The gritty wind came in waves. Whipping from my left to my right, it sniped sand and dirt and debris across the highway and into my mouth, my nose, and my ears. Visibility dropped to 100 feet or less at times. Trucks and buses emerged from the coarse mist like phantoms.
It was impossible to hold a line on the road; sudden, angry bursts of gusty force required quick compensation as I steered my bike down the highway. On multiple occasions I was blown off the pavement and into the roadside ditch.
None of this was a surprise. Baja California's geography and topography - a narrow, mountainous strip of land between two big bodies of water - suggests that wind turbulence is the norm. Still, riding against such an invisible adversary is never easy. But I absolutely loved it.
Not all of Baja California was as tough as that windy day. I encountered some of the kindest people on the road between Tecate and La Paz. We were invited into homes, slept on kitchen floors, camped in driveways and "backyards," and were treated to more friendly shouts of encouragement from cars and passersby than anywhere else we've been thus far. Language barrier be damned - everyone was amazing.
And the food! Oh man, the food. Baja California is known for its tacos - especially its fish tacos. My first night in Mexico set the gastronomical tone for the rest of my time on the peninsula: I ate 5 tacos from a streetside vendor in Tecate. Each of them cost less than $1 (13 pesos). If you haven't seen it yet, check out my TacoTumblr, where I document and rate each and every taco I've eaten in Mexico so far. I've sampled tacos and quesadillas with breaded whitefish, marlin, carne asada, chorizo, huitlacoche (a fungus commonly known as "corn smut" - how naughty!), machaca de res (beef), machaca de burro (donkey!), shrimp, carnitas, al pastor, and good ol' rice and beans. I haven't had a bad meal yet.
But probably the most memorable aspect of Baja Norte and Baja Sur was the landscape itself. The peninsula is mountainous but not overwhelmingly so. The horizon will always remind you that the next climb isn't far off, even if you're riding through 4 days of dusty desert. Baja's got some of the most fantastic beaches, too. Some of them have been completely blown up into candycoated tourist havens (Cabo San Lucas and to a lesser extent, La Paz), while others remain resort-free and pleasantly inaccessible.