Southern Baja

Baja California Sur

Last Minute Foray

Late November, 2010

The wheels are set in motion 

Monday and Tuesday, November 22/23, 2010

So there I was. The realization had sunk in that I might have to go 18 months with no free time. School starts in 2 weeks and there is a possibility of heading straight into an apprenticeship after school. Oh yeah! even 48 year olds do go back to school when they realize that their soul was being sucked dry by their old jobs.

At the Estero San Jose, Baja California Sur, Mexico

After spending about 3 hours on the Internet desperately searching for some last minute getaway, Patti (the love of my life) laid down the law and half jokingly threatened to make a decision for me if I spent any more time on the computer. So I went to a coffee shop to continue my search ...teehee. Those darn single supplements turn a good deal into an expensive trip pretty darn quickly. I had basically given up and was considering just renting a little cabin on Vancouver Island instead. Then I almost booked an all inclusive in San Jose Del Cabo for more than I really wanted to spend. One last check for cheap flights was in order. Maybe the high prices I encountered all day long would suddenly change ...hahaha. Well, she who laughs last travels cheaply. $197.00CDN for a return flight to San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico, including all taxes. The absolute cheapest flight I've ever purchased. Patti was duly impressed and promptly "took back" her earlier "threats".

At the Estero San Jose, Baja California Sur, Mexico

The flight was booked late Sunday afternoon and I had to be on a ferry to Vancouver the next day. Various items haphazardly got thrown into my backpack ...yup backpack. This could end up being my first ever "backpacking" trip. I'm not sure if I'll be going for the dreadlocks and beads. Only time will tell.

No problem I thought. I'll take a 10:00am bus, run some errands and have plenty of time to catch the bus for the 1:00pm ferry. I casually glanced out the window as my departure time approached. Snow was falling. Oh yes, most of Canada just takes it all in stride and goes on about its' business as usual. Not so for West Coasters. When there is more than one snowflake at a time we park our cars, shriek in horror and call the police and pray to a large selection of deities to deliver us from all evil. OK, so West Coast snow is slicker than the dry Alberta edition, which tends to be as sticky as a cowboy's bum after a long day in the saddle. But if you add the fact that the City of Victoria has to take a number and line up at Budget Rent-A-Plow when it snows; the fact that we have two types of snow drivers on the West Coast ...the let's drive at 2km/h in case that one snowflake lands in front of my tire, and the let's drive at twice the speed limit because I have 4 wheel drive type; add the fact that actual snow tires are just a nebulous concept to most West Coasters and you have a recipe for a city of 330,000 people (closer to 2,000,000 in the case of Vancouver) coming to a complete standstill.

At the Estero San Jose, Baja California Sur, Mexico

The snow was gently falling as I left home. This was the first time using my pack which I'd owned for at least 5 years. I discovered a really neat thing about it, combined with my choice of underwear. As I was walking down the street something felt a bit weird. The waist belt was pushing down on my underwear and if it weren't for the pants I was wearing my underwear would have been around my ankles. So here I was on a busy bus "discretely" reaching into my pants to pull up my underwear several times over ...well as "discretely" as one can reach into one's pants without attracting too much attention. OK, it's public transportation and not too much would faze us, but even the regular pervs were probably sneering in disgust at this middle aged woman reaching into the deepest recesses of her pants.

At the Estero San Jose, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Flimsily dressed in anticipation of warm weather during my trip I waited 45 minutes for a bus that ended up being close to an hour late, while the wind kicked up a veritable chorus line of snow squalls. A semi had spun out on a hill and nothing was getting through. We made it to the ferry terminal about 8 minutes prior to departure. Ticket sales for foot passengers are usually cut off 10 minutes prior to sailing. Ten of us ran to the ticket counter seconds after the bus arrived. We were too late, they had already closed off the passenger ramp. Sighs of disappointment were audible from most of us. Then the voice came over the two way radio again "OK, we can take them if they take the elevator as a group and walk on along the car ramp" ...wooohoo! we made it. OK, it wasn't critical to be on that ferry but after freezing my tushie off ... and various other body parts while wildly doing the chicken dance at the bus stop to avoid dying from hypothermia, I deserved to not have to wait another two hours for the next ferry.

Why Bother Picking up Spanish? He Quipped

Day 3 and 4

Wednesday and Thursday, November 24/25, 2010

San Jose Del Cabo

The next morning was spent at the Estero San Jose for some bird watching.

Estero San Jose, Baja California Sur, Mexico

It was a bit of a bizarre night. First I'm talking to "M" who with a puzzled voice asks me "why bother picking up Spanish if you're leaving in a week?" I had to make a lightning quick decision between a dirty look and possibly a meeting of foot and gonads, or actually answering the question. "Because I'm in Mexico" was my basic response, while biting my tongue. It never ceases to amaze me how many people go to other countries and make zero effort to even learn a half dozen words in respect of the local people.

Yuca Inn, San Jose Del Cabo. My home for a short while

San Jose Del Cabo

Then there was "E" who had just been dumped by his girlfriend who thought he was a bit of a "bum/loser/whatever". So an hour or so were passed talking about relationships, politics and a host of incomprehensible topics in a tequila induced stupor ..on his part.

The beach goes on and on in the Zona Hotelera, San Jose Del Cabo

Really cool art district in San Jose Del Cabo

Expensive boutique hotel, San Jose Del Cabo

I'm now sitting here with "K" from Cleveland. Finally someone who seems to have some interesting things to say. I can't relate very well to the "package tourists" aka "resort types". Nor can I relate to some of the spacey creatures one sometimes encounters amongst the "backpacker crowd".

Casa de la Cultura, San Jose del Cabo

Friday, November 26, 2010

You NEED! Four Wheel Drive They Warned Me

Day 5

San Jose Del Cabo to Cabo del Este (near Cabo Pulmo)

Violence Against Women Statement

An exhibition against violence against women was taking place in the square, along with the Art Walk happening one block over. I became very emotional and a bit cranky after walking through the anti violence exhibition. So I went off to Shooters Bar and Grill, a Canadian owned rooftop bar. The music was blaring and the TV was going at the same time. The waiter, who had served me twice before was casually leaning against the bar talking to his buddy. After about 15 minutes I decided to take off. After all, I was way too cranky feeling to be sitting in public anyway.

More art, this one from Guadalajara

An interesting debate had gone on the day before at Shooters. I boldly approached some expats and enquired about the fabled East Cape Road from San Jose Del Cabo to La Ribera.

You HAVE to have four wheel drive ...from an expat.
Well, you don't need four wheel drive but you need high clearance ...from another expat.
Hey, don't listen to THEM. A VW Beetle can make it ...from a local.

I went with the latter since the guidebook pretty much said the same. At the car rental agency I had to sign a solemn promise not to drive what they called "the horrible East Cape Road". Oh well. Now that I'm actually on that road, I've suddenly remembered not to listen to anyone. The road is very bumpy, with lots of washboard but perfectly passable with any regular car.

I'm Home. This is my kind of country. Almost no one in sight and a wild coast line that goes on and on.

Along the East Cape Road

The coastline is pretty wild with a few little settlements and ranchos along the way. Unfortunately there are also more and more real estate developments, along with the obligatory McMansions. But in all fairness, it's a lot better than Cabo San Lucas.

Along the East Cape Road

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Burro

Cabo Pulmo is a dusty, and currently very windy little windsurfing and diving town. Baja Bungalows is where I was hoping to stay but he was full up. Nancy, a delightfully eccentric expat from the USA, had what she called a B&B for $50. But I decided it wasn't worth the money. I decided to drive on and find a little beach with other campers and sleep in the car. That's when I saw the sign "Eco Palapas, $25". Suddenly I was in paradise. No neighbours anywhere in sight, only Bill's little outfit. Bill wasn't home but I was shown a room and I settled down for some wireless Internet and a beer. When Bill Came home it turned out the $25 room was actually a pop up tent trailer beside the palapa. But hey, that was cool too. I still get to use the hot showers and the communal kitchen.

Along the East Cape Road

The View from Bill's Papagallo Eco Palapa

The lonely beach below the Eco Palapa.

Eco Palapa

The beach at the Eco Palapa

Listening to the waves crashing, nothing else. No motorized traffic, no generators, no people. I'll sleep well tonight.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Styrofoam Coolers and Washboard Roads Don't Mix

Day 6
Cabo Pulmo to Todos Santos

I left the communal palapa after Bill and Brian had gone to bed. Borrowed flashlight in hand I ventured out to the popup tent trailer which was to be my home for the night. Something about the ground I was walking on struck me as a bit odd. It seemed to be moving. I turns out that there were dozens upon dozens of hermit crabs scurrying along, dragging their bulky shells with them.

Hermit Crabs All Over The Place

The waves in the distance lulled me to sleep and this was the first night since arriving where I slept without earplugs.

This morning Brian insisted I had to visit this little bakery/cafe in el Triunfo, population 375. I clattered off and the road turned to pavement within a few kilometres. Coming through La Ribera the little rental car was emiting some plaintive groaning sounds when gently braking at slow speeds. Darn! did I break something on that bumpy road? I thought. Well, it eventually went away. Northwest of Los Barilles the road twists and climbs beautifully into the cactus dotted hills.

El Triunfo is an old mining town where the mine shut down some time ago. It was one of these little magical places where I could have spent a day just wandering about or sitting around having coffee. Cafe El Triunfo is just one block off the highway and is run by an expat from the USA. Marc looks every bit the biker type, and to complete the image the Harley is parked in a nook behind the takeout coffee bar. He's a professional chef, I'm told. I could tell that he was getting right into the baking with his Mexican staff. The cinnamon rolls were to die for and the coffee kicked ass.

The Wood Fired Oven And a Pretty Senorita at Cafe El Triunfo

To keep my beer, and food of course, nice and cold I had left the water in the cooler along with the ice. When I fetched my laptop from the trunk in El Triunfo the soft case felt wet. "The cooler must be weeping off the water" I thought. When I opened the cooler there was no water in it all all. A quick inspection showed that the styrofoam had cracked and spilled something like 2 litres of water all over the trunk and my backpack. The leftover canned food, in an open can, was splattered over the inside of the cooler as well ...sigh!

Old Bridge in El Triunfo

After the turnoff south onto Hwy 19 the road turns into a high speed 4 lane affair and Todos Santos was fast approaching. The military folks at the checkpoint must have not liked the looks of me so I was pulled over for a search of my vehicle. As usual the young soldiers were polite and courteous to a fault. When I told them I was a bus driver one of them became downright amused. Female bus drivers are a rarity in Mexico, if they exist at all. Of course they never found my secret stash since it was cleverly hidden by non-existence.

Cafe El Triunfo, El Triunfo, BCS, Mexico

Nothing more to report. I'm back home after this short foray and ready to face reality.


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