Still on the coast of the Sea of Cortez, we are on the second of what will probably be three days in the delightful little town of Loreto. The first of the Spanish Missions was built here in the early 1700s and for many years Loreto was the capital of all the Californias.
A scenic and relatively easy ride 49 mile ride out of Santa Rosalia got us to Mulegé the next town south. Arriving just after 12 we had plenty of time to soak up the ambiance of the the town, cycle up to the mission and down to a lovely undeveloped beach. Gavin even found time to ‘hang around’.
We were glad of another early start for the 28 mile ride out of Mulegé, giving some respite on what was probably the hottest day so far. Although short, it was a challenging ride with a series of steep hills, initially following the coast, then inland across a headland eventually hitting the coast again at the stunning Bahia de Conception. As it was too far and too hot to make Loreto in one day, and there are no settlements along the way, it was a case of finally having to get the tent out and camp on the beach at Playa Buenaventura. Fortunately, there was a small restaurant that had hot showers and a toilet, so civilised camping at least.
An interesting evening was had in the restaurant, which televised the American Football Superbowl final where the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in the final couple of minutes. A number of North American ex-pats and motor-homers turned up for what turned into a very noisy night; still have no idea what the rules are though!
A night with two in a very small tent sure makes one appreciate a comfortable bed. One consolation was the brilliance of the night sky, with no light pollution it makes you realise how few of the stars we are able to see from home.
Packing up a tent in the dark is an interesting experience but again proved its worth allowing us to start the 60 miles in to Loreto at first light. Another hilly day but beautiful mountain scenery which is more verdant in this region.
We were both exhausted when we got into town, only to find our hotel of choice fully booked and the next two we looked at way out of our price range (many wealthy Americans holiday here). Eventually we stumbled on Hostel Casa Loreto which is a delightfully rustic arrangement of eight rooms clustered around a central covered courtyard, almost in the town centre. Our neighbours are a bunch of very interesting people, including a lovely young couple, their three year old daughter and seven month old son who live in the wilds of the Yukon, five hours from their nearest town and where there is only 3 hours of sunlight a day at this time of year – oh and it gets down to -40. Another couple of similar age to us have cycled here from their home in Colorado – much common ground to share.
We have just returned from a morning boat trip with the young Canadian family to one of the many uninhabited off shore islands, we were blessed to have a huge pod of bottle-nosed dolphins swimming all around us, see colonies of Pelicans and groups of sealions sunbathing on the rocks and, to cap it all, on the way back a humpback whale was rolling over, diving and jumping out of the water just a few metres from the boat.
A few days off to recharge the batteries and allow some salve to work it’s wonders on my saddle weary rump should be just what the Doctor ordered for the final 500 or so miles to the tip of the Peninsula.