Mexico Page 3
With the surfboard in hand, I can’t wait to go out. Windsurfing in and around big ocean waves is what I am use, and I know what to expect and do around them. As a windsurfer, it’s ultimate to be riding down a large breaking wave, but it sucks to be hit by a large breaking wave, equipment breaks and not being attached to the surfboard often calls for a long swim, chasing the rig and finding it disabled. What wave surfers do ‘bob around near breakers waiting for a big one to come’ is counter to all my instincts.
Six miles down the coast is the so called ‘beginners beach’ where the entire shore is sand. Big dog surfers come here when the waves are big and today the waves are big. I have to get wet and go with it, strap on the tether line and march out into the breakers. After being hammered by at least four big waves, I get the hang of grabbing onto the surfboard and ducking my head down just as the breaker is going to nail me. I’m out to sea now bobbing around near where other real surfers are bobbing. I practice paddling and catching waves. A wave lands just right, I catch it and go flying. I’m cruising along so I had to try to stand, the board goes flying out from underneath me and I crash backwards in the foam, cool! I’m farther in shore now and farther down the beach. This is where every wave builds and breaks no matter what. I’m getting the shit kicked out of me trying to get back out. Finely, I come to my senses and see other surfers walking down the beach toward where I first launched. Lessons learned; paddle out where other surfers paddle out, after riding a wave get on to shore ASAP and start over, that is unless I am still out far enough and feel lucky and think I can paddle back out without getting creamed by a wave. The next thing I do is head back out and paddle near surfers further out. A guy from California saw me struggling and gave me several pointers. How nice is that, my paddling speed has increased and I’m a little more confident of what to do just before being hit by a breaking wave. I’m out for a good hour paddling around and manage to not get hammered by any more big waves. I’m feeling good but what a workout.
The next day Heidi and I are off to the surfing beach again, same place. Thinking I know the ropes I paddle out as fast as possible past where most waves start to break, catch my breath and position for a wave. Well, half way out I see a huge wave start to build. I don’t know what I’m doing and think I have no choice but to ride it. I turn around too soon and do not see what I am in for. The next I’m on the lip of a huge curling wave, 8 feet up falling straight down with the curl, lying on the surfboard. The next sensation is hard to describe, if there is such a thing as a industrial size washing machine with a super hyper agitate mode, imagine being thrown inside that, and multiply that. After my body stopped contorting, I start to swim up. I swim and swim and swim. It seems like a bad dream where I struggle and struggle and go nowhere. I am swimming under water in foam and I am not sure what direction is what. I finally straightened up (mentally that is), get my bearings and slowly swim up. “OK, I survived” I tell myself, but I don’t like where I am, everything is breaking everywhere. I hop on the board and paddle like hell straight to shore. The rip is keeping me out and I’m getting killed by wave after wave after wave. At one point I had the tether line wrapped around both legs while under water, wow! I am glad to get back in. All this time Heidi in a lawn chare watching me. Being a strong swimmer she said she was seconds from diving out to save me, I’m glad I didn’t need her.
Heidi is a smart girl and decides to practice the basics in the pool first. The person who gave me pointers the other day said surfing is 90 some percent upper body. You need to balance on the surfboard on the bottom of your rib cage and do a crawl motion, paddle while keeping your feet on top the surfboard.
Heidi practices the move before a monster wave is about nail you.
Heidi’s wetsuit is too large so a return trip to Cabo is needed. What a bummer, we gotta go back to Cabo (wink). The plan is to park near downtown and hang out for a while this time. There are tons of shops selling tons of stuff, same tons of stuff! One restaurant has a mime out front harassing people (a Seinfeld episode comes to mind). Not going past that guy twice. At the open-air restaurant, Las Quesadilasss, on a busy corner there is loud Mexican tourist music playing. Instantly, four waiters attack us before we look at the menu. Our eyes meet “Lets boogie” We’re not that hungry. Walking back to the jeep there are lines of shops. In a one-block stretch, I’m hit on to buy “dope”, “white stuff” and “cocaine”, three different people and places. Then in a shop, a guy tries to sell me a crack pipe. OK, this is all fun, not really. See Ya Cabo!
There is rumor of a secrete beach but nobody seems to know where it is. The word is it is between Todos Santos and the main surf beach to the south. Heidi thinks she see the trail, not at all obvious looking and high clearance is required.
The road ends crossing a small bumpy creek. From there the beach is a 500-meter walk through a tropical oasis jungle.
Wild Mexican Dogs:
We dedicate a day for a long hike. I studied the guidebook and looked at maps. There is an old trail starting a few miles out of town leading from Punta Lobos at the abandoned canning factory to a hidden bay somewhere south. In the 30’s this bay was used for exporting tomatoes and fish and some say hiding Japanese subs. We’re headed to the other side of the far hills along the coast.
Loose dogs are everywhere in Todos Santos. We just reach the outskirts of town and can see a pack of them just waiting and eyeing us up. This is why we got rabies shots before the trip. Well,… the first dog to Heidi’s left is looking at me like he knows me, so I pretended like I know him, I do my “All Right Dogs! Lets all go on a walk together!” thing and bingo, our expedition team is formed.
Punta Lobos to the left, abandoned canning factory below. We have 4 dogs with us now for 4 miles and Heidi is getting concerned for their welfare. She says, “They’re away from their home, they’re chasing rabbits all over hurting their paws on the cactus and they look thirsty”. I won’t share any of our water and Heidi is getting mad!
I say ”But they’re so cute and they’re having so much fun and they love us!”. OK, that worked, they are in, we’re all on this mission together.
Heidi spots two whales just a couple hundred yards off shore near the point. We see them surface several times.
The trail is tough and we need to stay focused.
Hidden bay: We hike all the way down to the volcanic gray beach below to find nothing but bowling ball size gray rocks. It is a two hour hike from home base to the beach, perfect. We chill on the rocks for a while then climb back out.
On the way down we hear what sounded like sea lions, on the way back out we hear it again. Heidi gets out the binoculars and finds the rocky point is filled with sea lions flopping around, some are huge. Unreal.
Heading back. This is the south end of Todos Santos beach, it stretches over twenty miles long with no development.
There are more dirt tracks and trails around here then a person can imagine. Trying to find the trail that leads to the perfect spot is what we like to do. We hiked a trail to the beach the other day and we are trying to find that with the jeep. It’s an ultimate Baja dirt track and high clearance is a must, and so narrow that if two vehicles met, one would have to back up a long way. Finely the trail leads to the beach, yes. We walk out as far as we dare toward the rising tide, lay out a towel and wait to see what happens. I think I caught, for the first time, the florescent green flash that sometimes happens just at sunset while looking out to sea. I’m not making any of this up! Heidi says she sees heads in the water. I question her sanity. For the next fifteen minutes, we’re watching two sea lions surfacing, flipping and popping straight up out of the water right in front us. Heidi says “They see us and are waving at us” We wave back the next time they come up. No kidding, next we see a whale blowing and surfacing directly in front us.
WHAT DO WE DO? People I know have asked me what I would do with all my time if I quit my regular job. Heidi and I have been here in Todos Santos now for a month and have another month before we hit the road again. It’s not a lot of time but we’ve had to try to work out a routine for our day to day. Hey, who said the good things in life are easy? Then there is the technical stuff like when to be at the beach for the best waves, this all takes a lot of planning and constant tweaking. We pursue this like a fictitious job that has workdays, weekends and vacations and if we feel like playing hooky, I pretend I call in for one or both of us. In Todos Santos we have a big list of things to do:- Drink coffee and do a run before Heidi is awake
- Eat a big breakfast or blended health shake.
- Get to the Gym and lift weights.
- Light lunch and time around the pool.
- Beach walk and/or desert mountain hike.
- Surfing and hanging out at the beach.
- Fishing and hanging out at the beach.
- Reading, practicing Spanish, computer and digital camera play.
- And shopping is not always easy, sometimes we need to drive 6 miles to get a papaya.
Obviously we overloaded our days, no way can we possibly fit everything in every day. We like to end the day around the pool to socialize with people staying at the hotel.
There are several beaches to chose from, all a short distance away. One beach has a good break in a NW swell but has rocks and is not great at low tide. Another has hot showers, nice bathrooms but we have to pay $1.80 to park on the beach. Sometimes we need to tweak our day mid stream because maybe there’s no wind and it’s already late morning and that means the waves should be good so we should go to the beach now instead of later. People think this is easy, it’s not! At a normal job most of your day is laid out ‘for you’. Here we’re on our own and it’s up to us to design our day to be productive or not, not as easy as it sounds. The beauty of adventure travel is that you have control of all your time, which gives you the opportunity to do something great with it.
Pic’s of in and around Todos Santos - Baja Mexico:
Morning run: Some days I run with company. Today the same 4 dogs that were on our hidden bay hike run along. The dog on the right is always super fired up every time I see her and today is no exception.
These dogs are well behaved and they get off the road when a vehicle comes.
Punta Lobos beach is off in the distance. This is where all the fishing action takes place.
When we get to the beach I see Rubia (We like to name the dogs we meet) a dog I’ve met before and another dog I haven’t met. These are beach dogs and I’m running with city dogs? Then it hits me, this could be bad.
All 6 dogs get along great, not one aggressive display, I cannot believe it. The two beach dogs run almost all the way back with us. I love running with dogs.
Fisherman launching boats in the surf: The boat on the right just threw a rope to the boat on the beach.
They are timing the swell and yell to the boat out in the water. The boat in the water does the same ‘sling shot move’ I have done while trying to pull a water skier up with a small outboard. You gun the motor pointing the boat sideways, just keeping the rope taunt. Then when your RPM’s and boat speed is up you turn the boat straight out, this yanks the other boat out into the surf and out to sea. Waaaay Cool! 7:00AM This is the last boat to go out. It must be dark when they start launching. Today the swell is small, I can’t imagine them doing this in the dark in a big swell.
Fixing a health shake:
Setting up early at the reggae fest: The reggae fest is happening 4 miles up the coast from us at San Pedrito beach. We have to pay for an overnight camping spot to be able to park on the beach, $6, what a bargain.
What a spot, stage on one side, surfers on the other.
There are cool people hanging on the beach.
Beach is filling up. The bands started playing around 3:00PM
Heidi & Tom
Reggae sunset, Ya Mon…….
That’s a light house in the background.
Whale watching: Unreal, we’re walking along and see three or four whales just a short distance off shore. I guess they scrape their barnacles off in the sand shallows here while passing buy.
For sure if you were crazy enough you could run and dive into the water and grab onto one of these whales. That close! But they are at least 30 plus feet long. Not me. We are in awe of witnessing this right in front of us.
More desert mountain hiking:
Fishing: OK, I’m fishing out on some rocks at Los Lobos and not having much luck.
A fishing boat stops a short way out. They are cleaning out the boat or bailing it out, I am not sure which. Then they fire up the motor while circling the boat around by shore, I think to time the swell. Then they gun the motor and run straight up on shore. A truck comes and pulls it farther up. On the beach is where the fisherman clean and crate the fish. After that, the boat is towed further up past the high tide mark for the night. This all happens at 3:00PM.
Punta Lobos fisherman:
The guy with the truck and is having the crates filled up with selected filleted fish. I imagined him running a kitchen of a restaurant.
Another guy on the right is having one or two selected fish filleted for him.
This guy says to us “You want to buy some fish? Ha, ha, just kidding. I’m from Cabo” he said he just bought three kilos of fish here for what he would pay for one kilo in Cabo, $5 US. A big sea bass, red snapper and some other fish he forgot the name of.
I hope you enjoyed Todos Santos, Baja Sur, Mexico.
Continued: -> Page 4: Mexico <-