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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
7 yrs and 6 days - end of the road

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Uptight is Alright, Southern Baja Part II

Jan 28, 2016
by John

Tumbling grains of sand, playing chase across the beach. Immune to the traditions of man, action less in motion. Blown to the next temporary home. Explosions of trajectory, consequence less collisions. On course, unquestionable choices.

The more we travel the more we become apparent. Our wants percolate up, so we follow. It's the way life is on the road. Too many compromises will subjugate our journey. What is meant, will be. When you know, you do. Some connections, deeply ingrained.

Southern Baja Highlights

El Tecolote

A great free camping beach that is very popular with snowbirds and travelers. We planned to stay about 4 nights, after 7 we finally left to resupply in La Paz. This was our hangout for New Year's and a reconnection with James & Kamala. The Baja ferry to Mazatlan was having technical troubles so it was offline for repairs. That meant James & Kamala would have to drive back out of Baja to reach the states in time for a wedding. Of course we delayed them a few days hanging out, drinking coffee, and cooking big meals together.

Balandra beach is a short distance from El Tecolote and it's quite protected from the wind. It is very popular with the locals and well worth a visit. We walked around the point to escape the crowds and found a great spot for snorkeling just past the flats where all of the day tripping boats anchor. Thanks for the ride James, even though it was in the back of your SUV ; ) If you were wondering, they made it.

El Tecolote, Baja Sur Mexico

Leona Lewis was here

El Tecolote, Baja Sur Mexico

Just set already, geesh

Todos Santos

What a surprise of a town. We stayed at El Litro, a small campground within walking distance of downtown that has survived a couple hurricanes. It needs a bit of work but for less than $5 US per night it was perfect. The hot shower was hot, divinely hot, a real treat for those who live in a van. Todos Santos itself is a mixture of gringo and local culture. We really enjoyed wandering around, splurging on some hard to find items, and eating the street birria- some of the best we've had! We stayed 3 nights, tried to stay at a local beach that was way too windy, and we skulked back to El Litro for 2 more nights. We totally understand why there are live-ins, great place.

The beaches around Todos Santos are really for surfers. Mandi ventured out with a new friend, Kat, to check them out while I lazed about feeling a little under the weather. She came back all big, almost teary-eyed exclaiming I must see the gigantic waves we could hear at night. When I did, it too left me in awe. We would not complain if we had to live in Todos Santos for a bit.

Todos Santos, Baja Sur Mexico

Secret entrance to Batman's cave discovered!

El Pescadero

Known as a surfers' beach, El Pescadero is a super cool place and Cerritos beach is phenomenal. We got to know Liz & Andy, AirBnB island owners, a bit better and met Irene & Simon, a badass Swiss couple driving the Pan-Am in the most beautiful rig we've ever seen. Each morning was spent sipping coffee while sitting on our couch watching the breaching whales through our barn doors. We have been told that we'd meet the most wonderful people while on the road, definitely yes!

One evening we all ventured out to Super Mini Munchies in El Pescadero for a little music event and dinner they were putting on. It was a wonderful time filled with fantastic tunes and conversation. We were on the fence about attending, we are so glad we did. The tribute to David Bowie, perfection.

Another great surprise was the two cyclists that showed up one night. The antics that surround them, unsurpassed. A beach dog stole their food bag the morning after their arrival so of course we had to help feed them, in return was a big bottle of tequila. A long night for some, an even longer for many, and a slow morning for a couple. We believe they "sweated it out" when they peddled on.

El Pescadero, Baja Sur Mexico

Got rocky but no road

El Pescadero, Baja Sur Mexico

It's hard work getting the van into the photo studio to fake these images

El Pescadero, Baja Sur Mexico

Who chooses to live like this, losers

Zacatitos, East Cape

We decided to drive the East Cape and stop at a couple free beaches. Zacatitos is a very small community not far from San Jose del Cabo. The road in is rutted so we drove slow to save our suspension. We originally picked a spot on an overlook then moved to the location pinned in iOverlander after Joe & Josee and Kevin & Dani surprised us. We could see some whale activity and swimming was OK when we worked with the waves instead of against them.

Zacatitos, East Cape, Baja Sur Mexico


Zacatitos, East Cape, Baja Sur Mexico

OK, pretty perfect

Zacatitos, East Cape, Baja Sur Mexico

Inconspicuous eh

Los Frailes

After almost three hours of driving the East Cape we reached Los Frailes, a makeshift fishing village. The road was rough but doable in almost any vehicle. We grew tired of the multi-million dollar gringo homes but were also in wonder over the stunning coastline. We pulled in behind Irene and Simon, set-up, started hanging out discussing the past few days, and catching some Trigger fish after we were asked by another traveler regarding the road conditions. Ironically, a couple days later we had to dig and push their van out of the sandy spot they were camping in. Fortunately the whole gang was in Los Frailes by then so there was plenty of human power.

One morning we wandered past the fishing encampment for some fairly decent snorkeling. There were several schools of fish, I chased them around for a while then Mandi and I swam for a bit while Simon was MIA somewhere around the point. Later that afternoon a badass European van pulled in, out jumped Gerhard (Gerry) & Lesley, a Dutch couple also driving the Pan-Am. We all got so caught up sharing stories and checking out each others rigs we never ate dinner. It's possible the wine had something to do with it too.

Los Frailes, East Cape, Baja Sur Mexico

Drive the East Cape they said, rattle your teeth out they didn't say

Los Frailes, East Cape, Baja Sur Mexico

Dutch American Swiss sammich, yes we know American isn't real cheese

Rancho Ecologico Sol de Mayo

A mountain retreat complete with waterfall and swimming holes. We arrived to see Joe & Josee's XP so we set up then wandered the path to the waterfall. Chatting, swimming, and scrambling ensued. A neat place that provides a good reprieve from the beaches. In total, we spent two nights but were only charged for one. It was surprisingly empty considering we were there on a weekend. We believe the river to be spring fed, the water was quite cold.

Rancho Ecologico Sol de Mayo, Baja Sur Mexico

Grassy ass

Rancho Ecologico Sol de Mayo, Baja Sur Mexico

Cold it is, swim you must

Santa Rita Hot Springs

The road in was one of the roughest we have driven, the hot springs warm, the river scrambling to different cold water swimming holes impeccable. 4x4 was not necessary, high clearance and a reasonably small rig required. We planned on spending the night but once we were shown the livestock lot we were supposed to park in we decided to start driving back to La Paz to sort out shipping. An out there spot that is fantastic, an easy day trip from Rancho Ecologico Sol de Mayo.

Santa Rita, Baja Sur Mexico

Buddha himself planted that bamboo, you're shittin me?

Santa Rita, Baja Sur Mexico

Those palm tree shaped cell towers are every damn place

Honorable Mention

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 is a standout from the lower loop in southern Baja.

La Fonda, La Paz

Sit-down Mexican cuisine at barely higher than street food prices. A restaurant recommendation from iOverlander that is one of the best we've eaten at. We enjoyed it so much we stopped there on two separate occasions while on our way through La Paz.

Shipping to the Mainland

The Baja Ferries ferry to Mazatlan has been having problems all month. We mostly ignored what was going on with it, knowing it could be working by the time we decided to ship. There was a lot of discussion amongst those of us traveling so TMC started to become a viable alternative. Honestly, our shipping was entirely happenstance, Irene & Simon sorted it all out and we just happened by at the right time.

We were on our way to the terminal to do some investigating on our way back to El Tecolote, our chosen spot to await shipping. 10 minutes from the terminal we received a message from Irene stating they were shipping that day and when we were ready to ship to just show up at the port around 11ish. We decided to go ahead and pull in, asked for TMC and were pointed to an official looking guy. He asked to see our vehicle import paper, we were measured, weighed, told to park, and walked to the TMC office to pay. That was the extent. About five minutes until being parked and 30 waiting in the line to pay.

Three rigs were already there including Irene & Simon's Scania, Kevin & Dani's Iveco, and Rico and Marina's Iveco, a couple from Quebec showed up over an hour after we did, all 5 of us were to be loaded up top. We were all first in line so most of us ended up being parked on an incline. A little gringo questioning later had four of us driving back around to the end of the row to be level, Simon & Irene were already mostly level so they stayed put. TMC allows vehicle access, we were all snug in our respective rigs for the overnight crossing. Within minutes of arriving in Mazatlan, we were all driving off to go our ways. All of our worrying was for naught. What we've learned, make Swiss friends...they'll figure it out with the utmost proficiency!

TMC Ferry Terminal, Baja Sur Mexico

It's much smaller in person, the rest of us just parked funny

Navigating by 'Baja' tag - Navigate by Date
Say what? (4)
Jan 28, 2016 at 03:59 PM
"What we've learned, make Swiss friends...they'll figure it out with the utmost proficiency!" Ah ah, that's not totally wrong! :-)
Nice to read that you really enjoyed Baja.
Wish you safe and happy travel further...
Jan 28, 2016 at 04:32 PM
Thanks Claude-alain! We have to call it how we see it.
Jan 31, 2016 at 05:16 PM
Lovely, lovely! We're sorry we, once again, missed you guys. Stop moving so fast :) We are in La Paz now and just may wander down to La Fonda. Loving our water view campsite at Aquamarina RV Park, walking distance to the malecon, etc (it's windy as hell and Tecolate a no go but we're trying again tomorrow) but looking forward to beach time!
Jan 31, 2016 at 08:26 PM
Thanks Rhonda, we'll meet up, just might be Central America or SA! The Baja wind is like no other, oh do we know. Have a great time.
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