Back to the desert

As we drove out of the casita, it felt like a weight had been lifted. This is was somewhat ironic as we had gone from the guaranteed cheap accommodation back to having nowhere to go that night. Funnily enough though, it still felt good to leave.  I had spent the last two days cleaning Ruby’s inside from top to bottom and with everything cleaned and repacked we were ready to live back inside her again.

We headed into town towards the end of that Thursday afternoon. We had agreed to meet Dane and Sabrina to talk to them about the possibility of working out some kind of camping/work trade agreement for us to be able to stay on the ranch for free a few days ago, but had yet to meet them. I don’t know if it was good or bad luck that meant the day our rent ran out on the casita was the first day they had time to meet us for a chat, so as we left we hoped they were happy to let us stay that night as we hadn’t got many options!

We needed a few supplies from the shops and as we drove down the road to Pescadero we passed them driving the opposite direction just before we reached the shop. I turned us around and we parked up behind them on the side of the road.

It was clear that they had a lot on their minds at the moment with all the work they were doing at the ranch and also the fact they were preparing to go back to Canada at some point. Dane was happy for us to work something out, but he hadn’t realised that we needed somewhere to go right now! Being the lovely chilled people that they are, they waved us down the campsite and said we would speak more about things the next day. We bumped along down the dirt road into the mountains, and before too long were pulled into the familiar campsite that had been our home over a month ago.

This time we were more acquainted with the space and we parked in a different spot where we knew we wouldn’t constantly have smoke from the fire blowing into our van. It was already getting late that evening, and as we hadn’t really made any proper arrangements for our stay, we left the van fairly packed up and concentrated on cooking dinner.

Aimee was released again into the wild. She had worried me earlier as we packed up the van and got ready to leave. We had shut her inside as we went to grab the last few things and she howled, and clawed at the windows, looking incredibly unhappy. We had already had weeks of grumpy Aimee, who growled or lashed out most times she was picked up, and seeing her so unhappy to be back in Ruby had not been a good sign. We were worried that her accident had taken away our fun loving little kitten and replaced her with a grumpy cat who hated being in a car. What would we do with that? With little choice in the immediate future we had headed out the gate to meet Dane and Sabrina.

Things had immediately changed as soon as we opened the doors at Rancho Pacifico. Aimee bounded out and climbed the nearest tree. She then proceeded to roll around ecstatically on the floor, while purring. Next she pounced on a luckless lizard, and was found with only it’s still twitching tail, some moments later. She had clearly been as fed up as us, and now back in her normal environment she was back to being normal Aimee. Something we were truly glad to see.

For the first time in 5 weeks, we lit a campfire, and went about making a meal. Lizards scampered around us in the overgrowth and birds sung in the trees. A hummingbird whizzed past us, and ants crawled in their military precision lines across the floor. It was so nice to be back out in nature again and enjoy the sun and the outdoors. We savoured the peace and quiet of the place and looked forward to a night that was full of barking dogs, crowing cockerels and the gas man honking his horn in the early hours of the morning.

It was a strange night. We had grown accustomed to sleeping in a standard double bed, which is a fair bit bigger than what we have in Ruby. Our van mattress is only an inch thick over plywood boards and it’s pretty hard. I don’t really mind, I hate squidgy beds, but it still takes some adjustment. All things considered, I didn’t sleep much. Normally a sleepless night leads to me lying there glaring at the ceiling, willing myself to sleep. However, it was so nice to be in the quiet desert that I almost didn’t mind lying there, listening to the odd bird and the complete absence of traffic.

The following day was Friday, and this is the day that Sabrina bakes her sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls in preparation for selling them in town on Saturday.

Early afternoon we headed up the short steep hill from the campsite to their ranch that is perched on the hill looking out over the valley and to the sea. We offered our help, but things seemed pretty under control, so we sat and chatted.

We met Pancho, their worker who helps them with building the ranch and we attempted some bad Spanish. He gave us fresh pomegranates of the tree and tomatoes from the little vegetable patch that gets watered from the outdoor shower.

Dane made some killer Caesar’s (Canadian Bloody Mary’s) and we enjoyed our growler from the brewery. The evening came and we watched the sunset over the sea as the bread oven roared into life and batch upon batch of loaves began to cook.

Sabrina asked us if we had dinner plans and as we didn’t we were invited to join in with the pizza. She rolled the bases out and precooked them in the oven. I sliced up the toppings and soon enough we had some incredibly good pizzas to enjoy.

It was a lovely evening, spent with lovely people and we still had yet to come to any formal arrangement regarding our stay here. It was vaguely mentioned that we were welcome to stay, and we said we would be happy to help with whatever we could. It didn’t seem necessary to discuss things any further, they seemed happy that there would potentially be another set of eyes on the ranch when they left and we were more than happy to have access to this lovely spot and have some security for the next month.

I believe it was the early hours of the morning before we tottered back down the hill and back to Ruby. This time, sleep was effortless.

The next day, we unpacked properly. Now happy that we would be staying put for a while. It wasn’t too long before I got a message from Kerstin, saying that Francesca had turned up again and things had not gone well. Apparently we are such terrible tenants that she had made no money on the rental as we had spent it all on electric. I feel that using a $150 of electric to power a small 12v fridge for two weeks maybe a little far fetched. Unfortunately, she seemed to be taking this out on our friends and had threatened to tow them off the property and had also turned off all the electricity downstairs including the Wi-Fi. While we had imagined we would be spending the first week here by ourselves, it looked like the quarantine camp might be back together sooner than we had imagined.

Sure enough, the next day our friends packed up and left the casita. Deciding that it wasn’t worth staying there on principle and that they would rather enjoy the peaceful desert we had been living in for the last few days. We made ourselves busy getting a fire pit ready and a decent pile of firewood. If they were anything like us, the first thing they would want to do would be to have a proper fire!

Bruno and co. rolled into camp later that afternoon. It was a reminder of just how oddly cold it is where the casitas are located. I wandered around campsite in my bikini and flip-flops, while Hanno and Kerstin turned up where shoes and trousers. The desert weather is definitely much nicer, and before long we had arranged our camp and got a good fire going. I recognised the familiar expression of relief at escaping from the town and I think they were glad they had decided not to wait out their tenancy on principle. Not only was being a tenant something I didn’t enjoy, but living in Todos Santos was somewhat ruining my impressions of the whole place.

Initially when we had arrived, I had loved this cute little town. It was nice to walk around, and while touristy, it was more that kind of long-term ex pat, rather than a two week holiday maker. We had got to watch the turtles hatch on the beach, enjoyed the brewery and made a lot of new friends. All in all, Todos Santos had been good to us. We had joined the local Facebook group, which was a useful resource too. This is where the other side of things became a little more apparent. While it had been fantastic in helping get Aimee a cone, and had allowed us to find cheap accommodation, it wasn’t all great.

Although I’m sure they are not the vast majority, as with any social media, we found a lot of hate directed towards us the ‘tourists’. This was true from the moment we arrived in the pandemic and I often read comments on there that made me so ridiculously angry and the small minded and blinkered vision of so many that live there. This virus really does bring out the best in some and the worst in others.

Walking down the street you could feel the watchful eyes of people waiting to take a picture of you to put online and ‘name and shame’ if you weren’t wearing a mask, or criticise you if you didn’t sanitise your hands enough. It was an oppressive feeling, and one I personally was glad to be away from. It wasn’t nice to feel so monitored, and we felt like a few people resented our presence and blamed us for the virus. We hope that this feeling is something that passes and that it doesn’t spread and infect countries with it’s own pandemic.

Our little group sat there enjoying the freedom of the camp and the fresh air. The occasional car drove past on the road, distinguishable as local or gringo by the speed of it travel. The evening was peaceful. The only sad side to the evening is that logic had clearly won out on their speedy exit from the casita, and Chico was not going to be joining us.

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