The weather is glorious at this time of year on the Baja, in fact, it just about teeters on perfection. By day and night. I haven’t seen a single cloud blot the sky as yet on the eastern side, and may not. Without the body melting 24/7—keeps the spirits level, energy levels lively and mind sharp. A happy wife means a happy life, eh hubby-ish?
Any ‘princess tendencies’ at bay, mayhaps it was high time I dust off my off-roading skills…again. It’s like most things: Use it or lose it and my ability to feel good on the foot pegs devouring a dash of dirt, pinch of gravel and a sprinkle of rocks had nigh on gone to ruin. Such ingredients of riding shouldn’t feel like a chore but as they had begun to on uneven terrain, I found myself on terror firma, as much as rocky ground.
I needed to reignite what Pearl and I had honed so industriously—prior to my holiday home—back into trail blazing action. Being stuck in no man’s land miles from your muscle memory is fruitful as tofu: it doesn’t matter how long you marinade on it, it still leaves you in bland frustration.
Kick-starting with a 35-mile long road under construction in between Bahía de San Luis Gonzaga to Bahía de los Ángeles, invited me to dance to a rhythm of compacted dirt, graded gravel and the lightest smattering of loose stones. With only a few rocks no bigger than a tennis ball thrown in for amusement, if not to keep me on my toes. And without lashings of sand—was heaven-sent. Old nostalgia seemed to jolt my muscle memory, breaking me into a momentum of sorts; it was a song of an off-road surface, I knew there was a moto-god. Pearl had been beyond patient with me but even she was getting a little bored by my behaviour…sorry sweeedhart.
Pearl hesitated not a second in enabling me to slip back into my old ways. I’m an incremental learner and one that can sometimes regress to square one when it comes to getting my leg over in the dirt after being backstage for a while. As we embraced the lumps and bumps together, it was as if we were practicing a long-established dance, Pearl confident of the first step in her lead.
Without winging it, any silent prayers or shutting my eyes tight during those split-second hairy spots, I felt alive by Pearl’s unwavering ability to rear her empowering head, keeping her nose down and emboldening me to take the reins in wielding her with an artful precision. We were on our way! Pearl’s as much the underdog as a dark horse, that one.
Mid-morning we danced off the dirt track and into Coco’s Corner. A dusty setting picked right out of the Australian outback: a tumbledown doorless house on a bed of sand, home to a floor full of keepsakes and souvenirs from nigh on all walks of life that bounce through. There had been human-powered travellers, befuddlingly mentally strong cyclists, motorcyclists on every conceivable set of wheels out there, dune loving 4×4 overlanders and desert faring RV boondockers. The only thing missing from the Aussie scene was the red rock.
Old aluminium cans—strewn up with string jingled in the warm breeze from the fence—decorated the place, as did an outdoor display of communal dunnies, the front of a rusty old truck sawn in half and a dirt bike that had seen plenty of action, mounted on the roof. I suspected it was like no other place on the Baja.
Coco greeted us as a white-haired double amputee with the Baja leathery tan. His once clean t-shirt was desert stained in dust and dirt, covering a stomach of ample proportions. And at 79 years young, he bared crooked teeth in a smile that was indeed genuine. But with remarkably white teeth, helped of course by having sun-weathered skin like polished walnut. Despite the shortage of leg length, he laughed endearingly at his own affectionately named “penguin-walk” when sauntering around on his stumps, staccato style.
With a glaringly obvious fetish for ladies’ underwear, people who didn’t know Coco gawked catching flies, before making polite introductions. The bras and knickers ranging from ‘unbridled saucy’ to Bridget Jones’ style ‘full coverage’—left by all and sundry—hung from every available square inch below the ceiling. Including my own much to Coco’s ribald amusement.
And yet, notwithstanding the lingering-over-lingerie man, I couldn’t help but develop a sneaking fondness for the old buzzard. Past the cheeky if not superfluous tongue gestures, Coco willingly opened up his home, there was a place to stop, facilities to freshen up, prepare dinner and either rehydrate or dehydrate if we wanted something stronger. A tugging incline told me he may not have wanted us to leave, I know Jason didn’t.
Although this guy lived by himself, residing in the middle of a remote part of the Baja, his life is anything but hermetic. It didn’t take long to deduce that Coco must be in his own company for only hours if not minutes at a time: morning, noon and often times night. During the couple of hours we spent riveted to the place, I saw ten dirt bikers roll in (Coco received 75 motorcyclists throughout 2015, which was strangely low for the volume I’d clocked in the last three days), and droves of sun-kissed, sprightly-mouthed vacationers in their 4x4s, Baja 1000 vehicles and dune buggies.
Scores of people stopped, some helped themselves to a chilled beer from the chest freezer (or a refreshing Arizonian green tea with honey if preferred), and passed the time of day for a while with Coco and his present co. A handful of small caravans were available to rent for those that wished to elongate their stay. It was pretty tempting.
A retired vacationer having the time of his life buzzing around the Baja, Jeeping here, there and everywhere with his Canadian wife—my Aunty Cath’s doppelgänger as it happened—bought me a beer. How sweet, and what a lubricant to loosen me up for the remaining 12 miles of dirt. It’s a brilliant corner of the Baja, and one I’m glad we took the time to experience. Just know that Knickerman won’t let you leave before you sign his guest book, part with your pants and absorb the Coco-led bonhomie fun to its fullest.