Y2K is breathing down my neck, and what do I do? I piss off to Mexico to kayak the Sea of Cortez. What does it matter that the world might end because our computers can’t figure out how to change from 1999 to 2000? As it turned out, the world as we know it didn’t come crashing down, and I enjoyed an amazing adventure with my friend Michael, his father and girlfriend, and our two guides from Chile.
My memories of the trip are hazy. I remember the day I decided to be a studette and go solo. I got horribly seasick and the guides had to form a special formation so I could throw up without tipping my boat. We were stranded a couple of days because the wind was so powerful. I thought Michael was nuts for putting rocks inside our tent, but ours was the only tent that didn’t blow away. There was the special toidy, I think it would have been easier just to dig a hole and burn our toilet paper. Come to think of it, I am pretty sure that is what we did. One of my fondest memories of that trip was walking the malecón of Loreto at sunset, watching the dolphins frolick in the bay, enjoying margaritas, chips, and guacamole at the rooftop bar, and our crappy little hotel with cement walls and floors, a saggy bed, and the reminder to put out toilet paper in the bin. Loreto was a sleepy, dusty fishing village with some amazing sea-kayaking adventures in the nearby Bahia Concepcion. I was looking forward seeing how Loreto had changed in the last 15 years. It was almost unrecognizable.
Loreto was designated a Pueblo Magico in 2012 by the government of Mexico. In my experience, that means it is a must visit destination. All the Pueblos Magicos I have seen are charming and delightful, colonial towns built in the Spanish style around a central plaza, anchored by a beautiful cathedral. The harbor and lighthouse remain the same, but the entire malecón has been beautified with new pavement, shaded seating areas, plants and trees, children’s play structures, new palapas on the beach, and those funny cartoon-like animal garbage can toppers. The avenue leading from the malecón to the central plaza and the cathedral beyond has been turned into a pedestrian walkway and is lined with more flowers, restaurants, shops, and memorabilia vendors. The bandstand and the town hall have been completely renovated. The town, true to its new designation, is a Magical Town.
The tranquil Rivera del Mar RV Park, moments from both the beach and downtown, became my home for the week of Semana Santa. The owner is a charming woman who speaks great English. Not only do they have free wi-fi and clean, hot showers, but they offer laundry for a pittance and the dueña, with one phone call, had the propane truck at my rig filling my tank. I grabbed a sweet little corner spot that had a patio with a table and chairs. Luna was happy to have her special outside spot with a couple bougainvillea plants and the company of hummingbirds and bright yellow orioles. It was fun to pull my city cruiser off the rack and noodle around town on my bicycle.
I was thrilled to be greeted by a profusion of flowers and greenery. The town is a lush oasis. While I was there, we were treated to rain and cooler temperatures.
With the Pueblo Magico designation comes money to upgrade and restore the town. The other thing that came were snowbirds and wealthy nationals who are steadily expanding the town limit to the north with monstrous gated homes and communities. Fortunately, the town has retained its charm, ramshackle houses, and lively beachfront. In addition, it has gained a number of nice hotels and restaurants. There is something about the sharp mountain peaks to the west and the protected bay to the east that create some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. Magical.