Category Archives: Mexico

Bring back the semi-camas´

The bus arriving late last night meant it got in at a more sociable hour this morning – arriving around 0830 local time, we remembered to move our clocks. We opt for a taxi to the main hostel area, we didn’t have a great sleep, we endured normal coach seats for the journey, not a patch on the lovely recliners we have gotten used to from South America 🙂

What we really need is Wi-Fi as we haven´t actually booked anything and we want to check out reviews and prices before cold calling. The taxi driver is very sweet and drops us right outside a coffee shop where we are able to get Wi-Fi and a coffee but decide to hold off on brekkie.

We choose a nearby hotel as there aren’t any real hostel options, and are pretty narked at having to pay $50 for a room, but needs must, it´s clean and… the room is ok if a bit tired, with a TV that´s about 40 years old and non-existent promised Wi-Fi 🙁

The town is nothing like either of us expected, we seem to be in a tourist bubble, a very touristy one at that, but there were no alternative locations for accommodation. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. Priorities are laundry and food. We get details from the front desk and have it all under control pretty swiftly. Then we follow this up with a walk around the immediate vicinity.

Pretty convinced it´s not our kinda place we go back to our room for a siesta, some internet – in the lobby, a shower and go back out looking for somewhere reasonable for dinner. It´s isn´t like we can watch TV, there´s only about 10 channels sort of tuned in, 7 of which are so snowy (yeh, remember that!) that they´re unwatchable, so we resort to “How I met your mother” – the American sit-com Chicago Dan gave us way back in Chile, yes we´re still working our way through it Dan.

Monday walk with cacti

It’s brekkie from another stall on the plaza and then an early walk up to the plateau that surrounds the town. It is like a desert as soon as you get away from the houses. Just different types and sizes of cacti all around. Oh and a few vultures circling around. We really do feel like we are in the midst of an old cowboy film and expect the injuns to show up any second!! We might get lost if it weren´t for the fact that it´s a circular plateau and when we hit an edge we just need to climb back down and walk anti-clockwise back to the village.

We are back in the village by lunchtime, we did get a wee bit lost but only in that we missed the river start point that Juanita had suggested a swim, but it was a good adventure all the same. There is the remains of an old waterway that we followed back, that led us directly to Juanita´s, the same waterway that cuts her garden in half.

There is a Mission in town at one end of the plaza which is where the first settlers started building and it has a small museum, so we check that out as its early yet. It turns out the museum is just a collection of old bits and bobs of miscellaneous items found in the mission. All that seems to be left of the mission itself is the church which is pretty impressive for it’s age with a huge stain glass at one end.

What’s more amazing it that Juanita has lived here for about 8/9 years and has been interviewing the locals the whole time, getting to know them and writing down the stories they have to tell, acquiring copies of family photo’s to bring the stories to life. She’s written a book from the material in Spanish and in English. It’s an incredible journey and she’s really dedicated to it.

After our walk and culture we have showers and generally chill till it’s time for our taxi. During which time Juanita gets pretty excited as her pet tortoise wakes up unexpectedly from its hibernation. It’s pretty big and pretty hungry too. The dogs don’t seem to mind which is just as well as she’s munching away on cucumber and flower petals. Juanita has called her Pepina the female version of the Spanish word for cucumber 🙂

The taxi does arrive on time, although we don´t get a chance to say our goodbyes as Juanita is still having her siesta, and we get to the bus station in good time. We opt for a bus as far as Guerrero Negro because it´s all we have money for. Initially we thought we´d stop here as the town sits on the 28th parallel, which is the time line where we need to move our clocks back.

But we think getting straight on the overnight bus to Ensenada is the best plan.

No sooner have we left the station than we are stopped at an army checkpoint where everyone’s bags are searched. It´s tedious but reassuring if they are serious about clamping down hard on drug trafficking. When we arrive in Guerrero Negro we have an absolute mission to get cash. We saw a machine at a petrol station on the way in, but it’s out of cash. We get directions to the next one which takes us a 40 min walk along the main street, several times we think we have either missed it or misheard the directions, but it’s not like we can ask, “Excuse me can you tell us where the nearest cash machine is?” (Read: I´m going to get loads of money out the bank, do you want to rob me?)

Eventually we do snap and ask at another fuel station to find it is only 500m further on…luckily we are not doing this walk with our big bags, the bus station are looking after them. It has to be said though, we are glad we are getting another bus and bot staying the night, this town has no redeeming features! Well maybe just one, we stop for hot dogs at a street vendor on the way back to the bus station, and they´re fab, jalapeño stuffed dog, bacon wrapped dog and lots more. We even impress ourselves by managing to chat with the owner and the other customers while we eat.

The onward bus is due at 2230, but again is nearly an hour late – it too must have been searched at a check-point we guess. We try and settle down for a good night’s rest, fingers crossed

Orange juice sir?

So plan made we get up and go looking for brekkie, Raffael suggested a place that he claims serves the best coffee in Loreto. Not sure it’s open on Sundays but we set off to see, we are in luck not only that but it’s a real gem and we’re only sorry we hadn’t found it at the beginning of our trip.

The guy serving brings out our much sought after coffee and orange juice and somehow managed to up end the whole lot down Huw. Oops!!

He’s really embarrassed but Huw is pretty chilled about it. It’s not like we have five or more hours on a bus in front of us…. Our sandwiches are huge, we thought they would be and planned on taking half with us for lunch on the bus. We get now get some complimentary muffins by way of apology too.

As Mike said the bus is due around lunchtime, but its an hour late arriving and it’s very hot onboard. We decided on San Ignacio and to skip Santa Rosalia mostly because it’s a another beach town and we fancy something different.

What we can’t understand is why all the locals have huge blankets and pillows for the bus journey, we are melting.

Arriving in San Ignacio about 6pm the bus drops us off at least a mile outside town. Doh! We hadn’t done our homework on that one. We try for a taxi but end up walking in the heat, at least there is a little shade as we walk through date orchards.

At first we can’t find any hostels even asking doesn’t help, and this is a small town. Retracing our steps around the plaza we eventually come across Casa Lareé which is run by Juanita, and are able to get room there – the room is called “el piso roco” and it’s double doors open up onto the lovely walled garden. She has a couple of dogs too who are nice and friendly. She recommends a walk in the morning and a swim in the river. As for dinner tonight that’s tacos at Antonio’s, a little stall in the plaza. Yum!

The town has about 4000 people tops and the plaza has loads of wee shacks selling food. It’s almost like it’s a tradition to go eat out, let your neighbour cook on their stall and it’s not expensive either.

Juanita also orders a taxi for tomorrow afternoon to take us back to the bus stop. Fingers crossed it turns up.

It hasn’t rained for two years

Back at the dive shop for 0800 we are just about ready to leave when two girls turn up wanting to go snorkelling. They are Nicky and Elana, from Australia we discover later. They choose to walk down to the marina while we choose a lift today, mainly because we get to ride in the dive boat on the trailer behind the car, juvenile we know but fun 🙂

We see more dolphins on our way out to the dive site again today, and more amazingly we see turtles and a pretty big octopus too! The water is really clear again and there are lots of shoals of different varieties of fish to look at. We’re really glad we opted for a second day. As well as that we’re both beginning to relax into it now and really control our buoyancy so it’s all good.

Again the evening is pretty relaxed with movies and a bit of food. We decide we’re going to move on tomorrow so spend some time checking out transport options. Mike thinks there’s a bus around noon that’ll take us to San Ignacio, our next stop.

Looking directly in the eyes of a balloon fish

Arriving at the dive shop we find we’re diving with David. He seems sound and seems to know more English than we do Spanish, which when it comes to diving is a good thing. Honest!

It’s a good 30-40 minute boat ride out to the island of Coronado. All the islands are in a national park, to ensure the safety of the whales when they are here breeding (Dec-Mar).

On the way out we see a school of dolphins and as it’s the Dolphin Dive Centre, we make time to go play with them. They are actually some of the biggest we’ve seen this whole trip.

The water is really warm, much warmer than Cabo and the visibility is better too. There certainly isn’t any shortage of marine life either. We see moray eels, not as many as in Cabo, but definitely just as scary. We also see lots of balloon puffer fish and David picks one up and it turns itself into a spiky ball almost instantly. Bernice gets to hold it, it’s pretty sharp but fear of dropping it (yes really, Doh!) and hurting it she let’s it swim gently away.

The second dive is amongst a boulder field and there’s lots to look at. Over the course of the day David comes across 3-4 anchors and a fish lure that he collects to take to the surface, clean up the environment.
After our dives we stop off at a glorious white sandy beach for a half hour or so before heading back to town. There are loads of pelicans about and they just collect around each new boat as it arrives to see if there are any fish on it for them. Lazy is what they really are.

Just as we leave the island we come across a huge shoal of jumping bat rays. They are about a metre across and totally comical jumping out one after the other as they charge across the water in front of our path.

When we get in we’re starving, diving kinda does that to you and so we go in search of ffooooooooddddd. Eyes bigger than belly though and we forget the further north we go the bigger the portions are getting. So with half the tacos we order wrapped to takeaway we don´t have to have a meal later, just some snacks.

The other thing diving does is tire you out, so a movie and relax are the order of the rest of the day, especially as we’ve arranged to go out diving again tomorrow with Raffael.

Tattie fields

Another chilled day, well a waiting game more like, we’ve arranged to go back to the dive shop at 1800, so really it depends how Huw’s ears are by then whether or not we dive. We’ve also arranged to catch up with the Reading posé, see how their dive today went.

The most energetic thing we do before then is walk the prom. The town seems to be gearing up for a wedding or similar big party in the main square as there’s lots of fancy tables being set up.

Other than that and Huw continuously treating his ears for most of the afternoon, with a disgusting amount of success. He was going to see a doctor but was told to come back after 0900. Resorting to the ear drops he eventually retrieved a whole heap of ear wax. Totally totally disgusting!

But the good of it is we have the green light for a dive. Raffael is happy and we’re on for an 0800 start tomorrow. Meeting up with Will and Hannah a short while later we are confident it’s a good choice as they had a great day.

It’s role reversal time, we have an early night as we’re the ones diving in the morning. The guys are heading south, they have a hire car and around two weeks to see the Baja. We give them some tips about where we’ve been and recommend the Sunshine dive centre in Cabo San Lucas. They are on their way tomorrow so it’s adios and a probable re-unite in Sweeney’s later in the year 🙂

Teeny weeny wee world

Our priority this morning is to get some washing done. It seems relatively straight forward. Leave a load in the laundrette around 1100 and pick it up again around 1600.

We are also on a mission to check out the diving options in the area and get some ear drops for Huw’s ears – blocked from the last diving!
Mike suggests going to the dive shop after 1500 as they will be out diving till then most likely.

We actually end up doing very little all day which is pretty nice. Some skype calls, some blog writig and photo sorting, a siesta and some research on places further north.

There is a small snag with the laundry, the lady has no change and Huw agrees to go back tomorrow for it. When we get around to visiting the dive shop it’s nearly 1630 and surprise there’s no one there. We take a note of the number and go back and call them.
In the time it takes to do this we discover they are now open!! We wander back down and when the guy is free – there is another couple in the shop – we ask about diving options and as Huw’s ears are bad we’re looking at Friday probably, not tomorrow.

It turns out the other customers are Brits. Not only that, Hannah lives in Reading just up the hill from our house and is a doctor at the hospital; Will is a physics teacher at Eton no less. We find all this out as they agree to come join us for a drink after they’ve sorted their dive gear out for tomorrow. It´s a small, no a minute, world!!! We move on to a pizza place for some food and then say our goodbyes till tomorrow, let them get an early night in preparation for their dive.

Then we go back and watch a movie. We know that we’ll have to stay a bit longer if we want to dive, get Huw’s ears sorted. But should we stay here…. Maybe we can get a discount if we stay 3 or 4 more nights. We should see how it goes tomorrow having given the ear drops time to work by then. If diving is an option… work it out then

Loreto, home of the Iguana

The bus to Loreto, our next place of interest is 5 hours north and in the middle of the Baja region. It’s on the Pacific coast nestled between two mountain ranges the guidebook claims. Not a big place but worth a look. As always we’ll stop a night and see if it warrants more. Again we have a hostel in mind – The Iguana Inn, which is a bit of a walk from the centre but everything is as the bus station is on the edge of town.

Before going for the bus we get a Wi-Fi fix, have a Skype chat with Steve M and send an email we forgot to send yesterday to Philly back in Bolivia. Stupidly we forget to grab some snacks for the journey and the bus only stops once, where there’s very little close by in the way of snack bars and we end up with dry rolls and sweet empanada’s for lunch.

About half an hour before arriving, we have a downpour. The first rain we’ve seen since the overnight showers we had not long after leaving Panama. All the locals on the bus get pretty excited, we’re guessing it’s a long time since any of them have seen any either!!! Or the bus for that matter, it leaks like a sieve.

Loreto seems a bit more upmarket than La Paz or Todos Santos and there are a healthy number of people around so we´re out of vampire country too… we hope. The accommodation we find is a lovely property with 4 self-contained cottages outback sat around a fountain and courtyard. It´s lovely, if a little more expensive than we´d like to pay. But we decide to treat ourselves for a couple of nights, if we stay longer we´ll re-assess the plan. The owners are Mike and Julie and they are really welcoming.

After settling in we do our usual wander around the town to work out where everything is and get a feel for the place. Mike and Julie direct us to a few places including a bar on the prom for happy hour, which inevitably is where we end up. It´s American run too and called Augies. We happen past just after the happy hour finishes but they extend it for us on the QT anyway.
Then needing food, The Laughing Dolphin – another recommendation, is our next port of call. The food is good but Bernice realises all too quickly that we´re back in Mosquito territory as she gets a dozen bites within minutes of sitting down. Ouch! The only other customers are a family who it turns out are staying at the same place as us. We have a quick chat and then leave them to enjoy their dinner as we retreat to our room for a nightcap.

On their return – Bill, Marina, and kids Naomi and Henri – invite us to join them on the patio for some rum. As tequila is already flowing we join them but turn down the rum. Bill is quite a talker and it’s obvious that the rest of the family don’t even try to interject when he´s in full flow. We finally go to bed thankful that they are leaving in the morning….zzzzz

Happy Birthday

The plan for today was to hit the beach but we wake up to overcast skies and change the plan.

Instead we opt for a walk around the rest of town and hope to find some Wi-Fi. The hostel claims to have some but we’ve failed miserably to get it to work on either phone or the laptop. When we eventually find some we upload a few blog posts and check on emails.

In the evening, as last night, the prom is really busy with families, teenagers, cyclists, rollerbladers, joggers, you name it. We are out walking, eating ice-cream, watching for the sunset. We stumble across a 4th July party, claiming to have fireworks, so not wanting to be taken for Americans we sit in the bar below, the FUBAR, and have a bowl of chips, yes chips not crisps, and a margarita or two. This was a good move as the fireworks weren’t great and all the party-goers were pretty sloshed and old.

Leaving the tropics behind

It’s official; as we left Cabo San Lucas and headed to Todos Santos yesterday we crossed the Tropic of Cancer and are now officially heading north leaving the Tropics behind.

Today on reflection we agree there isn´t much more to see here and that La Paz is calling. We check bus timings out and find they leave at 1030 or 1515… So brekkie and the early bus it is.

We arrive around lunchtime in La Paz (Mexico, not Bolivia!), the bus station is right on the beachfront which is a nice place to start.

The hostel we fancy is way the other side of town and not sure if it’s worth the effort to get there, we decide to check a few out nearby. The 1st hostel is nasty, not clean and holes in the Walls so we retreat quickly. The 2nd is wacky, clean and friendly, and after haggling over price we agree to stay. It’s only a block from the bus station and two from the prom.

We go for a walk, finding the place pretty quiet, not many people around and not much open, but to be expected as it’s Sunday, and out of season. We walk the length of the prom to check out a kayaking company but they say they need a minimum of 4 people to run a trip and they have no other interest in the next few days, so it’s unlikely we’ll be able to go out with them.

On the way back we stop for a drink at a seafront bar and casually get talking to the owner. He says he’s normally open till 5-6am but only till 2-3 on Sundays, and that they are trying to change their image to shed the current clientele of drug runners. Tough gig we reckon if that’s your usual crowd who have money to spend and time to spend it – Brave mind.

To our surprise when we go out again in the evening the prom and surrounding areas that were deserted earlier are now bustling with people. Is the town full of vampires or what?!!!