This is a follow up to my last post on preparing to take a ride into Baja Mexico. These are some quick tips that will help you get around and find your way throughout the penninsula and beyond.
1. Be friendly. Locals want to help, they'll do what they can to get you on your way. Few people are as kind as the people you'll meet in Latin American countries, so be lighthearted and they'll most likely return the favor.
2. Be prepared to communicate. Have a small Spanish-English dictionary. Some basic phrases:
I need gas / oil / food / water / a mechanic / a new inner tube / you to help me / medical help
Necesito gasolina / aceite / comida / agua / un mecanico / un tubo nuevo / me ayudas / atencion medica
Please: Por favor
I would like: Quiero
How much? : Cuanta cuesta?
I would like a room for the night, how much? : Quiero un habitacion para la noche, cuanta cuesta?
Numbers: Look them up in your dictionary
3. Be resourceful. Often times things don't go as planned in Mexico. A gas station is often a guy with gas cans on the side of the road. Mechanics are often a guy working in his side yard. Be ready to ask around for necessities
4. Have a SPOT Tracker. It will be there when you really need it.
5. Carry your passport at all times. If you are ever in need of medical attention and must be flown out of the country, your passport must be on you. If it is not, they WILL NOT fly you across the border. When race accidents occur, serious injuries are generally flown to UCSD hospital in La Jolla, San Diego. The ICU there is top notch. If you want access, carry your passport.
6. Do not draw attention. True for Mexico as much as it is anywhere you travel. Do as the locals do. Don't break the rules, don't flaunt your money, don't pull attention. Act like you know what you're doing even if you're lost. Don't look like prey.
7. Don't leave your things unattended. In all my years traveling I have never been victim of violent crime, but if something is sitting around and a thief wants it, you can bet they'll take it. They may not be willing to hurt you for it, but they might not see any repercussions to the 5 finger discount.
8. Give yourself a buffer. When it comes to any consumables: Gas, water, food, money…always keep a buffer, avoid cutting it close.
9. Be cautious, ride conservatively. If you're racing the Baja 1000 you have all types of support provided. A hundred people know where you are at any one moment and helicopters are standing by to come pull you out in a pinch. If you're just down cruising Baja on any given weekend, don't act like you have all the same resources as you would as a racer. Take it easy, enjoy the ride and environment. Don't wreck your bike and yourself showing off to the cacti.
10. Don't go stag. It might sound like fun, but unless you're a seasoned rider with excellent spanish communicative skills, mechanical knowledge and resourcefulness, avoid the desolate deserts of Baja alone. A riding partner is the difference between something as simple as running out of gas being an inconvenience and a catastrophe.
That's it for my tips. In my next post I'll delve into my Baja trips, and maybe pass on some ideas for your own. Until then.