When we left San Felipe, we headed down Highway 5 south. We had been told the road was pretty rough and decided to tough it out and try it anyway. Turns out, the entire stretch of highway was missing bridges and some roads which made driving toward Puertecitos a bit daunting. By Google Maps, the drive from San Felipe to Puertecitos is only an hour trip, maybe hour and a half. Getting to Puertecitos was no problem. Yeah, the road was rough and it took a little over 2 hours due to the roads being washed out and diversions everywhere, but the road was still passable, even for 2wd vehicles.
When we got to Puertecitos, we wanted to get to the Hot Springs, which are tide dependent. If the tide is high, the hot springs are washed out and there is no getting in to soak. We happen to get there at that high tide time, so we didn’t get to go in, and the lady there was charging nearly $800 pesos for us to go in! That’s over $40. No thanks.
We skipped the hot spring and headed down further south. We wanted to make it at least to Coco’s Corner. This place is actually a home owned by Coco. It’s on the Baja racing circuit and quite in the middle of nowhere.
After driving very slowly on highway 5, and being very sick, we arrived at Coco’s Corner about 6 hours after setting out from San Felipe. Keep in mind, it’s 122 miles, and should have only taken maybe 3.5 hours to get there. The roads were so bad we found ourselves getting our brains rattled by the washboard roads that had been a makeshift detour around all the bridge failures and washed out roads. We literally were driving about 5-7mph for a really long portion of road because the washboards were more like speed humps. We launched off of a couple and I was sure we were going to break our chassis. Luckily, we didn’t.
We arrived at Coco’s Corner just before sunset and asked him if we could stay on his property. He happily obliged. He explained to us it was too dangerous to drive the road at night and insisted we stay the night and gave us a place to park and stay. He told us stories of how the Coyote (human) use the road just beyond his home to smuggle people and drugs in and out of the country and to be careful because if you get in the way at night, you may find yourself in a precarious position. He also said there are regular coyotes out at night and to keep the dog in the fenced area and to watch her at all times, because the coyotes would attack and drag her away.
The funny thing about Coco is, he’s an 83-year-old man who has no legs yet built the house he lives in by himself. He lost his first leg in 1991 after a work accident where a beam had fallen on his leg and quite literally chopped it off. The second leg was lost in 1995 because he fell off a beam and landed on a nail that was sticking up and penetrated through his foot. He let his foot become infected, and eventually the infection became so bad he had to have his leg amputated. In remembrance of those events and the suffered loss, he’s had both legs cremated and they hang in his home as a reminder to not be stupid.
Even after all of that, he was able to build his house by himself. His home to most of us in the USA would be considered a shack. But to him, it’s his world. It’s his major accomplishment. He has running water for showers along with a water heater, powered by solar which is hooked up to a series of car batteries. These also power the electricity in his house for lighting. He has no heat or air. He has some insulation in the walls and ceiling, but literally, there is no internal wall. It is plywood and exposed 2×4. He has adorned his one internal wall with badges, dollars, under garments and license plates donated by his many passersby.
This man has become such a major fixture along the Baja race route, that the racers have actually donated him a truck. He uses it to drive to Ensenada for doctor appointments and home. He doesn’t go anywhere else. He uses a stick for the gas and break since he has no legs. If you look closely at the picture of the truck, you’ll see a road runner who starts out with 2 legs, then has one leg, until he has no legs.
Coco takes it all in stride. He’s pleasant, funny and super witty. He speaks pretty good English and is so welcoming. He has a lady who lives on the property who helps him with cooking and checking his water supply. She cooked us dinner the first night and breakfast the next morning prior to us heading out.
He showed us a guest book he keeps, and just from July 2017 to the beginning of February 2019, he has over 500 pages of names of people who have all stopped by or stayed for the evening. Visitors from literally everywhere. Because he is so far off the beaten path, he makes everyone sign his guest book and makes them leave emergency contact info too. He’s helped with a few people who have ended up dying after leaving his place and venturing out to their next destination. He’s been able to contact family members of the deceased and hold the decedent’s property until their families could come and collect the decedents property. He tries to dissuade people who are walking from venturing out in the heat of the day through the desert, but people don’t always want to listen.
If you ever find yourself out near Coco’s corner (you’ll find it on google maps), stop in, say hi and consider helping him out with supplies. You’ll be happy you did.