Trip Start Apr 11, 2010
Trip End May 20, 2010

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Flag of Mexico  , Baja California,
Monday, April 26, 2010

From Bahia Concepcion south the Transpeninsular Highway parallels the Gulf Coast some distance inland through some quite bleak desert scenery with occasional ranchos and good views of the Sierra de Giganta's serrated peaks. And then comes Loreto, set on a beautiful bay full of islands, a location so ideal that Mexico's tourist board's (FONATUR) computer programs identified it several decades ago (like Ixtapa, Cancun, and Los Cabos) as a spot with mega-resort potential.  However, unlike those others, development in Loreto never really took off and tourism remains on a small scale with a nautical sort there to yacht and sport fish and more senior visitors playing shuffleboard in the RV parks before their evening potluck suppers.

Mission Nuestra Senora de Loreto was founded in 1697 by Jesuit explorer preist Juan Maria Salvatierra.  As the first mission in the Californias, this is where it all began, and the well-preserved mission church, adjacent historical museum, nearby plazas, quiet pedestrian streets, and seaside malecon (promenade) give it the look of the perfect Mexican seaside town.  Besides the church and museum there's not much to do in Loreto except wander and check out tiendas filled with overpriced souvenirs and handicrafts from the mainland.  And eat!

I got lured toward a pleasant looking place in the pedestrian zone named La Cascada by the promise of 2-for-1 happy hour beers and discovered seafood so heavenly I had to return again my second night in town. 

Chile Relleno de Mariscos - a battered stuffed poblano pepper filled with four kinds of seafood and smothered with cream sauce. 

Almejas Gratinada - local Santa Catarina clams stuffed with pico de gallo and covered with cheese. 

Coctel de Ceviche de Lubina - sea bass ceviche cocktail.

Callos en Crema de Chipotle - scallops in a chipotle pepper cream sauce.

To top things off the heladerias (ice cream shops) in town are superb and offer some especially innovative flavors I've never seen in America.  Yum!

On my second day in "The Love Boat" appeared to be in port, but it wasn't really "in port".  The ship was stationary well out to sea and shuttling passengers back and forth to Loreto's small fishing harbor in little boats that it seemed to swallow or disgorge from some docking station underneath the mother ship.  Wow, very interesting!  The cruise passengers wandering around town might well have been the exact same people who were on the Love Boat thirty years ago, as they appeared to be about twice the size and thirty years older on average than the people who appeared on the late 1970's TV show.

As I pulled into my little postage-stamp size lawn of tent space at the RV park on my second night in Loreto I discovered a backpacker setting his tent up next to mine.  He was gray-haired, shapely, and handsome in a surfer dude kind of a way.  We never exchanged names, so I'll just call him The Silver Fox.  He was from northern California, had a midlife crisis when he turned fifty, and was on the return leg of a two-year backpacking journey through the Americas that took him all the way to Cape Horn.  We shared some of our adventure stories, but Silver Fox was also eager to tell me about his weeks smoking weed at a hostel in Colombia as well as complaining about the prices at brothels in Mexico.

"In lots of places in South and Central America you can get a girl for $8 to $10 a night, but in Mexico it'll cost you at least $20!"

Our conversation continued for a while until I asked a question I couldn't resist.  "I'm just curious...what did you use to do in America before you took to the road?"

"I was a Protestant minister for 20 years.  I got rid of the wife, the house, the cars, everything....I just couldn't take it anymore!"

It's always a pleasure to meet someone who's tried the straight and narrow path in life and found it unfulfilling, in contrast to the usual stories we're fed about rogues being "saved" from their free living ways to be tied and bound by the societal straitjacket.

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