Posted by: glenswatman | February 2, 2008

200801-2- MEXICO Baja California

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. 



we had planned to move on together Kevin wants to stay, as there is free wi-fi
from the café.  We return to the main
road then pull off just after km67 and down a shorter dirt track to the beach
camping area.  Canadians stay here all
winter and have created a mini desert golf course.  Once again this area is pegged out into lots so free camping will
probably be gone by next winter.  “Our
spot” has not yet been vacated but neighbour Marilyn invites us round for
coffee whilst we are waiting.  Her
husband Randy returns soon after and once we are position we meet our other
neighbour Sergey originally from Switzerland. 
We can see the ocean from the motorhome but sat outside bushes obscure
the view but it does protect us from the wind and the noise for the sea.  A few yards walk takes us to the top of the
dune with a grandstand view of the bay and a first class position for whale
watching.  Walking around the camping
area everyone is extremely friendly and we are invited to join in an early
afternoon “Happy Hour” at Marilyn’s’ along with Ken & Sharon and John.  Their friends Randy & Wendy arrive and
park up nearby. Sunset from the dune is magical having watched whales
frolicking and fish jumping out of the water before hand.  We chat to Carol & Lois who are staying
on the campground at Los Cabos but had a drive out and couldn’t resist staying
here overnight when they saw how nice it was.



THURSDAY 17 JANUARY – Steve is prompted to get up early and Carol & Lois
join us over coffee and give us tips for Florida as they were there last
summer.  We walk south along the beach
to the point where the slope makes it difficult.  A couple of houses have already been built behind the beach and
the rest of the area is pegged out into lots. 
Later we walk back to the surf club to see K&R.  Using Internet I make contact with our
friends Malcolm & Claire who want to come and visit.  Mid afternoon on the free camping area a
lady comes round selling ice cream and lollies at 15 pesos (75p) and I can’t
resist trying a chocolate ice cream. 



FRIDAY 18 JANUARY – Receive a text from
Malcolm & Claire to say they arrive at Cabo San Lucas next Friday
afternoon.  This prompts us into action
tidying up a few things and making up the over cab bed to try it out.  It’s so hot by the van that we both go down
to the beach for a cooling swim in the afternoon.  Later on the wind changes direction and it’s quite cool.  K&R arrive and camp up nearby. 



SATURDAY 19 JANUARY – We have been invited to
a communal breakfast at Ken & Sharon’s along with about 30 other people
from the camping area.  They put on a
superb ham and eggs spread and lots of other food.  We get chance to meet a few other fellow campers as well.  K&R did a walk north up the beaches and
found a strange carcass washed ashore. 
They take us back to the area and we learn from other visitors that it
is a whale that the Mexicans skinned and removed the bones from then towed out
to see.  Unfortunately the storms have
washed it ashore and the birds now have a tasty feast.  The stench is awful but it’s too fascinating
not to take a closer look at.  The whole
walk is really nice and we feel ready for our evening’s meal after all the
exercise.  Again a number of people from
the camp are organising a trip to the hamburger join in the local village of
Pescadero.  Randy & Wendy give us a
ride in their car and the tiny restaurant copes well with the invasion of 27
tourists.  The huge 25 pesos (£1.25)
hamburgers are superb and we also share a “papa rollana”, 50 pesos (£2.50), a
kind of enormous baked potato where the filling is taking out and mixed with
corn, butter and meat then stuffed back in. 
Return to round the evening off by a communal campfire.



SUNDAY 20 JANUARY – Today’s activity is a 4wd up into the mountains and again
we are lucky enough to be invited along by Randy & Wendy.  A convoy of 9 vehicles sets out and our
first stop is for a view back along the coast. 
The dirt tracks take us through very small villages and lone
houses.  A number of times we must cross
streams but all without problems.  After
a lunch break the convoy travels above a valley then comes to a halt behind
leaders Ken & Sharon.  They have
spotted a development down below and a man has invited us all down to
look.  It’s an American guy who is
creating a luxury resort but his two year plan is a bit behind schedule as he
has been on with it for 3 years and it is no where near complete.  Should it ever be finished it will be really
nice and will even have a flying fox to take you up to a bar overlooking the
small waterfall.  Next we arrive at the
small village of La Candelaria and park up by the church.  Watch a lady is busy making tortillas in her
garden then visit the small shop for beers. 
At the end of the “main” street is the home of a lady who makers pottery
but most of her stuff has been sent to town for sale.  The “tour” is heading for a local cemetery but Randy & Wendy
are keen to get back so we head off alone. 
The road gets very interesting as we pass an oasis then drop down to
drive along the sandy riverbed.  There
are a few junctions but as with the main roads there are no signs so we head
towards the sun. It’s almost a relief to have a number of quad bikes appear out
of nowhere as they are able to confirm that we are heading towards the main
road.  In fact we carry on past the main
road and out to the beach as we can see with whales just off shore.  The rest of the group appear in the distance
and we join them back on the main road. 
We’ve been given info about another free camping spot at km91.5 and
Randy turns off to explore.  The road in
is sandy and narrow but passable and leads us to another attractive bay that is
great for whale watching.  Most surprisingly
there are no other campers so we would not venture back alone.  By the time we get back to camp it is 6pm
and even though we weren’t driving we were exhausted.  Steve also has a bad shoulder so after a hot meal and a massage
he flops out on the bed. 



MONDAY 21 JANUARY – Occasionally we have a
wi-fi signal here for Internet and fortunately this morning we do, as I want to
contact Mum to wish her happy birthday. 
She’s had a lovely weekend away with Netty & Ian in Liverpool where
they watch the show “Blood Brothers”. 
The morning clouds move off and we have a lovely afternoon sat up on the
dunes whale watching.  Whilst K&R
are with us playing cards we hear a bit of a commotion outside.  A mini camper has pulled in and got stuck in
the sand be before we can go out to help he moves forward and ploughs into the
bushes and gets stuck even deeper. 
Randy walks over and offers to tow them out after he has eaten.  A classic example of why it is not good to
arrive anywhere after dark.  Join our
neighbours for a last half hour around the camp fire.



TUESDAY 22 JANUARY – It’s completely overcast
when we get up.  Steve’s neck is still
bad and his knee is inflamed from where he brushed up against a cactus.  Mid morning we get a few spots of rain but
so few we can almost count them.  A
perfect day for odd jobbing and I surprise myself with the amount of cupboard
space I can clear out for our visitors. 
Due to the clouds the sunset is really spectacular.  Round of the day with another card session
but I still cannot get my head around Euchre, a game with 2 bowers (top cards)
of different suits.



WEDNESDAY 23 JANUARY – Ruth & I have been
invited for a ride into Todos Santos with Wendy & Marilyn.  They want to check out a new bakery “Peace
& Bread” and by the time we find it we have done a very comprehensive tour
of the town.  It’s all home baked but a
very small carrot cake costs 30 pesos (£1.50), mini loaves of bread from 20
pesos (£1) and an individual cinnamon bun 25 pesos (£1.25).  No wonder all the customers are Americans as
it would be far too expensive for locals. 
Make the most of the trip out for a wander round town and visit to a local
sculpturer on the way back.  Whilst we
were out the 2 Randy’s went fishing and return with 6 fish.  In the evening we are invited to join them
for supper along with K&R.  After we
have eaten we play a fun game called “Right, Left and Centre”.  You begin with 3 coins and roll 3 dice and
the dice are marked R, L, and C and have 3 dots.  A dot means you keep your coin, L means pass to the left, R to
the right and C means drop it in a centre bowl where it is out of play.  You carry on like this until all but one
coin are in the centre and the last person holding a coin wins the centre
pot.  I am really lucky and win the
first round where the coin stakes were 2 pesos (1p) each but not the second
round when the stakes are up to 10 pesos (50p) a time.  Great fun but absolutely no skill involved.



THURSDAY 24 JANUARY – Up early ready for our
journey down to Cabo San Lucas, the main tourist city on the peninsula.  We’re not sure whether it is smog or dust
hanging over the city but it doesn’t look very inviting.  It appears to be a rapidly developing resort
with accommodation and roads springing up everywhere.  We check onto the campground. 
It’s right by the main road and the sites are small gravel areas with a
paved slab on each.  The large
motorhomes are prone to overhang the space and once Kevin has backed in to his
site his bedroom window is inches from that of the next vehicle.  Make use of the $2 (£1) laundry and soon
have a line full hanging out to dry.  We
walk across the road to the new Wal-Mart, better than many supermarkets in
Mexico but not as good as the American version.  Back to the campground to do more cleaning up in readiness of our
visitor’s arrival.  Many Americans come
down here and stay the whole winter; some of the palapas have been extended so
much they look like real homes. 
Personally we cannot imagine why they do this as you are near a noisy
road, the beach is nowhere in sight and you are on top of your neighbours.  I meet fellow Englishman Graham who invites
us round for a drink and to meet his wife Dee. 
He’s from Blackpool but married to an American and lives in Las
Vegas.  He used to sell RV’s in Vegas
but has now retired and bought himself a splendid 5th wheel fun
mover.  Instead of carrying his “toys”
in the back he lowers the ramp and uses it as a patio!  He has loads of tips for us and offers to
run us to the car rental depot tomorrow.


$25 (£12.50)


FRIDAY 25 JANUARY – Graham drops Steve &
Kevin at Villa Arco whilst they pick up the Dollar rental car – or should it
have been a rent a wreck!  Pick up Ruth
then all drive up to Costco where Graham gets us in on his card so we can do a
big shop.  Kevin is an ex car body
worker and has offered to help repair the damage that was done to Harry when we
bought it.  We need to get fibreglass
and believe there is a Du Pont shop in the old town.  The back streets are still in traditional village style and far
more interesting to us than the modern waterfront.  Manage to track down a Du Pont shop and get all the stuff we
need.  Early afternoon Kevin & Steve
head off to the airport to pick up Claire & Malcolm.  Meanwhile we have bought a futon mattress
from Graham & Dee and I now need to swap the beds and bedding around and do
a last minute clean up.  Just on dusk
they arrive back with our friends and we welcome them to Mexico.  Not only have they brought a few things we
asked for but also some surprise gifts including a Christmas pudding.  We take the car over to Wal Mart so we can
pick up the types of food our visitors like to eat.  After getting back and sitting out drinking and chatting it’s
quite late when we get to bed, certainly well past Baja midnight of 9pm.



SATURDAY 26 JANUARY – Unfortunately even with
the futon mattress on the over cab bad I find it too uncomfortable so moved
onto the sofa at 3am.  Claire &
Malcolm say they are willing to give it a try tonight.  Breakfast outside in the warm sunshine, no
doubt most welcome to them having left behind an English winter.  The rental car seats 5 so Steve has volunteered
to stay behind whilst we do an exploratory trip up the coast.  First we pop into Cabo to book a
whale-watching trip for tomorrow.  We
haggle the price on a small glass bottom boat and agree on 6 people for a total
of $150 (£75).  Begin our tour along the
“corridor” towards San Jose.  Access to
the beaches is now severely restricted as hotels have either built directly
behind or the land has been fenced off for development.  The coastal road beyond San Jose is dirt and
far too bumpy for a motorhome.  Ruth
spots a deer in the bushes and we back up for a look.  Numerous expensive looking homes dot the coast but the majority
are up for sale and we speculate that people have not enjoyed the remoteness in
the long term.  Los Frailes is supposed
to be one of the nicest beaches and we stop there for lunch.  Motorhomes are camped further back in the
arroyo (river bed) but it does not appeal to us.  Even the National Park section of Cabo Pulmo is uninviting with a
rocky beach and lots of litter.  Guess
the diving and snorkelling are the only attractions here.  Back on the main highway we detour through
Santiago to get to Agua Caliente and beyond the village to the hot
springs.  The hot water is in two
concrete pools and not nice at all but below it the gorge has been dammed to
create an attractive bathing area. 
Malcolm and I take a dip but I get out as soon as the fish begin
nibbling my feet.  Steve is almost
worried when we get back after dark but he doesn’t realise we have called in to
Wal Mart.  I knock up a Chinese meal and
invite Kevin & Ruth to join us.



SUNDAY 27 JANUARY – Get up early so we can
call David to wish him Happy Birthday. 
Kevin shuttles Ruth, Whiskey, Malcolm and Claire down to the marina and
returns for us.  He drops us off then
drives back to return the rental car intending jogging down to meet us at
9am.  He hasn’t appeared by 9.30am we
are wondering what to do.  Finally he
arrives and explains that the rental company were determined to blame one of
the numerous accident marks on him because he refused their accident insurance
(his credit card includes coverage). 
The guy eventually realised Kevin was not going to back down but a
mechanic was still called to check out a funny noise.  The mechanic said everything was OK then drove Kevin down to the
marina.  So 45 minutes late we set off
on “La Chapis” and first head to Lands End to admire the interesting white rock
formations.  Lovers Beach is a spit of
sand running across between rocks, the opposite side is called Divorce
Beach.  Window rock has waves pounding
through it, The Arch is the areas famous landmark and “Scooby Doo” is a fun
shape.  Pull up beside a rock full of
sea lions, Claire & Malcolm’s first sighting of them outside
captivity.  We then begin whale spotting
in earnest and race across to where the other boats are gathered but must be
too late.  Our whale watching skills
have had lots of exercise recently so we soon spot a blow out to sea.  Ferdinand immediately motors that way and we
spend the next couple of hours manoeuvring to get better views.  Unfortunately these are humpbacks and not
the grey whales that Steve and I wanted to see, as they are the ones that come
right up to the boats to be petted. 
However we do get quite close and it’s interesting seeing them from the
level of a small boat.  To show off his
glass bottom boat Ferdinand pulls up on the way back in an area where there are
lots of fish.  Walk around the marina
then pick up some local food in the back streets before heading home.  We’ve managed to pick up some of the right
grade oil that Harry needs so I hassle Steve to get on with the oil change –
bad move as he reluctantly starts to do it but pulls the wrong plug and empties
the transmission fluid.  Luckily Wal
Mart stocks it so we can do a top it then get on with the oil and filter
change.  Round off the evening sitting
out listening to the local band playing in the restaurant.



MONDAY 28 JANUARY – We make a late start and
it’s already a hot day.  Heading up the
eastern part of the loop the roads are again very narrow.  Suddenly we hear and almighty bang followed
by Steve’s expletives.  An on coming
vehicle was over our side of the road and has hit our wing mirror and smashed
the glass.  All we can do is pull over
to stick the remaining fragments together. 
Los Barriles is a lovely little village in a bay and favoured by surfers
because of the regular wind.  Pass through
the village and up to North Bay where free campers congregate in the arroyo
(river bed) just past the campground. 
Our friends from Los Cerritos, Randy & Marilyn and Randy & Wendy
are already parked up.  We introduce
Claire & Malcolm (from now on to be abbreviated to C&M!), to them and
stay on for happy hour drinks and snacks. 
Back at home we invite K&R over and attempt to play 6 people
Canasta, flounder on the rules but have fun anyway. 



TUESDAY 29 JANUARY – We wake to a very windy
morning, unusual here, as it is normally only windy in the afternoon.  K&R have invited us round for breakfast
so that C&M can sample pancakes with real Canadian maple syrup and we all
enjoy the feast.  Due to the wind we
decide to take a walk to the village via the streets but first we want to view
the famous mini zoo.  A young girl is
camping with her family and has created a really impressive zoo for her toy
animals.  There are dolphin pools,
wildlife areas and even a resort hotel. 
Heading into town we notice the high kerbs at the side of the main
street.  It has recently been raised so
that when they get torrential rain the water from the side streets pours into
it creating a river that quickly empties into the ocean.  A great improvement on the previous system
when water spread everywhere and all the streets were awash with mud.  They have even created sloping areas at the
junctions with signs to show that wheelchairs can access the footpath by way of
the ramp.  The problem then is that the
footpath is that they can go no further as trees and big holes prevent
progress.  Shops seem to cater to the
entire tourist needs and it has a really nice feel as a very low-key holiday
place.  The walk back along the beach is
much more difficult as the wind is blowing towards us and the gritty sand very
soft to walk on.  Surfers of every type
are making the most of the weather and we get a colourful kaleidoscope of sails
and parachutes.  Watching the kite
surfers when they take off is most entertaining.  In the evening we all pile into the two Randy’s cars to go out
for a meal.  Marilyn has recommended a
“hot dog” stall that someone sets up outside their home along with a few
tables.  They serve Mexican style
hamburgers, supper burros and other snacks. 
The food is excellent and the bill for all 10 of us including a few soft
drinks is 280 pesos (£14).   You can
tell how good it is as by the time we leave they have brought numerous other
tables and chairs out and people are waiting for us to vacate ours.  C&M set out to stroll around the village
and we return in the cars to sit outside chatting.  Around 9pm Randy is getting concerned about C&M and in spite
of our reassurances that they are streetwise he takes Steve out in the car to
try and find them. The minute they have left our friends arrive back having
over shot the turning down to our camping area.



WEDNESDAY 30 JANUARY – Again a hot and windy
morning but it doesn’t stop C&M from having a swim in the sea before the
surfers take over.  The boys then set
about doing the repair work at the back of Harry.   C&M take an afternoon walk up into the hill and whilst they
are out a “pie man” comes round and I negotiate for a pineapple and apricot one
and get it for 50 pesos (£2.50).  Late
afternoon the stingrays are jumping out of the water, they rise up and flap
their wings like birds enabling them to stay out for quite some time.  We learn that they are doing this
deliberately to get rid of parasites on their skins.  Round off the day with Canasta played as 2 teams of 3 and using
rules picked up on the Internet.



THURSDAY 31 JANUARY – Steve’s shoulder is so
bad that agrees to take a muscle relaxant tablet.  I become a lady of leisure as Malcolm cooks up lunch for us all
before he and Claire take a walk into town.



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