Posted by: glenswatman | January 1, 2008

200712 – 2- December MEXICO Baja California

SUNDAY 16 DECEMBER – Mex 1 now takes us near
the coast to El Rosario where we tank up with gas, as it will be over 300 miles
before we reach another proper petrol station. 
Turning inland the narrow highway takes us up into the mountains but
this time through forests of cactus. 
These are the “cirios” and “cardones” varieties that grow up to 16m
tall.  Luckily there are few lorries on
the road as passing space is sparse. 
Drop down to more dessert but now with huge boulders between the cacti,
quite a strange landscape.  In the midst
of this is the small town of Catavina our planned destination.  The first campground is in town but very
bleak and wind blasted. The “town” itself is a ramshackle collection of
accommodation that looks like it should be closed and shanty style homes
surrounded by loads of junk.  Not at all
inviting.  On the southern outskirts of
town Rancho Santa Inez is marginally more appealing for camping and further
away from the road.  Take a short stroll
around the area, up to their private airfield and on the opposite side between
the magnificent cacti.  Surprisingly we
are joined by a number of other motorhomes overnight but no generator noise.


600 PESOS (£2.70)


MONDAY 17 DECEMBER – After more hilly terrain
we finally reach a flatter more desert like area with dried up lakes.  Traffic is sparse and the few lorries that
come past us must be gambling on that fact as they overtake on blind bends, dips
in the roads and approaching hills.  We
turn off on one of the few main roads off the Mex 1 towards Bahia de Los
Angeles.  From the top of a hill we get
our first peak at the Sea of Cortez and Bahia de Los Angeles in an attractive
bay fringed by islands.  The small fishing
village is very basic but does have a gas station and supermarket.  The road south around the bay is too rough
for us but heading north towards Punta La Gringa we make it to a beachside
campground.  It’s a real has been of a
campground and basically just parking but at $2 (£1) night still within our
budget and the proceeds go to the local school.  It’s a very attractive spot directly behind the beach and with
very few other campers and all of them Canadians.  Apparently it is normally full at this time of year but bad
publicity about a couple of incidents on the Baja coupled with high fuel prices
have kept many away.  It’s warm enough
to sit out and stroll around in T-shirts and Steve even braves a dip in the ocean. 


$2 (£1)


TUESDAY 18 DECEMBER – It’s still not warm
enough for us to put down roots but another day here won’t go amiss.  Ruth is a hairdresser so I get a hair cut
then we crank up the generator to give ourselves a blow dry and hair straightening
session.  As always Steve never fails to
amaze me with what he brings back from his walks, this time a sharks head that
looks like a mask.  Notice from my diary
that although the camping is very cheap in Mexico we have spent more on camping
this last week, $39 (£19) than in the whole of any previous months!  Sit out around the campfire in the evening
mulling over what a great lifestyle we all have.



WEDNESDAY 19 DECEMBER – It’s been a windy
night with lots of dogs barking so we are all up early and ready to hit the
road.  Just before we rejoin Mex 1 we
see a strange kind of mist ahead.  It’s
low lying and all the way across in front of us, rather like a sea mist except
that we are now inland and part of it is brown, perhaps a fire ahead.  Turning on to the main highway we are happy
to see a coach come towards us leading us to believe the road ahead is clear
and in no time at all we are through the mystery mist.  Sections of the road have huge potholes and
a bad surface but this doesn’t stop the lorries tanking past.  Just north of Guerrero Negro, at the 28th
parallel, we reach the checkpoint to enter Baja California Sur (the southern
part of the peninsula).  They are
supposed to be checking for fruit but we have heard they will confiscate
anything they fancy so my meat is bundled up and hidden in the laundry
basket.  An inspector enters Ruth &
Kevin van and takes a couple of apples. 
A different one walks to Steve window and asks about fruit but we tell
him we have eaten ours and he accepts that. 
Next we pay 20 pesos (£1) for disinfecting our vehicle, driving over a
hose with holes cut in it!  The highway
is now slightly wider and in better condition but with more traffic.  At Vizcaino we see Kadekaman Motel advertising
RV parking and free wi-fi.  Kevin
supplements their income by playing the stock market and could use a good
session and I can also catch up on mail. 
$10 (£5) night includes use of bathroom and electricity.  With the laundry in town asking 48 pesos (£2.40)
to use their washing machines we can offset this against the camping by doing
some hand washing on site.  Park by the
orange groves and the owner says with permission to take any oranges off the
ground.  The rest of the afternoon is a
hive of activity rounded off by the best shower so far in Mexico. 


$10 (£5)


THURSDAY 20 DECEMBER – It’s an incredibly cold
and misty morning and still like it when we leave after 10am.  Our first stop San Ignacio is a real oasis
in the desert.  A river flows through
the town creating a lagoon. 
Surprisingly there are proper concrete footpaths and streetlights.  We park in the main square and wander round
to admire the old mission church and other traditional buildings.  Although it is all very pleasant there seems
little to induce us to stay overnight. 
A very steep winding roads drops us back down to the east coast at Santa
Rosalia an town with an old disused copper mine and port.  Ships that exported the copper returned with
wood and iron, which were used as building materials.  The book tells us Eiffel himself designed the local church.  We want to do a major grocery shop prior to
hitting the beaches so plan to park, shop then look around.  Drive our motorhomes up the “main street” and
only just make it through to the far end of town with no chance of
parking.  Ruth & I go walkabout but
can only find tiny shops and don’t get a good feel for the place.  Head out of town as fast as we can and as
time is pressing on we settle for San Lucas Cove RV Park full of long term RV
visitors.  It’s on the beach but nothing
outstanding and facilities are minimal. 
Watch at movie at R&K’s called All over America about a couple who
drop out to travel in an RV, a subject dear to all our hearts.


$8 (£4)


FRIDAY 21 DECEMBER – The next town along is
Mulege with a lovely oasis setting. 
After crossing the river on the new flyover we double back on a dirt
track to park beside the river and below the town.  Steve stays with the motorhome whilst Kevin, Ruth and I set out
to find a supermarket.  It’s a lovely
little town with a fair sized supermarket in the main square.  We decide to explore further before shopping
and find many more supermarkets and between them manage to fulfil our
lists.  Feeling rather like a packhorse
I return to the van leaving Steve & Kevin to go back for the booze.  Whilst they are gone I chat to other
motorhomers who are parked and learn that there is a laundry in town.  Also gather information on the many beach
camping areas, most of which we had been told were free but now learn that free
camping here means low fees, usually under $10.  Steve & Kevin are gone ages as they find yet another
supermarket and also hear about Father Christmas appearing in the stadium at
noon.  We now feel very comfortable here
so all set out to the laundry that has numerous washing machines and a
reasonable price of 190 pesos (95p) per load. 
During the 20 minute cycle we find a store that fills your containers
with purified drinking water for 10 pesos (50p) 25 litres and there meet
another camper who recommends Coco Beach the same one the other couple are
on.  Drop the laundry at the vans and
catch the tail end of the Father Christmas prize handout having missed the kids
all bashing the paper donkey to get the sweets out.  Stop at a local street stall for fish and prawn tacos, 115 pesos
(55p), served with a selection of salad vegetables.  Our extended leisurely visit to Mulege has been extremely
productive and we are now ready to find our Christmas spot on the beach. At the
gas station we are offered and buy 1-kilo scallops for 100 pesos (£5).  We are now in Conception Bay with clear blue
water and sandy beaches.  In fact this
area is used on the cover of many tourist brochures.  The first easily accessible beach is the wide flat bay of
Santispac.  A little further on Cocos
Bay is more to our liking, it’s still near the road but backed by mangrove and
surrounded by hills.  Each camping has
its own palapa (thatched hut) right on the beach and we bag two spots together
near the far end.  There’s a dump
station, rubbish bins and pit toilets that even Steve won’t use but the setting
alone is worth the price.  We are soon
sat out toasting ourselves to our piece of paradise.  Many of the long-term residents come past to introduce themselves
and we are invited to join in the Christmas dinner plus other activities.  Some people have gone to great trouble
personalising their camping areas with decorations, additional rooms, signs and
other accessories.  Most are Canadians
who come here every winter having explored the Baja and decided this is the
best spot.  To them we are known as
transients!  We cook up the scallops and
sit in Kevin & Ruth’s palapa to have dinner but we either didn’t prepare
the scallops correctly or were sold bad ones as they are like rubber!


600 pesos (£3)

John (Hungarian) & Margaret (Canadian)

Harold & Joyce (Canadians)

Ron & Marylyn & dog Tope (Canadians)

Lawrence & Rikki (Canadians)

John & Margaret & dog Emma (Canadians)

Chewy & Elaine (Americans)

Gordo & Shirley (Canadians from Kalowna)

Steve (English) & Liz (American)

Ron & Louise (Canadians – Yukon)

Gordo & Gwen (Jamaican)


SATURDAY 22 DECEMBER – Wake up and open the
blind so that we can lie in bed admiring the view.  With the wind rocking the van and a high tide we could easily be
on a ship.  Apparently this is the Santa
Anna wind again and once it starts it goes on for 3 or 4 days.  Doesn’t stop us sitting out in the shelter
of the palapa though.  We try to read
but keep being distracted by hummingbirds buzzing close by, pelicans diving
down for fish plus other water birds displaying their feeding tactics.  A number of vendors come by selling mainly
blankets and jewellery but there is no pressure and they soon move on.  Take a short stroll along the beach to meet
a few of the other campers.



SUNDAY 23 DECEMBER – Along with K&R we
walk to the small settlement of Posada Concepcion.  Up on the hill Kevin gets out his computer and with the aid of
his mini satellite dish he has an Internet connection.  It’s quite bizarre to be sitting there
reading and sending messages.    The
“village” itself is delightful, very small and made up of homes built around
caravans and motorhomes amongst purpose built beach houses.  In the middle of one of the streets is a
small plunge pool filled with natural hot spring water.  Return via Escondido Beach where we meet a
couple of hippy style campers who are just settling in. They have a proper
house sofa out on the beach and inside the palapa have hung up all their
possessions.  Inside the odour of wacky
baccy permeates the air and this seems amusing as the book they have left out
on the bench is called “how to give up smoking”.  In the afternoon most people gather at Judy & Howard’s for
gift giving. We all take along gifts valued between $5 and $10 and place them
on a mat.  When it’s your turn you take
a gift, open it and either keep it or swap it with someone else’s.  Gifts can only be swapped twice before they
are frozen. This continues with much merriment until all the original gifts
have been taken.  We then break for
lunch made up of snacks brought along by everyone.  Next the gift exchange resumes in reverse order until finally I
end up with a pair of linen pants, and Steve gets some toiletries that I had
given Ruth to donate. Our evening meal is at K&R’s followed by a couple of
episodes of Darling Buds of May.



MONDAY 24 DECEMBER – A pod of frolicking
dolphins in the bay get us off to a good start.  4 Belgian lads came to camp up last night and I invite them round
for hot drinks.  They are also members
of “Couchsurfing” but have not found any members in this area.  Steve & Liz call down to see if we would
like to go across to one of the island on their boat.  Ruth is busy cooking so Steve takes Steve, Kevin & I over on
the first trip.  There’s a pretty little
beach but it’s much windier than Cocos. 
By the time Steve returns with Liz & Ruth it’s blowing up quite a
storm and the sea is getting choppy. 
They decide it is time to beat a hasty retreat with Kevin, Ruth, Liz
& Steve heading back first.  We are
along on our own deserted island with no wish to be abandoned so are pleased
when Steve returns for us.  However it
has got so choppy that it takes a few attempts for us to get off the
island.  We have to bail out for most of
the crossing and big waves drench us all but it’s fun.  Back on “our” beach we soon warm up in the
sun.  John has given us some fresh “Sand
Bass” and they are still alive in a box. 
Steve & Kevin struggle to kill them, Kevin even dons rubber gloves
but then gets spiked by one.  John tells
them they should be skinned alive and shows them by example.  Steve takes up the challenge and is soon
surrounded by friendly pelicans.  At one
point Ruth is able to hand feed them the leftovers.  Ruth & I have a hairdressing session in the afternoon taking
it in turns to blow-dry and straighten each other’s.   We eat the fresh fish for tea and its quite good although very
scrappy portions.  Just deciding what to
do for the evening when we hear carol singers. 
Starting at the far end of the beach people have been walking along
standing outside the motorhomes singing and inviting the inhabitants to join
the procession.  Most people are covered
in Mexican blankets and carry candles so it’s very atmospheric.  The procession ends at John & Margaret’s
and they provide chocolates and shortbread whilst neighbour Harold comes out
with some wine.  A very festive and
unique way to kick of Christmas.



TUESDAY 25 DECEMBER – It’s a most beautiful
calm morning for this idyllic location. 
With K&R we walk to Posada Concepcion to use the Internet to contact
people.  Unfortunately everyone in the village
must have the same idea as the signal is poor and the quality of phone calls
too bad for us to continue.  Whilst
there we have a dip in the hot tub which Steve finds almost too hot.  So that’s it I’ve had my Christmas day
bathing experience.  Sit out sunbathing
until mid afternoon when we all gather up at John & Margaret’s for the
Christmas dinner.  I’ve made a broccoli
and cheese bake and everyone takes something along to go with the 2 huge
turkeys.  There are about 30 people in
all to enjoy the superb buffet.  We all
have waterfront tables with a stunning view and it’s a perfect way to
celebrate.  In true Christmas style we
all eat too much and some of us also drink too much.  Round of the day by watching the Christmas episode of Darling
Buds of May on DVD.



WEDNESDAY 26 DECEMBER – Take a leisurely
stroll along the beach to meet any new campers.  Quite a few families have arrived and one of them have come from
Canada but used to live in Gisburn, near Keighley Yorkshire!  In return for Ruth cutting my hair I give
her a massage and also one later on for neighbour Rikki who has a bad
back.  Lawrence & Ricky have invited
to 4 of us for tea and we enjoy a fish stir-fry.



THURSDAY 27 DECEMBER –Join K&R for a rid
in to Mulege to pick up a few supplies. 
We have definitely been here too long as there are many people in town
that we know.  It’s late afternoon when
we get back so I do a quick stir-fry for us to share.



FRIDAY 28 DECEMBER – Steve has an upset
stomach so lingers in bed.  It’s another
nice but windy day so I sit in the palapa. 
Mid afternoon the gas truck comes round and is able to fill our tanks
with butane (5.42 pesos litre, 54p). 
Steve’s feeling a little better in the evening so we join K&R for
cards and stew but he does complete the sick DOG (day off grog) day.  Kevin cranks up the generator in the evening
and we have now figured that when one of us does this the other one might as
well plug in the electric so we have power to watch a DVD.



SATURDAY 29 DECEMBER – We’ve all been pretty
lax in leaving things out overnight but this morning Kevin finds his walking
boots have taken a hike – without him. 
Even worse we hear that John’s outboard motor has also been stolen.  Luckily Kevin’s boots turn up later at the
far side of the creek, they are not even wet and appear to have just been
abandoned but unfortunately John is not so lucky in finding his engine.  It’s such a beautiful calm day that Ruth
& I brave it into the water for a quick swim.  Late afternoon we take Whiskey for a walk to Escondido Beach
whilst Steve & Kevin play backgammon. 
There are many more campers there now and mostly the younger crowd with
surf boards. A huge pit has been dug and they are just about to put a pig into
it to cook on the coals. 



SUNDAY 30 DECEMBER – We relocate a few miles
north to Sanispac Beach.  Initially we
park in the main area whilst Ruth & I take Whiskey for a walk to check out
the track round the side of the bay.  It
leads to many other camping areas including a more remote beach on the far side
of the peninsula.  People tell us no one
is camped there because of the wind but it feels fine to us.  By the time we have driven the motorhomes
round the wind has got up and even positioning them as windbreaks it is still
pretty wild but at least we are well away from the road.  Mid afternoon we hear a number of cars
arriving tooting their horns and shouting out “cocktails”.  It’s a gang of about half a dozen cars with
people from Cocos Beach who have hunted us down.  Evening at K&R’s where we share a chilli before playing


$7 (£3.50)


MONDAY 31 DECEMBER – For the first time in
many days we have a quiet night, far away from the lorries with their air
brakes.  It’s a bit of a blustery day so
we do lots of reading before inviting K&R for morning coffee with homemade
drop scones.  Steve goes out for a
stroll and invites Ivan & Linda back for a chat.  Late afternoon we are spruced up ready for our evening out so
move the vans to the main beach for security. 
Ron & Louise from Cocos Beach have driven round to join us at Anas
Restaurant.  Meals are being served at
6pm so we take our table and settle in for a long night.  The meal (90 pesos, £4.50) is an excellent
Chilli ReyAna, long thing green peppers stuffed with soft cheese and baked
topped off with chilli sauce, delicious. 
The DJ cranks up the music and the party begins.  Unfortunately there is little of our kind of
music but when there is we enjoy having a dance.  In fact it seems to suit the lads as they would rather just sit
down and knock back a few Corona beers. 
Celebrations begin at 10pm when New York pass into next year. We’ve been
taking it in turns to nip back and check on the vans and when Louise doesn’t
return from the last shift Ron goes over and tells us she is crashed out
asleep.  We’re all full or life and
ready for the celebrations.  At midnight
they play Auld Lang Syne but no one seems to know what to do other than stand around
so I gather our table together to link arms. 
Total bill for the 6 of us, meals and many drinks (29 beers between the
men) is 1315 pesos (£65).  Outside one
of the campers provides an excellent firework display.  One last smoochy record and the bar closes
leaving everyone to amble home to their motorhomes, or in the case of many to
drive off in their cars. 




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