Syl & Ken's Mexican Meanderings 2008 travel blog

At 6:30 a.m. promptly, our chariot, a 20 foot panga (runabout) towed by Crispin’s truck (it had not turned into steeds), arrived outside our door and with Crispin’s gallant help, we climbed into the boat for our ride to the end of the spit where we would depart. Crispin backed the panga into the water with the three of us still aboard and then maneuvered it around and we were set. Birds sat in the mangrove trees surrounding the water’s edge silhouetted in the pale grey blue of dawn. A Black-crowned Night Heron was hunkered down beside a Yellow-crowned Night Heron atop one of those trees. The morning was really cold so we were wearing our Alaska jackets, hooded sweatshirts, turtleneck shirts, long pants and gloves and were hunkered down too as we sped into the wind. It has been unusually cold here, we were told. This makes the whales a bit sluggish.

As we zipped along into Magdalena Bay, the sun began to rise, peeking its flaming red head up over the horizon as we watched the dawn of another exciting day. Out on the cold waters, fishermen in their pangas hauled up nets with their treasure of shrimp that would delight the pallet of people locally and in far off places. As we pulled alongside the fishermen, they told Crispin that the waters were very cold and we noted that although they were dressed warmly, their hands had no gloves to protect them as they hauled up the nets laden with shrimp. Crispin attempted to negotiate with them for the purchase of some, but in the end, he dumped his pail of shrimp back in their boat telling them and us that the price was too high. Interesting to watch Mexicans negotiate with Mexicans. I thought it was a gringo thing. Magdalena Island, with its little fishing village and restaurant where we would lunch later, whizzed past as Crispin’s boat raced in search of whales.

Spotting spouts (vertical columns of water shot out of whales’ blowholes) we sped to see them. They spout and then can dive for five minutes before they come back up. Each time we went to where they were, they weren’t - no surprise since they can swim quite far in five minutes. However, we kept at it until finally we started having some luck with huge whales very near our small boat. Huge in this case could mean 33 meters, the size to which blue whales grow, especially the females who are larger than the males. Crispin thought from the behavior of some that they were preparing to give birth or were mating. Ken kept taking great photos of their tails as they dove, their fins and backs, catching pairs swimming beside each other. The dollars were adding up so we finally went to Magdalena Island for our lunch before returning to the spit. While it was costly (much more than Guerrero Negro), Crispin’s assistance in the afternoon with obtaining the assistance of a mechanic was invaluable. Without him, we never would have found a mechanic, gotten such quick service, nor had the pleasure of destroying our mechanic misconceptions.

Our mechanic, who was a true wizard, had a “shop” that we never would have gone into. His skills, however, were first rate and we know he would do well in the US. In fact, our mechanic back home could use his help. While it was near impossible to communicate with him, he was able to fabricate a needed part, make us safe and able to continue our journey and only wanted $80 for all his work. Ken had to bargain him up since he and his assistant had worked the evening before we left and then finished in the morning. They were terrific and we were eternally grateful.

While Ken was worrying about the RV before the mechanic started, Carol and I went exploring the town. While homes were very “basic” – a small shack and outhouse, many had flowers and some even had a washing machine out back. The children we met were clean, their clothes washed and fresh. The children on the beach who tried to talk to us and played with Jazzy were sweet. Even though life is very simple and probably hard, it has a certain quality that many would be happy to have.

Much of the town is sustained by fishing. While there are both the fish processing plant and one of the three power plants for the Baja in San Carlos, we were told that the employees come from Ciudad Constitucion. Guess that accounts for the relative well off nature of that city. It was like Atlantic City, NJ where casinos hired from outside the city rather than the locals who could have really used the jobs.

Our last morning, I wandered again by myself, looking for shells that were beautiful and photographing the birds on the beach that were in the thousands. Razor clams must be abundant based on the pile of their shells that I saw. The flowers growing along the sandy roads were also lovely. The Long-billed Curlews were smarter than their beach friends. When I approached, they moved further away not taking any chances. It was fascinating watching them feed along the shore.

While we did smell the fish plant our second evening there, when it was not operating, there was no eau de fish. The beach was beautiful, the birds abundant and the people delightful, making San Carlos a place to which I certainly would return.

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