Coco's Corner - The Not So Long Way Down - CycleBlaze

November 24, 2018

Coco's Corner

Near Gonzaga Bay to somewhere else

Don't know what the gunshots were but we once again woke up in the morning.
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Sadly we had not been doing a good job of keeping up with learning our Spanish phrases and so as we lay in the tent this morning we started on what will hopefully become a new routine of listening to a Spanish lesson podcast on Dea's phone. It was very thorough and very repetitive, and after half an hour of listening and repeating we were confident of the phrase, "Excuse me sir, we don't understand Spanish, do you speak English," which, let's be honest, is a great start. Then we had a long jump competition, then we started cycling.

"♫ Cool desert plant of the day ♫"
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Bill ShaneyfeltBaja pencil cholla.

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/274440-Cylindropuntia-tesajo/browse_photos

Very similar to the species of pencil cholla we had in AZ
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1 month ago
Some serious defences on this one!
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A very fine road, to be sure.
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And a very fine desert sky.
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The road was perfect for the first 17 kilometres. Tarmac, good shoulder, no traffic. It was climbing gently uphill, as it would do all day, but we had a slight tailwind and everything was hunky dory. Then I saw an animal in the desert, a coyote maybe, or some kind of desert fox. I'm sure someone will tell us in the comment box. It stared at me for a little while and then sauntered off back to its desert hideaway.

My, what big ears you have.
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like a half-grown coyote pup.
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1 month ago

After 17 kilometres the tarmac abruptly ended and we were forced onto a rough gravel road that was quite rocky and hard work. We counted our blessings, however, as this section of incomplete road was no doubt the reason there hadn't been much through-traffic over the past days. One day this highway 5 will connect all the way through with tarmac, and then it will be a lot busier. However, Mexican road construction doesn't really appear to be a fast process, and my guess is it will be a fair few years before this happens.

We battled on, still climbing away from the coast, through real desert, hot and dry and full of big cactuses. It appeared the hurricane had not come this way, there was no grass here. We took a break in the shade of a rare tree to get out of the hot sun and made sandwiches for lunch. Dea made a particularly big one, and then, luckily for you, demonstrated how to eat it.

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Cactus country!
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My what a big sandwich you've made Dea, but how do you eat it?
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Oh yes, of course!
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A few kilometres after our lunch stop we arrived at Coco's Corner, an unusual little place with a reputation among travellers as somehwere that you really must stop and visit. Having passed this way once before, back in 2011, I'd already met the legendary Coco, but with my bad memory and the huge volume of travellers he meets, it seemed unlikely either of us would really remember it, and I decided not to even mention it. 

Coco was out driving his pick-up around in circles when we arrived, but he stopped to greet us. "Habla ingles?" I enquired, the only bit of the morning's lesson I could confidently remember. "Yes, I speak English," was thankfully the response. Coco invited us over to his little wooden shack for a drink, telling us that we were also welcome to camp if we wanted. We accepted the offer of a cold water, and made our way over to the building. "Can you bring me my chair?" Coco shouted from the window of his truck, nodding in the direction of a wheelchair that sat beside his home. "I don't got no legs."

We brought him his chair and we made our way inside, where we found on the walls an extraordinary array of photos, maps, stickers, and, indeed, underwear, donated by other passing travellers. Coco wheeled himself over to a draw and pulled out his guestbook for us to sign. We asked him if he'd seen many other cyclists come through, and remarkably he opened up the guestbook to a cyclist who had passed through in the summer of 2017, remarkable because the cyclist was our friend, Matt. We'd both met Matt in Mongolia in 2014, in fact I met him at about the same moment I'd met Dea, and we'd all lived together in Australia. You may remember him from my books, he's a short little bearded chap. He'd done his own bicycle trip around North America at the end of his world backpacking journey, and had passed this way. It was a massive coincidence that Coco had opened the book up to Matt, because there were four or five entries every single day from travellers who stopped for a drink or to stay the night.

With such a number of people passing through it occurred to me that meeting us was really nothing at all special for Coco, but he nevertheless asked us about our trip and seemed pleased to have us there. He told us he'd been here since 1986, living alone in the desert. With his tanned skin and neatly trimmed white beard it was difficult to put an age on him, he seemed simply to be ageless, a ghost of the Mexican desert. "I'm 81," he said suddenly, appearing to dispell the myth.
"Wow, you look good for 81!" we said in unison, because he really did.
"I'm 53!" 

Inside Coco's Corner. Dea resisted adding to the collection of donated underwear.
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Matt's journey, as described in Coco's guestbook.
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Coco seemed like a nice, if slightly odd fellow, although living alone in the desert will do that to you, I suppose. We wished him well and carried on our way, deciding to get the rest of the gravel road over with before the end of the day. This involved a bit of a steep climb, but we persevered and made it up to the plateau at the top, where lo and behold, tarmac returned beneath our wheels. We rolled off into the desert and made camp. These desert camps are really very special, and this one particularly so, because it was a clear night and we were able to watch the almost-full moon rise. It really was a magical moment, especially so I think because for once there were no drug-runners or gun-shooters in the vicinity.

Still enjoying the desert!
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Back on tarmac!
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Today's ride: 45 km (28 miles)
Total: 490 km (304 miles)

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