Six Days in Baja (Dec '13)
By Eric Hall
This is a trip we have been doing every year for a few years now. This year it was: Me, Rich, Mike, Mark, Erik, Tomek. Along the way, we joined up with Dave Coe, his girlfriend Mel and Steven Green. I decided to bring my good camera along this time but I'm nowhere as good as Steven Green.
We normally meet at the Denny's in La Mesa but this year Franco invited us over to his home nearby for a hot Italian breakfast and espresso. Stefano, a professional chef, helped prepare our meal and was joined by Bruno, Eric and Sam. They escorted us via some scenic twisty back roads to Tecate where they said goodbye and wished us luck.
Mark on his sweet HP2
Mike on the BMW F800 GS
Erik on his GSA
And Tomek on his GS
Chris Parker of Rottweiler Performance and his crew of 950/990 riders happened to be on the same track as us, so we leapfrogged each other a few times and then eventually met up at the gas station and then lunch. Great bunch of guys.
Mark at the water crossing
Lunch in VDT
Mike was already tired. I could tell.
Mark Stickelmaier. Mark has a lot of years on a bike down in Baja and was very valuable to have with us. I learned a lot of great stuff. He and some others are starting a new expedition and training group called "Black Swan" that I look forward to hearing more about.
Rich laughing at something
By Eric Hall
I thought those who enjoy riding Baja and greater Mexico would find this interesting...
The Seri Indians Of Tiburon Island By Greg Niemann
In 1905 Professor Thomas Grindell and a party of three others never returned from a gold-seeking expedition to Tiburon Island in the upper reaches of the Sea of Cortez and the nearby coast of Sonora, Mexico. They had ventured to the heart of Seri Indian country, a small tribe characterized as “savages,” “beasts,” “animals” and even cannibals by outside visitors for many years.
Grindell’s brother Edward searched in vain for the party and his search adventure was published in 1907 in The Wide World Magazine. According to the story, “It is well known that the Seri are treacherous, and because of their crude manner of living and their fondness for raw food, they are believed to be cannibals.”
The Seri were wild nomadic Indians whose culture clashed with the European superiority. They were never agricultural, switching from a sustenance existence to hand-crafting tourist products, most singularly those heavy ironwood sculptures.
It is not surprising that the Seri attacked and killed domestic horses, burro and cattle brought to the area by their victors. They craved the flesh, particularly of horse and burro, and loved fat from the animals and the marrow from the bones. These practices helped establish the cannibal legend.
In the 1820s explorer Lt. Robert William Hale Hardy of the British Royal Navy made numerous trips to Tiburon Island. While he found no gold nor pearls on his trips, he did encounter the fierce Seri. “These people have always been considered extremely ferocious;” Hardy wrote, “and there is little doubt, from their brave and warlike character, that they may formerly have devastated a great part of the country...”
Hardy went on to explain how the Seri had developed a method of poisoning their arrows. Hardy, who brought gifts and provided medical assistance to the Indians, was so well received he was given free rein on the island. He even allowed a young woman to paint his face like the warlike Seri. He also was able to return in one piece.
The legend of the Seri continued. By the 1890s the Mexican-Seri relationship had deteriorated badly. The Seri had been not only ravaged by disease but methodically exterminated and only about 200 remained from a group that may have been as high as 5,000. The Seri survived by killing and eating the Mexican cattle and horses that had come into their homeland.
At least four outsiders before the Grindell party disappeared in Seri country and all were attributed to being murdered by the Indians. In 1894 a Mr. Robinson went to Tiburon to search for gold and never returned. Then in 1895, U.S. anthropologist William John McGee from the Smithsonian Institute who was studying the Papago Indians nearby had learned of the warlike Seri, a better and more aboriginal subject. He built a small boat about the size and shape of a coffin and headed for Tiburon at low tide. He noted a lot of horse bones and teeth in their campfire ashes, but never mentioned anything resembling human bones. He and his party too returned.
Grindell in his 1907 article perpetuates the cannibal myth and even “explains” how he feels they did it. He mentions an incident where his search party had come across a camp site where they found a “dance ring” surrounded a stake upon which were impaled only the hands of a white man, fastened by leather straps from a camera case.
In his explanation, Grindell theorizes, “The savages, I should explain, tie their wretched victim to this plank and as they dance, first one and then another will cut a piece of his flesh off....and it was into the hands of these human fiends that I feared the explorers had fallen.”
The hands, it was noted from carved initials on the leather and other objects, belonged not to Grindell’s brother and his party, but to two miners from Los Angeles, Miller and Olander, who were certainly murdered by the Seri. It appears, however, that most of the earlier Grindell party died of thirst in the desert.
The savage cutting off of the hands and the constant hunting of meat from cattle and horses does not automatically make them cannibals. The Seri shied away from certain types of food, for example not touching coyote, hawks and snakes. They loved seafood and pelicans, but would not eat shark (tiburon).
Perhaps the most thorough study of the Seri was done by adventurer/ writer and naturalist Charles Sheldon in 1921-1922. Sheldon’s considerable hunting skills were admired by the Seri and he was invited to Tiburon. He spent time with them and documented their lifestyles as the trained biologist he was.
Sheldon wrote: “The Seri are fierce and treacherous but if one approaches them in the right way, a person with tact and previous experience with such people can get along with them. The Seri have been known to commit theft and murder, and I would not care to have landed on Tiburon Island a complete stranger to them. They are well aware that strangers fear to come on the island for, at different times, three of the men asked me if I was not afraid of them.”
Yet, Sheldon concluded that even as treacherous and murderous as the Seri could be, “From all I could learn, they have never been cannibals.” Throughout Baja California and in Sonora on the mainland visitors can find those heavy ironwood sculptures. Up until the recent coarse copies that have flooded the market, they have all been the beautiful handiwork of a proud and ferocious people. We know they were mean and tough, but we don’t know for sure if they were really cannibals.
By Eric Hall
If you check the XLADV site calendar you'll see I have a trip scheduled for 12/26-31 to Baja Norte. Intermediate and above only; prior Baja experience preferred. $20 fee to me because I'm poor right now. You can do a similar two day trip w/BMW of Escondido for around $400 I budget around $70/day for food, gas, hotel and beer. Must have Mexican insurance printed and with you prior to departure. I use Bajabound.com. Must have passport, bike in good working condition, fresh knobbies, tools, spares, patches, pumps, etc... Because it's so cheap, we aren't camping so don't pack any of that unless you're camping on your own. I bring a few pairs of socks, shirts, underwear, flip flops and shorts, toiletries and that's it. NO hard panniers.
At this point we have:
Me Rich Mike Mark Erik Tomek Plan is:
Day 1: San Felipe (Kiki's) Day 2: Bahia de Los Angeles (Costa del Sol) Day 3: Catavina (Hotel Mision) Day 4: El Rosario (Hotel Baja Cactus) Day 5: Erendira (Coyote Cal's) Tracks attached (may change)
By Eric Hall
Eric L and I spent a few days south of the border. Great time. Great food. A little unexpected bike trouble, but it all worked out great.
Day 1 saw us leaving Orange County headed south around 6:30 am. We stopped in Chula Vista to top off on gas and so I could go to a Kinko's and print my Mexican insurance docs and sign a few online documents.
We went through Tijuana, which I usually never do, or only in the daytime. We took the toll road south to Ensenada and ran across this group of riders on the new CSC Chinese adventure bikes headed down.
Lunch in Ensenada was awesome.
Eric on his phone
We hit the dirt at Santo Tomas and made our way down to Erendira. That road is quite easy. Very big bike friendly!
Got to Coyote Cal's quite early, maybe 1:30. We clearly didn't do enough riding! We ended up just relaxing, had a cigar, few happy hour drinks and then a great dinner of fried ling cod.
By Eric Hall
Andreas (Edelweys) and I are headed to Baja tomorrow for a few days of some more authentic Baja destinations most people never see. We got some good intel from Scotty Breauxman (Baja Rally) and Christian Parker (Rottweiler Performance).
It's getting warmer so we are sticking to the Pacific side where the cooler water keeps the temps down a bit.
Our plan is to slab it to Ensenada for lunch then pick up these dirt trails out to the coast near Santo Tomas and then down to Coyote Cal's for the night.
Day 2 will be further south along the coast to check out some beach riding, sea caves, shipwreck then staying at El Coyote.
Day 3 will be more beach riding with a stop at our southernmost point, La Lobera.