Tiffani's Yamaha Fz-07 Tour: La Paz, Cabo, And...A Mansion?

Chapter 3, Part 5

Tiffani Mexico
This segment took us all the way down to the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, to Cabo San Lucas, where we found a hidden treasure.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

Leaving a beach as beautiful as Ligui took almost as much willpower as it did effort, but with Hollywood's help and know-how, both bikes made it out of the sand and we were back on our way. Our next stop would be back on the Pacific Ocean side of the peninsula, as we pounded out miles to a town called Puerto San Carlos. We took a night to walk around the town, do some maintenance and catch up on writing, but honestly, there wasn't all that much to see here so we left the next day without much thought.

Tiffani Mexico
Maintenance time! Trying to keep the chain cleaned and lubed without a centerstand is one of the hardest parts of travelling on a bike that is not technically made to be adventured. This has proven even more of a handful since we got to Mexico and have just been overwhelmed by all the dirt.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

As we made our way toward the highway, the only petrol station in town was closed, so we had to chance making it all the way back to the 1 on my little remaining fuel, hoping I might just make it to the next town over. I didn’t. Twice now I’ve had to use my spare fuel can. I’m going to have to start being a lot more careful about filling up whenever I get the chance!

We grabbed a quick breakfast and made it to La Paz, the biggest city I’ve seen since way back in Ensenada. You know it’s a big city because a huge Walmart awaited like a gateway to civilization, right as we crossed in and headed toward a small hostel in the middle of downtown. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the safety of our motorbikes being parked on the street for the night, but the kind woman working the desk allowed us to roll our bikes into the courtyard of the hostel. I sleep much easier knowing my baby is safe and sound.

Tiffani Mexico
Sometimes making sure your bike is still there when you wake up the next morning requires some improv. Sometimes that means riding up the sidewalk and into the gated hostel. Whatever works!Photo: Tiffani Burkett

We walked around La Paz on streets still littered with remnants of a much bigger carnival than we had seen in Loreto, and found a downtown not far off what I was used to in the fashion district of Los Angeles. Smaller buildings and fewer BMWs and Mercedes, sure, but a similar feel to the shops and street culture. But, despite having grown up in one, I’m still not a fan of big cities, so we left the next day for our next destination. Next stop—La Ventana.

Tiffani Mexico
We met another world traveler while we were tooling around La Ventana, a Canadian named Kevin who was heading toward South America on his BMW. It was awesome getting to swap stories!Photo: Tiffani Burkett

When we were in Maine for the 49-states tour, we met a dude who called himself Rome and rode his KLR around the Baja Peninsula every year, kite surfing and exploring along the way. He let us stay at his home for a few days while we were in Bar Harbor and we had promised to meet him when we got to Mexico. Unfortunately, he didn't make it down this year after all, but he knew some people who had. We met up with his good friend Captain Karl on an arroyo in La Ventana. Camping on the arroyo was free, so it was easy to make the decision to stay a few extra days. This area was extremely popular among kite surfers for the high winds and flat water, and the beaches were largely populated by tourists. As we walked along the shoreline, I could understand why. It was one of the first spots I've seen in the Baja not completely covered in trash, and the shore had a handful of Palapa huts for shade that we used as we sat and read to pass the time.

Better still though, was a spot at the far, rocky end of the beach. Geothermal waters bubbled up along the shoreline, and people had built a series of pools enclosed by rocks. When the tide was high, the water was lukewarm, but when the tide was low, it made for a series of different natural hot springs, occasionally cooled by the penetrating waves. This right here? This is Heaven.

Tiffani Mexico
Finding natural hot springs on the coast line of an already-gorgeous beach was one of those moments that made me really felt like every struggle to this point was worth it. In all the years I lived in a lovely beach apartment, I don’t think I’ve ever felt as satisfied as I did while soaking in this perfect paradise.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

So taken by the beach, we stayed for a few days of bonfires, swimming and tooling around on Rome’s unoccupied KLR650. Turns out, it’s a much more appropriate and off-road-capable machine than what we had taken in on that bumpy, sandy road, even if it’s still kind of a tractor. We also enjoyed decidedly romantic long walks on the beach and reading in the shade before finally deciding to continue on.

It seemed Hollywood had eaten some bad tomatoes (we were told the most common mistake tourists make is eating the pico de gallo, rather than drinking bad water) and ended up sick for days. With Hollywood feeling a little worse for wear, we made our way back to the highway, planning to finally make Cabo. The road down was perhaps the best part of this section of the peninsula, as it twisted and climbed and descended through valleys and deserts. Cabo ended up a little less exciting. We pulled into a cheap hotel downtown, and set up for the night (complete with parking our bikes behind some bushes, in better view of security, as the owner wanted to make sure they didn’t get stolen). I spent a couple days walking around downtown, picking up soup and water and such to take care of my sick partner, finding some delightful little places for foreign cuisines, and avoiding some less delightful street harassment. I almost forgot how different it was to be walking alone vs. having a friend!

Tiffani Mexico
Riding dirt in the daylight is one thing. Riding dirt at night, on the other hand, is what Tiff’s tears are made of.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

Once Hollywood was feeling better, we finally set out to explore the marina and the seaside and see what the cleaner and nicer side of Cabo had to offer. The restaurants boasted prices that were on par with your average American restaurant (which now seemed crazy after spending so much time paying around $4-5 to feed both of us, drinks included). Everything was so excessive and over-built with so many street hustlers that it felt like the way to go to Mexico and avoid anything truly Mexican. I wasn’t a big fan.

We left the next day to the east, planning to explore Cabo Pulmo National Park. After a few miles of twisty road, the asphalt stopped and turned to sand. We didn’t make it far before I demanded we turn back. Riding through 40 miles of sandy hills and turns just wasn’t going to happen. This has become a huge struggle for me in the Baja, and has really reminded me of exactly how much dirt experience I don’t have. I can handle rocks, dirt and ruts, and even some puddles and streams to an extent, but the sand seemed to sap any confidence I had gained as I struggled to control my bike in any way. Frustrated, we turned back and veered off on another road, this time up a road that was more dirt and rocks. After a couple of kilometers, we came upon a mansion that had clearly been abandoned, with paint and windows and railings that had been ravaged by storms and sea air. We ducked inside to cool down in the shade, explore the ruins, and admire the beautiful view of the coast line.

The obligatory trash and animal droppings looked like the place hadn’t been occupied by even punk kids in a very long time. After a few moments of rehydrating, we looked at each other, and Hollywood asked the perfect question: “You ever camped in a mansion before?”

Tiffani Mexico
A mansion by the sea might be the most luxurious camping has ever felt, even if it was covered in beer cans, animal droppings, rust and broken glass. What are squatter laws like in Mexico? Haha!Photo: Tiffani Burkett

Why not, right? We headed out for dinner, and then made it back under the cover of darkness. Oddly, riding the dirt in the dark, unnerved as I was, seemed to go smoother than it had during the day. Maybe I just couldn’t fixate on the wrong parts of the road and hit all the bad patches, or maybe I just needed more repetition in my trail riding to build more confidence. Either way, we arrived at camp without any trouble. We swept away the glass on the floor, and set up upstairs in our seaside mansion tent. Provided this doesn’t turn into an unexpected late-night cartel hangout, life in the Baja is pretty good so far. Looking forward to what other adventures tomorrow will bring!