The adventure continues…
This is Part 4 of a special Stark Insider travel feature by Clinton Stark, who spent 10 days in Loreto, his latest adventure in the small fishing village on the coast of the Baja that stirred (but did not shake) his soul. Parts 5 will be released tomorrow.
Quentin Tarantino would have a field day here. When it comes to the Baja, there is a never-ending parade of visuals that boggle the mind. The contrasts are staggering. Take for example, Del Borracho, the local hamburger joint/biker bar/live stage located virtually in the middle of nowhere. Well, almost; perhaps a bit of a slight exaggeration as the place is less than five minutes down the road from Highway 1, which in turn is about fifteen minutes away from the town of Loreto.
But here’s a saloon that literally sprouted from the desert.
There is nothing behind it, beside it, or in front of it aside from cacti, desert brush and sand as far as the eye can see.
One time when my wife Loni and I pulled up for a bite and a beer, I swear I was on the set of From Dusk Til Dawn… we could vaguely hear a cover band playing Free’s All Right Now. All right now baby, it’s all right now / All right now baby, it’s all right now…. The place was rocking. Yet, just a few hundred yards prior we were virtually alone cruising down a crumbled highway with not another soul in sight.
Mike, the owner, is a story just waiting to be told. He built the saloon himself, as well as the guest rooms out back. The real eye-opening jewel, however, sits in a shed adjacent to the bar… more on that in a sec.
The inside story and Baja revealed.PROLOGUE
1. Loreto Bay: An on-the-ground report
2. Loreto: The little town that could
3. If these walls could talk…
4. Dragsters in the desert
By the way, the hamburgers here are meaty and delicious. The service fun, fast and friendly. There’s no place like Del Borracho. Home owners from Loreto Bay can regularly be seen eating hearty American style breakfasts here. Because of its proximity to LTO, the airport which sits between town and Nopolo where Loreto Bay is being built, it’s a convenient place to stop in for a farewell memory before heading home.
Clip of Loreto with Del Borracho Saloon
I don’t know Mike well, I’ve only met him once. He strikes me as a hard-working guy. The desert entrepreneur I’d call him. I’ve heard (and not sure how much of this is true) that he’s actually a serial desert entrepreneur and that he moves from town to town, building bars, operating them, then selling them before moving on to the next town. And if Loreto and the Baja is all about history, then so is his spacious bar. Photos, mementos, and nick-nacks adorn the wall in just about any direction you look. Some are worn from the sun and time, faded faces hanging in front of bikes, in a boat, or at the Baja-1000 perhaps. Trophies even.
About that “jewel” I mentioned… Mike took Loni on out back to show us the place. He opened the doors to this large shed, and what do we see?
An amazing dragster with a beautiful paint job, massive rear tires and full-on, wicked engine. Now I realize dragsters are not exactly rare fossils, but remember this is Del Borracho, a bar in the middle of the desert. I immediately had so many questions. How did it get here? Where does he race it? Does the thing operate on fuel you can find here in Baja California Sur?
Like I said stories to be told. Stories for boys. And more of that for another time.
San Javier and the man in the bar
Now back to my story from yesterday. If you recall I was in the middle of revelation. Call it therapy for the body and soul, telling something that I had not told anyone. Not Loni. Not my parents. Not even my alter ego. No one knew of the events that transpired. If you want to read about it click here, but again I’m not entirely keen on word getting out about these events.
As I thought about what happened next and how to best tell the rest of what happened, I realized that to do it justice I had to give it some context, because you really need to know the backstory… there’s so much here. I began to connect the dots. San Javier. Scorpion Bay. The nomads on Coronado Island that I would later run into and realize their connection to the man in the suit, plus there is a neat little chase in the town of Loreto that began outside of La Michoacana, when a little boy kicked me in the shins before running off with my ice cream. Like I said, wild stuff. There is a connection to home too (as you’ll note when reading my update from yesterday). In Silicon Valley, I’d learn about a fund that was connected to Baja. It was also involved in a project related to brain research up in Livermore at the labs there. I’ll get into that soon too.
It took several years to piece all of this together. Here I was thinking we were just buying a little casa, a vacation home in a development called Loreto Bay. I had no idea — none whatsover I tell you! — of the adventure that was in store for us.
So a while back I began to take notes; I was piecing together the various events, concepts and oddities that had transpired. Amazingly, over time, it all began to make sense. Vivid imagination? Oh sure, partly possible. And trying to recall all the details a la Memento, especially with that torrent Baja sun, the humidity, the Pacifico… I admit it can play games.
When I took a few steps back to assess my outline, my recollection of those years in Loreto (up to and including just last week even) I decided last night (while watching Shrek the Musical in San Francisco no less) that it was time to get it all out in writing. I would, in essence, tell it all; and I mean everything I know or believed to know or recall. At least to the best of my ability. They say the can’t believe everything you read, but when you see the Baja in person it tells you all you need to know.
So I would merely transcribe here: buying the home from Loreto Bay, the process of dealing with local businesses to get the home built, the personality types, the mystery surrounding Scorpion Bay, the “syndicate,” the footchase in Loreto, my discovery of things that I believe no one else knows about (although I could be wrong about that), the potential danger I was in when I met my friend in Atherton to help facilitate a venture deal that involved Livermore Labs, a Swedish investor group (that I later learned was a front for a radical right-wing movement) and a compound on the Pacific side of the Baja. Sitting back and thinking about all this, I now sheepishly realize that choosing a color scheme for our Loreto Bay Home (called “Casa Del Lagarto Azul”) or wondering if any of the white wines here would be any good was trivial by comparison.
In February 2006 we bought a home in Loreto Bay. Almost five years later, I’m ready to tell the whole story. And it starts tomorrow.
* Some names have been changed to protect the innocent, and possibly even the not so innocent. I continue to go by “I.
Creative license applies.