The best one we’ve gotten so far? “Is it some kind of fancy recycling truck?” But then there was: “Is it bulletproof? Amphibious? Is it for the zombie apocalypse? Did you build it for Armageddon?” Our answer? Nope, we just built it to have fun.
Greetings from somewhere other than Cabo Pulmo. Yep! We’re back to moving again but still near the water. A stretch of high wind & flying sand fnally drove us out of Cabo Pulmo and we headed over to Todos Santos on the Pacific side for a change of scenery. The sea was calm and quiet as was the wind and it was even warmer. You’d think it would be the other way around. We parked at the trailhead for an old sugar plantation that actually had a stone wharf for the boats to come in and take the cane away. Todos Santos had at least 5 sugar cane plantations supplying sugar for mainland Mexico until the 1950’s when the water supply dried up. The water returned in the 1980’s but the sugarcane never did. The remains of a really nice stone building from that time became our outdoor lounging area which was pretty posh. The San Cristobal Hotel was adjacent so we had good wifi and fishermen provided us with entertainment as well as fish to buy. We got a big chunk of marlin and grilled it one night, and we also caught up on the Yellowstone series. How we got on to that I don’t know.
The beach is not the easiest to walk on but we couldn’t get tired of watching the continual procession of bright green waves rolling in. Even the foam was impressive.
We witnessed incredible sunsets in this area and the miles of trails to distant hilltops, beaches and palm oasis settings kept us busy for days. We snorkeled in an emerald green cove with glittering sand, sea fans and lots of fish. And we hiked to many a high place to watch heaps of humpbacks doing their thing out there in the blue. I wonder just how many whales winter in the Baja in total?
One evening, we rode with Ivan in his van to downtown Todos Santos to see a turtle hatching release and go out to dinner. On another beautiful stretch of beach with a pretty strong undertoe, there is a seasonal turtle nest sanctuary where you can go on any day at sunset to watch staff & volunteers release that day’s hatchlings. Tortugueros Las Playitas, patrols a long stretch of beach on the Pacific side of Baja Sur for sea turtle nests during the winter months when the sea turtles are coming up to lay. To protect them and increase the survival rate for leatherbacks, green and ridley turtles (the most common found here), they dig the nests and move them to a sheltered greenhouse, rebury them and then keep them safe. Then when the eggs hatch, they keep the hatchlings until sunset when it’s less risky for them to make it to the sea. I’m guessing there were about 50 people that showed up to witness this event. While we waited, we watched mobula rays jumping, humback whales in the background spouting and breaching, all while the sky turned a beautiful pink etched with pelicans on the horizon. No exageration, it just was that way. Then the staff placed all these tiny little turtles in a long line above the surf where they started crawling down to the undertoe.
Compared to a more established naturalist run program with a calmer beach in Australia that we visited, this felt a bit more raw and I found myself choking up a few times. About the plight of life and what it takes for so many living things to survive and reproduce. So the hatchlings are trying to make their way down the beach and waves keep rolling in, unrelenting, like they do. And the surf pushes them back up to where they started again. And again! And then when they finally make it down to the boiling undertoe and dissappear from sight, then what will happen to them?! And I can’t even think of how it must be for the mom turtle to come through that same surf and up the beach to lay her eggs. I pondered all this for several days after. I’m really glad that there are several organizations here in Baja Sur that are working to save the turtles. So many creatures make their home here, part of the year or all, it is unique among things we’ve seen.
After the turtles were on their way, we went in to town for dinner and entertainment. We returned to the same restaurant we went last season except this night they had a band and it was pretty good- a lot of 70’s and 80’s. Todos Santos has some nice old buildings with interior courtyards and this was one of them.
Over the days, we moved to another beach campspot in the vicinity and did more of what we do. Hike, swim, run, maybe a truck project or two, coffee & cake, BBQ. The days melt away.
We moved to La Paz, restocked, and headed to our favorite beaches out at Tecalote. I never thought I’d say this, but Walmart is a little star down here. You can get nicer stuff than at the regular grocery stores including fancier cheeses, meats and even produce. Way back when, they weren’t known for that! Because it was still windy on the Sea of Cortez side, we parked in the desert instead at the trailhead to Balandra Bay. You know how if you aren’t from a country you often can’t figure out some of the things they do in that country and why? Well this incredibly beautiful bay with a natural sand wave feature is protected as a park and the hours are 7am-230. After 230, the area needs to “rest”. So you can’t go after 230 unless of course you walk around from the backside on a hiking trail. Then you can go. So we hiked all over, waded in the bay and climbed around in the hills multiple times a day both for fun and for internet. It’s the only way to get a signal.
Jon & I had been telling Ivan that we hadn’t seen any octopus the entire time we’ve been in Baja. Then 2 days later we saw 5 in one day! It is their eye that catches your eye as you swim by. Then you pause and make out the rocks that they are holding in front of their hiding hole with the pink suction cups of their tentacles peeking through. Then one totally out in the open in the shallows along the beach when we didn’t have our camera.
Then this one that a seagull was pecking for his next meal. We couldn’t help it, we had to try to spare this octopus one more chance. We chased the gull away, picked him up and put him back in the water and made him a rock fort so he could rest and maybe pull himself together. We’ll never know how it all turned out.
The weather was set to be great on Monday so we’d booked a whale shark tour which we’d been dying to do for years. These aren’t as large as they come, and the vis is not the clearest but they hang around in La Paz for most of the winter and even in some places all year long I read. The guide told us things are better than years ago. Before they had good regulations to protect the sharks, their numbers had really declined.
So we found a great campspot right in downtown La Paz next to one of their Navy ships and then we could walk to the malecon in the morning to get on the boat. Busy with fishermen and dogs, it still was a pleasant spot. We’d have asked for a tour of the ship if it hadn’t been for covid. We like La Paz. We were there on a Sunday and the vibe was great. The locals love their waterfront promenade and they should.
The whale shark tour boat passes close to La Paz’s form of “the tower” where they are examined by officials to count the number of people on the boat (there are a limited number allowed per day) and the 3 hour clock starts. That’s how long the boat can be in the zone with the whale sharks. It was a 10 person boat but 3 of the riders weren’t getting in the water. And the other swimmers weren’t very hearty so petered out right away. Where ordinarily we would have had to take turns getting in to swim with the whale sharks, in reality Jon, me and Ivan swam with them nearly the whole time. It was wonderful to swim alongside something that big at arm’s length. I’m guessing they were about 20 feet long. With the humpbacks in Tonga, they were bigger but we weren’t trying to swim beside them. They love the same particulate in the water that makes photo taking a challenge. Sometimes they are moving along and you fin a lot but then they slow down to a peaceful glide and you just hang with them, looking at the orderly arrangement of their polka dots. What a gentle creature. They have a small eye and a cute rounded mouth opening. When they want to be to themselves they swim lower and you aren’t permitted to dive down. But they were really social. We got a very long swim with the biggest one and two other swims with others. We had a really nice time and then rode back to the pier jamming to 80’s hard rock. Who knew the music of our generation would become so legendary? Haha.
That evening, we finally met up with a couple Uli & Werner from Germany that we’d been corresponding with for at least a couple of years. They are on one of the forums for people who have trucks similar to ours and they’d shipped their truck to N. America a few years ago. It’s always nice to compare notes and meet other people with the same vision you have. We got some Mexican food that night and shared stories.
Then Jon & I moved back to one of our favorite spots called Punta de los Muertos because the weather was perfect and this place is great for snorkeling. We swam all over the bay together and then I got in again, and then again. And then we got in again the next morning after a great run. Too much is never enough when it comes to snorkeling! The water feels much cooler and the vis isn’t as good as it was back in early December but it’s still pretty nice. It’s been 2 years since we left the East coast to start having fun in our new camper. We realize a few flaws now, some of which we would like corrected before we ship the truck somewhere. Our hatches and main door are not what they need to be so they need replacing. Jon is working out the options.
Even so, it’s a great home. It gets us where we want to go and it’s a lot of fun.