We made it to our most northern point of Puerto Escondido yesterday. We had a slog against 15 knots of northern wind and seas on our bow to make it this far north, but it felt good to have the hardest part behind us. Puerto Escondido is an amazing natural harbor. You approach the “waiting room” a huge bay with probably a 270 degree enclosure and then pass through a 65 meeter entrance to an inner bay that is almost entirely enclosed from the outer sea. It appears to be a great hurricane hole or place to hide out from almost all weather. In fact, in the huge inner bay cruisers leave their boats on moorings for months at a time while they travel home during the summer. That said, appearances can be deceiving and hurricane Odele defied the stats and claimed several dozen boats when it came through. We could see several boats still on the rocks and a couple partially sunk right at the dock, complete losses. After a decade of light storms, Baja was hammered this year and we check the NOAA hurricane updates daily just to make sure another out of season storm isn’t brewing. While unlikely this late in the season, the water temperatures are still warmer than usual, a precurser to a hurricane.
At one point, Puerto Escondido was a cute little fishing village with a hidden harbor, surrounded by the spectacular steep walls of the Sierra de la Giganta mountains. Unfortunately, the Mexican government and its tourism branch, it its infinite wisdom, decided it should be the next Aculpulco. They created a huge concrete marina in the area that connects the two harbors, added 200 moorings and built out infrastructure including roads, street lights, and sidewalks for a dozen future resorts. For whatever reason the resorts never came and it now sits a sad little post apocalyptic looking scene with few people and lots of concrete. There are boats that stay here for years and while we aren’t sure what they do all day, every day, it has been a nice place to rest and regroup.
While in Puerto Escondido we took a taxi up to Loreto, the oldest town in Baja. Loreto is a charming little fishing town of about 15,000. We wanted to bring the boat up and anchor out, but unfortunately Loreto does not have any natural protection from strong winds and seas. Instead we spent a day exploring, hitting every ice cream stand, visiting the first mission built in either Baja or Alta California and the start of the Camino Real. The Camino Real is the road that connects all the missions throughout Baja and California.
Back in Escondido we spent a couple of days catching up on homeschooling, Mike had some work to do stateside and we cleaned the boat top to bottom. We haven’t really had a break since San Diego to do a much needed thorough cleaning, so the laundry services, showers and fresh water at the dock felt like a gift.
On our last day in Port we headed up the Steinbeck trail into the canyon deep into the Sierra de la Giganta Mountains. This part of Baja has towering mountains that look like spires into the sky. The slopes are lush and full of birds, not just the cordon cacti covered deserts you expect to see. We followed the small arroyo up and saw waterfalls, beautiful vistas and deep water pools. The boys bouldered, slid down natural rock water slides, collected hundreds of small toads and climbed up the canyon as far as they could possibly go. At some point the canyon was choked with boulders the size of small houses and we couldn’t pass further. It was a super fun trip and we even saw a tarantula on the way out.