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29 January - 21 March 2016 Mexico - Baja California

Friday 29th January – Baja California Caravan - Day 1 - Chula Vista to Guadalupe Valley

On the road early to make our way to the Mexican border crossing at Tecate. We travelled south from Chula Vista on highway 94 and soon came out of the suburbs into fertile looking green hill country. Our first stop at the border was at the Mexican immigration office to fill in a form and get a Tourist Card, followed by paying the 390 pesos fee each. The official we saw was very helpful and at one point, like magic, his hand suddenly appeared from under the table holding three bottles of salsa sauce, three for $5. I am sure it would have been excellent but we politely declined. Next to the US immigration office to hand in our leave to stay permit so that they know we have left the country and not overstayed our six months which is up in March. The rest of the group was on the way arriving in convoy - we had got to the border early to see the USIS and complete the exit procedure. We went through the border crossing where two Mexican customs officers took a look inside both vehicles and ask a few questions then we were on our way.

It takes a while to get through the border inspections, therefore we all met up in a large car park just south of Tecate. John and Becky are the ‘wagon masters’ and lead the convoy in their pickup truck, with Lawrie (alias grumpy) and Monica in their pickup and 5th wheel trailer bringing up the rear as ‘tail gunner’. Everyone checked in with the wagon master on our CB radios – our handle is Harvey – before we got back on Highway 3 in convoy and headed through northern Baja wine country. As we entered the Guadalupe Valley the grape vines could be seen for miles.

Our first stop in the valley was the Wine Museum of Northern Baja where the history and beginnings of wine making was explained and then the process of making and flavoring the wine.

From a large balcony on the first floor of the building there was a marvelous view of the vineyards and mountains.

Just down the road from the museum was our camp for the night at Rancho Sordo Mudo.

Across the road from the camp is a home and school for Mexican deaf children. Volunteers from the school operate the RV Park. We all got together in the covered outdoor group meeting area provided in the park where we had nice views of the mountains. There was a briefing about tomorrow’s travel and we had rotisserie chicken, potato, onions and peppers with tortillas cooked by the school, together with plenty of side dishes provided by the group.

Saturday 30th January - Day 2 – Guadalupe Valley to San Quintin

Another lovely sunny morning and we were all ready to get on the road before 8:30. Before we left one of the volunteers from the school for deaf children came to the RV Park and talked about the school and the work it does.

We continued south to the town of Ensenada where we picked up highway 1. The CB radios come in very useful, the wagon master advises from the front of the convoy when large vehicles are approaching, when traffic lights are ahead, bumps in the road and information on points of interest along the way. The tail gunner announces when cars and trucks are overtaking and keeps the convoy together, it all works very well.

Once out of the town we climbed through a mountainous region with wide fertile valleys and winding roads. There will be several military check points on our route and we passed through our first one just outside the town of San Vincente, we were waved through without being stopped.

Fifteen miles south of San Quintin we turned off the highway onto a dirt track to El Rabellon RV Park, our campsite for the night. The camp was right next to a beautiful soft sand beach and as we got out of the RV we could hear the surf pounding. Sandy had a wonderful time running up and down the beach and the sand dunes.

There were several vultures hovering over the beach.

John made margaritas for everyone and we sat sipping our drinks as we listened to the briefing for tomorrows travel.

Tonight was pot luck dinner where everyone brought along a dish to share. After dinner we sat around a roaring camp fire talking.

We had a conversation with Grant and Arabelle, they have lived in the UK. Grant is a Professor of Philosophy and worked at Cambridge for a while, now living in Santé Fe, New Mexico.

Sunday 31st January – Day 3 – San Quintin to Catavina

Cloudy overcast morning. We walked through the sand dunes onto the beach where most people had their dogs out for an early morning run. Sandy was having a great time and got all of the surplus energy out before we got on the road. There was what looked like a long-billed curlew with four young feeding at the edge of the waves.

The sand dunes had some pretty flowering plants

We followed the coast until reaching La Rosario where we stopped to get gas and then headed east onto a plateau in the mountains.

The desert countryside was in fact very green with lots of unusual plants, grasses and cacti.

We went through a military inspection point then headed down steep gradients along winding roads. Much of the country here is protected nature reserve and is pristine desert. By lunchtime the sun had come out as we reached our camp, Rancho Santa Inez in Catavina.

We set up camp amongst the mesquite trees and then spent a while chatting with Keri and David with there lovley little french bulldog, Trip. Later we went for a short hike through the desert to view cave paintings that were several hundred years old. The desert countryside around here is spectacular, large granite boulders with impressive plant life growing between them.

As we walked John told us about the plants we saw, some of which only grow in Baja, such as the cirios which translates as candle.

When it rains this plant sprouts leaves and the colour of the flame like flower at the top intensifies. We also saw the Elephant Tree and cardon cacti. There was also an example of the cardon cacti with arms of the plant inverted which is very rare.

A member of the family from the ranch came with us as our guide.

For dinner we had a bunk-house meal cooked by the family that own the ranch, just 200 pesos each (about $11) We sat with Debbie, Dave (from Vancouver) and Becky. After the meal Lawrie and Monica (also from BC Canada)

Monday 1st February Day 4 – Catavina to San Ignacio

Happy Birthday Tommy!

It was a very stormy night and the weather is still overcast and damp this morning. We headed out of camp just before 8am, we have a longer drive today, 245 miles south. The two lane road was narrow and potholed with no hard shoulder, there wasn’t much room for manoeuvre when a large truck was coming the other way. About an hour in we had a ‘Lenny’ break or toilet break. Some years ago there was a person called Lenny on one of the Caravas and he needed frequent toilet breaks, hence they are now called ‘Lenny’ breaks. We were now travelling through flat arid desert terrain with a strong wind blowing causing sand storms but the condition of the road had improved a lot.

At Guerrero Negro we reached the agricultural check point at the border with Baja California Sur. No fruit or vegetables are allowed past this point and the tyres of both vehicles are sprayed for ‘pests’ – cost 20 pesos. As we were waiting in the queue at the inspection point we saw an Osprey nesting on one of the high platforms provided for them to use.

Continuing on into the middle of the country which at its widest point is only 70 miles wide, we change from Pacific to Mountain Time – plus one hour.

Another military check point and then four kilometers on we reach our stop for the night at San Ignacio and Rice and Beans RV Park. The restaurant and bar here serve giant margaritas and we had a delicious fish dinner.

Tuesday 2nd February – Day 5 – San Ignacio to Mulege

This morning we went to San Ignacio which is an oasis town with an abundance of palm trees, a wide river and picturesque town centre.

The restored Spanish mission overlooks the town square which has huge ficus trees which are over 200 years old.

Inside the church the alter area was very impressive with whole wall covered in gold leaf

and outside there was a pretty side garden. We stopped off at a small ice cream shop in the square run by a nice friendly family whose son spoke English and translated for everyone.

Past the square at the Tortillaria we watched the ladies making tortillas, they smelled delicious.

There were several vultures flying over the town.

One perched on the top of the church and fanned his wings out, looking just like the gargoyles seen on medieval European cathedrals.

After our visit to the town we packed up camp and continued our journey south. On our way we past a large, still active volcano called Las Virgenes. There was a wide larva flow from the volcano with elephant tree growing in the lava soil.

As we continued through the mountains we came to the steepest downhill gradients so far, the Cuesta del Inferno. It was low gear and brakes all the way but the views were spectacular.

We had our first view of the Sea of Cortez on the eastern side of Baja.

Pulled in by the side of the sea for lunch just before the copper mining town of Santa Rosalia. Next we came to the town of Mulege and continued on twelve miles further south, past lovely views of the Sea of Cortez to the beach where we would be camping for three nights.

Santispac beach on the Bahia Concepcion is a beautiful white sand beach, edged by shallow turquoise water. The bay is very sheltered and there were several sail boats moored in the bay.

The dogs were the first in the sea, having a wonderful time.

We set up camp and then got out on the beach. Later we had a game of Bocce (a form of beach bowls) with Debbie and Pat.

The beach bar had happy hour this evening and it was a very lively event with plenty of margaritas being consumed.

We had really sociable couple of hours talking to different people about their travels. Came back to the RV for dinner then Debbie and Dave came around and we watched a dvd.

Wednesday 3rd February – Day 6 – Santispac Beach

Quite a windy night but a lovely sunny morning, still windy but very pleasant in the sun. We were speaking to a lady in the bar last night and she and her partner had been in Baja for a while wind surfing.

At the last campsite we could not fill our fresh water tank because there was no water pressure. Luckily a local person came onto the beach to ask if anyone needed fresh water. John was here to translate and soon a pickup arrived with a large barrel of water and a pump to fix to the hose. We used our new UV filter and the tank was soon full. Other vendors came to the beach selling fruit, vegetables, tamales and fish. We bought some scallops.

Spent the day on the beach and played Bocce again in the afternoon with Debbie and Jerry.

Playing Mexican Trains.

Had dinner at the beach restaurant with Grant, Annabelle, John and Sara.

We all had fish or shell fish, it was all delicious and we had nice evening with some lively conversation. Came back to watch the last episode, season five of Breaking Bad.

Thursday 4th February – Day 7 - Santispac Beach

Another very windy night. Bright sunshine again today but the wind persists. Spent the day on the beach. Played dominoes with Debbie and Shipp. Quite a lot of bird life visits the beach, including pelicans and herons.

Late afternoon John and Becky arrived with margaritas, wine, beer and grilled chicken, everyone else bought a dish of something and we had a beach party. Finished off the evening around a log fire on the beach. A nice relaxing day.

Friday 5th February – Day 8 – Santispac Beach to Loreto

On the road at 7:30 am and off to the gas station to fill up.

Back at the beach we joined the rest of the group on the beach and set off south to Loreto.

We followed the beautiful coastline of Bahia Concepcion and arrived in the town at 1100. The RV Park is small and in the suburbs of the town near a school, it took a while to get us all in and parked. The police turned up to observe the procedure and threatened to ticket anyone who should drive over a pavement.

First was a visit to the laundry across the road from the RV Park where a machine load of laundry cost 70 pesos (just over $4) for washing and drying. We were near to the town centre and decided to bike in with Debbie and Dave. Loreto is a nice, friendly resort town at the base of the Sierra de la Giganta. At a nice cobbled stone square we came to the hotel Posada de las Flores and went in to look around. It is an old Spanish styled building with an open courtyard and fountain which now has a glass bottom pool for a ceiling and it looks just incredible.

The town was preparing for carnival and there was a fair being set up along the seafront. We called in at a couple of nice bars for refreshments on our way around town.

Back at the RV Park in the afternoon. John and Becky arrived with cake and ice cream for everyone at the afternoon briefing.

In the evening we biked back into town to restaurant La Palapa for dinner. Tasty fresh made guacamole and scallops.

Saturday 6th February – Day 9 – Loreto – Rivera Del Mar RV Park

This morning we took the narrow winding road into the mountains to San Javier, a former mission settlement. We travelled with John and Becky in their pick up. The road travels through an arroyo or river gorge and we went through several shallow fords crossing the road. The village consists of one main cobbled street with palapa (thatched) roofed small houses and has a well preserved Spanish mission church, one of the first built in Baja. The mission began in 1699 and the church built from 1744 to 1758. The church has ornate carved stone work around the doors and windows that has been worn and weathered.

Inside is a gilded altarpiece inlaid with portraits of the saints, really beautiful.

Walking along the irrigation system

to the agricultural area we saw several vegetable and fruit crops, peas, guava, papaya, sweet lemon, cumquat, oranges, tamarind, flowering prickly pear with a hummingbird taking the nectar.

Chickens and fighting cocks were either tethered or in cages around the farms.

Back to the centre of the village for lunch at La Palapa restaurant.

Bought some home baked guava pies, delicious.

Lovely mountain scenery and a distant view of the Sea of Cortez on our way back to Loreto.

Crossing the road at one point was a herd of goats accompanied by a dog. John explained that when a kid is born it is taken from the mother and bottle fed. The kid is replaced by a new born puppy which is reared as a goat. The dog stays with the herd of goats and keeps it together, guiding and protecting the herd - neat solution to goat herding Next we came upon two vultures in the middle of the road that were not keen on moving.

This afternoon we all gathered for individual and group photographs.

Walked into town this evening and had dinner at a restaurant in the Plaza with Grant, Annabelle, John, Sara, Dave and Debbie.

As we left the restaurant someone at the bar said “I know that accent”. It was a lady that had lived in Baja for some years but originated from Arley, Worcestershire!

Sunday 7th February – Day 10 - Loreto to Rivera Del Mar RV Park

Departed Loreto this morning and headed south on Highway 1 along the coast road past the National Marine Park and resorts with pristine golf courses. The road turned west up into the mountains and we stopped for a ‘Lenny’ break at Aqua Verde, a small restaurant and rest stop.

Came out of the mountain region onto a very straight and reasonably wide stretch of highway. Stopped to get gas and then continued on south through a very flat crop growing area. We came to the town of Cuidad Constitucion, a smart town where one side of the highway was closed for carnival. There were many stop signs and police along the route. Just south of the town we stopped at Palapa 206 RV Park, our camp for the night. We were now inland and although cloudy it was hot, 31 degrees c and not much wind.

Today is Super bowl Sunday – American footballs final between DenverBroncos and the Carolina Panthers. We all congregated outside Jerry and Kathy’s rig to watch Shipp’s TV set up on the back of the pickup. We had a sweepstake for the winner of each quarter. It was a tense match but Denver won.

Beautiful sunset this evening.

Monday 8th February – Day 11 – Ciudad Constitucion to La Paz

Just got on the road to start our 130 mile journey to La Paz when one of the RV’s got a rock stuck between two of the back tyres. A helpful local produced a long crow bar and with help from some of the guys the rock was levered out and we were on our way.

Travelled through flat farming and ranching country and had to keep a watchful eye out for stray cows on the road.

Had a Lenny break at a place called Las Pocitas. There was a small family business there carving tables and garden furniture from large cactus plants.

After stopping for gas we headed into La Paz with views of the bay to our left. We pulled into Maranatha RV Park which is about two miles from town. The RV park has nice gardens and a swimming pool.

La Paz is the largest city and state capital of Southern Baja. It is set at the southern end of a large and beautiful bay on the Sea of Cortez in the Gulf of California. There is a promenade or malacon around the bay. Here there are lots of opportunities for water sports. About twenty years ago we came here to scuba dive and remember swimming with the playful juvenile sea lions around the islands and the wonderful undersea topography. In the underwater current it felt like we were flying over mountains and deep canyons. The highlight was at the end of one dive when we were on our own doing the five metre stop and we saw a shoal of hammer head sharks coming up out of the depths. An occasion when the word ‘awesome’ really applied.

Tuesday 9th February – Day 12 – La Paz – Fat Tuesday

Beautiful weather. Stayed around camp today. A group of us sat outside Dave and Debbie’s rig this afternoon. Debbie made Clamato cocktails of clam and tomato juice with vodka and tabasco.

Keri and David’s dog, Trip, just chilling out.

The local laundry came around and collected our washing to be done and returned before we depart tomorrow.

Got a taxi to the malacon for the carnival parade.

The fair with rides and stalls was set up along the parade route.

We were walking along the malacon

with Debbie, Dave, Keri and David when a girl came past with a young bower constrictor around her neck.

Found a bar with a first floor balcony from which we had an excellent view of the oncoming parade floats and sunset over the bay.

Wednesday 10th February Day 13 – La Paz to Los Barriles

Our laundry was returned washed, and neatly folded before we set off for the last leg of our journey to Las Barriles. We continued on Highway 1 and before climbing into the Sierra de la Laguna we stopped for a Lenny break for humans and the dogs:

Arabelle, Grant and their dogs.

Kathy and Daisy.

Debbie and Ulee

In the mountains we came to El Triunfo, once a silver mining town, followed by San Antonio and as we started our descent out of the sierras, San Bartolo, a farming settlement with views over palm trees and the arroyo.

This is a fruit producing town and we could see many flowering mango trees from the road.

The Sea of Cortez soon came into to view as we approached the town of Los Barriles and Bahia de las Palmas. Turning onto a dirt road north of the town we headed for Playa Norte RV Park.

The RV Park occupies a large area alongside a nice beach and has plenty of trees and shrubs to provide shade. William, the owner of the park and Hutch the Park Manager were there to greet us and sort out our parking sites. This is where we said to goodbye to John and Becky. Many of the caravan group are staying at Playa Norte for a while but some have continued on to other areas of the peninsula.

This afternoon we gathered together at our camp site for margaritas.

Thursday 11th February

Went with Debbie and Dave for a drive a few miles south to La Ribera a coastal town with a nice municipal beach. While there we had a look around La Trinidad RV Ranch, a quiet, well set up park, with a restaurant and swimming pool.

On the way back we stopped off to look around Los Barriles. The town is small and relaxed but with plenty of shops, supermarkets, restaurants, bank etc. There are quite a people going about in ATV’s that they use as transport on the dirt roads, beach and to go to the shops.

This evening we went around to Grumpy and Monica’s for drinks.

From their site they have a lovely view across the bay.

A short walk down the beach is the El Gecko Beach Bar and Restaurant where we went for dinner with Debbie and Dave. We all had fish dishes that were delicious and great service from Freud our waiter.

Friday 12th February

Cattle and goats roam about freely here and this morning a few cattle came onto the beach.

The beach is a popular spot for fishing and kiteboarding. In the afternoon the wind builds up and is ideal for the kiteboards.

Stayed around camp today. The sewer pipe on our site is not working, therefore Hutch arranged for the maintenance guys to come along to fix things. They dug a hole and the problem became evident, a large hole in the outlet pipe. The pipe was replaced and all seems to be working okay.

Drinks with Debbie, Dave, Monica, Grumpy, Kathy and Jerry at the El Greko bar. Then back to the RV for steak dinner.

Saturday 13th February

Rode into town on our bikes with Debbie and Dave.

Our first stop was the Farmers Market set up in a small plaza. Everyone was very friendly and the vendors were selling bread, pastries, fruit, vegetables, leather goods, clothes, rugs, table cloths and chocolate tequila!

Next we biked to one of the beach resorts, Hotel Palmas de Cortez. A very nice hotel set in large grounds and gardens with sea views. The entrance has a large palapa roofed area with an aviary full of budgies of all colours. We stopped off for a drink at the Smoke House bar before biking back to the RV Park. Later we went to Debbie and Dave’s for drinks and snacks - homemade guacamole and chicken wings.

Sunday 14th February – Valentine’s Day

Today we headed up into the Sierra De La Laguna and Rancho Ecological Sol de Mayo. We took Highway 1 south to the town of Santiago and then onto a dirt road up to the Rancho. Here there was a small restaurant, space for small RV’s to park and casitas for rent. The big attraction is the Cascada Sol de Mayo, a lovely little waterfall and pool down in the Canon de la Zorra. Dogs were not allowed at the pool, therefore Tony stayed behind with Sandy and had a nice steak lunch cooked on the outside grill.

The waterfall is a quarter mile hike from the Rancho down a track with some large boulders and rough cut steps to negotiate. It was hot going in the blazing sun but it was worth it when we reached the beautiful cool waters at the bottom.

We spent some time swimming in the pool, it was just delightful. Debbie and I went off to explore a small waterfall at the edge of the pool and on the way back a small black water snake swam in front of me and disappeared into the reeds at the side of the pool. Eventually we made our way back up to the restaurant and stayed a while to have a drink. What an idyllic spot.

On our way back to Los Barriles we had a look around the town of Santiago. From the dirt road we had a lovely view of a palm fringed lake at the edge of town.

This is a fruit and palm growing area. The palms supply the material for the palapa roofs that are seen everywhere.

We cooked dinner for the six of us this evening. Grumpy and Monica supplied the Valentines champagne.

Monday 15th February

The weather is just beautiful, hot and sunny with a breeze. Stayed around camp today and did some reading.

Went down onto the beach this afternoon and watched the kiteboarding. Sandy is having a great time with several runs a day on the beach and cooling off in the sea.

Dinner at Grumpy and Monica’s this evening overlooking the sea.

Tuesday 16th February

Up early this morning, the sunrise over the sea was beautiful. We headed out going south towards La Ribera where we turned right onto the Coastal Road for a further 17 miles to the small community of Cabo Pulmo. There was road works and we were on dirt road most of the way, some of it extremely bumpy – lucky we were in Dave and Debbie’s pick up truck.

Cabo Pulmo was a fishing village but is now a sleepy beach village with holiday homes and several scuba diving and snorkeling centres. The sand bay is lovely and there is a coral reef just off shore, one of the main attractions here. We stopped off at El Caballero restaurant for coffee and then headed for the beach. Debbie and I did some snorkeling, didn’t see much but the sea was pleasantly warm.

Back to Los Barrilas for lunch on the open patio of Las Casita restaurant near the RV Park. The menu was good and we all had excellent meals. I had parrot fish on a bed of mash potato topped with vegetables, Debbie had large coconut coated prawns and Tony and Dave had spare ribs.

Wednesday 17th February

Quiet day around camp and the beach.

Dinner at Debbie and Dave’s this evening, a lovely seafood pasta.

Thursday 18th February

Debbie and Dave went over to the west coast today, to the town of Todos Santos. We dog-sat Ulee whilst they were away.

Keri and David arrived back at Playa Norte after spending a few days on the west coast. We had an early evening get together with them and Debbie, Dave, Grumpy, Monica, Pat and LeRoy.

Friday 19th February

We were up at first light to see the sunrise over the sea. It was a little cloudy this morning but the sunrise can be spectacular here.

We also saw a group of Mobula rays jumping out of the water.

Debbie and Ulle joined us on the beach.

The wind has dropped to nothing and the sea is like glass. Madeleine and Michael very kindly said that Debbie and I could borrow their kayak. We set off and paddled slowly along the coast.

Came across quite a few people paddle boarding, one lady had her two dogs on board.

We stopped to chat with a couple of boarders and they told us where to go for the best snorkeling.

The Gecko Beach Bar.

Playa Norte RV Park.

This afternoon we set off through town to go to the snorkeling spot we were recommended to visit. Just off the beach there was a group of rocks where the fish congregated. We saw several colourful fish and I spotted a small octopus emerge from under a rock and immediately change colour to merge in with the sand.

This evening several of the group went to ‘Three Dog Corner’ a car park on the road into town. Every Friday and Saturday a food cart is set up and tables and chairs are put out in the car park. The food is cooked on an open grill and the place is very popular.

Saturday 20th February

The wind has returned, which has pleased the kiteboarders.

Took a ride down to San Jose del Cabo which is about an hour away to the south. Our main purpose for the journey was to visit Walmart and stock up on food.

On the way back we stopped off at the Tropic of Cancer, latitude N 23 degrees. South of here you have officially entered the tropics. There’s a monument with a very pretty little chapel and a globe marking the spot.

Further along the road we saw several Mexican cowboys riding their horses along the side of the road. They all seemed to be heading towards a gathering, looked like the Mexican version of a gymkhana.

We all went to Debbie and Dave’s for drinks this evening. Met their neighbours, Sharon and Ron who are regular winter visitors here.

Sunday 21st February

We woke up to some tragic news this morning, our neighbour here Bob, died in his sleep during the night from a heart attack. Bob and his wife Brenda are from British Columbia and have been coming to Playa Norte for some years and have many friends within the regular winter community here. Everybody rallied around to support Brenda and help with the formalities and the Mexican medical authorities and Police.

We all congregated at Michael and Madeleine’s RV this morning for breakfast waffles. Michael mixes his own sough dough and has a waffle maker. We all sat outside in the sunshine enjoying the fluffy fresh made waffles covered in banana and a sweet sauce – delicious.

Debbie and I attempted to go for a swim but there are a lot of stones to clamber over in the shallows and the waves were rolling in fast.

Sat outside the RV this afternoon and played Mexican Trains with Debbie, Dianne and Randy. We all won a round each.

This evening the whole group gathered for a pot luck dinner at Monica and Grumpy’s site. The food was plentiful and delicious, hotpot, fish and seafood stew, vegetables and pasta, Mediterranean salad, barbeque ribs and chicken wings, date bread and ice cream with banana and sweet sauce. We have some excellent cooks on this caravan. Finished the evening playing famous people.

Monday 22nd February

We said a sad and tearful goodbye to Debbie and Dave this morning. They are heading north to La Ventana to see some friends. We have had lots of fun and laughs together and we will miss them very much. Saw Brenda this morning. Her son has arrived and three other children will arrive today. Brenda called Sandy over for a cookie – Bob always did that from the day we arrived. The family will be going to La Paz to arrange the cremation. Bob’s ashes will be scattered at his favourite spot along the coast.

A full moon came up over the sea this evening.

We had a visitor to camp at dinner time this evening. A young Labrador cross that looked like she had just had puppies. She is a lovely dog, very well behaved, no collar on but she looked well fed.

Tuesday 23rd February

Said a fond farewell to Monica and Grumpy this morning – our ‘tail gunners’. They have been good company and did a brilliant job keeping the caravan together whilst we were on the road. We will miss Grumpy’s voice coming over the CB on our return journey announcing overtaking vehicles coming up fast on our tails.

We have now moved camp-site to a position overlooking the beach and the bay with the mountains as a backdrop.

This afternoon we went to the Lazy Daze beach bar with Keri and Dave. The bar is along the beach towards Los Barrilas and we decided to go by road and all piled into the Celica. We turned off the road onto a sand track towards the beach and along the way we came to a set of speed bumps. In towns here there are lots of these speed bumps, called Topes. We got over the first Tope but grounded on the second and all the passenger’s had to get out and walk. Tony made it down to the bar without the extra weight – as John Smith commented earlier in the trip, ‘the Celica is not a Baja car’. We spent a pleasant afternoon sitting in the shade of the bar. Sara and John joined us and entertained us with tales of the late 60’s and early 70’s when they were hippies and travelled across Europe and India in a yellow camper van.

Wednesday 24th February

The rest of the caravan left Playa Norte this morning to make their way north. They will be meeting up with Becky and John at the weekend for the journey back to the US. The caravan has been a great experience, we have met some lovely people and made some good friends, it was sad to see them all go. Baja Winters is very professionally run, well organized and experienced in the routes they travel. Becky and John are excellent hosts and Wagon Masters, very knowledgeable about Baja and good fun. We will be here until the 20th March and looking forward to John and Judy arriving on the 12th.

Lunch at El Gecko Beach Bar watching the kite and sail boarders.

Thursday 25th February

We have a lovely view from our bedroom window of the sun and the moon rise over the sea.

The weather has been hot with a refreshing wind that gets up in the morning and dies down at sunset. Stayed around camp this morning doing a few chores. Went into Los Barrilas this afternoon to collect our laundry and visit the Roadrunner Café and Bakery, picked up some nice fresh raison bread.

Friday 26th February

Stayed around camp again today and did some DIY. Tony fitted a new ceiling vent and fan in the bedroom.

Went to El Gecko bar for an early dinner.

Saturday 27th February

Up early this morning to watch the sunrise. Sandy went for her usual walk along the beach and dip in the sea. There are a lot of rocks along the beach which she likes to explore looking for chipmunks.

Our next door neighbour left this morning after being here since November, he is a keen kite boarder. The campsite is starting to get very quiet and looks half empty.

Sandy staying close by after being told to stay but keeping a watchful eye on the chipmunks.

Walked down the beach to Lazy Daze beach bar this afternoon. It is very popular with the US/Canadian winter visitors and was busy when we arrived. Everyone is very friendly and we had a nice chat with a couple of people. One recently retired guy from Minnesota has built a house here. He spent sometime in Europe in 1970 before being called up and joining the marines.

Sunday 28th February

New neighbours arrived this morning, Kathy and Art from Montana. Kathy and I heard the bark of a sea lion but on scanning the sea and beach could see nothing. A little later we spotted him lying on his back in the sea, sun bathing with feet and flippers in the air.

There are quite a few birds around the camp, notably vultures who sometimes gather on the beach looking for dead fish remains.

Also, frigate birds that harass other birds into dropping the food they have caught so that they can eat it.

Kathy and Art have a super blowup kayak that fits neatly into a bag for carriage. The make is Sea Eagle and happens to be the model we are thinking of buying. They have kindly said that we can try it out.

This evening we went to Tio Pablo’s in Los Barriles for dinner. The Sunday special was prime rib and it was excellent but far too must to eat in one go. The restaurant was recommended to us by Terry who has been coming here every winter for some years and has been very helpful with advise on where to go and what to see.

Monday 29th February.

Today we drove the southern loop road around to Todos Santos on the west coast. First, we stopped off in San Jose to visit the Mega Supermarket and stock up on a few things, including fins and snorkels. Sat outside in the sunshine eating cake and drinking coffee.

The only large supermarket that I know with such a nice view of the sea.

Continued on south through the area known as The Corridor joining San Jose Del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. A 29 kilometer stretch of nice coastline with sandy beaches and luxury resorts. Cabo San Lucas is situated at the tip of the peninsula and Playa Del Amor is where the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez connect. This a lively party town in a nice setting with sandy beaches, a large marina and we saw a big cruise ship in the bay while we were there. The town is popular for deep sea fishing and has plenty of shops and restaurants. We managed to get lost whilst looking for highway 19 to Todos Santos and found ourselves away from the main tourist area in a grid of dirt roads where there were small businesses, shops, bars, restaurants and Mexican homes. As we got further into the suburbs we decided to turn back and retrace our steps and eventually headed out of town north to the pacific coast.

As we travelled along the West Cape the Pacific Ocean came into view with big waves rolling onto the beaches.

This is the least developed area of coastline on the Baja peninsula although the road is good. We turned off the highway onto a dirt track for the 2.7 kilometer drive to Playa Los Cerritos.

A surfing beach with a beach club bar and high on a bluff that shelters the bay there is a Spanish style hotel, otherwise there was very little development. The surf was up and there were plenty of people out on their boards riding the waves. The beach was busy and dotted with shaded beds where body massages were offered and vendors roamed the beach selling silver jewellery.

We noticed someone with a Baja Winters tee-shirt on, this was Ken and his wife Lara and indeed they knew Becky and John. After a chat with Ken and Lara, and a refreshing drink in the shade outside the beach bar we got back on the road.

Todos Santos is known as Baja’s art colony. This is an old mission town with an historic district of old houses and at one time it had a booming sugarcane industry. There are shops selling silver jewellery, craft stores, galleries, restaurants, hotels and nice small shopping plazas. Although there seems plenty going on in the town it still has a rural small town feel. The town and the surrounding area is quite green with crops watered by an underground freshwater spring.

We continued north on Highway 19 to meet up with Highway 1 south of San Pedro. Here we climbed south into the Sierra De La Laguna and back to the East Cape. Travelling through the old silver mining town of El Triunfo and passing by the church.

Arriving back at Los Barriles early evening having completed the south loop road around the peninsula.

Tuesday 1st March

After our journey around the peninsula yesterday we had a day around camp today

Wednesday 2nd March

This morning we went snorkeling with Kathy and Art to a nice beach north of here at Punta Pescaderos. We took the reasonably paved road up into the hills and inland for a while before coming back to the coast and taking a dirt track down to the beach and hotel. The Hotel Punta Pescadero Paradise has a paved landing strip for private pilots to use and is a popular sports fishing destination. We were in the Celica and found the road rough going at times and bottomed out going over one particular hump in the road. However, we made it down to this lovely quiet pristine beach and had great views of the coastline on the way. The snorkeling around the rocks was good and we saw many colourful fish – puffer fish, trumpet fish, Moorish Idols etc. We sat on the beach for a while but there was no shade and it was pretty hot.

Nachos for lunch at El Gecko beach bar.

This afternoon Art and Kathy went out in the kayak and tried out their sail.

Then Art took us out individually in the kayak. It handles very well.

Thursday 3rd March

Started out on our bikes to go into town but didn’t get very far. Tony’s seat is still coming loose and needs some further repair, might need to go to the bike shop in town.

Took the car in and got some groceries. Stopped off at Caleb’s Café for coffee and muffin. They have a Pandelaria next door where there is freshly baked bread and cakes.

Early evening saw some mobula rays jumping out of the water.

Friday 4th March

Happy 18th Birthday Ellie

The laundry is the only place to get wifi at the moment but I managed to get a decent enough connection to FaceTime Ellie. They had just arrived home from having a birthday lunch and all the family were arriving. I saw her blow out the candles on her birthday cake and joined in the happy birthday singing.

Kathy and Art went out in the kayak to the rocks in Los Barriles to do some snorkeling. While they were out a whale came within meters of the boat. We took the kayak out when they returned but saw no whales.

Saturday 5th March

Another spectacular sunrise this morning.

Before the sun came up mobula rays were jumping high out of the water and then a pod of humpback whales put on a spectacular performance for us. They were breeching high out of the water, sending spouts of water into the air and their tails high before diving down. Hard to tell how many there were, possibly seven.

This evening we had a pod of dolphins come in very close to shore. They seemed to be going around in circles, surrounding a shoal of fish. William and his thee dogs came down to the beach to watch the display.

There is very little light pollution here and we were out this evening star gazing with Kathy and Art. We could easily identified, Orions belt, the big dipper, north star, it was quite a display.

Just another day in Baja.

Sunday 6th March

Walked along the beach this morning into Los Barriles.

There are some nice waterfront properties along the beach.

ATV’s buzzed past us and there were a few parked outside the La Playa Restaurant where it sounded like a lively scene was going on.

There is an active turtle conservation movement going on here and around the peninsula. On the beach there is a compound where turtle eggs are protected until hatching and then the turtles are released.