17. 10-27-12: From Desert to Sea

I ‘m staying with Hiram, whom I met in Jerusalem, in a hostel, earlier this year. His invitation to stay with him in La Paz was not an empty one. Not only have I been sleeping in a bed and eating delicious food, my days have been filled with great conversation and learning about much of Mexican culture, politics and history. To cap it off he set me up with a snorkeling tour to Isla Espiritu Santo! 

Look ma! a starfish!
Look ma! a starfish!

In the morning we set off in a skiff over water so clear that the bottom could be seen at a depth of over a hundred feet! Yannick, a fellow couch surfer I met on my first night in La Paz, was there. Yannick is a Frenchman who married a Mexican girl, lives in Monterrey and teaches French half of the year in Martinique – a long lost brother! We spent yesterday at the beach, swimming in warm clear water and drinking beer – we were basically a Corona commercial (a couple of French girls helped).

we're on a boat and happy
we’re on a boat and happy

Whether on a motorcycle or boat, all I need is some wind in my face to be happy. Snorkeling, swimming with sea lions and eating fresh ceviche, help too.
Our first stop was snorkeling around some corral near Isla Espiritu Santo – a volcanic, UNESCO protected island off the coast of La Paz. Perfect, calm water; schools of fish and solitary crustaceans; a living reef; birds diving for their lunch; the water a wide palate of greens and blues. Afterwards we went to the sea lion colony on the island. Hundreds and hundreds of sea lions, swimming, sunning, playing, fighting, singing, grunting and roaring (perhaps even belching). Seeing the 600lbs bulls is a little off-putting, but they never came over to interrupt our fun. The babies, teenagers and even older males and females swam with and around us. Some played with each other, others played with us. There is an indescribable magic about a wild animal acknowledging your presence and taking a part in your life, if only for a short time.
After hours of snorkeling, swimming and discovering tunnels and caves, we went to another island for fresh ceviche and some relaxation. The ride back to mainland was tinted with the warm glow of the setting sun, over a now denim blue sea.

It’s getting hard to keep up with so many excellent days. Other than a couple of days of tough weather in the desert, so far, Mexico has been one endless smile.

There is, however, a new development which is disturbing to say the least: my left hand feels like it is tingling, vibrating, or slightly numb. This sensation is normal after many hours of riding, but usually passes within a couple of hours. It has now been a few days during which I have not ridden for more than an hour, and the sensation has not gone away. I’m not really sure what I can do. I don’t want to spend money on a doctor who will tell me that he doesn’t know why this is happening and just tell me what I already know: lay off the bike for some time. Nor am I willing to do that.

Riders on the st... ferry
Riders on the st… ferry

I ended Baja by crossing on the ferry with a number of other riders, one of whom I met in a café and with whom I rode for a few days hence. We managed to get a cabin on the ferry which made the 16 hour crossing of the Sea of Cortez and the Tropic of Cancer so much easier. We talked, drank beer, and watched the sun set over the mountainous horizon of the Baja. Some people sat inside, others spread out blankets on deck and sipped on what seemed to be an endless amount of beer until the sea lulled them to a starry sleep. It was like a mini cruise: with provided meals, a movie in the main salon, a crossing of a sea, and entertainment provided by the tambourine man.

Crossing the Gulf of California
Crossing the Gulf of California
16. 10-16-12: Baja Riding
18. 11-2-12: Dia de los Muertos

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