Timing can be challenging when your cruising. My Dad and Beverly, who sailed around the world for 14 years, have been a wealth of cruising knowledge for us. One of their insights they shared was “Don’t make appointments.” Before we headed out to sea this sounded a little extreme. But, we can go with the flow, live serendipitously, have no appointments. This sounded amazing. That’s exactly the type of lifestyle we were looking for. Actually, Bill and I are fairly good at this. Our goal was to make it to the Sea of Cortez, then figure out which direction we will go after that, leaving all our options open for unknown feelings or adventures that surface.
Now, having been cruising for almost 5 months, we have quickly learned that when you’re on a sailboat you literally live by the wind and the weather as your administrator; waiting for the surge of wind and heavy seas to pass before allowing you to head out of port, finding your “window” of weather before you go. Also, as Beverly aforementioned, “There’s always a window, you just have to be patient.” Along these same lines, my Dad and Beverly also shared with us that if friends do come to visit let them pick the time, or the place, but not both. Not having had experienced this yet, but quickly we learn this with our very first visitor.
I had been in conversations with our friend Revecka (Riv) about coming to visit us somewhere. These conversations started in Cabo. As we continued our trip up the Sea of Cortez each time we found cell service I would check with Riv on where and when she was thinking about coming. I told her we were headed to La Paz, but most likely need to get to the mainland Mexico before the winter Northerlies start showing their ugly faces. We had made it to La Paz on Monday November 26thwhen I got in touch with Riv again. She exclaimed, “I got my ticket to Cabo!” “My Mom bought it for my birthday.” I was so excited to see her, and have a loved one from the states come visit. I exclaimed, “I’m so excited!!!!!” Wait, when and where are you coming? December 31st, New Years eve to Cabo, she informed us. I did the math. This meant that we had to kill a whole month in the north sea before heading over to the mainland (Mazatlan), knowing it gets cold and windy up there this time of year. In my head I’m hearing my Dad say, “Remember, they can pick the time or the place but not both.” Oops, we failed.
Our stay in La Paz was one of necessity and joy. We added solar panels, and new stainless fabrication to lift our bimini out of our cockpit and create space for solar energy. This took two weeks. We absolutely fell in love with La Paz, but after being at a marina for that long we were ready to head back to sea. We still had a couple weeks to wait until Riv would land in Cabo, so we decided to tackle sailing up wind into the great northerlies to Loreto and back before she arrived. We quickly learn that this plan will not work either. Failure number 2. Our first day out a northerly wind traps us at Caleta Partida for three days, and continues howling for a week. The trip up ended taking a lot longer than we thought, so as soon as we were able to we telephoned Riv and told her she would have to find a bus ride to Loreto, and that we couldn’t get back to La Paz in time. Our plan then was to take a few days and sail her back to La Paz, stopping at islands and anchoring along the way, then getting her back in time for her flight home from Cabo. She was willing and excited.
In the previous post (La Paz) Bill writes about the rest of our windy jaunt up the sea. We arrive at Puerto Escondido 14 miles from Loreto. The closest port with a marina. To get to Loreto cruisers usually rent a car, or take a $30 taxi ride. We were lucky and got rides there and back from friendly boaters. We packed our bags and decided to get a hotel room for a few nights to get to know the town, and celebrate the holidays. What an amazing treat. Hot showers, breakfast cooked for us every morning, and a lovely stucco room with ceiling fans and shutter windows. A true escape from the howling wind on the boat this time of year.
We spent the next couple days wandering around town, and getting to know Loreto.
The town was decorated for Christmas, especially the town square where the oldest mission on Baja resides. This mission is the heart of Loreto. There was a tall, lit up Christmas tree, a decorated train with red and white lights, and little houses made to look like a snowy Christmas village. Every hour the church would bellow a different Christmas song throughout the town with it’s bells.
It was such a joy watching the Mexican people thoroughly celebrate this holiday, and party to their hearts content each night. Children and seniors and every age in between are seen holding hands, buying gifts, making and selling baked goods and listening or playing music all throughout the day. It was very magical.
Our friends from the boat Agatha join us for Christmas Eve dinner at one of the only restaurants open. It was a quaint, little Italian restaurant on the main corner of old town. All five of us sit down and start to peruse the menu. It looked good, lots of pasta options, rib-eye, chicken picatta, etc. It looked like they had a pretty good wine list as well. Our mouths were drooling. We all have a little giggle when the server finally greets our table and informs us that the only thing they are serving this evening is lasagna. Spinach or beef, and they are only accepting cash this evening. It was apparent that someone was pocketing some last minute Christmas cash under the table. Three spinach lasagna’s, two beef and a great bottle of wine from Guadalupe later made for a memorable Christmas eve dinner. We love our Agathinians!
On Christmas day Bill and I decide to walk the whole town. There were still some shops open, but most of them closed for the day. We take in the sights, and enjoy the much needed exercise on a beautiful, sunny Christmas day. I can’t help but notice the dogs. There are dogs everywhere. I tell Bill it seems that the dogs are drugged. They are all so mellow, and just wander around town looking lazy and hot. At first I thought they were hungry or thirsty, but then came to the conclusion they were just down right hot.
We end our walk down the malecon at an ex-pat bar called Auggie’s. With Auggie himself sitting at the end of the bar. We were happy they were open on Christmas. We read on a menu somewhere that they got voted best happy hour in town, that’s how we found out about it. Auggie’s offers free food during happy hour Monday- Saturday. When we were there on a Sunday you could help yourself to a bacon wrapped hot dog for only 33 pesos. We frequented Auggie’s a couple times while in Loreto to watch the Seahawks game amongst a bunch of Seahawks fans. Come to find out, Loreto has a fairly large ex-pat population for how small of a town it is. We were told that it was the ex-pats that live here who played a big part in the International Airport opening in Loreto. Just FYI, Alaska Airlines fly’s direct there.
Loreto is surrounded by the Gigantas Mountain range. The jagged, granite mountains tower close in the distance and seem to continue on up in to the sea of Cortez as far as you can see. The jewel of our visit was hands down hiking up the Tabor Canyon in the Gigantas. If you ever find yourself in the Loreto area be sure to make time to do this. John Steinbeck writes of this canyon in his novel The Log from the Sea of Cortez.
“We came at last to a trail of broken stone and rubble so steep that the mules could not carry us anymore. We dismounted and crawled on all fours, and we don’t know how the mules got up. After a short climb we emerged on a level place in a deep cleft in the granite mountains. In this cleft a tiny stream of water fell hundreds of feet from pool to pool. There were palm trees and wild grapevines and large ferns, and the water was cool and sweet. This little stream, coming from so high up in the mountains and falling so far, never had the final dignity of reaching the ocean. The desert sucked it down and the heat dried it up and on the level it disappeared in the light mist of frustration.” John Steinbeck about the Tabor Canyon
The canyon entrance begins right across the highway from the entrance to Puerto Escondido marina. Bill and I decided to walk the 2 1/2 miles from the marina. Thank goodness a sweet taxi driver recognized where we were going and offered us a lift for free to the entrance of the canyon. We would soon realize that we needed this extra energy for the 10 mile round trip hike straight up into the canyon. We didn’t get so lucky on the way back, and ended up walking the 2 ½ miles back in the hot sun.
The day we went to Tabor Canyon we shared it with about 5 other groups of people. The initial hike in is easy and fun. There’s a small incline up, stepping over rocks and boulders feeling like you’re in an obstacle course. This goes on for the first 45 minutes of the hike. Then you arrive at the pools of water. Most people gather around the pools and end their hike there. We heard that after about 2 more hours of hiking there’s a worthwhile, amazing waterfall at the top and decide to keep going. This is the part of the hike that weeds out most people.
To continue on we have to scale the side surface of a rock about 20 feet off the ground. Bill goes first. I watch as he searches for footing and crevices to hang on to. It was literally like rock climbing without ropes or harnesses. I follow him, hanging on for dear life and we both make it over our first major obstacle. We hike and hike and hike up, up ,up. Each level with gorgeous pools of water and green fauna. Previous hikers have stacked little piles of rocks on top of big rocks to help guide the way. Eventually you get to a part of the hike that weeds out even more people. In order to continue you have to enter a rock cave and shimmy up a rope that someone has left through a hole between 2 large boulders. We don’t know who left this rope, we don’t know what it is tied to, and we are not certain of their knot skills, but nonetheless we decide to use it and keep going.
It helped watching a handful of 20 year olds go first. None of them fell to their death, now it was our turn. Testing my arm strength, I hang on for dear life and pull my American butt and thighs up, over and through the tall boulder rock cave. Bill follows. We have made it over the second major obstacle, hoping that was the last. Out of the 5 groups of people there is just us and one other group of three from Spain left this far up the canyon. Everyone else used their better judgement and decided to not carry on. We soon find out there is one more spot up the way that requires another rope situation to carry on, and low and behold someone has left one for us again. One more time we are required to use our arm strength, or lack there of, to catapult our bodies up and over a huge stacked wall of boulders. We are successful! Obviously, because I am alive today writing about it. We are feeling very cocky and proud. With heads held high we pass up the Spaniards determined to find the waterfall. They were resting and having a bite to eat. By this time our 50 year old bodies are feeling the hike deep in our bones. This hike was extremely physical, and we knew we were going to most likely pay for it tomorrow.
We do make it to the waterfall, and it definitely was worth it. I’ve never seen rocks that large looking like they are suspended in space and could fall at any moment. The hike alone was worth it. The crystal blue pools of water at each level surrounded by rocks of all colors, ferns and palm trees and views of the ocean from that high up distract us from the obsession of how the **** are we going to get back down. We start heading back and run into the Spaniards again and tell them to keep going, you’re almost to the top. They ended up not taking our advice and turned around there. We discovered this back at the marina when we ran into them again.
Coming down ended up being a lot easier than going up. We got to the bottom and then realized we still had a 2 ½ mile walk in the hot sun back to the boat. For obvious reasons, we slept really good that night.
It is New Years Eve and Riv finally makes it to Loreto by 11:30pm just in time to toast in the new year. The poor thing had a 10 hour bus ride from Cabo, but in Revecka style she was ready to rally. We get another hotel room for a couple nights so Riv can see the town and so that we have time to provision the boat for our trip back to La Paz. We stayed at the Iguana Inn.
We had fun getting to know the new owners, and were the first to write a review on Trip Advisor. We would highly recommend this little gem of a hotel. Quaint rooms, friendly hosts, reasonable prices, and located right in the heart of town.
We are learning as we go with this cruising lifestyle. Our trip back to La Paz with Riv was a little windy and cold. I wished for her to have hot weather, but we had sunny days and rainy days. We had a great time, and all said and done I wouldn’t have changed anything about the timing of our visit to Loreto, or the timing of Revecka’s visit. Although she might!