Continuing south toward the Bahia de los Angeles we passed through Coco’s Corner. This is a must see for fans of the Baja off road races. The roads out to Coco’s Corner were all dirt, rutted and potholed. Darryl was in charge of driving at this point and I was free to enjoy the beautiful desert landscape. Coco is a legend in the off road racing scene and a jovial host. Everyone who says hello to him has to sign his guest book, which is massive, with their name and birth place. He is very particular about this point of birth place.
At Coco’s we met Raul who told us about Campo Archelon in Bahia de los Angeles. He’s been staying there for years and was very enthusiastic about the location. After sketching a rough map to Campo Archelon in the dirt he told us about Antonio, the owner, who was a turtle researcher in a previous life.
After meeting Coco, signing our names and birth place to the guest book, taking photos of the panties hanging from Coco’s ceiling and cool “bad ass” vehicles in the lot we headed back down the road.
After a day’s drive through the desert, the view coming into Bahia de los Angeles was absolutely stunning with its aquamarine colored waters dotted with islands.
We referenced our mental notes of the map to Campo Archelon and arrived at a neatly kept campground originally established as a turtle research center. Our hosts, Antonio and his wife Bety Resendiz, were the first to establish the migratory path of loggerhead turtles in 1995 when a 213 pound turtle they tagged was found off the coast of Japan by local fishermen.
The next day I awoke just before sunrise and enjoyed the changing palette of purples and pinks across the horizon. I’m not a morning person but this beauty is worthy of seriously considering a change in routine.
After breakfast, we spoke with Antonio about scheduling a boat trip out on the bay with his neighbor’s son Angel. Within 30 minutes Angel was ready to take us out in his boat for a little fishing.
We were told by Angel that they fish for ahi, mahi, barracuda, grouper and sea bass among other fish. We trolled for bait by dragging this six inch lure behind the boat at speed. With no luck at trolling for bait fish, Angel decided to stop and fish a couple of spots until we got lucky and caught a small grouper. He cut it up for bait and I fed the head and spine to the pelican that was begging for a little taste.
Darryl was given a pole with two hooks on it. No sooner had he dropped the baited hooks into the water then he was pulling up TWO fish, one on each hook! Wow! After maybe 10 minutes, Darryl was pulling up another! All grouper, but we were having fun pulling them out of the water!
Angel had a bit of Ahab in him so we went in search of another fishing spot to find something larger. Darryl eventually hooked something large enough to bite off the bait and the 6-inch lure! I wonder how that fish is feeling now with all of that metal in his belly. We didn’t hook anything else but Darryl’s catch made for a nice dinner. The wind picked up and we headed back. We were in for another windy night in the tent.
The next day Darryl asked Antonio for advice on what to see on our way toward Guerrero Negro. Antonio drew us a map to Mission San Borja with a side trip to a “magical forest”. The path was along mostly unmarked dirt roads that were not on our map but we had a full tank of gas, plenty of water and a sense of adventure so off we went with map in hand to find what we could find.
As we were driving along the road, we felt transported into a Dr. Seuss book. The forest was full of boojum trees, elephant trees and cardon cactus. Eventually we came to a sign indicating that there were ancient cave paintings in the area. We got out to take a look around but what we found were only a few drawings along one of the walls. They weren’t very impressive so we got back into our car and retraced our path to the start then continued on toward Mission San Borja. We later learned that we were just a few yards from some caves where the real masterpieces were located! If we make it back we’ll definitely make the trip again to see them.
The road to the mission was pretty rough and there were some steep sections that required 4WD. Atfter 20 miles of all dirt roads with no signs indicating whether we were on the right path we finally started to see some small hand-painted signs telling us that the mission was up ahead. This made me feel more comfortable.
Antonio told us that there is a couple that lives at the mission, Jose & Alicia, with their children and grandchildren. We were greeted by Jenaro, one of their children, when we arrived. The family is descended from the Indians that worked there when it was first founded in the 1500’s and have worked the land for generations. Jenaro gave us a tour of the mission and the surrounding spring fed garden. The garden, first planted by the missionaries, still yields figs, lemons, limes, pomegranates and grapes descended from those planted in earlier times. The family also has small herds of sheep, goats and cattle that roam the mountains and they have a few horses used for rounding up the small herd of cattle.
Jenaro was generous with his time sharing with us what life is like living in this paradise. He was home schooled for most of his primary and secondary education and is now in his 4th year of University studying archelology. Given the oral history of his family and a lifetime of exploring the caves full of ancient cave paintings, he has a wealth of practical knowledge that is supplemented now by the University. We hope to return for another visit later in the year to stay for a few days exploring the area with him.