Baja Road Trip Part 1: San Jose del Cabo to Loreto

We land in San Jose del Cabo before noon and are outside soaking in the warm sun within 15 minutes of the plane touching down.  Outside we see our friends, James and Monica, zipping around the terminal and we walk to a place where they can easily pick us up.

It’s Christmas Day and we’re in Mexico.

It’s not long before we are sitting in a nearby restaurant, a breeze blowing through the open window.  As we sip our beers we discuss James and Monica’s drive down from Reno and the next two weeks we’ll be spending together as we slowly make our way back up there.

At the Mega, it’s surprisingly busy for a holiday so we quickly buy our groceries and head over to the slower pace of La Playita.   We arrive at El Delfin Blanco, our home for the next four nights, where we are warmly greeted by Osa, the owner.  But we don’t settle in yet, we have a beer on the beach and relax for a couple of hours before Christmas dinner.

La Playita
La Playita
El Delphin Blanco
El Delfin Blanco

Over the next few days we slowly ease into vacation mode, checking out James and Monica’s favorite beaches and restaurants.  While out fishing, Matt catches a marlin and James, a dorado, and we cook the fish in the outdoor kitchen, eat what we can and give away the remainder.  We head to San Jose for the weekly art walk, as we did earlier this year.  The town square is packed with families and the streets are filled with people meandering between galleries.  Several of the artists are present and they generously serve up hearty glasses of wine, tequila, and blueberry mojitos.

Playa Chileno
Playa Chileno
Shrimp Tacos
Shrimp Tacos

 

Santa Maria
Santa Maria
Santa Maria
Santa Maria

Before departing San Jose, Osa serves us crepes with homemade chutney and dried mangoes.  We sit in the sun as we chat and eat.  Our desired time of departure comes and goes and it’s sad to wrap things up but we have to hit the road.

El Delfin Blanco
El Delfin Blanco

Our original plan was to spend a night in Cabo Pulmo, but we drive north on Highway 1 instead, hoping to make it to Loreto before dark.  Somewhere along the stretch of highway, we pop a tire.  There isn’t much of a shoulder and we are barely off the road, but every car that passes slows down and turns on their hazard lights, there are also several offers for assistance.

We drive into the Ciudad Constitucion with confidence that there will be a tire shop, as there were many in all of the other towns so far.  We find one that is open (it is Sunday) and we have the new tire installed and paid for in about 20 minutes.  Back on the road, it’s early evening already so we decide to stay the night.

The next morning as we head out of town, we buy the remainder of empanadas from a street vendor.  They are amazing, still warm and perfectly crunchy.  As we are winding our way through the mountains, we are so happy we didn’t try to beat the light and rush to Loreto.  It would’ve been a pretty dangerous drive at night.  We make several stops along the way Ligui (could be a nice beach but very windy and it backs up to someone’s private property), Puerto Escondido (a protected harbor, yet creepy because no one is around), Juncalito (beautiful, but a high clearance vehicle is required), and Nopolo (a rapidly growing condominium/small town/ golf course development).

Ligui
Ligui
The beach at Nopolo
The beach at Nopolo

Loreto is a very cute town and we check into our casita at the Iguana Inn and park the car.  The hotel owner has written up the activities going on at three local gringo bars on a whiteboard and our eyes immediately go to “free tacos at 5.”  We step into Augie’s Bar and Bait Shop to the disappointment of the bartender.  We order a round of drinks and feel incredibly uncomfortable with this tight knit group we’ve intruded upon.  When the bartender tells her friends that she’s given us the expensive tequila and they all have a laugh, we head upstairs to a much friendlier atmosphere.  There’s also a beautiful view, better drinks, and this is where they serve the (free!) food.

At the Iguana Inn
At the Iguana Inn
Augie's Bar and Bait shop
Augie’s Bar and Bait shop

The next day is New Year’s Eve; we explore the town on foot, have some laundry done, and sit at the beach the rest of the afternoon.  Our first stop for the evening is Augie’s (again).  They are serving a free dinner (he actually has great specials every night of the week).  We head upstairs to a lively crowd (who all have a good 30 years on us) and spend the remainder of the night bar hopping.

Loreto
Loreto
Mision de Loreto
Mision de Loreto

As we pack up the next morning, the owner of the Iguana comes by with a bowl of black-eyed peas for each of us.  Once again it’s hard to leave a place that is so welcoming, but we’re excited for the next adventure.

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