the dusty gravel road with our tandem sea kayak and surf boards
strapped to the top of our truck, the coastline of Sea of Cortez
awaited in the distance, fourteen miles off the pavement from Baja
Mexico’s Route 1.
At first the road to the village of Agua Verde was
gently undulating with the dips and swales of the plateaued topography
of the Sierra Madre mountain range. Then, at all once, we found
ourselves at the precipice of the cliff, looking seemingly straight
down into the red ocher gorges filled with cactus and other hostile
plant life. It seemed like what one would expect to see if the Grand
Canyon suddenly met the Caribbean. Striking desert canyon walls of
immense height and grandiosity exploded straight up out of crystal blue
waters lapping quietly with the tide along remote sand beaches.
Remarkably, the roadway continued over the edge of the cliff,
narrowing, hugging the canyon wall, then, unbelievably,
switchbacking north and then south, until the gravel road at last
arrived at the water’s edge.
At times, we pulled off the side to allow
passage of tiny rental cars returning to Loreto, a booming Baja
community 2 hours north. Another time,
we stopped to let an old Volkswagon van with Oregon plates pass. The
dusty passengers stopped, kindly said hello, and gave us directions for
camping at a private beach. Their smiles beamed as they told us about
the tide pool hot spring located near the campsite, exposed only during
lower tides. With renewed enthusiasm, we drove onward, stopping only
one more time to allow several local vaceros on horseback herd their cattle up the road, whistling and flicking whips all the while. Andale. Ya. Ya. Andale.
At last arriving at the Sea of Cortez, we followed the Volkswagon van driver’s instructions and stopped in at the first rancho
we saw. Introducing ourselves to the local family, we politely asked if
we could camp at their beach. We had learned it is customary to offer
the family at least two dollars per night on the way out. Their heads
nodded, smiling. Sí. Sí. They gave us directions to the
beach, let us know another couple was camping in the same area, and
explained how to find the legendary hot spring.
We were in luck. It was
low tide, which was a requirement for driving along the stone sea wall
to access the private beach. A four-wheel drive or high-clearance
vehicle was also required. Less than twenty minutes later, we were in
paradise, determined to stay as long as the food and clean drinking
water we had brought with us would last. There are no grocery stores in
Agua Verde. There are not even grocery stores near Agua Verde. All food and water must be brought with you.
our tent set up fifty yards away from the edge of the Sea of Cortez, we
adventured off to soak in the hot spring. The hot spring is only
soakable during mid-tide. At high tides, it is underwater completely,
allowing it to stay clean and refreshed. At low tides, it is simply too
Hot springs along the Sea of Cortzez are not uncommon and are
rumored to be visited by yatchies and others lucky enough to be in the
know. Reclining in the hot water, we looked up at the expansive
canyon walls touched only by the vast blue sky; we found contentment in
simply being. The only other visitor during our stay
was a gentlemen who arrived via his sea kayak one morning, quietly
stepping out of his boat and into the warm pool surrounded by tidal
rocks and barnacles. We were thrilled to share.
at Agua Verde was largely an exercise in catching dinner, fish tacos
specifically. We rigged fishing rod holders onto our sea kayak and
trolled for edible fair as we paddled the shoreline, admiring the rock
features and beholden the solitude of it all. Tropical colored fish were
visible to the naked eye, swimming just under the water’s surface.
Blips of lime green, vermilion and amethyst dashed for cover under
craggy rocks as our kayak floated by. Now and again, we would get a
strike on our rod, reel in our catch, and eventually return back to
On a paddle to an island just offshore, we came upon a flotilla
of hundreds of little ducks in the open sea. Suddenly they disappeared, diving one by one under the surface until they were all
gone. We sat there, rocking gently in the swell, bemused and slightly
concerned. Then, one by one, they popped back up fifty yards to the
south; the massive flotilla of little ducks again whole.
sunset, with tummies full of fish taco goodness, we caught sight of the
Singing Cowboy trotting by. Evidently famous in these parts, the
Singing Cowboy looked like one might expect after hearing his name – a
man atop a strong horse heading home after a day of work wrangling his
cattle in the hot Baja desert, singing to himself or possibly to the
canyons. We heard rumors from other campers that his songs had been
recorded once by an anthropologist doing research in the area. It seems
the cultural investigators tried to get a step ahead of the
so much of Baja, Mexico, beautiful places are undergoing luxury
development at astounding rates. For now, this place is
pristine and remarkable.