Leaving the town we rejoined the trail. After some rocky passages and a good detour to avoid polytunnels we quickly found ourselves riding on a wide and compact stretch of dirt with no bumps whatsoever. We made ground quickly but due to a late start and some errands in Vicente we chose to camp not long after starting before San Quintin.
Close to dusk the remaining light, and then the sunset, made for some beautiful pictures.
The following day we only spent a couple hours on the trail which was still easy riding to San Quintin. There we made some errands before going to a Warmshowers host. Super kind people. They have lots of cyclists staying with them at any time and they completely open their house. We slept in their backyard and stayed a full day and 2 nights at their home. Amongst the other guests during our stay were a young American cycling from Washington state to Baja California Sur, and two other cyclists (an American and a Canadian) doing shorters trips during their holidays.
The hardest part though was not being able to speak to our hosts in Spanish for both Ian and me. Gabino was speaking fairly good English but not his wife Lupita, and I can only wish we would have been able to communicate properly with her.
The second night the Canadian cyclist was brought over by car by Salvatore from FASS bikes, whom we saw in Vicente Guerrero. He was quite surprised to see us as we should have been much further ahead if we hadn’t taken that many rest days between Vicente and San Quintin…
I was quite happy to have been able to enjoy the rest though as the past few weeks had been challenging. Between being immersed in Spanish and not being able to take time to learn it, being quite tired with low energy levels at the end of the day due to cycling all day, having to make decisions with someone else than only me (I have been really used to be on my own all the time generally) and having to go sleep in the tent early I had had to cope with a lot of little things since starting from Tecate and was quite tired at this point.
After San Quintin we continued on to Nueva Odisea. We were cycling in a new landscape since the beginning of the Divide, through a salt marsh, and onto the beach. We met Clive, an Australian tourer more heavy loaded than us on the trail (a first!). He was doing some sections of the Divide before going touring elsewhere in Mexico. At the end of the day we ended up having to drag our bikes through the sand on the beach for 2 kilometers and looking at our GPS route realized we had 6 more kilometers of this to go. We decided to turn and go back on the road until the turn to a RV Park in Nueva Odisea. While setting camp there, we ran into Clive again who got off the trail at the same point !
The next morning we got up early-ish to resupply in town, in water, food and fuel for a 4 to 5 days ride. It was an hard and long section which no resupply en route which was waiting for us…we didn’t know if we could manage, going at my pace. It was mainly going to depend on the terrain we would be encountering…
At last we knew there was a water resupply point back on the MEX1 (the main busy road through the peninsula) after 100kms, and an getaway option there if it got too much.
We started on fairly nice compact dirt after town. Alas, it didn’t last. Soon we were slowly climbing… in the middle of rocks and pebbles, with some sandy sections too. Certainly not my favorite terrain on the Baja so far. I was already pushing a lot. After a while the climbing got steeper and the trail trickier so we ended up doing even more pushing. Hard pushing. We stopped a bit before dark after an annoying bit…We had only done 21km in the whole day.
At least we got a nice campspot with great views and a ready-made fire pit with wood collected next to it… We had a small fire to get ourselves warm before going in the tent.
We woke up the next morning to some more pushing, pebbles and sand… We were hoping to do some mileage once we arrived on what seemed to be a paved road according to our GPS. It ended up being a dirt road of course! A good part of it was downhill but with broken hard ground sections and rocks. It took us a while to do the 10kms on it. After a turn and lunch we started cycling on some compact-ish sand… Cactuses appear.
Then more pebbles got me a bit desperate, despite the beautiful landscape. Pushing switchbacks. At the top everything became easier and more interesting all of a sudden: stunning views, nice flowing long descent on compact dirt… and all those magical cactuses….!!!
We did some mileage fairly quickly there… apart from numerous photos breaks…
After some great riding it was time for some more sand before the trail became friendlier again… and still loads of Curioso trees kept the route wonderful.
That’s when we stopped for camp, just before dark. It rained during the night, enough to get some part of the tent floor damp but the trail condition didn’t get any worse.
After emerging in cactus wonderland the next morning, we had more of those strange trees and nice landscape. Before we rejoined the MEX1 after 2 days and a half in the desert they became more scarce but were still there. We came accross an oasis.
After a few kilometers on the road it was time to stop at a restaurant for lunch and refill our water. Trying to get some vegan food for us we asked for and managed to get two plates of beans and fries. Not in our usual hungry cyclists quantities though, so we asked for the same thing again.
We then cycled on the trail again for a few miles before camping on a ground with loads of holes. We woke up to some more holes…
We passed a concrete well a few kms after leaving in the morning. No water though!
We kept going all day, making a decent mileage. Then, we start to crave food. For weeks now, it has been usually tortillas and jam or oats in the morning, tortillas and jam for lunch and rice and beans for dinner with guacamole if we are lucky to find avocados. When we pass through towns it allow us to get more fruits, vegetables and nice extras though. Since this was the end of our fourth day since resupply and we had been rationing and cycling hard we were fantasizing of polenta and veggie curry, vegan ice cream for me (not necessarily in that order) and pho noodles soup and ice cream (in THAT order) for Ian.
Stopping in bushes not very far from a ranch to camp, while Ian is cooking after dark we see some lights coming close. It look like headtorches and we start thinking farmers are looking for their cows in the area… No good for us as we were trying to stealth. We cut the cooker and ended up eating lukewarm refried beans with rice already cooked. After some more hidding and a bit of anxiety we ended up discovering that those lights were cars on the MEX1 not far… It just fooled us in the dark.
We then go to sleep and I dream of cooking vegan raviolis in someone’s abandonned house. I wake up early feeling cold. When we get up our tent and bikes are covered in frost. Some coyotes howl quite late in the morning while we get ready.
After a few hours of hard riding with not much change in the landscape I’m tired then and wish we were back on the road. The afternoon gets a bit more interesting. We climb up to a nice low pass and get more compact dirt. After almost 5 days without seeing anyone in the desert apart from jeeps and farmers near the oasis I jump when I hear tyres noise behind me. Two bikepackers, and then two others just behind, go past us. We have a chat with them while two motorbikes arrive from the other direction. All of a sudden it’s a lot of people compared to the usual desert environment.
Not long after, we finally make it to Catavina. While we were hoping the town to be of a decent size and the big F for good food options next to it on our resupply sheet was making us dreaming of getting fresh tortillas and papayas it was not to be. The town is small with only a couple of small groceries stores, the main one leaving us with quite a feeling of getting ripped off as they banged up all the usual prices. The smaller store is more friendly. A couple stalls where people sell petrol and gasoline, some derelict former shops it seems. Two motels and some form of free camping option by a cafe.
The cafe is a nice place with friendly dogs and birds around, where by chance we meet Gabino and also later on meet the 4 bikepackers down to 3 (one abandonned) again as well as 2 women hitchhiking accross Baja. Nice atmosphere there.
But that’s it for Catavina. No shoes store for Ian whose cheap shoes sole burst open after only 3 weeks of use and exposure to cactuses thorns, and more puzzling no tortillera!
We end up in a small motel for 450 pesos/night, quite expensive for what it is. After we setlle in it doesn’t look like we have water. When the motel owner realize she has some guests (2 other americains are here as well) a water tank is brought over and they start pressurizing the place. Still, it will take us quite a while and some ranting from Ian to the owner to get some hot water badly pressurized from a shower.
We’ll understand later on as well that there is no electricity in the town and everyone has a generator they put on only at certains times. We can’t charge our electronics as we usually do when staying in a place with plugs. No phone coverage in the whole town either ! And we only have wifi in our rooms in the evening in the motel, as during the day the electricity is cut. Luckily we can charge up and get wifi at the cafe. We certainly don’t mind the experience but think Catavina is a funny place.
After a rest day there its time to stock up and get ready for the next section…