Our first few days in Mexico on the Sea of Cortez has taken us through many sandy off roads that all head towards the beach BUT every single off road we came across led us to abandoned RV parks. We drove down to Camp Estrella – this was (at some point in time) and luxury campground. It had cement pads for all RV spots, a red brick sidewalk down to the beach, electricity, overhead lighting, the full meal deal and it was completely deserted. We also went to another place a little further down, that was the same but also had an above ground pool! Completely abandoned. This is so crazy to us. We ended up meeting a guy at the grocery store – he told us that the 2008 downturn / housing crash in the US combined with increased Narco attention in the media affected this little Mexican tourist area. It just seems so shocking that everything was left behind. The number of abandoned houses and houses for sale was crazy.
What we did find though in our back-road tours, were some crazy-ass cactuses! Its like there are cactus forests! Along with a lot of small brush, but no real “trees” that we are used too in Canada. Look at this badboy we found!
Before we left the lovely RV park outside of San Felipe – we figured we should load up on water! There were no signs anywhere that said the water was not potable, so we assumed it was. We have a filter for water going in to our tank, as well as a triple filter for drinking water. Let me tell you, the water filter at the inlet was not pretty, a bit murky (read chunky bits and really murky here). After we filled, we tasted it and it had a weird salty/minerally flavour. We decided we can use it for coffee and showering, but will definitely use bottled for drinking. (did we mention too, that we may have overflowed the RV sewer dump – with our 400 L tank? Oops.) We left San Felipe and traveled about an hour down the road. Highway 5 was washed out a couple years ago from a hurricane and so we had been following other bloggers and Youtubers to find out if this road was passable. It was mostly asphalt, but we did end up on a few bypass roads – which is basically a gravel road directly in the ditch of the road under construction.
We ventured down to Puertecitos – a small fishing village, where its biggest claim to fame is a natural salt water hotsprings – that is INSANELY hot. We got there right at high tide, so it was cool in the upper pool. We stayed close to where the hot water was outflowing from the rocks in order to get the right mix of hot and cold. As the tide receded, less cold ocean water entered the pool, and as a result the temperature rose quickly from the hot spring in the pool. After about 30 minutes we had to evacuate the upper pool since the temp was so hot and we moved to the mid pool (mixed with cold ocean water) and eventually the lower pool. It was crazy hot, we could see the thermal energy rising off the pools as they heated very quickly. One of the things we’ve noticed in our travels is how Mexico does not bubble wrap anything. There were no signs at the pool regarding heat or danger warnings and there was NO enter at your own risk – it was awesome. Let people be responsible and aware of their surroundings. It was amazing that people figured out their own danger and acted accordingly. WHAAAAA! I know, right!
As we were hanging out in the third pool, a couple from the US came by and introduced themselves from the Facebook Baja road conditions group we follow – shout out to Ross and his wife for saying Hi! They gave us a lot of great advice on Baja places to RV! Thanks so much for stopping by, saying hello and passing on your great advice!
We got a great RV spot to park for the night in Puertecitos, right on the beach at Campo Turistico Puertictos! So beautiful!We arrived around 10:30 am (another thing I love in Mexico – they don’t give a shit about when you arrive or leave – there is no checkin or out times!). The tide was high, but by 4 pm the water was hard to see. This place was < $20, check this out:
While enjoying our time here, we met Rob and Andrea from Toronto! They were on an epic 4 month journey and had only left Toronto 8 days prior! Crazy! They also gave us some great travel information – they are on the mi amigo plan on TelCel – 100 pesos for a sim card (that is $7 CAN). And 500 pesos for 13 GB ($36 CAN). This makes me happy and super mad at the same time (because its so super cheap – happy and WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH CRTC to make Canadians pay so much for cell phones – mad). We also learned about Fongle – this is an international phone # that we can forward our Canadian phone # too and its also super cheap. Thanks Rob and Andrea for the great conversation, drinks and advice – I’m pretty sure we will see them again in our travels.
We were up early and planned to drive the rest of highway 5, to highway 1 and towards Guerrero Negro. We really didn’t know what to expect with this highway – but we were up for it, and if we needed to go slow, we would – it was the only way and we were pushing south for warmer weather. I can say it was the best at times and not the best at times. When the asphalt was there, it was awesome, but when it wasn’t, and the road work signs were in Spanish and we had no idea what they said, we guessed at whether or not we had to stay high or go down low (bypasses). I will upload some videos of bypass roads.
Our goal was to get to Guerrero Negro – which was only a 3 hour drive. We passed through another military inspection around 9 am – this time we had to pay 2 beers to the 2 soldiers that came on board. At Guerrero Negro, there was an agricultural stop – we had to pay $20 to spray some sort of Monsanto super killer spray on the underside of our bus, to prevent plant disease in the southern province (we assume). At this point we decided we had plenty of day left, so lets just make our way to Santa Rosalia as we had 4.5 hours to go before the sun went down. This was an interesting time! First of all, the main highway 1, that is supposed to be awesome, was frickin’ crazy! Single lane highway in both directions – there were no shoulders (and I mean NONE! – with a 8” to dropoff to a steep ditch), most of the time we were on both lines (white and yellow) – if we made one slight error of 2” or if our wheel was off the line for any reason – we were toast! Todd was pretty stressed and I was sweating, I was so stressed. When trucks, buses or RV’s passed either opposing or going our way, the mirrors were inches away from each other. It was F(*&^%g CRAZY! And then, there were random goats, cows and horses just eating on the side of the highway and we also had to stop 2 more times for military – where one guy took beer, then gave it back and tried to take my wine! Todd said NO, you can’t have the wife’s wine! And then, the road leading into Santa Rosalia was batshit crazy! There are NO road signs to tell you anything about hills going up or down or really anything. We were driving and then all of a sudden, we see the road go down the side of a cliff at a steep grade of 12% (Todd is guessing, and I trust his guess – this is the STEEPEST Highway road I have EVER traveled on). We dropped from 1200 to 300 ft in < 4 miles. Really hard to get a definite grading of this road online. The world wide web said 17-18% (we doubt that is true, but it was fricking steep! To put that in perspective, 8% grade is the largest in Canada – through the mountains).
We arrived at San Lucas Cove, south of Santa Rosalia – in the nick of time – the sun was set, but we still had a bit of daylight. An hour later, Todd checked the bus brakes, and we could still boil beer off the backtire rims! We are overnighting at a beautiful little spot, on the sea of Cortez – met some great people from Port Alberni, BC (Cindy and Ryan) and they gave us great advice for places to see and stay at our next destination. Next stop is Loreto!