Indecision in the air

The following morning, we packed down Ruby and made use of the hose one last time to fill our water tanks. We drove back to Todos Santos, fancying a brewery trip to refill our growler.

As we were in town, we decided to get some tacos too as places were still open.

I didn’t take long for the military to turn up here either, but at least for once we weren’t the focus. They made sure that everyone was dining far enough away from each other, before leaving.

Full of fish tacos, we headed over to Rob and Jen’s to return their camping table that they had left their last night. It was Sam’s birthday today, and Jen was currently baking a cake. Sam seemed to be quite enthusiastic about the idea of us stopping for cake, so we spent most of the day at their house. Voicing our concerns over places to stay, Rob messaged their friends who owned a plot of land in Cerritos. They confirmed that we could stay if we wanted and with close access to the beach and permission to stay on private property, this sounded fantastic. We waited until the cake was cold enough to be iced and just had time to grab a slice before the sunset began to set. We were keen to arrive at the plot of land in daylight, so we could see where to camp.

It’s only about 15 minutes down the road, and soon enough we had found it, pulling up next to the building site, we checked it against the pictures we had to make sure we were in the right place. Rob had added the owner, Melody to a chat and I sent her a picture to check. She confirmed it was all good.

This didn’t last for too long however, as soon we were met by an enraged American demanding to know why we were on his property. We apologised and said we thought this was part of the land owned by Melody, he calmed slightly at the mention of the right name, but then told us we needed to move a few metres over. Apparently we were on ‘his side’ of the wasteland that he wasn’t using and this was unacceptable. So we moved around the front, parking Ruby in amongst a pile of dirt and a cement mixer.

That should have been the end to the drama really, but then as I opened the door to the cab, Aimee shot out at full speed and disappeared off into the dark. Not too happy to have her out running wild in a new place, especially one where we had already upset the locals, we tried to lure her in. Unfortunately, we don’t have any cat treats left, and you can’t buy those here. Her laser had also gone missing somewhere along the way, which is normally the best way to capture her at dusk when she just wants to play. This left us running around in the gathering dark trying to catch her. She thought this was an excellent game and darted between bush to bush as we got entangled in spider’s webs and thorny plants. Anytime we got anywhere near to her, you could almost see her gleeful little face as she bounded in the opposite direction. Naturally she had made a beeline for the angry neighbour’s property, and the last thing we wanted was for him to look out and see us both running around his garden with torches, looking somewhat suspicious. The moon was bright that night, so we just about managed to keep track of her by its light in the dark. Eventually, probably nearly an hour later, she grew bored and allowed me to catch her.

Safely back in the van, we met the site security, which was basically a kid living in a tent on the site. He understood us enough to realise we would be camping and looked a little worried about the prospect of us staying. He didn’t think his boss would be too happy. We hadn’t realised that this was an active building site, not really somewhere we would choose to stay either, so we decided to wait until morning and see what would happen. The lot was quite big, but it was covered in shrubs, meaning that we could only park in the cleared area right in the middle of the site. Melody messaged us to ask how it was going, and told us that the builders would be stopping work the next day. The following morning, they kind of confirmed that this was true. However, after a rather short night’s sleep thanks to the very loud and busy highway not far away, we decided to try our luck elsewhere. We were grateful to have this as a back-up, but after spending the morning watching the neighbour’s curtains twitch and not wanting to let Aimee loose, we decided to try our luck on a more remote beach somewhere.

With thought that we might have more luck if we drove further up the coast, past La Pastora and towards Agua Blanca. Stopping off in the village for a few last minute supplies, we planned to spend the next two weeks off grid. After last minute water and booze supplies, we headed out of town.

There was a spot on iOverlander, just past La Pastora which we thought we’d check out on the way. As we drove past the beaches we saw the massive signs telling of beach closure and banning all people from entering. A little further down however, there was a small dirt track, with no signs that led to the beach. Arriving at the end it seemed like a pretty good bet. We were not visible from the road, and we didn’t think that this place would be checked as it’s not really a named public beach. There was very limited parking, of which we took up most off too. We saw another couple of campers tucked away a bit further down, these were big rigs and clearly had 4×4 to handle driving on the beach. While it would have been nice to move off the road, we thought we’d try our luck here.

Before long, we had unpacked everything out of the van. We had rearranged the roof box a few nights ago, too free up one of our big boxes in the back. Previously full of warm clothes ready for Canada, it now contained food. We unloaded everthing out of the back meaning we could get to all our stuff. We stored our spare supplies under the van and tucked the bikes out the way. We put up our windbreak and unloaded the camping chairs, while we sat an admired our spot, we agreed on a place to dig a pit toilet in order to make our composting one last longer. Lee went down to the beach to fill up a bucket of seawater to use that evening.

As he left, a truck pulled up next to us and two people got out. Not the first vehicle to have come past, I got that familiar sinking feeling when instead of heading onto the beach, two masked people came towards me.

“Here we go.” I thought. “That didn’t last long.”

They asked how long we’d been there and I told them not long. They then explained that we should stay where we were. They said we could go into Todos Santos for food, but that we must stay put. I was thrilled!

“Es perfecto.” I told them. “Muchos gracias”.

They clocked Lee on the beach, and then got in their truck and went. Soon enough he returned and I explained what had happened. Both very happy to have found a good camp spot for us and also to know we were permitted to stay here, we enjoyed the rest of our day.

It was the weekend and a surprising amount of track passed down the track over the next day. Fishermen arrived at dawn, as they tend to and the rest of the day was a stream of locals arriving. Most of them got to the end, before deciding that they either didn’t like the look of the beach or they didn’t want to park next to the gringos, and turning around and leaving. This suited us just fine, tucked away behind the van we settled in for the long haul.

They only odd event was in the dark that night. Seeing spotlights out on the beach we stood and watched, trying to figure out what was there. Initially we thought it was people on the beach, but the swaying bobbing lights soon showed that they were from a small boat. It cruised slowly down the coast, it’s lights scanning the shore, before coming back the same way. Weird, we thought, before forgetting about it and going to bed. That night was much quieter, as was to be expected with the weekend ending. Not a single car passed us, we slept peacefully, the noise of waves in the background just the right volume to be relaxing.

We didn’t have too long the next day, before that peaceful image was ruined. I was sitting in the van, when I saw the police car approach. Pulling up next to us, they turned the lights on and three officers armed with automatic rifles got out.

Here we go again.

Inevitably they told us we had to go. We explained that we had been told to say. They didn’t care.

“The beaches are shut. You must leave.” One said.

“Ok,” I replied. “Where? The campsites are shut, the hotels are shut, the beaches are shut and the national parks are shut. Where do you want me to go?”

He stared for a moment, before realising the hilarity of the situation. He grinned at us, “Home!’ He exclaimed triumphantly.

It is clearly not something that the majority of Mexicans seem to be able to or want to comprehend. If I have left my country to travel in my own camper, it must stand to reason that I will be doing this for a period of time. No one goes through the effort of shipping a van across the Atlantic for a few weeks. Therefore, it stands to reason that the majority people in this situation no longer have much in the way of ‘home’ in their own country. The vast majority of full time travellers on the road are living in their homes, now portable. Possessions sold, houses sold or rented to fund the trip. It’s not a simple case of packing up and going home, even without a global pandemic. What would I do with our camper? Aimee? Not that the police care, most of them think we’re American anyway and can just simply drive back.

After some time arguing, the truck pulled up with the people who had said we could stay. For a second I was optimistic, perhaps they could reason with the police, but no, this didn’t seem to make any difference. We tried to explain that logically, if you are trying to contain a pandemic and stop unnecessary travel, then forcing campers to continually drive around is rather counter-productive. Needless to say this made little difference to the anything, and as we started to pack away, they headed over to the other campers to chuck them out too.

The others clearly didn’t argue as long as we did, and before long the police left, followed by the other (we assume) health officials who gave us a cheery wave and the thumbs up as they left.

Thoroughly pissed off, we headed over to the other campers to see if they had any plans. It turns out that these people are the German friends that David and Katie went to see in Agua Verde when we parted ways. We went over an introduced ourselves. The one camper is an ex-prison transportation vehicle called Bruno and owned by Kirsten and Hanno. The other is a monster of a truck. Formerly a fire engine, this conversion is the property of Carsten and Stefi, the founders of Dino Adventure.

After saying hello, we started discussing what to do next. They seemed to think that the boat last night was the marines, scouring the beaches from the shore and reporting any campers to the police. Suddenly it all made sense. At least it seems we came off better than the Germans with our police encounter, as they were told to leave because the police officer ‘didn’t like Hitler’.

We thought that maybe we would try to stay at Punta Lobos, hiding behind the half built hotel we had seen previously… worst case we could go back to the Cerritos plot of land. We were waiting on some post and therefore couldn’t leave the area yet, otherwise we would have probably headed north towards the Bay of Conception. The Germans weren’t sure what they were doing yet so we said goodbye, promising to keep in touch, and headed back into the village.

Soon enough, we arrived at the track down to Punta Lobos. We drove down and pulled up behind the hotel. This seemed like we might be in with a chance. We were not visible from the road, or from the sea as we weren’t on the beach, but a quarter of a mile or so away. Getting out to scout it out, I realised that we were small enough to actually park inside the building. After some jiggling we manoeuvred Ruby inside, completing the last bit by pushing her around with the engine off, our maximum stealth mode. Satisfied that we were indeed very hard to spot, we left the van packed for the time being, just in case. The weather mirrored our mood for the day and, as I used the binoculars to spy on a couple on top of the nearby hill to check they weren’t police, it started to rain.

Soon enough, we received a message from the two German campers, saying they would join us for the night. Their massive rigs rolled into the parking lot, clearly visible and very loud. They spent some time repositioning them and our stealthy arrival was not so stealthy anymore. Inevitably, it wasn’t long before site security arrived and told us to leave. We asked to stay just for the night, and soon the manager came over, summoned as she was American and could speak English, unlike the security guard. She was pleasant enough, but explained that while she didn’t mind if we stayed for a night, it was likely that we would be moved on anyway. Apparently the marines had checked the area 4 times that day, and not fancying a rude awakening by the armed forces we decided it best to leave.

Hanno phoned a place on iOverlander called Rancho Pacifico and asked if they were accepting guests. We were pleasantly surprised to hear that they were, and for the cost of 1000mpx (less than £30) a week we would at least have some security. It was also quite close. Sick of being constantly moved around, and running out of daylight, we headed off for some peace and quiet in the mountains.

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