Puerto Escondido is a natural, almost completely circular land locked bay that has a small opening to the Sea. It is almost surrounded by peaks with a few valleys between known as ‘windows’. This makes it the best hurricane hole around. Even so I wouldn’t want to ride out a hurricane there. Fortunately hurricane season doesn’t start till June. There’s tons of places to anchor in the inside bay, along with a bunch of moorings controlled by Fonatur. Fonatur is a quasi-government tourist bureau organization that has marinas in various places along Mexico’s west coast. The price to anchor in the bay is the same as to take a mooring, so everyone takes the mooring. It costs about US$10-14 a night; a lot for an anchorage. They do have WiFi and showers, for which you pay extra. There are also two outside basins where boats also ‘anchor’. These pay a fee to a different organization, API. It is cheaper, but most of the anchoring space is taken up by semi-permanent boats that have put down their own anchoring systems. The area has a lot of ex-pats that live down here in the cooler months. Listening to them talk, you’d think you were in Payton Place, with the gossip tribal parties setup.
Sunset over the Gigantes mountain range in the inner harbor.
There’s not much else in Puerto Escondido, but it is the closest secure anchorage to Loreto, 14 miles away. You can get a cab for the entire day for about US$75 to see Loreto. We hooked up with Joe and Tracy on ‘Set Me Free’. Joe is out of southern Cal and Tracy is traveling for a year from Britain, working as crew on various boats. Joe had rented a car (US$50 or so), so we bummed a ride with them and headed into Loreto and did the grand walking tour. The first mission, the mother ship, of all the California missions is here and still in active use. The Jesuits started it in 1697.
Mision Nuestra Senora de Loreto
The inner courtyard of the mission
We walked around town and ended up at the farmers market. It was closer to a dusty flea market than a framers market. There were two or three stalls with fresh veggies and meat, the rest was ‘interesting’ stuff.
The farmers market with a cute little pero checking us out.
Here’s the RV parking for Sunshine and Moon Doggie when they head south, along with a phone number to make reservations. Just a block off the beach in the heart of Loreto.
Finally a city with street signs to help you find your way: Sin Nombre = No Name.
After having a delicious lunch at Tio Lupe’s we got a wild hair and decided to head out to see Mision San Francisco Javier de Vigge-Biaundo. This is about an hour out of Loreto up in the mountains. The road starts out as newly paved two laner. However, once you think you are making good time it turns to graded dirt. This is followed by graded rubble. The mountains are serious here and the views are really impressive as you look back from the heights of the switch backs.
Looking back toward the Sea Cortez with Isla Carmen in the background. If you click on the pic to enlarge it you can see the road turning back in the bottom right corner.
Mission San Francisco Javier is beautiful; set in a little river valley cut into the formidable Sierra Las Gigantas. Those friars knew to build where water was available, there were date palms in the valley and orange trees in the church courtyard. The church is very old, but still in full use. They’d had a fiesta a few days earlier and still had the flags up over the doorway.
It was getting pretty dark as we beat up the rental car rumbling over the rocky dirt road to get back out of the mountains before it was pitch dark. Once we survived the ride back and were nearing the highway, we stopped at the Del Borracho Saloon & Grill. Built in the best wild, wild west saloon style, the name of the place and the burgers are all inspired by the movie ‘The Three Amigos’… so you can order the El Guapo, the El Jeffe or the Little Neddy, depending on how hungry you are.
Here’s Tracy riding the saddle bar seats with a picture of John Wayne and his dog (aptly named Dog) on the wall behind.
The bar is owned and run by an ex-pat carpenter/framer/charter captain/biker/bar tender named Mike and his wife. The place serves the locals, tourists and ex-pats – mainly hamburgers and breakfast. They have bike rallies here in February. You’d think the place would be kick-assing crazy, but they close a 6pm to keep issues with the barrachos down to a minimum. We arrived after the Cerrado (Closed) sign was up. But judging by the number of people inside, we headed on in for a few cervezas to celebrate our wild ride into the mountains and back.
Paul and Chris