Desert to Oasis to Desert

We stayed four nights in Bahia de Tortugas. We’d ridden across the Viscaino Desert to the very tip of the Viscaino Peninsula, and now it was time to change directions and go east for a bit.

It was our second week in Baja California, México. As we left Tortuga, the wind was wild and the town, without pavement, was totally enveloped in a cloud of sand and dust.

As we rode into the mountains, the wind lessened and we were back into the changing topography of the Viscaino. In the space of about 130km we went from flat desert to mountains, to cactus forests, to salt flats, to acres of land covered in produce cultivation.

We got gas in the last big town before we set out to cross towards the Sea of Cortez.

Gas stations are a breed of their own in México, in Baja at least. There are at least one or two in every mid- to large-sized town. The problem is you never know if they will be open or whether they will have any gas.

There are fancy, modern looking stations all over the place that, for years, have never even opened. Others can go weeks without having any gas. This means we buy gas whenever we can because it’s impossible to tell where the next gas will be.

We were nearing the midpoint of our month in Baja, so we decided it was time to splurge a little on the accommodations – hot showers, comfy bed, good food, laundry.

We found the perfect place at San Ignacio Springs Bed and Breakfast. We parked next to our own yurt in a grove of date palms in a lovely river oasis in the middle of the desert.

We passed on the private bath and used the extra 150 pesos to buy a great bottle of Chilean cabernet/merlot from the proprietors. Good decision.

It was a little resort in the middle of the desert, set just outside of the little mission town of San Ignacio. All the rooms were yurts – brought down from Oregon and owned by a Canadian couple from the Williams Lake area of British Columbia.

Sumptuousness, with king sized bed, patio, great food, wine and even wireless internet, and owners treating us like a favourite aunt and uncle, fussing over us and feeding us mercilessly meant our one-night splurge turned into three nights.

After a day of lazing in the sun and kayaking in the little river, on our second day we went exploring.

The town is situated on the edge of an underground river that only surfaces here in this area for a kilometre so. The Jesuits figured this would be an easy place to get established, so they set up camp here and did their thing, including planting about 10,000 date palms.

There were dates scattered on the ground everywhere, and the two fat resident date dogs seemed to find that a bonus.

We walked the mile or so into town and checked out the cathedral, the town square and the tiendas (stores). There is a bookstore/hotel run by a woman who has taken on the role of being the resident local archivist. She is in the midst of documenting all of the oral and photographic history of the area, and appears to be doing a stellar job.

Her resourcefulness was evidenced the next day as I noticed that Dainius’ running shoes were now strapped to the outside of his paniers.

It seemed that the bookstore was just too much for him, and a tome-sized edition of a biography of Frida Callo had taken over the last bit of space.

Reluctantly, but driven to find a beach on the Sea of Cortez, we left the oasis and headed back into the desert and another adventure.

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