January 30, 2015

Mexico: Mule Ride

On our bike ride to San Javier we passed Rancho Nuevo and organized a three hour mule ride for the following day. When we arrived the mules and donkeys were saddled up and ready to ride. I didn't know much about mules or donkeys before but I am now a huge fan of both, especially donkeys. They are so cute, at least the ones at Rancho Nuevo. 

Mules are immune to prickly bushes and I learned quickly that a mule ride means riding along narrow paths while trying to avoid ripping my pants on these prickly bushes (note to self: wear old jeans instead of ExOfficio lightweight pants). I spent most of the three hour mule ride sitting crisscross on the saddle. More of a core workout than expected. I also preferred to sit crisscross since we had western saddles, which means when my feet were in the stirrups my knees were at an unusual angle.

Sometimes when I am on a long grueling hike with a heavy backpack I dream of a horse showing up and giving me a ride but turns out a mule ride (or horse ride) is also grueling in its own way. Although the mule ride was a great way to see the mountains I am sure glad we only signed up for a three hour ride not a three day ride. My mussels will need a little more practice before I through the saddlebags on and head into the country for an overnight. 

January 28, 2015

Mexico: Loreto Life

| Rattlesnake to Juncalito |

My parents have landed in Loreto! I have been looking forward to their arrival since I knew the daily adventure activities would sky rocket. The day after they arrived we went for a paddle from Rattlesnake Beach (just south of Puerto Escondido) to Juncalito Beach. Of course, Bailey joined in as she loves adventures. So with her lifejacket on she hopped in the cockpit and enjoyed the breeze. We lucked out with great weather and calm seas. It was beautiful to paddle along the coast looking up at the mountains. They are so dramatic with sharp edges as they tower over the Sea or Cortez. 

| San Javier |

San Javier mission is up in the mountains about an hour from Loreto (I have heard that from one mission to the next it is a days mule ride). With my family when there is a chance to do something more then just drive, we will take it. So we drove half way and then biked the remaining way. The first half of the road to San Javier is very steep and hilly where the second half is rolling. Of course, Bailey joined for the adventure. Strapped in and ready to ride we biked through ranch country. Since I had just watched the documentary Corazon Vaquero about ranch culture in Baja I was excited to see the country side. Biking into San Javier on the cobblestone road was scenic with the mission at the end of town. Sweaty from the ride we had a beer before exploring the mission and finding the giant olive tree out back. 

January 23, 2015

Mexico: Loreto Hikes

| Tabor Canyon |

After being in Loreto for a few weeks I was excited to join a group of new friends and finally explore the mountains. We drove south on Mexico 1 to Puerto Escondido, turned off on a dirt road that led to the mouth of Tabor Canyon. Backpack on, water bottle full and grey skies. I was ready for a hike. 

After we boulder hopped through desert canyon we came to a rock wall. I assumed this was the end of the hike, 20 minutes after we started. The group led on and we ended crawling up the rock wall through narrow vertical tunnels. One misstep and boom broken arm or cracked head. To say the least it was a little terrifying for a few minutes but we survived. Once high above, the view down to the Sea of Cortez and palm filled canyon was superb. 

| Doctors Point // Punto Bajo |

Punto Bajo, also known by the local gringos as Doctors Point,  is an easy coastal walk along a clearly marked path. Punto Bajo was nicknamed Doctors Point after a doctor built a home out on the point. Although the trailhead is close to Loreto you do need a car to get there. However, if you want to up your street cred you could bike. Just take Davis Street north, as far as it will go.

On a cloudy and windy day we walked along the coast looking for whale spouts and collecting seashells. At the point we were able to break out the kites and add a little sky high entertainment. We continued past the point along the beach until returning back with a DIY project in tow (spray painting large shells gold for soap dishes or jewelry holders). 

January 20, 2015

Mexico: Loreto Life

"What is there to do in Loreto?" many sane people asked before I flew down to Mexico to live in a small town. Good question. I had no idea but that wasn't going to stop me from moving down and finding out.

On my flight to Loreto I met two women from Wisconsin, Billie and Irene. Billie was visiting her brother who lives in Loreto and Irene was joining along for a Mexico vacation. I spent my first two weeks hanging out with these two (and crew). We swam at the Loreto Bay lap pool, celebrated Billie's 69th birthday at the Oasis, visited the Sunday market, went to mass in Spanish (a first, in multiple ways), explored Puerto Escondido and had lunch in Mulege, a small town two hours north of Loreto.

| Loreto Bay |

Loreto Bay is about a twenty minute drive south of Loreto. To me (once you look past a few unfinished houses and some neighborhood politics) it's Mexico's version of Pleasantville. The walking pathways wind through perfect looking stucco houses all painted fun, make you want to smile, colors. There is one house in particular that has been painted bright yellow and I just want to hug it. Billie and Irene were renting a house in Loreto Bay so I spent quite a bit of time wandering around, swimming in the pools and feeling like I was on vacation. A little mini vacation from my six month vacation. No big deal. However, with all the glitz and glam of Pleasantville comes the feeling of not being in Mexico. Sorry, had to say it. Canadians and American's walk around like they haven't left home so by the end of the day I am happy to return to Mexico.

| Puerto Escondido |

Puerto Escondido is a perfect example of when you can't judge a place by its name. I thought Puerto Escondido was a small thriving town where boat owners spent their winters tucked behind the break walls sipping margs and shopping at local boutiques. Nope. Puerto Escondido is not a small thriving town at all. It's not really even a town. It is just a marina with really nice roads and landscaping (the landscaping is definitely worth noting).

Bahia Concepcion & Mulege |

{ With Billie in Mulege }
The drive north from Loreto along Bahia Concepcion is the pretties drive with large views of blue water, red rock mountains and white sandy beaches tucked along the coast. There are lots of pull out places along Mexico 1 to stop and take in the scene or snap a photo to remember for later on. Once our cameras were tuckered out we were in Mulege, a small town located along a river on the coast but within the mountains. The setting is quite scenic. Mulege was more quiet then I had expected with small dusty roads and little to no tourism. At least that is how it felt for the hour or two we were there ;). 

January 19, 2015

Sip & Savor: Loreto, BCS

I don't think Mexico has mastered good ice cream especially not the classics, chocolate and vanilla but when it comes to strawberry popsicles Michoacan has it down. I mean the added strawberry at the bottom adds a lot to the overall appearance and presentation is half of it. 

El Ray del Taco 
You translated correctly, king of the taco! El Ray del Taco is a must for any taco eating nut out there. The atmosphere of table sharing gives you a break from the fine dining you are accustom to at home and gets you straight into Mexico life. I think their beef tacos are the best ever. Dos, por favor.  

Sabor, for the flavor and the view. Off of Mexico 1 towards Loreto Bay this restaurant is only open for dinner so get there by sunset so you can enjoy the mountains from the rooftop palapa. 

Papa rellena. I can't believe I have lived my life not knowing this food group existed. Did I live under a rock? A potato stuffed with cheese, meet, tomatoes, onions, corn and then baked is one of the best potatoes ever, even if I needed to unbutton my pants and detox for the next week. It was totally worth the million calories.  

Orlando's has the best margaritas in town and you get two for the price of one. Life doesn't get better in Mexico. Oh, and the food is great! If you have been wanting to try something, try it at Orlando's, you can count on it being the best. 

January 14, 2015

Mexico: Loreto, Baja California Sur

{ Loreto malecon } 

{ the marina } 

A couple months ago I got the news that I would have an extra three months to be unemployed travel so I decided I would pack a suitcase and move to Mexico. More specifically Loreto, a small town on the Sea of Cortez in the state of Baja California Sur where my family's friends have a house. Now, incase you don't know, which apparently a lot of people do not, Baja California is not California. It's Mexico. "Where in California will you be living?" has been asked way too many times. 

Lets back up. Suitcase. Yup, I said it. After three months of packing and repacking a backpack that felt more like stuffing a donut (clothes) into a pin hole (backpack) I counted down the days to my final unpack. I vowed to leave that monster behind for the first time. With my summer camp essentials packed (tent, day backpack for hikes, tennis racquet) I flew Alaska Airlines into Loreto.

Loreto is the home to many gringos from the United States and Canada, or at least home for a few months during the cold winter up north. Mostly the retired, 60+ crowd have set up life in Loreto so you can imagine the look on their faces when I showed up and moved in. A person under 30 living in Loreto? Even the immigration officer at the airport questioned my number of days staying in the country, convinced I must have plans to work. However, it turns out that 9 pm, "Loreto midnight," is my bed time too, so I fit right in.

{ Bailey }
"Won't work for nothing" says the back of a t-shirt at the souvenir shops. This will be my Loreto motto. I don't have any plans for my time down in Mexico except to get to know Loreto and Baja, learn a little Spanish and hang out with Bailey, an adopted local pup.