March 1 – 2, 2010: Getting to San Ignacio Lagoon,
Baja California Sur, Mexico
We left our house on Monday night, after a full day of work, to catch our 8:30 PM flight to San Diego. The flight seemed short to us since we usually fly half-way around the world. The shuttle van dropped us off at the Holiday Inn near Old Town San Diego. I called our long-time friend, Sandy, who was also on the trip to let her know that we arrived. It was late, so we headed straight to bed.
On Tuesday morning we met Sandy at the continental breakfast in the hotel lobby. We found Rich Kuehn and Dean Schuler there also, the couple that organized the trip for 16 of their friends. Most of the travelers in our group were from Rich and Dean’s neck of the woods – Sea Ranch, which is located on the Mendocino Coast of Northern California. During breakfast, Steve, Sandy and I met some of the others that were in our group, they all seemed like a fun and friendly group.
We all boarded the Greyhound-sized bus chartered by our tour operators, Baja Discovery, at about 9:30 AM and headed for the Mexico boarder. They warned us that it could take a long or short time to cross the border, depending on the mood of the Mexican border guards. It was our lucky day! The border guard made a sweep of our bus and let us through without any inspections! The border with Mexico is quite a scene – cars lined up all over, especially to come into the US. A very tall, double fence lines the border and men with rifles patrol both sides.
Soon our bus arrived at the very small Tijuana airport. We collected the luggage and entered the terminal. The guard checked our passports and gave us Mexican Tourist Cards. Delayed by a headwind, our charter planes soon arrived and we loaded onto the two planes, ten on each. Steve and I sat behind the pilot so we could keep an eye on things. We all enjoyed looking out the window at the desolate desert and mountainous landscape of Baja. The single prop plane seemed to fly quite slowly – it took about two hours to reach the gravel landing strip located 35 miles west of the tiny town of San Ignacio and near the Pacific Coast. We all clapped when we landed, I am not sure why people feel the need to clap and I imagine the pilot doesn’t take it as a compliment on his flying abilities. The weather was partly sunny, about 75 degrees, and windy.
We boarded two vans and headed to a nearby camp on the coast to wait for the tide to rise. Our pangas, 22-foot open fishing boats that we will use for whale-watching, were anchored just offshore and couldn’t come up to the beach to load the luggage and us because of the low tide. No matter – there was a small restaurant nearby and we all enjoyed some Mexican beers while we waited. Tired of waiting, they finally decided we should just wade out to the pangas which didn’t seem like a problem to us. But then again we didn’t have to carry the luggage! Soon we were boating in San Ignacio Lagoon to our tented camp, about twenty minutes away.
Once we arrived in camp, the staff held a lottery to assign tents. Steve and I drew the tent closest to the water but farthest from the outhouse. We brought all our gear to the tent and set-up “shop”. Finally settled in at about 6:30 PM, we all met in the dining tent for dinner and an explanation of what to expect for the week and then headed off to bed.