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Lazing in Loreto - News - bespk

Lazing in Loreto

Posted on Thursday, 8th November 2012 by Eunice

On the 28th of October, having driven the long and windy road that runs along the east coast of Baja, south of Santa Rosalia, through Mulege, (recently badly affected by hurricane Paul), and over several stretches of the road that have been washed out  (in the process of being repaired) we finally arrived in Loreto. 

Our journey took us along the shores of the beautiful Bahia Concepcion, a completely protected inlet, with crystal clear waters and shell filled beaches. Pods of dolphins swim offshore.  It is easy to see why so many people bring their RVs down here for the winter and camp along the coast, some choosing to stay for ever, others return every year.  We stopped to get a drink at Buenaventura; a small resort with camping, a beach bar and a hotel, where they have had on going battles with the local authorities.  We were welcomed to watch the Packers American football game on TV and eat hotdogs.  Bringing America to Mexico! Thanks Mark and Olivia for making us so welcome.

We arrived in Loreto in the late afternoon and having driven around the delightful town, looked for a place to stay for the night.  Loreto is the first Mission Settlement of the Jesuits (1697) and is steeped in religious history.  Whilst Eunice was checking into the Hotel Mision on the Malecon, a model T Ford pulled up behind the Austin.  This was our first meeting with Ron Belerive and Wendy Wilchynski but within a very short time it felt like we had been friends for ever.   They have lived in Loreto for the last 20 years, initially running an hotel and  RV park and latterly providing a haven for several American and Canadian couples who want a second home in the sun.  We chatted over drinks, went round to visit their home and had dinner at the Hotel.  Then they invited us to stay with them for a couple of days to rest and relax.  How could we refuse?

We moved into the quest house at Villas Loreto, with the initial plan of staying a couple of days.  Having expressed a need to improve our Spanish, Wendy quickly organized for us to meet Judith, a local teacher and before we knew it we had committed them and us to staying for a week.  Judith was incredibly patient and came every afternoon to help us speak and understand the language and although at times we both felt useless, it was surprising how much we took in and were able to build our confidence.

In between times we had plenty of time for FUN.  Ron and Wendy are very keen participants in wild road trips; having taken part very successfully in Baja 1000 (the annual off road race in the peninsula), on more than one occasion.  Last year they drove a VW Camper on the Cape to Cairo Adventure.  Ron has several cars in his garages, apart from the model T: two off road buggies, one hot rod model T, the VW camper they took to Africa and a beautiful Graham.  One of the buggies has four seats, and it was in this that we set off on the Tuesday to explore the mountains around Loreto, visiting the Missions of San Jose and San Miquel  de Comondu, then back via Santa Rosalia and San Francisco Javier each surrounded by a small community. 

The roads are mostly tracks through the desert, with the added adventure that many of them had been affected by the recent severe weather.  The going was extremely rough, but felt safe with Ron's very capable driving abilities and Wendy's navigation.  The four point seat belts helped as well! Eunice will never again be able to complain about the bumpiness of the roads.  The scenery was amazing as the desert is a vibrant green following all of the recent rains and there are flowers and butterflies everywhere, taking advantage of the situation.

Lunch was provided by a local family in their home, a real honour, and not something we would have felt comfortable about had we been on our own.  It was delicious; fried shrimp, rice and salad, followed by crystallized grapefruit.   We arrived back after dark, having lost a nut and bolt from the muffler on the exhaust.  After searching for wire along the roadside we were rescued by some local rancheros who supplied some pliers to secure it as best as able.  The noise was still loud, but helped those becoming anxious about our whereabouts back the ranch to know we were on our way.

All being quite exhausted by the previous day Wednesday was relatively quiet with Guy and Ron working in the workshop, mending spokes and fixing suspension, whilst Eunice  accompanied Wendy to a water colour class, run by Roberta.  It is surprising how challenging trying to paint white cattle using only three colours can be!  After lunch it was those tedious tasks that have to be caught up on and then Spanish lesson, before we all headed into town for dinner, and a continuation of our introduction into Mexican cuisine. Being Halloween, all the children and their families were out on the streets, collecting treats from the shop keepers and restaurant owners.

The following day we walked into town to visit the museum, which is well laid out and very interesting.  It also helped with the Spanish as all the notices were written in both
languages.  We also knew that we needed a better dictionary than our small phrase book, so called into the local book shop, where we met the couple we had seen peddling up the hill to Santa Rosalia.  Andrew Putland and Judith Law are cycling from San Diego, down through Central and Southern America, as far as they can get in a year, having both given up their jobs.  Good to know that we are not the only two barmy Brits.  We felt confident enough to go into a local cantina, before walking back, (in the noonday sun, as you would expect).  Fortunately Ron and Wendy came to our rescue (again) and gave us a lift back in the camper van.  In the evening we went into Loreto to visit the cemetery as it was the Dias des Muerte: when you visit and decorate your dead relatives graves, taking them food and in some cases entertainment.  It was very colourful and a wonderful sight.  In the town square they were celebrating the lives of all those who had died in the last year, followed by singing and dancing.  What a wonderful attitude.

The Friday was a rather unsuccessful attempt at updating the website, catching up on emails and generally trying to keep our concentration, when all around there is beautiful scenery, interesting people to talk to and the swimming pool.  Well this is supposed to be rest and relaxation, so perhaps we shouldn't feel too guilty.  It would be so easy to stay forever, and our condition was described as port fever.  Having our daily lesson helped us to feel we were working towards resuming our travels.  In the evening Bill and Joan, an amazing couple in their seventies, who have kayaked all over the world took us out to dinner in town.  It was wonderful to hear of their adventures and we hope we may bump into them again in Argentina, where they also have a home.

The following day we were up bright and early for a day out with Mike and Lizzie on their boat, going across the bay to the Isla de Carmen, an amazing volcanic protrusion, which in places looks like it was poured into the sea.  After beach-combing for pumice stones, we went snorkelling out to a small reef.  Mike and Lizzie, provided everything, including moral support for Guy, who despite his improved swimming abilities, still lacks confidence.  The area is a designated marine national park, and the fish are amazing.  We then crossed the channel to Isla Coronado, passing sea lions en route, lying on their backs and waving their flippers in the air.  The beaches on Coronado are pristine white sand with azure blue seas, and it is easy to see why it is so popular.  There is also a turtle sanctuary there.  After a delicious picnic lunch we walked across to the west if the island, passing many stunted desert trees, which resemble fleshy bonsai.  There were also wild hibiscus bushes in flower.  Then sadly it was full steam ahead to get us back to Loreto for the day’s lesson, sadly our last with Judith, to whom we are most grateful for her patience and time.

Sunday heralded the arrival of Wendy's son, as well as the preparations for a party for Chris (one of the other home owners in the complex, who had spent the week celebrating her 60th birthday with friends and relatives). Lots of bustle and activity; with everyone preparing delicious foods.  Before this could happen we visited the local market, which takes place along the river.  There they sell fresh fruit and vegetables, cooked specialities, as well as everything and anything you can think of.  It is a real hive of activity and a wonderful coming together of cultures.  After visiting the market we took a trip to Loreto Bay, a tourist enclave, south of the town, promoted by the Mexican government to encourage Canadians and Americans into the area.  It reminded us both of developments on the Costa Brava, but on flat land.  The recession has led to a slowdown in its growth, which is probably a good thing.

The evening was party time and the whole community provided an amazing feast for all. One of the builders currently rebuilding Ron and Wendy's house brought his band along and entertained us all with traditional music.  Fun and dancing and a good integration of North and Central Americans. Music is truly and international language.  It was wonderful to have such an enjoyable evening as our last.

We packed our bags and set off for Constitucion the morning of the 5th of November, knowing that we really need to press on with our journey, but very grateful for the opportunity to spend time with such incredible people whose kindness and generosity has been amazing.  We cannot thank you enough, but hope that our paths will continue to cross in life.  Now that we have experienced this slice of paradise it will be difficult not to wish to return.

The road from Loreto initially runs along the coast and then begins a steep climb to the top of the plateau.  This part of the journey is beautiful, especially at the moment with the greenery, vivid wild flowers and insect life.  Once you reach the top of the plateau there is a dramatic change of scenery, with the land becoming flat, mainly low shrub and grass and distinctly more arid.  The flatness allows for not only more cultivation, but also the roads to run completely straight.  Very boring driving.

Having arrived in the town by lunchtime and found a place to stay, we explored the back streets and local supermarket.  Everything you could possibly ask for including saddles. 
We chose to have an early night and get on the road just after dawn to make the journey to La Paz.  Despite Eunice's dislike of mornings we achieved this and arrived in La Paz before midday.  Even she had to admit that it was preferable to traveling in the heat of the day.

The ferries to Mazatlan run three times a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday and we had thought that we might make up some time by catching the Tuesday ferry.  However we still had to acquire the permit for the car and our tickets. After visiting Carol (who we met at the Mision San Maria, our second night on Baja) at her Bed  and Breakfast, we went to the ferry offices, who directed us to Pichilingue (the port), where despite all our worries we were able to sort it all out in less than half an hour.  As there were no cabins available we chose to travel on Thursday, knowing that Carol had a room in which we could stay until then.  La Paz is too nice a town to rush through.


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