Yesterday I was able to check email for the first time in days and find out that I have an appointment with U.S. immigration on the 23rd! In Santa Rosa, CA! 4 days away! I blast off an urgent email to The Office to have them write back to the immigration people to reschedule…and for a different office, hoping it all goes through. But it keeps me up at night and today I Skype the main number in Virginia just to make sure. They assure me that it will be OK. I hope they’re right, because I want to continue being a legal alien in the States.
Last night’s dinner was made with everything we had left: a mush of tuna, white sauce, a few veggies and potatoes. Time to move on, find more food. Besides, Los Barriles has a strange vibe. It’s probably nicer in the fall, before the gringos come down, but generally, everything south of La Paz feels less Mexican. Mulege also had snowbirds and plenty of gringos but it just felt like a better place. This is too much like… a bad version of San Diego?
But we have not quite decided and it’s a slow morning with extra cups of coffee, granola and even a tamale. Big Dog has made friends with one of the workers who gives us info on tiendas in town and beaches up north.
Just when we think we’ll walk around a bit, Big Dog checks the RV power.
“No more juice in the batteries,” he announces. The power situation decides for us.
We are moving out, seemingly in the nick of time, as one big rig after another begin to appear. Oh yeah, the camp host did tell us yesterday about a caravan coming in today.
They come in slowly – we pass many of them on the road out – all driving extra slowly. The drivers (all men) do not look happy or excited. Their faces are stiff with either concentration or annoyance or anxiety. Maybe even anger. Maybe they are wondering what the heck they are doing here.
“What hell it would be to be stuck in a group where everyone is unhappy!” I voice my thoughts.
The “tailgunner” looks the most fed up.
Once we are out of Los B however, we are back to smiles! Random waves to strangers! Happy faces! Everyone has time for a wave and a smile. Even the military dudes.
San Bartolo, built on the edge of a big arroyo, must be Fruit Town. Roadside vendors display bags of oranges and other fruit. San Antonio is in a lush little valley with palms. It’s the turnoff to the dirt road going to La Ventana. As we approach, there are numerous signs advertising “gourmet pizza” up ahead. 1 KM, 500M, 100M… but the shop never materializes! Like some of the pre-announced topes.
El Triunfo, up ahead, is also Fruit Town, but maybe also Porkville. Shops sell chorizo and other pork products. The center is a yellow and red, stone and red brick church.
As we drive, we make up names for different kinds of topes, those speedbumps you see all over Mexico: tope (regular), slope (gently sloped), fauxpe (not a real tope), nope (one that’s disappeared), peto (reverse tope, i.e., a dip), tope natural (natural rut), entrope (that tope at the entrance to a town), salidope (also known as adiope is the tope at the exit of a town), rope (a fat rope), cocope (a palm trunk), conveniope (a tope made for someone’s convenience), llanterope y mecanicope (a gnarly tope in front of an auto mechanic shop or tire shop placed to increase business!), explodope (a really gnarly one), potholope (obviously a pothole), dope (tope for no reason), torpedos (unmarked and deadly), animope (moving livestock or roadkill), vibradope (small topes one after another that makes your vehicle vibrate), faux-bradope (a fake out vibradore), boleope (metal spheres embedded in the asphalt), puentedores (bad bridges)…
In addition to topes, two thing you can always count on finding on Mexican roads are the roadside shrines and places selling beer.
We are out of the mountains and on the long straight stretch to La Paz. In La Paz, there is a stop for groceries and gas. It’s already 4:30pm, so I think we should just go back to Balandra, but Big Dog wants to try the Bahia Ventana/Los Muertos area.
We’re on the road heading into Centro, so I make him turn right (south) and it just happens to be the road for that area. There are no signs or markers indicating that and Big Dog asks twice, not entirely trusting ymy internal GPS, but is reassured both times that although there are absolutely no signs we are on the right road. After a while, he just has to assume because there are so few paved roads in Baja outside of the towns.
It’s a mostly empty road running through more shrubby desert and several “ranchos” here and there, then down to the plains around the two bays. The Ventana cutoff comes before the little village of San Juan de Los Planes. It’s windy here – gusts go right through the big arroyo.
Los Planes is an ag town with fields of corn and farmland. We continue on the paved road, beyond the cutoff to Punta Arena, then the last few miles of dirt to Ensenada de Los Muertos and Bahia de Muertos. There’s a fancy resort called Bahia de Los Sueños – Bay of Dreams – on one side of the bay. Guess they didn’t want to call themselves Bay of the Dead.
The bay, fringed with alabaster sand, is calm and protected from massive winds. A couple of truck campers are parked on the beach and there is a large motor home at the end near the boat launch and restaurant. The water is pretty and blue and clear. Aside from the campers and a truck or two, it is deserted.
We park and take a stroll through the empty restaurant, to the rocks at the point. Two manta rays are dancing and leaping out of the water in what looks like a joyous ballet. Is it courting behavior? A kayaker in a foot-pedal type kayak has a kind of steadicam and is trying to capture the mantas on camera. Pelicans fly in unison and make shallow dives. It’s a beautiful show.
In the water are angel fish-like things and larger black fish. We even see a trumpet fish, pointed out to us by one of the restaurant workers.
The restaurant is deserted in the afternoon, but after sunset, a few customers go in. We have a simple dinner of leftovers, guacamole and tostadas, and C grade empanadas.. As we sit out there, long after sunset, lights come on in spots down the coast, a large cruiser (some rich guy’s boat?) comes into the bay as does a smaller (but still substantial) craft…
End of Day Miles: 1641.9 mi