Mounted on our saddles we have discovered three unknown jewels for many in Baja: Puertecito, San Luis Gonzaga and Bahía de los Angeles.
Three Unknown Jewels of the Baja California
After pedaling 90 kilometers south of San Felipe we arrived to Puertecitos, Baja California. This eco town is inhabited by a community made up of Mexicans and US citizens that have found in it´s simple life a piece of paradise to run away from the cold winter of the North. That is why you can find an old style American beach bar by the name The COWPATTY, run by Richard. We stopped for a break and ended up eating two hot dogs and a beer sponsored by the owner himself.
This town was founded by Rafael Orozco Esquivel in 1957. His dream was to create a nature sanctuary where people could come, relax and fish in its calm waters. Part of its great appeal lies on its natural pools of thermal waters made up from rocks near the ocean. The rich mineral thermal waters mix up with the ocean water providing the right temperature at the right tide. Believe me after 90 kilometers of cycling in the desert, this activity feels like floating in heaven. The person in charge of keeping this place true to the spirit of Mr. Rafael is Clara Orozco Esquivel, his daughter.
Once you arrived from cycling you can camp under one of the “Palapas” that surround the beautiful bay. Here electric light is shut off at 10 pm and water is a much appreciated resource because it costs a lot of money to get it. This all adds to the off the track feel to the place. People are friendly here, especially your camping neighbors. We met José and Luz, we mostly spoke about the undisputed beauty of this place. They shared a couple of their sandwiches with us. That night our tent looked like in the setup for a camping magazine cover.
San Luis Gonzaga
The next day we had to pedal 80 hard kilometers more to arrive to another magical place San Luis Gonzaga. This town is as basic as it can get, with only one store, a gas station, a restaurant but with its own landing platform for small planes. We arrived tired at twilight. The owner let us camp in a Palapa right on the ocean. The night was calm and the weather was perfect. So we decided to just put up our mat and sleep in our sleeping bags without having to pitch our tent at night. A small mistake, but one that was worth it. As the night fell we witnessed how the stars revealed themselves one by one in the dark blue sky.
The birds flew in the night sky and we could see their silhouette. The bay had silver tones in the water, as it reflected the last rays of light from the sun. I took my camera and I started to take pictures of the stars. I could not tell how late it was. My body was urging to sleep, but I resisted. I wanted to see the night in all it´s glory. Then it happened. I saw how a light emerged from the horizon. It was the moon rise. I had never seen such a spectacle in my life. San Luis Gonzaga had conquered our hearts forever.
During the whole night the wind blew very hard, we practically woke up breaded in sand. We should have put up the tent, but seeing the night as we slept was worth it.
Bahía de los Angeles
Bahía de los Angeles was situated 66 kilometers off our route, through a road that had no shade or places to chill. That meant cycling through without any stops. But the road was situated in the Valle de los Cirios State Park. We were able to see the endemic plants of the Baja in all its glory, among them the Cirio. The Cirio is a desert tree, the king of the desert. It can grow up to 20 meters. The incredible thing is that it takes 27 years for every meter it grows. We were seeing a great grandfather of these lands, if only it could speak.
In Bahía you can swim in the infested marine life waters in the Sea of Cortes. You can also kayak or sail to one of the many islands where diverse sea mammals live in their natural habitat. On the months of June to September you can swim with the whale sharks, one of the largest fishes in the ocean. Sadly we arrived to soon, but we did snorkel in the public harbor. I saw different kind of fishes, especially the blue and yellow striped ones. They were very friendly.
We also had the opportunity to visit cave paintings from the nomadic tribes that once ruled these lands. Luz, Rosa and Isaias took us there in their 4 x 4 truck. In order to get there you need to take a side road through the heart of the desert of the area. After one hour of driving in the desert we arrived to a a cliff, that provided a shadow all through the afternoon. On this cliff there were several interesting formations, one looked like a door. We inspected the cliffs for cave paintings, and one by one we were uncovering them with our eyes. These paintings were more than 8,000 years old. It was amazing.
After admiring the work of my ancestors we went on looking for the highest Cirio in the area. We found it, almost 18 meters, at least that is what we calculated. This place is magical. We rode off together as the sun was leaving us. We will never forget all the surprises, that Bahía gave us.