We arrived in La Paz (Spanish for peace) which is almost at the bottom of Baja California, the long narrow strip of land which runs parallel to the west coast of Mexico. It’s a rough desert landscape with steep mountains, dry plains and a diversity of beaches but I should have realized something fishy was afoot after previewing our first photo. We assumed the cacti were friendly but just look at the one in the background giving me the finger and probably having a laugh at my expense, they must have seen us coming.
For ten days I had been ravaged by Montezuma’s revenge in San Cristobal de las Casas and was hoping for a fresh start at our new tropical town, pick up some rays and recuperate, but alas it turned out to be a game of tag between “St Cristobal and the town of Peace”. On day two in La Paz I was delivered a new blow whilst sipping on a pina-colada, munching on some fried prawns and salad at Tecolote beach just in front of where the cacti were. That evening I was out for the count and only managed to wander out of the apartment after about another 10 days. The bright side was we had a fantastic apartment.
Despite my condition there were some nice moments as most evenings the light coming from the north west is on fire.
Whilst I’d be sleeping on the couch Malene would wander off for hours exploring all the newest cafes in town and finding some tasty morsels and the best food bargains, the rest of the time she seemed to be caught up with her Spanish lessons and by now I think she is pretty good.
The food in Mexico is great and the cakes amazing, there’s an abundance of tropical fruit, fresh fish and the steaks are tender and tasty and all very reasonably priced. We did a fair bit of home cocking which was brought on by my tummy and being in a nice apartment made it so much more enjoyable.
For your benefit (baring a few) I’ll skip those ten days and fast forward to the last two or three.
La Paz doesn’t have the old town magic we’ve seen on our recent travels, it’s a relatively recent town situated on a large inlet with a pretty waterfront beach. As la Paz is the end of a big inlet in the sea of Cortez the waters are calm and warm but probably not the most suitable for bathing, although the water looks lovely and clear and on warm days very tempting.
The La Paz Malecon and a mermaid in an oyster shell or is it a pearl? Or was I just looking for a toilet!
With the tummy under control we got a car to explore the surrounding beaches, the desert and the little town on the Western or the Pacific side of the peninsula.
First up was Balandra beach about a 30 minute away and from up high I think it has an oyster shell appearance. A large stunning looking bay which at low tide it can only be used for wallowing but the colour! even on an overcast day is so soft.
We walked across hills following some old tracks to little bays along the cost.
For me Baja definitely has a West Australian feel, a kind of Cape Range that stretches about 1200km mostly desert and some amazing beaches, replace the Ozie red dirt with rusty brown and the termite hills with sequoia cacti and there you have it. We loved the drive and could not help ourselves stopping for photo opportunities.
We went for a wander among the cacti forest which stretched for as far as the eye could see but we found out this is not the brightest thing to do in flip-flops. Thorns all over the ground make their way through your flip-flop soles like slicing through butter and then into you feet. Had to de-thorn both my foot and our flip-flops. Fortunately not too much damage but would not want to be lost out there without serious tradie boots.
The little summer towns or villages were also very reminiscent of places in WA with fishing charters, summer homes and camp-sites. We headed for Bahia de los Muertos “Bay of the Dead”, so Mexican I thought, but they renamed the beach to Bay of Dreams, for the tourists.
Had a nice chat with the American fellow originally from New Mexico who had the fancy car, now has his ranch on the other side of the hill so this is home and tendering to his car was his hobby. His surprise was obvious when I told him he would not be able to drive out of his house in Oz without copping a fair fine and definite impoundment. We have a reputation that anything goes in Oz, but this is Mexico so if you like it, do it “me gusto” as they say. Besides it looked pretty environmentally friendly, not sure about the grass though.
The Weast coast of Baja California on the Pacific side is a different beach scene all together. This has big wave seas, high winds and not for relaxed swimming. Here is where surfers, kite surfers come to do their stuff.
You can lie on the sand but the waves we saw on a calm day were up to 5m high and crashed onto the beach without mercy. The photos don’t give a sense of true height, I should have sent Malene in for perspective.
On the west coast there is a little town called Todos Santos or All Saints and unlike La Paz it has a very cute town centre where many US and Canadian tourists come to kill some time.
We strolled through town, had the best juice ever made of Pineapple, Parsley, Grapefruit and lime, then we stood under a chiming tree (not it’s real name) whose pods made a pleasant chiming sound in the breeze and later watched the fishermen in a little bay.
Then it was the slow road home to La Paz, next day is Mexico city.