Category Archives: Mexico

Coco’s Corner, a Magical Forest and a Mission

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.

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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.

Motorcyle hanging outside Coco's.
Motorcyle hanging outside Coco’s.

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.

Campo Archelon
Campo Archelon…we made it!

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.

Antonio's and Bety's beautiful home at Campo Archelon.
Antonio’s and Beti’s beautiful home at Campo Archelon.
Signs we saw along the way in Bahia de los Angeles.
Signs we saw along the way in Bahia de los Angeles.
Another signpost dispensing more good advice.
Another signpost dispensing more good advice.

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.

Beautiful sunrise
Beautiful sunrise
Taken just as the sun was peeking over the horizon.
Taken just as the sun was peeking over the horizon.

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!

Our guide in search of Moby Dick.
Our guide in search of Moby Dick.

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.

Antonio's map to the magical forest.
Antonio’s map to the magical forest.

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.

Dr. Seuss boojum trees.
Dr. Seuss boojum trees.

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.

Some details about the Mission.
Some details about the Mission.
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A look inside the mission.
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A view of the Mission and the beautiful mountain backdrop.

 

 

 

First days in Mexico

Our border crossing into Mexicali was uneventful. We went through the eastern-most border crossing after reading that there would be less traffic. The US border patrol seemed to be more interested in why we were going into Mexico than the Mexican border patrol who just waved us along. Once through we stopped to get our tourist visa and then we were on our way!

Our first stop was San Felipe, 125 miles south of Mexicali on Mex 1. The roads were easy to navigate and I faithfully followed the speed limits while all of Mexico sped past me. I didn’t want to encourage a meeting with the Mexican police.

We arrived at San Felipe in the late afternoon and chose Playa Bonita RV campground after visiting the four available campgrounds along the beach just north of town. After setting up camp, Poncho, the camp manager, drove us down to the main strip and gave us a little tour of the place along the way. It’s a tiny town with only two main streets so the tour was very short.

We found a really tasty taco stand at the south end of town. If you’re in San Felipe, stop by. It’s the only stand where they were cooking the food along the sidewalk with tables and a bar set inside the building. They had amazing grilled chicken and pork al pastor (roasted on a vertical rotisserie). We don’t remember the name but you can’t miss it.

Given all of the driving to this point, we decided to stay another day in San Felipe. It was a pretty little town and our first place along the Sea of Cortez. We walked to the Centro to get something for lunch and decided on another popular looking restaurant. When choosing our restaurants, we favor the ones that have more local patrons. Given our waiter’s limited English, I was forced to try out my broken Spanish with mixed results. I thought that I ordered 4 items but we ended up with two additional items and potentially more on the way when I finally told him…basta! enough! Nada mas!

The next day we continued south along the Sea of Cortez toward Puertocitos. We stopped at the Valley of the Giants to see the Giant Saguaros. In 1992, Mexico sent one to Spain as a gift in commemoration of the 500 year anniversary of the discovery of Mexico. These giants grow to over 10 tons and live to be more than 2,000 years old. They don’t sprout their first arm until they are around 75 years old. Of the more than 40 million seeds it produced in its lifetime, maybe one will survive to maturity.

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I’m almost 6′ tall and am dwarfed by this giant.

DSCN0951When we arrived at the Valley of the Giants, we were met by an engaging gentleman who was busy lassoing a cow skull. We paid him the entrance fee of USD$10 and he pointed us in the direction of the giants. We drove along until the sandy road became too deep for our comfort then headed back out to continue our journey to Puertecitos.

On our way into Puertecitos, we noticed a little shack on the side of the road named Cowpatty.

10 Bucks to whomever guesses what the green thing is in the car!
10 Bucks to whomever guesses what the green thing is in the car!

We made a mental note of the restaurant but went to Puertecitos first, hoping for some other options. We asked the hostess of the campsite in Puertecitos about other food options and the prices for camping and soaking in the hot springs. There was no food to be had and the prices for camping and the hot springs were more than we wanted to pay. We were pretty hungry so we decided to go back to Cowpatty and figure out our next move. For once, I held my expectations in check. With a  name like Cowpatty, who knows what could be in store! Well, they only had hot dogs, chips and soda or beer on the menu. I think this was my first hot dog in over 5 years!

After we finished eating one of the customers told us that there was a good restaurant down the road just past Puertecitos called Christina’s. Great timing! If only he had mentioned that about 5 minutes earlier. 🙂 So Darryl and I got back in the car with fingers crossed, hoping that the restaurant would be open. When we arrived, we saw that the three motorcyclists that passed us earlier and were also at the Puertecitos campsite were there as well. They invited us to sit with them and we had a wonderful dinner sharing stories about our travels, the planning and where we were headed. They are also on their way to the southern tip of Argentina. Check them out at www.3upcollective.com.

After dinner, we decided to stay at the beach in front of Christina’s restaurant. Check out our penthouse view! We thought we had the place all to ourselves until a litter of coyote pups woke us up at about 3 am. What a rough life but I’ll take it!!

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Sunset on our beachfront site.