Northbound in Baja

We crossed the border into Mexico on March 21 and on April 15, we awoke in La Paz on our northbound journey through Baja. We wanted to get back to the states within the next week so we could spend some time visiting our Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands, Moab and surrounding areas before the heat of summer made it unbearable. We will cover the distance between La Paz and the border in half the time that we took when we drove south.

We awoke pretty early in La Paz thinking that we would get on the road to Loreto at a decent hour. Instead, we spent a few hours chatting with an interesting character who is trying to completely move out of the US and settle down in Baja. For many reasons, he has decided that the American lifestyle and its geopolitical standing is not for him and he would rather associate himself as a citizen of the world. Since that doesn’t exist, he’ll opt for becoming a Mexican citizen, renouncing his US citizenship.

We finally said good-bye to our neighbor, packed and we were ready to go.

Photographer's home
Photographer’s home

Darryl wanted to get one quick photo of the seriously cool vehicle on the campgrounds. I stayed behind to continue catching up on my journal and after about an hour, I realized that Darryl was probably getting a grand tour of the vehicle and collecting another life story. I was right, he was. The owner of the vehicle was a Dutch photographer who sold everything that he had, leaving his home with just two suitcases, setting out on the road to travel the world in his vehicle. He decided that a life full of things and a physical place  that had to be maintained prevented him from really experiencing life so he sold it all and lives a much simpler existence. It took him awhile to adjust but now he feels more at peace than ever.

What’s fascinating about these encounters is that they are representative of our whole trip so far. It has brought us into contact with people of all backgrounds with interesting life perspectives, giving us the opportunity to have long and involved conversations with many of them. We are learning about different lifestyles that we have never considered in our more traditional life in San Jose. We had our bubble in the US, our work, our family and our friends and once established, these are the circles of influence on a personal basis. Our circles have grown significantly these past few weeks.

Once we got on the road, it would be a long drive to Loreto. The best part of this road is driving over the Gigante Range into Loreto at dusk was incredibly beautiful. It’s a long winding road that provides these spectacular views of the valley and then passed the summit, the waters of the Gulf of California and Isla Carmen are spread out across the horizon. It was absolutely stunning. We ate that evening at this Steakhouse which is on the outskirts of town which was recommended to us by Greg who we met earlier in the trip at Santa Rosalia. After dinner, we returned to the Riviera del Mar RV campgrounds where we stayed earlier in the trip.

Thanks for the recommendation Greg, Jen & Arnold!
Thanks for the recommendation Greg, Jen & Arnold!

I spent a few hours at a wifi coffee shop in Loreto trying to pay some bills and update the blog. I wasn’t very productive since the wifi was so slow but all our bills eventually got paid. Darryl spent the time finding interesting images and entertaining the locals as they watched him photograph walls, windows and doors. 🙂

Doorway images
Doorway images
The frustrated blogger, nothing would upload on this slow wifi.
The frustrated blogger, nothing would upload on this slow wifi.
Lovers in Loreto
Lovers in Loreto

By early afternoon, we were ready to continue our trek north. We tried to eat at Rey’s before leaving Loreto but once again, the place was closed. It’s supposed to be the best tacos in Loreto but we have yet to taste them after four different attempts on four different days!

We were really looking forward to staying at this spit of sand on Conception Bay which was just a short distance up the road but it was Easter weekend which is a very popular holiday in Baja. Over the past few days, we were told on multiple occasions to be especially careful on the roads because everyone would be out driving to the beaches and there would be a lot of drunk drivers on the road. We stopped at every beach we could find along Conception Bay and they were all packed with families enjoying their long holiday weekend. This wasn’t what we had envisioned so we continued north to Mulege. We didn’t arrive until after 8 pm and it was getting dark. We drove into the campground where we stayed earlier and to our surprise it was closed for the season! With nowhere to go, we asked the other residents who lived nearby if they knew of a place for us to go and they told us to go ahead and set-up on the campgrounds. So we went from overly crowded beach options to having a whole campsite all to ourselves in the course of a few hours! We were extremely grateful for this turn of events.

Darryl filling up our ice chest.
Darryl filling up our ice chest.

The next morning we (Darryl) loaded up the cooler with ice and then continued along to San Ignacio where we would stay at the Kuyima Ecotourism camping grounds located along the San Ignacio lagoons where we saw the friendly whales posted earlier. When we arrived at the campsite, we were excited to see that we would have the place all to ourselves. Although it’s along the water, it’s on the Pacific side which was cold and windy. We were happy with the solitude but the price would be a windy night listening to the rain fly blowing all night long. Thankfully we will have ear plugs!

Our camp host invited us into the restaurant area so that we could get in out of the cold and wind. He also shared with us some amazing video taken earlier in the season of some scientists helping a grey whale calf that had fishing gear attached to its fin. Here’s a link to the story. It was pretty incredible seeing how they were able to get close to the calf by first slowing it down with a buoy and then getting near enough to cut the lines entangling the calf. We had a lovely evening walking along the beach enjoying the solitude.

Along the coast near Kuyima.
Along the coast near Kuyima.
Sea shells, sea shells
Sea shells, sea shells
Life is wonderful!
Life is wonderful!

The showers at Kuyima were the most interesting that we’ve encountered yet on our trip. They use a solar system to heat the water in this large holding tank. They provide a bucket which you fill up from the hot water tank mixing it with cold water. You take this into a small shower stall where you’ll find a cup to use for pouring the water from the bucket over you as your shower. I was hesitant at first but the camp host talked me through the whole process and promised that it would be toasty warm in the showers and that the water would feel great. Given this was my only alternative, I gave it a shot and was amazed at how little water we actually need to use! This method is very similar to a “navy shower”. It got me thinking that perhaps we can incorporate these ideas into our home when we build it as a way to conserve water and energy.

The water was HOT in this solar heating set-up.
The water was HOT in this solar heating set-up.
Fill up the bucket mixing hot with cold.
Fill up the bucket mixing hot with cold.
Our shower facilities at the eco-lodge.
Our shower facilities at the eco-lodge.We drove through Guerrero Negro with a short stop for lunch. Rosario was our next town

We drove through Guerrero Negro with a short stop for lunch. After this stop, we would be covering new ground in Baja! I was looking forward to this next section and seeing some new places. We expected to stay someplace near Cataviña which would mean driving 260 miles which would be one of our longer driving days. After the long drive, we were looking forward to settling in for the night. There were a few camping options so we set out to find a spot. The first place was closed, then the second place seemed deserted. I saw clothes hung out to dry so I knew there should be somebody around. After knocking on the door of every building on the site we gave up and continued along the road. Since we were getting low on gas, we drove to the next fuel station on the map located in town only to find it closed and deserted. There happened to be a pick-up truck on the side of the road selling fuel out of the back but  we didn’t want to risk putting questionable fuel into the FJ. We asked around the town where we could find gas nearby. It would be another 70 miles before we could find more gas so we sucked it up and bought 2 gallons of “gas” from the couple at the pick-up truck. They were well positioned at exactly the spot where people would be running out of gas on this long stretch of highway! It cost us $6/gallon for this error plus whatever potential engine issues we might have to deal with in the future.

Now with enough fuel to get us to El Rosario we set out to find a place to camp for the night. Our long day of driving turned into a

Pretty direct messaging at El Rosario campsite.
Pretty direct messaging at El Rosario campsite.

very long day. We broke another of our rules and drove during the evening to make it to town. There wasn’t much that interested us in El Rosario so we left the next morning for San Quintin where we spent the day along the water and Darryl had a little fun taking the FJ along a dirt path near the edge of the cliffs. I got out and took photos since he would be passing too near the cliff’s edge for my comfort!

Darryl's first test drive of FJ in off-road conditions.
Darryl’s first test drive of FJ in off-road conditions.
That's about a 100' drop there!
Note how close the tire tracks are to that edge! That’s about a 100′ drop there!
He loved it!
He loved it!
We found an interesting shipwreck along the beach.
We found an interesting shipwreck along the beach.

There were miles and miles of greenhouses all throughout this area that receives less than 10″ of rainfall per year. The intensive agricultural industry in the region has resulted in the aquifer dropping about a foot per year allowing the sea water from the Pacific Ocean to intrude into the aquifer. The ancient aquifer is expected to be used up within the next 10 years. The produce from these farms is shipped to the US making me wonder where our cheap food will be sourced in the future.

Green houses stretched for miles along the roadside.
Green houses stretched for miles along the roadside.

That evening, we stayed at Meling Ranch which was recommended to us by Lynn and Ed from the Guerrero Negro whale watching tour. We had a lovely evening at the ranch among the mountain scenery.

Approach to Meling Ranch.
Approach to Meling Ranch.

We took the tour of the Observatory the next day. It was located high in the mountains of the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir.

Observatory at San Pedro Martir National Park.
Observatory at San Pedro Martir National Park.

Our last stop in Baja before crossing the border would be Ensenada. Before checking in at our next “campground” in the city, we stopped at La Bufadora which is one of the largest blow holes in North America. To get there, we had to walk through a long line of vendor stalls selling all sorts of trinkets, food, sweets, photos with exotic animals, and who knows what else.

Running the gauntlet of vendors at the Bufadora near Ensenada.
Running the gauntlet of vendors at the Bufadora near Ensenada.

After a loud night at the Ensenada campground, we stopped at the fish market in the morning and then had our last tacos before crossing the border.

Fish stand. The english translations were helpful.
Fish stand. The english translations were helpful.
Our last tacos in Baja.
Our last tacos in Baja.

There was a HUGE line of cars, campers and trucks waiting to cross the border. It was hot and there were vendors making their way up and down the line of traffic selling cold drinks and other snacks. We’re all patiently waiting our turn when some idiot drives up along the line of cars and forces his way in front of a camper. There were some words and gestures exchanged but the intruder held his place. Darryl and I commented to each other about what jerks people can be and how frustrating it is that they get away with that behavior all the time. To our delight and entertainment, we watched as a border agent came along with lights flashing and pulled the cutter out of the line and escorted him all the way back to the end! What a lovely way to end our incredible journey throughout Baja!

4 thoughts on “Northbound in Baja”

  1. I am nervous seeing Darryl driving the narrow path on clif. You both seem to be enjoying self. This beats camping in our back yard in Freemansburg.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s