It’s been a great time in the Baja and we’ve made some miles since the last time I wrote something here. The goal? Get down to Baja Sur where the water is clear & warm before winter gets here. When the winter winds kick in for good the visibility will decrease and the water won’t be in the 80’s anymore. Well we did it! We’ve been traveling with Mark & Anne, Sandie & Karsten and we even met back up with Fabian, who we met last winter so it’s been a good party and we’ve been doing a lot of cool things together both on land and in the water.
Here are some of the highlights. We dropped in to San Igacio for a couple of nights to catch the Baha 1000 race and stayed at our old favorite campground El Padrino. It’s cute, the guy that owns it doesn’t mind if we use water to wash our trucks a little (San Ignacio has a natural spring and is one of the greenest towns we know of down here) and he has friendly dogs. One has really short legs and loves to lie at our doorstep. The day before we left for Baja we got a new doormat to catch the sand and dirt. Well the dog laid on it that first night and decided to chew a big hole right in the center. Now we can always remember the short legged dog every time we step on the mat.
We went back to our favorite places like the restaurant with the best margaritas, the ice cream shop, we ran the hillsides, found the pet racoon and then settled in to watch the race because it passes right through the town. We thought this would be a really good place to see them but in actuality, when they come through town they can only do max 60km so it wasn’t as exciting as we’d hoped and we couldn’t appreciate the suspensions working at full tilt. We saw the first couple of motorcycles come through, then the first of the car winner came through past midnight and we missed it but Jon & I heard it, bolted up and walked back to the square to catch #2-6 and several more in other categories. The town square was full of locals of all ages enjoying themselves and every time a race car or motorbike came through everybody cheered. We’ve found the people of Baja to be very joyous, quick with a smile and we feel very welcome here. I really didn’t get any good pictures, sorry.
The following day we moved to Santispac beach at Bahia Conception ready to start playing in the water. We parked up in a cute campground with a palapa, a beautiful mountain view and were elated to find the water truly warm. Like even the sand felt warm where the waves were washing up. We got the kayaks out the next morning with Mark & Anne and set out for the islands. But when it came time to get in the water & swim around Jon started to feel very cold and unwell. So we kayaked back, he got a shower and got in bed and that was it for 24 hours. Four hours later Mark got the same symptoms. Some kind of food poisoning we guess, high fever; we laid low waiting for the guys to recover. We tried to figure out what happened and why some of us got it and others ate the same thing and were unaffected but it never became clear. Because it seemed more than your average food poisoning, we had some Cipro on hand and decided that they should start it.
When things had improved the following day, we moved to Loreto and had a quiet evening in a campground. This is our favorite town in all of Baja, it has a really nice square, full of trees, that is even better now that they finished the construction on a new walkway in front of the church. It’s got oceanside running, restaurants, shops, a campground right in the town and just a good vibe. With Mark & Jon feeling a bit better the next day, we went out to our favorite restaurant there and had a nice dinner together. Think that’s nutty? Well, we are of the thinking that if you fall off the horse you’ve gotta get back on again! Haha.
From there we stopped at Mesquite Canyon to take a hike to an oasis with Mark & Anne because we liked that place. It has a funny approach through a sand pit and just like many places you go in Baja, it feels like you’re heading to nowhere and then you get to the destination and it opens up to something really worthwhile. We use IOverlander to find a lot of places, especially overnight spots. It’s invaluable and we contribute new places that we find too. There was much less water at the oasis but we still found a spring and the slot canyon was pretty. We don’t know who maintains the hiking trail or why it’s there but it’s nice and feels like a real trail, not just an animal path.
After a night at a desert campspot, we drove further down to La Paz to take on fuel & water and Jon & I made a stop at a pharmacy with a doctor to get another round of antibiotics because while he had felt better, his symptoms resumed as soon as he completed the Cipro. It cost $2.75 to see the doctor (yep, you read that right) and $12 for the antibiotic and we were on our way again. The doc said that Mexico has some stronger bugs that need a longer course of antibiotics. Hmm, you might say…
We headed out to a new beach to us called Punta de Los Muertos, not too far from La Paz. I just loved this place. It was a beautiful beach, the water was the clearest yet and there were 2 rock islands to swim out to. Meanwhile, the approach, through lush, green desert on a very picturesque road was unusual. At one point there was going to be a development here and it fell through right after they built an impressive road so what is left is a gem of a place with a pretty access too!
One of the things we most enjoy doing with Mark & Anne is swimming & diving. And we did a pile of it in the Pacific. Few people we know will go as long or far. Unfortunately, Jon was still feeling ill so never could get in the water here. So I swam out and around those rock islands with Mark & Anne and we saw all kinds of great sealife together. At one point, a female mahi-mahi came swimming over to me, did a big circle and then swam off. I’d never had that happent before. It feels SO GOOD to be in the water seeing these creatures again. We had a quiet Thanksgiving that night just being together and none of us over ate. It was hard to leave this place and I’m looking forward to going back later on in the season when Jon can swim too.
But we had places to go and important people to see! We drove to El Pescadero, which is just north of the town of Los Bariles on the Sea of Cortez to camp near our friends Bruce & Karen whom we coincidentally met up with earlier this year with Ivan. The campspot we’d picked to stay at that had nice snorkeling was exactly underneath their family beachouse and they happened to be visiting it right at the time we were there! Since Bruce & Karen were visiting again, we didn’t want to miss them.
So we all piled into another pretty beach campsite. Jon & I got stuck in the sand for about an hour but got out no problem once we aired down. We joined Bruce & Karen, Bruce’s 2 brothers and their wives for happy hour at their lovely beach house. It’s been in the family for many years and is on a particularly pretty section of coast. Since there were 12 of us in total, you’d think that it might be hard to get to the next village for a taco night but no problem! They have 4 side by sides that could accommodate all of us so off we we went in style. It was a great evening and we feel so fortunate to be hanging out with such fun people. I am pleased to report that Jon & Mark have found good health again and are able to eat tacos.
Then it was off to Cabo Pulmo marine park, our southern destination goal where we wanted to do some scuba diving before winter. This time we had a rocky beach in exchange for sand, a nice change. We met up with our friend Fabian from last season who is traveling the world on a Royal Enfield motorcycle so we were for a couple of days a group of 7. Since the winds were light, we perused the dive shops and then set up a dive for the next day. We decided to dive very early, getting there at 620AM to be out on the reef by 730. The sites are just offshore so a very short boat ride. It didn’t seem possible to not have to do a check-out dive no matter who we talked with so the first dive was a bit anti-climactic in our opinion. The reef was pretty shallow and not lush with life like we’re accustomed to. Capped by the park at 45 minutes, we longed for the days when we had all of our own gear with us and our own dive compressor. We’ve now decided we’re going to fix that and at least carry BCD’s and regs from now on.
Not needing any surface interval, we went right in to the next dive, this time it would be a huge school of jack. Just as we were gearing up, 2 humpback whales came right near the boat and we couldn’t get in the water fast enough to see them. In my mind I thought it was a sure thing, that they would stay like they did in Tonga. But instead they left! So we turned our attention to the biggest school of fish we’d ever dove with which was a beautiful sight to see. You could swim underneath them and end up in the dark, through them and around them. Every now and then a dolphin would come shooting through them too. We enjoyed taking pictures of this and it was a great way to end our short morning of diving. With close proximity to the US, this place seems a bit pricy for what you receive. Like, there is no snack or lunch to relax to between dives and no boat ride to enjoy the scenery. Oh well. We enjoyed the jack very much though and the water is a perfect temp for diving too. We were all aware that it has been awhile since we’d been diving but as soon as we descended it felt like we’d never skipped a beat. With Mark & Anne, it felt like everyone was doing what they always did. Jon was hanging upside down looking into holes, Anne was pointing things out to me and occasionally taking her regulator out of her mouth to mime, which would make me laugh and then my mask would leak. Mark had the familair look like he was taking in the big picture and I was doing whatever it is I do. So much fun we might go one more time since when are we going to have this opportunity again?
We’ve found some nice snorkeling here in Cabo Pulmo. There are lots of schools of fish, free swimming eels, eagle rays, lobster and a great sea lion colony. All of us have done some really long swims, twice out around the point at Los Frailles to swim with the sea lions. We’ve had as many as 5 in the water with us and more basking in the sun on their big rock. I didn’t realize that they arf under water too but we had a wonderful interaction with them and could see & hear one repeatedly talking. He/she would get within a couple of feet from our faces and look at us like a puppy dog trying to tell us something and you could see he was sad to see us eventually swim away. It was so peaceful how it would hang in the water just gazing at us or gracefully swimming around us as we dove down and hung on to rocks on the bottom or twirled in the water. It really is a great experience. And I love the fact that we can get there under our own arm power and have a quiet time with them. We didn’t have the camera because it’s hard to swim with it but we intend to go back and get some photos.
Aside from snorkeling, there’s trails for hiking in the hills and nice beaches to walk on. We spent our time doing all of these things and enjoying each other’s company. A sample day would be something like taking a run or hike in the morning, then a mid day snorkel or two then a hike or walk in the afternoon, my favorite kinds of days!
The weather has been sunny & warm with some gorgeous sunsets. One eve we hiked up to a hilltop to catch it all in photos.
This is a special place and we’ve been sharing it with special people. Making memories for sure.