Posted by: glenswatman | January 21, 2008

200801-1-MEXICO Baja California



TUESDAY 1 JANUARY 2008 – Surprisingly
we are all up quite early with only Ron feeling a bit under the weather.  Before leaving we head across to the dump
station followed by Kevin. Just as we are pulling away Ruth comes racing after
us.  Problem – they are in the shit,
literally.  Kevin was walking past the
dump station when his keys fell out of his pocket and down the sewage
hole.  It’s not quite as bad as we first
think as it not the ignition keys but ones for the locker and bike
padlock.  They have no spares so Kevin
borrows a pole from us to try fishing for them.  Not a nice job as it stinks to high heaven and visibility is
zero.  He soon gives up when we find
that our locker key also fits his locker and door.  We can’t stop laughing about it and making wisecracks – “shit
start to the day Kev”, “oh well shit happens” etc.  Once on the highway heading south we pass numerous other lovely
beaches but our goal is the southernmost one on this stretch called El Requesion.  As we come over the top of the mountain the
wind hits us full force.  The beach
itself is windswept in the extreme but most attractive with access to a small
island over a sand spit at low tide. 
Bag a couple of palapas to make the wind bearable and set out to
explore.  A sign says it is 60 pesos
(£3) night but there’s no one to take the money.  Across on the island it is a bit less windy and we walk around
the shoreline then discover lots of stingray skeletons on the beach.  They are really odd as lots of the cartilage
from the wings is still there and they look rather like the concord
aircraft.  Were it not for the wind this
would be a great place to stay but it’s renowned for it and we will just do the
one night.  Spaghetti bolognaise and
cards at our place rounds off the day.



are all up early so head off to take breakfast at a rest area rather than risk
someone coming round for the camping fees. 
It’s a stunning drive first to the end of the Bahia de Concepcion and
then through the mountains.  We can’t
believe just how many cacti there are in Mexico and the sight of them will
always remind us of this country.  In
Loreto we make our way to the marina where we can get water.  Someone show us the taps, they are by palm
trees on the strip that divides the dual carriageway but the local policeman
clears it for us to use them.  He even
comes over and directs traffic around us whilst the hosepipe is connected.  Unfortunately the water flow is painfully
slow and we are embarrassed to stay long enough for a proper fill up.  Walk along the promenade then up the
pedestrian street to the main square. 
It’s really quiet and a far cry from the days when the cruise ships are
in port and dispatching thousands of tourists. 
There are some interesting buildings including a church and it’s all
very appealing.  We take lunch at
McLulu’s tacos bar before heading home. 
South of the town there are huge developments of apartments and holiday
homes plus a golf course.  Beyond this
it gets much quieter and we begin to look out for El Juncalito beach.  The sign leads us to a small community of
homes, again many built up around motorhomes. 
We can see the camping area further round the bay but not how to get
there.  A villager sends us back onto
the main road and tells us to take the next dirt track on the left but warns us
the road in is a bit rough.  An
understatement as the initial wide flat track suddenly drops off in front of
us.  Steve & Kevin get out to
explore further along what looks like a riverbed full of boulders.  They return with smiling faces as we can get
through and there is a really nice free camping area at the end.  In fact we have a choice of camping under
the palm trees or behind the beach and opt for beach.  Here the sand is the darker volcanic variety backed by
boulders.   This is another area
notorious for wind so we position our motorhomes at right angles to create a
windbreak.  Today it is calm and really
hot in our little coral but out neighbour Herb tells us it’s the first calm day
since before Christmas. 



just the waves gently swishing in the background this is a nice quiet spot and
we all wake refreshed.  It’s another
lovely calm day and we are all very happy with this place so set up camp
properly with the awnings out, floor mats and other home comforts.  Steve finds a sandy dip behind the beach
surround by bushes and perfect for a bit of nude sunbathing.  Kevin has an internet signal from across the
bay so we are well suited.  Herbs wife
is home in Canada for the birth of a grandchild so we invite him to join us all
for a BBQ lunch.  He arrives back from a
fishing trip in his boat and offers us his catch to add to our meal.  He has a nice tuna and a few other smaller
fish including bass and says he will cook them and bring them over.  The fish is delicious as are the pork steaks
accompanied by rice and stir-fried veg. 
The meal is rounded off with a cake that Ruth has baked.  Accompanied by a drop, or two, or red wine
we could not be happier.  The water here
is much warmer than on Cocos so we take frequent dips throughout the day.  The only obvious downside here is that we
lose the sun behind a large mountain around 4pm.   



cloudy start to the day leads to a hive of activity when Kevin begins doing odd
jobs around the van and prompts the rest of us into action.  With little wind we find a kind of algae
flowing into the bay turning the sea red. 
A fruit and vegetable deliveryman drives arrives in the camping area and
does a roaring trade.  He tells us he
will be back on Tuesday with bread and eggs. 
We’ve been gathering bits of wood and have enough for an evening
campfire.  Herb joins us along with
newcomers Bruce & Karen.  Both Kevin
& Bruce have guitars so we enjoy listening to their music whilst star



a very hot day and Steve & I are fried out of our “nudist sunbathing hole”
early on.  There seems to be less algae
in the water so we take many cooling dips. 
The birds here are amazing.  Many
of the pelicans fly around together and seem to make synchronised dives into
the ocean making a huge splash.  Late
afternoon we walk around the bay to check out some of the hidden coves but one
has no beach and the other two have stagnant water with stuff floating on
top.  It’s a much warmer evening so we
sit out until late then round off the night watching “Beverley Hillbillies” on



glorious day in paradise.  Quite a few
Mexicans visit the beach for the day but with our motorhomes in an L shape we
just hear them driving past.  The water
is now clear and much more appealing. 
Sit out to enjoy our prawn stir-fry lunch. Steve is very happy when Herb
invites him round to watch football on TV. 
Supper and cards at K&R’s rounds off another great day.



been a cold night and we wake to lots of condensation but things soon warm
up.  Steve & Ruth check out the
snorkelling at the corner of the beach and report a wide variety of fish.  They are running low on food so I invite
K&R to join us for curry and chips at lunchtime.



still calm and we could easily be tempted to stay longer but K&R don’t have
a solar panel and now need to run their generator for 1 hour each day to keep
their batteries topped up and they are also low on supplies.  In fact that’s an understatement as they
were completely out of alcohol by yesterday. 
Guess it’s the first year out syndrome as we still have over half our
supply and bought less than them!  It’s
an easy journey across the country to Ciudad Constitucion.  The large town has confusing roads as the
road you arrive on turns into the service road so you then have to join the
main central stretch.  To turn right or
left you go back onto the service road then make the turn from there.  Luckily we see signs for “Ley” supermarket
well ahead.  As soon as we stop a Police
car pulls up alongside Kevin.  I get our
papers ready in anticipation of a check but they only go to Kevin’s van.  Much gesticulation follows and we can see
Kevin getting frustrated but don’t want to interfere.  Eventually he hands over some money and the Police prepare to
drive off.  A white couple walk over to
speak to us all.  By coincidence it’s
Phillip and Patricia who we are on our way to visit.  Using the Internet Kevin replied to their offer of a place to
park motorhomes so we were on our way to see them.  They spotted the two motorhomes on the car park and wondered if
it was we.  Unfortunately they were not
in time to save Kevin paying a $20 (£10) bribe to the Police.  He was pulled up for not wearing a seat belt
but their motorhome only has lap belts and he was wearing it but not visibly
so.  Without enough command of the
language he found it hard to argue his case even after showing them the lap
belt but with Phillips help he may have done better or managed a cheaper pay
off.  Ley’s is a nice modern supermarket
selling most grocery items but few American imports.  We all do a big shop before driving out to Phillip &
Pat’s.  They stopped full time
motorhoming a few years ago to buy a small basic property with an orange
orchard but having worked hard to partially renovate the home they have found
the task too much and are both missing English speaking company hence their
advert out for visitors.  In fact they
have now sold up and move back to the States next month.  They are a delightful couple and eager for
information about our travels and Kevin & Ruth’s story. 



asks what we want to do in the area and offers to help out with transport
etc.  Ruth stays behind to cut
Patricia’s hair whilst the rest of us go into Ciudad Constitucion to get some
jobs done.  We find a dentist and the
first one asks 400 pesos – 600 pesos for a check up and clean.  The next speaks less English but charges 300
pesos (£15) and can see us in 15 minutes. 
Obviously there is a high price to pay for the English language but we
will muddle through on the cheaper option. He does a great job on the clean and
polish then puts a camera in my mouth and shows me problem areas on a
monitor.  He reckons eHe I need 4 caps at 1500 pesos (£75)
each.  I ask about fillings as an
alternative but he says not.  Whilst the
price for caps is good I am not convinced I need them and also don’t know how
good they would be so pass on that option. 
Steve gets by with just the clean and need no further treatment.  I invite everyone to our place for the
evening meal and Patricia arrives dressed up with her pearls and a hat on.
Steve offers Phil some of our casino beads to match.  I produce my Indian special “Bungi Tallin” served with
“chapattis” (warm tortillas).  We move
to K&R’s for dessert, Ruth’s homemade chocolate brownies.



brought some educational games and gifts for children so Phillip walks us round
to the school in the adjoining “Ejido” of Josefa Ortiz De Dominguez.  David runs the school and teaches the 24
children whose age ranges from 6-11.  He
seems pleased with the maths games and shows us the classroom complete with
computer and overhead projection unit. 
We walk around the village and whilst obviously a poor community most
homes are kept tidy and gardens contain a few plants.  After lunch Phillip drives us all out to San Carlos at the end of
the road.  It’s not the most attractive
place with a power plant and a beach covered in green algae.  The village looks much more neglected and
rather rough in parts.  He then takes us
along a bumpy dirt and sand road to the nicer San Buto beach where we could
free camp but the pleasant beach doesn’t warrant the journey in our
opinion.  Mounds of shells have been
dumped in the area but luckily that’s the only rubbish, unlike in most other areas.  Patricia cooks us all an evening meal in the
house and just on dark a couple of girls on motorbikes ride up to pitch their
tent in the garden.



make a late start after stopping to chat to the bikers Meredith and Laurie as
well as Pat & Phil who really don’t want us to leave.  It’s an easy but not very interesting
journey over to La Paz.  Virtually all
roads converge on this city and it’s big. 
We make our way to CCC supermarket but find things are more expensive
than they were at Leys and the only real attraction is if you want to buy
American products at high prices.  When
we leave there we try to head to the waterfront but lose Kevin en route,
luckily the back up plan is to meet out at the beach.  It’s a very pleasant drive along the attractive waterfront but
the tourist office is not where the book shows it to be.  Further there is a sign for the tourist
office so we take the next turning but find ourselves being shouted at by taxi
drivers as we are going the wrong way up a one-way street.  We abandon everything else in the city, as
there are too many one-way streets, dead ends or narrow lanes and low
trees.  Heading northeast we follow the
winding road around the bay to the ferry port at Pichilingue.  We want information for our crossing to
mainland Mexico.  At Baja Ferries I get
prices for the 6-hour ferry to Topolobampo (6240 pesos motorhome + 710 pesos
pp) and the 18-hour one to Mazatlan (12500 pesos motorhome + 800 pesos
pp).  Offices for the other companies
are already closed.  There is free
camping nearby at Playa Tecolote where vehicles are strewn along the shore
either side of the restaurant.  It’s
quite windy but we get a pleasant spot with a bit of shelter behind shallow
dunes.  Over an hour later we are
relieved to see K&R roll up.   We
all take a walk along the beach and decide that we have the best overall spot
even though we do lose the sun a bit earlier because of the ubiquitous
mountain.  Meredith & Laurie arrive
on their bikes and I invite them to join us for a meal.  They are both in their early 40’s and biking
down through Central America to parts of South America.  However only 2 weeks into their trip they are
both a bit disillusioned with camping in tiny tents.  K&R join us after for a chat followed by cards



set out to cycle to the port for the other ferry info whilst we dog sit
Whiskey.  A very productive trip as they
get prices for the “Transportacion Maritima De California” freight ship to
Mazatlan, 6450 (£320) motorhome plus 750 pesos (£37) pp.  Spend the afternoon relaxing after our BBQ
lunch.  The sea here is rougher and too
cold for me to be tempted in.  Late
afternoon we set out to walk to the end of the beach but get side tracked
talking to other campers.  Hamburgers
followed by cards at K&R’s to round off the day.



is really the only day the Mexicans have off work so we expected it to be busy
on the beach but not starting at 2am with cars using the track as a
racecourse!  After lunch we walk to the
next beach “Playa Balandra”.  It’s full
of Mexicans but a beautiful tropical style sheltered bay.  Luckily it is low tide so we can walk around
underneath the overhanging rocks and see the famous “mushroom rock” and then
continue past numerous other attractive bays. 
We notice that the tide has turned so rather than chance going further
we scramble up and over the rocks and get a fine view of Tecolote Beach camping
area.  Late afternoon Kevin spots the
rare sight of a “Yacht Ferry” going past with 3 superb boats on board. 



a cloudy breezy days and a few motorhomes move off but we are happy just to
relax.  German neighbours Ulrich and
Brigitte come round to chat.  They
shipped their “unimog” over to Baltimore and are a well-travelled and
interesting couple. 



needs to drive to La Paz for Internet so we agree to an early departure as
well.  Road signs in La Paz are
non-existent so even taking the main road to head south involves getting lost
and asking directions.  Once out of town
it’s easy to take the western part of “the loop”.  Todos Santos is famous as The Eagles based their song “Hotel
California” on the hotel in town.  We
drive down the main street and park beside the hotel.  It’s very attractive and the restaurant is filled by a coach load
of American tourists who are happy to pay the high prices to dine there.  We are content with browsing around and then
wandering through the small town centre with lots of craft and tourist
shops.  South of town and just after
km64 we turn off to Cerillos Beach.  The
road is badly corrugated and we shake our way along very slowly whilst being
passed by speeding cars.  Reach the
fenced in compound of Cerillos Beach Club and park up to investigate.  We find out that this is a private area but
we can camp here overnight if we use the bar or restaurant.  However further along the beach is an area
with free camping and someone is vacating a nice spot tomorrow morning so we
have put our name down for it.  4 drinks
in the bar total $20 (£10) so not as cheap as paying to camp!  The beach is a lovely sweep of soft white
sand with surfers enjoying the waves. 
Sitting out late afternoon it’s possible to see the grey whales passing
by in the distance.  Unfortunately
developers have cottoned on to the appeal of this area and most of the land
behind the beach has been pegged out into lots of sale. 



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