Trip Log November 11-14 2021

Family David, Lisa and Joshua from Boston. Family Eric, Monica and Gabito from Berkeley. Toño from Mexico City.

November 11th

Met up at 9am at the office for gearing up and COVID tests. Then, off to the island, landing at Bonanza Beach in time for camp intro and lunch. In the afternoon, we snorkeled around the rocks to get everyone ready for tomorrow at Los Islotes. I saw two Stone Scorpionfish less than 10 meters from camp, several lobsters, an encounter between two moray eels where the smaller swiftly headed in the opposite direction, and lots of fishies. Everyone did great, Joshua was a natural in the water, and Gabito was totally chill. Then we did a little nature walk and had great fun finding two species of stick bugs on one skinny little mesquite twig. Back to camp for happy hour (margaritas and guacamole with chips), and dinner (BBQ chicken, scalloped potatoes and Cole slaw). It gets dark so early that I was able to show everyone three of Jupiter’s moons. I love seeing the reactions and it’s such a simple thing to do with my binoculars. Then to bed nice and early.

November 12th

I slept in a tad bit today, got up around 6:30. I always need some extra time the first morning. Had coffee and some fruit with yogurt and granola, and then an egg, pancakes and sausage for breakfast. We’re going to need energy today because we’re going to Los Islotes.

We had to go all around the island from Bonanza Beach because of the swell on the windward side, but we had an amazing snorkel. Gabito and Joshua were total pros and everyone did great. I took Gabito for a while so his parents could look under the water, and he was very calm. He took a break from his mask and just looked around at the sea lions on the rocks and all the birds flying around. We spent an hour in the water, and then headed back to camp. We also had to go the long way around because of the wind, but it was nice to be able to show them both sides of the island.

We had another great lunch at camp (soup, rice, rajas con crema, Jamaica juice), and then had an hour of solo time. I took a nap. The wind kicked up, and we really didn’t think it wise to head out on the water on a windy day with untried kayakers and their kids. It just seemed like a recipe for disaster, so we choose to err on the side of caution and spent the afternoon at camp and snorkeling. Despite the wind, visibility was great and there were lots of fish. I headed back to camp after about half an hour, took a wonderfully warm Sun shower, and cleaned off for the day. A little while later we got Happy Hour (ceviche with beer, one of my favorites), and then a nice early dinner while we talked about The 100 Foot Wave documentary and how insane it sounds to want to be a big wave surfer. Then to bed early.

November 13th

Today most of the group left as they only came for two days. Only Toño remains, and we headed out for a half day of kayaking around the southern tip of Espiritu Santo Island, but not before a dawn paddleboard outing. It was beautiful, and the water was so clear you could see all coral and fish as we glide past.

The group left at 8:20, and we soon got the kayaks and lunch ready for the outing. We arrive at Punta Lupona around 11, and even though it’s a bit early I’m already hungry and we have lunch. Then we float in the water in our life vest. I love it! It’s so relaxing. JJ shows up just as we’re about to jump back in the kayak, so we give him and Julio the remains of lunch, as Toño and I start our last kayak stretch to arrive at La Despensa. We land, load up the kayak and head back to camp before the wind picks up. Even so we encounter strong headwinds when turning north at Punta Lupona.

We arrive back at camp to discover that Baja Expeditions, another company, has landed and unloaded all their gear for an upcoming trip. We arrive and explain we still have guests in residence, but they insist and set up their kitchen in front of our dining tent, completely blocking out view. JJ goes off in search of cell phone signal to talk to the Park Rangers and resolve the issue, and Antonio and I take a late lunch at camp before heading off for a hike around Bonanza Hill in the late afternoon. It’s a great time to walk around, as the sun back-lighting the desert is a thing of beauty.

JJ and Toño head out for a sunset paddle playing with the wind and I take a moment to float in the water and watch the Turkey Vultures rise on thermals in the hundreds. What a spectacle! I wander back to camp with the last of the light for Happy Hour (a local specialty, the Doble Canala and jícama con limón y Tajín) and then dinner (Bolognese with veggies). To bed around 9.

November 14th

We planned a special treat for Toño for the last day, and head off at 8am to do two dives – Fang Ming and Swanee reef. We arrive long before anyone else and as we’re getting geared up we see turtles popping up all around us, confirming our hopes that they’d be here. We get ready and drop by the buoy-line.

Coming around the side of the ship we find our first turtle who placidly sits there for video. We move on and encounter the true gem of the dive, a huge cloud of little sardines moving in and out of the all the hatches and holes on the hull, being hunted mercilessly by Cornet fish, Yellow Snappers, Leopard Groupers… It was hypnotic enough to just watch the sardines hovering in the spaces between hatches with the light slanting in, but then to see them move, swirl, eddy and disappear at the onslaught they received was simply mesmerizing.

I dared go in smaller places than ever before, like in the bridge. That doorway was too narrow last time, but this time I was a little more confident and discovered a whole new section to explore. There were clouds of fish everywhere, three turtles, Cortez rainbow wrasse, little yellow and blue juvenile Damselfish. We rose after about an hour and a turtle swam past during our safety stop.

We embarked and warmed up in the sun as we headed to Swanee reef. We arrive and wait for our time to be up watching a couple female sea lions playing in the water. We gear up and drop to encounter a reef absolutely teeming and writhing with small to medium Grunts and Goatfish. The female sea lions are playing with the clouds of fish the way a child plays with a flock of pigeons, just chasing, moving, darting. It looked like she was simply enjoying swimming through ephemeral puffs of fish. We also had great fun swimming through the puffs of fish and they surrounded us for a good half of the reef. We go around the other side, which is ok but nothing like this, so we make our way back and continue enjoying the show until a cloud of 19 divers descend upon the reef and displace the fish. We were about ready to end our dive anyway and it’s been so shallow the whole time that my computer doesn’t even make me do a safety stop. Never had that happen before.

We come up and find that the wind has picked up, so we swiftly board the skiff and make our way back to camp for lunch. The invaders have continued setting up their camp. Their tents and bathrooms are up and I can’t get from tent to dining room without walking under their shade structure. But the show must go on and we have a delicious lunch of Pescado a la Veracruzana and make our way back to La Paz. On dry land we take Toño to his hotel, unload gear and get the boat back in the water to bring home the final half of our gear and crew. Everyone makes it home safe and sound, and we go out for a celebratory dinner at Las Tres Vírgenes. We toast to a well organized and safe beginning to our work season. Cheers all!!