Sorry Dorothy. You have not found the Emerald City

After my gruelling back road odyssey, I was hoping that Campo Rene at Estuario el Coyote would be another oasis in the vast Baja desert. It isn’t. It is a big parking lot with a double-wide trailer to the left as you drive in, a tidy yet tired row of boxes that pass for cabañas lining the right side of the parking lot, leading to two beautiful thatch-roof bungalows, and a simple restaurant at the other end of the parking lot. At the very end of the parking lot, adjacent to the restaurant and lining the estuary is a cluster of six RV’s, stacked nearly on top of each other. All the RV spaces were full so I parked myself away from the crowd by the osprey family.

  

  

Figuring maybe I was just tired, I took Luna for a long walk down the beach and up the estuary. I had a snort of rum as the sun went down, then I curled up with Luna and a good book. I was hoping the sunrise would shine a different light on the place.

The just-past-full-moon, bright as a bare light bulb, woke me in the morning just in time to see another spectacular sunrise. I unloaded my mountain bike and took Luna for our first ever bike ride on the beach. The beach is littered with crustacean shells and it is like riding over bubble wrap. Tee hee hee… It was so much fun! I decided that maybe Campo Rene and Estuario El Coyote needed a second opinion.

  

It looks to me like they are slowly upgrading the place. The restaurant and patio are lovely. They have a very nice group barbeque area. The new bungalows are gorgeous. If I were smart, like other Baja adventurers, I would travel with a kayak. There are miles of mangrove estuary to paddle behind the restaurant.

Campo Rene is situated on a small spit of land. To the north is the lagoon and mangrove estuary. To the south lay a long, beautiful, and deserted beach. Just east is a fisherman’s cooperativo that grows and processes oysters. The mangrove reeks of rotten stink. The ocean is warm and knee deep for a few hundred meters. On my last morning’s walk, I encountered a shark thrashing less than five feet from the shore and a pod of dolphins frolicking in the middle of the estuary mouth.

I had to giggle. The double wide to the left of the entrance houses the family that runs the restaurant. In the morning, the chef climbed into her SUV to commute the 100 meters to the restaurant. Throughout the day, the entire family zoomed back and forth between the restaurant and their home by car.

I ended up staying at Campo Rene for three days. It certainly wasn’t one of my favorite places. It had some good points. It was free. They had clean, hot showers. It was good for a nice run and a fun bike ride. They made a killer margarita, my first since crossing the border into Baja. On the downside, it was flat and windy and wide open. But unless I had a kayak to explore the estuary, I probably would not return.

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