Week 8 of our vacation 2022

Wednesday, November 16th, 2022: At this point in time we have been caravanning a little over two weeks, and it seems to have been almost flawless, with reservations where possible and boon-docking locations falling together where reservations were not possible. Every stop has been unique in its own right, each providing another glimpse into the mystic beauty of this amazing country, the ruggedness, the unaltered beauty, it has been an amazing adventure. So let’s just say we were most likely due for a little rough road, but at this point in time we were not aware of how much rough road, but more on this a little later.

This is our last morning at Playa Los Cerritos on the Pacific Coast of Baja California Sur, and a number of the group are enjoying a last morning enjoying a coffee on the beach, watching the waves crash on the shoreline. The surfers are already up and in the water catching a wave to either ride to shore or get pummeled by if they failed, it appears to be a rather unforgiving sport, but I can understand the attraction and draw. But we have a ten o’clock departure time this morning as we are actually heading north this morning as we have reached our most southern point of travel on the Pacific coast.

Today we will turn north on to MEX-19 and back track toward the junction of MEX-1 which will have us heading east toward the Sea of Cortez coast, we are headed to a small village “La Ventana“, which is a popular kite surfing area. Because there are no reservations at this small beach front campground we wanted to get there mid week and reasonably early in the day. So we were on schedule and the caravan is trekking north, backtracking our route of three days earlier, back to the split where MEX-19 headed southwest from MEX-1, and as we make the turn we are exploring new territory again, we are climbing again as we need to cross the mountain range that separates the coasts of the Baja. We left the MEX-1 highway just past “El Triunfo” into the small village of “San Antonio” with cows walking along the village streets and headed to the coast and La Ventana and as we neared the village we could see multiple kites in the air, and as we reached the campground it was quickly becoming apparent there would be no room here, for a caravan of seven coaches.

This would be our first bump in the road, as we had planned to spend three nights in “La Ventana“, before trekking further south. A quick group decision was made, and the decision was made to just head onto our next stop, the timing would be tight to arrive before dark, and if we may have made it, had we not experienced a small hold up, but we did not make it before dark. And ended up driving the last half hour in total darkness, and the last 18 kilometers (11 miles) of this journey was all on washboard dirt road that had our vehicle speed down to under 16 kmph (10 mph) as we twisted and turned weaving our way to a small beach at “Los Frailes” (which if you are looking for it on a map is often referred to just as “Los Frailes fishing camp”) but this area had suffered extensive damage from the last hurricane and the camping area where Paul and Lorena had parked a couple of years earlier was un-passable with our coaches at this time, so we ended up just parking nose to tail on the side of the entrance road, where we simply shut it down for the night.

This was one of the nastiest pieces of road (and I use the term “road” very loosely) that we have experienced, and we have only driven the coach after dark two times, over all our time on the road. Our coach is twenty plus years old, and uses headlamps designed by Ford that were used in early Lincoln vehicles, but they are a plastic design and have taken on the yellow hazy look, then add to that the use of tungsten bulbs that are very sensitive to low voltage, and our Beaver coach being known for poor headlamp voltage, because of voltage drop over long stretches’ of undersized wiring, our coach headlamps are pretty much useless. The shrubs were overgrown on the road so far that they scratched both sides of the coach, just to add to the ugliness of this little adventure, so to say I was about at wits end by the time we landed would be a bit of an understatement.

Thursday, November 17th, 2022: Well we woke this morning to see just where the heck we actually had ended up, just as the beach was coming alive with activity. I have always said that necessity is the mother of invention! Oh there are tons of thing that we didn’t know we needed until they were invented, the perfect example of that was Ron Popeil and his “pocket fisherman” as I’m pretty sure no one had ever thought I wish I had a plastic fishing pole that will fit in the glovebox of my car. But he sold millions of the pocket fisherman after inventing it and introducing it to the world. Here at Los Frailes fish camp, there is no boat ramp (launch) to get the boats in or out of the water, in fact I haven’t even seen a boat trailer. All of their fishing boats are just beached on the sand, well away from the shoreline, so watching the process to launch these fishing boats has became this mornings entertainment.

Beaching a fishing boat in Mexico!

There seems to be great cooperation between everyone at the fish camp with just a couple of old beat up old Chevy Blazers or Ford Broncos being used for the task. The vehicle has a ram rod welded to the front that extends a few feet from the front bumper, and a nylon tow strap on the rear. The strap is attached to the bow of the boat and it is spun around so the bow is facing the shore line, the boat is then pulled toward the water as far as the vehicle can, then the vehicle moves to the stern of the boat, where the ram rod is used against the transom to then push the boat as far into the water as possible, then with the help of the surf it is floated into the sea. Getting the boat out of the water is even crazier with the boat lining up at the shore and approaching at full speed to just lift the motor at the last minute propelling the boat up onto the beach. Before being dragged higher onto the beach with the tow strap on the truck where it stays for the night.

The consensus of the group is because of the lack of parking area here that we will only spend one more night here before heading back to “Cabo Pulmo” and the Marine Park. But for today we are going to do some exploring so after breakfast we unloaded the kayaks and paddled to the cliffs to the north, there is an area that commonly attracts sea lions and we were off to find it. All was well until we rounded the point and found ourselves in a much rougher sea, in fact rough enough we felt it better to give up our quest, a difficult decision because we could hear the sea lions barking, but better to be safe than sorry as the saying goes. We returned to the coach and left the kayaks on the beach or anyone else to use.

Next was the snorkel gear and a walk down to the point, where we got kicked around by the surf as we geared up to get into the water. Lets just say it wasn’t pretty but a few waves later we were exploring the wildlife under the surface, with the action of the waves we are being battered around a bit and it is stirring up the sediment and reducing the visibility. There were lots of different fish species to see, but not big quantities, so about half an hour later we were walking back to the beach in front of the coaches, where we set up chairs to watch the horizon and look for whales.

Lorena made a big pot of posole for the gang today, it is a Mexican soup made with hominy, and while it is often made with pork, this version was a vegetarian version. We have eaten out many nights on this adventure, as there are so many different dietary preferences, and while this group did not have any hard core vegans there were a number of vegetarians and throw in a few pescatarians and pollotarians so preparing a meal for everyone would be more than challenging. But everyone agreed that Lorena’s posole was a winner.

We ended our stay in Los Frailes with a campfire on the beach, burning up some of the drift wood that littered so much of the beach area here, and the decision was made to start moving north in the morning.

Friday, November 18th, 2022: Today we are moving back north on this terrible stretch of road, the high point of todays travel is that we are going less than ten kilometers (six miles) so while it was a slow trek, at least it wasn’t in the dark this time. The location that we found for our next stop was right on the Sea of Cortez and was an area covered with what I would refer to as large river rock, which of course brought on the conversation as to where it had came from? As it was nothing like we had seen anywhere else on our travels, and I felt the quantity was too extensive to have been trucked there from another location. It was a free boondocking spot just north of village of “Cabo Pulmo” in an are called “Playa Miramar” and while it had no amenities it did give us a windshield view of the Sea of Cortez.

Three Beavers on the beach in Baja California Sur!

Now the story for this area goes kind of like this, fifty some years ago this village that consisted mainly of fishermen, realized that the fishing stocks were dwindling to a stage that the fishing would have to come to an end. And it goes on to explain that the fishermen in the village petitioned to get the area declared a “Marine Protected Area” which would stop all fishing in a 17,500 acre area around the village. The government agreed to the request, and since then the fish stocks have replenished, and it is now one of the most successful Marine Parks in the world, and now hosts some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in the world. It is also home the only Pacific coral reef located in the Sea of Cortez.

The group decided to drive in to the village to look around and get some lunch at a local restaurant. So we were able to get a table for 14 with out a reservation, with a view of the Sea of Cortez and got to watch the dive and snorkel boats enter and leave the area as we had lunch.

The boats in the above photos are the scuba/snorkeling boats, if you notice in the far right photo there appears to be something with white markers sitting in the water. That is actually a wagon, with four wheels, and a platform for the boat to sit on it, the white markers are guides to help the captain of the boat to power it on to or off of the wagon. Once the boat is on the wagon it is pulled out of the water and back to the dive shop to be off loaded or reloaded, a fairly unique process but it eliminates the need for boat docks or launches.

So if you are going on a scuba adventure all the equipment is loaded on the boat along with all the people going on the adventure, then the wagon is towed to the water and backed into the water until the boat floats off of the wagon. When they return from the adventure the boat with everyone aboard is powered onto the wagon and then the wagon is towed out of the water. While we sat and had our lunch there must have been close to a dozen boats come and go, making it a very busy location to dive from. I did not dive here, as it is not my idea of a great process, because as a diver you do not know what you will be diving on until you are on the boat, and then it is the luck of the draw which site you get.

Saturday, November 19th, 2022: We were woken this morning by one on the locals serenading us with Mexican music as he drove around our rigs, one of the joys of parking on open land. While not really an issue for us as we were already up enjoying the sunrise, it would be a annoyance for many people, it just go to prove there are crazy people every where, in the Baja it’s some nut with a radio, in Quartzsite some nut with an ATV.

It was a laid back start to the day, our plan is to snorkel off the beach just the other side of the village, we will actually be snorkeling the end of the reef, and it is close enough that we will be walking to the site. The far side of the reef has been known to have bull sharks and sea lions feeding, and while we did move along the reef, we did not get to see any sharks or sea lions.

Sometimes some of the best things in life just happen totally unscripted, and today was one of those days. While the snorkeling was good, on the safe side of the reef it was a little murky, and on the dangerous side we incurred no real dangerous creatures, on our walk back to the coach we stopped at a small hole in the wall restaurant called “Tacos & Beer” a little open air spot, and while the name pretty much says it all, I can verify very cold beer, and that the tacos were inexpensive and tasted excellent. We sat down ordered a beer and our lunch was there almost too fast. It kind of made you wonder if it was someone else’s order, but it was our order and it was yummy.

We wondered back to the coach where, we packed up and prepared to head back north to Los Brailles and our home for the next four weeks. We believe we have reservations with full hookups available for all of us at Playa Norta RV Park, we do not know where in the park we will be, as getting solid commitments from anyone in Mexico is in itself a challenge, and when we arrive the manager was not there. So Lorena was on the phone with the manager and walking around the park finding empty sites that were possibly available, we were offered an ocean front site, but could not be guaranteed four weeks there, but we said yes to the upcharge for ocean front, so we wove our way to site 14 with the ocean view.

Because we were not sure that we would be able to stay at this site till the manager gets back we have not totally unpacked, but the view of the ocean from our coach is pretty great.

It was decided that we would celebrate of arrival to Los Brailles and the official end to our caravan with a dinner at a small restaurant on the corner of the campground. We also met up with Cheryl & Richard at dinner, Cheryl & Richard are friends of Paul & Lorena from there life back in Las Vegas before they started there nomadic lifestyle, they rent an apartment on the beach in Los Brailles, and will be part of most of our adventures from here on.

Sunday, November 20th, 2022: I was up early this morning, so I was able to enjoy another great sunrise from our waterfront site. There was a lot of cloud this morning, which just adds to the beauty of the start to our first full day at Playa Norta RV park at Los Brailles here on the Mexican Baja.

Today will just be a down day, there are no planned adventures, but there will be some beach time. We learnt today that we could stay in this site for at least three weeks so we are now able to unpack the coach and set up an area for us to enjoy, we also set up an area in front of the coach to enjoy the sunrises in the morning and to watch the kite surfers in the afternoon breeze.

Monday, November 21st, 2022: Since we have not been watching any television in the evenings we are both getting up earlier in the morning, or maybe I should clarify, Miss Laurie is getting up earlier. So after a cup of blessed coffee we decided to enjoy a walk on the beach before breakfast, so I pulled on a bathing suit and a t-shirt and we headed for the beach, we met Paul & Lorena heading for the beach as well. They were heading to the turtle release area just a few hundred meters south of our location on the beach.

The organization’s that do this work have to get permissions to move the turtle nests to a fenced in controlled area, and the actions of these people increase the odds of survival of these tiny creatures drastically. Although their odds of survival are still only 2 in 1000. We wandered down the beach to find a crowd forming around the this mornings release area. The release happens in the morning and will be the release of all the turtles that hatched the previous day, this mornings release will be of over two hundred newly hatched sea turtles.

Unlike our last turtle release experience, where they allowed many people to release the turtles a few at a time, this organization literally just dumps them out of a big tub in a row, from there they scatter and their natural instinct is to head toward the sun, so this morning that is into the Sea of Cortez. That is why they are released in the morning on the east side of the Baja and the evening on the west side of the Baja. The people operating at this area said that they have been doing this for fifteen years, and that it was possible that some of their first release’s were returning to lay eggs on the beach where they were released. These sea turtles live approximately fifty year, grow to approximately 50 kilograms (100 pounds) and start laying eggs some time after ten years of age. They always return to their beach of hatching to lay their eggs, so as the beach traffic and beach activity becomes busier, the work done by these wonderful people becomes even more important. Our next hope is to see a turtle coming to shore to lay a nest of eggs, when this process is spotted, the nest is marked by sticking sticks in the sand around it to mark the nest to try to avoid damage by humans until it can be moved to a protected area.

Of course after a start to your day like this it is hard for your day to get much better, but a bacon and tomato sandwich for breakfast is a pretty good follow up, before kicking back in the antigravity chairs to enjoy the day. Our site has a couple of larger palm trees that have been providing some needed shade as we have managed to avoid any severe sunburns so far, and other than having to chase the shade a little as the sun moves through the sky it has been a welcome relief. It seems to be quite windy each day so far, and when speaking with our resident kiter Paul he explains it as being thermal winds caused by the sun warming the land.

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022: Well as dawn breaks this morning I’m now almost two blogs behind, well that’s not totally true, as I have lots of detail in both blogs but because of the lack of reliable internet publishing has been impossible for right now. But I woke this morning at around 5:30 to see a small crescent moon out the windshield of the coach with just a slight orange hue on the horizon as dawn breaks.

This morning we got ready for our morning walk a little too late to take in the turtle release, but there was obviously one happening as we could see the crowd from our coach. We decided to walk the beach in the opposite direction this morning, the water seems very calm this morning and there were all sorts of people enjoying multiple different water sports, kayaking, paddle boarders, snorkeling, fishing, boating, even a powered surf board, plus numerous people just walking the beach. All of this before eight o’clock and breakfast and today we will start exploring the area around the RV park.

One of todays adventures was a trip to the local supermarket, and to be quite honest it did not go as well as we had hoped. It is times like this that you realize that you are in a foreign country, this a different language as well as a currency that we are still trying to convert back to a currency that we understand. Packaging is totally different, even brand names that you may recognize are in packaging that you don’t. Some of the most basic items are packaged very different, an example tomato sauce we expect in a can or bottle, in Mexico is in a terrapak, eggs that we expect to be in a refrigerated section are on a regular shelf, reading packages is near impossible with our limited use of the Spanish language. And there seemed to be a real shortage of meat to choose from, we did find out later that depending on what day you shop, availability of many items may change. Our last shopping had been at a Walmart in La Paz that while difficult at that time, all of a sudden seemed easier.

Lets just close this blog out by saying that there was more than a few cocktails consumed this afternoon, while watching the waves roll ashore. Although even just buying mix was proving to be a challenge. we have been surviving with no real issue, margaritas have been flowing well, and the cerveza (beer) has been cold.

The Mexican Baja gets two thumbs up!

Blog 459

Day 1876

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