Christmas in a resort town isn’t really our thing. When we were younger and had more energy, we might have driven the 2500 km of winter roads to camp and climb in Joshua Tree. More recently, they have been family occasions, at home in Calgary.
I had expected to be cycling down the Baja peninsula at this time so Bev had bought a flight to Loreto for a couple of weeks. Then, my plans changed and I was back home in Calgary, pondering my flight dates to Loreto, not really knowing when I wanted to get there, or when to return. The decision to drive, instead of fly, and to set my own schedule was a good one.
Bev had endured an especially stressful few months at work and looked set to continue the same after the break so the main purpose of this two weeks was for her to relax. She had no plans, nowhere she needed to be. We spent time in the room reading and watching the occasional Netflix movie. We walked, or wandered, around the town, enjoying the relaxed feel of small town Loreto. And we enjoyed each other’s company.
Arround the Square
The central square in Loreto was dressed up for the holidays. Even my inner-Grinch found it quite pleasant.
At the edge of the square, this fine building, also dressed up. Speakers on the balcony broadcast Christmas music 24 hours a day. Normally, this would drive me crazy, but it was jazzy and mellow, no voices, and I found it quite acceptable. Being a very different Christmas for me, away from both the cold of Canada and the onslaught of incessant Christmas TV advertising, I may have let my guard down.
The door on the left is a tourist office, always guaranteed to bring out latent travel-consultant in Bev. She visited it several times, always finding it closed. Apparently, though, a coffee cup on a desk, visible through the window of the front door, did occasionally change position.
The mission. We attended a Christmas Eve, presumably seasonally traditional, performance here. We had no idea of what was going on but it had some dark, demonic elements to it. It was fun sitting there, watching people come and go.
Exploring local culture
For breakfast on Christmas Day, Orlando’s Restaurant had a special menu. Included was the traditional Mexican menudo. My mother cooked tripe when I was a child and I found the menudo tasty and enjoyable. It was more of a struggle for Bev, not wishing to show any disrespect to our Mexican hosts; I surreptitiously helped her out. The sauce was delicious.
Tequila and a hammock: doesn’t get much more Mexican than that.
I bought a bottle of Don Julio 70, Orlando’s favourite. Very nice indeed. (Bev took a bottle back to Calgary with her. I will take one as well.) I did also buy a medium quality (Jose Cuevo Reposado) for purposes of comparison; still pleasantly sippable, and probably wasted in a margarita, but nowhere near as special as the DJ70.
In Orlando’s Restaurant, I also tried Esperanto, a brand of tequila that Orlando buys in Cabo San Lucas. Very nice but, again, not quite DJ70 quality. It does, however, come in a spectacularly elegant pyramidal bottle. Still, I would rather use up my Canadian duty-free allowance on the DJ. (Of course, I could always buy a bottle of Esperanto and ensure it is empty before crossing the border…)
Mezcal. Smoky flavour. Like an Islay single malt whisky.
35 km along a windy road up into the mountains is the village of San Javier, where there is the first mission to be established in the Baja.
The Baja Divide bike route passes through San Javier. Although the road up from Loreto is recently paved all the way, two or three other ‘roads’ (that require four-wheel drive, and probably a spare tyre!) pass through San Javier, one leading to more remote missions. A potential future side trip for me.
Spectacular views, driving back down from San Javier in the evening light.
Apart from wandering around the town, not very much; just an un-strenuous afternoon of biking, Bev on a classy-looking single-speed cruiser, courtesy of Caso Mangos. Due to an inherent sense of fairness, I did not use my gears (very much).
Pelicans, along the malecon and in the harbour, were entertaining.
Brian Neill, whom I cycled with in the north of India for a while in 2014, recommended Ligui beach for camping. He had spent several ‘seasons’ at this beach when he used to winter in the Baja. This would be for after Bev left but we went down to check it out.
It wasn’t very warm and Bev stayed bundled up against the breeze. But we really enjoyed spending a few hours here, watching the water, birds, sky…
Not overly crowded. One other party, in the (almost invisible) distant red van.
Orlando suggested El Juncalito beach (Brian Neill spent a few seasons here, too) when we asked for suggestions. A little closer to Loreto, and a little more sand. Similarly deserted during the chilly spell.
A nasty weather system up north was affecting temperatures in the Baja. One jeans-clad Canadian, now a resident and store-owner in Loreto, mentioned that this was the first time she hadn’t worn shorts in 8 years here. Snow had been forecast for Tijuana! (Tijuana is a sea-level.)
We didn’t try them all. (There is a guide to the restaurants in and around Loreto, all 120 of them.)
Breakfast was included by Caso Mango, two minutes walk down the road at Orlando’s Restaurant. We often ate there in the evening, too. The food was consistent, reasonably priced and the service friendly.
There are many other restaurants in the square and surrounding streets with a fairly standard set of meals: seafood dishes and Mexican standards. Most were very good.
La Picazon is located a few miles north of Loreto, along a dirt road. It commands a fine position, on the water, with spectacular views up and down the coast. We arrived in the early afternoon and had a couple of margaritas, relaxed and read our books. For most of the time, we were the only guests. The wind was blowing briskly and it certainly wasn’t warm but we had a great afternoon. And a delicious meal to follow.
We saw in the New Year, enjoying a traditional Mexican celebration and barbecue, in the courtyard of Caso Mango with Orlando’s family. We felt very privileged.