Monday, November 29, 2010

Playa Los Nananjos 25/11/10

Our first morning in our cabaña on the beach saw us make the decision to stay for another 5 nights. It was lovely descending into a deep slumber to the sounds of the gentle ebb and flow of the sea. So we figured we would stay and enjoy what is for us a very different experience so far on the trip-being on a beach. The cabaña is just a few meters from the waters edge-ideal for an early morning dip. It isn't luxury by some standards, but we quickly warmed to its shabby ramshackledness. We had a couple of small beds, table and chairs a cooker, some storage (check out the cupboards!) sink with running cold water, a flushing loo and cold shower. There is the possibility of a hot shower on the site but you have to stoke up the fire first and they are the only showers we have seen with a lock on the outside rather than the inside!
The cabana is shuttered all the way round over a grill of mosquito netting and chicken wire for security, so we can lift them for great sea views. Our neighbour has a very swanky cabaña covered in palm leaves. The beach is a resort of sorts with a number of cabañas some of which are leased for a whole year mostly by Americans for $3500. Though some just come and rent for the US winter from around October through March when it starts to get too hot to sit around so they all flood back to the US. These cabañas have been upgraded for long term use by their occupants both internally and externally, and quite a bit of effort goes in to decorating them The temperatures right now are between 60-65ºF,a bit higher when the wind drops and in the sun.
There are always jobs to do when we stop for any length of time, but this time we were pretty up to date. There was just one job to do so I set about giving David a hair cut and beard trim. Then completely distracted over the next few days by the bird life we took lots of photos of Pelicans having a feeding frenzy just in front of our cabaña You won't believe how many photos we took trying to capture the speed and grace of their dives. So glad for digital photography!

We were invited on Saturday night by our neighbours, Benjamin and Lynette from Colorado who have rented a cabaña until March, to a regular shin dig at the next beach. It seems there is a strong ex pat community along this part of the coast and each beach has a regular evening of entertainment. Saturday night it is the turn of Santispac, which is a beautiful clean gently curving beach, with still waters dotted along the shoreline with Palapas or grass shelters under which you can pitch your tent for about 5 dollars. It is also home to a bar and once a week a disco. So we ordered Chiles Rellanos (our newly discovered favourite dish) and for me a margarita. The bar was already full at 1730 and everyone was in a party mood. The music played and as the plates were cleared the dance floor filled with folk of a certain age wearing blindingly bright shirts and pants, wringing the life out of their retirement-rock on!! The strange looking ball here is full of candy. It was someone's birthday and it is customary for that person whilst blindfolded to chase and to beat the heck out of the ball (bit like blind man's buff) until it spills it's content over the floor whereupon there is a candy grabbing frenzy!

Thanks for inviting us Lynette and Benjamin

By about 8pm I was the worse for wear after 2 hypnotic margaritas, and our neighbours were preparing for an early night ahead of a full days fishing starting at 0430 the following day. So we headed back to our little cabaña having had a ripping night out and sampling the American ex pat community in Baja.
What is striking about the beach we are on is the number of shells. And when we went for walks along the shore we found even more which I carried in my arms for a photo shoot later.
On one of our walks I came across this strange guy again doing an impression of a tea pot!! Still waiting to be beamed up.
Then we came across a sea gull trying desperately to pop this ball. As we approached, the sea gull lost touch with the ball and it floated into the sea. As we looked on we noticed the ball had a tail, but it had no head. Had it been decapitated? Suddenly the ball deflated and disappeared beneath the water. It was a blow fish or similar doing its best to avoid being eaten by the sea gull by puffing up into a ball.
Strangely along this part of the beach there were a number of what looked to be foundations to what had been more cabanas, complete with loos We learned later that land 30 meters in from the high water mark is federally owned. But it can be leased by Mexicans. This part of the beach is owned by a Mexican lady and did have a number of cabañas, but she decided she wanted to sell the land and the new owner wanted it cleared before the contract was signed. So she gave all the cabaña owners notice to vacate. They did not, and after many months of wrangling, she torched the lot and the new owner pulled out of the sale. It is rather eerie walking past the remains of cabañas with remnants of their lives scattered about and the occasional plant just outside what would have been a door and which survived the torching
The weather here has been interesting. It is apparently typically warm with a light breeze at this time of year. The light breeze means that everything is covered in a thick film of sand. Unfortunately for us the wind picked up for the last two days and blew a hooley! The sun still shone putting on a brave face, but the wind beat the sand to a blizzard.
We have enjoyed a very relaxing time here at Playa Los Naranjos, walking, beach-combing, resting, reading, Blog writing, eating probably far too much, watching bird life, and listening to the reliable sound of waves reaching for the shoreline. We have done little except bathe our senses in the sights sounds and smells of the sea and beach. Rather like this Pelican, just being.

Moving on.

Set off the next day into the centre of Baja through different landscapes. Large cactus in arid hills. Climbing higher into a more rocky terrain, before a more open plain. There are very few settlement here but we stopped at one for a cup of Nescafe (don't seem to do real coffee here) and a pastry. They had just relocated the gents, digging a hole and placing the outhouse on top. Very clean and sweet smelling. As I mentioned earlier there is no petrol station for this stretch of 210 miles but at some of the settlements there are people selling petrol from the back of pick ups. They drive to the nearest station and fill up 50 gallon drums, and then charge a premium for their trouble. If you need petrol any premium is going to be cheap.
At Guerreco Negro we cross into Baja California Sur and changed time zones. Instead of getting dark at 1730 it now gets dark at 1830, a great improvement. All the way down the MX-1 there are military road blocks that are place in the middle of the road sending you off to the side into the rough gravel and sand. They are made of tyres, cemented together, with tin roofs. They are manned by very young soldiers, in dessert khaki, fully loaded, who don't seem to be that interested in us and let us through without any trouble. All the way along this road (and it is the only major one in Baja) we have been seeing pick up trucks with off road cars and bikes on trailers coming back from the Baja 1000. Apart from the lorries that has been most of the traffic.
The scenery changed again into rather boring flat dessert, with dead straight roads that finally took us to San Ignacio and our resting stop for the night at the 'Rice and Beans Motel' where we laid our heads for the night. We met Ollie and Alex, two Germans giants who even made me feel small, travelling from Alaska to the bottom of South America on a GS 1200 and a KTM 990. The KTM got through rear tyres every 4000 miles, chain and sprockets every 10000, had to have fully synthetic 10W50 oil that was nearly impossible to find, and took 45lts of fuel to do the same as the GS did with 35lts. Despite all these financial drawbacks Ollie said it was fun to drive.
We had spent the last 6 days since leaving Big Sur moving on every day, nearly 1200 miles of moving on. It was like we were running away from the states and the Mexican boarder, afraid to stop in case we were attacked by drug smuggling banditos, so we told ourselves that we needed to slow down and enjoy what Baja had to offer, so spent the morning looking round San Ignacio. There was a very nice camp site on the way in off the highway, set under date palms by the river, and the square with the church was beautiful. Here is the history and the alter piece. I liked the Cherub hanging from the dome and the shaded tree lined square outside.
Here we met David and Heather from Belfast NI who were on their way back from competing in the Baja 1000. David drove a rented Honda 450 in the solo class taking 39 hours of non stop driving. This was the 4 time he had competed, the first time took him 54 hours and he lost all his finger nails on his right hand due to vibration, this time he thought he might get away with loosing only 2. Heather his wife and back up team wasn't quite so enthusiastic about the adventure, wanting new fascia boards on the house, which next year she might get.
We also met Michael and Goorst from Denmark who were riding on bamboo bikes
from Alaska to the bottom of South America for While having a coffee we started talking to Boris and Nina from Germany who had brought a van in New York for $1000 and spent the last 6 months travelling around the states and Baja. They gave us some useful tips on Baja Sur which was much appreciated.
Finally leaving the square we headed to Santa Rosalia which was built by a French mining company and had some very pleasant architecture. We also found the prefabricated Church of Santa Barbara, being restored at present, designed by Gustave Eiffel in 1874 and constructed in 1887. It left Paris in 1879 and found it's resting place in Santa Rosalia in 1895. Don't know what happened to it between times. All made of pressed steel panels with stained-glass. Having found out information about the ferry from here to Guaymas on the mainland in case we wanted to go that way, (Motorbike 1350, adults 605, leaves Tuesday/Wednesday at 0900, Friday/Sunday at 2000) we headed down along the Bahia Concepcion, an inlet of water off the Sea of Cortez to find a camping place, as we had been told that camping on the beach here was possible. 11 miles south of Mulegé we saw some houses down a track so followed it to Playa Los Nananjos where we rented a cabaña for the night by the sea, watched a striking sunset, and then the moon rise before settling in for the night.