Happy Holidays, Happy New Year!

We were 6, then 4, then soon we will be 5 again because Santa is coming! Here’s what’s been happening….

After a few years of planning, our Baja trip together with Mark & Anne finally came together and we shared a few weeks down here. We didn’t get to all the places we had in mind, although we did several of our favorite ones from last season. But the weeks flew by and before we knew it we were down to the last several days. So after a good bit of time at Cabo Pulmo enjoying the water there, we left for a few more of exploring. We stopped at a beach on the very edge of the park and did a long walk out to a lighthouse which I really enjoyed in part because we were out until close to sunset and I love the light at that time of day. And before that walk, we’d taken a swim which wasn’t that great because there was nothing to see but sand but it was more than made up for by the whalesong that we could hear in the water. All the funny calls that the humpback whales make carry so well under water and really wherever you are in Baja you can usually see whales just offshore anyway. It made me think that nearly every single day there is something that stands out as special about it, a little thing, a big thing, but something. For me, often that something has to do with nature.

Long beach walk at the north end of Cabo Pulmo park

After that beach, we moved to the Sierra de la Laguna mountains to see a waterfall, then had a night on the town in San Jose del Cabo, then drove the southern Cabo Pulmo road to hit a surf spot before heading back to Los Frailles for Mark & Anne’s last night.

The waterfall, Sol de Mayo, was as pretty as ever and unique in Baja really. We had already visited it last season. I like these mountains because there are several canyons, each with their own river. Since water is life, each canyon is green with all sorts of vegetation including palms and then the mountains tower above. Sadly, there are no trails going straight up them. But you can walk up the rivers rock hopping and stopping to swim in lovely pools which is fun. Sol de Mayo, the name of the campground where the waterfall is, has a menagerie of animals. Among them are several dogs, all of whom like to pee on our truck tires. The longer you stay in the cute little campground, the more doses you get! Personally, I think that it is the reason why the paint is falling off our rims. Still, it’s worth it. I need to paint the rims on a project day.

San Jose was the same- touristy and noisy, but we had a good night out and enjoyed walking around the old town with it’s colorful square. We got some pretty shot glasses to enjoy the delicious tequila that Mexico is known for. Who knew there would be a whole store dedicated to tequila and you can taste just about any of it?

Sunset at Nine Palms surf beach

The bumpy sand road south of Cabo Pulmo has several surf spots on it and pretty beaches that look inviting for a swim but they can trick you. We stopped for the night at Nine Palms beach. While Mark took his paddleboard out to ride some waves, Anne, Jon & I decided we’d go for a snork but when heading into the water, the waves knocked them both off their feet and then there was a yard sale of snorkel gear rushing up and down the beach in the surf. In the end, Jon lost his mask, gone for good in the deep undertoe. That ended that and we hung out with the friendly burro who loved carrots and tolerated lettuce. I had a go with the paddleboard too but knew it would take many more tries to get good at it and we can’t store one because we have the inflatable kayak. Plus, we plan to eventually carry our regs & BC’s for scuba. There’s just no room left back there!

Back at Los Frailles, we swam out to the sea lions again and I towed the camera. Of course they weren’t quite as social as the time before when I didn’t have the camera with me. We all could’ve patted one of them that time! Since it’s the better part of a mile to get out to them, it’s a pain to drag the camera because it affects my stroke. But here are a couple of pics and really they look pretty close up even this time. They’re really sweet.

We took a sunset walk and made one last pizza dinner all together that night and then Mark & Anne hit the road to get back for the holidays and ski season. It’s always sad when someone leaves and you have a whole in your life for a bit.

The original plan was to do another scuba dive day before their departure of the 2 best dives at Cabo Pulmo- the school of jack and then the wreck, which is known for bull sharks. Because of park rules, there is a system that we don’t fully understand that says that there are only so many divers allowed at each dive site per day & week and then only on certain days as the site must rest on others. Sounds nice for the sea life actually. The funny part is that the headquarters for doling out which dive shop gets to do which site is this palm frond second story hut that they call “the Tower”. What the Tower says goes and if you don’t have permission to do the shark dive you can’t go. So we couldn’t get that dive day in before Mark & Anne left, but we were penciled in to the dive shop for a couple days out.

“The Tower”

We filled our time doing two days in a row of a 10 mile hike on the trails of the hills of Cabo Pulmo. We really, really, like this area. The hills are beautiful as is the water and we like the campspots too. It feels like there’s a lot to do. After a long hike, we can stop at the Palapa restaurant and get a limonada with sparkling water in a perfect glass. It’s perfect to cool you down.

Then it was dive day. Our divemaster Carlos went over to the Tower first thing and got us a slot to do the shark dive. Yay! We set out for the jacks first and this time there was a school of grouper hanging among them. We could hear dolphin but never saw them. It is neat to have a school that big and I love their little faces coming right at you. Their silvery bodies look so clean & the lines so crisp.

Then the shark dive. We were expecting one shark, maybe two, a small wreck. Because they don’t feed the sharks or encourage them in any way to be there, they said it varies dive to dive. Well we hit the jackpot because as soon as we were descending on the wreck (which is very small but nice because there are so many places for fish to live) we could see there were a bunch of sharks down there! In the end about 10-12 good sized bulls just swimming all around us. We settled on the sand to watch them and then would move from one spot to another checking out the wreck but mainly just gawking at the proximity of ourselves to this many sharks at one time all cruising right by us in every direction. No need to zoom in on the photos! They are a fat shark and the arrangement of their fins makes it very obvious they are incredibly strong swimmers. In the back of my mind I kept thinking that if it had been just Jon & I, I wouldn’t have been so comfortable. Instead, I loved seeing them up so close and sitting on the sand just looking at their silouhettes finding it hard to believe that I was actually seeing so many at one time.

Carlos was all smiles because this was quite the show. He did a great job of guiding us and we love to dive with a divemaster who is excited about what he’s doing. There were lots of other fish living among the wreck pieces including a huge grouper and a field of garden eels which we hadn’t seen in a while. Twice when we’ve been snorkeling we’d seen a shark passing through but hadn’t realized it was a bull shark. Usually we see reef sharks. But seeing them on the dive it now made sense. We were all 4 extremely pleased with this dive and Cabo Pulmo has really delivered what we’d hoped it would. And still, the water is warm!!!

We’ve decided to spend Christmas in Cabo Pulmo when Ivan comes down to join us- yippee! We’ve been affectionately calling him Santa because he’s bringing down a few presents to each of us that we had mailed. One is a new camera that Jon & I ordered. It’s Panasonic ZS70 with a 30x zoom that we’ve had on our list for a long time and another is replacement shocks under warranty for our truck since the ones that Jon installed right before we left to come down here have leaked oil. He’d had these sent from Germany and the company, Marquart, has kindly agreed to replace them. The current ones are still functioning well and have stiffened up the suspension some which is good but they won’t have the right longevity given they’d leaked already. We’re all looking forward to Ivan’s arrival and hope to spend a little more time in the Cabo Pulmo area with him before moving onward to more spots, some old, some new.

We feel like we’ve been going in circles somewhat, although like Jon says, it really doesn’t matter because we have to be somewhere and we like these places. We went back to the waterfall with Sandie & Karsten, did another day hike trying to reach the top of the canyon but we didn’t make it- you can hike all the way over to the Pacific side if you want to do a backpack trip but it isn’t too tempting because it’s then a long way around to get back to the truck. The rocks that shape the river are really colorful and beautiful. They really add to the scenery.

We did another night in San Jose, this time it is all decked out for Christmas. Even the fire truck is all lit up which struck me so funny that night. Chatting with a fireman, he said they’d just started doing this during Covid. They had boxes and boxes of candy ready to distribute to kids on their next parade around town. At least that’s what we think he said!

If we hadn’t already met Raul and gotten to love Cava Del Oro tequila we would have a hard time choosing which one to get!

Not all of our campsites are beautiful, the one in San Jose is an example, just a parking lot. Before we went out that night Sandie made us all cups of coffee with cake and we set up the table in between our trucks. Had we had the drone out, you would see how unattractive the immediate area was but up close, at our table chatting with Sandie & Karsten, we could have been anywhere and that view would be the same. That night, most of us didn’t sleep a wink. We’d paid to stay overnight in the parking lot right off the square and the partying goes on all night. Then when the people finally go to bed the roosters get up! So we all went for a run and Jon & I made our way down to the fancy marina and weaved our way around the perimeter of the docks. Really nice. Seeing all that reminds me of another life, a great one, but I don’t miss it. I love what we’re doing now, I love our truck and with the exception that covid has required us to adjust our plans, we still feel fortunate and happy to move around this way and find solitude when we want it, company when we don’t and wide open spaces to explore at our own pace. We generally find a lot of kindness wherever we go.

We got all provisioned up in San Jose including going to a marine store where Jon found a new mask & snorkel. And no matter where you are in Baja, you’re never far from an avocado. It is so nice to just have as many as you want, any time you want, however you choose to have them! We stocked up on those too.

Then we headed to another canyon in the Sierra Laguna- Canyon San Bernardo. This one was tricky because there is a gated access. We arrived late in the day and asked about getting through the gate to camp and then hike the canyon. As usual, everyone was very nice and we were allowed through the gate. Traveling slow up a winding road, our biggest issue was clearance from low hanging trees. Sometimes we got out to trim, others we just squeezed through. We arrived to the end where the trail starts and got positioned to camp. A guy followed us up in a truck from the tour company Cabo Adventures and politely said we weren’t REALLY allowed to camp up there but in talking with him and explaining that we just wanted to hike the canyon, he reluctantly allowed us to stay 2 nights. There was no one around, it was just us and the cows. We set up the table for happy hour and dinner and watched the moon rise. A cow was grazing around our trucks and even bumped them once with her horns. And then, there were head lamps and the sound of footsteps. A few men came up from the trail with their pack horses right by our trucks- you just never know. They said hello and went on their way. We thought it a bit odd though.

We slept like rocks that night only hearing the frogs calling, then got an early start to spend the day hiking up the canyon. Sometimes on a trail, often rock hopping up the river. Our turnaround point was a truly gorgeous emerald green swim hole with smooth rocks to sit on. Along the way, we saw butterflies, hawks, tadpoles, ducks and of course cows. But no people. Apparently, they only come at night! It was such a fun day. Beautiful too.

We are happy to be here in Baja enjoying the sun and sand although we miss our loved ones, especially over Christmas. In reflecting on this year, it’s been a particularly good one for us despite you know what. We’ve seen a lot of new things, revisited favorite places too, have remained healthy and spent a decent amount of time with family & friends. And nearly each day has provided something to be thankful for.

Best wishes for great holidays to anyone reading this! Happy new year!

2 Replies to “Happy Holidays, Happy New Year!”

  1. Happy holidays! So glad you have not been here to experience the mess that is considered healthcare now.
    Love reading about your adventures.

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