Once we crossed the checkpoint at Guerrero Negro we felt that we had finally arrived, though there were many miles still before us. The guard insisted that we pull over, fill out immigration papers, seeing we had none after entering Tecate on a Sunday when the immigration offices were closed. Of course, noting his machine gun we eagerly agreed. The process was simple and painless.
Someone heard him speak. He was instantly pegged as a “Gringo” from New England. “New Hampshire, Vermont, or New York”, rang the question.
“Boston.” I volleyed. “Gardner, Massachusetts actually, it is fifty miles west. I’m down here in La Paz with my sweetheart. We’ve ridden over 9,000 miles to experience the beaches, the sites and natives of La Paz.”
As I waited for my companion to return from the rest room I cringed watching a man spraying vehicles for bugs. “I don’t want to be sprayed with lord knows what.” I rolled my eyes and shivered thinking that he might want to spray on us. Then we began to roll out back onto the highway. I indicated that we enter the roadway about 50’ beyond the gent with the sprayer. Nodding in acknowledgement we did so without incident. Sighing, “We are officially in Baja Sur… Yee Ha!” I bellowed through my helmet knowing my words would not be heard.
The roads to La Paz reminded me of piñata filled candy and confetti. Bright colors, some tattered faded bits, yet packed with a sweetness that turned most any adult into a beaming child. Weathered Coca-Cola, Tecate, Corona, Pacifica and Taco signs hung over countless doorways. One wouldn’t see many parking lot entrances or parking areas paved. Blacktop was used almost exclusively on the highways and no where else.
“Yikes!” I heard holler in my head. “Did your see the size of that bull next to the road?” Then rang out, “Was that a Coyote? This place is almost like an old Wild West movie.”
After a quick evening in the friendly little town of Loreto we throttled back on path towards La Paz. Somewhere around 5:30 pm we rolled into what would soon become one of our favorite places in the Baja. A few laps around the block would yield a place to rest our heads.
Mind you, when traveling on two BMW F650GS motorbikes it was important to make our greenbacks, or should I say our Pesos last. A year on the road was the goal. We had camped in almost every area we traveled through. Finding an economical place was critical. A hope for about a month’s stay was the target. We determined a small house or apartment with a kitchen to help keep our expenses within our budget.
Once at the La Paz Marina we stumbled a few kind souls which offered their view point on our hopeful budget accommodation. There were many fingers pointed to a message board and a few voice spouted about a little castle on the northern side of town. It had rooms for rent at a fairly reasonable price along with shared common areas for eating and relaxing. We secured the place for a week. With Carnival coming, we were informed that next weeks rent would be doubled if we wished to stay.
That night I walked seaside, arm in arm, with my sweetheart. It’s always been something I truly enjoy. We found ourselves strolling under the lights, listening to the waves gently caressing the shores of La Paz’s Centro region. Smells began to tease our nostrils as did the music our ears, all while the moon’s flickering reflection danced against the bay and tugged on two romantic hearts. One could not help but marvel and feel a sense of contentment.
Taunted, we found a place to rest with a view of the pier. Coffee, followed by a sweet treat, lay before us beckoning our lips to touch them. With a sigh, a smile and a kiss we quickly found that we were visiting the paradise of Baja Sur. Life is good.
The next morning vroom throbbed from the exhausts. Our next adventure was about to begin with a ride along the sea shore to the remote beaches which remained stashed from public’s view. We meandered through the twisties. What seemed nice just became nicer still. Having a passenger in my saddle I was forced not to become mesmerized by the hills and cactuses which draws ones eyes to the sea. Glimpses of these natural treasures were all I was permitted until we found a safe place to park and capture a few shots. “We could take the pictures you know, but our friends back home would say we bought these as postcards. There’s no place that is really this nice this close to home.” We knew better.
Hours later, as we traveled back from our excursion, the sun began to set. The camera clicked like a clothes-pinned baseball card on a youngsters bicycle spokes. The skies became an inferno with an almost unnatural display of color. Dumbfounded, this was incredible.
Whether one arrives by land or sea or air, La Paz is a wonderful location full of character and charisma. The weather is great, the sun warm and people even warmer. Regardless of when one departs this territory they will leave with something that wasn’t within when they arrived and leave behind a piece of their souls which they will hunger to return to reunite with…
Carnival is right around the corner. We are not sure if we will stay or roll on down the road as bikers often do. Still, without question, visiting the capital of Baja California Sur has been well worth the sweat, bumpy roads and armed checkpoints we had to endure to reach it.
Viva La Paz~
© Christopher Charles February 12, 2007
Downtown La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico