Mex 1 Moments – Baja Mexico Travel

Two similar pot farms were discovered several weeks ago — one in Baja and the other in Ventura County, California. The news was dominated by the farm near El Rosario, Mexico, while the one in Los Padres National Forest in California barely received honorable mention.

Once again, the national press-driven hysteria crept into my fishing world seemingly to mess with Baja Mexico travel. I saw a post on the Facebook page of Capt. Kelly Catain asking if it was safe in San Quintin, yet I didn’t see any questions asking if it was safe in Ventura County. It’s a shame that this media attention negatively affects fishing operations that are thousands of miles away.

On a road trip this year with my son Geoff, we were returning to the U.S. via Mex 1 from Lopez Mateos, when the right rear wheel slipped off the edge of the road. The inner sidewall took on some damage, causing a blowout a few miles away just after sundown. We were south of El Rosario near where the pot farm was discovered.

As we surveyed the damage with flashlights, an older pickup heading south slowed and rumbled to a stop. Two wiry Mexican farmers jumped out of the truck and in Spanish asked about our problem.

After sizing up the situation, the driver quickly spun his ramshackle pickup around so his headlights would light up the rear of my Roadtrek van. Jumping from the truck, he grabbed the jack and began positioning it beneath the axle while his sidekick went to town with the lug wrench. As the sidekick loosened the lug nuts, he explained they were on their way back to their onion farm on the other side of the arroyo — all the while refusing to let me help.

Like their AAA counterparts in the United States, they finished up quickly and said adios.

“Let me pay you,” I offered. Politely they shook their heads in refusal. After a few minutes of discussion, I thrust a couple of bills in the driver’s hand suggesting that he could buy a cerveza on me. With a big grin and a tip of his sombrero, he took the money and motioned to his sidekick. They jumped back in their pickup, turned around and headed back toward the cantina for a “final-final,” I suppose.

My guess is that it wouldn’t be a stretch to substitute a pot farm for an onion farm, but believe me, those two farmers were our saviors that dark night on Mex 1. I was the recipient of their act of kindness and I couldn’t help but wonder if that would have happened if we had broke down in Los Padres National Forest.

Earlier this month, a soft drizzling rain followed me as I drove from Santo Thomas Valley all the way to Padre Kino. As I slowed down for one of the many stops along that stretch, the brakes on the Roadtrek failed, locking up. As I skidded across the rain-soaked pavement, I surveyed my options. Oncoming traffic prevented swerving left and a fruit stand sat to the right, so my only option was to rear end the pickup in front of me. Bam!

The driver of the delivery truck called his supervisor who arrived with an entourage a few minutes later. Damage was minimal to both vehicles and we quickly agreed on a reasonable price to repair their truck and I was on my way.

But by the time I arrived in Mulege later in the afternoon, it was apparent that we needed a pit stop to repair the Roadtrek’s ailing brakes. Loreto was my final destination, I had an event to attend that evening, so I cautiously drove the additional 60 miles.

North of town I spotted Servicio Automotriz Express. As I turned in, the young mechanic approached me with a grin. I explained my problem and he had the van up on blocks with wheels off in minutes. Meanwhile, the wheelchair-bound owner, Gerardo, gave me an estimate and length of time needed to complete the job.

While the work proceeded, I climbed into the Roadtrek to get a little work done. Over the shop noise I heard strains of soft classical Mexican music. As the music persisted, my curiosity grew and leaving the van, I found Gerardo huddled in front of his dust-covered computer watching a Mexican musician on YouTube. He turned and proudly announced that he had Wi-Fi and I was welcome to use it.

I hopped back in my air-conditioned van, got online and caught up on email as they worked on the brakes. Stepping out of the vehicle a short time later to stretch, I was entertained by the shop pup who was quite willing to do tricks for one of Sũerte’s leftover chewies. I had an interesting conversation about the success of Loreto’s Marine Park with the park’s manager and a little while later, a talented guitarist arrived, plugged in his amplifier and entertained both customers and employees alike.

Time flew, and by late afternoon the work was finished. I paid the bill — less than half of what it would have cost me at home — and bidding everyone adios, I closed the door on yet another Mex 1 adventure and moved on toward the next one.

Don’t get me wrong, common sense and caution is always a component of my trips wherever I travel. I’m not naïve enough to believe that bad things don’t happen in both Mexico and the United States, but I would have missed out on many interesting experiences in my life if I had sat on the couch, watching the world through my television. Thirty-eight years of driving on Mex 1 from border to tip has produced many stories and adventures, none of which have left me frightened or feeling that I shouldn’t return.

Note to Readers:

From here on out, Gary will be posting all of his Baja fishing reports in the Forum Section of www.bdoutdoors.com and leave this space to talk about his many fishing adventures along Baja. For up-to-date fishing action, make sure to visit the Baja Bytes section of the Mexico Fishing Reports. http://www.bdoutdoors.com/forums/baja-bytes-gary-graham/

To send Gary your reports and photos, send an email to bajabytes@gmail.com.

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Gary Graham, the BD Outdoors Baja Editor, has more than five decades fishing experience off of Southern California and the Baja Peninsula. From light tackle and fly up to offshore marlin fishing, Gary has experienced all facets of this fishery. He's set several fly-fishing world records and in his first year as a member of the Tuna Club of Avalon, he received more angling awards than any other first-year member in the club's 109-year history. He's been involved with many California angling clubs and is the Baja California Representative for the International Game Fish Association. 
Gary's a conservationist as well as a writer and photographer. In addition to two books on saltwater fly-fishing, hundreds of his articles and photographs have appeared in publications around the world. Graham has devoted his life to finding new fisheries and developing new techniques — all of which he shares through his guiding, speaking, photography and writing.