L- We left Cuatro Casas for Catavina, a stopover spot along the Baja Gas Gap, a stretch of Mex 1 without a Pemex station for 195 miles. Catavina is a blip on the map known for its excellent granite boulders and boojum and cardon desert scenery. It was a simple deserted little campground, and we thought we might be the only gringos around, but as we were embracing the idea of a siesta, a group of RVers rolled in and parked right between our camp and the best sunset view… Thanks a lot. They left early the next morning and we weren’t far behind, rolling on toward Guerro Negro and the Baja California Sur border.
We crossed with only minimal confusion as we didn’t realize we needed to pay for our undercarriage to get fumigated, and found a campsite at Malarrimo RV park. It was basically a small concrete parking lot behind the restaurant, but we got our first hot showers and a meal in the restaurant complete with strong margaritas. Ah civilization! We also met Liz and Jay, two overlanders on a long road trip from Alaska. They call Long Beach home when not traveling in their popup truck camper with their dog Yoshi, small world. They were heading on the next day, like we were, to Bahia Concepcion and our first look at the Sea of Cortez. They invited us to meet up with them on Playa El Coyote, which is where we’d land and stay for the next week.
Playa El Coyote was a dream, camping right on the beach with gorgeous desert scenery smacking right into tropical turquoise waters. We spent a week exploring, lazing around, snorkeling, and chatting with the local gringo naturalist, Gary, known to the locals as Cuervo. He was a font of information, teaching us all about the flora and fauna of the bay, and taking us paddling out to some of his favorite spots. It was a pleasure to spend time with someone as fascinated by the place as we were. I knew we’d be fast friends when we rolled in to the beach and saw his RV with the words “Raven Research West” stenciled on the side, given my affinity for ravens and corvids in general.
J – One of the best parts of Playa el Coyote was the frequent whale shark sightings. Every day up to 5 whale sharks circled out in front of our camp. Unlike their cousin Jaws, whale sharks are calm giants that filter feed on plankton so getting a close look is no worries. We had a number of close encounters with whale sharks up to 20ft long! It was absolutely incredible! The calm waters of Bahia Concepcion and the sandy bottom of Coyote was also a great practice ground for rolling my kayak. With Leigh close by to help out I got my roll down first try. It was surprising how easy it was to roll my 17ft heavy plastic boat but it was no sweat in calm water. Next step is perfecting it in a more realistic scenario with wind, white caps and swell.
L – Another one of the fascinating aspects of the beach is the large number of vendors who come to peddle their wares on the beach to the campers. It ranged from clothing, jewelry, blankets and hammocks, to non-potable water, eggs and cheese, to guided horseback rides. We made friends with a few of the vendors, and quickly learned who had the best tamales, and who didn’t always make correct change. The place sometimes felt like the land that time forgot, and we quickly lost track of how many days we’d been there. With everything you need practically coming to you, its easy to see why some people park it there and never bother to continue further south, but eventually, we felt the travel itch creeping back in, and it was time to make for Loreto, one of the main destinations of our trip.