In and around Todos Santos

It was the first time in months we awoke somewhere new. The beach of La Ribera is a massive sandy expanse, that is immaculately clean. There are bins, toilets and even showers which is incredibly rare here. You definitely get the sense that this is a local spot, most of the tourists either going to Cabo Pulmo or Los Barrilles with little need to stop in between. The locals obviously take pride in their beach, not a single piece of litter was in sight.

It was a Sunday, the day favoured for Mexican events. Large families turn up to the beach, well equipped to spend an entire day there. They bring tables, gazebos, tents and chairs, as well as copious amounts of food and beer. Mariachi music is played on full volume. Unfortunately, the weekend was ruined for many of them as a breeze picked up from the mountains and before too long we had heavy rain. Luckily for us, we had chosen a solid bit of beach. The locals persevered through the first shower, and then gave up and packed away at the second. We hid in our campers as rain lashed down, the others had the foresight to put a bucket under Bruno’s awning and collected an easy 20 litres of water over the next hour or so. We enjoyed a cup of tea in suitable tea drinking weather.

By the afternoon, the rain had stopped and we were drying everything off outside when the police turned up. They politely informed us that the beach would be shutting at 6pm. Deciding not to push our luck another night, we packed up and headed for Los Barrilles. 

Evidence of the rain was clear on the main roads and I was glad we hadn’t tried to cut the corner off on a dirt track. Large sections were underwater and we ploughed through them.

We were doing pretty well, still down on power a little, until the last puddle. Ruby came out of the water and stuttered and died on the small hill following it. Hanno and Kikki pulled in behind us as we blocked the road.

We had conveniently stopped next to a stand selling tamales, so while they sorted their dinner, a quick look in the engine confirmed that the HT leads were wet, and shorting out onto the block. After a quick dry and a bit of tape to suspend them mid-air, we were off again, the engine still held in by a ratchet strap on one side. 

From here it a short drive to reach the start of Los Barilles and the beach we had already parked on a few times before. We hoped the police wouldn’t come here, and judging by the large Mexican family camped up on the beach we would be ok. It was now nearly dark, so we threw together an easy meal and had a relatively early night, once we had located Aimee. The morning we wanted to be up at a reasonable time to get to the garage for some welding. 

This meant that by 9am, we were packed and ready to go. Hanno and Kiki were heading back to Cabo in another attempt to find a fridge, while we headed north into the town. We planned to meet again in Todos Santos that evening. 

The welder had been recommended to us by Mike and was fairly easy to find. He looked at the problem and motioned us to back up over the edge of the pit. It took him around two hours to weld up the engine mount and while it wasn’t the prettiest job, it looked functional. We paid 600mxp for the work, and headed off again by around midday.

The great thing about Mexico is not only the fact that labour is very cheap but that you don’t have to make any kind of plans. Roll into the garage and within a matter of minutes your car is normally being dealt with. 

Feeling far more confident about going over speed bumps, we took the mountain road north. Now  like a jungle after the recent rainfall, we zigzagged up to the village of El Truinfo, Ruby misfiring all the way. Pulling off to the side, I did my own Mexican style repairs. The HT leads are made of two leads joined together, not a great idea, but the only solution I had at the time. This means that there is a weaker section in the insulation and this was causing an issue now. A simple fix for the time being was to bungee corder the leads in a way that meant they could not touch the block or each other. Now happily running on all cylinders, Ruby continued to chug her way through the mountain road. 

This meant we arrived in Todos Santos a bit earlier than anticipated. We had some post to collect from the office, but we had a good few hours to kill until 4pm. We ended up in what was turning into our favourite bar to wait. This was partly because of the wi-fi, but also because it has a nice garden at the back and the staff are very relaxed about pets. There is little shade to park in in the town so we needed somewhere we could let Aimee out to keep her cool. Temperatures inside the van easily exceed 40 degrees when parked up in the sun. Here inside the bar she made a beeline for the nearest bush and sat quite happily their in the shade.

We weren’t in the bar for to long before we were joined by Clem and Emilie, they are currently living just around the corner. After a little while, Kikki and Hanno were back from Cabo, after spending the day researching different fridge options. We had a few drinks, and then late afternoon headed to the post office. Post collected, we opted to stay locally at San Pedrito for the night. This beach has undergone some big changes in the months that we have been in the area, not only has the surrounding undergrowth grown massively but the water has also risen. A spot where I used to sunbathe in my camping chair, is now permanently underwater. The two of us opted for these spots nonetheless, the are the most private place and makes us hard to spot, you can never be sure when the police will arrive. 

This was a wise choice as we saw the following night. We camped a little further down the beach, this time with Clem, Emilie and Lu, forming a square with our vans. Even back here in the trees, the occasional wave washed right up to our camp chairs, the water levels having risen significantly on the coast.

It was late that night when the police arrived, I can only assume by some local tip off. They told us the beaches were shut and that we needed an 800 peso ‘permit’. We didn’t want to pay, it’s not just the money, it’s the principle. The more times they successfully rip off tourists, the more they’ll do it again. On the other hand, if we packed up and left who’s to say they wouldn’t follow us to the next beach. We were discussing what to do when Emilie told them that Lu was asleep in the camper. At the simple mention of a child, they turned back to each other. A quick discussion in Spanish and they said we could stay. Here in Mexico, family is very important and they didn’t want to wake a child. While they may be corrupt, at least they are still human!

The next day, Hanno and Kiki were still waiting for a fridge solution. They had a one person locally who had a 24v fridge that they wanted, but he wouldn’t reply to their messages. They decided to hang around a little longer and see if he replied. To kill some time, we decided to head back to Cerritos.

The concrete monstrosity as viewed from the rooftop bar

The surf was supposed to be really good and we though we might do better on this beach with our new skills, we also decided to buy a new surfboard. It seemed fitting to leave our battered old foamboard on the same beach we had acquired it. We went to West Coast surf shop where Kiki had bought her board a while ago. after some haggling, Lee had a new surfboard.

to It wasn’t really meant to be though, and I think we spent even more time under the waves than on top of them. It was a little frustrating to be back again, but with the others needing to sort out several things before we went to mainland we decided that the next day we would head back and spend another week at Nine Palms. Cerritos was neither enjoyable surfing for us, or camping. 

The next day then, we left Hanno and Kikki and headed south again. We would restock again in Cabo and then head back to the beach. They would join us in a day or so, hopefully with a fridge sorted. In the meantime we would enjoy some more sand, waves and peace and quiet.

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