In Loreto, we visited a museum that highlighted a bit of the flora and fauna of the Loreto Bay National Marine Park, as well as Baja’s history in whaling. Leaving the town of Loreto, we experienced some beautiful vistas of Loreto Bay. We settled in for the night at a coastal town called Juncalito which had a mix of locals involved in fishing, and expatriated American sail boaters involved in booze. The next day we had a relaxing morning on deserted beach at the south end of the town and saw all kinds of action in the water like long needle-like fish sucking up minnows in the shallows, stout bottom fish chasing crabs out of the water, and pelicans dive bombing schools of fish. I wondered if there was anything more important to worry about in this moment. From this beautiful beach, we could see the tall mountains of the Sierra de la Giganta to the west. The peaks were powerful and well chiseled by the hands of time and the visible sedimentary lines gave clues to its ancient history. These were the mountains we were about to climb. First we checked out an abandoned business venture in a site called Puerto Escondito (Hidden Port), a natural harbor used for parking sailboats. Remnants of big plans for a town could be seen in an unfinished resort and beautiful lamp posts throughout the blocks of nothing but curbs and dusty streets. As the afternoon came around and the sun became less strong, we made a break for the mountains and accomplished a fair bit, including the tougher inclines of the pass. We had our first cool night of camping in about a week because we were up high. An early start the next morning got us back to comfortable flats by midday. Peace of cake! Our legs are getting stronger. We breezed through the cities of Insurgentes and Constitucion and made our final two day run through Baja to La Paz in dusty cactus covered desert.
I forgot to mention in the last update that we learned how to make flour tortillas at Playa Los Naranjos. Thank you Lucy! Something you might not be able to imagine but is true, is cows can actually eat cacti! We got a nice tour of a small dusty ranch of a few cows and a couple pigs. I noticed a couple cows had pieces of cactus stuck to their lip and above their eye. Oh yea, they eat them alright, spines and all.
We were full of smiles as we entered La Paz. I felt like we had reached a milestone in the trip. We finished cycling Baja California, a little over 1000 miles!
After a couple days in La Paz, we stored our bikes with some new friends, Jim and Gloria and took off on a hitchhiking trip south to check out Los Cabos. The road extends from La Paz and then branches out to form a loop around the tip of southern Baja. Our first stop was Todos Santos, a small community of expatriate American and Canadian artists near the Pacific Ocean. We checked out a few art galleries here and spoke with a few locals before moving on to a beautiful secluded beach called Las Palmas. This stretch of Pacific coastline is known for its wave action and is visited by many surfers. When we reached Las Palmas after a 5 km hike, there was no one on the beach but us. Las Palmas is named so because there are many palm trees near the beach that drink from a fresh water lagoon less than 100 yards from the ocean. After a peaceful night camping, we encountered some fisherman digging up crabs on the beach for bait. They start at a hole in the sand and grab the 3-4 inch crabs from their home. We moved on to the small town of Pescadero and had a nice talk about politics, tourism, and war with an Italian man named Walter, who had been living here with his family for some time. We made it to San Jose del Cabo that evening, bypassing the famous (or infamous, depending on your views) Cabo San Lucas, which was described to me as even more out of hand than Cancun. The whole coastline from San Lucas to San Jose was beautiful, but some American tourists’ high standards of travel have planted huge hotels, golf courses, cheesy clubs and expensive homes all along the way. And of course with that kind of tourism come the people who only see the traveler for the money, thus making it a less desirable place to visit for someone like me. We landed in San Jose del Cabo and after a quick walk down the main strip of shops selling T-shirts, silver jewelry, ceramics, and colorful blankets, we got a ride to a nice small beach town nearby called La Playita. There was still a scent of high end tourism on a section of the beach with the sight of pangas (boats) lined up waiting to take you fishing for Marlin, Dorado, or Yellowtail, and gas powered gliders offering to fly you along the beach. But we managed to immerse ourselves in the beauty of this laid back beach town and after pitching a tent near the beach, spent much of the afternoon swimming and body surfing in the warm water. After a great breakfast of smoked marlin omelet cooked by an expatriate Algerian named Ali, we hitched further north on what is called the East Cape of Southern Baja to a place called Cabo Pulmo. Cabo Pulmo is unique to Baja in that it has the only coral reef. The water was clear, warm and beautiful, the best we’d seen yet. Alex picked up a cheap pair of goggles in San Jose and we used them to check out the colorful fish swimming around the reef only meters from the beach. We camped right on the beach and had a nice music jam by fire with a fellow traveler named Warren. Cabo Pulmo has its share of gringos and high end clientele, but again we made the best of it and enjoyed the laid back scene to the fullest. The next day we headed back to La Paz, riding along the scenic and mountainous eastern part of the loop.
Throughout our little side trip, rides came pretty easily and all but one were from local Mexicans. We continue to be amazed by the generosity and hospitality of the people of Baja. It’s all good!
We are now in La Paz, the capitol of Baja Sur will be heading for the mainland to Mazatlan by ferry, an 18 hour overnight journey. We have been able to enjoy the amenities of a big city and check out the Museum of Anthropology of Southern Baja and learn a bit of history as well. I think our month in Baja couldn’t have gone better.
Highlights: Getting over the Sierra de la Giganta (our last big climb), Beautiful beaches, Cabo Pulmo coral reef, hitchhiking side trip around the southern tip (a wonderful rest!), continuous good feelings from locals, and finishing Baja!
Downers: Losing my wallet at Cabo Pulmo and getting sunburned while trying to find it, and tent pole breaking.
Peace and Love from Baja!