10.9 mi / 9.9 mph / 652 ft. climbing
Home: Playa Buenaventura beachside palapa
In all my years of being awoken and nervously trying to decipher the unknown noises closing-in on my bed in the dark of night, “dolphins” was an answer that never even made it on my already-wild list of possibilities. Raccoons, mice, dogs, coyotes, skunk, or even bears, yes, but never the sharp exhalations and thumping splashes of dolphins! At least our previous days at this beach made me familiar with the sounds, otherwise it would have been a truly frightening mystery! I stood up out of bed at 1:30am, looking out over the palm-frond wall of our palapa toward the water down the slope, hoping to see bioluminescent flashes revealing their location on the star-lit water, but no luck. Probably for the best, I might not have been able to survive that level of otherworldly magic; simply imagining the late-night rager they were having out there was reward enough for the wake-up.
By the time we woke again at sunrise, the dolphins were gone, and didn’t return, maybe leading our own exit from this beach. Unlike when we left Santispac, wondering if we were leaving paradise for someplace worse, this time there is no question: wherever we go next will definitely be worse. But still we go, partly because there are more places to stop, and partly because we feel we must continue moving south towards Cabo before the heat makes that impossible. But we aren’t happy about it!
Our week on the beach has inspired another change in Rett (and one that I endorse). Living without running water, and surrounded by beautiful women living under similar conditions, who all underestimate her age, led her to realize that she doesn’t need to carry her makeup with her anymore! Well, she still has her lash/brow tinting stuff, and a few other things that might blur the line between skin-care and makeup, but throwing out the stuff she did was still a big step, and one that indicates a growing confidence and comfort living in her own skin, which I can only imagine will increase long-term happiness.
Of course that doesn’t mean she won’t want that makeup in the future. Yesterday morning, after the third time she said “ugh, I just wish I had some dry shampoo!”, I gave her a bit of a “if wishes were horses…” lecture, asking “do you see any chance of obtaining dry shampoo on this beach? No? Then do you have any plan to get dry shampoo delivered to you on this beach? Also no? Ok, then aren’t you just frustrating yourself (and me!) by wishing for something that has no chance of happening?”
Fast-forward to yesterday evening, and we’re talking briefly again with the family who plied us with beers and clothing (I forgot to mention that Rett got a shawl/blanket/dress thing that she’s already begun using/wearing constantly just as Linda predicted). Rett is scratching her head and said something like “my scalp is so itchy”, and Elizabeth pipes up and says, “oh, I have some dry shampoo, would you like some?” Auugghh! Thank you Elizabeth, you could have just picked me up and dunked me headfirst into the sea if you wanted to turn my imperious self-regard into a sodden wad of disintegrating toilet paper, it would have been less-embarrassing! Well, at least my doom was yet another example in how whatever we desire seemed to generously appear before us at this magical place.
So on our way out, we had heartfelt goodbyes with beach-friends new and old, and best of all got a reprise of the customized “These Boots…” from George, who, along with Penny, were our gateways and biggest contributors to this beach-week, which I believe has been the best week of our nomadacy thus far.
Back on the road, our first stop came in a few miles, once again to Bertha’s store, but this time for the WiFi (MX$30) and lunch (tacos) as much as the groceries. It was our first Internet connection in four days, and, I hadn’t really missed it. Beyond checking the weather ahead, there wasn’t that much more to do. We met a cyclist who lived on the hill above the store (LotsOfSky) who admired our bikes (and very-accurately assessed their cost!) Upon hearing that I had built them up, he came back later with a question about a front derailer on his bike, and even though I barely helped him, he gifted us with a bit of green stuff grown in…Rett’s home zone of the Finger Lakes of upstate New York! The gifts and coincidences of Baja apparently continue even though we’ve left the beach!
Since we had spent a week explaining to people how safe the roads in Baja felt to us, I had a fear that we were overstating our case, and we’d suddenly realize that no, all those people were sort of right, and the drivers are crazy around here. But nope! The riding remained just as peaceful and safe-feeling as the story we’d been telling. There were once again still plenty of hills and heat in our short day, with road that took us inland from the beaches for a stretch.
But then we returned to the water at Playa Buenaventura. Compared to Santispac, which felt like a public beach with a couple of restaurants on it, Buenaventura feels more like a restaurant with an attached beach. Only two real palapas on the rocky and less-attractive beach, but both were empty when we arrived. And we knowingly chose this place for its Green Bay Packer-supporting restaurant, while the flush toilet, complete with a running-water sink and toilet paper(!) was an unexpected bonus luxury.
And then we went for a cooling swim, and found that this place had its own unique beauty: the clearest water, the smoothest flat white sand three feet under it once you got past the rocks, the craggiest and closest mountains on the other side of the bay,red-blue-armed crabs paddling away from us as we waded, a giant many-armed sunflower sea star, and even a stingray! We’d gotten lucky for our first couple days on the beaches before we learned that we should be doing the “Baja shuffle” (shuffling your feet through the sand as you walk into the water) to reduce the chance of us surprising a stingray and getting stabbed for our transgression. But this was now the first one we’d actually seen, letting us know that we weren’t shuffling for no reason!
On top of that, while we never felt crowded at our last beach, and the social aspects were an incredible gift, I realized that it was also nice to be “alone” again in our more normal mode, with just the two of us essentially having the beach to ourselves.
Just after we got out of the water, the light winds picked up to a strong and steady 20 mph coming straight along the bay from the north, forcing us into the shelter of the palapa, but after an hour or so it died back down to nothing again. Crazy micro-conditions around this bay.
Our palapa was a bit dilapidated, but had actual glass windows on a couple sides, and most-excitingly, a table with benches built-in! We had fully intended to take advantage of the restaurant and get some good burgers for dinner, but the existence of that table suddenly seemed like such a luxury to both of us, that we surprised ourselves and decided to cook our own dinner right there. We’ve only done twelve nights of camping in Mexico, but our very first night camping was the only time that we’d had even a semblance of a table, so we couldn’t let this one go to waste! And it certainly helped that we could cook with a view out to the bay.
The wind picked up again around 8pm, lashing our palapa’s palm fronds quite a bit and keeping me awake, but it still managed to keep us well-sheltered for the night.