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John and Mandi

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We Grew Up to Live in a Van, Southern Baja Part I

Jan 21, 2016
by John
in: Mexico, Baja

It’s interesting when we consider where we are and how it has come to be. The majority of our lives were spent trying to achieve some sort of comfort, a way to spend our dying days without worry. We focused so intently it resulted in living under constant concern and losing so much life. End of day plans at the cost of all immediate.

Hindsight is powerful if we learn and don’t dwell. All that has passed has led us to where we are today. Trying to conceive whether we’d be traveling right now if we'd lived a different way would be absurd. We are who we were and who we will be tomorrow, each day a little is learned and a little is shed away.

The beaches of Baja have a way of hearkening one to reflect. Maybe it’s the slower pace or the time spent huddled from the wind. Either case, we sit and wonder about all that has been. We are not disgusted with time already spent, more enthused with how it is unfolding. Deciding to live each day instead of planning to live some decades away. We could be entirely wrong, that is unequivocally OK.

No one knows what the future may bring, yet everyone seems to be hedging on a certain way. A safety from the unknown, the possibility of endless possibilities. The most comfortable of comfort zones, there once lived a hobbit.

Quite possibly, when our Pan-American journey has concluded, we’ll be right back where we left off. Long working days full of weekend lust and desires to enjoy what little time we have for ourselves. Right now it’s unfathomable, a fleeting thought that comes less frequently than the time before. We are futureless, momentarily absorbed.

Southern Baja Highlights

San Ignacio

We finally made it to a quaint Mexican town complete with historic mission and central square. Walking around San Ignacio was a real treat. The camping options are quite limited so we drove back out of town to the edge of an oasis and spent the night at Camping Petates right on a lagoon. It was fairly primitive but for $7 US it was a really relaxing place to be.

San Ignacio, Baja Sur Mexico

10 pesos says you won't pull it

San Ignacio, Baja Sur Mexico

Secret agent gringa

Playa El Coyote (Bahia de Concepcion)
One out of the many campgrounds along the Bahia de Concepcion coastline. We stayed 5 nights but were charged for only 4 and we shared a palapa with Joe and Josee to save a little coin. Our camping fee totaled just over $26 US. We ended up staying in the day use section because snow birds were dug in for the duration in the main camping area. The diesel exhaust brakes from the passing trucks were really loud, we were very close to the highway, but the spot is magical.

Our first morning there we were woken up around 6:00 by a couple Mexican men who were talking right next to our rigs. Turns out they were food and non-potable water vendors, 6AM became the ritual. Jose, our go to guy, had fantastic fresh shrimp and produce. We also purchased a 55 gallon drum of non-potable water, chicken tamales and pineapple empanadas from him. The former becoming our daily breakfast.

Besides Jose, what made El Coyote spectacular was meeting James and Kamala then catching the bioluminescence spectacle a couple of nights. James and Kamala were on a big loop through Baja then planning to jump to mainland Mexico before heading to the states for a wedding. They are a great couple and huge sports for letting me con them into cooking us traditional curry chicken. Luckily we had all of the necessary spices, thanks again Kamala! The bioluminescene is almost indescribable. Stars sparking in the sand, electric splashes from jumping fish, trails following everything that moves, oh how wonderful.

Playa El Coyote, Baja Sur Mexico

If a bird poops in water and it gets on you is it good luck?

Playa El Coyote, Baja Sur Mexico

I see why lunch still isn't ready

Playa El Coyote, Baja Sur Mexico

I'm too sexy for my shirt

Playa El Coyote, Baja Sur Mexico

Of course your evening skies are pretty, I'm just saying maybe you should cut down on the wind a little

Punta San Basilio
A great free beach on a protected cove about 17KM from the main road. It took us an hour and fifteen minutes to traverse the 17 kilometers, more than well worth it. We wanted a remote area to hide from any Christmas shenanigans, a few others did the same so none of the usual parking spots were available. We engaged 4wd and drove out on the beach until we were satisfied with our location. A couple days after we arrived a cool older Dodge Sportsmobile showed up along with Mario and Michele. She asked if we wanted to go for a walk the next morning which resulted in us helping her collect Chaparral. Turns out they own a handmade soap company based in Baja, they gave us some for our less than hard work. What an awesome couple whom we hope to run into again someday.

Punta San Basilio, Baja Sur Mexico

Sandy britches

Punta San Basilio, Baja Sur Mexico

Sure, park your boat right in our view - assholes

Punta San Basilio, Baja Sur Mexico

Nope, not the cliffs of insanity

Punta San Basilio, Baja Sur Mexico

Call the realtor, I think we can find water more blue blue

Punta San Basilio, Baja Sur Mexico

Over-underwater-lander...the next level

Punta San Basilio, Baja Sur Mexico

I still see you, you crunchy little bastard

Punta San Basilio, Baja Sur Mexico

Vanscapes

Punta San Basilio, Baja Sur Mexico

Yup, same clothes

Honorable Mentions

While we don't list every place and thing we do there are some that stick in our minds. Weeks later we catch ourselves mentioning them to others or just savoring the memory of the exquisite cuisine we consumed. Here are a couple standouts from the beginning of our southern Baja route.

Malarrimo, Guerrero Negro

A row of campsites behind a restaurant and hotel with exceptionally hot showers. We walked to town for great street food and groceries. The birria stand when heading west down the main road was fantastic. Our first Spanish lesson from local children at the lavanderia was priceless. A real surprise considering we were really just living behind a hotel.

El Mana, Loreto
We fumbled around town looking for a place to eat after a day of driving, happening upon El Mana. The quesadillas and tacos El Dorado are fabulous. Instead of searching for a different place to eat at we ate there twice, a common theme for us when the food is great. No need to mess with a good thing. We later learned it sits just across from El Rey, a famous fish taco place we never tried.


Navigating by 'Baja' tag - Navigate by Date
Say what? (15)
eric
Jan 21, 2016 at 06:29 PM
Man, looks great guys! I'm glad you've found some solace after your earlier troubles. It looks like absolute paradise and I never mind seeing pictures of Baja, my last frontier. It's cold and snowy here and you're puttin' a hurtin' on me!

Cheers
Eric
Jan 22, 2016 at 09:18 AM
Thanks Eric! We'll do our best in keeping you warm through our pictures. You'll love exploring down here.
Glenn
Jan 21, 2016 at 08:29 PM
Hey guys,

I am always amazed to read about your travels and check out Mandi's great photos. By the way, who is responsible for the quirky captions?

I'm quickly becoming a disciple of the church of the Pan American Highway. Especially if it comes with piña empanadas.

I'm hanging out in Cartagena, Columbia and I think it's your kind of place. So when you get past Panama, hang a left.

Jan 22, 2016 at 09:23 AM
Hey Glenn! You know I'm the idiot behind the captions. Mandi has veto rights so every now and then one gets cleaned up a bit.

We'll be shipping into Cartagena so please start one of your mini travel guides. You really should write for one of the guide book companies. If you really like Colombia we won't say no to a personal escort!
Sri
Jan 22, 2016 at 08:08 AM
The beaches look calm and beautiful. How is the weather?
Isn't it winter there? (naive question)
Jan 22, 2016 at 09:28 AM
Hey Sri! the weather has been fairly good, the wind was quite strong at times so we were too wimpy to get in the water when it was blowing. We're a bit further south now where it is warmer so there's always a place in Baja.
Jan 22, 2016 at 04:23 PM
Nice! A great ending to Baja South. We'll miss you guys by a few weeks but thanks for the tips, now I can plan for a hot shower in Guerrero Negro, ha! Also that's cool you can buy non-potable water from them. Do them come back and get the drum?
Jan 24, 2016 at 08:33 AM
Hey Jesse, too bad we'll miss you guys. We know you're itching to photograph the Monarchs so maybe you'll jump to mainland ; )

When you're done with the water you roll the barrel into a palapa and they pick it up the next day. We told Jose when we'd be leaving so he'd know and his name was spray painted on the side of it.
Eddie
Feb 9, 2016 at 11:48 AM
John- tying into the previous question...what do you do with 55 gallons of non potable water? Shower maybe??
Great blog!
Feb 12, 2016 at 04:11 PM
Hey Eddie,

We washed dishes, showered, cleaned our solar panels and windows on the rigs. We also gave some away to some backpackers who we suspect drank it. We had some left over so we left it for whoever wanted it.
David & Christiane
Jan 22, 2016 at 08:26 PM
We are continuing to marvel at your travels and the associated writing and pictures. Trust me, looking back and regretting things not done is no way to spend one's later decades. You are on the right track even when you are lost.
Jan 24, 2016 at 08:35 AM
Thanks David and Christiane! It's always great to receive encouragement. We'll keep on keepin on!
John and Toni
Jan 24, 2016 at 08:41 PM
Passed you guys in LaPaz today about 3:30, too much traffic to spin it around. White van w a kayak and sup on top. funny, just missed you in ak too. Assume your heading to the ferry, drive safe, have fun. jb&t
Jan 24, 2016 at 09:07 PM
That's crazy John and Toni! I remember your van but we were navigating so we were a bit focused. We'll be running a few errands tomorrow then checking out the ferries. We'll probably be back at Tecolote until we ship. If we can't catch up here will you be shipping to the mainland?
John
Jan 25, 2016 at 09:01 AM
Probably spend another month or so in baja, then find a place to park the van until next year, not sure if hat will b down here or maybe Arizona, there's a lot of the southwest we want to explore. Who knows after that.
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