It was incredibly hard to tear ourselves away from the incredible home comforts of Patti & Bill who had spoiled us rotten in San Diego and also helped us (let’s face it… done it for us!) wire a secondary battery in to keep our fridge going on a constant basis. The alternator should kick in and charge both batteries when we are on the move and we have a 100w solar panel to keep the power up when we aren’t. That’s the theory anyway!
We set off, paperwork at the ready, for the Mexico border. Having been warned that Tijuana can have long queues and difficulties doing all the paperwork we opted to cross at Tecate – just as easy to get to. We cruised through. Literally. Then realised we had better park up on the Mexican side and actually go back and complete said paperwork. Baja has a somewhat unique deal with the US in that if you are only staying on the peninsula you don’t require a visa or an import permit (TIP) for your car. However, if you are then crossing to the mainland – you do. Saving ourselves the hassle of sorting that out later when we cross we decided to get it all done at once. It was probably the most straight forward border we will have… but still required back and forth to 2 different offices – and a quick trip out to get our visas photocopied at the local pharmacy but an hour or so later we were on our way – legitimately.
First road, the Routa del Vino – well, if we must go and taste some Mexican wine so be it. Our first stop was a delightful vineyard and the host was only too happy to give us our first Spanish lesson whilst we tasted their fares.
We arrived at our planned campground at sunset and just at the same time as #twohungrytourists, Diz and Luke, who we had been in touch with on Facebook as they have driven over the past 21 months from Buenos Aires. They were great company for the evening, a font of information for us going south, and we inherited spices and most excitingly – a pressure cooker. Guys, if you read this – you rock! What I hadn’t expected was to be pulling on jeans and a hoodie which was very necessary that evening but not a sign of things to come.
Onward to Bahia de los Angeles where the main aim was swimming whale sharks… which was accomplished with great ease, little cost and the bonus of a great campsite to stay in with palapas (think palm beach shacks) to hang the hammock and a turquoise ocean to admire. We had a few minutes of anxious waiting in the bay before first spotting a ‘little’ 15-foot fish drift past us. By law?, only 4 people are allowed in the water at a time so the 5 of us took turns and we must have seen 7 or 8 in total – the largest being easily 25/30 foot. Was a phenomenal experience to be able to swim within such proximity to such huge gentle giants who really couldn’t give 2 hoots as to whether we were there or not – when they had had enough, a mere flick of the tail left us for dust as they cruised off into the distance.
Highway 1 is essentially the only main road in Baja, and it drifts from side the side of the peninsula ensuring we get to appreciate both the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez beaches. No surprise that the Pacific coast is often rockier and has the surf beaches while the Sea of Cortez is known as the world’s aquarium. Whales abound on both coasts – but sadly not for another month or so. There is still a fair amount of evidence of hurricane Lidia last month, some campsites washed out and a lot of debris and damage in places… we’re looking forward to having the ability to be able to have a conversation about this before too long rather than using the guesswork we do at the moment. The desert is also proving, in the south, to be remarkably green. The plant life has Dr Suess written all over it!
We continued to hit the beaches, Bahia de la Conception, Todos Santos a quick run through Cabo San Lucas (think Costa del Sol for Americans) and onto Cabo Pulmo, a marine reserve where the snorkelling off the beach was amazing, big schools of fish and Rich’s first turtle. On arrival in La Ventana, known for its kite surfing, the campsite we planned to stay in wanted USD28 for the night and while the facilities could have been nice it was midst preseason renovations so being somewhat hot and bothered we decided to find somewhere to eat (the very lovely Las Palmas) and make another plan. As happens, we started chatting to a lovely Canadian couple who had bought a plot of land to develop just down the street – and boom – we had a place to park up for the night. Happy days. They later joined us for sundowners and we had a lovely evening putting the world to rights while trying to avoid the T word!
After 10 days of beach living, and posting photos of said ‘idyllic’ scenes, we had reached our limit of 34®C, 85% humidity and bugtastic camping and are now in a chilled little Airbnb in La Paz… aircon for a couple of nights is just bliss! At last, we are keeping within budget, even with our penchant for eating out; I still trust someone else’s cerviche more than my own.
I have written this while Rich lies in his sickbed.. hopefully only for 24 hrs, so any errors, grammatical or cohesion-wise are all mine…