The following morning was slow going. We all congregated at the restaurant at Rice and Beans for breakfast before agreeing that traveling as a convoy sounded like a great idea. “We’ll follow you guys.” Brian said. And we did. We followed them for days.
As our mis-matched convoy rolled out of San Ignacio that morning, there was a dense fog that had us all second-guessing where in the world we were. Once we got to higher ground, though, the cool fog lifted and gave way to the bright sun and intense heat. It was brutally hot.
Unfortunately, hurricane Odiel had left this tiny, yet popular, town in a state of disrepair. And it was hot. So we got gas and moved on down the road as fast as we could. It was great! Driving through the desert, dust flying everywhere, not using AC in solidarity of our new friends who don’t have the option.
We were “in it”.
The road was winding and each turn led us closer to our destination: Bahia Conception. After a long day of driving and sweating and being mildly hung-over, there is absolutely nothing more beautiful than cresting over a pass and seeing the Sea of Cortez, an empty beach and a palapa.
Playa Santispac was, for the day, our new home. We set up our little gypsy camp and ran for the water. It was perfection. Beers flowing just after noon. The grounds keeper, for lack of a better term, was a chipper fellow who had a van full of hats, dresses and hammocks for sale. He also had a boat for rent by the hour, and assured us that Santispac was “muy tranquilo”.
We rented his boat for a few hours and set out for a nearby island for swimming and snorkeling. Having never snorkeled before, we both chose not to embarrass ourselves by advertising our lack of operating know-how and opted to just use some goggles and hold our breath. It was still a blast! Schools of tiny fish swimming by, pelicans dive bombing to eat those tiny fish. The 17 year old “captain” (the grounds keeper’s son) dove for clams.
We returned to basecamp just in time to start dinner before it got too dark. TJ went to cooking the clams that he and Joey had harvested, while Jason started cooking some rice and beans just in case his previously vegetarian stomach wasn’t up to the task of digesting seafood.
The clams were a bit of a bust, no matter what method of cooking TJ used, he failed to get satisfactory results. We all happily dined on rice and bean tacos, and drank into the wee hours. This would be Shaina’s last night in Baja, she had a flight out of Loreto the next day.
Wake up fairly early, and hightail it to Loreto. We got into town early enough to grab lunch together before saying our goodbyes and dropping Shaina at the tiny Loreto airport. Now we find camp…or maybe something a little more posh.
Near the airport we saw hand painted signs for Coco’s Cabanas. They advertised $49 a night, two pools, and private cabanas. Probably too good to be true, we decided to investigate anyways. When we pulled up to Coco’s Cabanas at the end of a dead end street, we couldn’t believe our eyes. This place was NICE! Not just nice for Baja, but really nice.
At the front desk, we found Steve, the owner. He gave us a tour of the three different types of accommodations he had to offer. Option one: a private cabana next to a sizeable pool. Very nice, AC, TV, comfy looking bed. Option two: two spacious bedrooms for rent inside one of the houses on the property. And finally, the winner winner chicken dinner of the day: the entire house made up of two king sized bedrooms (each with its own bathroom), living room with flat screen TV, full kitchen, dining area, private patio and even a spare bed for Jason. For just over $30 a head, we all agreed that it was too good to pass up.
That night, TJ and Joey made a delicious dinner on the grill and we all drank a few (probably more than a few) beers and walked around the city. This was truely Baja...stray dogs barking as we passed every alley way, the small tiendas blasting local music and the humid air catching every scent (good and bad), allowing it to linger as we passed through. One of the best nights so far on the trip. We were on top of the world.
Until the next morning. Ouch… no mas cerveza, por favor. How about a pina colada? TJ made the absolute best (and only) pina colada either of us has ever had. Definitely a new favorite. We spent some time that day exploring the town of Loreto. However, since it wasn’t exactly tourist season and most folks are not coming to Baja due to the hurricane, it was pretty much a ghost town. Seeing as though we kind of had it made in our posh new digs, we decided to stay another night. A bit more low key, but still worth every penny. That night we occupied the pool until our fingers were pruney.
Since the very beginning, we had been looking forward to Agua Verde. Our whole trip was first conceived as just a Baja trip, based mostly on a picture on the cover of Overland Journal. That picture was of a camp at Agua Verde, and it captured the essence of the remote wilds of Baja. Today, we planned to see that place with our own eyes. Our rag tag convoy was not exactly suited for the roughest terrain. Our jeep, the only 4X4, Jason’s Westy, the only other vehicle with any ground clearance to speak of, Kara’s $1000 Previa, and TJ’s Transit loaded to the gills. We felt slightly responsible for the collective based solely on our vehicle’s abilities, and our knowledge of the terrain. After we all aired down our tires, we warned everyone one last time of what lied ahead, no one backed out. Agua Verde or bust!
We bounced down one of the best roads to date for about 3 hrs. Shelf roads with stunning views and tight switchbacks. The whole of our convoy made it safely to Agua Verde, a quaint fishing village, and because we really weren’t sure what we were looking for, we weren’t exactly certain if we had arrived. The locals assured us that we were indeed in Agua Verde, and told us that we were free to camp wherever we pleased. We still hadn’t seen the iconic spot featured in Sportsmobile adverts, and on the cover of magazines, so we kept searching, and sure enough, we found it! We knew immediately when we crested the hill that we had found it, the image was burned into our brains! This was what we had been searching for, not just today, but in totality. If we never made it any further than this, we had succeeded!
Unfortunately, the road was too rough for the rest of the convoy, so we experienced it alone. After a few minutes speaking with the elderly man who lived on and maintained the beach, we returned to our comrades and made camp near where the fisherman loaded and unloaded their boats. That night was bliss, as we once again drank too much, star gazed, and bonded with our new friends.