Another Coldest Night Ever

Our plans had changed of necessity, dictated by the weather.

The light rain was turning into a torrent. We stopped at a nondescript roadside café to warm up.

We dismounted and with futile efficiency pulled some green plastic garbage bags over our now not-so-new leather seats and retreated into shelter.

That’s really all it was; unheated and basic, but out of the rain.

A fellow traveller told us he’d been down through Baja every winter around this time for the last 15 years and he’d never seen it so wet and so green.

We ourselves had been marvelling all morning over the green, rather than tan, tinge to the landscape. After four days of rain, the landscape, the bushes, the boojum cacti, even the desert itself, was a soft kelly green.

Warmed up, but still damp, we took off again as the rain slowed to a kind of heavy falling mist. There were still many miles to go.

When we finally arrived at our destination, the town of Vincente Guerrero, on the northwestern coast, we were very wet and very cold.

The area is not a tourist area. It is a string of worker towns bordered by fields that provide the western half of America with fresh produce, year round.

With the days of rain, the red mud seemed to have migrated from the fields and deposited itself as a thin film over everything in the area – the cars, the buildings, even the people. It was like driving through a sepia monochrome photograph.

We’d pushed hard all afternoon without stopping and were dead tired by the time we arrived at dusk at our hotel.

It was pretty grim, even the low light of the two 40-watt light bulbs in the room couldn’t hide that. It was also the cheapest hotel we’d found yet at $20 U.S., and it did not strive to pretend otherwise. The room was cinder block with neither heat, nor hot water and a television that blasted three Spanish-only channels, heavy on the commercials.

Normally at this point we would strip down, hang our wet ones to dry overnight and put on dry ones to warm up. There was no way anything was going to dry here; and besides, we were already wearing most of the clothes. The only heat in the room was our bodies.

We decided to sleep in our wet clothes in the hope that our body heat would dry them out.

We did not get any sleep. By morning, we were dry “enough” to get back on the road.

Under three blankets (two of them were ours), hugging tightly, we spent the whole night shivering and laughing and telling stories about the coldest nights we’d ever spent. We knew this was one to add to the list.

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