The dangers of daytrips

It was now the 18th of July.

Dane and Sabrina had been housesitting at a beach casita for several months now and had invited us over several times in case we wanted to use a proper shower or the washing machine. These are both quite appealing prospects, as camper van showers, while not too bad, are limited by water consumption and Mexican laundrettes have a habit of ruining of clothes. Anything nice and lacy will not survive long. To escape from what Sabrina accurately describes as ‘ranch fever’, we headed out for a day trip to the beach. Despite the re-introduction of the lockdown, we still wanted to leave the ranch in August, once we had renewed our visas, so we thought it could to test the water after the unsuccessful camping attempt in La Paz. 

We thought we would go and see what Cerritos beach was like as we were all keen to have another go at surfing again and this is definitely the best beach in the area of beginners, mainly due to the fact it has no rocks underwater. First though, we swung past the beach house to make use of the washing machine. Tucked away not far from San Pedrito beach was their pretty little casita. Vines covered in bright purple flowers crawled up the orange painted wall and tomato and pomegranates grew in the garden. We sat on the terrace outside enjoying the coolness of the sea breeze and one of Dane’s famous Caesars. If you don’t know what a Caesar is, it is basically a Bloody Mary but instead of only tomato juice it also has clam juice in it. Sounds repulsive, but in actual fact it’s very good. 

They planned to head back to the ranch that evening, to keep an eye on it as they were in the process of sorting out their plans to leave for Canada. They had succeeded in not only selling their trailer, but in finding someone to watch the ranch while they left the country for the next few months. It looked like they would be leaving soon and were keen to wrap up odd things on the ranch and for us to lend a hand with the process. We were more than happy to help out, as this was part of our camping arrangment, and over the course of the next week or so I feel that we did a lot of good things to improve ranch life for Alejandro, the new ranch sitter. 

In the meantime however, we wanted a few hours on the beach, so we took the keys to the beach house and headed for Cerritos. We could collect our washing on the way back. Parking in the usual parking lot, we were not the only ones on the beach. A few families enjoyed the sand and the sun and we sat and caught a few hours of it ourselves, along with a good swim. Swimming is not the easiest here on the west coast, the large waves of the Pacific crash onto steeply shelving beaches and rocky shores with strong currents are common. Cerritos is nice in the fact that while it does have quite a strong current at times, it is a more gentle beach and you can swim without getting completely battered. 

As always, after having a little time away from the desert we felt a bit more relaxed. It can be frustrating to be stuck in one place when the sole purpose of your trip was to move around, so it’s nice to be able to get out and about every now and then, even if only for a day. The sun was beginning to set, and we still needed to get our things and camp up for the night, so it was time to leave. A short drive back to the beach house we collected all our washing, but as it was now dark we decided it would be easier to cook there. This also meant we would get to San Pedrito, our camping spot for that night, a little later and there would be less chance of us being moved on. 

So we made dinner with an oven, washed up with a proper sink, and ate at an actual table, for the first time in a long time. It might seem like this was an evening of luxury, but actual these are not really things that concern me, and I was happy to lock up the beach house and leave.  As Dane had said earlier, the cooling breeze of the day time was gone and the casita felt stuffy and full of mosquitos. 

It was now getting late, by the time we bumped our way back to the main road it must have been nearing 10pm. San Pedrito is not far away, it is just a matter of finding the entrance. Easily done in the day, and road we had driven many times, it was not so easy at the night. We peered into the gloom, trying to spot any landmarks. We spotted sufficient to realise that we had driven straight past it, and with Bruno following us, we turned around and headed back to the dirt road entrance. About ten minutes of driving later, we were back on the familiar beach. It looked very different now to how it had been before, the short scrubby trees we had parked between were a lush green and twice the height. We pulled into the only available spot, Bruno tucked in behind us. 

Neither of us quite ready for bed yet, we unpacked our chairs and table and sat in between the two campers. The air was damp and condensation hung in the trees, mosquito were plentiful. The difference between the beach and desert was definitely apparent.

As we sat in our chairs and watched the waves, we were surprised to see the bioluminescence for the first time. I hadn’t realised that it occurred on this coast, thinking it only happened on the bay side of Baja, but sure enough there it was. As the waves crashed on the shore the white foam lit up with an almost eerie blue light, at first you might think it was the moon, but there was no moon tonight. This was pretty cool to see, and it’s a shame that it’s not really something that you can photograph easily. I was pretty annoyed that we had never got to see this phenomenon on Baja, one of the things that people always seem to mention. We had been here so long and there was still a couple of things we had never managed to do. Indeed, this was one of the reasons we had bought a kayak, so we could paddle out at night and see the lights ourselves. At the final hour, it seems we got lucky!

The waves are supposed to be brightest at around midnight, so we sat and watched for a little while longer. We also walked down to the shore to get a closer look. While the bioluminescence was not better when viewed from a bit closer, we did get to see the beaches sizeable crab population. 

White crabs covered the beach, running frantically sideways as we approached. I have never seen so many or such big crabs this close and alive!

It is funny to think that we have probably stayed for a total of nearly three weeks on this beach, yet we have never seen these things before. Perhaps we have Covid to thank for that, as worldwide there are reports of nature beginning to heal itself. Sea creatures come closer to the shore, smog lifts from the mountaintops and endangered species start to slowly recover. 

After a peaceful night on the beach, it was time to return to the ranch the following day. Aimee did not agree. Hanno and Kiki were ready to leave, Chico obediently returning when called. We stood outside Ruby trying to locate an Aimee who did not want to be located. We needed to go to the shop anyway, so we told the other guys to go one without us and we would see them at the ranch later.

You never know just how long you’re going to have to wait for Aimee. In actual fact, it was only about ten minutes after the others departed that we spotted her, buried in the bush. Clearly it was too hot outside, and she had no intention of coming out. We called her, tempted her with food, poked the bush with sticks and tried any way we could to get her out. She stayed put. Normally, one of us would just crawl in and grab her, but these bushes are the home to an incredible spider population, and covered in thick sticky webs throughout. Neither of us fancied it. 

In the end, we gave up. We decided I would drive into town and get what we need while Lee would wait for Aimee. Dane also wanted to meet me at the petrol station so he could get the keys to the beach house back, so I drove off to find him. As I turned the engine off at the petrol station, Lee phoned me. Aimee had come out. Dane wasn’t there yet, so I turned back around and went to the beach again, collecting a hot looking Lee and a miffed looking cat. Back to the petrol station, where Dane appeared shortly. We handed over the keys and then drove towards Todos Santos, hoping to pick up a few bits. Google confidently declared that the shops were open today, Sunday, and this would all be fine. Needless to say, this is completely wrong and nothing was open so another pointless drive later, we began to bounce down the dirt road back to the ranch. 

Today was not feeling like it it was going to be our day. This was confirmed when a short way later these was a soft bang from the back of the camper. “Was that a tyre I just heard?” I asked Lee and when I pulled over it was clear that it was. Our rear tyre had blown out, after hitting a rock or something at what must have been a bad angle.

This isn’t the end of the world, although at this point we just wanted to go home. We have a spare and we have the toolkits. There was a brief moment before we left when I debated packing the tools but previous experience has taught me that if you don’t pack them you will inevitably need them, so we did, luckily. 

Our only problem now was getting the car high enough replace the wheel. As the rubber had exploded enthusiastically, there was absolutely no air left and therefore the van sat a good six inches lower at the back. A limited amount of space means that we only carry a small bottle jack, this just about manages to get the wheels off the floor when the tyres are inflated. Not now. I found a likely looking piece of concrete and drove the battered tyre up onto it. Now we just about had enough clearance to get the deflated wheel of the floor, it might prove interesting to fit a tyre back on with air in though. 

This was indeed correct, at it took us a bit more faffing around to get the spare on, including digging out a bit of a hole and letting all of the air out of the new one so we could squash it on. 

In the meantime, two separate cars had both stopped to ask if we needed help which shows a big difference between here and some other parts of the world. In the days when Ruby was prone to breaking down on a regular basis, I can count on one hand the amount of times anyone actually bothered to stop and ask if we were ok and that was before the pandemic which has made people on the whole more wary of each other. It’s nice that people here are a little more friendly, if we ever get into more of a problem further down the road I think we are more likely to get help from a friendly local here that we would elsewhere. 

Finally back on the road, we headed for the ranch. Now we just needed to find a spare tyre, hopefully they would be a little easier to find down here than in The States where my previous requests were met with a blank stare and a shrug.

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