From Los Amigos Playa we drove 90 miles south to Loreto, a town of about 10,000 residence who primarily survive on the tourist trade. Although just 90 miles, it took us about 3 hours on the winding Mex 1 Highway (through more steep mountain passes). Passing semis and speedy Mexican cars kept me on my toes and wore me out.
So far the horses, mules and other livestock I’ve seen along (and on) the road have appeared to be in tip-top shape.
I wasn’t sure what to expect in Loreto but I was hoping for some amenities like laundry and internet access. According to my camping bible there are two options for both within about a 100 miles of where I was and they can be found at the only two campgrounds in Loreto proper. My first choice was the Rivera Del Mar because it’s a short walk to the city center and my second Loreto Shores because it’s more expensive and about a 1/2 mile from anything. As I entered town it became clear that the book’s inadequate map wasn’t to scale and missing most the streets.
I quickly found myself thick in the middle of a neighborhood where the streets were narrowing and the one way traffic was squeezing us dangerously close to the ditch. Just a tiny bit unnerved, I pulled over. Not soon afterward a man yelled from his yard and asked if I needed help (in English) and I called out a relieved…. “Si!” After he tried to giving directions in Spanish and English, and lot of gesticulating, it became clear that he was just as confused as I was about which Spanish/English equivalents meant left and right, “derecha? izquierda?” and he offered to get in the truck to show me where I needed to go. It turned out he didn’t exactly know where the campground was and brought me to a dry dock. He got on his cell phone to use mapquest but my book didn’t have enough designated streets. I showed him the book and he directed me to the Hotel Desert Inn that was, supposedly, across the street from the campground. We ended up at an abandoned enclosed compound. I realized it was time to change plans and find my second choice campground. I offered to drop Omar off at his house but he said that he could walk. He gave me his name and phone number suggesting that I could call him if I needed any other help. I think he was under the impression that I was going to live here and he was hoping to make some money. I didn’t have my small change purse in the cab so I handed him the only bill I had… a 100 pesos (about 7 dollars). I knew it was a lot but …. Oh well. I know that his first attempt to help me was not for the money and I appreciated his low-key efforts to make a few bucks. After dropping him off, I easily found the second campground…. I simply followed the signs pointing in its direction…..
Loreto is a clean and tidy town. The poodles and I spend the rest of the day walking, and of course the poodles attracted a lot of attention. There were quite a few families visiting the square and many of them stopped to ask about the Caniches (poodles) and children wanted their pictures taken with TenTen, Eureka and Neekle.
I was thrilled that many of the children here weren’t afraid of them and wanted to say, “Hola!”
The Mexicans seem to have a great sense of humor. Many of the people I’ve talk to have a lively, boisterous quick wit. As we walked down one avenue a gentle man smiled and asked me (in spanish) who was walking whom? Were they walking me or the other way around? Pasting a taxi stand the guys stopped us to ask questions about the dogs. I asked one, “Quiere…?” do you want?….. ?… stumbling on how to say ‘to pet them’ and he jumped in and said (in english).. “Sure, I’ll take them home!!” and gently reached for TinTin’s leash. I laughed and said, “Uh…. what is the word for ‘pet’?” He said, “Tush” and I said, “Tush?” and he said, “Tusha” and I said, “tusha?” and he said, “Tocar” (to touch in spanish) In other words he was trying to say ‘Touch.’ OY. He laughed and gave TinTin a pat on the head.
It was our first time on foot through a populated area since Ensenada. There seemed to be a lot more loose dogs here but for the most part they barked and followed us from a distance. I carried a pocket full of rocks and that seemed to persuade a few of the more curious dogs to stay away.
After a few hours of walking all three poodles and I were beat and headed back to our campsite. Just as we were preparing to settle down for the night it was clear that Loreto was waking up. Music came from all corners of the town, colorful paper balloons were waving from tree branches and restaurant tables were being set with red cloths and bouquets of flowers. One boy on the street corner was selling piñatas. I wish they weren’t so big because I would have gotten one for Oso.
As it got dark, I made dinner: linguine and fresh prawns accented by a very nice Mexican wine and I topped that off with a walk in the neighborhood.
I couldn’t not investigate the origin of the Mariachi band playing down the road. I stood in the shadows watched the celebration. Satified with my introverted voyeuristic participation in the party, I headed back to my cozy Camper and the patiently awaiting poodles. For the past 8 or so years I’ve had a New Year party at my house with a few close friends. Last year broke that tradition when I found myself in Kingston, Ontario celebrating with a few new acquaintances. This year I am one step more removed as I celebrate from a distance. Interesting that it feels just fine.
Welcoming In the New Year Mexican Style