Slowing Down South of the Border

Mexico's flag
North America » Mexico » Baja California Sur » Loreto
September 7th 2013
Published: September 7th 2013
Edit Blog Post

Confucius is often quoted as saying, “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop”. After traveling in 14 countries over the last 25 months, we had to admit we were a little worn out. The heat of Southeast Asia had finally gotten the better of us, and we knew it was time to take a break. We didn’t want to stop, but we needed to slow the pace and perhaps get back to our original intentions of slow motion travelling.

After a 30 hour flight back to San Francisco from Bangkok and a couple of more hours on the shuttle to our hometown in California’s Wine Country, we checked into our favorite cheap hotel for a couple of weeks to figure out what we wanted to do next. It was fun to get our car out of storage and drive for the first time in 6 months. We enjoyed stuffing ourselves at the local diner on Pot Roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, chicken fried steaks and all the other greasy goodness we had not enjoyed for quite some time. The weather was cool and clear. We enjoyed putting on sweaters in the evenings and going out for drives and actually seeing a few things that looked familiar.

We had excellent visits with our son who lives in San Francisco and even met up for a quick dinner and drinks with a couple of fellow Travelbloggers, Dave and Merry Jo. We visited San Francisco and caught up on some much needed rest. The comforts of home were welcome and much needed, but we felt the clock was ticking if we weren’t going to admit we had stopped travelling.

We took care of a few necessities in town to make sure we were still legal. We drove by our house that we rented 2 years ago to make sure it wasn’t burned down by the college students who now lived there. We checked out the things we had hastily dropped off in storage when we unpacked the car after returning from Mexico and Central America. Everything was in order and all we needed was a destination.

I hate to admit it, but other than a few quick trips to Tijuana, we had never visited Baja California. I think most people never get far enough across the border to really appreciate it. Border town stopovers filled with late nights and cheap beer wasn’t what we were looking for.

Sleepy days watching Pelicans patrolling the blue waters of the Sea of Cortez sounded good. Cactus covered Desert Mountains changing colors throughout the day from brown to red to pink and back to orange and even blue. A more relaxed pace of life, slow and easy going, nobody moving faster than necessary was what we wanted. Whale watching in season or a boat ride following a school of dolphins playing in the warm waters. Plenty of fresh fish tacos at a street side vendor along the Malecon. Watching sunsets over El Arco at Land’s End, the clouds shining in Technicolor brilliance, every shade of the rainbow visible as another day passed. That’s what was necessary, and that was a plan.

We spent a couple of days on the internet and looking at maps and decided our first stop would be Loreto. It’s really the first town of any size once you get past the border area from Tijuana to Ensenada. For much of the year it is a small Mexican fishing town of about 10,000 and grows in size as the weather cools and Mexicans from the mainland and lots of Norteamericanos from Canada and the U.S. head south of the border for the winter.

We packed the car quickly and said goodbye to the girl at the front desk of the Motel 6 and took off for Mexico once again. We made great time down the Interstate, stopping for a few hours to visit David’s sister in Los Angeles. We thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful dinner she made at home. It was our first meal not eaten in a restaurant in 5 months and it was delicious. We kind of ate and ran, but we wanted to get to San Diego so we would only have a short way to the border in the morning.

We were at the border the next morning by 8 and after a quick search of the trunk, we were on our way. The road was pretty good and basically bypassed Tijuana. We passed the beach towns of Rosarito and Ensenada and finally reached the 2 lane road that would take us all the way to Loreto. The road followed the curves of the land, around mountains and up and down across the barren landscape. Well paved but not really fast, common in Mexico.

We had hoped to reach the town of Guerrero Negro by nightfall. It took quite some time to navigate the streets of Ensenada and the road was slower than we anticipated. We knew the road didn’t have many services available. We passed a Pemex station with a half a tank of gas, fascinated by the unique Boojum trees and giant Cardon cactus. We knew to fill up when you had a chance but thought we had plenty. Not smart down here.

We have GPS and a good map showing gas stations. We arrived in a small oasis town filled with palm trees. They had a single Pemex pump that wasn’t open and several guys were selling 5 gallon cans of gas by the road. We stopped for a few minutes to take a break. We had a quarter of a tank left. We drove about a half hour down the road and started looking at the map to see how far it was to the next station. 125 miles and we would never make it. We would have to turn around and get gas from the can. We weren’t the only ones. The sun was setting, so that was it for the first day in Mexico.

The next day was a long day. We stopped in Guerrero Negro for gas and money and by 1 we got our first view of the Sea of Cortez at Santa Rosalia. We found that our phone from Verizon didn’t work in Baja even though we had a Mexico plan. It would be tough to make a connection with the real estate lady that was renting us our house in Loreto. We arrived in Loreto and found the house easy enough but didn’t know how we would make connections. Luckily everyone knows each other in Loreto and when we asked someone in a hotel to use a phone, they even knew the number to call.

We checked in to our new house. It was a brand new 3 bedroom apartment with 2 bathrooms. It was on the beach with beautiful views of the ocean. Unfortunately it didn’t have internet. It wouldn’t work for us and we decided the next morning to find something else. We looked at a couple of places in town that weren’t too nice. The rental office gave us keys to an apartment south of town in the small town of Nopolo. It was really nice and very modern. The price was right and it had internet. We decided to take it. We hastily packed our car again and made our second move in two days.

Nopolo is where most of the snowbird visitors from Canada and the U.S. live. Most go north for the summer so it often seems that our town is deserted. A large beach development called Loreto Bay is nearby and is virtually abandoned this time of year. We’ve been told that people start coming back in October, so it seems we have the area to ourselves for now. Our apartment has a nice pool that we have all to ourselves.

We have made a few journeys out to visit a small mission called San Javier in the mountains west of town. We have been south to see a large resort located in a secluded bay. We have walked in the desert at sunset. We went north to the small town of Mulege to visit the mission and look at the only river that is always full of water in this area.

We survived two tropical storms that caused significant damage to the road to town. The first one called Ivo caused two main bridges to town to collapse. Our roof leaked and for a few hours was quite scary. Water backed up on our porch and flooded the front room, even though we live on the second floor. We spent the day putting pans out to catch the drips and mopping the floor all day. The next day they made temporary repairs to the bridges so we could get to town and get groceries and water.

We are enjoying our new pace and find that after a busy 6 months it is nice to sit around and do chores for a change. Cooking is still an adventure and doing laundry ourselves is still fun. We enjoy shopping for groceries in the new store in town and taking a break from restaurants. This is a sleepy town and for now it’s pretty much what we were looking for. We haven’t stopped travelling but for now we are moving about as slow as you can go without stopping.

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


7th September 2013

This is better...
slow, but not stopped. The location seems ideal for relaxing.
9th September 2013

re: This is better...
Thanks, Bob, we think so, too!
8th September 2013

Great blog!
I may be a bit biased but I love the Baja, so I very much enjoyed reading your journey. Great photos too!
9th September 2013

re: Great blog!
Thanks, Andrea. I can definitely understand why you think Baja is great!
8th September 2013

A home cooked meal is a real treasure
Glad you enjoyed family in LA. So great meeting you. Sounds like the drive went well. Pacing yourself is a good thing. Sounds like you've found the little piece of paradise that you had hoped for. Unwinding and relaxing is often underrated. Keep the slow pace and keep those blogs coming. Let us know if you go fishing. That area is supposed to be great.
9th September 2013

re: A home cooked meal is a real treasure
Thanks, Merry Jo. Our neighbor has a boat and goes out fishing all the time. Maybe it's time to hook up with them! ;)
9th September 2013

Do you have health insurance coverage when you are on the road, which is almost all the time?
9th September 2013

Health Insurance
Hi Bert. We have health insurance, but it's at home, not on the road. Very stupid, I know...
9th September 2013

I am so fascinated by your travels ! The chances you take just starting out amaze me! The pics are beautiful. It's so scenic. I might never want to come home if I were you !
9th September 2013

re: Fascinating
Thanks, Pat! I bet NH must be getting beautiful this time of year. I love the beautiful colors (but not the cold that follows it!). Nanci
9th September 2013

re: Fascinating
Thanks, Pat! I bet NH must be getting beautiful this time of year. I love the beautiful colors (but not the cold that follows it!). Nanci

Tot: 2.95s; Tpl: 0.099s; cc: 14; qc: 30; dbt: 0.0618s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb