Bahia de San Rafael, Baja California Norte – Pancho’s hospitality

Exactly one year ago, we started our world trip and flew to London. Today we only stay for a short while on MEX 1, but at least there is an asphalt road to Bahia de los Angeles at the Sea of Cortez. The town in the bay with the same name has seen better days, but at least there is a gas station with diesel as well, some convenience stores, and a supermarket where the majority of the local gringos gather in front of the extensive schnapps shelve. We buy some expensive little something, but at least the fuel has a governmentally determined price, and all gas stations belong to the governmental PEMEX chain. Bahia de los Angeles’ highlight is said to be the turtle research station. It was developed in 1979 out of a turtle fishery. Unfortunately it looks deserted today, the tanks are dry, and the water pipes not connected any more.

We go again after the traces of Baja 1000 rally and follow the rumble track in slow pace for 130 km direction to Bahia San Francisquito. Half the way down south the path touches the shore at Bahia de San Rafael. Some halibut fishermen live in the pretty bay, among them Pancho, who lives here since 26 years. The former shark fisher has most of the time a cold beer for travellers on hand that he sells of for a fair price regarding the remote location; but only, if he finds the key to the door, and if he doesn’t forget in the meantime that he actually wanted to fetch a beer. To call Pancho eccentric is significantly understated. His English is as hard to understand as his Spanish is. One reason might be the constant consumption of Corona, Pacifico, and tequila, that didn’t only cost him the major part of his lower teeth but possibly some completely insignificant areas of brain cells.

The queer bird rummages once more through his solar powered ice box and brings to light something to eat, of which all American travel guides unanimously warn: ceviche. The reason is perfectly obvious: Ceviche usually consists of raw fish or scallops, lime, chilli, and some vegetables and spices. Pancho’s version is somewhat improvised, and he brings one bowl and one spoon. He assures us that the spoon is clean, but we shouldn’t attach too much value to this unimportant detail. We eat all from the same bowl with the same spoon. But the lime juice in the ceviche is probably a pretty good disinfectant. I thought it would be very impolite to refuse. We don’t show any signs of food poisoning until the evening.

Pancho offers us to camp for free on his beach. It is pretty much usual on Baja that locals ask for a small fee to camp on the beach, even if it is not their private property. They might keep the beach clean as a service rendered in return. We accept his offer, the beach and the water invite us to swim.

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