My Own Private Palapa ~ Bahia de Los Angeles

I found my own little piece of heaven right here in Bahia de Los Angeles.

All it took was an easy three hour drive from Cataviña, up and over a mountain range that was blanketed in purple flowers, dotted with bright yellow, Dr. Seuss looking flowers that balanced precariously on tall thin stalks, and stands of cirio, otherwise known as the boojum tree. Descending towards the Sea of Cortez were two “desviaciones,” arroyos where the rain had completely torn the road from the ground and sent it tumbling toward the sea. I heard later that last September, Hurricane Odile brought 14” of rain in six hours, destroying a huge swathe of roads and homes that were in the path of the arroyo.

The first glimpse of the Bahia de Los Angels is spectacular. The bay itself ranges from midnight blue to teal green to white tipped azure. The bay is strewn with islands, some merely guano covered rocks, others have mountain peaks that rise 4,000 feet out of the ocean. The bay is the seasonal home to whale sharks, dolphins, and a large variety of whales, including Bryde’s, minke, gray, finback, blue, sperm, humpback, orca, and pilot. The Canal de Ballenas (whales) runs between 42-mile long Isla Ángel de la Guarda and the peninsula. The town itself is another dusty Mexican affair, dotted with hotels, taco stands, and small tiendas. Granted, it was only in the past few years that the town got a gas station and electricity (from a generator), and they are still recovering from last fall’s hurricane. When I arrived in town I pulled up for gas. The wind was blowing so strong it nearly blew my skirt up and over my head, giving the attendant both a good show and a good laugh.

With my unerring sense of left and right, I turned right out of the roundabout (glorietta), when the directions distinctly stated, “turn left.” Fortunately, the town is very small and some very nice people got me turned around and headed in the right direction. I found the entrance to Campo Archelon, and very gingerly I made my way down the sand road, praying all the while that my caravan would not get stuck. I would later learn that this type of road is the norm, not the exception, here in Baja. My caravan survived the quarter mile journey, and I pulled up in front of a beautiful beach with stone and thatch roof palapas, Luna and I were greeted by an old German Shepard bitch and her papa, Antonio.

Antonio is a vivacious 60-year-old drop out from Mexico City. He invited me to choose any palapa and to join him for a “little” potluck at 2:30. In my normal fashion, I was on time and the first to arrive, “as if I were a German guest,” in Antonio’s kind words. I realized that this wasn’t going to be just a little potluck, with just the campers. Guests started arriving with food in one hand and a bottle, or three, of wine in the other. The little potluck was a big going away party for one of the Canadian locals and was attended by more than 20 people from Mexico, the USA, and Canada.

The afternoon felt like my induction into the secret society of the Snowbird. We ate, drank, and talked. Antonio bounced between groups, the Spanish speakers on one side of the patio, English speakers on the other. He regaled us with stories of life here in the Bahia. I learned later that Antonio is not just a DF (Distrito Federal, aka Mexico City) dropout. He came to Bahia de Los Angeles many years ago to set up a turtle sanctuary, which he successfully ran for many years. He is also a driving force in the town to work towards conservation, recycling, solar energy, and other “green” projects. He is a charming, warm, and lovely dynamo!

Around 6:30 p.m. I realized I had no socializing left in me and returned to mi Casita Lunita. It was time to walk my girl and settle in with a good book. I fell asleep peacefully, but I was awoken frequently by the wind buffeting my caravan and the rustling of the palms on my very own palapa.

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