After the desolate desert of Northern Baja the towns along the Sea of Cortez are welcomed oases. I rolled into Santa Rosalia expecting to find another town on the verge of extinction but was greeted instead by brightly colored wooden houses, shops, cafes, parks, and children in plaid school uniforms – a proper town. Santa Rosailia sprang up around a cooper mine owned by the Rothschilds; rusting skeletons of abandoned mining equipment and machinery can still be found on the edges of town.
I left Santa Rosalia for Mulege and hit the first bad weather of the trip. Heavy rain made navigating the twisty roads and step descents a bit nervewracking, especially once it got dark. The bike turned squirrelly a few times, but I made it to Mulege without incident. Mulege sits along a river lined with palm trees and draws many of its vistors for this reason. It became popular with expats decades ago and remains home to a sizeable population of Americans and Canadians who have no plans of returning north.
South of Mulege, in Ligui, Mexico 1 turns almost due west and cuts back into a mostly flat and barren desert. The road runs laser-straight for many miles before disappearing at the horizon – a blacktop gateway into the sky. I lean forward onto the tank behind the bike’s windscreen, tuck in my arms and legs, crank the throttle, and blast ahead chasing unreachable shimmering mirages in the road as the needle dances wildly at 110. Riding flat-out like this burns way more fuel than my small tank can afford, and I stop at an autoparts store to buy gas in repurposed 5-liter antifreeze jugs.
I reached La Paz, and the end of the road, that afternoon. The following day, I loaded my bike onto a ship to cross the Sea of Cortez into mainland Mexico. It docked in Topolobampo late last night – the first leg of the ride completed.