Coco’s Corner, Baja California Norte – Pit stop with cold beer

The road from Puertecitos south to MEX 1 was infamous; so notorious that few stalwarts took the efforts to rumble along the catastrophic trail at a snail’s pace. Today the Mexican government works flat out on many road projects. The MEX 5 is paved now until few kilometres behind Campo Cinqo Islas. What comes after is exacting to tyres, suspension, and damping, as well as to the driver’s patience. There is some good sections in-between, but the 92 km altogether are very slow.

A break just comes in time, for example at Bahia San Luis Gonzaga. The extensive bay has a beach, some tiny settlements, a PEMEX gas station with gas but without diesel, and a minimart where you can get anything, especially beer, a restaurant, and a simple campground at the beach. There is a landing strip where the gringo owners of the rustic beach homes can fly in with their own propeller-driven planes. We keep on struggling along the track that’s used by the Baja 1000 rally as well. It takes part in November every other year, the last one in November 2010.

Like the race participants we make a pit stop at Coco’s Corner that’s even mentioned in most maps. The café became an institution, the owner a legend. Since Coco lost one leg in 1990 following an accident, he withdrew into the desert and offers since drained travellers cold beer, sodas, sometimes burritos, and a place to overnight. From a distance thousands of beer cans glitter and clatter, which Coco hanged up on the fences along his plot. A while ago his second leg had to be amputated as well, and just now he had an operation from which he is recovering in Ensenada. A friend takes care for the café who makes sure we sign the guestbook. But there are few entries from other globetrotters.

We grab a beer (The beer isn’t too strong, and Mexicans drink all the time while driving) and manage the last 12 km to MEX 1 that cross Parque Natural del Desierto Central. Besides thousands of Saguaro organ pipe cacti, Joshua trees, agave, mesquite, Cholla, the special elephant trees, and cirio grow, several metres high stalks that look like overgrown with facial hair. And there is no entrance fee at all.

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