the next day, after sleeping six hours, we rekindled the fire and cooked our porridge, then headed off for coco’s corner. the dirt road past bahia gonzaga traversed along a dry valley and turned to a river of sand and stone. the sand was so thick and slow that at times we were forced to walk our bikes, some of us falling flat over before getting up to push. all i could do was smile and laugh like a crazed school boy – for some strange reason i was having the time of my life. the sun was hot and the light bright white – perfectly illuminating the soft scattered clouds. after a full days ride, we finally reached coco’s corner at sundown – merely twenty miles or so from where we started. though coco himself was not there (his diabetes that has left him legless had recently affected his vision, forcing him to travel to the hospital in mexicali) his legendary pitstop at the junction in the middle of nothingness was truly a site to behold. straight out of mad max or road warrior, this small tract of land was a true, post apocalyptic oasis. junked, stripped down vans turned into sleeping quarters. fences constructed of beer cans, christmas lights and random bulbs strung from lines for about a square kilometer around the perimeter of the property. strange trash art, like a crescent of old toilets around a tv, and a large scorpion made of motorcycle parts– we had reached the end of the world.
there seemed to be no one around, as the high desert wind whistled cold and eery, but soon people were alerted by our presence and slowly emerged from the vans to great us. a family was acting as caretakers while coco was in the hospital – they welcomed us to camp on the property and turned on the generator to power the great light display. we had beers and they cooked us food (the usual tortillas with beans rice and meat) in exchange for a few pesos and some english lessons. we stayed up for a while, but exhausted and cold, and unable to really hear one another from the loud hum of the generator, we set up our tent inside the bar/carport to hide from the wind and fell fast asleep.
Above words and images: Alex Dunn
Lael and I met Coco just after the new year, 2010. He is a boisterous and generous man, proud of his home in the desert. He beckons his cat, Cokie, in a viral comedic mood. He jokes with Lael– “penguino”— for she is from Alaska. The place is neatly decorated with other people’s refuse, a sign or a lesson that there is value in sun-bleached beer cans and old porcelain thrones, amongst other things. Cold sodas– some pesos that equal a dollar. Cold Pacifico– about two dollars. Coco insists we sleep in an old camping trailer, now grounded in the desert. In the morning, we share cookies and jam and coffee, and sign his guest book– the most extensive of its kind on the peninsula, I suspect. Everyone signs the book and draws a picture: touring cyclists, motorcyclists, Baja 1000 aficionados, globe-trotting motorists, vacationing Mexicans, expat Americans and Canadians, even nearly neighbors from fifty miles away. In a desert world that has forgone the the ills of the city, Coco has encultured a virtual city of his own, where visitors count as neighbors in a place with only one resident. In either direction along dirt roads and desert, there is nothing for tens of miles. This is Coco’s Corner.