Baja 2000 Part 9
I woke to a room filled with sunlight. My body was sore. I was hungry and thirsty. The couch I had crashed on was not the most comfortable, but I had been so tired I didn’t care.
After a few minutes I sat up to take in my surroundings. The house David had rented was located on a golf course about a mile from the beach. It sat up on a hill with a beautiful view. There was a pool and hot tub in the back yard with a spiral stair case leading to an observation deck on the roof.
Slowly everyone began to wake up. No one was in a hurry to expend any energy. Coffee was made and we sat around talking about the race.
That afternoon the five of us piled into the rented VW bug and made the trek into town to do some exploring. Eric was always good at finding the best restaurants to eat at and he worked his magic that afternoon in Cabo. We had stopped along the way and Eric asked a local where he likes to go eat when he goes to a restaurant. The man referred us to a restaurant off the main drag on a side street that served typical Mexican food. The food was excellent and the prices were much cheaper than the tourist traps. I made a mental note and use his trick to this day, find where the locals eat out and you will find the best food and prices in town.
We spent the afternoon driving around looking at the sights. We ran into racers everywhere we turned. The time limit on the race had still not expired and there were still some straggling race cars finishing the race. We met up with John and Harry for a bit and made plans to see them later, but we never reconnected.
That evening we returned to the house and the ladies whipped up some food for us to eat. We all relaxed and hung out for the evening. We were still “hung over” from the race and all retired early.
The next day was more of the same. We didn’t have anything in particular planned. So we all hung out enjoying the view and relaxing most of the morning. For lunch we returned to the same restaurant we had eaten at the day before. Since the food was so great and we were on a budget we all agreed this would be a great idea.
That night we decided to go enjoy the night life of Cabo. We all got cleaned up at the house and thankfully Eric and I had packed a couple of nicer changes of clothes.
We had passed by a steak restaurant on the edge of town so we decided to give it a try. It was delicious! For $10, I filled my belly with steak and lobster. After dinner we headed on into town.
Our first stop of the night was at the rock and roll musician Sammy Hagar’s bar called Cabo Wabo. It was actually pretty dead and we didn’t stay long. We walked on down the street to a place called the Giggling Marlin. There were a number of racers inside and we joined in on the fun. We quickly made friends with a few and a great time was had by all. Everyone had amazing stories to tell of their adventure to cross the finish line.
Next we walked to a nightclub called Squid Row. We hung out there for the rest of the night. We met more racers and hung out with a few that had followed us there. When we all decided to leave we were walking out the door as a very inebriated local man knocked Lori down.
Lori hit the ground hard. Eric was standing within arm’s length of the drunk and gave him a good push out of the way toward the street. The man tripped and fell into the street right in front of a car which had to skid to a stop to avoid running him over. David helped Lori up and was about to pounce on the drunk when I decided that we had better make tracks out of there. None of us really wanted to get into a confrontation with the locals, especially since David only had one arm with his left hand still in a cast. And besides that, a Mexican jail is no place for a gringo!
We began to make our way back to the car, but the drunk decided he couldn’t let the gringos get the upper hand and began to pursue us at a distance. He rounded up someone to join him as he yelled obscenities I don’t care to repeat. His first compadre decided that he didn’t want to tangle with us and faded away so he managed to talk someone one else into joining him in his quest to confront us. We continued walking, but David, not being one to back down while protecting his wife was egging on the drunk man. Lori was being the voice of reason and the designated driver did her best to diffuse the situation while I translated what the man was yelling. We all continued to walk the several blocks to where we had parked. We were almost to the car when the drunk’s second recruit decided he needed to go give his car a flee bath and abandoned the mission. Upon realizing he was in a “no win” situation the drunk man stood at a safe distance and hurled insults at us as we climbed into the Bug and drove off.
We returned to the house and hung out for a while longer, but one by one everyone made their way to bed. I was sleeping on the couch because of the bed count meant that the only other option was to share a bed with Eric. I had been doing that for most of a week and had no desire to continue.
I was startled from a deep sleep to extremely loud banging followed by loud voices speaking in Spanish. It took me a minute to realize the banging was someone pounding on the front door. I jumped up from the couch and opened the front door in nothing more than a pair of boxer shorts and a t-shirt. Standing there was a man in an official looking shirt with two other men digging around in the flower bed in front of the house. Immediately I was accused of stealing electricity and a heated argument commenced in Spanish with elevated voices. I explained that we were renting the house for a couple of days and I was not the owner, but this had no effect on the man. He informed me that he was shutting off the electricity and when the bill was paid they would come turn it back on. Barefooted and barely clothed, I stepped out of the house and continued to argue with the boss man as I watched one of the other men fetch a pair of thick leather welding gloves and a large pair of wire cutters from the pickup they were driving. The man returned to the house where the other man had used a shovel to expose some electric cables buried about 6 inches underground. He donned the gloves and proceeded to cut the power cables one at a time. Then he separated them and taped them up with black electrical tape. The boss leaned over and inspected his work and with an air of approval turned and walked to the truck. The other two men followed quickly leaving me standing there yelling at them in Spanish while wearing very little clothing. By this time one of the neighbors was standing in front of their house watching out of curiosity because I had made such a scene.
I reentered the house to find my roommates had woken because of the ruckus. I quickly explained what had happened, which I could hardly believe myself, and in fact, if I hadn’t witnessed it I probably wouldn’t believe it. Lori retrieved the rental paperwork and made a phone call to the rental agency. We all needed to clean up because the awards ceremony was later that afternoon and we all planned to attend.
The rental agency managed to get us a bungalow in a resort down the road for us to use for the day and we temporarily moved there. They promised that the electricity would be back on by dark. It only had one bedroom and one bath, so showering and getting ready was a little crazy.
We made our way into town once again in the VW. The awards ceremony was being held at a beach side hotel in the pool area. The place was packed with racers when we arrived and we struggled to find seats. Sal Fish led the occasion and after a speech he began to bring the trophy winners from each class up front to present them with their awards. The ceremony lasted a few hours and afterwards we ate dinner before returning to the house.
We didn’t stay out late because Eric and I decided to head home the next morning. We returned to the house to find the owner and a helper running new power cables from the electrical junction box by the street. He was not authorized to do so by the power company and would be guilty of stealing electricity again. We had to wait a few minutes so I told the owner what had happened that morning. He apologized profusely and explained that he had waited for several months for the electric company to connect the electricity, and when they had not, he connected it himself so he could rent out the house. This had been almost a year earlier and the electric company had just figured it out.
Finally the cables were connected and we could see inside the house. Eric and I packed up what we could and loaded the Nissan up for our return trip. We all hung out again for a while before retiring for the night.
Eric and I woke early. We had a long drive ahead and planned on doing the unthinkable. We were going to make the 950 mile drive from Cabo to Ensenada in one day. We quickly loaded the last of our belongings and thankfully said goodbye to David and Lori. After a quick stop for gas and some coffee we pointed the little green Nissan north.
We must have been quite a sight to see. The pickup was over loaded with 600 pounds of motorcycles plus all our gear piled on top and around the bikes.
We traveled fast with short stops for gas. Each of us took turns driving and we stopped for a late lunch around 3 pm in the mining town of Santa Rosalia on the Sea of Cortez. After a brief stop we continued on. From here the road turns west and climbs up a mountain and crosses the peninsula.
At the town of Guerrero Negro we came to the check point where the highway crosses from Baja California Sur (South) to Baja California Norte (North). We were supposed to be carrying tourist visas since we had crossed into Baja Sur. Neither of us had bothered getting the proper documents before the trip. During the race we were not questioned when we crossed heading south in the dark, but now we were pulled over and asked for our papers. I was driving and was told to step out of the truck by the officer. He asked for our tourist cards, which we didn’t have. I told him to hang on while I looked for them. I leaned back in the pickup and said, “I know WE have them, let me look”. I winked at Eric and nodded with my eyes wide open. I needed him to keep his mouth shut while I pulled out the best Spanish and the dumbest Gringo act I could muster. After acting like I was searching in the cab of the pickup I returned to the back where the officer was beginning to become impatient with me. I pulled my riding gear bag out of the bed and started pulling stuff out and tossing it over my shoulder in a show of desperation, frantically searching for our tourist cards. All the while I have been explaining to the officer that SCORE had required us to purchase the tourist cards, and I just needed to find them. While I was putting on my show the officer noticed a couple of posters rolled up in my gear bag. He inquired about them so I quickly offered them to him. One of them was my autographed Ironman Ivan Stewart poster. He asked if he could have them and I gladly agreed. He then told me that we were free to go. That was all I needed to hear. I quickly threw my gear bag in the back of the pickup without even zipping it or securing it. I jumped in the cab and we took off. Eric had been sitting in the pickup the whole time not understanding everything I had said because his Spanish was limited.
About a mile up the road I pulled over to repack my gear bag and secure it properly. Eric took over driving duties at this point as the sun was setting. We still had at least a 7 hour drive to go.
We rolled back into the Hotel Colon in Ensenada just after 2:30 am. We had made a mad dash up the entire peninsula with more than 7 hours of the drive in the dark. It was not wise to do what we did, but we didn’t think about that. We checked into a room and crashed hard with exhaustion.
Eric and I both slept in the next morning. We were feeling the effects of pushing hard all day yesterday. I rose first and made my way outside to organize our load for the rest of the trip home. I unloaded all our gear out of the back of the pickup, followed by the two motorcycles. I attached the trailer containing my motorcycle to the back of the pickup. I was about to load the bikes on the trailer when Eric came outside to assist me. Once the bikes were loaded we walked down the street to the San Nicholas hotel for brunch.
After brunch we finished packing up and headed out of town toward the border crossing at Tecate. The border crossing was uneventful. At times there can be a couple hour wait to make it across, but we did not have but a few cars ahead of us this time.
Finally that evening after more than a week in Baja California we arrived in Phoenix. It was good to be home. While we were in Mexico I often wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into. All the things that went wrong that were not enjoyable at the time did not matter anymore. I looked back and all I could think of was how great of a time it was. I had been bit by a bug while I was in Baja, the “Baja Bug”. It gave me a disease that could not be cured, but must be appeased by returning to Baja as often as possible.
I made many more trips to Baja over the coming years. I spent about a month a year the last several years of my racing days down there and loved every minute of it.
Awesome read! Are you still involved with any teams? I have a strange desire to volunteer in Baja all the sudden.
No I am not involved any longer. I went to the Vegas to Reno race last year and helped a team, but I haven’t been to Baja since I quit racing down there in 2007. I will be adding more stories from when I rode the race bike in Baja later on.