It’s what we tell ourselves when we think we should probably move on from one campsite or another at Cabo Pulmo, maybe just one more day. We’re addicted to the great campspots, the beaches, mountain trails, underwater world and the colors that decorate it all. We’ve just finished an incredibly long stint of flat calm conditions that made this a great place to spend Christmas & New Years.
A couple of days before, while Ivan was driving like crazy to get here by Christmas Eve, we provisioned up for the coming days and got situated back on the gray stone beach in anticipation of his arrival. Sandie even made us a Christmas tree so our Santa would have a place to put our presents! He arrived bringing them all and now we have a new close up camera, Jon a shortie which he’s put to good use and a few other things that couldn’t wait out the season. We walked the beach and took a swim around the point to show Ivan the huge school of lookdowns that we’d found the day before. They are so silvery and beautiful with a serious expression. We caught up over BBQ that night under the stars which are plentiful here.
Christmas day dawned mirror calm and stayed that way all day, a gift in itself. But to top it off, the water was also filled with humpback whales. We see them all the time but not gobs of them and not as close inshore. First Jon took out the drone to make sure we were seeing what we thought we were- we believe they were all pigging out! I threw the kayak together pumping as hard as I could so that we could get out there before they left. We paddled out to whales all around us, and we wondered if they would come shooting up to the surface and flip the kayak. When they blow out from that close of range it sounds like they’re blowing through a big pipe. Crazy. We could also hear their communications from above the water because we were right among them. I think the air in the kayak causes this because we can hear the crackling of the reef from the kayak also. Watching their graceful tails was a thrill. I spent the first part just looking rather than taking pictures. But before we were done gawking, they moved on and we paddled back to shore to have breakfast. On the way back we could see that the water had become full of tiny jellyfish of several kinds. We think that this bloom of plankton is what drew the whales so close.
After breakfast, it was all I could think of but to get back in and snorkel because it was so incredibly calm & clear. We would be able to hear the whales making their lovely sounds too. So we put the kayak back in and did an old fashioned drift snork towing the kayak. We have such pleasant memories of all the hours we spent doing this with our dinghy over the years. You can drift until your fingers are wrinked and then get out wherever you end up. Cabo Pulmo’s coral reef is just offshore and there are something like 8 fingers of ledge that stretch out making for good access. But as we soon found out from a passing tour operator, it’s against park rules to snork on the outer reef from a boat unless you’re on a tour and by the way, you need to be wearing a lifejacket, not a weight belt. I remember these rules drove us out of Mexico on the Caribbean side even though we understand why they are there. It was such a gorgeous day we lounged around in the water a little bit more and then headed back to our friends. We really enjoy all the schooling fish in the Sea of Cortez.
Christmas night, we were supposed to be making a shrimp dinner. But we all took a beach walk and then dropped in for a margarita at a cute place in town. Well that led to another margarita because the first one was perfect. And then we decided maybe it was best to have dinner there rather than light our hair on fire trying to grill shrimp. And we needed another margarita to wash it all down. We walked back to our trucks under the stars and hung out by the Christmas tree for a while together. It was a sweet day, my favorite kind of day. And sooo much better than last Christmas when we were broken down in Death Valley! We made a real Christmas dinner the following night. For some reason, eating out here pretty much means we’ll be going home hungry. We’re not on that kind of diet. We make great group meals together and we like our own food so much better!
The next morning. Jon & I got up early and heaed back out to the whales but there were far fewer and they weren’t as busy eating because the plankton bloom that we saw on Christmas day was gone.
Talking with my parents, my mom asked me what the history of Cabo Pulmo was and I realized that I didn’t know what to say other than it is a relatively cute little diving town within a seaside national park, the area explored by and thought significant by Jacques Cousteau years ago. As I understand it, some of the first people to visit Cabo Pulmo in the late 18th century were settlers harvesting mother of pearl. And when that ran out they moved on to fishing. The town itself was polluting the very sea they were harvesting from. It is the oldest of 3 coral reefs on the west coast of N. America so really unique. A combination of land features from the Sierra de Laguna mountains onshore and the streams that come down from them as well as a 1500 ft deep canyon just offshore at Los Frailles make the area rich with upwellings and places for sealife to live, eat and reproduce. Then I read that in the 1970’s the ornamental industry was big along with fishing for sharks and marlin until it was depleted and then by the 1980’s, they started focusing on grouper. By the 1990’s, the whole area was so empty that the people of Cabo Pulmo started to wonder if something needed to be done to save it. A resident named Jesus Castro, a founding member of the village, proposed that conservation and in turn tourism to appreciate the reef rather than take from it might make a more lasting economic situation and spare the reef with it. By 1995, the park was created, funded and fishing was halted. And in 2005 it became a UNESCO site. Research demonstrates that the biomass has grown by 450% in less than 20 years based on one document I read. Well that’s all I know now. It’s a wonderful place really. We spent our holiday week hanging out together appreciating all of this and the effort of a handful of people who started making waves to make this park a reality.
The mountains behind the shore offer miles of great hiking trails and we did an early morning group hike one day. Not far into our walk, Sandie jumped back at the rattlesnake curled up in the path looking really cute but not rattling to let us know it was there! Well it was our new camera that got us this close for a photo! We’ve also got a great 5 mile hill loop that is just right for a morning run before the day is too hot. But seemingly every time I do it I take a digger on the rocks that are there just waiting to catch my shoe and send me flying. I feel lucky almost every day, lucky to be here, to be living the way I want to be but running this trail I think I’m getting even luckier since I haven’t broken anything yet.
We’re seeing more overland trucks now, many more than last season. We had a wonderful dinner of fresh grilled mahi with a Swiss couple that we met but the fish came from a German couple that winters here and fishes nearly every day. It’s always interesting to look at each other’s trucks and get ideas. We are happy with the performance of ours since it isn’t too heavy, it’s good in most terrain and the size is just right for us. We do know that we will be replacing our entry door yet again and we will replace our hatches too because their plastics are all degrading from the sun. We’ll possibly swap out the Coleman habitat AC that we got because now a lower profile 12V Dometic is available like we have for the truck cab AC. And we never use it because we’re never plugged in. So it’s always a work in progress as we learn what is working and what could be better.
There is a snorkeling area called Los Arbolitos that has an especially big reef with 3 tame turtles on it. A picturesque trail leads over to Dinosaur Egg Beach, named for the huge egg shaped rocks there. Atop the rocks, the snails gather in patches for what reason I’m not sure. We spent our NYE together there. On the menu was fondue, not a tradition us Americans are used to but who doesn’t love melted cheese?? Maybe it’s our new tradition. Hearing German from Sandie & Karsten and spanish from Ivan, I find my thoughts are often in those accents. That night, we sampled our selection of fine tequilas and watched a James Bond movie before greeting the first day of the new year. We’re hoping this a good one for everyone.
Overnight, the wind started filling in and we were reminded that it is now January. The El Norte winds will be arriving. The sun was shining but this week it will be blowing like stink. We took a nice walk in what felt like a high pressure very blue, clear day. We’ve been doing all the snorkeling we can but you never know when the last snork for a while will be. I want to ask, could we just have one more day?