It was a very windy night on the beach cliff near San Filipe. Only at 3:00am in the morning did the wind die down. We left early since we were both wide awake at 7:00am. We drove further South on Hwy 5 till it intersected with the main road going south. Hwy 1 is a lot narrower so you really had to watch out when a large truck overtakes or passes you. The strong side wind also did not help. There were not so many beaches anymore. The mountains reached the coast and the road winds up and down them. At one point we crossed the peninsula all together and after a high plain (400 m) descended to the Pacific coast at Guerrero Negro. We drove all the way through town hoping to see a beach front. It is not there. The town ends in the swamps. On the other side of these swamps is a inlet where whales calf. Unfortunately for us, it is only between January and March. After lunch we drove further south and crossed the peninsula again. The desert shows lots of variation. The plants change along the way and in some sections there was still red and yellow weeds on the ground. We saw different type of cactus we had not seen before. Some of them showed what looked like a yellow flower but we could not take a good picture of them. In the oasis of San Ignacio we stopped for the night. Several of the campsites in this area were washed out during the storms in September. We found one which was still open. More travellers found it so for the first time we met other travellers in Baja. Most of them are American and Canadian on their way down for the winter. On this peninsula they do not have to import their car like we had to (if the stay only here). At several places the already narrow Hwy 1 is under repair. It lookslike the storm has also washed out parts of the road. They ask you to divert/drive on the sand road next to the main highway. You follow slow moving trucks in what feels like a convoy. They through the sand back at you. Very dusty. Sometimes you have to put on the window wipers to see anything. In the morning, we visited the town plaza and the old monastery church before leaving. It is very peaceful. Girls were practicing dancing moves in the plaza and in the church you could feel that this 200+ year old building can be a real spiritual refuge for daily life.
We reached the Golf of California again at Santa Rosalia. This town is built around a large copper and cobalt mine. You see some old mine buildings while driving all the way into town. It is not a beautiful place so we drove on. Further along the coast there are more sand beaches and Mulege has become a major snowbird town. The town has very small one way streets in which you easily get lost. Fortunately Passepartout is small so we had no serious problems. On a hill overlooking the town is again an old monastery. Most of them are started by the Jesuits at the end of the 17th century but taken over by other congregations around 1764 when the church banned the Jesuits out of South America (see also Misiones in Argentina). This monastery has been abandoned already for years. After lunch in town (prawn taco’s and fajita’s) we followed our way South on Hwy 1. Unfortunately there were not so many sand beaches along the way and when we reached Loreto we could not find a road down to the sea/beach. Instead we found a fantastic campsite in the middle of the old town right in the pedestrian area. Also here there were other campers. One of them a German/Swedish couple who are on the first lap of a 3-4 year world tour. They also started in Halifax but in May. We wandered the streets in the setting sunlight and visited the church where the congregation was singing hymens accompanied by a guitarist. The town and campsite was so peaceful that, in the morning, we decided to stay another day. Worth mentioning was the military check point along the way. Last 2 checkpoints we had no problem. Few questions and they let us passed. But the last one before San Ignacio was different. They thoroughly searched the camper. Not interested in large items but mostly small bottles of spices, containers and plastic bags. Probably looking for smuggled drugs or so. After about 30 minutes they let us go through. He is probably surprised at how much snacks (junk food) we had with us in the camper
Today we drove up the mountains behind the town to one of the oldest monasteries on the Peninsula “Mision San Javier”. The 34 km drive climbs up from the coast through old volcanic mountains to 520 m and then descends into the valley at 400 m where some Jesuits built this mission starting in 1697. Why a mission here in the interior? We see hardly anybody living here now. At some point in time most of the locals must have moved away to the coast. On the drive over the hills you have to cross many small water streams. One of them was so deep that we were afraid the diesel heater would flood again. At the Mision, we switched it on to make sure it worked and if it needed drying. Rudy put the plug back into the exhaust of the diesel heater just in case. Jamaliah is glad we are staying the extra night here. Every day driving gets to you at some point. It is “only” 2100 km to Mexico City so the endpoint of part 1 is in sight.