Picnic tables amongst the pine trees of Arizona long gone, we’ve officially re-ridden onto what looks like a nosediving dragon—775-miles in body and 200-miles in girth—from Mexicali in the north to Cabo San Lucas in the south. The Baja peninsula dips its big toe into the bracing Pacific on the westside, and its pinky into the enticing Sea of Cortez along the east coast. Regardless of where on the 2,000-miles of sun bleached coastline we sink the side stands each day, I’m in need of firsts, warm sand to contour my back and I’m on a quest for one heck of a fish taco.
Sighting the odd whale would be wonderful too, tis the season after all. Reckon I’m in the right place for such an agenda…but timing’s everything, right? Having pulled an impeccably timed U-ey to be Baja-bound—giving the weather a fair window to improve stateside—I hope so. (Respectfully enjoy to those we know, however, that are persevering up in that part of the world.) Also hoping to revisit with a renewed vigour, lets see if the Baja can caress my soul this time…cremating it last September.
As sea birds soared landward, their sights set on an easy meal under salmon pink skies, we rolled into Club de Pesca RV Park, just as the snowbirds’ day was departing. Not ringed in by the RV boondockers, the place gave us ample personal space amid a secluded little spot on a finger of pretty beach. Definitely one of those spots in which to sync the soul for a couple of days. Pulling the helmets off with a wearied effort, we parked beneath a shady palapa on a raised platform, just touching the edge of the beach. By dusk, the sun seemed to be moving faster than it did in the daytime; it was possible to perceive its velocity, as if it was in a hurry to disappear altogether and fall into abeyance. Always leave while you’re still having a good time, huh?
Temperatures dropped to cool making slumbering outside a joyful night’s kip, as opposed to fitful during last summer’s squelching heat. It also put me a prime position in which to star-gaze. Shattered, all I wanted to do was make like a bear for the winter and get horizontal. I sleepily scanned the trackless sky of ancient fires, absorbing the countless galaxies that had long been born to reflect this night before me. My mind stayed thoughtful with gratitude in residence. Yep, we can stopover here for a couple of days.
It was the second day on the Baja and first thing, up popped a grey whale for some sea air. All I could see were the pelicans flocking in, anxious to get their share. Oh wait, there’s the splash of a fin…I think. Jason’s face remained flush to the viewfinder all morning and it wasn’t until I glimpsed his drone footage, did I get to discreetly descend on and really watch the whale.
Having disturbed the bottom, a milk chocolate-brown silt cloud spread like a jellyfish’s ink and swallowed the mammal whole—making the perfect playground in which to play hide and seek with any onlookers. Head and tail breaching the surface now and again, the gregarious grey kept appearing into partial view and us company until late afternoon, happy little poppet. I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
A Canadian couple close by, Wendy and Doug, were in the throes of celebrating their Ruby Wedding anniversary. They took to a day in the bay casting out for something tasty with their friend Richard and upon return, bestowed a bag of freshly caught shortfin corvina on us. There were no fish tacos, not even a grill but the grocery store beer was cheap and chilled, the one pot fish supper was fantastic and my toes curled satisfyingly in the sand. Here’s to toasting 40 years of marriage, guys—showing us how it’s done.
Aside from San Felipe’s biking event of the year—where an ear-bleeding number of biking gangs congregated to rev the ‘Julies’ out of their engines all night long—it was worth the rest stop. Shame I didn’t pop the ear plugs in or foremost check the bike scene out, it sounded akin to the twist-throttling rave that is Sturgis.
Bumping into dirt biker Erik and his partner Laura from northern California, hitting it off with them without a hitch or hesitation, their offer to hang out and recommendation to taste some sensational Tacos de pescado was a dual-temptation in waiting. Scooting a few miles in a southeastly direction, downwards we rode for allegedly the finest fish tacos in town. As a two-wheeled traveller largely free of deadlines—happy to sleep on the beach; live without daily showers (sometimes having no sense of smell reaps priceless rewards); giving way to wagging whale tails; and taking as many memories as I can lay on my senses—my now guided search took me to Bahía de San Luis Gonzaga. A little local knowledge never harms.
It was a sleepy bay where a spit of sand jutted out, and there was rarely anymore than a handful of folks at one time. Off road bikers buzzing from the ride showed their sand blasted faces frequently, there was an almost tangibly feel-good vibe ricocheting off the place but then there usually is where there’s great food, no WiFi and an absence of infrastructure.
The local restaurant Alfonsinas had the instant allure to the wandering types and holiday-makers alike. Not least because there was an array of rustic little rooms and complimentary beach camping for the cash-conscious overlooking a calm bay. Lovely old photos adorned the walls inside, a smallish shrimp boat stayed anchored in the blue and nothing but rocky hillside broke up the sky from the ocean.
“Hey guys, did you see that incredible sunrise this morning?” Laura enquired at breakfast. “See it? We were in it,” Jason grinned having woken up on the sand, camera-poised and coyote-ready. (One curiously nibbled down on the bottom of Jason’s sleeping bag in the night, scurried away at Jason’s unamused growl—scaring the moon shadow out of me.) The camera conveys its own morning glory but slowly, as the tonalities of the night faded away and the pale blue of morning began to emerge from the background of other warm colours—took over first the sea and then the sky. I hung my head to watch the slanting sunlight play on the grains of sand, orange flickers playing in Jason’s hair.
Eight sittings of Alfonsinas’ fish tacos in two days, the pair of us can attest that the halibut hit the taste bud jackpot. In my happy place, I chowed down the heavenly fish lightly fried in fresh batter—complete with all the trimmings—like a winter-starved bear. Each plate boasted three chunky fish tacos next to a fourth piece of fish, brimming over on a bed of shredded lettuce, slivers of red onion and slices of the sweetest tomatoes. Accompanied by a spicy salsa dip and a creamy herb concoction with which to drizzle over, made them to die for.
They even trumped the taste sensations that were Tony’s tacos the last time we were at Guerrero Negro, in the municipality of Mulegé about half way down on the Pacific side. When you’re hankering for something magical that won’t deplete you of your daily pesos, Alfonsinas’ Tacos de pescado makes for a complete and satiating experience. Perfect for serious foodies, the ‘hangry’ and those that suffer from ‘ginger snaps’. Nom.
At a manageable $6 USD, I couldn’t complain; keeping my budget fraught with frugality in tact while my mouth simply watered at the prospect of more. As I slowly devoured the culinary marriage of crispy fish and warmed flour taco, I stared into the middle distance letting the sustenance nourish my soul. Oh snap, would you look at that? Taking pride and place on the main wall, the restaurant displayed a glass framed cutting from Overland Journal. Having navigated the length and breadth of the Baja, editor Chris Collard agreed in a testimonial to the same tune: I guess these could be the meanest fish tacos in Mexico. For those that know Chris or of his relationship with food, that’s mayhaps my mission accomplished.