Syl & Ken's Mexican Meanderings 2008 travel blog


Mex 1 runs south from Loreto with rugged peaks jutting into the sky on the west and pointed islands swimming in blue waters gleaming on the east. We climbed some precipitous mountains, tall enough to make my ears pop. The road curved through switchbacks climbing steeply while mountain peaks wreathed in clouds rose around us. This ride has been the most spectacular thus far, with breathtaking views that had me running from my seat to the couch to catch pictures on both sides. We even got a photo of Carol creeping up one side of a switchback as we climbed the other side. I feel as I did in Banff and Jasper – how do I capture the magnitude and grandeur of this scenery?

The land is definitely volcanic with huge pumice boulders visible from the road. Signs advise drivers, “do not leave rocks on the road.” We learned that this is because truck drivers use rocks as chocks for their wheels or “flares” to warn traffic that they are stopped and sometimes forget to remove them. Atop a plateau, we looked down to see an actual inland river flowing, with periodic turquoise green pools surrounded by beige sand and rocks. It was an unanticipated sight in this desert country filled with cacti, mesquite and rock. Surprisingly, haze hangs over the horizon even here where neither industry (we think) nor any major urban area exist. Is it desert dust, global pollution, or… cataracts?

We had been going to Ciudad Constitucion to stop overnight, but since I really wanted beach, Ken agreed to go to San Carlos, a town on the water where we could camp on the beach sans hook ups. Well, it does make it easy to leave without having to unhook hoses and wires. After the rugged mountains, the flat lands around Ciudad Constitution are a striking change. Much more money is here in this area. It was clear from the restaurants that included Bahia Teriyaki. Now where, but in a more financially successful area, would one have one of those. This area is known for its agriculture. There is even an experimental agricultural station that we passed. The difference between the lush green irrigated farmland and the dusty surrounding terrain is startling. Here, agricultural production must equal wealth. San Carlos is the port city that ships out the crops produced in the region, as well as fish from its fish processing plant that is reputed to give off a rather fierce smell. We are taking our chances. We’ll see when we arrive.

When we stopped for gas at a busy Pemex, the government’s gas chain with prices that are bearable (not good mind you), I spotted a rooster running around the station, but it disappeared before I could get the camera. Next thing I saw was a man swinging the chicken around by its neck. Guessed it would make someone a good meal.

Our arrival in San Carlos coincided with lunchtime so we stopped at a “downtown” restaurant for fish soup and shrimp tacos and of course a margarita all of which were quite tasty. The only problem was that after lunch we forgot to ask directions to the beach. So, we got lost, got an adolescent female guide who spoke no English and kept talking to us in Spanish, hit a tree as she directed us through a too, too narrow space, and finally arrived at the beach after getting some further directions from an English speaking local named Crispin who also gave our guide a lift home. Crispin happened to be the panga (small boat) tour guide whose name Carol had been given in Loreto. He turned out to be invaluable the next day. Before taking our guide home, he showed us where the free beach parking was and we got ourselves situated at the edge of the beach.

Carol, Jazzy and I went for a walk to see the area and discovered both an environmental field studies campus for Boston University and a birders’ paradise. At the end of the spit of land reaching into Magdalena Bay, feeding in the verdant sea grasses and shallows of low tide, hundreds of birds moved purposefully. I stood riveted to the spot watching Great Blue Herons, Yellow-crowned Night Herons, White Ibises, Snowy Egrets, Long-billed Curlews, Marbled Godwits, Heermann’s Gulls, Brown Pelicans, Short-billed Dowitchers and other gulls and shorebirds in numbers I never had encountered before. It was as if it was a rookery. I had to go back to get Ken and the camera to capture the density and variety in this special spot. Ken and I were both thrilled and intrigued as we watched one Yellow-crowned Night Heron catch crabs and skillfully negotiate their ingestion. The concentration of Great Blues was astounding. We could not believe our luck in being in such a splendid spot. The whales we were anticipating the next day would have to be great to match up with the birds.

As we walked back to the RV, we wondered what the layer of white crackling material was that lined the shore. Perhaps it was the remnants of the fish processing plant that washes up on the shore where the birds feed. Piles of shells of various kinds lay along the beaches, attesting to the richness of the life in this bay. Scallop shells, clams shells of many kinds, oyster shells and even abalone shells could be found on the beach.

We awaited the morning and Crispin’s 6:30 a.m. pick up so that we could see the sun rise and catch the early morning whale action.



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