Rolling through Northern Baja we would drive for hours on end through the desert, between highway pueblos and the odd surf town, along the Pacific coast. Reviewing the map, Baja Sur looked to hold a bit more diversity as it traverses back and forth from the rugged Pacific coast to the sheltered Sea of Cortez. One side with gorgeous sunsets and uncrowded surf, the other with calm waters, endless snorkelling and sunrises worthy to set an alarm for!
To tell the truth, the only thing I had ever heard about in Baja Sur was party-central Cabo San Lucas and the giant man-eating squid. I didn’t think it wise to tell Penny about the latter, so I simply fluffed her up with the possibilities of snorkeling with turtles and dolphins while we cut across the peninsula. Stopping to stretch out our limbs, we were surrounded by giant cacti, views of flattened mountain tops and valleys of desert flowers.
As we finally crested the last ridge and traversed down the other side, the magnificent blue waters of the Sea of Cortez lit up the horizon for as far as the eye could see. With a quick pit stop in Santa Rosalia, we were stocked up on potable water and food and ready to continue along the coast in search of a remote beach to wild camp for a few days. We aired down the tires and took a left off the main highway, chasing a dusty dirt road 16km to the beach. To our shock and surprise, we found a town not on the map with large, beautiful homes pointed towards the sea. Instantly we knew where we were, the place we fondly (or not so fondly) nicknamed “Gringo Town”. We parked on the far side of town close to the shore and hoped no one would ask us to leave as we pulled out the awning, set up the kitchen and breathed in the sweet air. Bushes in bloom with yellow flowers dotted the shoreline and contrasted against the calm, blue waters. The sky changed colours overhead and it was so quiet without the heavy Pacific waves crashing on shore. Something about this place felt so good but (clearly) we weren’t the first to feel this way.
The town was sleepy, most of its residents were either tucked into their luxury homes or back in their homeland. Relieved to have not been asked to leave, we settled in! Out came the solar shower, fishing gear and snorkelling equipment! We were really feeling the #homeiswhereyouparkit vibe and stayed a few nights.
Before we out-stayed our welcome, we moved on to Mulege: a funky little town where one can easily get caught in its vortex only to become a lost static traveler. Local expats call this being “mulege’d” and we witnessed it first hand at the campground we stayed. Here, many snowbirds had opted out of the yearly migration South in their land yachts and, instead, had begun building cabins to live in – at the RV park! Suppressing our fears of being “muluge’d” ourselves, we enjoyed this beautiful town, it’s awesome snorkeling (just off the point) and fled before we got stuck.
Bahia Concepcion, the most tranquil place in all of the Baja. Still turquoise waters, white, soft sand, and a sea of RVs at every beach. In a desperate search for an uninhabited beach, we took to a narrow, cliffside road at the edge of a coastal village that twisted and turned alongside of a mountain. I carefully navigated through boulders and narrow passes as Penny held her breath, quietly gripping her seat. “Is this a walking trail?”, I began to wonder. It was already way too late to turn around, so I dismissed the thoughts crowding in of having to reverse out and confidently pressed on. We were now twenty or thirty feet above sea level with a cliff above on our right and another down to the crystal clear turquoise waters on our left. Finally, a stunning beach presented itself ahead of us with a few palapas and a single van. Delightment ensued. Nothing brings as much joy as taking a goat trail to find a beautiful secret beach! As we exited the rough road onto the beach the front end dropped to one side, freeing the opposite rear tire in the air. Stunned faces peered out of campers and a stout lady walked towards us, away from her old, blue chevy van with dusty Alaskan plates. Her look of disbelief was priceless as she told us, in all her (many) years here, she had never, ever seen a vehicle emerge from that trail. Then, we looked over to see that sea of RVs we were desperately trying to avoid lined up on the adjacent beach.
So, we nestled in beside the only group of tenters and a huge RV that probably had more square footage than our apartment back in the city. El Coyote; I wish we’d have been there 20 years ago, before they paved the way for the land yachts and the trucks whose engine breaks echoed off the highway retaining walls in the distance. We mingled with the snowbirds by the campfire and stretched out over a sunrise yoga sesh with the friendly tenters.
Now, after reading a cryptic iOverlander location description recommending one bring “enough supplies to stay a few days”, we were pretty sure we were about to find the type of beach we were yearning for: white sand, warm waters, complete with peace, quiet and tranquility. It would be a long and rough trek in. We counted down the mile markers as they flashed past and then, there it was, a nondescript dirt road. We aired down the tires in preparation for the long drive in and carefully read over the instructions on the various gates to open and turns to make.
Over the next few days we depleted all of our supplies, despite our careful conservation efforts, and wished we had brought more. While we weren’t alone, the other overlanders and sailors visiting this place were the salt of the earth and we will definitely return one day.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been on the road for over a month already and (thankfully!) we’re still feeling good, settling into this simple, nomadic life. It doesn’t really feel like a vacation, even though we’re in many places that most would call a great place to vacation to. The pace is fast. The long hours on the road, camp set up and take down, cooking, cleaning and many van maintenance tasks take up a considerable amount of our time. We’re constantly re-organizing and letting go of belongings in an attempt to carry speed on big hill climbs and simplify our everyday life. Our navigation skills and patience are tested daily but, we still like each other. We look forward to our morning coffee and map study ritual. We notice the phases of the moon and wake up early with the sunrise. Each day is full of possibilities and the time is ours to decide how we wish to spend it. I guess what it all boils down to is life on the road isn’t easy, however, the countless experiences, sights, smells and tastes are making it more than worthwhile. It is amazing to be happy, healthy and truly free.