Quite probably the single phrase/question I heard most during my 9 days in Baja, Mexico was “Choo hab steekers?” I’ve come to understand that stickers mean a lot to those people…the young children running around the streets barefooted to the geriatrics, leathery wrinkled skin and hunched over from probably a lifetime of hard work…work like the most of us would never understand. I’m pretty sure stickers represent status. If you’ve got stickers, and you give them stickers, you become a celebrity of sorts…if you didn’t have any (which I did forget to bring some with me while prerunning and the likes a few times), suddenly their expressions change from excitement to “choo hab monies por tacos?”
Mexico was a simple place. In fact, being in Valle De La Trinidad (Valley T) for the first few days of our trip took me back to when I was a kid. The way of life, growing up in a small town of less than 200 people…it was so very similar. Dirt roads. No real amenities to speak of. It almost had a lawless appeal to it.
We were in Valley T for the first 4 or 5 days (I’m not too sure which, as time or days really becomes of no importance) because Team Alamo had more of a mission than simply racing 3 teams in the Baja 500…they were there to help make a difference. El Oasis Orphanage. As you can see by the website, it reflects everything Mexico. It’s simple with no bells or whistles…and it’s unfinished and in a state of disarray.
El Oasis Orphanage is a small orphanage where abandoned children get to live and are taken care of. It’s a non-profit, private organization. The children are fed, clothed, housed and bussed to school. Something they would not otherwise have, as their parents have passed away, or are strung out on booze or drugs, or in jail…anywhere but with their family.
el oasis provided a safe and happy place for the kids.
Paul Alamo, owner of Team Alamo is practically a celebrity with the orphanage. For several years he’s been donating his time, his money, and goods to both the orphanage and the nearby school where the children go. This time around, he brought down new windows from Window Mart for a great deal for the school as many had been broken over the years, as well as all new bedding for the kids. I’m sure he did more, but he’s very humble and didn’t really let on to all he’d been doing. He spent many hours over the days with the kids, talking and playing with them, et cetera.
But he also came to race.
Three teams were entered. The 2x bike, 6x, and 10x. Being pretty new to the Baja racing scene myself, I had a hard time keeping track of everyone and everything going on. Tomas and myself hung out pretty much mostly with the “C” team; the 6x bike. The “A” and “B” team did a lot of their prerunning and the likes on their own time and schedule. The 2x bike was to make first dust out of the entire Baja 500 entries, and that was something to be excited about. In our core group, there were 6 prerunner bikes and one buggy. We put all of them to use.
I don’t really have it in me to write about the entire trip. It was filled with lots of ups and downs. It started with a 4am wheel-bearing blowout on the trailer while I was driving down i5 near San Diego on the way down. It ended with another wheel bearing blowout on the other side of the trailer while crossing from i5 to hwy 99 on the way home. There was lots in between. I’ll let pictures and captions do the talking now…in no particular order, of course…cause that’s too much work. :)
Oh, and btw, pretty much all these wide-angle fish-eye looking pics were taken with the GoPro HD camera. This camera freggin ROCKS! Way safer to shoot with these than carrying around several thousand dollars worth of SLR cameras through the slums of Encenada, Mexico. Haha!
One other thing…If you really feel like sifting through the 1400 or so photos Tomas and I took… check em out here: Full Gallery from the 2010 Baja 500
I guess margaritas are acceptable to drink at 9am
There are many ways to get a job done
We got much 4-love
The Cops Racing guys might have been the most popular people around as far as I could tell
With Viagra, anything is possible. Didn’t you know?
Friday was NUTS with tech inspection and contingency.
This flag HAD to have been the pride of Encenada…pictures don’t do it justice, but the thing HAD to have been about the size of a Futbol field.
“I’m on a boat, bitch!” Dry dock…or something
Beware of the other side of the road ;)
Paul, Tomas, and myself after some silt beds in the buggy
There were many tires to be changed
Setting up the GoPro HD cameras
Ever heard the expression “Silt Sucks”? :)
Our home for 1876 miles
Toe and I did some dirtbike riding while we were out there. We stopped for a pic on this Gabion Basket.
This is what it’s all about!
We saw lots of military checkpoints
They weren’t really messing around
Awesome! Water in the gas! :O
Devoid of pretty much anything out there
At mile marker 160… there was NOTHING around for who knows how many miles
Our guys and the prerunners….and me. :D
We got dirty
Next door to the school
There was much poverty
I’m sure some of these little guys at the school had to learn to grow up real fast
I was pretty shocked to see this inside a cupboard in one of the classrooms
The kids were stoked to sit in and play with the buggy
“Señor Tomas…choo has big muscles!”
Bryce Olsen was on the “B” team
The race bikes were pretty damned baller
I’m not even sure what mile marker this was
While dialing in the suspension and testing and the likes, “C” team Riley swaps HARD, nearly pitching it away at about 70mph
You can find the weirdest stuff in the darkest of corners in Mexico
See what I mean?
Another photographer at work
Lotsa these little Hondas around
Some locals. We saw them again the next day and I gave them a stickers. Everyone loves stickers.
Little kid romping around
Yeah, it’s pink.
Could it get any more diverse than that?
People running rampant it seemed
Handing out goodies!
Snacks! In a wheel barrow! haha!
Old homie throws me the peace sign when he seems I’m about to take his picture
Official Team Alamo shirts
This made me giggle…them little kids GAWKING
The Tecate Girls
And the crowds watching them shake their groove-thang
We ended up on the roof of the hotel somehow :D
And took this panoramic shot
Friday night, after all the fastivities, the streets were TRASHED with…well….trash.
This dude was drunk and passed out on the sidewalk
The tequila store! WHOOOOO!!!
Swimming in the pool at Hotel Bahia. That’s where we stayed for 4 or 5 nights.
On Saturday, raceday, they sent the bikes out 30 seconds apart at damned near oh-dark-thirty. 6am. It was still kinda dark outside! :(
Here’s Bryce on the 2x bike for Team Alamo.
And dude on the JCR Honda…the favorite to win and last year’s winner
Jose, the Team Alamo C team rider, coming off “la rampa” in the wash
10x. Team Alamo’s A team.
The crowd grew exponetially by the minute, it seemed.
No dwelling was safe from the tagging
Police with K9 units EVERYWHERE
These stickers were awesome!
Dude waiting for the trophy trucks to be released
Toe’s reaction after I sent him to “the danger zone”
Cause these dudes were getting unruly in the city streets of Encenada!
Toe’s life nearly ended at the Baja 500! hahaha!
These trucks were so bad ass. You’ll never know what I’m talking about until you visit the Baja 250/500/1000
And the buggies
Wherever you could find a seat…
…to watch these beasts
We even sacrificed a GoPro to get you some amazing footage…can you spot the GoPro?
Vendors selling bracelets
A woman and her baby
We came, we saw, we shot. Thanks for looking!