Waking in a giant cactus field was definitely one of our stranger morning surroundings. It felt nice to be hidden away from the rest of the world.
After taking some pictures, we hit the road again. There was no sign of David and Katy, but we had different destinations that day anyway. Our goal was Gonzaga Bay on the east coast.
The reviews on iOverlander said that the road use to be a bit sketchy. The highway they were building just randomly turning into a horrible washboard dirt track. Luckily, the highway had since been completed, so we had a smooth and comfortable drive all the way to the bay.
A storm was blowing through, but we arrived after the worst of the gales, which where evident by large amounts of sand that had been blown into the beach side palapas.
After enjoying possibly the best sunset we had seen so far (I know I keep saying it), we were invited to join to separate groups. There was a guy named Chris, who was traveling in his converted firetruck with his partner Cheryl from Canada, and a guy named Dean, who had a semi permanent residence set up at the bay.
We joined Chris and Cheryl for a drink and talked about our experiences on the road. Cheryl had just returned from a grey whale boat tour in Guerrero Negro. She showed us pictures of the whales breaching the water and coming up to the boat to be stroked. An experience we were definitely interested in.
We then joined Dean, the semi permanent American resident and shared a few glasses of wine over more conversation. He had built a fairly nice set up, but apparently the bay had new owners who were telling all of the semi permanent guys to vacate. So he was down for the weekend to start taking things back up to California. You could see that he was very emotional about having to leave a spot which had been so rewarding to him and his family, but he had at least recently purchased a yacht, so he could now start new adventures wherever he fancied.
The wind still hadn’t quite died down, so we moved Ruby behind his building, desperately seeking some some shelter to prevent us from having to sleep ‘downstairs’.
The stormy winds passed during the night and we woke to a gorgeous rainbow across the bay.
We offered to help Dean with some of his packing, as he had a lot of stuff stored in a shipping container. But he needed to pop out, so we went for a stroll down the beach, in search of some local food. The sump damage stopped us from trying our first Mexican tacos, and we were starting to hear very good comments about the quality and the price of it.
Sadly, the restaurant on the bay was super touristy and as a result, it was pretty pricey. So we just ordered and bean and cheese burrito. Not the most exciting of dishes, but it did the job.
We spent the rest of the day helping Dean shift things around, and then made a strange meal, using some of his bulk food items. We ended up with spaghetti and cornbread. Not quite a local delicacy!
In the morning we said goodbye to Dean, as a thank you, he offered us a solar panel which he no longer had use for. We agreed to keep it at the property and would try to stop by on our way back up to the States, as we had no way of storing it as we headed to the southern most point of Baja.
We followed the highway back out from Gonzaga Bay and drove to the next southern town, Bahia de Los Ángeles. Pulling up on a beach spot to find David and Katy’s VW parked up along the shore.
Exhausted from late night wine drinking with Dean the night before, we had an early night. Looking forward to venturing into town the next day.
The bike ride was a struggle, as large parts of the dirt track consisted of deep sand. But we persevered, and were rewarded for our struggles with three of the best fish tacos I had ever eaten. And it cost us no more than a couple of quid. I could definitely get used to eating out more often based on that experience!
We made it back to the beach and spent the rest of the day enjoying the sun. Flying Steve over the bay, hoping to catch a shot of a whale or a dolphin. We didn’t, but it was still pretty spectacular to look at.
With the sun out, I decided to give the waters a try. Throwing on my swimming shorts and boldly stepping into the incoming waves. What a mistake! The water was freezing. But not wanting to embarrass myself completely infront of Willow and our new friends, I dove headfirst into the water.
“Oh, it’s lovely!” I cried.
I think my face gave the game away and they all just watched me, pissing themselves laughing. It’s safe to say that I got out of the water pretty quickly after that.
Although we were parked to David and Katy, none of us felt compelled to spend every minute together, so we spent the night doing separate things. Once again planning on going separate ways in the morning, but agreeing to try and meet up in Guerrero Negro, as we both wanted to do the whale tours.
The following morning, we set off back down the road to rejoin the main southern highway. We decided on stopping at a little oasis, right before a military check point.
We had already passed through some check points, without bother, but the reviewers for the spot recommended stopping by at the point first to inform them of where we were staying.
Whilst driving, we had started practising Spanish, but it was still at a very basic level, so we confused the arm guard when we told him we were heading to Guerrero Negro. Apparently, he asked where we had come from. Whoops.
They had us step out of the vehicle, whilst they searched for narcotics and weapons. Finding neither. Aimee was getting curious by this point, so we had to hold her, whilst sniffer dogs searched the van. Once given the all clear, we turned around and drove back out of the check point, the way we had just came. If they weren’t suspicious of drugs by that point, they probably suspected that we were on them by that point!
The dirt road to the oasis as rough, but nowhere near as bad as the one to La lobera, where we damaged our oil sump.
Pulling up to a small tropical oasis made up of palm trees, we couldn’t believe that we were able to park there for free. It was a small paradise, only a couple of minutes away from the beach.
With the roof up and solar panels out, we went on a stroll to check out the coast line.
Skirting around a track for a private residence, we saw a gathering of birds around some sort of carcass. As we got close enough for the smell of death to fill our lungs, we could make out that it was actually a dead sea lion. Still pretty fresh.
As I am sure you can imagine, the smell wasn’t pleasant, so we moved on pretty quick. I was still desperate to haplessly stumble upon some fresh lobster that we could rustle up into a gourmet meal. So Willow left me to scavenge through the lobster corpses, not hopeful of my chances.
Half an hour later, and nothing remotely edible found, I went in search of Willow, who had begun scouring the beach in search of pretty shells, of all different shapes and sizes.
“You can’t possible want to keep all of them?”
“No. They will be out through a rigorous sorting procedure. Only the best ones will come in the van.”
Realising that there was no point arguing with the crazy, I left her to it. Occasionally, being asked to check shells which may have permanent residents.
After watching the sunset, we eventually headed back to Ruby. I was in charge of cooking, whilst Gollem sorted through all of her precious shells.
Throughout the night, our tropical tranquility was replaced with the sound of thunderous waves, and neither of us could be bothered to move the interior around so that we could sleep downstairs. So we stubbornly spent the night, listening to wave after wave crash against the nearby coastline.
Sleep deprived, and ready to head to our first major town since La Rosario, we were almost ready to head off, after one last sweep of the beach for seafood and shells. Willow once again coming of better off than my endeavours.
After a short drive down the dirt track, we reconnected with the main highway a couple of metres from the military checkpoint, and once again went through the same procedure as we had the day before. After they were once again confident that we weren’t weed smoking, gun smuggling hippies, that waved us through and we quickly arrived at the main town of Guerrero Negro.
Although it wasn’t a big town, it did have supermarkets, a launderette, water refill shops and an ATM. So we spent our time sorting out bits and bobs. It’s amazing how much better you feel once you have clean clothes, fresh water and a grocery shop complete. We also had signal for the first time in ages, so we were able to check back in with current events.
There were two options for whale tours, we decided against the same company Cheryl had used, only because the other tour group also had suitable camping grounds.
On the drive, I tried to call my dad, but managed to get through, just as we hit a large stretch of washboard road, which drove through a salt mine and led to the whale tour campground. I had hoped to call him back, but by the time we reached the main site, we no longer had service. I prayed that he would understand and wouldn’t spend the rest of the night worrying about us.
The campground was a reasonable $100pesos, which was about £4. Not bad for a campground offering views of a bay full of grey whales.
Later that night, David and Katy pulled up alongside us, they too were going to join us on the boat tour in the morning.
We all hit the sack early, as we had to be at the site’s restaurant at 8am the next morning.
Annoyingly, we did get up as early as we’d planned and starting packing in a mad rush. David and Katy waiting on us. Not wanting to miss the tour, we asked if we could jump in with them, to save us packing Ruby away.
It was only a five minute drive, and we pulled up in the car park with a few minutes to spare. Willow quickly realising that she had forgot to bring her camera. She was annoyed, as her camera had a far superior zoom compared to her mobile. After deliberating whether or not to walk back to Ruby to fetch, she decided to leave it, which turned out to be the right decision, as we were soon completing the necessary paperwork to head out on the boat.
There were quite a few American tourists there and so, one group made there way down to the first boat. The boats were tiny and had a capacity for about 10 people.
It wasn’t long until we were given life jackets and made our way onto the boat. An American couple informed us that this was there fourth day doing the tour. The girl just loved whales apparently.
It was the perfect weather for a boat tour. The sun was shining down on the idyllic waters, and there was a slight breeze, but not enough to cause any real disruption.
After about fifteen minutes, we saw our first whale sighting. A small baby breaching the water in the distance. It may have been brief, but it was wonderful to finally see whales in the wild. For many years, we traveled to Scotland and spent many an afternoon, gazing out across the water, hoping for a glimpse of a whale, but always left disappointed.
Hoping we would get as close as Cheryl had, we trusted our skipper to lead us to a large group, gazing at the fluorescence jelly fish drifting under the boat.
The captain suddenly pulled over, and everyone started to scramble round the boat, peering over the side in hope of seeing one up close.
Suddenly, the was a lot of commotion on the left hand side of the boat, and the boat jerky violently to one side, as everyone dived across to see what was underneath. I truly thought that for one minute, we were all going to end up in the water.
A small pod of whales had gathered around the boat and had started rubbing along the bottom, desperately trying to scratch at the barnacles which had attached themselves to their skin.
The experience got better, as whales started to emerge out from beneath the water, allowing some of us on the boat the opportunity to reach and and stroke their rubbery skin.
The American lady, who was now on her fourth tour, was losing her mind. Screaming hysterically with delight, which was fine at first, but grew tiresome after around ten minutes. Even the small children on the boat thought that she needed to calm down.
We had clearly picked a great day for the tour and was privileged to spend time with two different pods whilst on the water.
“Never do another whale tour after this.” One of the other tourists stated.
“Anything after this will be a disappointment!”
It was hard to argue with his logic. How often do you get to spend the morning stroking whales?
As we started to make our way back, another tourist asked the boats captain if the jellyfish were dangerous, expecting a simple yes or no, we were all shocked when the boat captains arm darted into the water, pulling out a fluorescent blue jellyfish for us all the examine up close. I guess that is one way to answer the question.
Emotionally exhausted, from all of the whale excitement, we returned to the harbour. David and Katy made their way back to their van, whilst we stayed for some food and drink. We had a taste for fish tacos now, and were desperate to keep searching for the best ones in Baja!
Fed, relatively cheaply, we walked back down to Ruby, the overly excitable American couple were leaving, and recommended that we moved our van round to the otherside of the campground. Apparently, we would be able to watch the whale swim down the bay in the morning whilst sipping our cup of tea.
We moved Ruby round and spent the rest of the sunny day exploring the grounds that made up the campsite. Walking down the coast, and then looping back on higher ground. We didn’t spot any whales, but it was a nice way to spend the day relaxing.
Once back at Ruby, we tried to record some scenes for our YouTube channel, only to find that Aimee wanted a staring role in the video.
We eventually recorded to footage outside, only to find that the audio couldn’t be heard over the wind. So we would have to wait a little longer before we could upload new content.
That night, we watched the sunset over the bay, still trying to come to terms with the amazing spectacle we had witnessed earlier on in the day.
“Baja is definitely winning at this point. It will take a lot to trump that!”