It was a very winding road that led up from Santa Rosalia as we left the Mar de Cortez behind us and headed toward San Ignacio.
The desert was stark and beautiful and wet from the recent rains, and the mass of Tres Virgenes volcano loomed just to the north. Rising 1,940 meters high (6,365 ft.) from the adjacent sea level, it's a major and unmistakable presence in this part of the Baja, and even visible from distant Kino Bay on clear days during the winter months.
Before long we see the entry to an eco/hunting lodge run by the Ejido Alfredo V. Bonfil, and we take a side trip, passing a large CFE solar electric array beside the narrow road. It's good to see solar power being adopted more widely. I've long been tired of the "You can't do that" attitude of the so-called 'smart money' types. I guess it turns out, "You can do that."
The ejido runs a simple lodge with picturesque wooden cabins facing nearby Tres Virgenes. A hunting group had left earlier to track the local bighorn sheep, and we were the only ones at the lodge. We relaxed over a fine omelette breakfast as cold winds whispered around the building. It was good to be inside, and not out there in the cold. Afterward we decided not to go further into the Reserve since it was hunting season, and retraced our way back to the main highway.
We arrived at San Ignacio only about a day late, due to the delayed ferry crossing, but with plenty of time to cool out for a couple more days.
We had reservations at Casa Lereé, a modest old adobe dwelling built originally by a wandering Frenchman. It's been restored and is now owned by Juanita, who hails from San Francisco. She's a wealth of local history and has collected much of it through oral histories, available for study in her reading room. She also runs a small bookstore with many volumes related to the Baja.
After checking in, we spent the afternoon meandering through various back streets and getting to know the place. There's a small Gringo contingent in the town, and we spoke to a few along the way. This charming remnant town seems to appeal to folks with a streak of artistic creativity, and who need little outside stimulation.
Just half a block away is 'Tootsie's,' a recently-opened bar and restaurant. We headed there for dinner and seated ourselves at a large wooden table with comfortable chairs.
The place is run by a sparkly young woman named Tony who named the restaurant after her grandmother. A group of Canadians came in and we suggested they join us. Soon, we found out we were seated with Tony's parents and other friends. Then we realized we had also sort of invited ourselves to a birthday party for a lady named Ivonne. Tony had made some ridiculous paper crowns for the party, and she whipped out a few more for us! Jocularity ensued! And the baked ribs were fall-off-the-bone delicious.
In the morning. we took a long walk down the winding road through the palm forest and past the gorgeous lagoon to find a place called Ignacio Springs, where Juanita said they had the best breakfasts.
When we arrived at Ignacio Springs, we discovered it was run by Gary and Terry, the parents we had enjoyed time with the previous evening. Their Finnish-now-Canadian friend, Pekka, who was also at the party, was there too. After a hearty breakfast featuring fresh farm eggs and homemade sausage, we watched Gary stoke up the smoker to cure his own hams and bacon. Then he gave us a tour of the grounds and the very comfortable yurts they have for rent. Next we were off in an old pickup truck to gather discarded vegetables at the local market to feed the pigs and chickens and gather more eggs. Gary is a barrel of energy.
That night, we were again at Tootsie's for dinner, seated at the same fine large table, when another couple came in. Soon, they were seated with us and we compared stories.
They were from Palo Alto, and headed to their other home in La Paz for a holiday vacation. He was originally from Chicago, and she was from St. Louis (both of them widely considered to be suburbs of Carolyn's home town of Peoria, Illinois). Turns out she knew an artist friend of ours from St. Louis. Yet another 'small world' story to toss in the memory bin!
In the morning, after a modest breakfast at René's, it was time to hit the road for Guerrero Negro. But not before making friends with a few of the local dogs. There's always time for that.