The sun sets on our time in Baja

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We expected to spend a couple of weeks exploring the southern end of the Baja peninsula and planned to arrange a ferry ride for ourselves and our Four Wheeled Ticket to Freedom sometime in January.

First on the itinerary for our remaining time in Baja were the clear waters that lap the shores of the Cabo Pulmo National Park. We arrived at Cabo Pulmo for a spot of beach camping and found ourselves camped again with Geneva and Mike (It’s Not a Slow Car, It’s a Fast House) and Paula and John (Our Bigger Picture). Geneva and Mike told us how perfect the weather had been there—up until a couple of hours before our arrival. There had been clear, calm waters, great visibility for snorkelling.

We donned our masks and flippers and decided to make a go of it despite the now choppy waters. The relentless waves and the fogginess as a result of the margarita elves’ efforts the night before, made swimming out to the reef a rather unpleasant experience. Geneva and Mike kindly offered to loan us their paddleboard to make the journey out to the reef a little more manageable. With our lungs already partially full of salt water, we decided to hold off until the next day to see if the weather improved.

That night, it was dark, windy and not particularly awesome. As we were heading to bed, we heard a sad and frightened meowing. Emma boldly declared she would go and retrieve the upset sounding kitten. Ben scoffed and said it was probably feral and she wouldn’t get close to it.

Emma wandered out into the darkness with some fancy cheese. Then promptly returned with slightly less cheese and a small black kitten. After a hearty meal of bacon, cheese and milk the little kitten was purring and happy. She was also only too pleased to be invited up into our tent to get out of the howling wind.

kitten

She promptly made herself at home. Can we keep her?

Disappointingly, keeping the wee lass was not meant to be. She wandered off in the early morning with a belly full of bacon, cheese and milk, a much happier kitten than when she arrived.

Equally disappointing was the updated weather forecast for the next few days; wind, gales, blustery afternoons, tempestuous mornings and downright gusty nights. After some deliberation and distance calculations, we hit the road south. We were making our way around the coast to Cabo San Lucas. This was because it:

  1. Seemed like it would be out of the wind
  2. Was close enough that we could come back if we wanted after the wind died down.
Wild coast.
Wild coast.

Following the East Cape Road, we slowly watched as the wild sandy coast became less and less wild and more and more… well ‘mansiony‘. Now I’ll accept that ‘mansiony‘ is not a word, but it seems like the most appropriate adjective to describe a coastline that looks like this:

Mansiony coast
Mansiony coast.

This proved to be a road of many surprises.

The biggest of which was when we rounded a corner to see a large whale, airborne above the water’s surface. We stopped and got the camera out at that point, but the whales appeared to be a bit camera shy and toned down their acrobatics. So you’ll just have to believe us on that one. It was an impressive sight.

See also  Not quite Guatemala—Part 2

The other surprises consisted more of bits of road that were no more. Given that the coast had still not had time to fully recover from Hurricane Odile, the state of the roads was probably no surprise.

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What we did enjoy was spotting the variety of objects used as road cones to mark the damage. Like the old plastic bottle in the photo below:

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Look at that, I’m sure no one would have seen that gaping hole in the road were it not for that little green bottle. Our favourite road ‘cones’ were the ones where some diligent person had at least stuck a square of reflective tape onto the containers. There was a slight chance that those may even help the poor souls driving this road at night…a little anyway.

License and registration please. Also, do you have any carrots? The police were real asses on the East Cape Road.
License and registration please. Also, do you have any carrots? The police were real asses on the East Cape Road.
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We found ourselves a camping spot when we arrived in Cabo San Lucas. Which was a good thing because the hotels were expensive, but a pity, because some of the hotels did look pretty fancy.

This kind of town isn’t usually our kind of place. We had been told by Jenine that to tick Cabo off our ‘to do’ list the best option was to drop in to Cabo Wabo for some margaritas. Emma being a childhood fan of Van Halen, thought it seemed like a good place to drop by while we were in the neighbourhood. We obliged shortly after arriving in town and even managed to watch some American Football teams sportsing away on the television whilst rocking out to the 80’s classics.

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The rest of our plans changed after seeing how full of slightly tipsy, oil slathered people the beach and the ocean were. We decided to give both time on the beach and a canoe trip out to the land’s end arch a miss. Luckily, a much more pleasant alternative presented itself in the form of  a brewery.

This is how you do an afternoon on the beach.
This is how you do an afternoon on the beach.
This is about as close as we got to having a look at land's end arch. It is there next to Emma's noggin.
This is about as close as we got to having a look at land’s end arch. It is there next to Emma’s noggin.

Excellent. This is more our style.

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Baja Brewing provided acceptable craft beer and acceptable food. The view, however was better than acceptable. Some might even say exceptional, so we took our time before heading back to our dusty camp site. 

Cabo San Lucas was getting busier and busier while we were there, it was the week leading up to New Years Eve, so we imagined the mayhem levels were only going to increase. We decided to head north to try and find a pleasant spot to ring in the New Year.

From Cabo San Lucas we made our way up the coast, hoping to spend some time in Todos Santos. We arrived in town and it looked like it was a nice little spot. After finding somewhere to camp we settled in for a peaceful afternoon by the pool. However, it turned out that the camp ground was also packed with a bunch of teens on a surf holiday down from the USA. With their shared brain cell they still managed to be obnoxious enough to make us realise that spending New Years in the same place as them was going to be a painful experience.

Pity about the gormless teens, the pool was pretty sweet…
Pity about the gormless teens, the pool was pretty sweet…

The Pacific Coast really hadn’t been working out for us anyway, so we decided to head back to the Sea of Cortez, hoping to start the New Year somewhere pleasant.

See also  Mechanical woes and the road to Oaxaca

We ended up in La Paz, still undecided as to where we wanted to go.

Suddenly, we realised we were done with Baja. It was time for the Mainland, we drove out to the Port, imported our vehicle and booked tickets for the ferry departing the next day—New Year’s Eve. We were off to the Mainland!

One last Baja Sunset before the Mainland.
One last Baja Sunset before the Mainland.

The lady at the ticket office told us that the New Year’s Eve ferry was departing earlier than usual and that we had to be at the port at 9am for loading at 11am.

When given a time such as this, we know to take it with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, not wanting to miss the boat, we packed up the car early the next morning. We took the bike rack and bikes off the back and packed them inside to save a bit of money on the ticket. (You pay based on vehicle length.)

Not much room in here…
Not much room in here…
Luckily there was just enough room left for us.
Luckily there was just enough room left for us.

From there we headed down to the port and waited.

And waited.

There's the ferry, but still waiting…
There’s the ferry, but still waiting…

And waited.

Then we waited a little more.

It would appear that the story about the boat leaving early for New Year’s Eve was entirely fictitious. We waited at the docks until 3pm when they finally started loading the vehicles. We were finally underway at 5pm.

Hasta luego Baja—It's been awesome!
Hasta luego Baja—It’s been awesome!

Somehow in amongst all of the excitement, we hadn’t really considered what it would feel like leaving the Baja Peninsula. It had been our home for two months and we couldn’t help but feel a little nostalgic as the ferry smoothly drifted away from the coast.

On the other hand, we were excited about starting 2015 with the next chapter of our adventure, on Mainland Mexico. What a way to ring in the New Year.

Well, sort of.

Depending on how you look at it. Some might say we spent our New Year’s on a dirty old ferry, surrounded only by increasingly boozed truck drivers and watching children’s movies in Español. We prefer to describe it as a luxury sunset cruise on the Sea of Cortez, with dinner, movies and a couple of drinks at the classy on board bar.

Call it what you will, this was our New Year's Eve.
Call it what you will, this was our New Year’s Eve.

2015, It is shaping up to be a year of perspectives.

The night wore on, as luck would have it the ferry was unloading right on midnight. Due to some rule or other, whereby the passenger has to walk on and off the boat separately and only the driver is allowed in the vehicle bay. We celebrated the New Year separately, Emma counted down to midnight with some local families walking down ship’s corridor. Ben celebrated alone, behind the wheel of the Four-Wheeled Ticket to Freedom, somewhere in the bowels of the ferry.

We soon met up again in 2015 though, and drove to our pre-booked hotel, a walled fortress in the centre port town of Topolobampo. It had hot showers, a helpful man at the reception desk and a comfortable bed, so we were off to a good start.

We lazily dozed to the sound of celebratory explosions and wondered what adventures lay in store for us in 2015.

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