Blog Post 29 - Agua Verde to Puerto Escondido/Loreto

Fri 11 Mar 2016 02:11

Blog Post 29 – Agua Verde to Puerto Escondido/Loreto

1/25/16 - 1/29/16

25:48.86N – 111:18.66W


The cruise from Agua Verde to Puerto Escondido was uneventful, which is always good on a boat. We had planned to go to Isla Danzante first but yet again the weather was going to get ugly so we want to be in a safe place. Puerto Escondido (Hidden Port) is exactly that, hidden. As you approach you cannot see it. It is considered one of Baja’s most protected harbors as it is completely landlocked with the exception of a 200 foot entrance channel. It has the Sierra Gigante range towering above its western side and has the Punta Coyote headland protecting it on its east side. This port is used as a hurricane hole during the summer. Although you never want to be caught in a hurricane on a boat, if you were, this is the place you would want to be.




Cruisers rave about Puerto Escondido as one of their favorite places to stay. It is huge, it can hold over 200 boats and also has a small marina. We wanted to stay in the marina both for the power and the Internet. Nico was having withdrawals from wi-fi. We wanted to stay in the marina as well because the Northers were coming and winds were expected to be 25-35 miles an hour in the harbor. It is much better to be tied to a dock than anchored or on a mooring ball. But there was a caveat. It was not a marina like we were used to, where you pull into a slip. It was one long dock and the only way to tie down was to Med-Moor. For those of you that have been to Europe you know what this means. The boats are tied up right next to each other and then tied down from the stern. It this particular case you had to pick up a line that was attached to a mooring and drag the slimy thing to the back of the boat and tie it to the dock and/or to a cleat. As the wind was about to howl, we tied to 2 mooring lines and one on the dock and one to a cleat on the boat. The other challenge with med-mooring is that you get on and off the boat from the back or stern of the boat. Our boat is very high and you need to climb down a good 10 feet to the dock to get off. As we are planning on heading to Europe and beyond, where med-mooring is quite common, so Jirig designed a large ladder that is part of the dingy davits system that can extend all the way down to the dock. We got into the slip without incident but getting in and out of the boat was more of a challenge. You have to climb over the rail and down the ladder. That sounds simple enough but with the wind blowing 20+ knots and the boat swaying back and forth, not so much. Try carrying groceries and supplies at the same time. It is times like these why you never wear a skirt or dress on a boat!





The wind raged for 4 days. One day it was so bad that the harbor master in the marina said that someone had to remain on the boat at all times. We were glad we were not at anchor. Even though we could not play in the Sea there was plenty to do nearby. We rented a car so we could go exploring. The historic town of Loreto in 15 miles away from the port. I had been looking forward to going to Loreto for a long time. It is an historic town, it was the location of the first Spanish settlement and mission back in 1697. It was the Capitol of Baja for hundreds of years before the town was wiped out in a hurricane in the 1850’s. The town is small, it has a population of about 14,000 and is very quaint and charming.  There is the classic town square with the re-built church as it centerpiece and numerous restaurants serving delicious food. As I am a foodie I was in heaven. We ate out almost every night. Loreto has its own water source with numerous rivers flowing out of the Sierra Gigante mountains. Water in Baja is pretty rare so this area has been inhabited first by indigenous Indians and then by the Spanish for eons. Jesuit Padre Juan Maria Salvatierre established the first mission here and it was from there that Loreto became the launching point for 23 additional missions in Baja. To say that it was an important town in the history of Baja is an understatement.





The reason I know so much about the missions is because one of Nico’s classes this year (remember we are homeschooling and I am the teacher) is the History & Culture of Baja. I bought every book I could find on Baja and we read every one of them. In every city we have been in, Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas, San Jose Del Cabo, La Paz, Loreto, San Javier, Mulege and Santa Rosalia and San Ignacio, I have dragged him to see the missions.  He is not nearly as fascinated as I am. I take him to every museum and cultural event I can find. Only 2 missions out of the 23 built remain intact today. One of them, San Javier is about 20 miles east of Loreto. So naturally we had to go see it. It is up a rugged canyon and while driving up there you can’t help but imagine why in the heck would they put a mission up here and how in the heck did they ever get the building materials all the way up here? It was difficult in a car. The road was paved but had been washed away so many times that it was a rugged dirt road in many places. Can you imagine bringing those stones up here on a pack mule? As you approach the mission it is as if you are approaching an oasis… There are palm trees everywhere and tall grass and reeds 6 feet high. It is lush and green like a jungle. When you see that arising out of the desert there must be water somewhere. And it turns out that is why the Padres built the mission here. There is rich volcanic soil and an abundance of water. The mission was meant to grow the crops to support the other more remote and arid missions. If you closed your eyes you would think it was 200 years ago, there are cobble stoned streets, small adobe buildings and then this elegant but massive church. Where did they find the artists, sculptors and stone mason's to build a church like this? I am fascinated by these concepts but Nico and Jirig could care less. They walked through the church in 10 minutes, took some pictures and went to have a soda and a beer. Not me. I had to check everything out. They had these hand carved confessional booths. I could only imagine the sins, secrets, lies etc that must have been told in these boxes over the centuries. The Padres built an aqueduct to water their fields that is still used today to do the same. There is a trail behind the church that leads to a 300 year old olive tree. The tree was brought over on a ship from Spain and hauled up here and it is still thriving today.That is no small feat! Keeping a plant alive on a boat is not easy, believe me, as I have many failed attempts to prove it.  The Padres introduced all sorts of fruits to Baja.They brought, dates, olives, oranges, grapes to make the first wine, corn, sugar, tomatoes and many other crops. All of which remain today. It was truly an amazing day. The ride back down the mountain to Loreto provided spectacular views. There were some great hiking trails but my boys were not into it. They were hungry and we needed to get something to eat.






Loreto provided a nice respite for me. Having a car to get around really helped. One of the hardest things for me about the cruising life is the lack of alone time. There are times when I just need my own space. Time where I am not a wife or a mom but just myself. Loreto provided the perfect getaway. I took a day to myself,  went to the spa, had fabulous massage and a mani-pedi then went and had a lovely lunch with a glass of good wine. I night before I had me a woman named Tammy Coia who runs a woman’s writing retreat in a development called Loreto Bay. She invited me to join her writing group the next day. I did and it was amazing. I have not written since high school and college and seeing her and her class gave me the confidence to continue this blog. It was great to see so many talented writers honing their craft. It was the perfect day.


The weather had cleared and it was time to move on. Loreto is surrounded by numerous islands that are part of a protected marine preserve that are just a day sail away. Our first stop was Isla Carmen.