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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Careening Down the Baja Camino

With apologies for the delay in posting, I will attempt to summarize the last week or so. Try to stay with me here because it’s been quite a whirlwind.

On Friday the 11th, we drove out of La Misión heading south for our final destination of Todos Santos. Our Airbnb hostess said the first day would be the worst, with narrow winding roads, no shoulders, sometimes no center line and often steep inclines. She was right about all that but not correct that the first day was the worst. For us the second day from El Rosario to Guerrero Negro was absolutely horrid! With potholes the size of washtubs (I kid you not) for miles, crumbling asphalt edges and speeding big rigs taking their half on the center line, I felt like I was on a slalom run as I swerved, braked and gritted my teeth to keep us on the road without throwing the truck’s alignment out of whack or careening off a cliff.

But the incredible vistas and other-worldly scenery in some parts of the drive were truly memorable. Near the tiny village of Catavina were miles of gigantic boulder fields, enormous piles of smooth rocks, scoured by eons of wind-driven sand. Other areas had acres of cacti or flat landscape as far as one could see. After crossing mountain ranges with harrowing curves and no guardrails, the road often opened onto vast open desert, fabulous views or peaceful green valleys. When we finally reached the east coast, we were blown away by the beauty and tranquility of the azure blue Sea of Cortez. It is just as splendid as we had always heard.

Being anxious to get to each night’s destination after a tiring six-hour day of driving, we didn’t stop to take photos. My thanks to Cabo Bob for many of these shots. Although we still encountered potholes along the way, keeping me on my toes, the third day was much easier. But after three days of such intense concentration, we decided to take a day of rest for moi, the driver, in Loreto, a really lovely town on the Sea of Cortez. We treated ourselves to a “fancy-pants” hotel, the Oasis, but were disappointed in the WiFi in our room. The restaurant, however, and the beach access did not disappoint. Our final run from La Paz to Todos Santos was a piece of cake compared with what had come before.
Yours Truly and Joan at Bella Venezia

Our stop in La Paz turned into a bonanza of valuable and interesting new contacts. Through Facebook I had learned that an old friend of mine, Joan Irvine, was going to be in the La Paz area at the same time as us. She was spending a week at Bella Venezia, a new health spa in the small town of El Centenario. Her host was Charles (Chuck) Chase White, LLD, an attorney and a specialist in breast health. His neighbor Larry, an accomplished artist in many media, had donated a whale sculpture to the marine mammal museum in La Paz, the Museo de Ballena y Ciencias del Mar. The museum director Francisco was expected to come out for a small party at the spa following the installation at the museum. When everyone arrived it was a totally delightful group! Francisco was so knowledgeable about the marine life in the Sea of Cortez, we were captivated by his discourse. Larry and his Mexican wife and their young son were equally entertaining and another couple, Jerry and Celine were charming as well. Celine
Jerry, Celine, Larry, Joan, Larry's wife Graciela,
Layne, Yours Truly and Francisco
Photo by Chuck White
described her childhood in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa where her father was a diamond hunter, giving us shudders at the hair-raising adventures she had as a youth in the bush with snakes and lions and other wild things.

Larry has lived for decades in Baja and as a result has strong connections all through the area. As he talked about our destination of Todos Santos it came out that he knows the mayor of the town as well as the fire chief of the small volunteer fire department here. It seems the crew of only 17 men is greatly in need of more equipment and medical supplies, as they receive no government funding. Since our son Damian is a San Francisco firefighter, we began to consider whether the SFFD might donate some of the needed materials and made plans to stay in touch.

Indeed the next day, after we had been in our home less than 24 hours, I had a call from Larry and an invitation to have lunch with the fire chief, known by his nickname Chava, along with Jerry and Celine. We met at the famous Hotel California and drove to Chava’s work place, a large wood-working shop, with lumber everywhere and sawdust covering the floors, where he builds beautiful rustic furniture. When there is a fire or other emergency, Chava leaves his income-producing work to take up his firefighting duties.

From there we headed for lunch at La Esquina, a wonderful organic restaurant with open-air seating and great food. Over lunch I talked with Chava about how I might help solicit donations of the kinds of supplies his crew needs: ambulances, truck parts including windshields, neck braces, heart monitors and equipment for water rescues. If your fire department has anything to donate, please let me know. Chava has established an association here so that donations can be brought in without having to pay customs. I’m still learning the details but it’s very exciting to already be involved in the local community.
Winston on his new patio
Sunset view from our patio 
Backyard and pool, ocean view

As you can see I’m still posting in Fabulista de Costa Rica but soon I’ll transfer these posts to a new blog, Fabulista de Baja Sur, now under construction.

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