San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico

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That beach was so nice and clean. The only downside were the stray dogs. Traveling to Mexico with an non-neutered dog might not have been our best move... a tad bit stressful.

That beach was so nice and clean. The only downside were the stray dogs. Traveling to Mexico with an non-neutered dog might not have been our best move... a tad bit stressful.

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We loved seeing our girls navigate a new culture and be so open and so eager to discover new things.

We loved seeing our girls navigate a new culture and be so open and so eager to discover new things.

That place was great, and by that I mean that (one of) the shower had good pressure and hot water (without any risk of getting an electric shock from naked wires), there is TP in the (clean) bathroom, our palapa's second floor is solid enough to hold the 5 of us. If you've never camped outside the US or Canada, you might find this place pretty run down and trashy. Hey, we have water and electricity on our beachfront site for 25 USD per night and are walking distance from town. That is 5 stars in my Mexican camping book!

That place was great, and by that I mean that (one of) the shower had good pressure and hot water (without any risk of getting an electric shock from naked wires), there is TP in the (clean) bathroom, our palapa's second floor is solid enough to hold the 5 of us. If you've never camped outside the US or Canada, you might find this place pretty run down and trashy. Hey, we have water and electricity on our beachfront site for 25 USD per night and are walking distance from town. That is 5 stars in my Mexican camping book!

Full moon rising over the Sea of Cortez. 5 million stars!

Full moon rising over the Sea of Cortez. 5 million stars!

Cooking under our palapa.

Cooking under our palapa.

Sunrise over the Sea of Cortez.

Sunrise over the Sea of Cortez.

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We went to visit the Valle de Los Gigantes, where the world’s biggest cactuses live. These cactuses are called the Mexican Giant Cardon. Some of these live more than 2000 years and measure over 20 meters! It was a pretty special experience to walk among these true giants. If you ever go, make sure to stop for a chat with Miguel who will warm your heart with his stories and his big Mexican smile.  

We went to visit the Valle de Los Gigantes, where the world’s biggest cactuses live. These cactuses are called the Mexican Giant Cardon. Some of these live more than 2000 years and measure over 20 meters! It was a pretty special experience to walk among these true giants. If you ever go, make sure to stop for a chat with Miguel who will warm your heart with his stories and his big Mexican smile.  

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After visiting the Valle de Los Gigantes, we drove another hour south to the little village of Puertecitos where a friend told us about some hot springs. The village entrance was a pretty sad sight of slums and old trailers. The place was empty. I guess that most people living there are fishermen who were gone during the day. When we finally found someone to ask about the hot springs, we found out it was only accessible at low tide, 4-5 hours later, which would have meant driving the hour and a half back to our campsite in the dark, so we turned around. 

After visiting the Valle de Los Gigantes, we drove another hour south to the little village of Puertecitos where a friend told us about some hot springs. The village entrance was a pretty sad sight of slums and old trailers. The place was empty. I guess that most people living there are fishermen who were gone during the day. When we finally found someone to ask about the hot springs, we found out it was only accessible at low tide, 4-5 hours later, which would have meant driving the hour and a half back to our campsite in the dark, so we turned around. 

Some areas are as sad as the road side faded shrines in some of the steep curves along ruta 5. 2008 hit hard here. There are so many abandoned  buildings in different states of construction, big colourful gates announcing resorts that only existed in the minds of overly enthusiastic builders. So many makeshift shelters and a few expat gated communities sprinkled here and there for good measure. 

Some areas are as sad as the road side faded shrines in some of the steep curves along ruta 5. 2008 hit hard here. There are so many abandoned  buildings in different states of construction, big colourful gates announcing resorts that only existed in the minds of overly enthusiastic builders. So many makeshift shelters and a few expat gated communities sprinkled here and there for good measure. 

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San Felipe was pretty much what we expected (minus the crazy wind that blew pretty much all day long for 4 days straight and forced is to wear all the clothes we had brought one on top of each other). It's laid back and perfect for a week off. However, there's just so much sitting on the beach, reading in a hammock, playing cards and eating tacos I can do before going crazy (well, maybe not the taco part). 

San Felipe was pretty much what we expected (minus the crazy wind that blew pretty much all day long for 4 days straight and forced is to wear all the clothes we had brought one on top of each other). It's laid back and perfect for a week off. However, there's just so much sitting on the beach, reading in a hammock, playing cards and eating tacos I can do before going crazy (well, maybe not the taco part). 

For a bunch of antsy pants like us, there isn't much to do. No trails to hike or bike (a campground neighbor went for a run and got bitten by stray dogs), no waves to surf, no wall to climb. We walked to town a few times a day, but ended up stuck in the Westy because of the wind for many hours a day. 

For a bunch of antsy pants like us, there isn't much to do. No trails to hike or bike (a campground neighbor went for a run and got bitten by stray dogs), no waves to surf, no wall to climb. We walked to town a few times a day, but ended up stuck in the Westy because of the wind for many hours a day. 

My head is full of the pictures I didn't take. The harsh living realities of so many people, the trash everywhere, the striking contrasts between the expat houses and the locals’. It's always disturbing, and I hope I never become insensitive to it. As soon as we crossed into Mexicali, we were in a different world. The honking, the smells, the poverty, people selling stuff at every intersection, from tortillas and neon cotton candy to airplane models and cheap copycat go-pro cameras, Mexicans sellers got you covered. You need an alternator? Ramon is selling some from the back of his pick-up. Dreaming of a fuzzy leopard stirring wheel covers? That guy is coming to your car window with his selection. Guys would show up at our campsite, invariably presenting us with the same fare someone else offered us a few hours priors: *almost gratis* bracelets and hammocks. The weathered down musicians coming to our tables at night in the restaurants, dragging their old amplifiers behind them (everything has to be loud in Mexico, especially the music!)...

As we drove back to the border through the desolate suburbs of Mexicali, I was reminded of a conversation a friend had a long time ago with a Buddhist monk. She was telling him that her brother was dying of cancer while she was living a happy healthy life and how unfair this was. After a few minutes of silence, the monk simply looked at her with his wise eyes and said: Who said it would be fair?

We were dealt a pretty awesome hand while many are struggling pretty hard to get enough food to eat for their family. Life isn’t fair, indeed and traveling is quite humbling.