Baja, No Problem!

Today’s post begins a series of blog posts from my recent trip to the Baja Peninsula. Just getting there seemed to be a major undertaking! By the way, this post is a little long, but lays the groundwork for all future posts, which will be much shorter, and with more images.

To start with, we had just gone through a major snowstorm back home (Kansas City area) a few days before my flight. The entire city, including major highways and interstates, was closed down and people were urged not to travel about the city. Fortunately, as the flight date approached, most of the major traffic arteries were cleared sufficiently to travel. Another saving grace, was that I had booked a hotel near the airport for the night-before-flight-day. Actually, this was my first time to utilize this service, but I figured out that the hotel cost would very closely approximate the cost of utilizing long-term airport parking, and I could keep my car at the hotel, cost-free.

No problem. At 4:00am on flight day, I caught the hotel shuttle to the airport, about 10 minutes away. Got there about 2 hours before flight time.  No problem. Made it through security with all my photo equipment (the majority of my luggage is photo-related … little clothing, with plenty of laundry soap, makes up the remainder of my luggage).  No problem. Then, as boarding time approaches, we were notified that they were experiencing problems with the jetway … one of the wheels was frozen (the temperature that morning was 7F) and they couldn’t move it to the airplane! But having a 3-hour layover in Salt Lake City, no problem. Thirty minutes after departure time, we were notified that they had thawed the frozen wheel, using a propane torch, and they were ready to board the plane. No problem, we still had plenty of time before our connecting flight in Salt Lake City … even though we had to sit in line for a while to get de-iced.

As we made our final approach to Salt Lake City, I noticed that they had a lot of snow on the ground:

Salt Lake City, UT, from the air

No problem, it was not snowing at the time and we had plenty of time to change planes. Waiting for our connecting flight to Cabo San Lucas, all at once it started snowing … big, beautiful snowflakes … well, maybe not so beautiful since I had gone through 15″ of the stuff, just days earlier! Any way, as boarding time approached, it was still snowing heavily, but we began the boarding process. No problem. As the last of the passengers boarded and took their seats, the head flight attendant came over the intercom with a message that “Two of the 3 runways have just closed. The Captain is in a briefing right now, being brought up to date on weather conditions.” Problem? We’ll see.

After sitting on the plane for another 20 minutes, the Captain came on the intercom and said that we would be pushing off from the gate shortly, and heading for the deicing station … we should be about 20 minutes before our turn to de-ice. Starting to become a problem … we were to catch a charter bus at the Cabo San Lucas Airport, for a 4-hour drive to La Paz, where we were staying for the night. Well, as fate would have it, we ended up an hour and a half late leaving Salt Lake City.  Problem … this would cause us to land at about the same time as our bus was to leave for La Paz … and we would have to go through Customs and then grab our luggage, before we were ready to find the bus!

Long story short, the other members of our group had decided to hold the bus (we were the only ones on the bus, which actually turned out to be a van) until we made it there.  THANK YOU!!! Problem resolved! By the way, I might mention that I really stress out in this type of situation. Should the van not have been there, I would have been a basket case! Just think, being in a foreign country, trying to find a ride 4-hours away, and with a Spanish vocabulary limited to such phrases as: si, no, gracias, taco, burrito, cerveza … hmmm, see a trend here? Anyway, situation averted! No problem!

After emerging from Customs, with our luggage in tow, we made our quick greetings with the rest of the group, then loaded our luggage into the van and made our way toward La Paz. Along the way, we had beautiful desert scenery and lots of birds that we tried to identify from the van. Oh, and an occasional “photo opp”, like this Mexican version of the Beverly Hillbillies:

Roving, Baja salesman

Can’t you just imagine seeing Jethro and Granny sitting on those chairs as the truck rolled down the highway?! Actually, our van driver told us that this was a local merchant who traveled to some of the various fishing camps along the coast, selling household goods to the fishermen. Hey, everyone needs a broom or a bucket, or something! How about a nice easy chair for after-chore siesta?

As we traveled from Cabo to La Paz, one thing that really caught my attention was the festive colors that were found everywhere … many of the houses and buildings of the small towns/villages we passed through, as well as the San Berardino Hotel in La Paz, our home for the night. Here is a grab image from a point/shoot camera, of our comfy little hotel (taken the next morning):

San Bernardino Hotel, La Paz, Baja California

Note the festive colors, as well as the copious, off-street parking!  By the way, see the big hunk at the bottom right of the photo? That’s your’s truly :o)

After dropping off our luggage, we walked a few blocks to an open-air restaurant, where we wined and dined on authentic Mexican food: real tacos, not the Taco Bell variety! And freshly-made chips and salsa. And some Mexican beer. Even got serenaded by a troubadour of 4 Mexican guitarists, playing and singing while we dined … What a life! Unfortunately, left the point/shoot camera at the hotel :o(

In my next Baja post, I’ll share our first full day in La Paz, along with a boat ride in our pangas (small, Mexican fishing boats, skiffs) to look for whale sharks.

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