We left Bahia de Los Angeles just as the sky began turning from pink to blue, and I almost ran off the road from trying to keep the Sea of Cortez in sight through the rear view mirror as we drove back into the desert. One final dusty mountain turn, and it was gone. I cried, of course.
We had met some fellow travelers at a local restaurant who told us how to get to the cave paintings in Catavina, so that was our first stop. We pulled off the road near an arroyo lined with palm trees right next to a sign that said Cave Paintings – with a picture even. I don’t know how we missed it on our first time through. We hiked along the arroyo and then up a large mountain of boulders until suddenly we were standing in front of a small cave. The paintings are believed to be about 2,000 years old and the work of the Cochimí, the dominant Amerindian group of the Central Baja Desert.
After leaving the cave, we stood at the edge of the hillside looking down at the gorgeous desert below us. “Man,” Mark said, “I wish we had some peyote.”
“Um, yeah. You can do some peyote and sit here on this rock. I’ll be eating chilaquiles, drinking beer and reading in my cozy pink cabana. I’ll pick you up when you’re done with your little vision quest. Watch out for rattlesnakes.”
How’d I fall for this dippy hippie?
We also found La Virgen. Painted high on a rock and surrounded by a concrete enclosure, it looked like it used to be a peaceful place where people prayed and left offerings to Guadalupe. Now it feels ominous and downright creepy. There were dirty plastic flowers, trinkets and dozens of filthy prayer candles scattered all over the ground along with garbage and what looked like a dead animal in the corner. I got out of there as fast as I could.
Our next destination was Ensenada. Having had my fill of the rustic, bedbug-filled experience of Bahia, I had researched a couple of nice sounding hotels before we left. We pulled into Posada El Rey Sol by mid-afternoon and received a key to the mermaid themed Master Suite, or as we fondly called it, the Bomp Chicka Bow room.
I don’t think there was an unmirrored surface in the whole suite. Everywhere I looked, there I was. There was even a huge lighted mirror on the ceiling right above the bed. A jacuzzi tub, wet bar, red lights and a bathroom stocked with condoms rounded out the place. Ensenada’s a lively city, and we had planned a fun night out on the town, but strangely, once we settled into our room, we didn’t leave until morning.
The next day we dined on French pastries and Mexican hot chocolate, shopped for souvenirs, ate one last fish taco and one last churro, navigated the harrowing Tijuana traffic and waited in line another two hours to cross back into the U.S.
After one more night in a cheap hotel somewhere south of the Grapevine, we were back home in Humboldt.
Now, two weeks later, my skin is back to pale, I’ve stopped itching, and I’ve almost forgotten what it feels like to sleep without blankets. The holidays are here, work is exhausting and there’s a little wedding celebration that needs to be planned. Mexico seems like it was only a dream.
So every once in awhile I sit as close as I can get to the heater, close my eyes, listen to the wind and fall into the deep blue sea.