We're getting ready for a multi-week visit to the ol' US of A. We're taking the ABC bus from Loreto to Tijuana and then a Greyhound from Tijuana to San Diego. From SD, we'll fly to Portland, OR. We'd visited Loreto a couple of times for a few hours over the past several weeks but hadn't really had as much time to explore as we would have liked. So, we decided to leave the boat a few days early and enjoy Loreto from the air-conditioned comfort of a room at the Hacienda Suites Hotel.
I found the Hacienda on the internet and chose it primarily for price but also because it looked nice. However, we all know how different things can look on the internet vs. in real life. Just ask anyone who's looked into buying a boat from an internet description. We were pleasantly surprised to find the the hotel looked just like it did in the pictures.
This pool is where we spent part of every afternoon cooling off. I highly recommend this hotel if you stay in Loreto and don't want to pay an arm and a leg (at least during the off-season). It was very clean and pleasant and actually had hot water in the shower although, when it's 100 degrees outside, who cares? It's a little bit of a walk down to the main part of town (Centro) and the malecón but, even in this heat, only takes 15 minutes or so.
We've spent several days just really relaxing. We had breakfast the first 2 mornings at the Hotel Santa Fe next door, only to discover this morning (our last) that the restaurant right here at the Hacienda has WAY better breakfasts.
After breakfast we strolled downtown to see what we could find in the way of souvenir gifts for the kids. There's a "gringo alley" that has lots of shops selling everything from t-shirts to traditional Huichol art.
After awhile, we tended to suffer from sensory overload as well as from the heat and we'd stop by the local Thrifty ice cream place for a couple of mango smoothies.
For those of you who remember Thrifty Drug Stores and their ice cream counter with the cylindrical scoops of ice cream, you'd feel right at home. I guess Thrifty went on to be come Payless and then Rite-Aid but their ice cream lives on in Baja still under the same Thrifty logo and with the same cylindrical scoops.
After chilling out with the smoothies and trying our best to avoid brain-freeze,we continued on our way. Some days this meant more shopping, other days it meant just walking around until lunchtime. And speaking of lunch, on our walk in to town we pass this little taco stand that we haven't had the nerve to try yet, and likely never will. Why not? Well, it's all about the head. All of their tacos are filled with something from a cow's head. They have tacos filled with the little bits and pieces of meat from the head, tacos filled with tongue, tacos filled with brains and, are you ready?, tacos filled with eyeballs. I haven't seen any of these tacos up close so maybe the eyeballs are all chopped up rather than the picture that I conjure up in my head but, either way, I think I'll pass. One of the most disturbing things about this place is that it does a great business mid-morning. That's right, while you're sitting back with a cup of coffee and an onion bagel, this guy's customers are tucking into an eyeball taco and a Coke. Different strokes I guess.
Loreto is a pretty tiny town. There aren't an awful lot of places to explore but there are an awful lot of places to eat. What to do?
Yesterday, after we'd finished our gift shopping and mango smoothies, we wandered back to the hotel for a cooling dip in the pool. An hour or so later, we walked back down to the centro for lunch. Today's fare: tacos de pescado, tacos de camarón y tacos de callo (fish, shrimp and scallops). This is the second time we've stopped at Panga Lapa for tacos and we weren't disappointed.
When we finally got ready to leave after over an hour, our waiter brought us a bag of 4 ripe mangos for free. Just because. Now, Lulu LOVES mangos. She's been lusting after all the trees we've seen that are loaded down with them.
What's the draw? Well, there are several. First, 4 PM to 7 PM, Monday through Friday is Happy Hour with 1/2 price drinks. And they make the best Bloody Mary I've ever tasted. Second is that, from 5 PM until they run out, Monday through Friday, they serve some sort of free food. Here's the line-up:
Monday: Gringo tacos
Wednesday: Baked clams
Thursday: Mexican pizza
Friday: Chicken wings
Half-price drinks and free food. Who can pass that up? Apparently not most of Loreto's gringo fisherman population. The place is pretty well packed for a few hours every afternoon. We were warned by a fellow cruiser before we went that it wasn't like Mexico at all. He said you might as well be in San Diego when you're at Augie's. True enough but the food, drinks and air-conditioning make it a nice afternoon's respite. And cruising sailors are a rarity at the bar. These fishermen understand trailering a boat down from California or Arizona. But when they find out we sailed down from Oregon we're suddenly looked at with a little more respect. How cool is that?
Okay, time to finish this up. We'll be heading out on the bus this afternoon at 3:30 (if the bus is on time) and it's supposed to be about 18 hours to Tijuana but we're figuring at least 20. So we'll get there tomorrow mid-morning. We can catch a Greyhound right at the main Tijuana bus terminal that will take us to San Diego ($30 USD each). If we can find a place to safely stash our bags, we plan to try to kill a few hours in San Diego at the San Diego Ukulele Festival which just happens to be taking place this very weekend. And what's weirder is that it's taking place at NTC Liberty Station, the site where I attended USN boot camp almost exactly 42 years ago! What a world, what a world.