San Felipe, Baja California Norte – The Baja – today peninsula, tomorrow island?

From Punta Banda at the west coast we go via MEX 3 and 5 to San Felipe at the east coast of Baja California. The peninsula is 1300 km long, measures 193 km in the north at its widest between Tijuana and Mexicali, and 45 km at the narrowest spot in the south between La Paz and the Pacific Ocean. Lower California is part of the Pacific plate and drifts northward away from the mainland, that itself is part of the North American plate. Just 5 million years ago the gap has become big enough to open a strait and fill with water. In the beginning it was called Mar de Cortes (Sea of Cortez) in honour of the legendary Spanish conqueror. Since the Spanish doesn’t possess an unreserved good reputation in Mexico, the government renamed the stretch of water in the beginning of the 20th century to Golfo de California (Gulf of California). Still both names are commonly seen in maps. In the north the Colorado River flows into it, 669 km south the Gulf borders the Pacific right below the Tropic of Cancer. The Baja is 250 km far from the mainland at its most, but will be an island one day. It is covered with desert by 65 %, and altogether 23 mountain ranges rise up more than 3000 m above sea level.

We pass two military checkpoints, the second one at junction MEX 3 / 5 is very thorough and we have to wait for half an hour. The soldier is very interested in our flour can. Aren’t there drugs inside? He can sniff a line, if he wants. Thanks to the upcoming Easter holiday all hell has broken loose in San Felipe. We aren’t keen on another sleepless campground night and strike out to the lonesome desert in the south, where finally are no fences due to the lack of agricultural utilization.

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