Baja California – Not the dystopian world we were expecting

Our second visit to Mexico took us to Baja CaliforniaSarah and I had first visited Mexico in 1997 and had travelled south from Mexico City to the Yucatan Peninsula.  It had been a curious journey through old colonial towns and Mayan ruins interspersed with volcanoes, jungle and the odd threat of bandits.

Baja California

We’d often thought of revisiting and our interest was rekindled when a friend invited us to visit them in Los Barriles on the southern end of Baja California.  It took some time to find it on our old Michelin map, but the location looked perfect for exploration and allowed us time and space for a little relaxation.  We travelled as two families (the Coates’ and the Lywoods) via Mexico City and connected with our short onward flight to La Paz, the state capital of Baja California Sur. We were met at the small, friendly airport by an old family friend of the Lywoods who drove us south through landscapes that are familiar to those who watch dystopian box sets like ‘Fear of the walking dead’. The landscape is arid with huge vistas across cactus covered hillsides with small villages where dogs barked and chased our car.  We arrived in Los Barriles, a coastal town that has a wild west feel to it with 4x4s, horses tethered to the roadside and local bars selling burritos, cold beers and salty margaritas!

Baja CaliforniaThe area is popular with kite and windsurfers of all ages, an activity it’s safe to say we were all novices at, which is fortunate as we’d come to explore both land and sea.  Our house was a beautiful thatched African style banda with room for everyone and was built by our friends’ father, Oakley.  Our base for the next few weeks was directly on the beach, overlooking the Sea of Cortez; a truly inspiring location, with big skies and aquamarine seas stretching out to the horizon.

We soon settled into a routine with a local Mexican friend popping round to prepare delicious meals, teach us how to make the best margaritas and introduce us to an eclectic mix of locals and American ex-pats.  Each morning we’d wake at sunrise to the sound of mantas slapping the water with their wings as they jumped through the air and landed – we’d try to dash out in our kayaks to see if they would leap over the bow, it never quite worked but was great fun.

Baja California

The Sea of Cortez is a prime birthing area for grey whales and in April, when we were there, the mothers and calves leave the safety of this protected sea for a life in the wilds of the Pacific which runs down the western side of the Baja peninsula. Throughout the day we’d scan the ocean for a sighting of a fluke or the spurt of fishy air from the whales blow hole and paddle out to see if we could get closer.  The sea was usually benign in the mornings, but the wind and waves often picked up in the afternoon making it difficult to paddle out.

Baja California

Our adventures were many and included western style horse rides through cactus covered hills and dusty trips on quad bikes to desert springs with cold beers from ice boxes to quench our thirst. As the days rolled on, we explored historical towns, explored beaches, snorkelled and sat on our terrace and marvelled at the vibrancy of the birds.

Gradually, our time in Baja drew to a close and it was time head home.  But what a place. Wild and desolate at times, with scenery that’s evocative of a 1970’s western creating an expectation that Clint Eastwood was about to ride into view! We loved this place and can’t wait to explore more and next time go camping, kayak with grey whales and seals, explore more historical towns and maybe have a margarita or two at sunset.

Baja California

If you’d like to learn more about Baja California and this unique part of Mexico then call Ian on 017687 21040.

or email me at ian@archipelagochoice.com

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