The West Road: surfing and wild camping in Baja, Mexico
If you’ve been following our blog over the past year you’ll know all about Tom and Sally’s epic road trip along the full length of “The West Road” Pan American highway which began Oct 2015. They have ridden 150cc dirt bikes all the way from Santiago Chile surfing and exploring as they headed North through south and central America. They recently travelled through Mexico and Baja on their way to the final leg in California. This installment of their story sees them riding through the Baja badlands…in Toms own words:
We rode up to Mazatlan in Sinaloa, a pretty long ride up the Mexican mainland without booking a ferry, we figured we would stay in town for a couple of days and wait for a boat to take us to La Paz on the Baja Peninsular. As we rolled into town in the intense heat we decided to cut straight over to the port to get a ticket as early as we could. We got there just as they were starting to load the trucker’s ferry so we bought our tickets and got in line. We rolled onto the ferry, squeezed amongst trucks. Mexico is a wild place, all the workers and truckers were drinking cold beers as they loaded the ferry. Most of the trucks were just the trailer with no driver so when the ferry departed, there weren’t many people on it. There was a tiny room where they fed us beans, rice and tortillas and a few mustachioed truckers were hanging around. It was an eighteen hour ferry and a perfectly clear evening so we found a little floor space on the upper deck, laid out some blankets and hung out for the evening. We slept under the stars and woke up to a huge lightning storm in the distance.
We rode down to the southern tip of Baja after one night in La Paz and found a right hand pointbreak that knew would be good when the swell came the next day. It was hot, like really hot. Hot to the extent that we were seriously questioning if we would be able to stick around in this area. Luckily the beach had a beat up old straw umbrella we could sit under when not surfing. We set the tent up and jumped in the water straight away to cool off. We settled down for the night and slept on a blanket under the stars in the desert on the beach. It was beautiful, crystal clear water, white sand, nobody about but a couple of dogs for company. A Dachshund and a German Shepherd were an odd little couple but they became our best pals for a week.
The surf got good and we stayed for about a week, surfing in the morning and following the shade of the umbrella in circles throughout the day. The nights were nice and cool and we had good books and a bottle of tequila to keep us busy. We had a blast just hanging out and enjoying the great outdoors and the solitude of just each other’s company.
Most days people would warn us of the hurricane that was forming off the mainland and heading up to where we were camped up. The day before it was due to hit we packed up and rode into the nearest town, San Jose Del Cabo. We found a super cheap hotel room in town and set up an office for four days, working pretty much flat out morning until evening building a new website, new logo, new social media etc for Tom Bing Photography and Video. We got loads done which was great and made us feel that little bit more prepared for our return to the UK. The hurricane came and caused a fair amount of destruction. During the night next doors roof had flown off with a loud bang and palm trees and broken glass lined the streets, I guess it could have been worse but it would have taken a lot of time and resources to get back to normal. For us it was pretty exciting being in the safety of the hotel and watching from the window but for people less fortunate or business owners it must have been terrifying.
There was a good south swell coming after the hurricane and we decided to head north to a spot two days away that we really wanted to surf. A pointbreak so long and perfect they say one good wave there will change your life forever. We checked a lot of spots on the way but couldn’t find anything worth stopping for so we pressed on through the endless desert and giant cacti. We reached a collapsed bridge and spent a while working out how to cross the river. We saw two other motorcycles in the distance upstream who were crossing at a shallower part of the river. We bumped off the road and headed up to the part of the river they were at.
It was the first time in eleven months that we saw another motorcycle with a surfboard. All the Deus and co trendy marketing is just that; marketing. Don’t believe the hype, very few people are doing what we do and those that are aren’t decked head to toe in designer clothing and on unreliable old bikes with support trucks and film crews. It’s a lot of hard work and not as glamorous as even we have been guilty of portraying it. We crossed the river with the help of our new pals and eventually we reached the bay. The surf was perfect; chest high, light offshores and empty. Sally and I surfed until we couldn’t surf, pretty much alone. It was a special moment for us on the trip. We had both been looking forward to Baja so much and we have since learned that it is very rare to get this place so quiet. The hurricane took out the bridge and prevented a lot of people from getting in so we scored it empty for a few days until the water dropped and cars could cross.
We made some great friends in Baja and met up with some old friends, Corey, Rachel and Dean who came in to surf too. It’s hard work to surf in Baja and I think that’s why the people in the more remote spots are generally pretty cool and there are some inspiring stories to be told. I met one old guy with no teeth (he lost them on a bad wipe out) as I was paddling out who loved that I was from England. He had spend a lot of time there, mostly in Wormwood Scrubs after he got busted smuggling 2000 hits of acid into Heathrow airport glassed into a surfboard. The tabs were on their way to South Africa to elevate the minds of South Africans stuck under apartheid rule, interesting folk.
We camped up the point around the corner for free and ate our usual staples and lived cheap. When the crowds rolled in, we decided it was time for us to head out. We had done nearly a month in Baja by this point and were ready to head up the coast and check out some new places on the way to California.
For more images and more on their story visit the West Road blog: http://www.thewestroad.net/blog/2016/10/12/baja-california