Our first taste of the desert. And tacos
Hello friends, family and those we’ve met on the road! Welcome to the eighth edition of our newsletter, written from Guerro Negro and San Ignacio in Baja California Sur, Mexico.
We last spoke while we were in San Diego, and since then we’ve spent the past two weeks getting to grips with Mexico. A change of language, climate and scenery has proved a pleasing challenge, and we’ve been fortunate enough to be tackle it with our new friends Debi and Phil, a Swiss couple travelling by bike from San Francisco to Panama.
Their confidence in travelling here has been really inspiring for us both. They have been in Mexico before, meaning they have a better handle on the culture, but mostly they are just delightfully blunt about expressing our needs to the people we meet, and as a result we have benefited considerably from the hospitality of strangers. From being invited to camp in play parks, restaurants and back yards to being shown the town of Ensenada by a generous family found via Warm Showers and sharing ceviche with three holidaying anglers, we’ve encountered kindness at every turn.
We expected Mexicans to be more friendly than Americans from what we’ve heard from other travellers, but nothing could prepare us for the onslaught of generosity, and the pride that people here have in their country. They seem, in general, to be simply delighted that we are visiting. Any concerns about the gringofication of the peninsular, or frustrations with the effects of tourism on this part of the country, have not been projected onto us thus far, and for that we are grateful. Again, we are thankful that the bikes enable us to travel in lighter way which generally endears us to locals.
Phil and Debi are also incredibly funny, which has turned what could have been a really scary period of transition into a total blast. And, considering this trip is their first bike tour for longer than a weekend, they are both super resilient, which has in turn encouraged us to be more optimistic about our abilities. We have just left them in the town of Guerro Negro, but we deeply hope we will see them again soon, as we are far from bored of Phil’s flair for impersonation and Debi’s bone dry jokes. You can follow their journey on Polar Steps.
We have also encountered and re-encountered plenty of other cycle tourers over the past fortnight - something we didn’t really expect after the US. But the limited roads in Baja mean that cyclists converge largely in the same spots, and we’ve spent evenings camping with a range of characters. It was especially exciting to bump into Jeanne, a Canadian cyclist that we first met in Alaska. Seeing her significantly more tanned after nearly 6000km was heartwarming, and we've even camped a few nights together, which is more than we managed in the Spring.
In terms of topography, so far Baja is a delightful mix of mountains, beaches and deserts within mere kilometres of each other. We have also been fortunate enough to have some rain, which has seen grasses spring up from the sand, creating surprisingly verdant vignettes. The pictures say it better than I could, with the scenery often seeming to mimic multiple countries in one afternoon. The coast isn’t even consistent: one moment it’s all craggy and Scottish seeming, and the next you’re on the Costa del Sol. These changes, and the plethora of cacti, make for stimulating riding despite the admittedly poker-straight roads.
In terms of struggles, our basic Spanish is certainly a barrier, but we are improving every day and people seem to be pleased that we are trying, and are therefore generous about mistakes. The heat has also proved interesting - the two sides of the peninsular are often less than 200km apart, but whereas the Pacific Ocean provides a sea breeze, the Sea of Cortez side often sees temperatures in the high thirties, even at this time of year. As a result we’ve learned to start pedalling at dawn. This means, however, that we often finish riding hours before we want to set up camp. We haven’t quite cracked how to structure our days yet, but we are constantly learning how to best fit in with locals’ schedules and maintain our own energy levels. I’m sure we’ll feel we’ve cracked it just before we reach Guatemala.
Next up, Baja California Sur: historic missions, more curious cacti and even volcanoes to come. Stay tuned.
Toot or boot
The pound collapsing BOOT
Being able to afford to occasionally eat out in Baja: bring on the tacos! TOOT
Campgrounds without running water BOOT
Beachside plots with bathtub-hot seas TOOT
Few trees meaning there's not much shade from the ferocious heat BOOT
Weird and huge cacti everywhere TOOT
Thanks and shoutouts
Debi and Phil
Esther, Carlos, Mariana and family
The TDA riders and staff
Ellen and Emma
Alex and Agustin
We are Edwin Foote and Suzie McCracken - thanks for signing up for our newsletter! Edwin is from England and Suzie is from Northern Ireland and normally we live together in Deptford, south-east London. We arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska, in May 2022 and are attempting to ride our bicycles the length of the Americas, hoping to finish in Argentina in 2024. If you have any recommendations of things we should do, people we should meet or places we should stay, we'd love to hear from you! Please reply to this email, or follow us on Instagram (ed_win or _suziemccracken).