No, *this* is the worst road in Baja

After breaking a ball joint & shock absorber on the painful road to and from the whaling stations, we were not amused to see the road to San Francisco. It was 27 km of rocks, and took about three or four hours. I vowed to get the shock replaced *after* the return leg, hoping we didn’t take out anything else… Update: good point, Top Gun… It’s the road from the highway to San Francisco Sierra - the first 9.5 km is tarmac and then it’s a nightmare :)

Ball joint + Shock Absorber

Well the offending ball joint has been replaced with a less offensive one, but the shock absorber looks and sounds buggered, too. It’s not a stressed point, though, not in the same way as the joint, so I’m slightly more relaxed about replacing it: time to turn the music up if it bothers me. I’m now filthy, having watched the stupid mechanic dislocate the driveshaft from the CV joint, allow the brake pipe to take the entire weight of the shaft + brake + hub, and fumble about trying get ge shaft back in. Anyway, time for a shower and a nap.

Heading North: shopping

I’m sitting in Nico’s battered Nissan Pathfinder, must be mid-1980’s spec, heading up highway 1 back towards Guerreo Negro. Whether we’ll stop there, I don’t know, but we need a new lower wishbone mount, which is definately *malo* moving quite freely and smoothly, exactly the opposite of what it should doing. A new tyre on top of that, and refilling the two petrol cans completes the list.

Nico Lopez, mechanic

I respect a man who takes his carbs apart in the rain. Some fuel problem stopping us leaving the parts store and going back to fix our car. I initially thought it was fuel evaporation, priming the carbs by hand - Nico sucked some fuel into a pipe and dribbled it in - but it fails to carry on running. Hmm. Nico’s wife in red there.

Rice & Beans, San Ignacio

Ricardo, right, runs this place, a hotel, RV stop and bar, an official stop on the Baja 1000 rally. Top fella, top place. Sadly, we’re the only ones drinking tonight, at half-nine, as all the other residents are too old to be out late. i.e. They’re over 50.

Cactus Country

As we head into the arid south, a cactus is a common and obvious sight. But I was pretty surprised at the diversity and variety. Tree sightings fade into the rear-view mirror and thousands of cacti stand to attention. I’ve seen one or two landscapes in my time and this was magic.

Last Gas Station

Among all the dire warnings regarding Mexico, the last one we’ve taken seriously was about the lack of petrol stations en route, or at least the large distances between them. To compound this, the car only takes premium - 91 octane - and I’m not prepared to risk lower, not yet, anyway. Lower octane fuel burns less cleanly and on a smooth-running engine like a V6, engine noises can be harder to detect, more subtle. Petrol is nationalized here, with fixed prices and station attendents doing all the work for you, but not every station has premium. And nor does the guy who sells gas from his cart.

Ensenada is shut

No idea what the hell’s going on here, but the place is crawling with cops, roads are shut all over, people are blocking all the rest by driving on the wrong side trying to get through, but the brunette is doing a fine job of getting us out of the mess she got us into by leaving her phone behind in Ensenada.