Bahia Concepcion to Cabo San Lucas to La Paz
March 22, 2007.
We are now camped on the beach at Bahia Concepcion. I don’t
know whether the name (Bay of Conception) is a religious reference or
a suggested activity. It is a beautiful place. Calm aquamarine waters
with mountainous islands in close and further proximity. The beach goes
on forever and except for the last few feet is hard-packed sand. Lots
of very big rigs parked out here camping. There is a family whose job
it is to keep things clean and tended. There are no facilities (water,
electricity, etc) whatever except some ancient toilets with no doors that
use that famous water bucket flush method. Still, welcome enough when
We are parked beside our own palapa (palm frond covered
shade covering) directly on the beach, just feet from the water. We are
told that just a week ago this beach was
so full of snowbirds we would have been parked farther off the beach but
they are all flying home at lightning speed now. We see them on the roads
as we drive, all heading in the other direction so that is good for us.
The draw for them is the fishing. Well, that and living on the beach for
70 pesos per day.
We arrived, put down our new patio mat, set up the chairs
and tied up the hammock. Steve promptly set off to climb the local “mountain.”
Must be a guy thing. Give me a hammock under a shady palapa and warm tropical
breezes with waves lapping the shore in front of me and I sure don’t
to hike in the afternoon sun.
March 23, 2007
It blew soooo hard all night long that when first light
finally started coming through I’d had enough and set off for a
long walk down the beach. The beach here is wide open and the hard-packed
sand is easy to walk on. I found a couple of backpackers in sleeping bags
tucked into a palapa when I walked by. The way that wind blew last night
they must have had a very cold night. Tropical or not, we are still using
the quilt at night.
looking out over the bay. Lovely morning.
Took off and continued on to Loreto. Lots of Canadians are
buying in at Loreto. It’s a very clean and spiffed up little town,
what we’d call yuppified at home ...at least on the surface. There
are lots of dusty, desperate back streets here too. We always seem to
find them by way of getting lost on our way out of town.
on the malecon (walkway along the water) and enjoyed watching the pelicans
and also a sleek white bird that was diving just like the pelicans.
Continued on to Ciudad Constitucion where we are camped
at Manfred’s RV Park. Shower rooms are your usual “basic”.
The “shower” is just a pipe coming out of the wall, but it
had warm water and that was good enough for getting the dust off.
The main highway here is actually in very good condition,
very few potholes. But every time you approach a town they have “topes”
on the road. These bumps are nothing
to mess with. They can be HUGE. They are usually preceded by a series
of smaller bumps and then a sign that says something to the effect of
“Reducto Velocidad” which roughly translated means “Reduce
These topes are installed in the road to slow you down and
they are highly effective. In Costa Rica they had the same thing. Unfortunately
there they were made of dirt and not usually marked so they scared the
crap out of you when you hit one. Here they do give you lots of warning.
Today we also went through several construction zones where
we actually had to leave the highway and bounce our way through the dirt.
This was serious bouncing, not great with a little travel trailer. When
we opened the trailer up again everything was on the floor. Cupboard doors
that never open had opened. Cups broke, eyeglass cases hit the floor and
lenses popped out, all our clothes were dumped out of their tubs and strewn
around. Just one heck of a mess.
For some reason the electrical cord that connects us to
electricity also developed a kink in it so when we arrived Steve had to
empty out one of the cupboards and unkink and rewind it by hand. That
was our drama for the night. There always seems to be something to keep
the handyman busy for the first hour in camp each night.
This morning we set the alarm for 6:30 and headed out to
Puerto Lôpez Mateos to see the grey whales. The migration north
has already begun but we had been assured that there were still some whales
to be seen. A woman we met at Cataviña had seen the mothers and
calves at Guerrero Negro and described it as amazing. The mothers just
bask in the sun, lying on top of the water and have no fear of the boats.
So we set off with high hopes. The price here in Puerto
Lôpez Mateos is higher – 700 peso
($70 US) for the two of us and that was only after I made a stink about
it. The fellow at the dock here was insistent the price was 800 pesos
but I insisted that the sign back at the campground had said 700. So he
caved on that, but kept after us to “extend our tour” to 2
hours. We held fast at 1 hour for 700 pesos. Thank goodness, 2 hours might
have done me in.
We set out in a panga (small fibreglass boat) with Luis,
our driver. At first it was very pleasant, speeding out over the calm
bay, past amazing golden sand dunes, watching the pelicans and other shore
birds catching fish and lazing about.
But when he could not find any whales in the bay, he headed
out towards the surf line, then eventually into the surf. Holy cow, that
boat rocked and banged and was swallowed into the troughs, then flung
up on the swells. At first I was pretty scared but with time I got more
confidence in Luis. He obviously knew what he was doing and on several
occasions fishermen passed us in their own pangas, going very fast and
looking not the least daunted by the ocean.
On several occasions we saw the spray of the whales surfacing
to breathe and raced over but they were always gone by the time we got
there. It was obvious that whatever whales still remained were now on
the move, not lying about in the sun waiting for us to come by for a visit.
So the whole thing was a bit of bust, except we saw lots
of dolphins and they are always gorgeous creatures to watch at play.
the drive back we also enjoyed seeing more of the hawk/eagles (that’s
what they look like to us but we are no birders) circling over the landscape.
We’ve seen very little wildlife to date. Thought we’d see
a lot of big lizards in the desert, but so far, nada. But there must be
something out there because there are tons of these big predator birds.
Someone has built nesting platforms on top of the telephone poles and
the birds have taken advantage of that and have huge nests up there. You
won’t be able to see it from the photos taken so far below, but
some of the nests did have babies in them, peeking over the edge.
Speaking of telephone poles, saw men installing these today.
Huge amount of work, digging the holes with a shovel then winching these
exceedingly long and heavy cement poles into the ground by hand. Labour
must be very cheap because we also saw gangs of men clearing brush at
the side of the highway, with machetes.
On the highway they were filling potholes by hand, shovelling
asphalt out of the back of a truck, filling the hole then walking away.
They don’t even tamp it down, never mind using a roller. They depend
on the vehicles to run over the stuff, compressing it. Seems to work.
Driving to La Paz today was very boring. I didn’t
think I would say that about the Baja, but yes, today was boring. Fortunately
it was only about 200 km, but felt like 500 for sure.
Arriving in town, we headed out to the ferry terminal at
Pichilingüe. It’s about 30 minutes
out of La Paz. We wanted to pick up our vehicle permit and make a reservation
to head over to the mainland next Thursday. Unfortunately the permit office
was closed. We’ll give it another try tomorrow.
So we settled into the campground then went into town for
some dinner. We’re feeling a little frazzled by the day so wimped
out and headed for comfort food, an American chain restaurant, Applebees.
That was expensive, $9.50 US each for a hamburger and fries. Very marginal
quality and we had to jump up an down to get the attention of the waiter
for a coffee refill.
La Paz is a tourist town, but don’t mistake that to
mean it is full of North Americans. There appears to be a large Mexican
middle class and they love these resort towns as much as the northerners.
Applebees was full of Mexican families on holiday. In fact, saw very few
white faces in La Paz.
Campground is attractive, with lots of foliage and flowers.
Bathrooms and showers are better than passable ...almost 2-star. Lots
of interesting people here. Met some Germans in 4WD Landcruises with customized
campers on the back. Real flash rigs with nothing left to chance.
Tomorrow morning we will head back out to the ferry terminal
at Pichilingüe to try and secure the vehicle importation permit and
a reservation on the ferry. If we are successful we will proceed on to
Cabos. If not, we will have to stick around and come back here to do it
on Monday. Cannot get a reservation without the permit and have been warned
not to just show up for the ferry as it fills up with big transport rigs.
March 25, 2007
Arrived at the ferry terminal before 9 am and surprise,
it is unbelievably busy. So many big trucks lined up on the roadsides
that we have to go some distance to find parking. We are parked beside
the water, rows and rows of pangas and some squatter huts – actually,
“huts” is a bit of an overstatement. This is more a case of
black plastic bags thrown over some old cartons and such. I am aware of
admonition in guide books to never leave your vehicle unattended, but
have faith and walk on. We come back 2-3 hours later and everything is
just fine. In fact, a boat load of pelicans have been keeping watch on
the trailer. The fishermen must HATE these birds. Not only do they steal
the fish but they
perch on the pangas ...and they are not polite about pointing their butts
overboard when the urge overcomes them.
I’m sure there is crime here but so far we have been
confronted with nothing but honesty. I am still having a little trouble
getting my head around the peso thing and routinely give shop clerks 200
pesos when I should be giving them 20. They always giggle and give it
back to me, extracting the smaller bill from the pile.
We finally find a sign that says the office should be open
at 9.The fellow shows up at 10:30. Still, I was reassured by the gathering
of truckers who were circling in front of the office. I figured that they
needed to all get their paperwork done so the office must open sometime.
I had assumed, Mexico being such a Catholic country, that
everything would be closed on Sundays, but not so. Apparently the ferry
and it’s offices are open 365 days of the year. Maybe only for as
long as the clerk cares to be there, but officially, open every day.
Got it all done and tickets bought. That was a bit of a
drama – for them, not us. Apparently the lock in the door to the
ticket office broke so the woman could not get in to sell people tickets
and there were a lot of people gathering. About two hours late, three
men with crowbars finally took it on and ticket sales proceeded.
The vehicle important permit cost us $27 US plus 20 pesos
for photocopies of everything. The ticket for the crossing, as long as
we are allowed on as being under 9 metres, with one passenger, me, was
$517. We are actually 9.5 metres but the next ticket level up is for vehicles
and trailers from 9 to 17 metres and costs an additional $300. So Steve
is going to take the spare tire off the back of the trailer and hope no
After all that we drive back into La Paz for a good breakfast
at a local restaurant. First a basket of toasted buns arrived with amazing
mango or papaya preserves. Steve has bacon and eggs which arrive with
amazing savoury potatoes as well as a big basket of hot tortillas. I had
enchiladas. They were filled with cheese and chicken and smothered in
melted cheese and a red sauce. Also served with same savoury potatoes
and refried beans.
Watched the fellow across from us eat his tortillas. He
would place one on the palm of his hand (they were about that size) then
with a flick of this thumb, it would roll it into a tube like a cigar.
He’d dip this into his omelette etc. like Steve does toast points.
Walked around town for a while again. We really like this
place. The front end of town, along
the water, is bordered by a “malecon” which is a sea wall.
It’s really beautifully done – creamy coloured stone bricks,
benches, beautiful statues, several piers and some plaza type areas with
bandstands and such. Lots of kids playing in these areas.
Lots of gelado shops too, so people walking around licking
ice ceam cones – and lots of beautiful, colourful, fruity flavours.
I’ve already indulged twice since we got here.
But the front door there, really is for tourists, whether
that be gringos or their own in-house Mexicans on holiday.
Once you get off the main drag and into the back streets,
the world comes alive with stalls and balloon sellers, and sidewalk vendors.
There are food stalls and toys and flowers and clothes and shoes. And
such a hubub of activity. It’s a different world. A noisier, more
on down the MEX 1 to Cabo San Lucas. It’s a fairly uninteresting
drive. Nothing spectacular. Did pass the Tropic of Cancer though ...marked
by a big white ball and shrine.
Tried our first choice RV park and it was permanently closed.
Too bad because it was right down on the beach. But I guess the lure of
selling out to the big hotels became too much. This stretch of ocean frontage
down here is pretty spectacular and it is crowded with fancy big hotel
resort complexes. At least the front gates are extraordinarily ornate.
But that is something we noticed gets a lot of attention. We have seen
so many abandoned construction projects, with these extremely elaborate
front gates – just standing there all by themselves, with rusting
re-bar poking out of crumbling cement behind them. Lots of dashed dreams
Went to second choice RV Park and it looked really run down.
It seemed to have been settled by squatting families in tents. They all
looked somewhat surprised to see us. We decided to move on.
Our third choice was Villas Serena at mile 7 on the MEX
1. It is okay. Built recently so not much shade or anything. Very few
people here. Don’t really understand why the North Americans desert
Mexico at this time of year because it is still very pleasant. Surprised
at how cool it is at night though. Here we are in Cabo San Lucas, resort
capital of Mexico and I am out here wearing my fleece jacket. High 80s
during the day, but still sleeping under the quilt at night and sometimes
even pulling up the extra blanket.
March 27, 2007
Yesterday we headed back east and did the loop of the eastern
cape. That was a long road, most of it dirt and sand. There was only one
place Steve had to lock it up and go 4WD but it was a very rough road.
started the morning by taking the highway and came on this little town
with the cutest church with a big poinsetta decorating it.. Wish I knew
what the town was called, but they are not big on posting place names
Headed down to the ocean where we hit dirt and sand. The
guidebooks say this road is supposed to offer incredible views of the
ocean and magnificent beaches. Not so much of either.
Most of the time the road runs inland and it is the usual
view of thorny hoary old cacti and rack-thin cows trying to survive on
burnt-out scrubland. Looking at those tough old cows everywhere I couldn’t
help thinking of the cows
that are raised on our friend Dave’s New Zealand farm. How he moves
them every few days to “greener pastures” and how they bawl
and carry on if they think they should be moved a day earlier. Right guys
...holiday in Cabo and see how the other half of the world lives.
Did pass through Parque Nacional Cabo Pulmo and there were
lots of divers there heading out but in terms of tourist infrastructure
not even an outhouse. I think the only reason we were able to access the
beach there was because the dive shop had carved out a parking lot.
Saw a funny little scenario where they used an old yellow
truck to pull a panga (fibreglass
shell boat) down into the water. Then something happened to the truck’s
gears or something because they had to get another truck to pull the yellow
truck out. They left yellow truck up on the beach with its hood up. I
fully expect we could come back in five years and it would still be there.
Walked there for a while and collected some pretty small
rocks to take home. I’m a cheap date in the souvenir department
– rocks, shells, and sand.
Later on we came to another beach. Most of the land here
is privately owned and there are lots of really beautiful and very expensive
homes.Prohibito Privaedo signs and fences everywhere. In theory, the beaches
in Mexico are public, but the sticky wicket is getting access through
the private land. But where there
are dry arroyos or creek beds the fences have usually been swept away
and you can follow the arroyo out to the ocean. We came on one such wonderful
beach with huge, beautiful rocks, looked volcanic, and lots of pelicans
on the rocks, swimming and diving. There were a series of attractive homes
up on the bluff above us.
The whole trip took us about 5 hours.
In the evening we checked out Costco and Home Depot. NO
difference to home. Exact same products.
March 28, 2007
Headed out to play tourist in Cabo for the day. First off
we rented a panga to take us out to Lands End and Lovers Beach and Divorce
Beach. The waters are exceedingly clear and a beautiful green colour.
Lots of fish.
trip cost $20 for the two of us. The rock formations out of Cabos are
just stunningly beautiful. The driver makes a point of pointing out the
pelican colony (about 6 birds) and the sea lion colony (about 20). There
is a “window on the Pacific” in the rocks that are continuing
to erode. Magnificent, really.
The water is so clear and clean and warm (80 degrees on
average) that you are tempted to just jump right in but there are so many
boats in the water it would be hazardous. A few people were snorkeling
or diving, but too many boats.
Came back and had lunch at a restaurant on the marina walkway.
Very good quesadillas
with fresh salsa and guacamole for $14 for the two of us. Interesting
people watching. There are tons of vendors, all selling the same thing.
Embroidered shawls, clay whistles, shell necklaces, “silver”
bangles for $1 (yeah, right, green by evening). There are a couple guys
with big iguanas wanting you to take their photos (for a price). There
were two cruise ships in port and hordes of people walking around. The
tourists look through the vendors like they are invisible. We smile at
them and just say, “Gracias, nada.” (Thank you, nothing.)
Or “No compro.” (No buy.) They smile and walk away. Do not
continue to bother us at all. But the tourists as so rude.
Were about to start walking around town when a fellow approached
us to take a bike tour.
We settled on $20 for an hour and he pedalled us all over town in his
bike cart. Took us to some markets and to a bookstore so we could buy
a dictionary. Enjoyed an ice cream cone.
Tomorrow we are on the road again, to Todas Santos then
back to La Paz to take the ferry on Thursday morning.
March 28, 2007
The trailer was really heating up already by 6:30 am so
got up and got the day underway. The RV park we are in, Villa Serena has
nice washrooms and showers and very clean facilities all around. The only
downside of this place is that there are no trees or shade, few plants.
But we are backed onto a ravine full of foliage so its not bad.
Took off for La Paz, this time taking the road up the west
coast through Todas Santos which is supposed to be a haven for artists
and craftspeople. Perhaps, but we didn’t see it. I think guide book
writers just get desperate to say something, anything, about these towns.
The most promising looking restaurant/bar looks pretty rough but it is
the usual thing. Nothing is spent on maintenance or updating so the premises
always look filthy on first viewing but when you look closer ...well,
no don’t look closer, actually. But the food is excellent and comes
wrapped in clean paper. I am discovering that things often look really
bad in Mexico but the food is good and we never seem to get sick so I
have faith. The hamburgers were juicy with fresh tomatoes and veggies.
Good fries too.
Continued on to La Paz. The terrain is standard Baja ...rolling
hills of burnt out scrub and
cacti. We keep coming on animals grazing at the sides of the roads, cows
and goats. There does not seem to be anything there for them to eat but
they all look healthy enough.
Came into La Paz in early afternoon and enjoyed vegging
out at campsite. We are back at Aquamarina. The lady tells me that they
will be closing down for good in a few weeks. They have sold the marina
and it is too hard to make a living when you only have customers for five
months of the year.
We leave for the mainland on the ferry tomorrow. Some trepidation
since we make land sometime after 11 pm and there are so many admonitions
to never drive after dark in Mexico. But what to do? We can’t sleep
on the dock. Have faith. These things always work out.
Report #4 - La Paz, Copper Canyon
Railroad to Creel
|Unless otherwise noted all
prices are quoted in US$ or Mexican Pesos. At time of writing, 10
pesos = $1 US or CDN.