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Hamachi & Horsepower: a short Baja story

Hamachi & Horsepower: a short Baja story

The itinerary was as basic as it gets...

Four days in Baja. Bikes. Spearfishing. Desert. Camping. "the works" is what we guess many would call it. A much needed trip down south.

Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film

A promised land
of simple dreams.

Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film

Baja, circa '21

the promised land of simple dreams.

Baja, circa '21

Baja.

Two Toyota 4Runners, one Tacoma, a DRZ400, KTM250, and CRF250 walk into a bar...

Our three trucks rumbled towards the Mexicali International border crossing. It was first light, the pink brush strokes started to fill the deep blue pre-dawn canvas of the sky.

A couple hours prior, three bikes were loaded onto hitch carriers under the cover of darkness. Tie down straps adjusted and readjusted, until we felt adequately satisfied.

"Think we'll get stopped?"

"I'd be surprised if we didn't."

Seven gringos, a golden retriever, and Pelican cases full of camera gear must be like catnip to Mexico’s border agents because we were graciously ushered into the “deep check” area the moment we were next in line for the border agent.

We were prepared for the ask.

"Necesitamos abrir el maletero."

Next up came the technique we dubbed, “the lean job.” Patent pending, this move involved loosening the straps on my 320lb DRZ400, and leaning it back while the rear window of the Tacoma camping shell was able to swing open and reveal the contents of the trunk.

Gear cases were checked, tequila bottles weren’t found, and after each paying a $32 visa, we were finally off.

Our destination was south deep into Baja - hamachi hunting on the sea of Cortez. 

Hamachi, the Japanese name for Yellowtail, is one of those staple fish for a Southern California spear-fisherman - and the Sea of Cortez is akin to diving in a prehistoric sapphire body of water with massive fish and nonexistent crowds. A perfect combination.

The itinerary was as basic as it gets...

Four days in Baja. Bikes. Spearfishing. Desert. Camping. "the works" is what we guess many would call it. A much needed trip down south.

the promised land of simple dreams.

Baja, circa '21

A promised land of simple dreams.

Baja, circa '21

Baja.

Two Toyota 4Runners, one Tacoma, a DRZ400, KTM250, and CRF250 walk into a bar...

Our three trucks rumbled towards the Mexicali International border crossing. It was first light, the pink brush strokes started to fill the deep blue pre-dawn canvas of the sky.

A couple hours prior, three bikes were loaded onto hitch carriers under the cover of darkness. Tie down straps adjusted and readjusted, until we felt adequately satisfied.

"Think we'll get stopped?"

"I'd be surprised if we didn't."

Seven gringos, a golden retriever, and Pelican cases full of camera gear must be like catnip to Mexico’s border agents because we were graciously ushered into the “deep check” area the moment we were next in line for the border agent.

We were prepared for the ask.

"Necesitamos abrir el maletero."

Next up came the technique we dubbed, “the lean job.” Patent pending, this move involved loosening the straps on my 320lb DRZ400, and leaning it back while the rear window of the Tacoma camping shell was able to swing open and reveal the contents of the trunk.

Gear cases were checked, tequila bottles weren’t found, and after each paying a $32 visa, we were finally off.

Our destination was south deep into Baja - hamachi hunting on the sea of Cortez. 

Hamachi, the Japanese name for Yellowtail, is one of those staple fish for a Southern California spear-fisherman - and the Sea of Cortez is akin to diving in a prehistoric sapphire body of water with massive fish and nonexistent crowds. A perfect combination.

"...our destination was south deep into
Baja"

Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film

...in all its dust
& glory.

Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film

We still had a long drive ahead of us though, and two military checkpoints. About 2-hours after crossing the border, we hit the first checkpoint. The two 4Runners passed through without much of a problem, and our Tacoma rolled up to the pimple faced soldier draped in hand me down fatigues. 

Something about Stew and I must’ve alerted his detection system, because he started motioning for us to get out of the truck. I tried playing dumb and hoping it wouldn’t be worth the effort for him, but he persisted - and we got out. After rifling through the glove compartment and center console, he found his way to a pack of smokes I had conveniently placed in the cupholder. As part of my preparation for this drive, I had a few crisp Jacksons tucked away in different spots in my luggage, and a couple packs of cigs as social lubricant. He opened the pack, seemingly looking for drugs, and I innocently asked “quieres un cigaretto?

NO!

Fuck… did I just make this worse? After a pause, he decided we were thoroughly searched, and proceeded to wave us through.

Later that afternoon, we rolled into our home for the next few days, unloaded the bikes, and began to dial in our spearguns and float lines.

Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film

6am the next morning, we were cruising on a 32ft Boston Whaler towards fish and glory. I had never seen a landscape like the one we were traveling through. Islands with no vegetation other than tall green cacti, like sentries watching over their land.

Our captain, Pedro, locked the throttle back into neutral. “Aqui.”

We dropped into the water, while blue, it was a bit cloudy, and visibility was at about 10-15ft at max.

I took a drop down with my camera in front of me, descending to 40ft and then leveling out. I looked down to change some settings on my Sony and when I looked back up a few seconds later I was greeted by the first two Yellowtail of the day. Like apparitions that materialized from the murk, the two fish seemed more intrigued by me than threatened. There’s something about diving with a camera versus diving with a speargun that the animals can feel. There is a primal electricity that we give off as humans when in hunting mode, our thousands of years of evolution can’t be erased be a couple hundred years of technology - and the fish can sense that difference.

Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film

"I must go down to the seas again...

...to the lonely sea and the sky."

"I must go down to the sea again...

Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film

...to the lonely seas and the sky."

Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film

Several spots and hours later, the ice chest was full of Hamachi and Cabrilla.

Filets were cut.
Poke was made.
Hungry mouths were fed.

Now, the desert called.

...in all its dust and glory.

We still had a long drive ahead of us though, and two military checkpoints. About 2-hours after crossing the border, we hit the first checkpoint. The two 4Runners passed through without much of a problem, and our Tacoma rolled up to the pimple faced soldier draped in hand me down fatigues. 

Something about Stew and I must’ve alerted his detection system, because he started motioning for us to get out of the truck. I tried playing dumb and hoping it wouldn’t be worth the effort for him, but he persisted - and we got out. After rifling through the glove compartment and center console, he found his way to a pack of smokes I had conveniently placed in the cupholder. As part of my preparation for this drive, I had a few crisp Jacksons tucked away in different spots in my luggage, and a couple packs of cigs as social lubricant. He opened the pack, seemingly looking for drugs, and I innocently asked “quieres un cigaretto?

NO!

Fuck… did I just make this worse? After a pause, he decided we were thoroughly searched, and proceeded to wave us through.

Later that afternoon, we rolled into our home for the next few days, unloaded the bikes, and began to dial in our spearguns and float lines.

"I must go down to the sea again...

...to the lonely sea and the sky."

6am the next morning, we were cruising on a 32ft Boston Whaler towards fish and glory. I had never seen a landscape like the one we were traveling through. Islands with no vegetation other than tall green cacti, like sentries watching over their land.

Our captain, Pedro, locked the throttle back into neutral. “Aqui.”

We dropped into the water, while blue, it was a bit cloudy, and visibility was at about 10-15ft at max.

"I was greeted by the first
two Yellowtail of the day..."


I took a drop down with my camera in front of me, descending to 40ft and then leveling out. I looked down to change some settings on my Sony and when I looked back up a few seconds later I was greeted by the first two Yellowtail of the day. Like apparitions that materialized from the murk, the two fish seemed more intrigued by me than threatened. There’s something about diving with a camera versus diving with a speargun that the animals can feel. There is a primal electricity that we give off as humans when in hunting mode, our thousands of years of evolution can’t be erased be a couple hundred years of technology - and the fish can sense that difference.

Several spots and hours later, the ice chest was full of Hamachi and Cabrilla.

Filets were cut.
Poke was made.
Hungry mouths were fed.

Now, the desert called.

Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film
Iron & Resin Hamachi & Horsepower: A Short Baja Film

What better way to finish off a spearfishing trip than with some ripping around the sand dunes, carne asada cooked on the open fire, and ice cold Tecates?

Hamachi...

& horsepower

Hamachi...

& horsepower

Video produced & filmed by Alex Palumbo: @alxpalumbo

Stills shot by @jeffrey_allee, @mikeborchard, & @alxpalumbo

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