Sunrises at the sea of Cortez, Bahia Los Angeles
We leave the desert with sunrise excited to get back to the ocean. Our next stop (and the sunsets that come with it) doesn't disappoint.
A few miles out of Catavina we lose the cacti and boulders and move into simply dry rolling hills. We watch carefully for the turn to the left knowing that missing it means an extra few hours of driving back to the pacific side of baja. We catch the turn and count down the remaining 66km to the sea of cortez. Coming around the final turn and seeing the ocean below was truly spectacular after the arid landscape we'd been driving through for the past two days.
The sea is impossibly blue and the islands laying past the bay frame the views perfectly. By the time we pull into Bahia de Los Angeles we are giddy to jump into the water and cool off. We get gas first, knowing that we must be running low (although who can really say, with only a partial gas gauge and no odometer) and head through "town" past the handful of taco stands and tiendas on the way to the only bar/restaurant on the beach. We order a drink, mostly just to be polite before grabbing a table and jumping in the water to cool down. While the water was perfect compared to the temps outside…it was like dipping into calm/warm bath water, add salt and sand-quite a contrast to the cold and powerful waters of the pacific side.
We get on the internet and sip our drink while talking to a few fisherman and learning this is the fishing capitol of baja. Gringos and mexicans come from all over to fish the sea of cortez and apparently leave with truckfuls of fish from only a day or two. We also talk with Herman- apparently the first gringo to find (and move into) the town over 30 years ago. Herman came to baja prospecting for gold, and while he never told us if he found any, he was happy to talk for as long as we were willing to listen. Our talks later would become a daily routine.
We head out to grab a taco (which turned out to be a burrito and once again was gringo prices). It's amazing how quickly the mind adjusts and suddenly a $4 drink or a $6 meal seems completely absurd. We drive up the bay towards Punta la Gringa and check out the various camping options. All offer bathrooms and most offer palapas by the beach…a clear step up from what we're used to, but also costs us $10/night. We decide on Daggett's because the palapas are truly oceanfront and pull in to setup camp. We know we will be here more than simply overnight, and it may be the first time we have fully set up camp on the trip. Awning out, sand mat and camp chairs rolled out…we quickly made ourselves at home and the palapa even allowed a place to hang the hammock.
We sweated through the heat of day by trading between shade and running to dunk in the sea. We had been warned by the fisherman, but the beaches here are littered with stingrays, so you have to slowly enter while doing the "ray shuffle" with your feet to make sure you don't step on top of and startle a napping ray. We try to shuffle off a big enough area before karma charges into the water after us and so far so good.
As the sun (and temperature) drops, we pull out our surfboards to paddle out a ways and i try my hand at the spear. Not many fish out until just before dark, and i learn quickly that this will take some practice (and possibly another spear tip…as the one i have is clearly meant for large/slow fish rather than the quick little guys near the shore of our camp). Regardless, we enjoy snorkeling for the first time in years and marvel at the number of rays and puffers that seem to follow us at every turn, taunting us as if they know that they are possibly the only two things we aren't interested in having for dinner.
I keep trying while jen retreats to the beach after finding the only jellyfish in the bay (the jellyfish won this round). No luck with the fish, we enjoy chorizo tacos for dinner and settle in for the night.
Jen wakes me up early, awestruck by the sunrise. We both agree later it may be the most fantastic sunrise we've ever seen. The open vista of the bay combined with colors that couldn't be matched with the giant box of crayolas just kept going and seemingly just kept getting better until the sun finally crept over the island backdrop. What a start to our day.
After sunrise we went for another snorkel…thinking we may have fish tacos for dinner, but even less fish than last night, and certainly none eager to leave the water with us. The remainder of our day consisted of, well- mostly nothing. It was great to have nowhere to be. Jen played the guitar and jumped in the ocean like clockwork. I did a bit of re-org in the bus and were it not for a large number of flies we could easily see ourselves staying for a week or more. After lunch we headed back to the bar to see if we could run into our fisherman friends. No luck, but Jen was able to score a free yellowtail filet off another fisherman for dinner. We also got to see a happy crew come out with a 95lb grouper, and i learn my upper limit…while it looked big and slow enough of a target i might actually be able to hit it- I'm fairly certain the beast would carry me out to sea unaware i had even pricked it with the spear.
We stop for another taco, this time the right spot with sub $1 tacos and return to camp for some more relaxation and to grill some homemade fish tacos. Perfect. Now we just need to make the decision on whether to stay or go in the morning.