Across the Peninsula

Up early and out just after dawn. We were ready long before dawn, but I’m hesitant to drive the twisty narrow roads here when it is still dark. 
We left under gray skies, waving goodbye to the whales. It cleared as we crossed the desert. 
First the land was sandy and nearly barren. Soon, though, it was lush with an amazing variety of desert plants. Then it flipped back to barren, then lush again. 
Within an hour, we came to one of the many military checkpoints throughout the Baja. A very, very young man asked in confusing English to search our car. We got out carrying our purses and let him search. Meanwhile, I carried on a lively conversation with another soldier about las ballenas. He seemed quite pleased that we had come so far to enjoy ourselves in his country. Not for the first time, we wondered if these men who lived right here would ever take the time (and money) to go see the whales. 
About two hours from Guerrero Negro, we got to San Ignacio, the date capital of California Baja Sur. Driving into the town, we took a road lined with date fields. It felt so intensely tropical and lush, right in the middle of severe desert.
Sweet, sweet little town, with a small plaza and a gorgeous old church built in the late 1600s. We had a light brunch at a little stand on the plaza. We then wandered a bit, listening to birds sing the town awake, and spent some time in the garden beside the church.
An hour later we were pulling into Santa Rosalia. Never, never have I seen such an ugly entrance to a city. Not even Gary, Indiana, can top this. 
From stark desert, we descended, watching the Sea of Cortez in the distance. A beautiful start. But then . . . trash blowing wildly, and the town dump on fire and sending the gagging smell of burning plastic everywhere. Remains of burned out buildings and decaying industrial remains. 
We pulled over to take a little walk to the water, but the burning plastic stench was overwhelming. 
Thankfully, when we went into the town, it was much more charming. Sta. Rosalia was founded by the French, so it doesn’t look like most towns in Mexico. No adobe or block and stucco. These were frame buildings, many
with  second story balconies overhanging the sidewalks, and many, as in New  Orleans, had wrought iron railings. And the church was not the typical Spanish style, but tall with an almost curved roof. It was designed by the famous Eiffel (of the tower). I’ve never seen anything quite like it. 
Out of town, past more trash and mess and into the desert. Next stop: Mulege (picture an accent on the second ‘e’ so it’s pronounced moo la HAY).
I’d been looking forward so much to Mulege. The photos I’d seen, the stories I’d heard. Tropical, almost, and serene. 
We arrived to find the campgrounds we were interested in had been hit by three hurricanes. Riverside camping was no more. Damaged buildings abounded. Overall, nothing was very inviting. Though the town seemed sweet and was asking for exploration, we decided to move on.
We stopped at a few absolutely stunning places on Bahia de Concepcion, but ultimately decided to continue to Loreto for the night and have a shorter day’s drive the next day, to south of La Paz.
Loreto. WOW! We loved it. Beautiful church from 1697. A beautiful malecon, views across deep blue sea to the island mountains. We found a place to stay for a good price and headed to McLulu’s for dinner.
Lulu was fabulous. I liked her immediately. She started her fish taco restaurant in 1984 after her husband died. She had five children, one just over a year old. She said she got her tubes tied, just in case, because she felt it was better to make tacos than make babies.
Lulu’s tacos are legendary – and only $50P for three. But I just had to ask her why it was called McLulu’s, and here’s the story.
Some gringos loved her tacos, and each time they came for dinner she would excitedly tell them how many she’d sold – 100, 175, then one day 300. They told her that McDonald’s always posted how many they had sold and jokingly called her McLulu. The name stuck, and twenty-eight years later, McLulu’s is an institution.

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2 Comments

  1. Glad you escaped the crooked gas station in Rosalia. Mulege … the sweet, wonderful Mexican health food store? The amazing laundromat scene? Must all be gone. Sigh. You guys swooshed through the Bay Concepcion like bats outa hell. Hope you slowed down for suicide hill! xoxo

    Reply

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