The oasis of San Ignacio

From Vizcaíno we took separate paths. Alan needed some easier miles to settle the improving back issue and I was keen to stay on the Divide route to San Ignacio.

We had an early start and rode the initial 27kms of the Mex 1 highway together and then we parted ways. Alan stayed on the smooth highway for 50km and I faced 80kms of varying conditions underwheel from rideable sand, unrideable sand, bone shatteringly rough rocky ground with some OK rideable surfaces. It was energetic riding despite the lack of much elevation gain on the warmest day yet (but still only in the mid 20’s).

By 5pm I was only 10km from San Ignacio. With an hours light left and a good moon arising I could have made it to town but I came upon an amazing campsite on a ledge just above the river which I couldn’t pass by.

Ground water is rare on this trip and after riding much of the day thru the dry desert landscape this oasis of water and date palms was incredible. I cooled off in the river before getting a fire going, drinking tea, eating dinner and finally setting up my sleeping mat and the double sleeping quilt on the groundsheet, al fresco. Alan had taken the tent fly with him.

The night sky above my cowboy camp was beautiful but I was perturbed to wake up later in the night chilly and with condensation on the quilt. This was the disadvantage of being near water and the cooler than normal winter temps we have been experiencing throughout the trip. I had to don my 3/4 over pants and goretex parka and pull the dampening down quilt tighter around me. I was up early with the beautiful sunrise to warm up in front of the fire.

The final 10 km into town involved a lot more pushing than riding but the morning was beautiful and there was much more bird song and activity amongst the date palms.

Alan was drinking coffee at a cafe on San Ignacio’s plaza but was too engrossed in his book so that he missed seeing me arrive. I biked to the accommodation he was meant to be staying at, had the best shower and walked back to the plaza to find him.

Finally a Baja town with a beautiful central plaza complete with the large Misión San Ignacio iglesia on its western side and the plaza was ringed by eating options. This is our most touristy town yet on the ride.

Over a big 2nd breakfast we shared stories before moving our gear to the most bizarre accommodation we have ever stayed at. Alan had chanced upon it on his walkabout around town the previous day. The owners do not run it to make money and are happy to share their space with those who stumble across it. The close to life size sculpture menagerie in their garden includes elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebra and camel! Along with the animals are quirky hang out areas around a central water feature with rubber ducks floating in it – totally eccentric.

We moved into the delightfully colourful room and when Bec arrived she moved into the cutesy small caravan. The remaining accommodation is a gaily painted airstream caravan. Definitely boutique. Carlotta, originally from Guatemala, and Philip from the US moved from the San Fransisco Bay area to make this their home over 10 years ago.

We chanced upon a fiesta in the plaza that evening so after a relaxing day we were ready to party into the wee hours. Due to the close proximity of the plaza and the volume of the music one may as well go dance as there was no chance to sleep till well after 2am. The early bands were classic mariachi with the piano accordion, guitar, bass, drum and vocals. The dancing was in close pairs and limited to people who knew what they were doing. Singers in very short sparkly dresses with strong vocals, trumpets, drum and keyboard revved the scene up to a more modern take and the plaza filled with more dancers and we felt happy to boogie with the crowd. Bizarre to think that a short 24 hours ago I was lying in the total quiet in my swag watching the stars. The joys of travel.