As we pulled in to the crowded anchorage of Agua Verde, we were thankful for having the shallow draft boat that we have. At only 4.5 feet deep, we can snuggle in closer to the beach than most boats. From the 50 foot middle of the bay, we slowly edged in and dropped anchor in the protected lee of a rocky outcrop. The first thing we noticed on the beach was a line of mules walking carefully down the steep side of a hill, carrying tourists. With beautiful views, great fishing and secret hot springs by the water’s edge, Agua Verde is popular with boaters and RVers, but proves tricky to get to from the main highway. Off-road trails lead down slippery and steep hills where we occasionally see people obliged to get off their vehicles and start pushing.
The next day, we hiked up the aforementioned steep hill, which leads to a small old cemetery at the bottom of a valley. Surrounded by dry dust and scrub, it looked especially quiet and forlorn. Reading headstones, we noticed that many of the graves were erected around the same year and belonged to children and people who were too young to die. We wondered if something terrible had happened to the local community that year, and got us contemplating the difficulty of medical assistance in such a remote location and how we should never take our health for granted.
On a dinghy trip around the anchorage to greet all our boaty neighbors, one long time Sea of Cortez cruiser told us of the local beach cantina with a great buffet dinner. All we needed to do was row to the closest shore and wade across a rocky ledge at low tide to get to the little palapa restaurant. The hike was not a big deal, local children did it all the time. So that evening, we put Rowan safely up in his baby backpack, hopped across damp rocks and stepped into tide pools as we made our way over to a wide beach where locals we filleting a catch of stingray by their panga, throwing scraps out for the seagulls to feast on. We hoped that the tide would not come up too high for us to return home.
Dinner was a cozy affair; plastic tables set under a palm frond roof, with food served straight out of the pots they were cooked in, just like they would at a family gathering. At a long communal table, returning gringo tourists sat together with the restaurant owner, swapping stories and showing each other photographs. On the table sat a guestbook, filled with happy comments left by past customers, all of them some variation of nomadic traveler that loves traveling off the beaten path. A trio of young French men joined the group, telling us of their journey down the west coast of the US and in to Mexico on motorbikes, in search of the desolate beauty of the Baja desert. Oftentimes the most rewarding travel destinations are the ones that are the hardest to get to; places unspoiled by human activity, where the earth is left as it was sculpted by nature, where the stars shine the brightest at night, and the sounds of the animals are all that you hear around you. The celebrated dish of the night was a Chile Relleno; grilled chilies stuffed with cheese and battered with fluffy whipped eggs before being fried and smothered in a spicy tomato sauce. The difference was that here, the cheese is cut with mashed potatoes, resulting in a lighter but just as satisfying dish. I made a mental note to try to recreate this dish at home. While we chatted with fellow travelers, Rowan made friends with the restaurant owner’s children and dogs, following them curiously and throwing them happy smiles and squeals. On our hike back to Monsoon, we were accompanied by a boat neighbor, a former real estate agent from Washington who taught us tips on buying houses as an investment. It is always fun to meet people from different walks of life while we are out traveling, and to glean bits of knowledge from each person’s specialties.
Snorkeling around the boat, we feel the water temperature slowly rising. It is an acceptable 66 degrees Fahrenheit, still refreshingly chilly, but not cold enough to require a wetsuit. Summer is coming, and with it the promise of sea life more abundant that it already is.