As I rolled into Mulege I decided that the best plan of attack would be to set up a decent base camp I could use for a few days before finding a comfortable spot for lunch and lounging. My guidebook had some nice things to say about the Orchard resort & RV park, so I was on a mission to find a campsite beneath the citrus, avocado, and mango trees promised in the brief description of the camp.
What I found was a beautiful spot on the side of the river that had been all but wiped out by Hurricane John last Fall. The Orchard had some very cool little vacation cottages, and inside you could see the mud marks on the wall several feet over your head. The luxurious Eden of fruit bearing trees was now a collection of driftwood on the beach several miles away, and the camping area was little more than mud and overwash scattered amongst what was left of the tall palms and construction equipment. Not exactly paradise, but I’m sure it will be once again within a couple of months.
I spent a little time poking around the cottages, and even got the full real estate pitch from the owner / manager of the site. It already seemed like there was an air of inevitability to the development people here see coming to their town. The hurricane was certainly a very real speed bump, but there’s a lot going on in this little town, and I’ll be interested to see what it looks like in the years ahead.
The river in Mulege had crested at over 30 feet above flood stage in the middle of the night when Hurricane John tore through here, and you could see the scrapes on the underside of the bridge from where it had been hit by cars, busses, houses, and whatever else got swept up in the torrent. The town itself is on a little rise North of the river, and though there had been widespread flooding, it was nothing compared to the campgrounds and small residential areas that line the river itself. Miraculously only 3 people were killed by the flood, and one of them had decided to go back down to the rivers edge to try to rescue his RV. His dog had followed him down and made it out. He wasn’t so lucky.
Since my plan for tropical paradise living at the Orchard was pretty much shot, I headed South toward the Eco-Mundo lodge. This little resort was described as the hopeful future of sustainable tourism development with solar power, water recycling, and organic food in the restaurant. All this at only $15 a night! I figured I’d splurge a little and check out the nouveau hippie lifestyle.
Unfortunately all was not perfect in paradise, and the management of the Eco-Mundo resort had left the place to fend for itself for the past few months. There was evidence that people had been using the palapas recently, and after checking in with the neighbors I decided that this could be a decent base camp as long as I was subtle and respectful about it. Turns out this was a great decision, and it fit into my budget exceptionally well. I picked out a nice little palapa, set up my bunk for the night, and scooted back into town to find some groceries and some internet access.
After checking in with my friends and family I treated myself to dinner at a little road side stand operated by somebody’s grandma and worked on my Spanish a bit while watching the local guys play a few round of “First goal wins” soccer in the local arena.
My second day in Mulege started nice and slowly with yet another gorgeous sunrise over the Sea of Cortez and I decided to explore the coast a bit and check out the beaches that I had read so much about in my Sea Kayakers Guide to Baja. Each time I rounded a corner I was struck with how beautiful the beach in front of me was. The water here is crystal clear, and the limestone sea-floor gives each Bay a rich hue of greenish blue that fades to sparkling white as the small waves lap at the shoreline. Black volcanic rocks jut out as small seamounts and islands, and deep green date palms sway in the wind to complete the picture of a perfect paradise. I had plans to go paddling here for a few days, and it was all I could do to keep myself from just ditching the Jeep around the next bend in the road and heading out immediately.
Instead I headed back into town to get some supplies together and create some semblance of a plan for the adventure ahead. Needless to say, the first stop was for ice cream. I mean why not? I’m hot and it’s 75 cents for a big double scoop from the cute girl at the corner. So there I am wandering down the street with my ice cream in hand when I see a dirty looking Kiwi biker buying tortillas and beer from an old guy on an oversized tricycle.
Josh had spent his time since Bahia Los Angeles heading over to the Pacific side to see the whales at Laguna San Igancio. After wiping out on a salt flat and fixing his bike up overnight, he had not only seen the whales, but pet them and laughed with a bunch of German tourists as the whales pushed their little boat around like a tub toy. I asked if he and John were up for some paddling and told him about my plans for the days ahead. Soon we were off to find John and rent another kayak.
I didn’t realize that Eco-Mundo was the only real kayak outfit in town, but the excelllent people at the Cortez Explorers Dive Center were kind enough to rent us their personal kayak so that we could all go out and play. The little yellow poke boat wasn’t quite as fancy as the sleek Point 65 kayaks I had on the roof, but we all agreed that it was a considerable improvement over swimming. Properly equipped, Josh and I strolled around town for a couple of hours to find food for the adventure ahead, and John started a fire and a bottle of rum back at their camp. The rum went out before the fire did, but by then we were fed, showered, and more than a little excited about the expedition that lie ahead. Plans were made for an 8:00 rendezvous, and I headed off for my makeshift home at the Eco-Mundo.
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