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La Purisima

"The Devil's Road" Main Expedition, Day 29

La Purisima to San Juanico

We broke camp as soon as possible for fear of being eaten alive by bugs. Our mission for the day was to attempt to find the "intake" for the aqueduct that runs through both towns (San Isidro and La Purisima) and for a length of maybe 8 miles. This canal de agua is still very much in use today and was built by the missionaries. It is also some very impressive engineering for the time.

After several dead end roads, we were able to find the head of the aqueduct. A dam had been constructed across the entire river and at one side water is diverted into the flume. It appears that an old dam, just upstream several hundred feet, might have been the previous intake point for the canal.

Aqueduct in La Purisima, built by missionaries.

Aqueduct in La Purisima, built by missionaries.

The rio, as we were told, flows all year and keeps the town's crops of corn, nopale, citrus, mango, date palms, and others growing well. This area, although quite fertile, is very slow and tranquil. A few farmers were seen tending to their crops, but most were left to fend for themselves and keep the weeds at bay.

JT and I ended up at the only restaurant in La Purisima and soon found ourselves entertained by four young Mexican boys. They all wanted stickers and were in awe of us and our motorcycles. Then a group of 5 dirt bikers came in and we watched the four boys turn their attention on them. JT took advantage of the situation and asked the boys for an interview. The two youngest stayed quiet and mostly hid, but the other two stole the show. We very much enjoyed our time with them and I think they enjoyed the tricks I could do with their soccer ball, spinning it on my finger, balancing it on my head, and the variety of soccer moves like flipping it up in the air and catching it behind my head. This old guy still had it!

We were told that the old woman that owned the restaurant and the property had lived there her entire life and her family is well embedded with the town and its history. When we inquired about a possible interview, the young man running the restaurant assured us that she would be delighted. He suggested that we wait and it may be an hour or so. Then it turned into two hours more. We were pushing the daylight limitation and had an hour and a half drive to our next stop. So, we passed on that interview reluctantly and headed for San Juanico (Scorpion Bay).

"The Devil's Road" Main Expedition, Day 28

Loreto to San Isidro

Abel was the most gracious host and honored us by agreeing to sit down for an interview. He has a very interesting life and was willing to share it with us. If anyone is thinking of spending some time in Loreto and needs a comfortable, safe, and inviting place to stay, I suggest Hostel Casas Loreto.

Our next stop was the towns of San Isidro and La Purisima in the middle of the peninsula. Both are touted to be beautiful and interesting oasis towns. The dirt road to San Isidro leaves Mexico Highway 1 at 59 kilometers north of Loreto. At first it is an easy and well-graded gravel road. Several miles later it gets worse. And several miles after that, it gets even worse (if a road could get that bad). We were maybe ten miles into the trek and had been following several motorcycle tracks nearly the entire way. As we came over a rise, staring down a boulder strewn "road" as it crossed the wash of an arroyo, we came to two motorcyclists slowly working their way out of the rocky wash.

Both guys were riding large BMW bikes and the front rider was clearly struggling. As I approached them, I asked if he needed a hand. His face was set in complete focus and had pain written all over it. Apparently, while attempting to navigate the rough roads ahead, he crashed his bike. With several broken ribs, this guy was slowly and painfully getting his bike out of this area and back on tarmac. He was tough and JT and I took a moment to reflect on our situation and the road ahead.

That 60-kilometer road was very difficult in spots, smooth in others, and everything else in between. The KLR 650s did a great job and we crested the lip of the canyon overlooking the Rio La Purisima. Water was flowing, palm trees were swaying, and crops were green and thriving. Another oasis town surrounded by dry desert and high canyon walls. Beautiful.

Typically when we arrive in a new place and will be staying for a while to film, we’ll ride through and get a good feel for what is there and what we might want to capture. We were an hour or so away from "the magic hour" so we set to find a good camp spot. We found a perfect site on a bluff overlooking the river on the other side of town.

JT set off with the camera to film and I was left behind to set up camp. Soon I realized that our ideal camp spot was not so ideal. We were harassed by just about every bug that flies. Swarms of bugs. So many you could barely see. Our only saving grace, we thought, was that nightfall was upon us and maybe they would dissipate.

The bugs stopped harassing us once the sun went down, but the minute the headlamp or flashlight was turned on, we were swarmed again. Thousands of bugs showed up almost instantly. It drove us crazy!