Following the Carretera transpeninsular south of Guerrero Negro, we had to cross the Baja Californian peninsula again from the Pacific side to the sea of Cortez. “The more South you go, the more beautiful it will become.” That was the statement of a traveler couple we met in Puertecitos. They were absolutely right. But in between we had our best bike touring quarantine in Mexico.
Biking through the Baja California desert
Biking through the desert, along such an abandoned road lined with beautiful huge cactuses, was an absolute dream. We crossed the towns of Vizcaino and San Ignacio before reaching the sea of Cortez again in Santa Rosalia. Between each town lies a distance of approximately 80 km of nothingness. So, our plan for every day was to reach the next town, stock up with water and food, then bike out of town and camp somewhere in the desert. It was easy to hide, because as soon as you are 100 m away from the road you are invisible between the cactuses. And the sunsets out there are absolutely beautiful.
Covid-19 pandemic roadside checks
When we passed an army checkpoint in San Ignacio – beautiful oasis in the desert with great micheladas, we realized that they were checking our temperature concerning the Covid-19. Also, in the news we heard that more and more public spaces are closed. The countries and governments all around the world were recommending or even forcing people to stay at home. The situation in Baja was not (yet?) that dramatic. But what do you do when you are forced to stay at home while traveling with bikes and a tent through the desert? How we are suppose to manage bike touring quarantine?
Should we check volunteering options in Baja California?
This question was of course also raising in our heads while we were bike touring through beautiful volcanic part of Baja. After couple of days of while camping under the volcanoes, we rested for one day in Santa Rosaria and started to check volunteering options in south part of Baja California. Santa Rosalia is a mining town with a unique style. Nowhere else you find houses made out of wood in Baja California. However, for us it was clear that this town with its industrial flair is not our preference, so the next day we continued our way 65 km south to Mulege. The best decision ever!
Mulege – home from the first moment
In Mulegé we felt home from the first moment. It is another beautiful oasis in the middle of the desert where the Santa Rosalia river reaches the sea of Cortez. It is the only river in Baja California Sur, which has water permanently. This makes it possible to grow vegetables and fruits.
The first couple of nights we spent at the super truper campground Huerta Don Chano, a beautiful green spot where we could safely set our tent and bikes between banana trees. The vibes at Don Chanos were very positive and easy going with a lot of permanent campers from the US spending there the winter. And also two other traveling couples who also decided to make a Covid break. So we already felt that this magic place will be out bike touring quarantine hot spot.
Volunteering with Deny in Mulege
We quickly found out that Mulegé has a nice communal life between the local Mexicans and the many, mostly retired, US residents. An example is that the local grocery stores didn’t sell that much products due to less tourists and restricted supplies due to the pandemic. As a result, there were different fundraising actions supporting the locals initiated by the US community.
The same like couchsurfing, workaway, woofing and housesitting communities were ,,a bit suspicious,, about pandemic. So we decided to give it a chance and ask around in the village and on social media if there are some options to volunteer. Via detours we learnt to know Deny. He had a couple of projects around his property and an empty house where we could live in. Immediately we felt great sympathy for this open-hearted man. He probably felt the same for us because a few days later we could move to him.
Ready for helpful and fulfilling Covid 19 bike touring quarantine?
You could think that it has to be depressive to quit bike touring and work for free somewhere in the desert because of deadly pandemic. But for us – to be around Deny’s property was like being on a big playground. Every tool needed was available and options to create something seemed endless. We let our biking legs relax, our minds absorb all the previous bike touring weeks in Mexico and we jumped straight to our creative madness.
Eco, bio, handmade, homemade..
The first thing I did was repairing and reorganizing Deny’s storage, while Anna took care about the establishment and design of our new home. Watering the plants around the house quickly became part of our daily routine.
The biggest project, which he had, was the construction of a hostel/community center. Four local workers helped him with painting, plumbing and carpenter work. We tried not to “steal” the job of the workers and came up with some other projects to improve Deny’s place.
We are especially proud of the herbal spiral we made out of stones from the river. It is a great way how to successfully plant herbs which require different planting conditions. The ones which need the least water are planted on the top. Others, which need more water can be planted further down. And at the very bottom of the spiral is a little water reservoir for the birds and insect.
Further, we built a compost, we were planting and replanting trees, insulating the roof of our house, collecting trash around the yard and along the street and taking care about the garden. Anchica also got pretty wild with making massages and home-made eco-bio products like fruit liqueurs, cosmetic, cleaning liquids,.. I am also especially proud of her painted mandala, but best check it out yourself.
One big family
If you think now that we worked like crazy from the morning till the evening, we have to correct you. Deny is amazing, so we could be the masters of our time and we didn’t neglect to explore the surroundings of Mulegé and to get in touch with the locals.
One of those locals is Frank, who lived just opposite of the river by the highway. His father Francisco is the owner of a grocery and liqueur store and Frank helped him out during that time. He has a passion for cooking and from him we learned how to cook Pulpo (Octopus) or how to prepare “Ceviche” (raw small cut fish, mixed with vegetables) or tacos or sea food coctail. We don’t know who is crazier, Frank who likes to jump from high cliffs to the sea, or his Dog “Dogginko”, who could jump from the dam and swim with me for hours.
Another magic moment was, when we followed the river upstream and explored a canyon with Deny, Beth and some friends. Last but no least, south and north of Mulegé there are beautiful beaches. And we had access to kayaks, vans, bikes.. But about them we will tell you in a separate post.
Tears in our eyes
During the almost 3 months we stayed in Mulegé it became more and more our home. The longer we stayed, the more people we got to know. It felt like one big family. Of course, we were also excited to be able to finally continue our biking adventure. But the day when we left Mulegé we had tears in our eyes. We hope to return one day. THANK YOU MULEGE! Thank you for the best possible bike-touring quarantine!
P.S.: If you are planning biketouring Baja California – do it before June, because then it becomes an oven – especially around Bahia Conception.