Baja California Sur and the Hotel California.

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La Paz is in southern part of the of Baja California Peninsula. This is the second longest peninsula on earth, next to the Malay Peninsula, measuring 1,247km, from north to south with 4,000km of coastline.

It starts at the US border, with the Pacific Ocean on the west coast and the Gulf of California, or Sea of Cortéz, on the east.

The first day in La Paz was spent walking around the township. It was very quiet and most people seemed to be inside or eating at the many restaurants dotted along the Malecón. This seaside promenade is about 5km long with an array of aquatic themed sculptures.

My favourite was of an old man in a paper boat, titled ‘El Viejo y el mar’ by Guillermo Gomez.

Our hotel was the Mediterrane and again in a great location. From our balcony we had a wonderful view, over the Malecón to the beach and marina.

There was a wedding in progress at Catedral de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de la Paz. Outside the church were the giant letters ‘A&J’. We can only assume that these were the couple’s initials.

Come Saturday night and La Paz had livened up. The streets were crowded, but no where near as busy as the main boulevard, which was bumper to bumper with cruising cars and pick-up trucks.

They were a diverse group, some with music blaring, through open windows, while others had their windows wound up tight, keeping cool in their air conditioned comfort.

The food in La Paz was very cosmopolitan with a slight Mexican influence.

The beers in Mérida and La Paz were outstanding. I awarded five stars to Patito Draught in Merida and Baja Blond in La Paz.

The craft brewing industry is growing in Mexico, as it appears to be wherever we go

We hired a car for a couple of days to get a feeling of the surrounding countryside. Our first trip was south on a Highway 1.

El Triunfo was the first mining centre of the peninsula. Silver was mined there in 1751 and the town flourished. Once the minerals dried up these mountain towns lost their importance and were reduced to a Main Street and not much more.

One legacy of the towns wealth is the Church of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de El Triunfo.

The country was rugged with many large cacti shooting up from the parched earth. The valleys were scarred with wide, dry riverbeds strewn with boulders.

After passing through the mountains we headed for the coast.

The mountain road twisted and turned, then suddenly we were looking at the Sea of Cortez. Due to the haze, it was only distinguishable as a slightly darker blue tone against the lighter blue sky.

Most of the  shoreline was occupied by private housing, that seems to go right to the water’s edge.

We did find Buenvista, a resort town that had some sort of urban centre.

I am sure that this coast is home to many small fishing villages. With all but the major roads being dirt, we weren’t willing to take the tiny Hyundai off-road. It’s no wonder the locals all have 4X4 pick-ups.

Our second day with the car we again headed out of La Paz, this time to the south west and the Pacific Ocean.

On Highway 16 is Todos Santos, which is close to the coast but not on it. It’s home to The Hotel California. Unfortunately this isn’t the hotel immortalised in the song by the Eagles. The song is just an allegory and there was no real hotel. However this doesn’t stop the management alluding to the fact that it’s the real McCoy.

Game fishing is a big tourist attraction in Baja California Sur. It’s also dwindling, as every fish caught means less fish to catch. I was interested to read an article in the local English language, and aptly named, ‘Gringo Gazette’ about a unique idea to solve the problem.

It’s called Plastic Taxidermy.

Rather than kill and stuff the catch, to become a trophy above some rich guys mantle piece, a plastic replica is made.

As the article pointed out, who would really know the difference – apart from the fish that is.

Just south of Todos Santos, at 23° 26′ 22″ N, is the Tropic of Cancer, it was here that we finally found the Pacific Ocean, at El Pescadero.

It wasn’t that spectacular but it was the Pacific, and we hadn’t seen it for some time.

Even this coastline is dominated by condominiums, hotels and private mansions. Again only reachable by dirt road.

Fortunately the little Hyundai managed it with ease.

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