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Jan 29

I’ll have the tacos with whale meat please!

Lazy sea dogs!

Upon arrival in Guerrero Negro, Felix, Karl, and I checked into a cheap hotel, and squeezed three touring bikes and three tourers into the double room.  None of us had showered in five days, so the room soon smelt amazing.

Guerrero Negro is a strange place.  It’s not a large town and almost all the town (80%?) work for the salt mining operation there.  The salt mining operation is beyond huge and the setup is almost like a military base.  They have their own specialty equipment, they provide housing to all there employees within the salt mine lands, and there is security.  They even have a large supermarket just for employees and their families.  The rest of the population is in the tourism business, and the largest attraction on offer: Whale watching.

Gray whales in Guerrero Negro

Whale of a good time.

It is rare when traveling that you serendipitously happen to be at the right place at the right time for the right thing, but this was the case for us in Guerrero Negro, which from January to April is the best place in the whole world to go and see the gray whales with their new babies.  So, in the first official touristy act of the Tour de Zack, Karl, Felix, and I booked a tour to go and see them in all their glory.

In many ways, whale watching is like buying a lottery ticket.  Sure there is a chance that you will get to touch a baby whale or look the mama whale straight into her gigantic orb of an eye, but there is also a chance that the whales will be taking a siesta during the couple of hours you are passing through.  Brochure photos and flowery guidebook narratives had succeeded in elevating my expectations to extraordinary levels and so disappointment began to creep in when no baby whales leapt over our boat and no mama whales offered us a piggyback ride.  Still though, it was well worth the time and money (600 pesos is expensive by Mexican standards but is less than $50) and not only did we manage to get within about 10 m of the giants of the deep, but we also got to see some sea lions, pelicans and other wildlife.  I may have also caught a little nap…

Taco Time!

Apart from our whale tour and taking care our standard tour cycling duties, the other main activity in Gro. Negro was to try and eat as many tacos as possible.  We hit up the main taquerias in town and put away 18 to 24 tacos between us each night.  Tacos adobadas, tacos con carne asada (beef), and tacos con tripa (Tripe) were the main orders – though we also tried out the quesatacos (Tacos above, but with

Forever a Legend. Best Tacos in Mexico

cheese), the vampiros (tostada version of the quesatacos) – and of course we all had our first Corona beers in Mexico.  It is a tough life, but somebody has to do it!  Currently the award for Best Taco in Mexico goes to a very popular taco truck on the main drag.  After elbowing our way through the drooling, slobbering masses, we got our hands on the fish and shrimp tacos on offer.  Unbelievably good.  The fish was fresh and crispy, the shrimp was succulent and juicy, the tortillas were heavenly, and the fillings – the picadillo (diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, corriander), guacamole, different types of onion, various concoctions of of salsa, roasted jalapenos, radishes, cucumbers, mayonnaise, and more – were outrageously addictive.  Simply put, these tacos made a mockery of the competition and the memory of each glorious mouthful continues to haunt my dreams and taunt my stomach.   Que riquisimo!

Celebrations on the road to San Ignacio

Prost!

After a couple of days off the bike it was time to get going.  Not only had we had our fill of the small dusty town, but we had an extra incentive to hit the road: to try and catch Raul and Marta, the cyclists I’d met in Ensenada.  Chatting with the owners of the taqueria we chose for our last night we learned that they had been the night before and had left Gro. Negro just that very morning.  I had thought they’d be way ahead of me after my detour through San Felipe, but Raul and Marta are self-professed “slow tourers” and so it looked as though our paths were due to cross again.  Felix and Karl were very excited by this news as they had been “chasing” Raul and Marta for weeks, they’d never met the couple but had heard about them on the Pan-Americana Touring grapevine and had been reading their entries in the various guestbooks along the touring trail.

Vintage 2646 km bottle

Tony getting some TLC

Its either a long day’s ride or two easy day’s ride to San Ignacio, a lush oasis in the middle of the Baja Peninsula.  Felix, Karl and I opted to take two days for the journey because we had a big celebration in store for us en-route.  Felix and Karl were about to hit the 10,000 km mark on their journey from Alaska.  Very Impressive.  After some calculations, it was determined that I would be celebrating my first 2646 km, a slightly more modest achievement.

Unfortunately, we forgot to pick up a bottle of Champagne in Gro. Negro before we left, and despite scouring every market and store in the town of Vizcaino the next night, we ended up having to settling for a few one litre bottles of Corona Familiar for the next day’s toast and celebration.

Karl and Felix enjoy a well deserved beer after 10,000 km

So, after a mere 11 km ride the next day, we came to the sacred point in the middle of nowhere, popped the caps off our warmish beer, and made “prost” in the 27 degree heat.  Congratulations boys!

To check out their facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Panamericana/122772481142372

2 comments

1 ping

  1. Peter Sczepaniak

    Happy Birthday Zack! We are all celebrating together today. We are thinking of you and wish you the best in your travels. Love, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Cindy, Aunt Lois,
    Travis, Peter, and Daniela

    1. Zack

      Thanks guys, it is much appreciatted! Be sure to tell Grandma I said “Happy Birthday” as well!

  1. Swimming with whale sharks » Zack Skerritt

    [...] the whale sharks, I was a bit hesitant to get my hopes up about them.  You might remember that the “first official touristy act” of the Tour de Zack was going on a tour to see the Gray Whales in Baja California Sur.  That had been over 7 months [...]

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