El Helmbrero and Bee Stings

The past three days from Ensenada to El Rosario has been filled with many adventures and learning experiences. As the internet connection is rather poor from Northern Fringe of protected area– I’ll be brief with words and attach more pictures.

1Brady- ready to leave the hotel in Ensenada- We stayed at Hotel Santo Tomas. On a non-weekend, it costs 410 pesos = US$25. Note the bottom half of the Sombrero hanging from his bag. We later decided to call it the “Helmbrero”– a new invention in the making??

2Biking out of Ensenada– this was the eye of the storm. We had the bike path all to ourselves, unknowing of the scarier road ahead.

3As I was biking, within an hour of Ensenada, I saw this black darty insect peripherally and felt the stung immediately. My first insect sting EVER! Extracted it on the side of busy road with the trusty tweezer. I was a wee bit hypochondriac and had this harrowing fear of having my trachea closing up due to unknown allergies to bee sting. Dramatic? Yes.

4I’m never thankful enough of the smog and air protection regulations in the US. As soon as we rode out of Ensenada and joined the Hwy 1, we were reminded of how grateful we should be. Here’s an example of many trash fire, alongside the road, along with unregulated exhaust from vehicles which kept the ride interesting as we had to practice to hold our breath for minutes as we were riding.

5A great pic of  Brady, proudly showing off his el Helmbrero. I swear that we got more honks now that we did before he had the El Helmbrero.

6El Helmbrero in action. Note the HUGE shoulder that we had from Ensenada to Santo Tomas, where we camped the first night.

7We got to our destination of the day- Santo Tomas, a very small town with only 2 stores, but with amazing campground, El Palomino at KM 49, a very short day for us. Worth it because we got to stay at this amazing campground with 3 pools and hundreds of campsite. As we got there, Brady got stung by a bee. Our second sting in a day! WTH….. (ps: my finger nails were pretty gross—)

8I guess this is how Mexicans do it when they hang out by the day/ picnic/ camp… this is one of the three pools. They have petting zoos with all sorts of animals (and monkeys!). We chillaxed by the pool for a few hours.

9Towards the evening, as we started to set up camp, these two dogs hung out with us.

10 An artistic pic of the campground. It’s been open since the 1947– these olive trees (I think they are?) were magnificent in the afternoon light.

11Cute shot of dog– Derp??

12Brady’s eyes colors got lighter as we head further South. I wish I could say the same for mine. I just look more and more Hawaiian as the days go.

13We dined across the street from the campsite. This (huge) glass of wine cost Us$4~~

14It’s a really cool restaurant/bar.  Santo Tomas ( where this place is) is along the route of Baja 1000, a 1000km ride along North Baja. It’s a really big deal here. Note the beer cans hanging from the ceiling, some of them are 80 years old or so– ALSO, note the Beer Bintang– (Indonesian Beer), shown on the bottom left side of the pic– how did it get there?

15This smiley turtle greeted us at the restaurant.

16In the morning, we were greeted by the roosters again. As soon as Brady got out of the tent, the two dogs happily welcomed us. As I was packing, I felt this violent nudge from the side– I looked over to find this goat– his name is Hiphip. He acted like a dog– all excited, prancy and a little pushy. It was a bit unnerving. We fed him unwanted bread. He was soo happy.

23Hiphip has his corns cut off– I guess this is a good thing as he was aggressively snuggly and would rub on you (as he chased you for food).

33Hiphip got too pushy that I had to feed him from atop the campground bench.


The 63 miles ride from Santo Tomas to the next day’s campsite, North of Camalu was a bit boring (or so we thought). I guess this was a rough welcome to Mexico, with a rough wake up call of the semi-dangerous road. The trucks pass by so close to us all the time and there were absolutely no shoulders at times. The ground was 4″ lower than the road, so any bail out attempts from the road onto the the adjacent ground proved to be risky. We passed the town of San Vicente (which looked pretty big from the map), which turned out only to have 2 mini marts, a few taco stands and 1 panaderia. It freaked us out on how small these towns that we will be passing through will be. After passing thru Punta Colonet and La Providencia (not even on most maps), we learned that the sizing of the towns in the map is completely unreliable… Both cities are huge with way more services than San Vicente.

We stayed at Km 148- at a small town called Ybarra, just South of La Providencia, at a place called “Rancho Ybarra” or “El Manantial”. There’s a good grocery store 3km prior to reaching the campground. We had 3 “paletas (popsicles).


17The amazing campsite- It had way smaller pool than the place we stayed at the night before, but they had this really fun ‘toboggan’ (I guess that’s what the call a slide here?), topped up with foamy slippery stuff that makes you to ‘bank’ the turns on the slide. It’s been a while since the last time I’ve been on the slide and it was SO FUN!


27I can totally get used to this “camping by the pool” deal.

18For some reason- they had an American flag mounted atop of this dinky water slide. The whole thing shook as Brady and I ran to the top.


28Campground by the pool.

20We had an amazing sunset that night.

21Sylvia and red tractor.

22Sunset lights.

34Brady cooked amazing dinner of zucchini, pasta, tomatoes and onions. His finest moment yet.

24We love the Panaderias (bread stores) here. They are always blasting hot with piping hot and soft delicious bread.

25Did I mention the new investment on the side mirror? Hella dorky, I know, but it enables me to see the craziest truckers that won’t give you enough space, so we know that it’s time to hella bail. I would yell “SEMI SEMI SEMI” in the middle of the ride and both of us would steer towards the treacherous side of the road, full with thorn and deep sand.

26Fresh coconut~~ This man has 14 kids- Jose there (on the left) is the youngest of his 14. (Why do I look so much bigger than the coconut man??)


29Crossing the bridge– all the bridges here are crossing VERY DRY LAND, We have yet to see a single river. Which is crazy. Supposedly during the hurricanes there’s pretty insane flash floods that wipe away some of the bridges. As of this time, it seems so unthinkable to me as everything was absolutely so very dry.

31More of the El Helmbrero in action. At this point, it was a bit catiwumpus as it was windy. We added reinforcements on the front (blue string) and the back to keep it in place as we go down fast hills (up to 40mph plus wind force).


32From Camalu to El Rosario, a 68miles ride, we learned to ride better and more defensively so it’s less stressful. it helps that there is way less traffic South of San Vicente. From Santo Tomas to San Vicente, we spent a lot of time riding on the 2′ wide shoulder around 3″ lower than the main road. It was a bit slow going, for sure, but it was better than stressing out ourselves and other people trying to ride on the road.

36Gorgeous bluebird desert sky– it reminds me a bit of Arizona with those mesa plateaus in the background.

35Our breakfast this morning- this lady has a huge hot griddle as a permanent fixture. We continue to have meals out at less than US$10 for both of us at every meal. Tacos for LYFE! We also stocked up for a lunch and a dinner to go for the next 3 days that we’ll be in the desert without much services, water and food. I think we’ll encounter sufficient restaurants to keep us afloat.

37At El Rosario (which has a lot of amazing grocery stores to stock up before the 3 days jaunt to the desert), we ‘splurged’ and paid a whole of US$27 to stay at this AMAZING Baja Cactus hotel with King bed, AC< fan, bathroom with multiple towels and shampoo/conditioner/lotion. Probably the second best place we’ve stayed at since we left the home 4 months ago. TWENTY SEVEN DOLLARS! It’s incredible.

We will  head out to the Area Protegida tomorrow and won’t have any internet for a few (3-4 days). We’ll be gaining elevation up to 3000′ in the first 20 miles into inland of Baja. In 3 days- we’ll see the Sea of Cortes (the other side of Baja). I’m so stoked!



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