Further Adventures in Baja California

I try not to complain about anything having to do with our travels. I really do realize that we are living a charmed existence and our woes are negligible. I learned this lesson when I tried to get sympathy from our friend Justin while we were back visiting in Chico about how

cold our summer up north had been. When I related to him the tragedy of how some days were just too chilly to comfortably read in my hammock… Let’s just say that he very kindly didn’t offer me his shoulder to cry on. That being said, we have had to endure some horror to live out this idyllic beach bum lifestyle.  Emphasis on bum. Our next stop on our tour of the finest beaches in Baja won the gold medal of horror when it came to the facilities. I shudder now just thinking about it. It looked as though the outhouses had been thoroughly abused by the last hurricane and subsequently propped back up over a shallow trench. Rotting wood, blistering fiberglass, peeling paint, remnants of use and abuse, and an opportunity to translate Spanish graffiti about being too grossed out to poop. Ah, Playa la Requeson. You win some, you lose some. And we were paying 200 pesos per night for this horror! The beach did have a few things going for it. Like sand. The other beaches on Bahia de Concepcion were sharp shell beaches. This one had lovely fine sand. At low tide, a sandbar appeared that lead out to a small island. It was really peaceful. I snorkeled around the island to see if there was anything remarkable living in the mangroves. That is when I learned that snorkeling near mangroves is very creepy. We had a jumbo-size palapa that fit both of our hammocks (and yes, it was warm enough to read comfortably). The coolest thing about Playa la Requeson happened at night. Bio-luminescence! There was almost no light pollution at that beach before the moon rose. When we would run our hands through the water it was like we were igniting sparklers under water. The tiny lapping waves were sparkly. We threw sand into the water and watched the light show we had incited. Too cool. We knew that there were more beaches to be had so we bade farewell to the soft sand, nightmare toilets and midnight light shows and headed off for our next adventure.

The beginnings of the soon-to-be sandbar out to the island.
Our camp in the glow of sunrise over Bahia Concepcion.
Yes, mangroves are super creepy…

That next adventure was the best! Punta San Basilio! We were following a recommendation from our Canadian neighbors from back at Playa la Escondida. Turn left at kilometer 48 north of Loreto. When you come to a tempting left turn, go right. Best advice yet. We had to go through a couple of barbed wire gates, wave at a farmer, smile at some cows, explain ourselves to one enthusiastic local with a walkie-talkie and then we arrived at the very best beach camping of our whole trip. If you don’t count the sailboat anchored off in the cove we had it to ourselves. There was no cell service and no Wi-Fi. Just peace, quiet and mother nature to keep us company. I think I will forever judge all beach campsites against this one. When we arrived, there was a pod of dolphins hunting up some dinner. They were swimming in tight circles and jumping around a lot. There were even little babies in the group. It was so fun to watch! The snorkeling was the best of the trip so far as well. The water was calm and clear dropping off fairly deep so there was a really broad variety of fishes. We snorkeled until my thumbs went numb and the random jellyfish stings got to be too uncomfortable. At one point, one of the people in the sailboat kayaked to shore to say hello. She was from Dunsmuir, CA! Small world. Eventually, the sailboat headed on leaving us with not a soul for company. In the evenings and early mornings there would be a feeding frenzy along the beach. It was so loud that we heard it from up in our tent and had to go investigate the sound. It looked like a scene from Wild Kingdom when a carcass is lowered into piranha-infested waters. The feeding frenzy migrated up and down the shore for about half an hour at dawn and dusk. You would think with that kind of regularity we would have gotten a good video clip of it. Nope. By the time I would get to the shore it would have moved to the other side. I futilely chased it for the better part of one evening and morning before I gave up and decided that it can just live on in my mind’s eye. One other highlight from that beach was watching a seagull swallow an eel. And then regurgitate the eel and then swallow it again. We spent about three days there only leaving when we ran out of drinking water. 

Our private beach at Punta San Basilio. Heaven on earth.
Dolphins hunting for their dinner.
A ghost crab melting into the sandy matrix.
I have a crush on sergeant majors. Those yellow stripes get me every time.

 Our re-entry to civilization was rough. We were blissed out from our last beach adventure and not looking forward to the urban vibes what were sure to pervade in Loreto, our next destination. We were thinking about just re-provisioning and heading back out into the wilderness. Don’t get me wrong, Loreto is a cute town, but we were really loving the beach solitude. We decided that we would just catch a vibe in Loreto and decide if we wanted to stay or not. It was over a delicious taco lunch that we started getting news from home. A wildfire had started in the California foothills and it was moving through Paradise. So close to home and so frightening. That decided it for us. We were staying in town so that we could be in communication with our friends and family back home. We offered up the use of our mini-motorhome to evacuees but other than that we sat by watching the horror unfold feeling pretty powerless. We stayed in Loreto constantly checking up on the statistics of the fire for a couple of days. The campground we were staying at was filled with other travelers from around the world. They invited us on a boat tour of the nearby Isla del Coronado. We could not say no. I love boating. Thanks to the economies of scale we ended up with a really cheap tour of the island. By the time we left the harbor our boat had Scott and me, four people from France, one person from Italy, and one person from Israel with his little dog, Melissa, whom he adopted from Mexico. We got an up-close view of dolphins and some sea lions. The area where the sea lions were hanging out smelled awful. The tour ended with some beach time on a protected cove on the island. We all got to get out of the boat and play on the beach with the exception of Melissa. Dogs are not allowed. After the boat trip we all went out to dinner and after dinner we all went out to tequila. The next day, Scott and I packed up to keep heading south. 

If you look really close you can see the sea lions (lobos del mar) lolling about at the base of the rocks.
Impromptu yoga session of Isla Coronado.

Agua Verde was the next destination. This required a long and twisty drive out from the highway to the coast. It was a beautiful drive and one that I am thankful we did in good weather. Agua Verde is a tiny little town with not much but beauty and solitude to draw a crowd. We arrived to find that there were some nice new palapas for rent on the beach right next to one of the two restaurants in town. We had been hoping to camp for free but the lure of a nice place to hang the hammocks and access to baños was too much to resist. It was at that restaurant in Agua Verde that we sampled the very best tortillas of our whole trip (so far). They were handmade to order by the proprietress, Lorena. Much to our delight, we were joined by two of our new friends we had made in Loreto! Mikael, who was traveling by BMW motorcycle and David (and Melissa) who were cruising in a schoolie named Shorty. We all shared the fancy new palapa. They were really good sports about joining in when I wanted to try some fun long exposure photography in the evening. In the night the wind started to pick up and by morning it was blowing relentlessly. Mikael and David packed up and left while Scott and I did our best to keep a positive attitude whilst being sandblasted. We had negotiated a discount for our palapa rent by staying three nights so we were stuck in the sandstorm unless we wanted to lose out on the rent we had already paid. By mid-day, we were at our limit with patience with sand. We laced up our tennies and hightailed it away from the beach up the arroyo to see what was at the end of the canyon. When we were planning to go out to Agua Verde we saw on the satellite view that there was a big dark shadow at the end of the canyon. We figured it was either a purposeful obfuscation of an alien landing site or the shadow cast by a beautiful high cliff. Inquiring minds want to know! Once we were a few hundred yards inland the blustery wind became a cooling breeze as we followed a maze of cow trails deep into canyon country. Eventually we turned the corner to enter into the dark blob on google maps to find ourselves at the center of a giant natural amphitheater of stone. There were multiple layers of rock where the ghosts of waterfalls past had left their marks. We ran around in the canyon channeling our inner billy-goats until the fading light reminded us that we needed to make tracks if we were going to be back at our camp by dark. We made it with time to spare and were sad to see the wind was still whipping the sand directly at our camp. The next morning the wind had still not relented. Fine sand had infiltrated our tent covering every part of our selves with grit. Our visit had become a practice in endurance and we were more than happy to move on.

Hammock time.
Just the beginning of our photo shoot fun…
Ghosts in the night…
Love and light.
The most beautiful goat in all of Baja.
This is what was hiding in the shadows…
Just another scenic drive…

In this instance moving on lead us to a series of nights at urban RV parks. Really nice, deserted urban RV parks. The first was in Ciudad de Constitución. There were two swimming pools, huge lawns, a basketball court, hot showers and flushing toilets complete with giant rolls of toilet paper and we were the only patrons. The camping area was a large dusty dirt lot with a couple of palm trees for character. It was bizarre and it was just fine with us -just as long as the wind didn’t pick up and blow the dust around. We were especially happy to be out of the wind and back in cell service so that we could check back in with folks back home. From there we landed at an equally nice RV park in La Paz. It had only one swimming pool but made up for it by graveling the lots to keep the dust down. These stopovers were just that. We were hoping to get back out to the beach and commune with nature.

La Paz is rife with fabulous street art.

From LA Paz we crossed over the peninsula back to the pacific side. We found a great little beach north of Todos Santos to post up on for a few days. It was such a beautiful beach that we easily let hours pass watching the green waves stand up and body-slam the beach while whales passed by in the distance. Each morning we would wake to see half a dozen fishermen spaced out along the beach. I never saw anyone catch anything though. The one man I asked said that the water was too warm and the fishing would be better next month. The lack of fish didn’t seem to faze any of them. I guess it is good to have an excuse to stare at the ocean for a couple hours in the morning. I have no excuse except that it is pretty. The first couple days out there were very quiet and then on the third night we heard faint bells in the distance.  Very consistent ringing of bells. As the night wore on the bells got louder. Eventually we woke in the night to answer the call of nature to discover that our camp was surrounded by cows. Cows with horns and many of them (many cows, the horns were uniformly two per animal). Only one of the animals was wearing a bell but she was good about ringing it. From that point on the cows were never far. The sound track for the rest of our time on that beach was gentle cow bell. Eventually we ran out of food, water and beer and had to pack up. It’s pretty much the story of our lives. Lucky for us we still had more beautiful beaches on the horizon. We stopped in Todos Santos proper to re-provision and find a meal. We started with the meal. Todos Santos Brewing fit the bill for us. We enjoyed a couple of their session IPAs and overpriced portabella mushroom sandwiches. The beers were delicious. We had only one problem and that was that it was Sunday. We have learned that water stores are closed on Sundays. We asked our server at the brewery where we could find a spigot hoping that he would just offer us some of their delicious filtered water. He did not. He did direct us to a spigot on the side of a building that houses the local theater. We only felt a little funny walking through town with our water jugs and filling them on the sidewalk. I wonder how many of the gringos in town were watching us and silently screaming, “Don’t drink the water!” We were tempted to just head back to our camp spot north of Todos Santos but decided to forge on. We didn’t make it far.

Basking in the crepuscular glow on the beach north of Todos Santos.
Scott, becoming one with he setting sun.
The crested cara-cara scanning the desert for carrion.
Queen butterfly posing.
Our beach at Todos Santos.
The main plaza in Todos Santos.

Less than an hour south of Todos Santos we dipped off the main highway to follow an arroyo out to the beach. This was another beautiful unspoiled beach. There were locals hanging out fishing when we arrived and a cute couple having a sunset picnic date. We stayed pretty far back from the water on the beach because the sand was super soft and we had almost gotten stuck trying to leave our last beach. Right when we arrived whales were spouting off really close in to shore. We took it as a sign that we were in the right place. Each morning I would go walk the beach and look for the telltale signs of the sea turtles having come to shore in the night to lay eggs before the tide washed away the tracks. There were fresh tracks each morning. Give it a couple months and that beach is going to be spilling baby turtles out to sea like nobody’s business! It turned out to be a good thing that we had everything we needed to hang out for a while. Poor Scott was struck down once again with a case of digestive malaise. It was a lovely place for him to be able to wallow in misery and eventually recover. I spent my time there alternately reading my book and trying to keep Scott hydrated. In time, Scott perked up and we were able to be the cute couple having a sunset picnic date.

Whales greeting us at Punta Tineja.
One of many spectacular sunsets at our camp on Punta Tineja.
The backside of sunset doesn’t disappoint.
More distant whales.
Turtle tracks heading out to sea.
More mesmerizing waves.

10 Replies to “Further Adventures in Baja California”

  1. The best two sentences that I wish I had written (and lived):
    “Eventually we ran out of food, water and beer and had to pack up. It’s pretty much the story of our lives. “

  2. Merry Christmas, you guys and thanks for the beautiful journey. If it is that gorgeous in photos, can’t imagine how profound the reality must be. Thanks for all the creative effort to record this, love, margie

  3. Love being along on your adventure!!! I think the mangroves look like spider legs!!

    Hope someday I can enjoy a similar journey. Safe travels!

  4. “Ghosts In The Night” image, love it and your stories!
    P.S. I was drinking my morning coffee out of your lovely slab cup while reading this latest adventure. Great bathroom here but no sand or dolphins!

  5. I absolutely love reading about your adventures and the pictures are fabulous! Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us all. Best wishes for happy and healthy holidays!

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