Sunday, December 31, 2006

La Paz

Arrived in La Paz last night, having spent the last couple of days in Loreto. It was only a 70 mile drive on from the beach where we spent Christmas, but it's a great old mission town, better shops and much cheaper prices. We'd heard it wasn't up to much but we liked the place a lot. It also gave the chance to charge up the vehicle and house batteries after 2 weeks of being savaged - the day we left the low voltage alarm went nuts and we had to start the generator to get enough power to start the engine!! Oops!

Loreto to La Paz was 220 miles - the longest we'd driven in one day since arriving in Baja 5 weeks ago. It took about 6 hours and was a pleasant drive. The road followed the coast for a while after Loreto then up into the Sierra La Giganta which offered some great views back where we'd come from. Along the way we saw many roadside shrines - often erected at the sites of accidents some are really simple, but we saw some crackers today - great brick built buildings and some sculpted shrines - particularly love this cactus one! At the moment all the shrines seem to be decorated for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas on the beach

What a wonderfully different Christmas we had! It was never going to be traditional. Not really used to having Christmas by ourselves – I love having family around me, so it was going to be difficult to make it ‘special’ We had English muffins toasted on the BBQ to start the day off, opened our few presents, went for a quick swim (just to say we did!), walked along the beach, and sat out in the sunshine. Although we’d bought all the ingredients we decided to forgo the Christmas lunch in favour of lots and lots of snacks and munchies – devilled eggs, freshly made salsa and tortilla chips, smoked sausage, pickled chilli peppers, olives, cookies and of course chocolate! As the sun set we lit a campfire on the beach and drank wine. We met a couple from Dublin out walking so we invited them to join us around the fire and we stayed up late into the evening chatting and drinking with them. It’s now Boxing day and I don’t feel very well…….!!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The exploding restaurant! Ray's Place is no more...

It was just gone 11pm last night, and I’d been asleep for perhaps 1/2 hour. The noise woke me. Totally alien, but loud and getting louder by the second. It was like a jet plane was crashing, or a truck was careering off the road near the beach. I bolted upright and looked out the window on my side, Chris beside me. I think I’d just about realized what I was seeing – a fire – then there was an explosion, and the fireball went up. Still dazed from sleep my mind was slow to register but Chris realized straight away that it was Ray’s Place.

The fire raged. It was after all a giant palapa and the dry wood and palms were quickly devoured by flames. I was shaking, it was a shock and the destruction of someone’s beloved business upset me (especially since we’d met Ray only last week)

We expected the fire department to turn up. But nothing happened. The fire took less than an hour before it had nothing left to fuel itself and it started to quieten down. The onlookers moved away, back to their beds. I struggled to get back to sleep. I was spooked by it all, and then worried that the sparks would ignite the palapa next to us – my mind was on overdrive as I thought through the various elaborate scenarios.

Next morning it seemed strange to look out and see nothing there. And I mean NOTHING! The place was raised to the ground good and proper. The ashes were still smoldering, and the heat was still intense up close. We could see the burst propane tank lying on its side – the cause of the explosion.

So sad, so unbelievable, so frightening.

[These are the BEFORE, DURING and AFTER photos]

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas from Helen & Chris!!

Are staying on Playa Santispac for the Christmas period - it's too nice to move on! Best wishes to you all for Christmas and have a very Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bahia Concepcion

Possibly the ultimate Baja destination. We are parked 10 feet from the water on a white sand beach. The water is protected by the bay, and is clear and sparkly blue. We even have our own palapa for shade and protection from the breeze. Locals pass by offering us various things for sale - fresh clams, scallops, jewelly, rugs etc so the hardest part of the day is turning them away. There's a excellent restaurant on the beach too and I even enjoyed the fresh shrimp (and I am NOT a seafood person). Basically life is tough.....

Currently in an internet cafe with no immediate plans to be in anywhere more cilvilised - who would when we're already in paradise! So if we don't get online again - best wishes to everyone and have a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Guerrero Negro

So we're now in Guerrero Negro - the first town across the 'border' into Baja California Sur. We crossed the border with tighter security here than we had coming into the country! They checked our papers & had a quick glance in the fridge. They also charge $2 to fumegate your vehicle - apparently to prevent spread of agicultural type beasties. This is also the 28th Parallel, and we've put our clocks forward an hour - back on Mountain time (GMT -7 hs).

The town isn't all that exciting, but had a reasonable grocery store (although I did have to pick my way through about 4 pallets loaded with bloodied carcasses just to get to the fruit and veg! - running the gauntlet back again I was dodging the pools of blood they'd left behind on the floor - nice - thank god I have no vegetarian tendancies!). We are in quite a 'posh' campsite (by this I mean it's expensice at $20 a night!), but it has a good reputation for having a great restaurant - so we checked that out tonight and indeed it has!.

This is the area for grey whale watching but we're still a little early in the season for that right now. Also home of the most enormous Salt works here in town - in fact this is a company town founded on the salt works nearby.

On to San Ignacio tomorrow...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bahia de Los Angeles

What a change in temperatures; from yesterday morning sat out in the early heat to getting to Rancho Santa Inez in Catavina and being, (almost literally) blown away by the howling winds, to here by the Sea of Cortez where although it’s still windy, it is lovely and warm again! Nice campsite and only $2 per night, although no hook-ups; it used to be a govt one but has been neglected so there is neither electric nor water but the sewer still works! There is a guy here who will truck in water if needed but I don’t think we’ll be here more than a couple of days so shouldn’t run out.

And the views are stunning; looking out to the turquoise sea there are islands dotted around and on the other side, rows of mountains! We really are right on the beach this time; not even any dunes in the way. We’ve only parked one row back so we’re not blocking the view of anyone else. There’s a couple from Oregon here that we saw back at the deaf ranch and three 5th wheels from Canada; it seems to be a place where the full timers hang out for the winter; I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I really couldn’t sell up to do this with no option of going back!

The drive over the hills both days has been pretty wow; loads of empty desert, mountains, cacti absolutely everywhere, the occasional vehicle going the other way and the odd semi ploughing past us on their way to wherever. We did pass two semis on their sides; no cabs so presumably they rolled a couple of days ago, but at one point we even caught one up that had passed us; if he was going that slow coz of the winds, so was I!

Last night’s campsite was huge a huge open expanse of open dirt, but it didn’t stop me reversing into the only object in the whole Wal*Mart car park sized place! There was a bin in the middle of the area and even with a reversing camera; I still managed to not see it! Donkey now has another war wound in the guise of a scratched front mudguard!

Two weeks today and still no sign of Montezuma!!! There now, that’s the kiss of death!