Things get interesting in Jaramillo, Baja
We drive away from our camp of tranquilidad, but only after watching a local sea lion frolic in the waves with dive bombing pelicans. This spot is hard to leave but after what Jen has read from the surf book about beaches a few hours south-the promise of surf and tacos has us on our way. We wave to the military and retrace our steps on the baja 500 trail and got back on the main highway going south.
We found a small spot to pull over for Internet to determine which of the beaches just south of us we want to go to for waves and hopefully to spend the next several days. We decide on the first option...apparently a surfer favorite with comfortable lodging/camping "an unforgettable wave". Reviews spoke of cold pacificos and homecooked meals and it reads as an overall must stop. Jen copies the directions, which are as concrete as "turn right on the dirt road after the yellow auto parts store and then go all the way to the ocean. Take the best dirt road south to the camp".
Easy enough, right?
We make it to the ocean easy enough...but the second part is more difficult. We try each of the four "roads" heading south. Most die into a ravine and the fourth found us in deep baby powder sand and quickly stuck. We try not to panic that were stuck in the sand in the middle of the desert...reduce our tire pressure and free ourselves from the clutches of the ground around us. After an hour of searching for the right road we give up on our first choice and head back to the highway and onward, but before we reach the next town we spot a giant sign reading "turn here" for our surf camp! No yellow store this time, we turn anyway laughing about our experience.
We follow this equally bad road to the beach where we have to choose between north and south with no benefit of a sign. We choose south but quickly reach a high point where we see nothing on the horizon for miles and go back to talk to a fisherman near the intersection (to this point fisherman have been our best source of info and knowledge along the way) . He points the other way, speaks rapidly enough that we can't make out much, but grasp that the road is long and bad but that we will see it when we get close- so we carry on. We drive what seems like forever up the coast choosing between left and right arms of the dirt road only to find out later whether the choice was for the good road or the one with 4-6' deep ruts and washouts. We also notice that the swells to our left appear to be no more that 3" high...we're hoping that we've arrived at low tide. But, to our excitement we finally see the sign and arrive!!
We pull in, talk to the only person we can find and the look on jen's face tells me we won't be staying very long...despite the 30miles of tough offload we drove to get here. We ask about the first road we attempted, and apparently a storm over two years ago washed it out. We aren't convinced anyone has been here since, but he keeps reassuring us we are in the right place and the wave will be overhead at high tide tomorrow. We pull under a tree to decide our next steps, but the look of the place combined with his first words being about drugs and "needing to find a guy in bc"...and we quickly decide that after an emergency tequila and a taco by the bus we will be on our way. We thought the rv park yesterday was desolate, but this place made it look great. We pulled away both feeling uneasy and as though we had just visited the deliverance scene of Mexico. No thank you.
We head back to the friendly fisherman to ask if we can take the current road all the way to the next point/beach or if we need to head back to the highway. We think he told us that as long as we made it the other way- we can make it okay and pull away but get only about 30' before our oil light comes on. There's still little we know about the bus, but we know that if either of the only two lights come on or go off when they aren't supposed to, you stop. and you stop now. We pull out the idiot's guide and check the oil, which is almost empty. Not good since we were fine when we left this morning. I add a quart to see if we can go on our way and within seconds the entire quart is sitting on the road. According to the guide, we clearly have either a bad main seal or oil cooler. Bummer.
In the years we've driven the bus, we've never had so much as a few drops of oil, but since our mechanic stop in Kingman we've noticed a pretty good spot under the bus each time we leave. I also noticed that he had filled us up past the second line, which I knew wasn't good. That said, while a few people had mentioned the main seal might be leaking (which requires pulling the engine to fix) everyone seemed to think that we should just keep on top of the oil and make sure the engine has plenty. Now is when we second guess that a bit...but regardless...we appear to be stuck for the second time today and this one may take a while.
Jen talks to the fisherman as they are packing up and he says they can help us in two hours (around sunset) and pull away leaving us alone with nothing in sight but the ocean and a few boats. We clear up some of the crazy amounts of dust from our day offroad and discuss the possibility of pulling the engine ourselves. We think we can rig a platform for dropping the engine from some of the debris around the fishing boats but (even if we happen to be successful in pulling the engine our first time in the middle of nowhere) we longer have enough oil left to fill up after. We opt for waiting on the fisherman or calling for a tow back to civilization.
About 2.5 hours later we haven't seen the fisherman (although still within Mexican-time for a 2 hour window) and we flag down the first vehicle we've seen pass. Martin is in a hurry but calls ahead to let them know he will be late and is helping a family in need. We tie our recovery strap (that was a good purchase) between the vehicles and he tows us back the gnarly road towards the highway. This road was dicey enough the first time, but in the dark and tied 20' behind another vehicle flying up and down the ditch-sized washouts was nerve racking at least.
We eventually make our destination. A small shop in the nearest pueblito before the highway, eve though we dont know if it has a mechanic. Martin explained that the federales would not take kindly to him towing us on the highway and this is as far as we can go. We ask the shop keeper if we can park outside and if the road is safe enough and she confirms both are fine. She even offers for us to pull inside the gate and stay in her yard if we are more comfortable...but we opt for the easy tow scenario and sleep in the street. If we were seeking an opportunity to immerse in local culture I think we just found it.