04: The Road to La Paz – Day Two (Coco’s Corner)
If You missed the first post, you can READ PART 1 HERE…
The next morning we slept in until about eight and I was wound tight from the moment I opened my eyes.
A couple nights prior Paddy was reading some articles or blogs from the internet about driving ‘The 5’ and specifically about the part we were about to drive that day. This part of ‘The 5’ is unfinished – from the description, this was a dirt road in the middle of nowhere with many opportunities to get lost and no gas stations for hundreds of kilometers. When I agreed to drive down to La Paz this wasn’t anything he mentioned and it’s possible he didn’t really know about it but I would have raised a big stink or refused to drive down had he told me about it so maybe he strategically waited until I couldn’t easily get out of it?
We ate some breakfast so I wouldn’t get hangry like the day before and we departed around nine. I only note the time because one of the things we read over and over again about driving down the Baja – the only really consistent words of advice had been, ‘DO NOT DRIVE AT NIGHT.’ The goal was to reach a town called Loreto (where Paddy had sweetly paid for a very nice hotel with a spa) before nightfall. Google said it would take 8 hours to make the drive but it was also showing 650 kilometers so Paddy figured it should only take 6-7 hours which would put us into Loreto at 3:00 or 4:00 in plenty of time.
It was pavement for 15-20 minutes and then the detour started….holy shit. This seemed to me like a full-blown 4×4 trail. There were giant rocks and sharp rocks and holes and washboard and steep bits and lots of tires all along the side of the road … the ride was really bumpy and our bike rack attached to the back kept scraping. This was making Paddy unusually angry and I think nervous. We were in our Land Rover LR3 that we had had some work done to before we left and none of the work was meeting Paddy’s expectations. The LR3 usually had a wonderfully smooth ride but not anymore.
Also, there were MANY forks in the road – not marked well, maybe some arrows pointing on a barricade or a rock. Sometimes the cones and barricades had been moved as you could get your car through and this was typically followed by roads that seemed much smoother than the sharp rock and boulder fields we were driving on. Oftentimes though there were no signs, markers, or indicators – just a T or fork in the road. It reminded us both of the West Desert in Utah where we had been lost many times (Paddy will deny we were lost in the West Desert but we were lost).
After a couple of mysterious Ts in the road, I got the phone out. Mine had no signal and wouldn’t do anything but the GPS looked like its working on Pat’s phone. We made a turn and I made sure the little blue dot which represented our car remained on or close to the “interstate” line on the map. Another T in the road and, based on our direction and the dot, we turned and I could see we were very close to reaching ‘The One’ – interstate one which is the road that goes down the Baja peninsula from the Tijuana side – all paved and well-traveled. We were excited because we’d only been driving about 45 minutes on the shitty road and it looked like we’re getting close.
Meanwhile, my breakfast was not sitting well. The delicious red sauce from my breakfast of Juevos Rancheros which I can only assume was a delectable combo of nightshades (peppers and tomatoes – which I’m mildly allergic to) had been riding primarily in my throat due to both the turbulence of the car motion and the stress. The stress was worry – worry we’d blow a tire – get stranded – get lost – roll the car – etc. worry, worry, worry. In an effort to distract myself and make light of the situation I had started counting the number of tires on the side of the dirt road. “Fifty one!” I’d say joyfully while also nicknaming the road: The Tire Slayer.
“I get it! There are lots of popped tires! I’m just trying to get us off this road before we pop one of our own tires and you counting the tires and calling the road The Tire Slayer isn’t helping!” Paddy snapped at me. Paddy was irritated and defensive. It had nothing to do with me but I still bristled. I was trying to make light of the whole thing and he was deep in a rut of anger because the car wasn’t driving well, they hadn’t fixed it the way he had told them, the road was shitty and not well marked, and I’m sure he was also worried about our welfare. Normally this would call for a time-out for me to gain perspective and let it go but in the car there is no walking away to cool off and I couldn’t even get in the backseat because the car was so full. So for the next fifteen minutes I had to sit next to angry Paddy, I myself smoldering a bit in a 4’x4’ space. I tried to put on our Learning Spanish CDs but Paddy said he couldn’t concentrate so I turned those off too. We rode not speaking, jutting and bouncing around on this very rocky bit of road which had more blown tires than the entire rest of the ride thus far. Gulp.
Thankfully we arrived at a place called Coco’s Corner. Paddy had read about this place but he was expecting it to be at the beginning of the dirt road, not at the end. Never-the-less it was a welcome sign back to civilization.
Coco was one of my favorite parts of Mexico. He is a man with no legs who lives in a shack on the side of the road and he sells water and beer to travelers. The outside fences are made with beer cans tied all around and a sign that says Coco’s Corner above a large dirt parking lot. It’s colorful and charming.
As soon as you get close to the shack you can see panties decorating the outside – all shapes and sizes with notes to Coco. There is a ramp in the corner but a sign leading you to the doorway on the side. It was early, like 10AM-ish but Paddy felt like it was beer-thirty after the stress of the unfinished interstate from hell. So we went around to the side and started yelling ‘Hola?!?’
A gruff but happy voice called out ‘Hola!’ and so we wandered into the shack.
In the shack directly to the right was a bed…it looked a little like an old hospital bed that you could maybe adjust manually to sit up etc. There was a large round table with a few chairs. Panties and bras hung everywhere. They adorned the walls, the ceiling, as well as some pictures of Coco with different people. Next to the bed along the wall was a small dresser.
And out came – well, out wheeled Coco. A bald man with a round face sitting in his wheel chair – his little leg stubs pointing straight out at us. He greeted us and started speaking Spanish – I think he said something like what can I get you and he rolled himself into a hallway where he disappeared and then reappeared in a window on the left wall with a small counter. We ordered two Pacificos and he asked where we were headed. I told him in my broken Spanish we were headed to La Paz for a few months. He said in they don’t want gringos in La Paz and smiled an adorable, childlike smile and I told him – we know!
We sipped our beers and wandered to each wall of the shack admiring all of the undergarments hanging about. He wheeled back out to his bedroom/dining room/café/ entertaining area and I told him I liked the décor and then asked him how to say panties in Spanish which he told me, I repeated, and immediately forgot again. He then asked if I would also like to donate my panties and I told him I couldn’t.
“Why not?” he asked. I blushed and told him I couldn’t donate any because I wasn’t wearing any….
He again smiled widely and rolled over to the dresser against the wall. He opened one of the drawers and took out a handful of panties and dropped them in a pile on the table. He said I could have one of these pairs – he had lots and we both giggled. He held up the first pair of panties. They were white giant granny panties which as he held them up seemed to extend a foot beyond his head in all directions. Then he held them near his face – took a deep breath in his nose as his eyes rolled back, his head tilted back, and again his adorable smile spread across his face. Then he dropped that pair and picked up another pair. These panties were the arch nemesis panties of the previous pair – a tiny red thong and he repeated the smelling and the ecstasy face. Then he looked at me and said, “I sleep very well. It smells so good here where I’m surrounded by all of these wonderful panties.” Did I mention Coco is 81-years-old? I laughed while he sniffed a couple more pairs. Then he held a pair out for me to take. I said no thanks with a large smile fueled by my giggling.
He laughed with me and then motioned to the bras hanging on the far wall. “Would you like to leave your bra?”
“I don’t have one of those either. I don’t like them.”
“You’re not wearing a bra?” he asked.
“Nope!” I said as I lifted my shirt to prove it. We tipped him some cash but if anyone was going to appreciate my 40-something-year-old boobs, it would be this guy. What the hell!
His bright smile appeared again! I pulled my shirt back down and giggled as Paddy walked back into the shack. I hadn’t even noticed he left because Coco had been entertaining me. I told Paddy I had just flashed Coco my tits and Paddy laughed and gave Coco the thumbs up. I went to tell Coco goodbye and he grabbed both my hands gently – looked into my eyes and thanked me with sincerity that made me blush again.
When we got back into the car I looked at the Google map and said to Paddy, “That’s weird, the map is showing us further from ‘The One’ than when we made that turn… this thing must not be working.”
We drove another 30 minutes or so … I didn’t count anymore tires but we were still scraping and bouncing and Paddy was mumbling profanities. And every time I would say anything about the road or the drive, Paddy would get irritated and defensive. So I put on some music which shifted the mood a bit.
By the time we reached the pavement the relief was thick in the air. We were both done being on the shit, shitty, shit road. Finally, a smooth ride – a nice wide newly paved road and the ocean… we could see the ocean.
But ‘the One’ is in the middle of the Baja I thought, how could we see the ocean? What the fuck?
“Oh my God,” Paddy said. “We’re exactly where we started.”
HE SAID: Spoiler alert! Sam has two parts for day two. You have to read her entire side of the story before you get to mine. It’s just the way it is.