Somewhere in the middle of nowhere…(and I’m from South Dakota, so I think I’m a pretty good judge of what the middle of nowhere is…)…lives an old Mexicano the locals call Coco. He has lived along the edge of a rough road for nearly 25 years. He has collected photos, memorabilia and signed undies and bras from all kinds of people who cross his corner of the world.
Coco is one of a kind, a true original. He speaks good English, has an endless collection of stories, must have thousands of friends, loves this land…and is a legend in Baja. People come from all over he world to come to Coco’s. And lucky me, after a couple dozen rocky, sandy, gravelly, slippery and stressful miles, so have I.
I didn’t stop at any of the bad, technical or scary-for-me places for a pic, so this photo of the gravel stretch won’t really do it justice. After getting through 25 miles of this mess from Gonzaga to Coco’s it’s getting late and the sun will be setting in an hour. So we have a cold beer – Coco has the coldest beer around. Coco invites us to stay at his place and even offers us dinner. He invites me into his home in an old camper and let’s me use his dishes, water, food and kitchen. He embodies the saying “mi casa es su casa”. He is amazing, this man of 70-something years. He has lost both of his lower legs to Diabetes but is still a complete ball of fire.
He has collected a few old RVs that people have abandoned over the years and assembled a kind of resort for friends who he might invite to stay. He has a few cats running around who keep him company. He keeps the beer cans and bottles left behind by passersby and friends and has strung them into a garland along the fence at the roadside. They have been bleached by the sun so that they sparkle like silver sequins in the sun. It’s a run down little oasis, and worth every mile…even the next 15 I have to ride to get out of here tomorrow morning. And Coco says they are the worst yet. As I get ready to go I give him a hug and thank him for his hospitality and friendship. He is inspiring to me, a lesson in priorities. I say “Vaya con Dios” and he replies by saying “No, you go. I will stay.” Fair enough, mi amigo. Stay with God, and I will go with God. They are two sides of the same coin for me. I wish you well.