At El Rosario, we had gassed up our truck and extra fuel caddies and continued on as far as the Cataviña boulder patch. From there we still had quite a long drive to the nearest Pemex at Villa Jesus Maria. The total length of the dry stretch was a little over 200 miles. You can easily imagine that this gas station could name its price.
Next to the Pemex was a grocery store with a fascinating assortment of produce. Fruit and vegetables were stored in bins on sloping shelves against the walls and in crates in the middle of the room. Eggs on trays of 30 were stacked like the leaning tower of Pisa. I bought half a dozen and watched in amazement as the clerk put them in a plastic bag and weighed them. How sensible and fair to charge for eggs by weight rather than having to trust that they were small, medium, or large, but a plastic bag? I’d have to carry them carefully not to end up with them scrambled among my avocados, tomatoes, and green peppers. The temptation was great to buy more fresh fruit and vegetables, but we were only a few miles from the north/ south Baja border at Guerrero Negro. The produce would be confiscated if we tried to take it through.
After a conference with our traveling companions, it was decided that rather than cross into south Baja that day, we should once more take a risk and drive a sandy back road, this time to a wonderful bay called Laguna Manuela. Near the turn off about half a mile down the road we spied a tiny store where we bought frozen chicken legs for the barbecue. All set, and looking forward to another lovely camping adventure, we bumped and ploughed through the soft washboard side road until we arrived at the bay and set up camp on the beach.
The long sandy beach looked gorgeous for walking on or swimming from, but Gary would rather have had a rocky shore for snorkeling. More sea life hovers near the rocks than on a flat beach. Next morning, with his diving gear in the 12-foot aluminum skiff we pushed off to check out the coastline. A shrimp boat stood offshore. We waved, and continued on to a tiny rocky bay with a small sandy beach where we surfed ashore on some hefty waves.
After pulling the skiff to safety, we scrambled up the steep hillside marvelling at the pink verbena that covered it. At the top, we were surprised to see a Jesus statue. We were told later it was meant to be a blessing to all fishermen as it overlooked the bay.
We took advantage of that blessing when we tried to re-launch the skiff. Out in the open water, the surface was almost like glass, but with swells. As they reached shore, they formed good-sized waves, and in this small nook of a bay between two rocky embankments, those swells broke and crashed onto shore. After a few unsuccessful attempts to get out and start the outboard before being washed back to shore, we realized we would have to get wet. Gary got into the skiff, ready to pull the outboard motor’s starter cord, and I stood waist deep in the water and held the skiff steady against the waves. After a wave crashed to shore, we shoved out quickly, survived another wave, and shoved out some more. Gary started the motor and dragged me into the skiff. I was glad the water was clear and warm.
On our way past the shrimper, they waved and called to us. We hove to and they asked for cigarettes. We don’t smoke. What about soda? Anything? Trade for shrimp? We made a circle motion with our hands and took off. The campers contributed what they could spare in the way of pop and candy, and since we had neither, we contributed some T-shirts and caps. Returning to the shrimp boat, we were greeted eagerly by several deckhands. We handed up the goodies and watched them grab and argue over who got what. The T-shirts and caps were popular, so on another Baja trip I would remember that and bring more.
The crew loaded us up with huge bags of shrimp. We thanked them and came away happy. Looking back at the shrimp boat, we saw that the feeling was mutual. They were all grinning.
That night we had a wonderful pot luck supper. After a day of so much fresh air and sunshine, we slept well. But what a surprise we had in the morning when we stepped out of our Boler into water.
It happened to be one of the highest tides of the year and although we were well away from the beach, the flooding tide had begun to trickle under the Boler. Gary hitched up the Boler and prepared to drag our rig to higher, dryer ground while I went around knocking on our fellow campers’ doors.
Waterfront property isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.