Surfing in Los Cerritos and the dirt roads of the south-east

I was woken first at 3am, by the rain. This meant climbing outside to retrieve our transformer before it got broken, rain is not something we have had to deal with recently and to give ourselves more room inside we tend to dump a few things outside when we park up. Having got back to sleep after this, the next thing we knew there was someone shouting loudly in Spanish and banging on our vans. John ended up speaking to them, and it turns out we should probably have listened to those private property signs. Apparently a few years ago this area was public, but after being nearly burnt to the ground it was closed off and the bloke who lives here isn’t (understandably) too happy about it. Telling us to get out before he called the police, we left fairly quickly.

All of this meant that we were parked up in our destination for that day, Los Cerritos beach, by 8am. A few other campers from La Pastora were already there and enjoying the surf. At least here we knew we could stop undisturbed, even if it wasn’t the most amazing camping spot, all parked in a line by the fence.

Most of our fellow campers were quick to hit the waves once we got there, offering us their boards later. We walked down to the beach to watch, but hadn’t been there long when the clouds darkened, the wind picked up and it started to rain. Heading back to the shelter of the van, it was pretty cold and miserable but was still forecast to blow over that afternoon. Happily, it did just that and we borrowed a surfboard from Ina and Danny, while a group of them headed out to get food. I learnt to surf in Cornwall, on some great beaches. Long rolling waves and a smooth sandy beach gives you plenty of time to try and catch a wave properly, and even then I was never any good at it. Here at Los Cerritos, marketed as the ‘beginner’ beach, there was not only a very strong current but also quite short messy surf. I don’t think it was the best waves to learn on, but we still gave it our best shot and we must have stayed in the water for a good few hours. We were both completely knackered by the time we got out of the water. This was one of those times I was pretty happy we had built our road shower as we could wash all the salt off and not feel sticky all day. Having got cleaned up, and not feeling up to much else, we went for a gentle wander along the beach to see if we could locate the beach showers for future reference. We did find them, but they were awkwardly positioned right by the bar and probably not the best place to have a wash, right next to someone trying to have a drink. We settled for enjoying a beer, and I was especially chuffed to see that the bar had hammocks!

That evening, while at the other bar, Danny had found an abandoned surfboard in an incomplete building nearby and offered it to us. It was a little battered, but still had all the fins and would work just fine. It was missing a leash however. Still felt kinda cool to have our own surfboard, and when we drove off the next morning, we looked like a proper VW with our board strapped to the roof.

We were now near Cabo, under and hour away and we drove off to check out some of the American shops we had been missing while driving down the peninsula. They had a Walmart and a Costco. Costco we stocked up on a few bits, it would have been nice to get more, but we don’t really have much space for storing items in bulk and had to limit ourselves to only a few things. Lee wanted to see the Blues match that afternoon, and I dropped him off at the Marina, while I went to pick up the remaining things from Walmart. Sitting in the van, ready to leave, two Scottish blokes pulled up to say hello. Another case of having our English plates recognised, they told me they now lived here but that, “Cabo is crap, go to La Paz instead.” With this information, I decided to drive back into the town centre and try to park. I could then walk down to the bar where Lee was and perhaps enjoy a drink before we drove out to meet our group at El Tule. I spent half an hour driving around trying to locate a parking spot, without any luck at all. In the end, Lee was ready anyway and I loitered on a nearby curb hoping that the local police wouldn’t care enough to move me on.

This was officially the furthest South that Ruby has ever been, right at the tip of the Baja peninsula. From here we would start looping back up the east coast of the peninsula, heading towards La Paz. It was a short drive out to El Tule, and we stopped off on the way to try and buy a new hose for the shower. We had originally fitted a standard garden hose, but this wasn’t flexible enough and was not only getting all kinked up when we tried to store it, but also levering on the joint of the shower causing it to leak. A kind person had given us some JB Weld at Los Cerritos to try and patch it up, but there wasn’t much point until we bought a new hose. We had better luck here though than in the US, as they did sell the one we wanted and it now works a lot better than our old setup.

Arriving at El Tule, there was quite a large amount of us that had made it from La Pastora, 6 campers now parked up on the beach.

We didn’t stay here too long, for us it was a bit close to the main road and therefore a little loud, but really it was just a stop off between Cabo San Lucas and Cabo San Jose.

Not really fussed about seeing either of these towns, but appreciating having easy access to supplies, we decided to head out for Nine Palms. This was another surfing beach, but this time with more secluded access down around 30km of dirt road.

My opinion of Cabo San Jose was reinforced by the fact that we managed to get massively ripped off at the petrol station. Somehow we ended up paying for more than our tanks capacity, when it wasn’t even fully empty. I’m not sure how they pulled that one off, as they also tried to short change Lee at the pump, but with our water tanks filled back up and our very expensive fuel we headed out of the town.

Having discussed the route with a few other people, we decided to take the slightly longer road as apparently it was in better condition. Compared to some of the roads we had driven over on the west coast, it really wasn’t too bad. We arrived just before the beach, and the road suddenly turned to tarmac. The sat nav sent us off on a small dirt road which we started going down, but the decided not to continue with as it got incredibly rough. Hoping no one else tried it, especially someone in a big rig, we shunted ourselves back out after bashing Ruby around some more. We didn’t see it till later, but here is someone attempting the part we didn’t fancy.

Back on the tarmac road after our long dirt road diversion, we drove on, muttering, “This one better have not been bloody tarmacked all the way…” As is often the case here, this nice new flat road suddenly turned into a dirt track just round the bend and we felt vindicated that we hadn’t driven the other way for nothing. We were now no longer following the satnav, so it was a bit of a guess as to where to turn. We ended up on the beach and after a drive around, picked what we thought was the most solid and flattest spot. There was an alternative entrance to the car park, but it was pretty sandy up there and we didn’t fancy it.

It wasn’t too long before Luke and Emma arrived, and the sun briefly appeared in what was turning into a rather overcast week. We were then greeted by some local piglets, who made the trip through our camp.

in terms of other wildlife there was a pelican very close to us that didn’t seem at al bothered.

So much so that I could have actually touched. This was a shame as at this point I realised, that it probably wasn’t well. And sadly enough, the next morning it had died.

It wasn’t until a few hours later than Jerome and Meli appeared, they said that John and Ina had got stuck and could we go and help push. Armed with our shovel and tow rope, Luke, Lee and I jumped in the back of their camper and went over to help. The Seaward Shuttle was truly buried and we let some air out of the tyres to try and get a bit more grip.

Another couple of travellers had stopped in their camper and being in the most suitable vehicle to tow, we hooked the rope up to them while everyone else went to push. Tow rope tight, both vehicles tried to reverse. Clouds of tyre smoke came off one rear wheel, while the wheels of the other camper slowly dug themselves a hole. Not wanting them to them stuck too, we stopped. A few Mexicans had driven past and one of them also had a go at pulled the bus, when it literally didn’t budge an inch, they gave up and left.

More digging was clearly required, and it was now dark. After clearing away more sand, the problem became clear. The bus had sunk so far into the sand that the rear axle was now stuck on a large rock. Our plan was now to jack the rear of the bus off the floor and support it, so that we could dig out the rock. After finding some wood (a chopping board) to put the jack on so it didn’t sink straight into the sand we managed to lift the back enough to dig out some large rocks. Now confident that the bus was sitting on its tyres rather than its axel we hooked it up to the English girl’s camper again for another try. I co-ordinated the towing, while the remaining 6 people got ready to push. This time we were in luck, and without too much effort the Seaward Shuttle came out, so enthusiastically that it nearly hit the girls’ camper. Covered in dirt and happy to have been victorious, we heading back to the campsite. We had left Emma to deal with Aimee and look after the van, not thinking we would be so long, so I think she was just as relieved to see us return. A few celebratory beers later, it was already time for bed.

We watched the tide the following morning, noting just how many of the rocks of the rocks that we saw the previous afternoon were now covered by the water. Some surfers went out, but as beginners we didn’t feel comfortable trying the waves knowing that when we inevitably fell off we’d be likely to fall on a bunch of rocks.

Since leaving La Pastora, the weather had taken a turn for the worse. It shows how spoilt we have become, that on a day in early March, I feel hard done by because it’s not sunny, just a warm and dry 25 degrees Celsius. Me and Lee went for a stroll down the beach, while a couple of the other girls made some pretty awesome vegan brownies. Some of the guys collected firewood and built a fire pit for that evening. John shared his tips for on-the-go salad.

Rachel and Ola has also joined us that day, making us a group of 10. After spending a good few days together, I find that it becomes easier to hang our with people. Initially, you are making more of an effort and it’s largely small talk. Give it a few days and people relax more as they become comfortable chilling out around each other. It’s easy to move around, talking to different people. There is a nice fluidity to it, collecting firewood with someone, and then swapping over to help out someone else with some different.

Our group camp

We took Aimee for a walk which she did not enjoy, she has got so used to being able to whatever she likes that she is now distinctly unimpressed when asked to go in a specific direction. This ultimately ends one of two ways.

On our second day we were also fortunate enough to spot some more wales off the coast. Flying Steve out for a closer look it turned out to be a humpback whale and a baby. The mother flapping her fin in the air and teaching the baby to copy with it’s tale. This was a pretty awesome sight to see!

By the second afternoon at Nine Palms, we decided we needed to move on. We needed to start moving north a little bit quicker if we wanted to be able to enjoy some of the central states in America on our trip to Toronto for July. Unsure if other people were going to join us, we let people know our plans and started packing up. It turns out that most people are actually on the same time frame, and decided to move with us up the coast to Cabo Pulmo. Everyone, except Ola and Rachel who were heading back to El Tule for an event they were going to film.

I got slightly distracted helping Luke try to sort some of the wiring for his lights on the camper, we traced the headlight fault back to a melted connector on the switch, while what happened to the reverse lights remains somewhat of a mystery to me. John got also got involved and before we knew it there was the remains of our shower hose, duct taped into the air intake to help provide some cooler air to the engine which was missed its intake hose. Finally done with our respective bodges, we were on the verge of leaving when the two other campervans who had been with us at La Pastora arrived. Again, sometime later we were ready to head out and tackle the next section of dirt road heading north up the east coast. Rumoured to be worse than the southern section, we hadn’t gone too far before the Seaward Shuttle lost a large section of its exhaust pipe on a particularly steep dip. Fortunately for them, Jerome and Meli in the camper behind, picked it up for them and we continued onwards. There were indeed a few very rough sections, particularly as we approached the village itself and one section has some very large potholes which are also full of water, making it somewhat harder to navigate. We did manage to arrive at our beach camping spot without further incident however.

2 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this part of the Kombi Chronicles.
    Let us know if your northly route to Canada happens to cross through Oklahoma. The door is open as a well well equipped shop.
    Leo

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