The sound of passing trucks woke me from what was up into that point a pleasant slumber. Not wanting to scramble out of bed at 5am, I stubbornly lay in bed, listening as more trucks drove past the van. Local fishermen were heading to work, eager to sail out to sea before the morning sun rose above the horizon. Eventually, Aimee decided that she’d had enough of watching me failing to sleep, so pointedly opening the fabric window on my side of the pop-top roof.
With a pot of tea brewed, we walked down to the beach, which was now void of fishing boats. When we arrived the previous night, there must have been about 30 boats on the shore, but now the beach was a lot more desolate.
Compared to the other beaches around Todos Santos, Punta Labos failed to live up to the same expectations. It was however a change of scenery and best of all free. We were also surrounded on one side with sweeping hills, which towered over the sea front. I checked on Alltrails and found a small hike with led to an isolated bay where you could see sea lions bathing in the warm sun.
After sharing the walk with the group, everyone decided that they wanted to stretch their legs as well. So we set off, minus Ola and Rachel, who had a last minute phone call they had to deal with. They had recently received confirmation that all VanLife App meetings for the rest of the year had been cancelled and so they needed to discuss what was now expected from them as part of their social media contract.
Our walk started at an abandoned stone built building, which we would later find out was supposed to be a University site for a Colorado University. After a hotel was also built in the bay, locals protested, as they felt that it was harmful to the local fishermen. It didn’t help that the campus would only admit Americans as part of a foreign experience program. What remained of the project was an gothic wreck, with signs of wear and tear from neglect and the weather. It was fascinating to walk through the ruins and it felt strangely Scottish, with the looming hills framed by thick solid rock windows.
From the campus, we followed signs which directed us to a dirt track, which wound it’s way up across the hill and down to the nearby bay. With the midday sun, showering us in heat, we reached the peak a bit breathless, but we rewarded by views overlooking the bay. Scrambling to the edge for a better view, we saw a lone sea lion swimming across the bay. There were remains of an old harbour, most likely used many years ago by ships mooring to drop off and collect resources, when ocean trade was the Amazon of the times. Now, it serves as a viewing point, for those lucky enough to time their walk when dozens of sea lions lay on the rocks, basking in the heat. Sadly, it seemed that today was not one of those days.
Ina was feeling under the weather still, and so her and John headed back to the Seaward Shuttle. Whilst Willow, Danny and I followed the final part of the trail down to the bay, until we got to a steep rocky section which you would have to scramble down in order to get to the water. None of us particularly fancying a quick dip, Willow walked a little further to take some photos and then we retraced the track back to the vans, hoping that when we returned, we would find some fishermen back on the beach selling some impressive catches.
Back at the vans, Ola and Rachel told us that they had already been offered some fish by a passing fisherman. The beach was now heaving. Quite a few boats had returned and were being swarmed by locals in search of a good deal. It wasn’t just locals who had acended to the beach, the local birds clearly knew what was goingon, and were hanging around in hopes of grabbing themselves some tasty freshly caught fish.
Making our way to the beach, Rachel asked a guy hanging around where we could buy some ‘pescado’ and we were pointed to a boat tucked away in one corner of the beach. The fishermen must have seen us ‘Gringos’ coming and must have been excited about making a tidy profit from us naive foreigners. The guy in the boat pulled out a giant red snapper, easily big enough to feed the entire group for at least two nights. We paid $725mxp for the fish, which he had filleted and given to us in a bloody bag. Fortunately, as we had one of the smallest fridges in the group, John and Ina kindly stored it in the van until we were ready to cook with it.
As the beach wasn’t as practical as the other beaches around us, we decided once again to move back to La Pastora, so we could get a fire going to cook our newly acquired fish. Stopping off in Todos Santos for another quick trip to the brewery.
Set up at La Pastora, it felt odd to be back and the beach seemed a lot larger now that the group was considerably smaller. Ola and Rachel informed the group that they had made the difficult decision to start heading back to America in the morning. They had other friends who they were planning on meeting as part of the documentary and they felt it too good an opportunity to miss potential footage for the film. As a group, we were sad to hear they were leaving, but we could understand their reasoning.
We watched one final movie as a group, opting for Snatch, another English movie staring Jason Statham and Brad Pitt. We set the projector up again, this time using John and Ina’s camper to hang the screen. The movie was better received this time, with the whole group staying up to watch the crazy plot line unfold. It seemed that we were living in a real life movie, packed full of unexpected twists and turns, and know one knew how or when this nightmare would come to an end.
We woke Friday morning to find Ola and Rachel had started packing away their van, ready to commence a big road trip back up to the States.We went through our now routinely check of scanning the news for virus updates. Reports were now strongly suggesting that the border would be closing over the weekend. The news sending shockwaves through the group, who up until this point, had decided to see things out in Baja. The border news, along with Ola and Rachel’s decision, seemed to trouble the rest of the group, who immediately began discussing whether they should follow suite.
The trip up to the border was a painful 19 hour drive, and we doubted whether we would make it in time, before they banned non-essential travel. Basically, stop anyone who isn’t a US citizen entering. We wrote a list of pros and cons for staying in Baja, with the pros easily out numbering the cons. With no clear idea how bad the situation would get where we where, it was always going to be a tough decision, and as the rest of the group settled on heading back to the States, we decided to ride it out where we were. The infection rate was growing incredibly high in the US, and we were getting reports that shopping in supermarkets was becoming difficult, due to panic mass panic buying brought on by social media hysteria.
With their vans packed, the group said a quick good and then we watched them embark on their long two hour drive back to the US. We wished them luck and hoped that we would meet some of them in the future, as we made our way north once the border reopened… Whenever that would be.
Sat in silence, it felt odd being alone again. We always knew we would end up travelling by ourselves again, but after the last couple of days, we weren’t quite expecting it to be so soon. La Pastora suddenly felt very open, and we sat hoping that we had made the right decision to stay.
With the group gone, we were left to decide where would be best to ride out our Mexican isolation.