Nice update guys!! Do you have an estimated date to reach the east coast (Cancun)?
Renato & Jack
Americas 2011 Expedition
Thanks guys! We won't be going to Cancun. We backpacked the Yucatan two years ago (and feel like we could easily go back at anytime after our trip) so Palenque or Belize will likely be as close as we get to the Peninsula.
If I were to estimate our time until the Guatemala or Belize border, I'd guess maybe 3 weeks? Not sure, there's so much between here and there, but we are in a rush since Mexico is fairly expensive compared to what we'll experience in Central America.
Our path may cross somewhere in CA, do you have a Spot? Ours can be seen on the tab LOCATE US at our website americas2011.com, it is offline now since we are in Miami.If I were to estimate our time until the Guatemala or Belize border, I'd guess maybe 3 weeks?
excellent photography. I'll be following this
After relaxing in Laguna Ojo de Liebre for a couple days we headed inland through Southern Baja. As the sun was quickly dropping beyond the horizon, we rounded a bend and approached the charming small town of San Ignacio. A welcome sight on a desolate drive, San Ignacio is a palm oasis that sprouts from a small valley in the desert. The arid, cactus-ridden terrain gives way to a plush green grove lined with date palms. As we wound our way past the spring-fed river we found ourselves in the center of town, greeted by a large central plaza surrounded by small shops and an 18th century Jesuit mission.
All of the nearby campsites were deserted and we were ready for some amenities, so we chose to camp on the edge of town at the Rice & Beans Hotel. Despite the cheesy name, Rice & Beans is a mostly respectable restaurant that has a large parking lot for RV camping and a hotel. At the restaurant we bumped into a few friends we met at Bahia de Los Angeles, Mike & Joann, and we had a nice dinner with them while exchanging details from our past week. The next day before leaving we bumped into a group who were driving a couple of really nice FJ-55's. I said hello and snapped a few photos. I chatted with the owners for a few minutes, mostly about where we're from and where we're going from here.
After leaving Rice & Beans we explored the central plaza some more, then we spent a couple hours admiring the Jesuit mission. This mission has a very interesting history, including the fact that it took over 35 years from start to finish. The Jesuits and local indians were often slowed down by disaster including but not limited to: deaths from malaria, typhoid, typhus, measles, indian rebellion, volcano eruption, drought, and several floods. Almost sounds like the Oregon Trail right? Only I doubt they blew all of their money and time hunting buffalo.
Even more impressive is the story about one of the devout and talented Indian workers who helped construct the mission. Although he couldn't see, Andrés Comanaji Sistiaga used his sense of touch and knowledge of construction to actually direct the work crews as they laid walls entirely out of lava rock. They called him "Andrés el Ciego or Andrés the Blind. Makes all of our accomplishments seem kinda bleak, right?
After checking out the mission and feeling inspired, we got in the car and started planning our next stop. Before we could even thumb open our atlas, we were surrounded by "Pigs"...no not porky pigs and not pigs with a badge. We were surrounded by the sweet Landcruisers that we spotted at Rice & Beans. In case you don't know, the 50-series Landcruisers are commonly referred to as pigs because their front end has a snouty look to it.
Now that they had randomly caught up to us, they asked us a few more questions about the road ahead. We don't always choose to tell people that we're headed for South America because usually people don't get it, but we could tell we really liked this fun bunch of retirees & trying-to-retirees. Apparently we peaked their interest and we started poking more at each other's vehicles and talking about "truck porn". Turns out Ruben (in the green/white LC) actually spends some time on Expo every now and then, which I kinda guessed by looking at the way his ride is outfitted.
Next thing we know, these guys are popping beers (it was around 1pm) and making us the best Bloody Mary's I've ever had, right here in the central plaza of this tiny pueblo. Locals were driving by with their eyes clearly not on the road, watching as a bunch of gringos party-down and show off their old Toyotas. Meanwhile the local Policia pulls up and we all act like junior-high schoolers, hiding our drinks and trying to act like everyday tourists.
An hour or two later we decided to hit the road and let them continue on their way, this time waving and grinning as we say goodbye to new friends from a chance meeting on the road. This is why we love Baja...easy to strike up a conversation and you can throw a party anytime, anywhere.
To Ruben & Andrea, John, Vicki, Jack & Vicki...thanks for the memories and thanks for the drink!
What a great adventure!
1997 LX 450 "Project Overland 2.0" Locked, 315 duratrac's, dual battery, ARB fridge, Hanna side cargo rack, clicking birf's and in need of a re-gear.
Emergency First aid Level 3
This is great stuff, keep it coming!
2011 Ford F350 6.2L CCLB 4x4, Work truck and Adventure vehicle
1968 GMC 910, the fast one
I love the Oregon Trail comment! You have to be of a select age group to know that! Better up your rations and slow your pace.
On our way to Mulegé, we passed thru Santa Rosalia which has a unique history. This place is very different from any other town you might see in Baja, thanks to a French company that built a copper mine in the 1800's. Many of the houses are covered with brightly colored clap-board siding, looking more like they belonged in the French Quarter than any part of Mexico. The old mining operation and several other historic buildings are supposedly constructed of wood imported from the Pacific Northwest. A less appealing sight is the "interesting" prefabbed church, designed by the same Gustave Eiffel who is famous for his tower in Paris, France. Unfortunately we didn't take any pictures as we passed through.
"The Grade to Hell"
Since my sister was supposed to be induced for labor that day, we decided we needed internet access to keep tabs on her situation. At Hotel Serinidad we started our interrogation with the front desk, asking about the availability of WiFi when we were greeted by the owner…the infamous Don Johnson. No not the same Don Johnson from Miami Vice or Nash Bridges, but I was still impressed by his friendly demeanor and hospitality.
"Did my sister have the baby or what???"
When we asked how much it would cost to just camp in our vehicle, without any RV hookups he asked "How much have you been paying to camp so far?" I responded with a range from $50-150 pesos per night, and he quickly matched our bottom price. We tried to find a regular parking spot out of the way, but he insisted that we park in one of the RV spots since they were empty. What a nice guy!
No one messes with Don Johnson's guests...no one!
The next morning after an AMAZING breakfast from the hotel restaurant, I was trying to find out the latest news on my sister when Shannon walked up frustrated and told me that we were being kicked out of our campsite. "What? It's not even close to noon yet!" Apparently a sizable caravan had arrived and the leader had reserved most of the sites surrounding us, including ours. Even in this nice campground outside of town, this guy felt that it was absolutely necessary for the safety of his herd to be unseparated. The caravan leader was less than tactful about the situation, but we kept our cool and remained friendly about his requests for us to vacate. No worries, we were planning on leaving soon anyway…although I was still unsure about my sister's baby!
Huevos de Caballo = awesome breakfast
After Mulegé, MEX-1 meets the Sea of Cortez at Bahia Concepcion, which literally translates to Conception Bay. After seeing the water, this actually made sense because here we found some of the most beautiful beaches in Baja...very motivating if you know what I mean. Don't worry, even with the romantic scenery and inspiring name we managed to resist the temptation...no surprises coming up in our Ruined Adventures family.
With Semana Santa (Holy Week) quickly approaching, we were in somewhat of a predicament because we had to decide where we would wait out the chaos. Beginning on the Sunday before Easter (Palm Sunday), Semana Santa is a very important religious holiday in Mexico and most of Latin America. Not only are there grand celebrations for the occasion, but this is also when the majority of Mexicans get 1-2 weeks off of school or work. This can be a great time to witness unique celebrations in San Miguel de Allende or Patzcuaro (both on mainland Mexico), but in places like Baja it's best to avoid the beaches during Semana Santa. After a year of hard work, you better believe that most Mexicans will haul butt for the beaches to party all week, crammed in like sardines along the water. With little bathroom or trash facilities on these beaches, you can only imagine what happens with such a large crowd.
A taste of Semana Santa in Baja
We've heard stories of gringos waking up to find their lone campsite on the beach has been completely surrounded with overcrowded hordes of locals, so tightly bunched together that they'll secure tents to your stakes and tie tarps to your guylines. We met one fella towing a camper who said that he had people making a shelter under the tongue of his trailer! He said everyone there had their own stereos, blaring music loud enough to drown out the neighbors and resulting in a deafening blend of sound. One could argue that this would be the perfect opportunity to interact with the locals, but I prefer uncrowded campsites with wide open spaces and a little more quiet. Feel free to call us snobs. The beaches during Semana Santa are often compared to Spring Break in South Padre Island or Daytona Beach, and we're honestly a little old (and boring) for that kind of debauchery.
With only a couple days left, we decided to get our fill of beachside camping at Playa Santispac and then head inland before the madness would begin. The water was amazingly clear and we managed to find a palapa with plenty of shade to tie up our hammock and catch up on some reading. We were about 100 yards from our only neighbor and a short walk from a restaurant where we could indulge on fish tacos and Pacifico balleñas.
Our time at Playa Santispac was mostly uneventful and very relaxing, at least until a seagull decided to steal our ziploc full of sponges. Apparently he figured Scotch-brite sponges would make a good meal, but without hot sauce to give it that "kick" he eventually gave it up, leaving it afloat. Thanks seagull, for giving me an excuse to get wet!
Last edited by Ruined Adventures; 04-24-2012 at 03:51 AM.
Sorry about the MASSIVE pictures...photobucket is a pain to use. Once we're done with the Baja posts I promise it'll get better