The last week has taken us through some breathtaking vistas: desert and beach, rocky cliffs, salt flats, dusty cities and mud. Lots of mud. Lorraine has been a trooper the whole way, despite her lack of air conditioning and the creaks and grinding sounds emanating from her belly. We have arrived in La Paz and are getting ready to catch the ferry to the mainland mañana.
As we've crisscrossed Baja, every night has been completely unique in terms of experience, location and orientation to sunset. We spent our first night in a motocross / bikers' hostel, atop a rocky cliff, near the water, called Coyote Cal's. We spent the evening chatting with Nate, a friendly Portland native who was working the front desk and the bar. Highlight: We had our first tacos of the trip in town, in Erendira. And the sunset was beautiful. Lowlight: realizing a bit too late that we could have stayed for free on the beach right below the place. We were a bit green at that point.
Day 2, Jessie's birthday, had us on our first foray onto the muddy, rocky secondary "roads" from Highway 1, headed out toward Punta Baja. Punta Baja, a teeny-tiny fishing village that that juts out into the Pacific, is a sharp right turn off Highway 1 just past the Pemex in Rosario. This rocky outpost houses about 6 people full-time with one small "restaurant" - Don Chuy's. We spent a pleasant dinner with Don Chuy and his wife Betty. Don Chuy regaled us with a song of a lover without money on Ian's guitar. Later two guards posted there to watch over the fish and lobster traps for the fishermen arrived and told us how if we needed them, they would be there all night, protecting the lobster traps and boats from marauding fish-nappers from other towns.
There was no one there but us. We set up camp at the very edge of the point, near a weather-monitoring tower. We strung up the hammock, had a few cervezas, and enjoyed the view. It was a muy perfecto birthday. If you're headed that way, high clearance and a 4x4 are recommended.
Day 3 took us across the desert to the Sea of Cortez - to the Bay of Los Angeles. We camped at Guillermo's, a sleepy campsite on a sleepy beach with very few people on it. The people that we did see were mostly gringos - snow birds from the states who live down there much of the year. Guillermo's has a nice little restaurant on it, with delicious fish.
Again, the sunset was gorgeous as it set over the mountains, but the moonrise really took us by surprise. Moments after darkness fell, a giant full moon emerged from behind the rocky cliffs in the distance. Ian gave an audible gasp when he saw it. We ate fish (so much fish!) and pet cats and dogs, of which there were tons. Lovely place, lovely evening. We pitched the tent next to the car on the beach and enjoyed some space to stretch out in after a few nights in the car.
Day 4 had us off-roading much of the day. We had a tip on a "shortcut" from the Bay of LA to our next stop, Guerrero Negro, which took us by the old Misión de San Francisco Borja. It's a beautiful and very well restored and the family that now takes care of it will happily show you around. It's a rocky two hour ride that was also well worth it. We saw many cacti and some jackrabbits.
Guerrero Negro is Grey Whale territory. We ate at the Taqueria El Gordo (highly recommended!) and used our first (slow) wifi of the trip. (Yes!) Then we opted to stay out of town, on the Bahia De Los Ojos Liebres, which ended up being a state-park kind of place, on the water, on the other side of the largest expanse of Salt Flats in the world. We got to take home some salt rocks as souvenirs.
Day 5 gave us whales, whales and more whales! So many whales. For around $40 you can see hundred of whales. You can touch them! The waters off Baja, and this bay in particular, just fill up with mama-whales and their newborn babies this time of year. We went out on a tour that is provided by the park service and were soon surrounded. First thought: this is as close to being in Jurassic Park as a person can get. These animals are enormous! and they come right up to the boat. You can touch whales. WE TOUCHED WHALES.
After the whales, we hopped back in the car and headed back to the other coast of Baja - to the beaches south of Mulege. There are many all along route 1, and they were all FULL of retired Ex-Pats. They come down in their RVs and build their own houses right on the sandy beaches. We ended up staying on Playa El Burro, where we dined at Bertha's (the only restaurant on the beach) and met the Gringo proprietor, Bob Gray (from Bend, OR). Bob, who moved to the area 23 years ago, told us many things about the area and his DJ career. He also took us through his many works of fiction that he has written since retirement. Including Mirror, Mirror, My Name is Ramona, and The Vacation From Hell (all of which can be found on Amazon). We pitched our tent on the porch of an abandoned palapa-house and spent the night listening to the birds laugh-call and the waves lap at the sand.
Yesterday brought us to La Paz, a bustling bay town with an airport and a Walmart. We are settling up some tourist-visa-business, getting the car's chassis washed, and enjoying the malecon (seaside boardwalk) until we catch the ferry tomorrow afternoon.