On the Road Again: El Conejo
It’s cool at night in the Mexican desert, and we slept blissfully in our screened palapa. But at 6 AM it is foggy and already breezy outside. The sea is textured. Not great for surfing. The decision is made to push on to Todos Santos, a 6 or 7 hour drive away, and only an hour from the magical tip of Baja at Cabo San Lucas.
Compared with yesterday’s mountainous terrain, the deserts around Ciudad Constitucion and Insurgentes are flat and dotted with an occasional alfalfa field. But the young man in spotless dry-cleaned shirt who pumped our gas tells us “there is no work here, no money. The money is in Cabo.”
We roll on. A couple of hours past Insurgentes, we turn down another dirt road to check a point called El Conejo, or the Rabbit. It’s windy at this broad, flat point that sticks out into the sea. At the north end are 4 or 5 tarpaper shacks. A lone Mexican surfer from the East Cape of Baja is camped several hundred yards away.
“You should have been here yesterday,” he tells us in Spanish. “The surf was bigger and the wind stayed down.”
We roll on. We switch on the interior fan in our car, and it shoots out a giant cloud of choking, blinding dust. On the 15-mile long road out of El Conejo, the muffler pipe on Team El Dorado’s Suburban snaps. Now their car, like ours, sounds like a Daytona stock car. With each passing hour I gain respect for Mexicans who keep their cars running in these torturous conditions. They pay 30% more for a car than we Norteamericanos, and they drive them in conditions that are at least 50% rougher.
In La Paz, Highways Simply Disappear
No map can guide a first-timer through La Paz, and across town to successfully find the road to Todos Santos. Here’s why. In the Mexican way, this major paved 4-lane artery narrows to 2 lanes, then gives way to dirt road before disappearing into the trees along a small arroyo. After a few hundred yards, the road re appears again, the concrete street is again located, and eventually it blossoms back into four lanes.
There is a missing connection, a failed highway synapse. The road just ends. In a town where the highway signs proclaim that La Paz has 199,000 habitantes, and probably a million in actuality, the highway department apparently simply forgot to connect the dots.
We dove around the block, stopping four or five times to ask pedestrians abut the correct route to Todos Santos. They all confirm: Yes, THIS is the highway. Our Suburbans and 4-runner growl down the well-traveled dirt embankment and emerge a few hundred yards onto neat, wide concrete-paved road.
This Mexican moment was bought to us by the La Paz department of roads and bridges.
We roll through the desert and emerge an hour later in Todos Santos. Darkness is fast approaching. I lead the team up to the right point break at La Pastora. Again we struggle into wetsuits and paddle into 4 to 6 foot sunset surf.
In the evening we drive to my home, just 2 miles south of La Pastora. Jeff Olson makes a fire in the small chiminea fireplace on our second-story deck, and everyone is asleep before the fire needs to be stoked.