Hiding in a desert ranch

After the previous day’s events, it was wonderful refreshing to wake up parked up in a desert ranch, not far from the Sierra Laguna Mountain region. Renting our small camp spot should ensure that we’d receive no further hassle from the local authorities, something we were all starting to craze after being chased from one spot to another. It did mean that we would now be paying for that privilege however. Now that’s not to say that the ranch was expensive. In fact, it was a reasonable $200mxp a day, or $1000mxp a week. That’s £7 per day, or £35 per week. We’ve paid that for just a night’s camping in the US. It wasn’t something we did often though. The occasional treat of shower facilities, or hook up when our batteries were low. A week at the ranch would be perfectly fine, however we would need to find a more permanent solution if beaches were to remain shut throughout May as well.

Our new home for the next week

We hadn’t wasted anytime making ourselves at home when we arrived. Quickly locating spots to park our campers, before once again rearranging all of the food and drink we had bought in preparation for living off-grid for the next week into more suitable locations. With the campers sorted, it we moved our attention onto the camp. As it already had a pit toilet, we weren’t required to dig a hole to go to the loo, so our priority became a fire pit. The heart of any great camp spot. Here we could spend most our evening, gathered around the warmth as the fleeting day’s heat departed us. There’s also nothing better than cooking on an open fire, and after our time with Shane, I was quickly coming to appreciate the beauty of cooking a meal on s skillet over a roaring fire. After pathetically hacking away at the hard ground with our tiny fold out shovel, Carsten came out with a full size one which he had in his truck and had it dug in no time at all. The joys of having enough storage space to carry the correct tools.

We even had our own pit toilet
Loved the door lock
All set up

After gathering some firewood from the cacti forest we know found ourselves in, we congregated around a roaring fire underneath the stars and the moon light. Having been moved on from two different locations, we hadn’t actually spent any time getting to know one another, and so it was nice to be actually able to sit down and chat. Thankfully, our new friends spoke immaculate English, which was useful, because I hadn’t spoken German since Year 11 of Secondary School, and I had never really applied myself during those classes. So I wouldn’t have been much use trying to communicate with them in their mother tongue.

Unsurprisingly, the day’s events had taken it out of everyone, so we didn’t stay up too late chatting, reasoning that we had the whole week to really get to know each other better.

That first night on the ranch, the air was still, and the only noise to be heard was the light chirping of nearby cicadas. We may have been paying for the spot, but the silence was priceless and I soon drifted into a blissful sleep.

For the next couple of days, we set about relaxing, making the most of the warm desert sun, which was showering us with magnificent warmth. At this point, I had fallen really far behind with my blog writing. It seemed that every time I allocated myself some time to try and catch up, something would crop up and disrupt said plans. Now there was no excuse not to catch up, and so I set about furiously writing about the previous events of over a month ago. Something which I’d prefer not to do, because it is difficult to capture the same emotion was the events start to become a distant memory and the images start to cloud in your head.

We had also decided to write a book based on our first trip to Scotland in Ruby and so decided to make a start on this as well. We planned on alternating who wrote the chapter, taking it in turns to write about the day’s events from our own perspective. We both have different writing styles and so we thought it might make the book a little different and hopefully more enjoyable.

With my birthday approaching, Willow set about continuing with the top half of my tattoo sleeve design. She designed the lower half of my sleeve, which is the South American continent, along with some Fran Turner lyrics. She had made a start on the next part of the design during our trip, but she’d never quite found the time to get it completed. So she slaved away in the van. Bits of paper taped to the window, as she tried to trace layers to build up the design. It was really starting to take shape, and I could finally start getting excited about having my sleeve finished.

How awesome is this design!

To break the next day up, I decided to take a bike ride into Pescadero. I was already starting to show the early signs of cabin fever from staring at a laptop continuously. The dirt road in had not been pleasant in Ruby, so I doubted it would be any better on my bike, but I desperately needed a change of scenery to break up the routine.

As I had imagined, the bike ride was a struggle to say the least and at times I had to battle my way through large sections of deep sand. But I persevered, and eventually I reached some house on the outskirts of town. I didn’t have time to celebrate my achievement though, as soon I was chased down the road by a pack of local dogs. Almost every home in Mexico at least one dog for protection, and I don’t think they are used to seeing a breathless foreigner struggling down the road on a bike and they took great delight chasing me down the road. I tried my best to pedal along the dirt track, swinging leg out occasionally in a vain attempt to scare them away.

Eventually I made my way onto the main high street and after stocking up with a few essential items, I turned around and headed back towards the camp site. This time prepared for what lay ahead of me.

I returned to find that Willow had taken a break from designing my tattoo to make a skipping rope from some camping rope and a few pieces of dead cactus. We had a whole week here, so a bit of procrastination was to be expected.

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the tranquillity of the camp. Kerstin and Hanno were cracking on with designs for an app which they were in the process of creating. An app for travellers which helps record useful information and provide useful specifications and reminders when services were due.

Even Aimee was keeping busy

Carsten set about making some bread over our camp fire and spent the rest of his time recording and editing footage for their YouTube channel. Seeing them work on their latest episode made me slightly disappointed that we had fallen so far behind with our own channel. It had been a couple of months since we had last posted an episode and I was still committed to documenting our travel adventure in as many formats as possible. We were must finding it a struggle to balance our commitments, and were reluctant to have them take over our experience. This unplanned time of isolation should hopefully provide us with enough time to start catching up with a few of our commitments, as there wasn’t much else to fill our days.

Camp Quarantine… More like Camp Productive!

The one problem with trying to catch up with blogs and YouTube channels in the desert, was the noticeable absence of decent data signal. The whole camp was feeling the strain of trying to upload documents, only to find that they didn’t have enough signal to upload it. You would often see one of us wander around the camp, phone help in the air in the desperate attempt at finding a hot spot of data signal to upload a blog picture. Other than the writing commitments, the lack of data almost added to the tranquil vide of the camp. The whole world had managed to come to a standstill, and it was almost a relief not to check my phone daily for updates on the pandemic. All we could do was sit it out and hope that at the end of the month, beaches would re-open and we would be free to go back to moving around, at least enjoying Baja’s spectacular beaches if heading back to America was not going to be a possibility.

We decided to set up our projector outside, so that we could enjoy a movie underneath star lit sky. We invited the Thompson’s around to join us and spent the night watch the suitably appropriate movie… I am Legend. A movie about a viral infection. O.K, so it may have been a far more serious viral infection, but there were still useful lessons to be gleaned from the film in the case of a zombie/vampire apocalypse! Especially as we learned that night that Todos Santos and other towns were erecting road blocks to prevent the movement of travellers. This could potentially be problematic to us in the future when trying to pop back into town for supplies. Surely they wouldn’t prevent people from buying basic food and water.

The locals don’t want our kind in their village
Outdoor movie night
Viral pandemic movie anyone?

As Easter was fast approaching, the Thompson’s set up a beer hunt for me and Willow. Hiding an assortment of craft beers around the camp site for us to find. It should surprise you to hear that we were fantastic beer trackers, finding all of the beers in record time (with a bit of hep from Sam and Sloane).

In an attempt to break up the monotonous routine of writing, Willow and I decided to take a bike ride in to Pescadero. Yes… I was THAT bored, that I fancied tackling the ride into town twice in the matter of days. Willow would find the journey harder, as her bike isn’t really equipped for off-roading. It’s more of a casual riding bike, one you would ride to a market to buy a fresh loaf of bread and a couple of veggies.

After once again making it into the town of Pescadero, we were this time greeted by a road blockade where the road joined the main highway. The blockade was being run by local volunteers and they had constructed a sign that instructed people to stay at home. Once of the volunteers clocked us on our bikes, but we set off down the road before they were able to say anything.

Pulling up to the laundrette, we were saddened to find it closed. We had lugged our clothes with us in an attempt to clean them, as there was no running water in the camp site and we were starting to run out of clean clothes to wear.

With the laundrette out of the question, we road to Baja Beans, and was not surprised to find Shane there, sat by himself, using the Wi-Fi. He was obviously surprised to see us and we soon caught up, explaining our multiple evictions from camp spots leading up to us renting the camp spot at Rancho Pacifico. His travel experience wasn’t fairing any better. He was still renting the casita, spending his days alone in Baja Beans using the Wi-Fi, eating cold beans out of a can at night as he was unable to cook over an open fire.

We said our goodbyes to Shane and Made our way back to camp, this time sneaking around the blockade without detection. Arriving back at the camp drenched in sweat, we decided that it would be a good time to use our solar shower, and so being the gentleman that I am, allowed Willow to Shower first. I had not long started my shower when the pouring water turned into a trickle. As much as made enjoyed accusing Willow of ‘hogging’ all of the water, the last time we filled it up in La Paz, we filled it up by hand and in doing so, I don’t think we were able to fill the shower to its capacity. So I finished cleaning myself using a flannel and a spray bottle and spent the rest of the evening tormenting Willow.

Cooking was a welcome distraction from writing
How tidy does the van look!

Days were quickly merging together, a blur of typing blogs and writing chapters for our book. It was now Easter Weekend, and were making excellent progress with the book, finishing at least a chapter a day. Writing about travelling in the van, did make our current predicament harder to swallow and we were all starting to focus on all of the negatives of the site, rather than the positives. No water, hardly any signal and we had to endure a plague of flies almost on a daily basis. Our German friends had started to contemplating moving to a new spot at the end of our week. A waterfall location marked on iOverlander down a sandy riverbed. Reading the reviews, there was no way we would have ever made it to the spot by ourselves. Fortunately, we weren’t by ourselves and our new friends were fairly confident that they would just drag us all the way there if needed. Something I didn’t doubt looking at their beastly campervans.

We were invited to join our hosts to watch the sunset up by the palapa that they were building at the top of the ranch, so as the last light of the day started to fade, we followed a small trail which winded up through the sounding cacti and eventually brought us out in the building yard for their eco village. Dane and Sabrina had already set up some chairs next to a table, offering a spectacular view down the valley out towards the Pacific Ocean.

I’ve definitely had worse views whilst drinking beer
I think I’m getting better at this photography stuff

Sat enjoying some beers, we watched as the sun slowly sank towards the sea, watching the as the colours in the valley began to change and the desert began to resemble an artist’s palette. I couldn’t help but admire Dane and Sabrina’s eco village project. Sat upon the highest vantage point for the ranch, the view stretched out over the desert below. The had constructed a communal kitchen under a palapa and had just finished building an outside wood oven, which Sabrina would use to make sough dough bread to sell in town.

The communal palapa

They had also assembled a composting toilet and a shower, where the waste water filtered down into their vegetable patch. They explained that they had already sold plots of land to other like-minded people who shared their vision of eco living.

The eco shower

We chatted well into the night, sharing our experiences of life on the road. Dane and Sabrina fired up their oven for the first time and we were treated to a taste of her sough dough bread along with a glass of her homemade kombucha.

How about that for a sunset

Eventually the night slipped away and it was time to head back to the campers. We said goodbye to our hosts, who set up some hammocks in the palapa to chill out some more, enjoying the views of the ranch enhanced by moonlight.

The following day saw the end of Easter weekend, the next day would be my 33rd birthday and we agreed that we would attempt to head off to the waterfall as our week at the camp would have expired. I could have stayed at the ranch and waited the pandemic out, but we all agreed that we would prefer to find a spot that was free. None of us had the luxury of a budget that allowed excessive camp spot payments. We also would prefer it if there was access to a water source, as that would help us stretch our water usage even further.

When we had arrived at the camp, Dane had informed us of a perimeter trail which carved its way through their property. We had been meaning to trek it, but had been too occupied with writing to find time to check it out. Carsten and Steffi had walked it fair early during our stay and Hanno and Kerstin had tried to walk it earlier on in the day.

The trail started off clearly marked and we followed it up a path past our hosts campsite. Like always, it didn’t take us long to lose the trail, so we chose to make the route up like we normally did. Following a dried up river bed, our walk led us further into the valley, past more cacti until we finally reached a section that was too overgrown and spider ridden to pass. Stopping to appreciate what the river bed must look like during the hurricane season, we turned around and forged another path, eventually picking up a trail which led us back to Dane and Sabrina’s palapa. We had been gone less than half an hour by the time that we arrived back at Ruby.

A hike was just what the doctor ordered
It was so peaceful out here
And the cacti were massive!

For our final night at camp, Hanno set about hacking up a monstrous cactus for the camp fire and we settle down to another movie under the stars. This time choosing something a little less inspired by our current situation.

In the morning, we would attempt to get to the waterfall, and pray that with the help of our friends that we’d make it there in one piece. I really did fancy spending my birthday digging Ruby out of the sandy river bed.

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