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Of yachts and missions

Without my cell phone to take pictures, for which I blame those good-for-nothings at Samsung, I will have to describe the scene. Forgive me, I am no Steinbeck, who has written about this area in The Pearl and The Sea of Cortez. I just bought both books and will read them this evening. But am attaching some internet pictures, for which I beg forgiveness from whatever gods may be!

It’s the breeze off the ocean that is most alluring. Soft, gentle, warm but it keeps the day cool as it blows across the second floor patio where I sit. I am rocked back in a sturdy, wooden white rocking chair with bright blue patterned cushions overlooking the Malecón and the white-capped blue ocean beyond. My laptop sits on a cushion on my lap, but will run out of battery soon, I’m sure. Black, angular-winged frigate birds with their split tails drift on the breeze, enjoying it as much as I do, I’m sure

View across the patio

In the patio below my feet (propped comfortably on the railing), a dozen tall, rough-coated, rail-thin palms stretch up past my perch to wave sparkling green finger fronds against the brilliant blue sky. Across the way on the outside wall of the patio sit square potted containers holding rather ragged red and purple bougainvillea. Not enough water around here to make them grow into the lush beauties of central Mexico. On the two-story cream-colored wall to my left, which separates us from our neighbors, is an artistic tiled display of a giant curving sun set in lava rock tiles. All the furniture and decor replicates 18th and 19th century pieces giving the place a distinctly historic feel.

Also on the second floor, but across the open patio, is Oliva, the Italian restaurant. The Posada de las Flores is owned by an Italian whose son owns the restaurant. I had excellent Huevos Rancheros for breakfast, and a good Caesar salad for supper. Night before last I dared to try a seafood salad which I found surprisingly palatable. I don’t usually care for baby squid, calamari or other such leathery, rubbery fishy foods. The lemon or whatever dressing they put on it softened the leather texture considerably. I didn’t feel like I was one of the starving soldiers chewing on leather shoes. I racked it up to one of those new experiences that broaden our palate and our bottoms at the same time.

Awesome Copper Canyon

It appears that me and the Mexican government are on the same “onda” (Spanish for Wave). They have just come out with a new tourist magazine that emphasizes the Copper Canyon train as a hot tourist attraction and as a means to get to the coast and across to Baja California.

Baja and the coast

Cabo San Lucas is already way over-touristed, but the rest of the peninsula is pretty-much ignored. The Mexican Feds would like for people to explore the rest of the much more historic towns in the area. I’m happy to fill the need.

Yesterday I was to meet the owner of the yacht that I hoped to rent. Everyone, it seems, has yachts to rent. The question is who is the best salesman. Terry Neal is 73. Brash, brazen, blue-eyed, close-cropped white hair, and deeply tanned from years on the water. Owner of Baja Tours, he supervises the rental of half a dozen yachts here in Baja and at Cabo with the critical help of a young Philippino girl named Cristina who runs the office.

On your bucket list?

After regaling me with lists of his accomplishments, his deceased wife’s accomplishments, his eight children and their accomplishments, his books, his wife’s books, and all the name-dropping acquaintances he could think of, he detailed all the various tours he offers. Most are skin-diving, scuba-diving, swimming with whale sharks, or playing with seals. None of which, it so happened, I was in the least interested in.  He is headed up to California to buy another 92 foot yacht that he offered to put at my disposal for only $5,000 a day. Such a deal!! He is just taking possession of it and doesn’t know how it will cruise.

Yacht

After half an hour of smiling and nodding, I at last got a chance to explain what I wanted. To actually stay aboard the yacht and sail from La Paz to Loreto up the coast would only set me back $20,000. The next best option, which Cristina suggested, was to just rent for a day and go across to the islands, then fly or drive up the coast to Loreto to see the town and visit the missions. We agreed and I put down a deposit for New Years’ Day. No drinking champagne at midnight aboard the magnificent Pacific Monarch, which must run at least $10,000 a day, I suspect.

pacific Monarch
Pacific Monarch

Spent the rest of the day working with Marco, wrestling with dates and details. He is the tours and reservations specialist for the hotel. What tours to take, when, how, logistics on how to get to where. San José de los Cabos (not the perfidious, college-kids and celebrity-infested Cabo San Lucas on the West side of the tip) is a lovely, properly historic town on the south eastern side of the tip of the peninsula. It is two-and a half hours one way. Loreto, where many of the missions are, is four hours north up the coast, across barren desert.

Ferry from Topolobampo to Pichilingue

The problems, of course, abound. The little plane from La Paz to Loreto only flies on Thursday and Sunday, and we couldn’t possibly see the town of Loreto and its missions in half a day. Then the Ferry only runs Monday to Friday. Tickets on the giant Baja Ferry will not be available until November, and who knows what is available with the Copper Canyon. We have to work around the restrictions of time and travel and availability. And we will have to fly out of—or into—San José de los Cabos rather than La Paz, since they have regular flights to Houston.

Balandra Beach

Hopefully, we have it worked out, and more hopefully under budget and even more hopefully with availability. We’ll see! The joys of being a first-time La Paz tour guide! Who knew there was so much to this logistics business? I haven’t even had a chance to set foot in the water yet and probably won’t since I fly out in the morning. But it has definitely been worth it. I know I can offer my peeps a truly memorable experience, right, mi gente?