One of the aspects of highway travel in Baja is the constant flow of road work. It seems that just as soon as the crews finish one section of Highway One, they tear up another. Often, what they tear up seems as good as what they replace it with – other times, the unbearable potholes and melted asphalt are graciously replaced with new graded road beds and fresh topping.
In the states, to complete road projects it seems always necessary to close routes entirely, or funnel traffic into diversions. Baja road crews just chew up the old stuff, bulldoze it over, and shift travel to a dirt bed while they work on repaving sections. The results can be miles and miles of dirt roads where just a week or so before there had been pavement. Ie, make sure you have a spare tire and are adept at changing a flat!
2-Lane Mex One
Miles of Dirt – Mex One
2-Lane Mex One
2-Lane Mex One
Road & Pier Construction – Santa Rosalia
Bulldozers at Work
New Dirt Highway
Trucker – Mex One
On Mex One, this in not an option (or any of the ‘major’ Baja highways). For most of the 1500 miles of roadway, there is just the snaking two-lane road that heads from Tijuana in the north to San Jose del Cabo in the south.
If necessary, a dirt road is bulldozed parallel to the road being repaired. This is often boulder filled, or worst, soft sand which leaves drivers wishing for 4-wheel drive and praying that they don’t need it.
Roads don’t close in Baja due to floods or rockfalls. Maybe temporarily, but the creative population always manages a work-around. Three years ago when torrential rains wiped out 6 major bridges overnight the traffic was stopped for 24 hours. But after, ingenious bulldozers began to drag heavy tractor trailers and anyone else brave enough to cross rushing flood waters from what was left of pavement on either side of the arroyo.
Rock fall? Give locals an hour and they will have either pushed the offending boulder out of the way, or cleared enough of the associated debris to allow passage.
The weighted sky water of summer. A thousand wardrobe changes in the day (and that’s just the sky!).
Color palettes shift from frothy white to angry greys with blasts of orange and red and gold sprinkled between.
The wind carries them from the north east, from the south .. back around again from the west. It shapes them— along with temperature, pressure, underlying terrain — into ragged forms, soft cumulous curls, a streaking line of stratus. Thunderheads build .. threaten .. and then simply drift away …
The season of clouds. The heart of summer in Baja.
After the rain : and before the next. The sky breaks out her palette of colors beyond the brush and pigment. Hues and shades that catch in the throat with their beauty. A veritable cloak of golden light that beckons, woos, dances on the edges of the mind.
Under my feet, the sand, the desert – already paying hommage to the life gift of water from the earlier deluge. Everywhere the scent of moisture. Pools, small lakes of water. Arroyos that have found the sea after too many months of drought. The rushing waters sing with their ebb and flow …..
Morning paddle out past the point and back. I had headed out with nothing really in mind except some exercise. Chewing on life issues and decisions that need to be made, I was preoccupied and distracted. I should have known the sea would change everything.
On the horizon, small black protrusions. Marlin? No, too close to shore. Nor were they the fins of sleeping seals. Instead, a pair of small bat rays had caught my eye, ‘flapping’ their ‘wings’ in an undulating pattern as slowly they made their way through the glassy early seas. In the distance, one of their buddies did a couple of back flips. When one crossed under my board, I tried to grab a photo – but the image doesn’t do justice the the ray’s elegant form.
Bat Ray : Sea of Cortez
But the rays presence triggered a clearer focus of the richness around me. Overhead, the gentle glide of the Elegant frigatebird. Nearby, a cormorant surfaced, a small fish gleaming from his beak. A school or rainbow runners, their hypnotically blue fins trailing, raced under my board, likely chased by a bigger fish. Several jellies drifted just below the water’s edge, the flower patterns in their gelatinous bodies so lovely from above.
And then, surprise of surprises – a marine show! A medium size fish began to leap and skip across the water – chased by a large green and yellow dorado, who leaped in equally high arcs following his prey.