Tuesday, February 22, 2022

February in Baja - Part VII San Ignacio Lagoon & Great Grey Whales

The San Ignacio Lagoon is Latin America's largest protected wildlife sanctuary: for the Great Grey Whales and sea turtles. The whales come here and to one other lagoon in Mexico for the breeding, birthing and nursery grounds before they once again follow the Pacific Coast heading north to the Arctic feeding grounds.

Taken from Wikipedia: 
In 1988 Mexico established the El VizcaĆ­no Biosphere Reserve to include San Ignacio Lagoon, which is Latin America's largest wildlife sanctuary. Not only is San Ignacio lagoon a gray whale sanctuary, but it is one of only two undeveloped nursery and breeding ground in the world of the Pacific gray whale. The other is just 4 hours away in Magdalena Bay. San Ignacio lagoon is an important feeding habitat for four of the worlds seven species of sea turtlesleatherbackshawksbillsgreen turtles and olive ridleys (all endangered). In 1993 the United Nations declared San Ignacio lagoon a World Heritage site because of its importance to the world community.

For reasons no one quite understands, the Great Grey Whales are very friendly toward humans, often approaching boats, wanting to be petted and stroked.  The mouth of the lagoon is the few places where humans are permitted touch the whales as the whales are as curious about humans as we are about them. 

Some think the mouth of the lagoon is where the mother whales introduces their calves socially to the larger whale community.  Since the young are still learning which are whales and which are boats may explain their ease in approaching humans in boats.

The boats that can enter the lagoon are quite small, holding up to ten persons, so you are riding low in the water making it easy to reach out and pet them. 

Our group of eight booked a whale tour, which is best if done early in the morning before the winds pick up. By 7:30 we were riding in a van the forty miles out to the lagoon.  What follows now are the photos I was able to capture of our experience. They do not do justice to the actual experience. I can only highly, VERY HIGLY recommend that if you ever have the opportunity to visit San Ignacio, BCS in February or March, go on the whale tour. It is an amazing hands on experience.

We were told that the most recent survey counted 168 whales in the lagoon.

The sun bleached bones on the beach give you a rough idea of the size of this mammal you are wanting to play with.

Well, that's the boat you will going out in... 
hmmmm... sure looking smaller than the skeleton on the beach.

As we reach the mouth of the lagoon, a whale surfaces and blows... near another boat.
They are definitely larger than our boats.

The whale get closer to their boat to check them out. 
Of course everyone on board has to gather on one side to better see, causing the boat to tip that way...

Suddenly a large white/black form appears beneath our boat, bumping the underside.

As he surfaces and rolls over to show his belly, another whale breeches in the background causing the large white splash you can see in the distance. They are playful today.

Then he surfaces near us, just out of reach, still checking us out.

a little closer now..

Satisfied we mean no harm, it approaches the boat and allows us to pet it, scratch its skin like a dog likes to be scratched. You can see the bristly baleen in its open mouth used for catching its dinner. Baleen is made of keratin, the same protein as our fingernails and hair.

One gets near enough that I can pet it too, feel the soft flesh yet tough skin. I wonder if the number of barnacles the whale has on its skin is an indication of its age? Barnacles are quite hard with sharp edges and do not peel off for us.

In all a half dozen different whales came and played with us, in, around and under our boat. Many coming up close so we could pet them. 

One juvenile whale wanted to play with us like we were a beach ball. 
He (?) ended up pushing on the bow of our boat, moving us backwards a good fifty feet.  

A memorable experience.

Ride safe, ride far my friends


Saturday, February 19, 2022

February in Baja - Part VI - Todos Santos Surfers beach and more

Had to visit Surfer's Beach while in Todos Santos. Grabbed a few photos before riding back to San Jose del Cabo to meet up for the trip north.

Riding the four kilometers of soft sand out to the beach my first thought on arriving was, 
this will be interesting.

Brought out the telephoto lens to capture the surfers, there were about a dozen or more actual surfers in the water. Another dozen were relaxing on the beach. Waves were high enough for them to get up on their boards.

Like any group, some were more experienced than others

I loved the expressions on this guy's face as he rode the waves.

And this guy really got his mind into the game...
a split second later, he was in the water.

After an hour, the waves died down. With no action to photograph decided to move on.
Fun while it lasted.

Riding back north, stopped once again in El Triunfo. 
The main road into El Triunfo.

Of course I went walking and talking with townspeople as I always do.

The local church was locked tight. A local told me someone had been stealing from the pauper's box so they decided to close except for when the priest in there. That's once a week, or depending on when he shows up. 

Seems to be some tension between the church and the towns people here. Across from the church is the town library. It was closed. I asked which days is was open. Enrique told me a visiting priest claimed the library books belonged to the church, so he had them boxed up and took them in the middle of the night. Now there are no books in the library, why open?

He said the priest also tried to claim that the library building belonged to the church, but the townspeople protested that. Soon a new priest was making the irregular weekly visits.

Earlier I saw this abandoned building, but today there was a soccer ball lying out front.
 Thought the juxtaposition was ironic. Looking inside, it does not appear anyone lives here.

And some things just catch one's attention and make you wonder....

...like what might be behind a door propped open with a rock? Why is it open? 
For whom does the rock wait?
 Wanted to look inside but decided best not to.

The local street cleaners were out doing their routine this morning. 
A broom, a shovel and a wheelbarrow, let's go. The town of El Triunfo is very clean. Great job guys.

Talked a while with Ramon. Said he was born in 1946, still hauls, de-barks and sells the mesquite to steak restaurants. He educated me on the different types of mesquite wood used for smoking meats. 
For those who do not know, mesquite is a very dense, hardwood that burns slow with an even temperature and flavorful smoke. Ideal for premium cuts of beef. 

What is not shown here are all the mesquite thorns and stickers. Mesquite is found in the Southwest US and central Mexico deserts.

Have also seen furniture made from  mesquite, has a reddish core and beige outer layer.  Is very durable.

The next coupe of days we'll be riding north with limited internet. 
But the camera works, so photos will be taken.

Ride safe, ride far my friends,


Thursday, February 17, 2022

February in Baja - Part V, The Village of Todos Santos

Today is for walking the town of Todos Santos, 
both the tourist areas and the side streets. This is what I found.

Starting with La Bohemia where I am staying for a couple of nights,
 about three blocks off the main street. 

The rooms are thatched roof cabanas, adobe walls, shady green gardens, pleasant people.
 They serve a healthy breakfast here.

The street out front is your typical Mexican village street though this one is paved. Is very common to see crumbling abandoned buildings on one lot and brand new construction taking place next door.

Must be wash day as clothes hung out in the dry desert air. Who needs a dryer when the humidity is less than 50% every day.

In the tourist area, the welcoming sign.

The tourist oriented streets are decorated with festive banners and flags 
of the typical Mexican colors and designs. Many of the streets are still cobblestones.

And yes, vintage cars from the 1960's are still in service, sharing the street with brand new trucks and cars.

Even the portal of the local church has its banners facing the main Plaza.

The use of mobile phones is everywhere in the world now.

Locals ladies gather for lunch. Once read somewhere that 
old men talk of the weather, old women talk of old men.
Don't know if that is true or not, but these ladies were enjoying each other's company. The bright sun illuminating the colorful table cloth caught my attention. Making me want to take the photo.

A small shop market area walkway is covered with colorful macrame. 
Attractive and very practical as it blocks the mid-day sun.

If cell phones were not advanced enough, even us old guys travel with a laptop.
Internet service is the must have of 2022.

Today I pack up the rig and return to San Jose del Cabo to join 
a new group pf MotoQuest riders heading north. 

Hope you enjoyed seeing what I saw in Todos Santos.

Ride safe, ride far, my friends.


Wednesday, February 16, 2022

February in Baja - Part IV Todos Santos, BCS

Have decided to spend several days in the art / fishing colony of Todos Santos, about an hour north of Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific Coast. 

Riding up the coastal highway, spotted what at first I thought was a vineyard, 
turns out to be a tomato farm. Of course, Mexican Salsa is better known than Mexican wines.

What is claimed to be the inspiration for the song by the Eagles,
Hotel California in Todos Santos. The songwriter lyrics refer to drug addiction, "This could be heaven or this could be hell".  Today Todos Santos is more a lively tourist destination with leather, jewelry and artisan shops lining the streets than anything illegal going on.

A sidestreet lunch of black bean soup with cream and a side of guacamole and chips. 

Rode out to an active fishing / beach, that was recommended by a local,  El Faro. (The lighthouse).
Most boats were still out, but families were enjoying the beach inspite of the chill in the air and water.

Locals remained fishing until it was too dark to see to bait the hooks.

Returned very early the next morning to watch the fishermen start a new day at sea.
The moon reflects on the boats waiting for their crews.

Launching the first boat, everyone pitches in. 
The first boat is tied to a second boat to be pulled off the beach. 
The second boat then pulls the third in, etc, etc until every boat is launched. 
There is no dock here, they work off the sand.

The night before I watched as they brought their boats in. Gunning the motor full blast for maximum speed before hitting the sandy beach, sliding up on it with the propeller spinning wide open. 
Everyone yelled and stood back when a boat came ashore.

Once on the beach, a panel flapping, salt rusted, truck hooks up a rope to pull the boat to a higher level so they can unload the day's catch. There were several small refrigerated trucks waiting to ice down the fish and deliver them to their next destination. In all, a smooth operation as this is their daily routine.

The sun illuminates boats waiting to go out another day.

El Faro beach, Todos Santos, BCS

That's all from down here today. Tomorrow is a new day, new opportunities, new roads to ride.

Stay safe, ride far my friends


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

February in Baja - Part III San Jose del Cabo

The sunset over the Sea of Cortez in La Paz was spectacular.

After sunset, came the typical Saturday night life in a Mexican city. Street vendors, balloon vendors, food carts, young people flirting and dating, older folks enjoying the fresh night air. A festive atmosphere...

Next day we stopped at the Tropic of Cancer milepost for a group photo opportunity. Eight riders, plus our guide Fernando and our support driver Brad.

The required wide angle shot of bikes and riders?

We detoured into El Triunfo, a small village that is re-invetnting itself as a weekend destination spot. Older buildings are being renovated and restored.

The grandparents are setting up their roadside queso and chorizo stand for the weekend travelers
(cheese and sausage).

PAX, this small building, though renovated, was being used as a storeroom by the restaurant 
across the street.

A cobblestone sidestreet in El Triunfo. 
Years ago, El Triunfo was a small gold mining community. 
When the gold played out, most of the people left.

Our final destination, Posada Real Hotel & Resort in San Jose del Cabo, on the southern tip of Baja California Sur. Cabo San Lucas is a little further south and west, much larger and more crowded that San Jose.
The main road between San Jose and Cabo is being developed at a rapid rate. Saw several large resort properties, hotels and condos being built. 

Spending your winters in Baja and summers back north has an appeal to a lot of folks. The same appeal Florida, Arizona, and south Texas have. Very comfortable in the winter months and too darn hot in the summer.

Our group safely arrived in San Jose del Cabo. Fernando, our MotoQuest guide and Brad our support vehicle driver made sure when we started with eight riders, eight arrived. A very successful ride, no accidents, no incidents, very relaxing and peaceful. Though we did eat our way south, stuffing ourselves with fresh fish and shrimp tacos at every meal. After which was followed by long discourses on which establishment had the better tacos. 

By tours end, the improvement in everyone's riding skills was evident. We all learned to read Mexican driver's intentions by how they and the vehicle were moving. 

Everyone in the group learned a few new Spanish words, learned when to use it and how to pronounce it. 

In all, was a great group of riders with a common interest in learning more about Mexico and Baja besides riding two or three wheels.

This wrangler is trying to convince people it is easier to ride horseback on the sand than walk on it. 
He might be right as soft sand is not easy walking.

Will be here in San Jose and Todos Santos for a few days relaxing 
before starting back north with a new group of friends.