Baja 2016

Jan. 29, 2016

The plan was to get up at 4:15 and be on the water shortly after. The coyotes had a different agenda. They began howling at 3 and at 3:15, we were convinced that the wind had died and the moon was giving us enough light to proceed forward. We were packed and starting to paddle by 4:30 and by the time first light appeared we were well around the point and had several hours of paddling done. A special treat was the bioluminescence that gave us light shows as our boat moved thru the water. As usual the scenery is outstanding and the feeling of isolation along the coast is apparent. It has been several days since we have seen any fishing boats. That will change today as we will be going past two small settlements. We take a break at a sandy beach before the town of El Barill. Today we do not plan to stop but hopefully will stop on our return. An old mission that is no longer used stands near the shoreline. This is a town of about 75 people who make a living by fishing. Beyond the town are several large houses. One looks like it could be a hotel resort. We met Alberto later in our paddle and he told us more about the town of El Barill and the nice houses that we passed by. Fishing has become difficult here as the government has enforced seasons which means they are not free to fish year around. It is a long drive over very rough roads to the nearest larger town. The houses are owned by foreigners. The large white one that we saw and thought was a resort was actually owned by an American who was president of a company called Rockwell. His children now own the property. According to Alberto the family hires the locals and has put money back into the town.  The white house is called La Manse, Spanish for mansion, a fitting title.  We took a short break on a pristine white sandy beach. Too early to camp but it would have been ideal. The seas were mostly calm until we took a more easterly direction. Now we were  learning what they call the westerlies in this area. We had to keep our focus and paddle directly into the wind. Our speed slowed way down. We passed another small settlement that had sustained a lot of damage from the fall hurricane. Looks like some of the houses were just abandoned. Beyond the houses was a place we could camp before going around the next point.  Unloaded the boats,put up the tarp and made some quesadillas. Crazy wind had decided to die down and the tide was coming in. One could not ask for better conditions to go around the point. We had been on the water since 4:30 this morning, but the weather was giving us a green light and we were going to take it. Hauled the gear back to the boats and once again loaded them up. This point was notorious for having rip currents so we proceeded cautiously. A westerly wind was blowing, but we were able to make progress and were relieved when we saw the point we needed to round. As we rounded the point a large eddy was formed by the currents and at least 4 maybe 5 fin back whales were aggressively feeding.  We stopped not sure of how to proceed as they were taking up a large part of the area, by their feeding behavior.  Several of them would quickly swim in a circle and then lie on their sides with their huge mouths open. We moved as close to the shore and still paddle. The whales could have cared less that we were there. Watching them, we lost time and marveled at their size and the frequency of their surfacing. Finally as if on signal they departed and we headed to shore. When we arrived to the shore all the places  looked vacant. This was where we needed to fill our water. No one was in the houses by the beach, and the bathrooms were locked. There was however some fresh ATV tracks and we followed them, to another house with signs of activity. This is where we met Alberto. Alberto has lived here for over 30 years and has quite a nice development. He had gone to the states to learn English and spoke it quite well. He was married to an American women who had died. They had two children that were raised here, but now live in the states, having dual citizenship. It was quite informative talking to him as he told us about the abandoned ranch that we had hiked to and about the fishing village we had passed. He also told us about dealing with the Mexican government. His son works for Google and had Alberto set up with satellite internet. For 5 dollars we were able to down load our email and get a current forecast. He and his son had built a rock oven outside and ahd cooked their thankgiving turkey  in it.  We were also able to purchase purified water for about 1.00 a gallon. Camping with hot showers was 10.00 a person. This was quite the oasis and will look forward to stopping here and learning more when we return