Go Back in Time for a Behind the Scenes Look: Perpetual Motion in Baja Norte

Words by Kyra Sacdalan
Photos by Nathan Slabaugh

Fact: Not one person throughout history enjoys sitting through a slideshow of someone else’s vacation. Which is essentially what “behind the scenes” parallels.

So instead of me boring you with a timeline of events, which you’ll soon be watching anyway, I’ve decided to take you on a journey… To the past. To indulge your curiosities and divulge the odd and interesting moments which couldn’t make it to the screen.

Someone once told me consuming alcohol can lead to something akin to time travel. So, two margaritas deep, I’ve been fueling this tequila-powered time machine for about an hour and a half, and the dial has been set to “stun.” I’m just one shot and a lime squeeze away from lift off. And guess what? A seat has been prepared just for you!

So, pour yourself a drink, or two, and step into a portal full of adventure, mischief and motorcycles. But reader beware. Bouncing around a nonspatial continuum, measured in terms of events, isn’t for the faint of heart (or a stiff resolve).

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The year is 2018 and we’ve landed in California, where the team from Perpetual Motion buzzes down the Interstate intent on crossing the border into Mexico. Exiting America was easier than everyone expected, but, as it always does, Tijuana tries to kill us. Google does its best to save us from hours of aimless wandering through the pile of waffle fries that are supposed to be TJ’s roadway system. I’m tailing Justin as he juts and jukes and honks his way through dense traffic. You can’t lane split, per se. But you also can’t not lane split. It’s the Wild West in Baja, and you just need to think on the fly – resolute about your decisions. We’re going to get through it. To quote JFK, “Let’s grab our balls and go.”

Justin was hoping to catch a wave or two on his inflatable surf mat before we’re obligated to look professional. But alas, the famous surf spot K-38 falls short. There might be a peak here and there, but it isn’t pretty enough to justify pulling on a wetsuit. It’s the name of the game. You spend so much time hunting for glassy water hills, to no avail, it can seem more like a safari than a surf trip.

Our next stop is Bottega Santini, a straight-from-the-barrel wine tasting room just off Old Mex 1. Our buddy Mauricio and owner of the establishment, Aldo Santini, welcome us with open arms and the tiniest hint of a slur. With us running a bit behind, they’ve had some time to… Loosen up. And our tardiness couldn’t break their spirits.

Mauricio had made the mistake some time ago of offering us a place to park our bikes and rest our heads the next time we went South. As we usually do (warning to you all), Justin and I took him up on his offer and practically put our lives into his hands. But the man, dubbed Mr. Ensenada, is undeterred. Showing us a good time is peanuts. He owns, let’s call it a ‘Creative Experiential Company,’ named Lost In Baja which curates, cultivates, facilitates and executes memorable moments for any type of traveler. We’re the independent, motorcycling, taco eating, mezcal sipping sort, so Mau has just the authentic Baja California adventure in mind.

What’s that noise? Why it’s the strained, desperate whisper from a parched pair of lips. Hold please, while I take a sip. This time-hopping hovercraft is growing thirsty, which can only mean we’re warping down the worm hole further into the future… It’s still low on fuel? Quick! Your help is needed. Refill those drinks. Crack open that can. And brace yourself for a crash landing in Ensenada.

Mau and Abi, his lovely biologist-turned-entrepreneur wife, show us around town. Oyster shooters, check. Killer craft brews, double check. Jazz flute. Wait, what?

We sit for a solid hour through ‘Improve Night’ at a restaurant perched on the coastal city’s central promenade. Eyes darting around the room, the group of us is wondering if we’re the only unrefined individuals who can’t understand freestyle fluting (flouting?). The young man is giving that instrument his all. Blowing and spitting, humming and zooting. I can barely hold the giggles behind my teeth. What can I say? I’m uncivilized. A monkey in comparison to the crowd. To my relief, Abi, with her eyes wide, attempts to discretely whisper at us in her charming Mexican accent, “What. Is. This?” I can’t help but chuckle.

We close the night at Taqueria El Flamazo to complete our daily dose of Vitamin T: tequila, tortas and tacos. The former, we took care of at Hussong’s. And the latter two we devour, hands dripping with oil and minty green celery sauce, standing next to the indoor-outdoor counter of our new favorite taco stop.

WHOOOSH! (makes time machines noises)

Suddenly, we’re flung a few days into the future to a dimly-lit cantina in the truck stop town of Catavina, something akin to Mos Eisley, where the drinks are strong, the beats bangin’ (they cut Justin loose on the jukebox), but instead of the occasional outbreak of violence (this isn’t Star Wars after all), there are outbursts of laughter. Here, everyone is a traveler. And the stories which unfold are no short of fascinating.

Volker, a grey haired (though I wouldn’t say old) German fellow accompanied by his lovely lady Annette chat with us over Cadillac Margaritas about adventures, and just generally going for it. Volker recants his first true motorcycle trip. No one told him riding from Munich across Russia would be difficult. Let alone while the Berlin Wall still stood. On a little Kawasaki Ninja no less! But it didn’t faze him. If anything, it’s sparked the hundreds of thousands of miles he’s ridden on that Kawasaki and several BMWs – to include his current chariot. The lesson here? When you think you can’t do a thing, because you don’t have the right thing, you’re wrong. What you have is “right” enough.

Still with me? If so, wave goodbye to the bedrock and the cacti as we settle on the gravel parking lot of Daggett’s Campground a couple days into the future.

This redefines the term “land yacht.” An old pickup truck drags a 30 foot Panga (see: fishing boat) with all of us onboard. Rumbling down an uneven road to the single boat launch in town, we let the wind terrorize any freed wisps of hair. The mood is light, excited in fact, and we haven’t even hit the water yet. And when we do, it doesn’t take long for the only inhabited shoreline to disappear from sight. Islands sit quietly in the sea like breaching whales while we buzz between them.

The air is cool. We make a few stops on some of these isolated beaches and wander up rocky hillsides or find ourselves among mangroves. During the few hours on our way back to the Bay of LA, we come across a pod of dolphins. Our captain slows the ship to a putter.  They zig-zag below the bow and glide so close I ineffectively try to touch them with my fingertips.

For the Perpetual Motion crew, Bahia de Los Angeles is the end of the journey. And too, marks the end of ours. But before I drop you off at your living room, office, a hip café or bus stop, I want to leave you with this: embrace discomfort, take chances, and never get into a vehicle with a stranger. Especially one who’s been drinking. Even if it’s a time machine. Adieux.

Watch the first full episode from Perpetual Motion: Baja Norte

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