El Rosario is famous for two things: Mama Espinoza’s restaurant and the Baja 1000 check point. The Baja checkpoint is at Mama’s restaurant, so you could say it’s famous for one thing – Mama Espinoza! I have just read her autobiography and it’s a humble account of a truly remarkable life, a truly remarkable woman who influenced her community in so many significant ways.
The stretch across the desert from El Rosario to Guerrero Negro is daunting as it’s far and there’s no fuel along the way. It crosses an area called “Valle de los Cirios” which is a protected site in Mexico. I was keen to “find” the Cirio trees, a rare plant which only grows in this part of the world. It looks like an ‘upside down carrot’ and we soon discovered there are ‘forests’ of them all along our route to the 28th Parallel. I was keen to photograph the incredible collection of cactus and my wish was granted over the following two days when due to diarrhoea I came to know the cactus forest intimately! After one particular toilet break I went back to my bike to collect my camera. When Paul saw me heading back into the cactus he was incredulous, asking: “You’re not going to take a photo?!” I laughed and explained that no, I simply wanted to photograph the incredible collection of cactus I had seen ‘back there.’
We carried extra fuel but to break our journey we also decided to cross over to the Eastern shore of Baja and spend a night in Bahia de Los Angeles, on the Sea of Cortez. One night eventually became three after we met an incredible group of guys on a fishing tournament and an American family on vacation. Our journey is made remarkable by people, not places and this group was no exception. They can best be described by words such as ‘mischief, fun, camaraderie and goodwill.’ Their annual tournament is in memory of one of their fathers who “hated fishing, Mexico and golf!” These 32 guys get together every year for fishing and golf in what I’d describe as one of the most magical parts of Mexico! Each year they also play a softball game against the local women’s team and they bring gifts and supplies for the community’s children. The last night of their trip is rounded off with a magical fireworks display on the beach. Our one day became three because of these beautiful people and it was a memorable time of fun, beers and gifting…a gifting of companionship and being part of the local community.
Over a breakfast of ‘huevos Mexicana’ (Mexican scrambled eggs) we met the American family who suggested we share the cost of hiring a boat. So we decided to stay a third night and early the next day were gifted a sea of glass and clear skies. Our day out on the ocean was magical as we made our way amongst the islands, seeing marine wildlife such as turtles, flying fish, sea lion, whales, sting ray, dolphin and a whale shark. We snorkelled in many places, diving for oysters, scallops and clams, which we ate fresh in the water. The highlight of the day was snorkelling with the whale shark. All day I had been nervously awaiting sighting a whale shark. I was secretly petrified of getting into the water with such a giant fish. As the moment arrived I simply jumped in before I could chicken out and it was such magic being within reach of the beautiful giant. Paul has dived in many places in the world, including with whale sharks and he described this as the best experience yet. We were so close and in such magical conditions, a rare combination indeed.
We had a day in Guerrero Negro, which is famous for having the largest salt mine in the world. Being a larger town, it also had hamburgers, which I devoured to try and settle my stomach upset. From there we headed to one of the best locations on the Baja, Mulege and Concepcion.
The humidity and heat is incredibly overwhelming and saps our energy. I experience it as smothering and it’s hard for me to breathe! In Mulege we stayed 3 days, simply to rest. Paul and I end each day saying: “Today has been the best day ever…” and each day we laugh as we say the same thing at the end of the day… each day simply brings new and more wonderful experiences. The beaches near Mulege in Concepcion are spectacular! We bought snorkelling gear in the local village and as they only had one adult set, I took a chance and bought a set for kids aged 6-12. Paul thinks it’s hysterical that it fits me and that I played in the water like a kid. We spent a day camped in a palapa on the beach, snorkelling, sleeping, reading, drinking beer, eating ceviche and prawns.
We are fast learning lessons in ‘relativity’…the cost of travel through Mexico is wonderfully less than it was in Canada and the US. Here’s an example of one of our lessons with respect to ‘relativity’ – a 6-pack of beers in the local village is 50 pesos (AU$3.59 for 6, which is 59 AU cents each) and at our hotel one beer is 30 pesos (AU$2.15), which we now think is “so expensive!” Shock horror…gasp! Our seafood lunch on the beach yesterday was 220 pesos for 4 beers and 3 grilled prawn tacos (AU$15.76) In Bahia de Los Angeles we were paying 20 pesos per fish taco on the beach, which is AU$1.43 but less than the 70 peso per prawn tostada, which is AU$5. Ceviche was 50 pesos on the beach (AU$3.58)
I’ve had way too many “giant fishbowl” sized cocktails each evening by the pool, at 70 pesos (AU$5 each) but no amount of money can buy the wonderful experiences we keep having and each day is a reminder that “Today has been the best day ever…!”…and that “today” is all we’ve got.