In the morning, we were ready to leave by around midday. We had agreed to go with Katie and David to La Lobera, and then onto El Rosario to wash our clothes after a smokey fire the night before. We flew Steve out over the bay, much to the amusement of the locals.
We then said goodbye to dogs, Gina, Jake and Rosa. They chased us a good half a mile out of the campsite before giving up and I hope that another camper turned up that night to feed them, as they really were nice creatures especially for strays.
The turning to La Lobera isn’t much further down the main road, and immediately it’s a dirt track for nearly 5km. Ruby is fairly high clearance, with the lowest point being the sump. She’s definitely not a 4×4, but so far we’ve done alright down some fairly questionable roads. It started off not too bad, and around half way seriously deteriorated. This was the point where you had to cross a small valley. The road was steep and rough to the bottom, and then after only a few metres, steep and rough back out, I hung on and hoped while Lee charged and Katie and David followed behind.
We made it to the top unscathed, a little bit smug and a little bit surprised. The last section wasn’t a problem and soon we were at La Lobera.
I’m not sure how I would describe this place, so it’s a good job there’s pictures. It’s a section of the cliff that has been eroded by the water to form a kind of cave/pool which the sea lions clearly enjoy.
There were some babies, which was pretty cute.
We walked down to the sea, via a dodgy staircase, where you could see some pretty colours running through the rocks and the clear signs of a cliff worn over hundreds of thousands of years by the waves.
The pathway that the waves have cut into the rock to make this little place.
It was now time to face the road back out, if we made it one way then we should be able to get out. At least we had the company of a proper 4×4 to tow us if it all went wrong! The worst bit at the bottom of the valley caused us to bash the bumper fairly hard, and it was a little touch and go for a second as Lee tried to pick the least bumpy path up the steep hill, but we were up. The photo doesn’t really do it justice, this was a very rough section of road.
Katie and David made it up easily in their 4×4 while the couple on the right who are walking had abandoned their car further back up the road.
It was a fairly short drive from here to El Rosario, where we needed to get some fuel and groceries. We were parked up in the petrol station, when David came to tell us there was a problem. With the engine off, oil was pouring out of the sump and onto the floor. We had clearly hit it on a rock somewhere and without the suction of the oil pump we were making a big mess.
A quick check on iOverlander revealed a garage only a few minutes away. After speedily finishing up and paying, we drove off with what little oil was left. I located the mechanic and was happy when he spoke some English. After showing him the problem, we were soon parked up outside the garage.
Katie and David came to check we were ok, which we were, and after exchanging contact details they headed off. Shortly after, Lee followed them and went to get the washing done while I waited with the van. Soon enough the sump was off and we could see the damage more clearly.
The drain plug, which is the lowest part, had hit and been squashed back up, creasing all the metal. This in turn had caused a small hole. Luckily it was small enough that we hadn’t lost much oil while driving and wouldn’t have damaged the engine. The mechanics bashed it out as best they could, and the brazed over the worst bits.
Whilst still looking pretty bad, it did at least look like it would hold oil. As they pointed out, I needed a new one anyway, this one was starting to get some bad rust. It also had some big gouges in the metal from whatever we hit, and while they aren’t leaking the metal looked very thin!
After a good clean and a new layer of silicone, it was ready to be refitted. David the mechanic rolled around in the dirt while I watched, a novel experience!
I went over the nearby shop to buy some new oil and soon we were ready to test it out. After insisting that I leave it running for at least 5 minutes to check it wouldn’t leak, they were happy to let me go. At this point we hadn’t talked about money (it’s not like we had much choice) so I asked how much. He told me it would be 500mxp, that’s about £20, only a tiny bit more than buying the new oil. For two hours’ work, and seeing that they took care to do a good thorough job, I was more than happy. He also told me it was guaranteed too! Lee was back with the clean washing and after we scraped together the remaining pesos we had, and topping it up with a few dollars, we were ready to go. Saying goodbye to David, who I am very grateful too, we were back on track.
We still needed water, and had used all our pesos on the repair work. That meant Lee had to go back to the petrol station to swap some dollars to pesos, where he was told off by the cashier for not speaking Spanish. In the meantime, I was left to entertain 3 Mexican children, who were very interested in Ruby and Aimee. They didn’t speak a word of English and I explained I couldn’t speak Spanish. This didn’t stop the millions of questions they fired at me while I stared helplessly and repeated ‘no Espanola’. By the end of it I had learned the word for ‘cat’ and also ‘butterfly’ in Spanish, and they the English equivalent, so I guess we hit somewhere.
By the time we had got the food we needed, we had around an hour of daylight left to get to a camp spot. It isn’t recommended that you drive on the roads here at night, as it’s not only hard to see the potholes but also the black cows that have a tendency to sleep on the warm tarmac at night. We arrived just after darkness fell, at the original destination we had planned that evening, the ‘Cactus Wonderland’.
We also had a fantastic view of a near full moon as we drove the final section with the setting sun.
As we had arrived in the night, we didn’t really get to see our surroundings properly until morning. We parked just off a dirt road to nowhere, and had a very quiet night. In the morning we drove back up the track a short way to get some pictures of these amazing cacti, that go on for miles and miles in all their different shapes and sizes.
Some of them dwarf Ruby completely, while others spread their spiky fingers along the ground.
There are also so nice wild flowers here at the moment.
I did wonder whether Aimee would make the mistake of trying to climb one of the giant cacti, but fortunately some innate instinct stopped her. I’m quite glad is I didn’t fancy spending the morning picking spikes out of her paws! Instead she was happy to follow me around the surrounding area, while I tried to locate a suitable bit of dead cactus.
Spot the cat, again.
This time she’s hiding under the rock on the left hand side and refused to come out for some time.
Having seen Lesley make a pretty awesome succulent holder out of a skeletal piece of cactus in San Diego, I wanted my own. Lee left me to my own devices while I spent a while picking through spiky rotting plants. In the end though, I had my trophies. Lee looked on a little doubtfully while I set about cutting them down to camper size…
Eventually satisfied, we moved on. We were now continuing our drive from west to east, and planned to go a short way north once we had hit the east coast. We wanted to visit a place called Gonzaga Bay, while looked like a nice spot. As we later discovered, we were lucky with the roads. The road northwards used to be in a bad way, but it has just recently be redone, and is now a perfectly smooth highway which takes little time to drive. Soon enough we pulled into one of the cheaper primitive campsites that is located on the shore. Here you each get your own palapa (a small shelter) and pit toilet.
The wind was quite fierce when we got there, and we hoped it would die down before nightfall otherwise we would be sleeping downstairs again. We spoke to a few people along the beach including an English bloke called Chris, who had just pulled up in his converted fire truck, and an American guy called Dean. Planning to speak to them more later, we watched what I think has been the best sunset I’ve ever seen. It started off looking like nothing much.
And then developed into this beautiful sky, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one quite like it.
The colours were fantastic, and it almost appeared as if the sky was on fire.
We joined everyone else on the beach taking photos of this beautiful scene, before heading inside to cook.
Around 9pm, we headed around to Chris and Cheryl’s truck. It was interesting to see their conversion. The interior still used a lot of the original cupboards and therefore had more of an industrial feel to it. They had a nice big space too, and we were get a bit of space jealously the more people we see who could have room for separate bathrooms and the like. Chris explained to us some of how he had done the conversion, and showed us around the outside and the cab. I liked the idea, it’s always nice to see people who have not only built something themselves, but have also done it using a slightly more unusual vehicle.
We also spoke to Cheryl, who had just gone on a whale watching tour near Guerro Negro, further south. We saw some of the photos, which looked amazing and pretty much decided there and then that we would have to go on one of the tours when we headed further south.
That evening we also went to say hi to Dean. He had a more permanent setup not far along the beach from us. Once just a regular RV, it was now enclosed in a wooden structure and had a substantial deck and upstairs area too. Earlier he had offered that we could park in front of his place, rather than our current camp spot as it would be more sheltered from the wind. After saying goodnight to Chris and Cheryl, we walked up to see if it would be a good idea to move, as the wind was still howling around us. While we debated we heard people talking on the deck outside, and went over to join Dean and two other residents from down the beach for a glass of wine.
It was now getting late and soon it was just us and Dean left. Lee went and brought the van around, and it was a little more sheltered. After wishing him a good night, we also headed to bed. While it was more sheltered here, it was still quite windy and we decided to sleep with the roof down. We’re getting better at arranging ourselves for this, and made a slightly better job of it this time which led to a better night’s sleep.
While chatting to Dean the previous night, he had told us that he was going to be moving out of this place. The reason he was here this particular weekend was to start clearing the place out and taking stuff back to LA. We offered to give him a hand the next morning with anything that might require more than one person, as he had a lot of stuff. Probably not surprising, considering the 15 years he has had the place.
We started off the day well, Dean made us a cup of coffee and also let me use his shower, which I was very happy about. We then helped him get the jet ski out of his container. There was a brief interlude while he went on an errand, and we took a walk down the beach to get some food. We also decided that we would stay another night, as looking at the weather forecast it appeared we were in one of the only nearby areas that was not getting a lot of rain. This did however give us the benefit of some good rainbows in the surrounding area.
We had been in Mexico for nearly a week now and had still not had a proper taco, despite seeing them advertised everywhere for around 80p each. We were going to have them in El Rosario, but the broken sump took priority. Therefore, we decided to walk down to the restaurant at the end of the beach and see if they had some. It was a longer walk than I had realised, but it was nice to stroll along the beach and as always, pick up a few shells for my expanding collection. it seems to be a requirement of living here that you must have at least some whales bones outside of your house. As we walked down we saw bits of spines, ribs and jaws being using for a variety of decorations.
On arrival at the restaurant, we got a menu and realised that it was a bit pricey. We wanted the proper street food tacos, and that wasn’t what this was. In the end we got some nachos, bean burritos and a beer, for $18, which isn’t too bad. This is especially true if you consider that we were told it would be $10 to use the internet for an hour, needless to say we declined.
Ready to head back and continue to help out Dean, we began our walk back. We spent some of the afternoon helped him box up things and load them into his truck. We also dug a large 220W solar panel out of a side building, which he offered to us as thank for our help. This was very kind of him, but we had no idea how we could possibly attach or carry such a massive panel, so we retired to the balcony for a beer and a think.
After some final packing of the truck, and still pondering the solar panel, it was nearly time to eat. We had agreed that we would cook as he was supplying the food. We made up some corn bread and a large bowl of spaghetti for us all, and ate it the relative spaciousness of his RV along with several bottles of wine. The rest of the evening was spent chatting away the time and finishing the wine, until it was late enough to call it a night. It was also the first time we had got access to the internet for some time, as he kindly let us use his Wi-Fi. Back for our second night on the beach, we risked sleeping in the pop top as the wind had died down.
The following morning it was time for both us and Dean to head off. He had given us a load of spare food to take with us as well as our left over spag bol and I spent a while trying to persuade all the new cans into our cupboard. In the end we had also decided to keep the solar panel at his and that we would pick it up on the way back as we had no way of using it without some modification and a new charge controller. We made some kind of vague plans as to when we were both likely to be back in the same place, before saying our goodbyes and hitting the road. Him north and back to the US, and us south towards Bahia de Los Angeles.