I forgot to tell you about the swaying motion of the Boler. Yes, the Boler bounced up and down too much because of the weight of the trail bike on the back, but even after mounting the bike on the front of the truck, the Boler still had a tendency to sway back and forth. This wobble usually started after hitting a pothole, or overcorrecting on one of Baja’s many curvas peligrosas – those tight, tight, dangerous curves.
I monitored the passenger side mirror constantly, announcing the beginnings of the whiplashing motion in hopes that Gary could correct the sway before it got too wild. But if I thought we had troubles, they were nothing compared to one of the transport trucks we followed for many a mile before daring to pass it.
This truck carried a load of what looked like agricultural packing boxes, stacked extremely high—way beyond the height of the sides of its trailer. It caught a lot of wind and the load had shifted some time ago, so the truck had to travel slowly. That may have been a blessing in disguise, since its back wheels were way over to the right of its front wheels. The whole frame seemed to be askew. In order for the rear wheels to be on the pavement, the driver had to put the front wheels of his tractor well over the center line, into the oncoming lane. From time to time we saw the right rear wheel leave the pavement and wondered if it was just a matter of time before the whole load tipped over. Since we had no opportunity to pass him as long as he used both lanes, we kept well back.
After many miles of watching this poor fellow dogleg along Mex 1, we came to one of the few Pemex stations along the way. The rig pulled in to the station and rolled into a wide gravel area. The driver wiped his brow as he got out to inspect his precarious load, while we did the fastest fuel up in history and got back on the road before he resumed his trip.
At San Ignacio, we stayed a couple of nights in an RV park right on the lagoon that makes this small town special. It’s an oasis of lush greenery in the middle of the desert. Gary and I put our skiff in the slow moving river and enjoyed the birdlife on the river and its banks while our fellow travellers took advantage of the water to rinse out a few bits of laundry with a minimum of soap.
The next day we walked into town to see the old Jesuit mission built in 1728, still a beautiful structure after all those years.
When we continued the last leg of our trip to our camp south of Mulegé, we first had to negotiate the famous Sta. Rosalía hill. This part of the highway made such an impression on me that I decided to use it in my novel, Orion’s Gift. Although my characters, Kevin and Sylvia, don’t have a truck with a Boler swaying side to side as they traverse this mountainous stretch of road, Sylvia, driving her new VW van found it terrifying enough. Kevin is behind her in his truck and camper. Here is a small excerpt from Orion’s Gift from Sylvia’s point of view. She has a Mexican doll named Annie hanging from the curtain behind her seat and sometimes talks to Annie to bolster her courage.
From Orion’s Gift:
I felt the van slowing down as the elevation rose. I was climbing a long hill, sometimes winding around small hills, sometimes straight, but constantly climbing.
“Pretty gutless for a new van,” I muttered to myself.
On one of the long straight stretches, was a huge propane-filling plant. I was glad to get past it. Places like that always made me nervous. I had visions of someone tossing a cigarette butt and blowing the whole thing sky high. I concentrated more on the road now, as it twisted in and out, clinging to the edge of the mountainside. At one point I had a fantastic view of the Sea of Cortez, and ahead of me lay the town of Santa Rosalía. The same hill I had just come up, had to be driven down, and it seemed to me that I would be down the hill in a very short time, judging by the steep grade of the road.
“Holy smokes, Annie!” I squealed. “If I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, I’d be hanging on to the steering wheel to stop myself from falling into my own windshield.
“O-h-h-h-h-h!” I wailed. The narrow road was etched out of the mountainside, twisting and winding along the steep grade. I was pointing downhill at a frightening angle and yet I was having to make sharp turns. I could smell the burning brakes of motorhomes ahead of me. I was glad my lane was on the mountain side of the road. No guard rails! Crumbling shoulders! Oh, my God! And tight curves! The crowning touch was when I stupidly looked to see how far down it was. There, far, far below me, was the burnt out wreck of a transport truck. I almost started to cry from fear. I glanced in the mirror and saw Kevin right behind me, his face pale and tense. Still, he gave me a thumbs-up. Thank God he was there even if only for moral support.
A few minutes later, I had survived the Santa Rosalía hill. I coasted the last mile or so into town and pulled into the Pemex station to refuel.
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