The Grumpy Traveler
Christian Heeb Writer/Photographer
Stories from the road without the bullshit. No, I will not tell you what my favorite bag is and my mission is not, to share the beauty of our world. I have no van, no dog and I am no digital nomad. World peace will never happen. But I hope you get some laughs and will think before you hit the road …
Enjoy the Baja Lifestyle
I went bike riding in the desert hills. It was a glorious afternoon , with some puffy clouds, hanging low over Cerralvo island and Ventana Bay. Heading up Pista Pista and crossing over to Las Minitas, I noticed, the trail had recently been maintained. Limber-bushes were missing limbs, Sour Pittahaya were cut to shreds and even a large Organ Pipe cactus had lost two arms.
I was grateful for this work, so I could ride my bike, without having to worry about getting stung by prickly desert shrubs. I often met folks with cuts and bruises who were bleeding from scratches while biking.
Slowly, I made my ascent to the top of the trail, wishing it was wider, so two bikes could cross, without having to yield. The steep incline looked scary and I was getting worried, people, novices, could hurt themselves. “Some curves could use a railing” I thought.
I felt sorry for less fortunate people who had to drive their trucks with South Dakota plates from town to reach the trailheads, if they wanted to go biking. They drove, one or two miles through the towns dusty neighborhoods and had to park in an Arroyo.
“They should build larger parking lots for them” I thought.
Ideally there would be a restroom as well and maybe a watering station for dogs. Dogs have needs too. Since they have to run along with their sporty foster parents, they get thirsty.
The good thing about our area is, that now, finally, we have two decent coffee shops where the bike people, after a hard ride, can get a good latte. Now you can sit down and drink it in a paper cup with a plastic lid, eventually even use a plastic straw and feel right at home.
Aah, the Baja lifestyle. Some folks will sit for hours in that little coffee shop, sip their latte and stare at their phones. The really daring ones bring their laptop and write their blog about Nomad life in Baja.
From Las Minitas I rode down the hill and headed left on Nonato. Part of the trail was shaded now and I could see some kites way out on the water. The real beauty of this trail system is, they keep building more trails. It is the human spirit at its best. Always aim for more, explore more and improve on it.
One of the early builders said:”We are building the best mountain bike trail system in Mexico”.
The Mexicans from the mainland took notice and now we are proud to have such an inclusive network for Gringos and Mexicans alike.
I felt really good about this, since the trail building also provides jobs for locals. I remember when there were just a few simple trails, heck I remember when there was no trail. Now we even have tour guides, a bike store and recognition in Bike magazines. If that is not progress I don’t know what is.
“Nonato needs some improvement”. There were still some cheeky Torote trees that thought they had the right to stick their arms out on our trail. Nevertheless it was a good run. I kept on going downhill fast and after a few really rough spots, I hit a road. The large dirt road they are currently building towards the north. I looked at the land which was sold by the local Ejido to developers and thought “ I should have bought here. I imagined how much money I could have made. Maybe I thought I should buy some further up the hill and wait till it is worth triple the amount.
They had to change the bike trail in several areas, because the new land owners did not like people riding on their land.
One house that was built on the old Johns Java Trail is owned by some Gringos that do not like common ground. So they moved the bike trail south, till that land got bought, and the trail had to move even further south.
The Gringo house is big. It has a garage and two decks and people who always stay inside. They even built a large garage just for their sprinter van. I had garage envy now when I thought about it. I had no garage and no van. Garage envy is a common illness associated with the Baja lifestyle and afflicts Canadians, Americans and even some Europeans. So does dust. There is talk in town of spraying chemicals on the main road to keep the dust down.
The People riding their truck to go riding their bikes don’t care since they live further south. The people further north don’t care then they are far enough north. When they drive to town to go to yoga, buy croissants, go kiting they drive fast because the day has only 24 hours, even in Mexico. The people in the middle care but are outnumbered.
On my final leg home from the trail at Punta Gorda, I thought, how lucky we are to live here. We have a farmers market like they do in California. You can buy tasty croissants and bread in town and now, there is even a French guy doing patisserie.
We finally have good restaurants even if they are brutally expensive, the waiters now speak some kind of English which makes life so much easier.
Some good souls thought of building a large pickle ball court and other fine folks now, provide entertainment, from poet readings, painting workshops and Blues music. There are seminars and clinics on mountain biking, poetry, shamanism and salsa dancing. I was tempted to join the shamanism folks but was holding out for a druid myrtle ceremony. It was only a question of time before the first barefoot celtic druids would arrive here.
The Spanish conquistadors, probably Cortes himself, called the local giant cactus “Cardo”, which means thistle. So the large Cardon forest south of town, really is a thistle forest and now it is being converted to a suburb of La Ventana. There is a cool Restaurant there now and more and more, very modern, very sleek houses. Thank god they even starting to clear out all that other stuff that grows there. Lomboy, Mexican Holdback, Tea Bush, Cholla.All that annoying desert vegetation is making room for Agave, Laurel and the magnificent Bougainvillea the flower of tropical tourist resorts.
Some bird lovers, they say every fifth person in North America is a birder, started to hang plastic feeders with sugar water for the Hummingbirds. As they say the birds look so much better on a feeder than on the wild desert plants. Unfortunately, if you trust the cries for help on Facebook, some aggressive yellow birds are stealing the Hummingbirds sugar water. There is petition pending for evicting Oreoles and sending them back to South America.
As I pondered all this ,while pedaling home to my little casa, the Eagles Song “Hotel California” got stuck in my brain. „Plenty of room at the Hotel California“ I heard Don Henley sing and then it hit me, Baja California is just an extension of California but with better mountain bike trails and the “help’ is local.
Christian Heeb/ 2023