Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Mexico, Seattle, WA
10. Coyote Livin'
Meet Gary. He's my neighbor at Playa Coyote. He says nobody knows his real name around here, everyone just calls him Cuervo. I guess Cuervo is a snowbird, as he spends half the year in Madras Oregon and then the other half here on Playa Coyote, and has been doing so for the last 20 years. He's always working, even when he's down here, so I don't categorize him the same as a true 'snowbird'. He's a rad dude, but more on that later. We are both late to meet people in town, him for work, me for a cave painting tour.
Shiiiitttttt this road is good. If I had to ride it every day into town for work that WOULD NOT be a problem. But I don't work right now, and it's too early for anyone else to be on the road. Perfect, crank the happy-hand!
I met Patricia, Damian, and Juan (other travelers) in Mulege which is 10 miles north of where I'm staying at Playa Coyote. They got a deal to be taken to some cave paintings and I'm tagging along. They were in a 4x4 van lead by the guide and I followed behind on my bike. Why not ride with them they asked? Because it's going to be a shitty, bumpy, dusty dirt road out into the desert....that's exactly what I want to be on my bike for! After an hour or so down dirt roads into the desert northeast of town we arrived at the Trinidad Ranch. Really pretty place.
The cave is somewhere on the ranch, they try to keep it's location secret to protect the paintings. Mind you these are not your average finger paintings, these are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (think pyramids, Eiffel tower, and Jay Leno's chin).
The area is rich with artifacts that show how the indigenous people lived here. Before we began, the guide spoke very sternly in spanish to the 4 of us. Patricia translated the gist, she said to think of the place as a whore house, you can look but don't touch, and definitely don't take anything home with you.
We passed some stones that were used for grinding wheat and corn. These stones were not locations of a homestead but rather were to be left in specific locations throughout the valley so that as the people traveled through the valley, they would remember where each of these locations were and would know they could prepare food there.
The terrain is harsh, as with everywhere in Baja.
Vultures circled overhead, waiting for our sweaty survival-skill-inept bodies to become their next carcass meal.
We came to a river. We were to swim across the water and on the other side we would find the paintings up on the cliff face.
We aren’t allowed to take pictures unless you pay extra. I'm on a budget so you’ll just have to google it. The paintings are prehistoric and absolutely fascinating. Obviously not in a Rembrandt or Picasso way, they are essentially just finger paintings on some rock, but in a way that leaves you in awe of a people that have long left this valley. The history that is right in front of your face is mind boggling. Our guide had a wealth of information and it was worth the money to learn about these people and how they lived. They were known as the 'second harvest' people. Why you ask? Among many other fascinating things, when food was scarce (as it often was in this location) they would eat their food, then throw it up and give it to the others in the tribe to eat. They would also all defecate in the same location, then later when food was scarce they elect a person to go through and sift out all the seeds from the dried feces for their "second harvest".
I have no photos of the place, here’s a picture of Damian instead. He is a cheeky frenchman.
We walked back.
I snapped some photos.
And then it was time to go back to town which meant going back down the dirt road that we came in on. Earlier on the way in I had been dropping tracks on my GPS, I now knew the way back and was free to ride on ahead. Wait, so you mean I don't have to go 10mph and suck down the kicked up dirt from your van for an hour? Ah shiiiit yeah! Having left all my gear and panniers at camp I was ready to fly. I haven't really opened the bike up for some higher speed pounding since I reworked my entire suspension with the help of Cogent Dynamics, this road provides just the opportunity.
Let’s just say, the 14 miles back into town were the most fun I have had on my bike in a very long time. The little boy-racer in me came alive again. Leaving the group behind, motor belching it's thumper roar. It was time to have some fun. Up through the gears and onto the trail. I got up on the pegs, body weight centered and mobile, picking up pace as I started to work the whole bike. I went zipping through washed out river beds, over banks and up burms. I can remember being a little kid on my rickety old mountain bike, bombing downhill on my long gravel driveway, throwing the handlebars side to side as I peddled as fast as possible. I used to imagine having a real motor as I emulated my favorite racers from TV. Sometimes making the sounds of the motor with my mouth.
Today, riding through this desert, I feel the exact same. I’m 25, but I feel 8 years old again. I have a real motor to make the sounds with now, and boy are they better. Picking up more speed my pupils dilate nice and wide, analyzing the track ahead. There's no time to see everything, just what is important. Large rocks, changes in surface texture, and the distinct patterns of soft deep sand. Obstacles quickly approach before flying by in a blur. Dreaming of my favorite racers I crank the throttle. The suspension jackhammering over the ground as I blast over whoops and power slide around corners. The tires fight to stay on the ground in a violent dance of traction and rebound, all orchestrated by the crank of my wrist and movement of my body. In my head I'm alone the deserts racing the Dakar, I crank the throttle more as I hunt for the perfect line, eager for every bit of speed. brraaaaaAAAAAAP.
Much like my old rickety mountain bike, my motorcycle is far from a race-bread machine. What she is though is a dream bike, a bike that can take me places I've never been. Today, she's brought me exactly where I want to be, right here, flying down this dirt road. I'm a little kid again. Shit eating grin ear to ear. I love you bike.
After I got back to town I ate some tacos in the square. (Isn’t that the exact same guy from the day before, still reading??)
And had some cold beer.
This is now the third day I've been here in Mulege? Or is it the 4th?? I don't normally stay this long in a single town. I guess I did switch to the beach 10 miles south of town, yeah that counts as a move.
I went back to the beach and sat.
Mangos are good here, and cheap. Nom nom nom.
I pulled the killer into the bike shop and stripped her down to get some work done. Switching to LED's in the back and need to wire in the new relay and lights. Digital RPM readout is gone too, should address that. Love working on bikes, this is a good spot to do it. Some tunes and sunset complete it.
I wake up the next day and knock on Cuervo’s motor-home door to see if he’s around. He has already been up for a while and is kayaking around the surrounding islands. He's left me a pot of warm coffee on the step. He's doing research on the local raven populations and taking general ecosystem metrics of the area. He's a naturalist both at heart and in his profession. He specializes in ravens and golden eagles. He's an endless book of information about the area and at 67 he has a very impressive resume, even having worked with Sir David Attenborough himself. He's booked out years in advance and still only has to work 4 months a year, mostly up in Oregon doing golden eagle research. The other 8 he's down here working on personal projects for himself, and in general, just having a good time. Sometimes he bicycles down when he's trying to stay in shape between bicycling seasons. He's made the trip from Madras to Playa Coyote and back 6 times via bicycle.
He’s a regular crocodile Dundee type character, fun guy. His hat has a raven feather and a stingray stinger in it.
I try to practice spanish for several hours every morning. Coyote Beach is perfect for it because there isn’t anyone else around to think I’m trying to speak to them. Eventually Cuervo comes in from his morning doings and pressures me to take his Kayak out around the islands for a study break.
There’s lots to see out there.
Several little island beaches that are always empty.
These shells are biiiiiig, this is one side of a shell, I got big neanderthal paws and this thing looks huge still.
Hang out for a bit, eat some lunch then leave.
It’s a pretty shitty way to go through the days. I should just go home. (Wait….where’s home again?)
Sometimes we get new neighbors, like this dutch couple. They converted a 30year old volvo military ambulance for their trip.
Sometimes clams are snorkeled for and eaten raw on the beach.
Or are cooked in the fire later.
Twice a week a baker drives in from town with pizzas for sale.
Whatever can be done to pass the time. Again and again taking the almost perfect road 10 miles back into town as the sun sets, sometimes with a purpose to get more food, or pick up beer. Sometimes for no purpose at all, just to enjoy the ride.
It’s wonderful here in Mulege and Coyote Beach. This is a place that has a feeling that is hard to put your finger on, but having been lucky enough to grow up in a similar place, I am all too familiar with how rare it is. Time to move on though. Many good places to see, can’t get too attached to any one spot just yet. Tomorrow, back on the road and further south, to roads yet unridden and places unseen.
Catch you later Mulege.
SeanPNW screwed with this post 10-02-2013 at 12:26 PM