminium foil and an invitation to camp in the garden of the shop owner. The "village idiot" helped us with building a fire and brought a strong lamp. Both helped a lot in this freezing night.
Around the fire Evin shared with us his dilemmas of returning to his girlfriend. He missed her and was suffering from the cold.
The next day they left us, in hope that cycling faster will lure Evin to continue.
A week later we met Jeff, who told us that on the following day Evin returned to San Francisco, taking with him the tent and stove.

Jeff, Evin & Rami.
First morning on the beach!

Rest day 21/01/08
The sign "RV camp 0.5m ->" caught our attention. We had enough food and water for the night, so we decided to check it out.
After 1 km we reached the park entrance. We quickly bargained the lady to $2 a person for camping and using the facilities (hot and salty showers). We parked our bikes on the wheel of a huge RV (Recreation vehicle - huge house on wheels) and went 50m to check the beach. The decision to stay was immediate.
We set our camp near the 3 RVs. We asked if, by any chance, they`re jumping to town (a shop). They said no, but, "What do you need?" - "Beer!". Before we finished setting the tent, we got 6 cans of Tecate beer, and once again, our inflatable mattresses were filled with alcohol. Just as we finished setting camp, we got 2 Salmon sandwiches, to go with our beer, as we enjoyed the sunset.
We found some scattered firewood (behind the abandoned park office) and took a bit. While Gal enjoyed a very warm shower, Rami lit the fire and prepared tea. We quickly learned that the tap water is a bit salty, due to over cultivating the area. We ate rice, beans and a salad.
We woke up around 07:30. Gal heard our neighbours say "bla-bla-bla-dolphins" and jumped out of the tent, but too late, they were gone. Sandy (our RV neighbour) asked if we are staying. The usual dilemma: we've just started, we like to move, we`re behind schedule... what the hell, let`s stay. Sandy and Kal brought us 2 chairs and the other neighbour RVs, who were heading back to the US, gave us their fruit and vegetables which are not allowed through the border.
It was our first real rest day in over 2 months. Our month & a half in Israel was far from rest, as well as the time in California.
We were sitting on this beautiful beach, reading, writing to our blog, enjoying the time passing by. Gal jumped with Sandy and Kal to a shop to buy supplies (beer). We were all hoping the fishermen will catch crabs. After drinking all our beer, Gal fell asleep for an hour, till Rami woke here up: "dolphins!". This time she spotted them, just before they left to reappear in the late afternoon.
The fishermen returned with a huge bucket filled with crab arms. Our neighbours bought 2kg for $8, but after telling them we`re traveling on bikes, we paid $5.5. He told us to boil them for 7 minutes. We were prepared for a disappointment, low expectations, so we`ll prepare pasta as well, we said.
The pasta was fine, even good, when calculating the cost + cooking time. It was famous "cyclist pasta S.O.S. (Something On Sale)", as a fellow cyclist wrote. Then we made a pot of crabs. 7 minutes later we were in paradise. The crabs were easy to peel and filled with big chunks of fantastic meat. After about 20 (the last ones were already cold) we improved our tactics and cooked them in our small pot on the fire, 6 at a time, eating them fresh and warm, constantly. After less then 1kg of our 2 we were stuffed! We drank Turkish coffee and could barely believe we've eaten an incredible $3 crab dinner.
We were supposed to leave on the following morning, but we still had 1kg of crabs. So, we had a crab breakfast. We built a small fire and 'wasted' 2 hours of stuffing ourselves with incredible chunks of crabs.
Full & happy, we left the beach around 12:00.

In the BIG RV.
With our bag of crabs.

And breakfast!

Desert 26/01/08
We've learned to trust our maps. It takes time to build trust in your equipment, from the bikes to the kitchen, the tent, the shitty head-lamps and... the fantastic, high-resolution map of Baja.
We (meaning Gal) planed the crossing of the coming desert. From El-Rosario there is a 'nothing rancho' every 70km, mass-o-menos, so we won't need to carry water, bu Gal made us carry food for 4 days. The crossing, till more populated areas ("as if", as the youngsters would say), should take us 5 days.
At El-Rosario, after searching for a local hotel (aren't all hotels local? We mean a Mexican hotel, for the locals, not the Gringos), a lady, who helped us, took us into her simple house and we slept in the bed of a family member who was away. The bikes were parked inside the living-room. We were amused with the thought of cycle-tourists parking their bikes + gear in the living-room of Ramis' mom...
We left early (didn't need to pack our camping gear) and cycled about 70km with nothing around except a green desert. The road went up and down, mainly up, nothing flat. But, it was a nice desert, not boring.
We reached the first sign of life since the morning, a rancho, which had a restaurant. After calling for a short while, a cute old guy came. He let us sleep in the restaurant which was closed, not carrying about it.
So we opened our tent in the half open room adjacent to the kitchen, we had light (from a solar panel, no electricity) and a full kitchen which made things much easier and tastier. If only the toilets were not so far away or a disgusting hole.
We enjoyed the isolation and worked on our Spanish.
The highlight of the next day was a huge Cactus forest. Again, nothing for 70km, till Catavinia (which is a 'nothing' on its behalf), except for these beautiful cacti. The scenery was taken out of the wild west movies.
In Catavinia the hotels were expensive and the RV camps were disgusting, so we entered the last house of the village and were invited to spend the night with Arnesto and Mer, a young couple.
2 more days of nothing but desert. One might think it's boring, sometimes it is, but it gives a strong feeling of isolation.
Late, at the end of the 4'th day we reached a small village with an 'almost' shop and a hotel (with hot water) - back to civilization.

At El-Rosario.
More cacti.
With Arnesto, Mer and friends.

Brooks saddle 27/01/08
Our saddle broke-in!
As you all know, a new lather saddle is very stiff and it takes (hopefully) about 500km to 'break' it. It gets the shape of the ass of its owner.

Rain 27/01/08
After a tough 101km in the previous day, we stopped early at the tiny village of Villa-Jesus-Maria. The next place with water was too far away to continue that day.
We stopped at a restaurant, asking about a hotel. An old guy invited us to his home, far from the noisy main road. 30 minutes later it started to rain and continued all night. We spent the time cooking and speaking Spanish. The candles added to the romantic atmosphere.

Cooking in the bathroom 28/01/08
We took a room in a shitty hotel/whore-house, which was not even cheep, at Vizcanio. We ate 4 tacos and realised it's easy, much more economic and good for our cycling diet if we made our own taco dinner. Rami recalled there was a bunch of beef chunks, drying on our balcony, just outside the window of our room.
So, trying to make the smallest mess, we decided to cook in the bathroom. Dinner was a success and was added to our camping menu: cut salad, warm a can of beans, open a can of salsa and burn the tortias.

Strong wind 31/01/08
After too many days in the desert, with nothing but a 'rancho' every 70km (now don't start fantasizing about a European ranch, it's more like a decaying junkyard with 2 rusty, broken caravans, no electricity and hopefully a bit of water - enough for the night) and once in a while a shop with pasta and a few cans (Mexicans).
We reached San Ignacio.
We had two very flat days with amazing tail wind and a million cacti, and then we reached this beautiful oasis, filled with palm trees.
We cycled around, searching for a cheep place to sleep. In a campground we met Jeff, the American cyclist. Evin, his partner missed his girlfriend and returned home, leaving him a bit lost, with a bicycle, in Baja.
We stayed in a different campground, just on the river. Jeff joined us for dinner and we had a nice evening around the fire.
The next day was a designated 'rest day', of doing nothing. Well, we did a bit: we visited the mission in the village centre, which was way-way nicer than any mission we've seen so far, especially the mission we've seen in Baja California Alta (California U.S.A), where the don't look old at all, and had the same interior-decorator of the next door 'Gap' shop. This mission was build of rocks, not Adobe.
We did our laundry and investigated to find out that whale-watching from there is beyond our budget. The Internet was super-expensive. This American/Canadian infested village was a bit too touristy for us, but charming and our camp spot was calm and beautiful, at least till now.
Rami took the wheel-barrel to fetch wood for the fire and we had another relaxed evening, Ah - there was a warm shower.
The wind built up during the night. We even had to tighten our plastic cover over the bikes and gear.
In the morning the wind was blowing strong from the east, very strong, and exactly from the direction we were headed to.
If there is something Rami hates in cycling is head-wind, but now even Gal wasn't hesitating and we decided to wait and see if things calm a bit.
Rami came back from the toilets and Gal shouted for him to hurry. While he was in the toilets, she built a fire in the old-style water boiler, for her morning shower, and noticed that the tent has moved. What do we mean by 'moved'? the wind flipped the tent a full turn pulling the two stakes holding the cover carrying all the stuff inside it (2 mattresses, 2 sleeping bags, 2 books and lots more)!
The wind was that strong!
Obviously Rami was pissed off on Gal; He wanted, at first, to open our tent under this big palapa (palm roof hut/umbrella) which was partially blocking the wind (very much blocking). But, we could never have imagined a storm like this.
We fought nature a bit and moved our camp to the more protected area. Then we worked on patching the new tent which wasn't new any more.
We miss our previous tent! This one is much bigger and is relatively light, but it's delicate, it doesn't keep warm and... Ah, lets give it a chance.
So, the whole day passed with this storm going on. We just relaxed and looked at the palms moving in the wind.
We spent the evening around the fire, with Billy, the motorcyclist from Ohio,and had nice time.

PIcking dates.
Our unprotected camp spot.
But beautiful...

The Sea of Cortez 01/02/08
The wind calmed down, but was still strong and in the wrong direction. We headed out anyway and fought it the whole day. It wasn't fun. We and a small uphill, which should have been almost nothing, but with the wind turned out to be terrible.
We passed the volcano of the three virgins at around 15:30 and saw a house on the left. We haven't seen anything fro a long time, and the Baja map we got from July, the best map around, which showed every rancho/house, showed nothing. Rami suggested we stop there for the night (we were carrying food but we needed water), but, Gal wanted to continue; we still had 2 hours of light.
We were going up and down, up and down as if there is no "flat" in Baja and it was getting late. Then, we took a turn and saw the Sea of Cortez far away. But we were still at a 300m plateau. Then we reached a steep descend, into a deep canyon. It was so steep, that Gal couldn't zoom it down (not that impressive), so we were using the breaks more than Rami would want. But, then came a big climb. Why? Why not just descend slowly till the beach? Meanwhile, the sun has set and we were more interested in finding where to camp than the scenery.
We reached some kind of an entrance to a factory on our left. The guard said we can camp, there is water, but out side of the compound, near the road. He added that there is a better place, 1km ahead. It was dark, but we decided to continue; the traffic was sparse, we had lamps and camping there sucked!
We climbed around a corner and, behold, the whole sea was just in front of us, below us! We downhilled to it then next to it for 3km till we reached a construction sight next to a small restaurant. All the workers were playing soccer and we just road inside, next to them and stopped; this was our home for that night!
A young Mexican of the group was totally aware of our needs and sent us round back, just off the water, under a big palapa (that word, "palapa", makes Rami laugh every time... "palapa"). There was even a light-bulb. He showed us the warm showers, nice surprise!
An hour later all the soccer players became drunks, inviting us for a few beers. Most were from Vera-Cruz, a poor province in the south-east coming for half a year to earn money and wast it on beer.
We fell asleep to the sound of the waves, breaking gently on the sand, exhausted.
We woke up to see an empty, endless stretch of beach. We cycled on seeing finally a big group of dolphins.

Sunrise on the Sea of Cortez.

Vacation - Playa Santispac 03/02/08
Everybody were talking about Bahia Concepcion. At least all the RV tourists. Billy, the motorcyclist describe: "Turquoise water, white sand, just beautiful down there!".
Near Santa Rosalia we met Pat and drake, who told us to come over to Playa Santispac.And finally we reached the bay. We were looking down into this magnificent bay (if only it had coconut trees...). We cycled down and saw the sign: "Playa Santispac". We cycled to the beach, going towards the far end, away from the road and the huge RVs. We didn't see Pat and Drake, so we parked under a palapa, near Lory & Kevin and Brat & Jack.
Gal Brat & Dan (the funny Alaskan from the other side of the bay) went to find clams, taking advantage of the ebb (tide going down, in English). While Rami build home, Gal became an addict. After an hour they returned with a huge box, full. Chocolate, Pearls and other clams. Lory made half of them in garlic, butter and white wine sauce, while Dan, having no bread crumbs, improvised and made what Rami called "clam a-la Ritz cracker" and a fantastic salmon pasta. Brat and Jack built a huge fire, tearing down useless parts of their palapa. We had no bear, because it was election weekend (of all Mexico) and selling beer was forbidden.
The Phosphorescence 'arrived' and we were throwing stones to the water and they splashed in a bright green-blue flash. We did that for an hour or so, bigger stones, jumping small ones or a handful of sand, the light were incredible.
The next morning Pat came by and said hello and a bit later we were kayaking in the calm bay with his kayaks. An hour later we were fighting the waves and wind, which built up so quickly.
Rami went with Pat and Drake to Mulege, for supplies: food and 8 liters of Tecate beer. Gal was collecting too many clams for dinner. Brat and Jack, who were supposed to leave that morning, but, got drunk with Dan and Kevin since the morning and were too drunk to leave, brought a truck load of firewood and 132 small bottles of beer (132 bottles of beer on the wall...).
The beer & clams in white wine sauce and deep fried clams in bread-crumbs party went all night around a huge fire. Shanna and Mark came with Pat and Drake and Ron, the old horny sailor, who anchored in the bay, came a shore. Later the guests left and only the 'locals' and Dan stayed, fighting the beers.
The party continued till the early morning.
The next day was sort of the same, not doing much, except getting drunk, cooking and resting. We haven't had so much fun in a long time. We hope to see those guys sometime again.

In Santa Rosalia.

Santispac bay.

Gal collecting clams.
The fire wood.
The party goes on in the morning.

Loreto 07/02/08
It wasn't easy leaving Santispac, but we managed. We were on the way to Loreto - a town! We planned on getting a hotel, preferred with a shower ;-)
We spent the first night in a tiny ranch, more like a junk-yard in the middle of the way, the only thing we've seen (as the map foresaw) for maybe 40km. The family was very kind, gave us tortillas and invited us for a tasty soup in the morning.
And we were back on the way to Loreto, hoping to clean up and, maybe, finally update our blog.
We were about 50km from Loreto when a cyclist came behind us. She was alone on a road bike, on the way from Mulege to Loreto, doing sport. Emily (from Canada) was working here in a tourist outdoor something. She had cycle-toured our route, till Panama a few years ago, so she was very nostalgic. We cycled together and talked for 2-3 hours till she had to go, reach Loreto in time.
We finally reached the town and looked for a hotel. A few were a bit expensive, so we were heading to the RV campground, when, waiting at a crowded, loud junction, a woman stopped next to us at the stop sign, and chatted with Gal, not caring about the traffic. She mentioned she had a weak spot for cyclists (her brother & sister cycle-toured), she can give us a luxury room for a good price.
The RV park was crappy and expensive (for sleeping in your tent), so we came to Robertas' place. It was the house of a friend, who had to return to the US, and she helped him, maintaining the 2 rooms. The room were $50, but she said she'll give it for us for $25, taking off her cut. We took it.
We stayed 2 nights, in which we mainly updated our blog, but wandered a bit around town and its' promenade, did our laundry and enjoyed talking with Roberta, an American who lives in a small village on a beautiful beach a bit south and paint for living. Beeing a sailor, she gave us all the info we needed for hitching a boat from La-Paz to the mainland.
On the second morning we were ready to attack the big climb ahead of us. Our map showed a 400m climb, but locals talked about it as if it was much more.
Roberta offered to prepare us breakfast, "energy for the road", which we happily accepted, so, as we finished packing eggs and pancakes were waiting for us on the table.
As we were leaving, Roberta came over, and saying she can't take our money, she pushed back the Pesos we gave her. This surprised us! It's always nice to get money back, but it was much nicer to slowly open and become friends, not just clients in a hotel.
The money was well spent on whale watching, 2 days later...
Thanks Roberta!

One important thing was informing Roberta about the warm-shower project, a warm shower and a bed for cycle-tourists, through which we met Julie, Jim and more in San Diego, who helped us a lot. Till now there was no warm sower in Mexico.

Goodbye Santispac.

Vultures in the rancho.

Breakfast with Roberta.

Upgraded pasta 09/02/08
The climb was easy, very easy. We barely stopped to rest, more for looking at the nice scenery. Mountain climbs are fun, the road twists and take corners, never boring. And all the truck drivers support us by cheering.
There was nothing on the way, since the climb began.
There were a few ranchos, but in the valley, near the river, far away from the road. We didn't have water for cooking. Our map wasn't optimistic. Then we saw a local, on a crappy bicycle. Nothing around but cacti in this desert, and suddenly - a bicycle! He told us there is a ranch just ahead, on the left, not far from the road; and soon we saw it. A tiny rancho, as usual, a semi-junkyard.
We were invited to camp. We had pasta for dinner. The usual pasta, with one can of tomato sauce and one can of chili sauce. A bit depressing, but quick and easy. This time we fried garlic, onion, chili and carrots and added some lime sugar & cheese. It was a big success and improvement to our diet. The MSR stove burns much more fuel, but we have no problem with petrol now, carrying a spare 1/2 litre.
Simple recipes for widening our diet will be appreciated.

The climb.
Chickens attacking our stuff.
Weekend fun.

Whales 11/02/08
In San Diego, Julie was the first to mention the whales down in Baja. They migrate from the north Pacific, near Alaska, to have their baby whales in warmer Baja California Sur (as if warm here! Like, you know...), during January-March. She marked on her map, near Garrero Negro, where it is closest to the road.
After passing a "whale watching" area or 2 we reached Garrero Negro, but wanting to cycle more than the previous day, having this fantastic tail wind and feeling like Garrero Negro will not be our cup-of-tea, we decided to continue.
In San Ignacio we found out the detour was not for bicycles and the tour is expensive.
While staying at playa Santispac, Dan shared us with his "whale watching" experience: "You go in this small boat and whales swim all around you!" (in a slow, heavy accent).
In Loreto, Roberta told us about the excursions from Ciudad-Constitution area.
So, We reached Ciudad-Isurgentes. we started cycling the 36km road to beach/bay, at Puerto Adolfo-Lopes-Mateos (what a Spanish name!) and didn't know what to expect. The wind was blowing very strong from the Pacific ocean, slowing us too much, so we decided to hitch, so we'll get there before dark (after sunset, it's dangerous on the road and difficult to find a camp spot). A pickup truck too us to town. We cycled to the port and the attached beach, "Mui tranquilo" (very relaxed), the locals said, while directing us.
The small beach was nice and had 3 Arr-Veis (RVs, in a heavy southern accent) parked on it. We opened camp and the wind calmed down as the sun was setting, coloring the sky.
A bit earlier Rami spotted a whale, maybe 100-200m from the shore. An a dolphin, but who cares about the dolphin! We all watched the whale cruse the bay. We were invited to join the German and French couples to "whale watch" the next morning, at 07:30, the best time to watch the whales.
We managed to wake up, even had coffee. Our neighbours went to sleep so quickly, we didn't have time to ask if they can watch over our camp.
At 07:25 one of the neighbours woke and said they'll stay and keep an eye. We ran and caught the boat on time.
The sea was flat like a mirror. After 10 minutes on the boat we saw a group of Gray Whales; probably a father, mother and baby. In the following 2 hours we had Gray Whales all around us, going up and down, blowing their horns and once in a while dove bellow us. Even towards the end of our 2 hour round they took out their giant heads straight up for a peek every now and then.
True, it was like National-Geographic, with all this Gray Whales around, but it was not fun, not fun for Gal & Rami and not for the whales. It was beautiful (though, the whales themselves are very ugly, especially nearby) and not a daily experience, but, we were sitting in the boat, more cameras than people, chasing those poor, helpless animals, sailing near them every time they swim away and 'reveal' themselves for air. We were interrupting their quiet, in contrary to the dolphins, which swim towards any boat, to investigate and play.
We've conquered their habitat. Soon we'll get them all drunk and working in casinos...
We stayed at the beach there another night, even though we're having too many 'rest days'. During sunset we saw a whale swim, not far away, and a group of jumping dolphins kept us company till dark.
We could hear the whales 'blow' all night long. It was far nicer than the "whale watching", but, thanks to the "whale watching" we know to recognise the sound.
The dolphins returned in the morning, when the lagoon was most calm, to say goodbye.



La-Paz 18/02/08
The last 2 days to La-Paz were boring (as we were told) and tiring. We were told it's flat and quick, but it wasn't flat nor quick, with terrible head wind. The last part, a 300m descend to the Sea Of Cortez, was fun, and we were in El-Centenerio, a village, 13km before La-Paz.
We contacted mike from Couch-Surfing and stayed at his beautiful house, which he built during the last 18 years.
The next morning, 08:00, we were at La-Paz marina yacht-club, as Roberta recommended, and listened to Radio-chatting of the bored Gringo Yacht owners community. We announced on the radio: "Israeli cyclists searching to hitch a ride to the mainland", and left a note on the board. After asking around, we were told that the luxurious "Lexington" was leaving the next day to Mazatlan. We went to talk. The captain went out and chatted with us, but told us the chances were slim; he'll need to ask the owner. We agreed to meet at 13:00... As we left, we saw the owner looking at us, not making any notion of coming out to see what's up - chances were slim.
We attacked the town. Both our travel books and tourists we met said that La-Paz is charming. We found the town not "our cup of tea" - too "gringonized", almost no sign of the colonial past.
At 13:00, after finding out the ferry will cost us + bikes + cabin over $200, we returned to the marina. The captain (Mr. Smithers) delivered the bad news. We were frustrated, he doesn't want us, maybe we should have arrived on our bikes, with all the luggage, make a better impression.
We returned to Mikes' place. We rested and enjoyed a Mexican-style pasta dinner with Mike, who was throwing these funny/true observations of the last 18 years in Mexico, like: "Mexican economy is based on government controlled oil, gringo tourists and money sent from the USA, by illegal workers. Mexicans in Mexico only manufacture more Mexicans!", and it is true. Till now, every lower class family had around 10 children. women were having children at the age of 18 and earlier. After the 10'th, they look like whales!
The next day we worked all day long on updating our Silk Road blog: Turkey.
In between, Mike invited us to goat Birria, a local delicacy, and later took the dogs and us to a beautiful, remote beach.
That night, we decided to wait with the ferry 2 more days, still hoping for a ride.

Ranch family.
Arr-Veis with a heavy southern accent.
Waiting near the yacht-club radio.
Banana-coconut shake.
Mikes beautiful house.
One of his dogs running at the beach.

Our ride 18/02/08
Again, 08:00, at the Yacht-club. We saw a note of a sail-boat, looking for a crew.
We introduced ourselves to the captain, Kip, having no experience, but occasionally funny and with cooking skills.
Having cycle-toured in the past, captain Kip took a big risk and accepted us + 2 bikes + luggage on his 37 foot Alberg - the "Folie Douce"!
Another passenger was expected, the annoying, 30 years old childish Chuk, who, lucky us, didn't arrive the next day, no calls or anything.
According to the pace of things, we were sceptic about the departure, tomorrow, 12:00. Somehow, 5 hours were not enough for doing the shopping - food!
We bought a lot of shrimps & calamari, for a 'goodbye dinner' with Mike, a perfect host, who made the annoying wait in touristy La-Paz a pleasant rest.
Thanks, Mike. We had a fantastic time. Waiting to see you again.

At the marina.