November 13-19, 2015
Los Barriles is the other known kiteboard destination in Baja though the wind was just strong enough for a short kiteboard session when we arrived.
We found a campground with bathrooms, showers and Wi-Fi so we spent our second night sleeping in the truck. I was feeling somewhat guilty because we’d just spent 8 nights in La Ventana where there’s not a whole lot for Ann to do besides sit on the beach and watch me kite. We had heard about a great snorkeling destination, Cabo Pulmo, just south on the coast so the next morning we headed there.
Cabo Pulmo is a National Marine Park and is the only Pacific coral reef in the Sea of Cortez. It is a protected area where no fishing is allowed and when we first arrive there is a huge contingent of Mexicans camping and fishing. It turns out that exactly adjacent to the border of the park there is a semi-permanent “fish-camp” where local fishermen come. They respect the border of the park and do not fish inside but the fishing right outside is pretty good so they come in droves. We camped on the beach along with a few others and away from the fish-camp. Early the next morning we grabbed our snorkel gear and dove in. The variety of fish was spectacular, like diving in a giant aquarium but this is the real deal. We finned our way about ½ mile out and back along the edge of some rock cliffs and at times felt like we were a part of the massive schools coming and going. The water was calm in the morning hours so we could swim close to the cliffs’ edges where the large schools of the smaller, brilliantly colored fish swam. By the time we returned we were pretty tired but we kept tittering about the individual fish we’d seen. “Did you see the charcoal colored puffer-fish with the Lavender polka dots all over?” There was one huge school with fish as big as frying pans but looked to be about a 1/4 inch thick. When they swam close you could see right through their crystal clear bodies! Swimming along in their massive schools was enough to take your breath away.
On the Road to Cabo Pulmo.
Cabo San Lucas lies at the very southern tip of the Baja peninsula. Upon arriving, the hotel district is a large stretch of high rises that block the view of the water. This looks like the U.S which didn’t really interest us in any way so we decided to pass and keep driving to Todos Santos, the “pueblo magico”. We actually drove by a Costco which we almost never do.
Todos Santos was reported to be one of the most delightful towns in all of Baja if not all of Mexico. I wouldn’t call it a beach town though it does have a part of town that’s on the Pacific. It wasn’t very bustling when we were there so we sought out the shore. Pounding waves right on the shore because of a steep drop-off of the beach into the water was quite beautiful though I wouldn’t call it swimmer friendly. We rounded the corner of the peninsula and this is clearly the Pacific Ocean, very different from the Sea of Cortez. We were standing on the beach looking out over its vastness and suddenly about 200 yards off-shore I saw a blast of water shooting straight up off of the surface, then another then two then three all at once. I told Ann “I think those are whale spouts!” They couldn’t be anything else. This was not the season for whale sightings which usually peaks around mid-January but I was sure they were whales. Then I saw the distinct roll of the backbone and sure enough a huge fluke that rose up behind it and dove straight down into the water. I have never seen a whale except at the Chicago Shedd Aquarium. It was very exciting.
The other experience we had in Todos Santos was a Doctor visit. Way back in La Ventana I contracted a case of diarrhea, to be blunt, but now 10 days later even after a few rounds of Imodium I was still having issues. We found a small but immaculate clinic in town and I stopped in for a visit. Within a few minutes I had a private consultation with a physician. He took his time and asked me several questions after which he prescribed three different medications: an antibiotic, an antidiarrheal and a stomach settler. The walk-in consultation and all of the meds cost $36.00. I’ve had no problems from that day forward. Now that’s what I call affordable health care.
La Paz is the largest city in Baja California Sur (Southern Baja). Our plan before leaving the peninsula and La Paz on a ferry to the mainland was to swim with whale sharks and sea lions as well as snorkel off of Isla Espiritu Santo. All of these endeavors can be booked in La Paz. We called a tour operator that had been recommended to us and booked the whale sharks first but when we awoke and looked out our hotel window at the Sea it was extremely windy and choppy. We called Archie (our tour guide) and he said the harbor was closed because of the wind and we’d have to go another day. For three days it blew and we waited (should have stayed in La Ventana!) Finally on the fourth day we called and he said we’re on for the whale sharks!