|Dear Friends and Family,
I want to share a little of our adventures in Baja and of our neighbors to the south. I think this is especially important right now as Mexico is getting so much negative publicity because of the cartels and because of the unresolved immigration issues. The demand for illegal drugs, the importation of firearms and the lack of a clear and fair immigration/guest worker policy is our contribution to the situation. The Mexican people we saw are so polite and their community and family life so strong, that it is a pleasure to be among them. I feel for the tourist industry, a large part of their revenue, which is being devastated by the cartel battles and fear.
As far as safety, the state department has just issued updated warnings about travel in Mexico state by state. We have gone to the places that are safe. Baja felt very safe and comfortable as did the bus ride down the coast. I felt safer on the bus with the Mexicans than driving. However, we did get to drive in Baja with new friends which was an unexpected pleasure and breathtakingly beautiful with no traffic. We wanted a vacation that was an experience of the Mexican culture and low budget also, so we bypassed a timeshare experience at Cabo San Lucas and spend half our time in La Paz, the capital city, and half traveling with a couple from Anacortes we met on the ferry down at Topalabampo. The all night bus ride took us from Nogales, Arizona to Los Mochis where we walked through town with our backpacks and another bus to the ferry. The ferry to La Paz was the biggest I'd ever seen and it took all night also.
We stayed in La Paz at a friend's charming little duplex a block and a half from the bay and the lovely malecon walkway which stretched for miles. La Paz is a clean and progressive town of 200,000 and is not a tourist town. Every morning we walked a few blocks to the local fresh produce, fish and meat market for a smoothie and some freshly caught shrimp; each evening we walked along the malecon accompanied by a little ocean breeze. It was nice to be in a non tourist town.
The 48 hour overnight bus and ferry trip from Nogales to Los Mochis to La Paz journey was a bit long but it only took us eight hours to return to Nogales from Santa Rosalia via a small airplane across the gulf and then a bus. Our ferry friends invited us to drive south with them to San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas which we did. We all ended up driving north to see the whales on the Pacific side and then back driving along the Se of Cortez side through several lovely towns and beaches.
Southern Baja is so removed from the mainland and each town had a distinct feeling. La Paz is Mexican with the tourists a small part of life there. San Jose and Cabo cater to the tourists and they both felt unbalanced. Todos Santos is a sweet town on the Pacific and felt comfortable and balanced between the expats and Mexicans. My favorite was Loreto, a lovely little town on the gulf, balanced and still low key. W e spent a night there before it started raining hard as we drove up the beautiful coast. No more swimming for me, but I did get a few days in!