where the desert meets the sea of cortez
Baja is not just a place. It’s a way of life. Technology and innovation have changed our lives irreversibly. Our children will never understand life without selfies and the internet, and we will never have a chance to experience the wild west. You can’t go back in time, but fortunately you can go to San Felipe Baja!
Our $10k beachfront shack we bought near San Felipe Baja 13 years ago takes us back to a different time. You wake up when the sun rises and gives you light. There is no electricity where we live 40km south of town, which means no crowds. Imagine having beautiful pristine beaches and miles of desert trails all to yourself.
The few people that do live in the south campos rely on a few solar panels to charge a few batteries to run a few lights. Propane runs most refrigerators and stoves, and water comes from a well or a truck. It takes a little getting used to primitive housing conditions. I recently burnt my fingers trying to reach into the crowded propane stove (I used lavender and frankincense to ease the pain). Septic systems don’t handle toilet paper, and we have to light the water heater twenty five minutes before we are ready for a hot shower.
you’re not in san diego anymore toto
It’s hard to believe we are only 5 hours away from San Diego. Most people pay thousands of dollars a month to share walls there. We couldn’t reach our nearest neighbor with a rock, and we pay $1300 a year in rent (our house sits on leased land).
People in the states worry about crime when they think of Mexico. Maybe we are kidding ourselves, but most people know each other around San Felipe Baja. You know the street vendors, you know your neighbors, and you know the restaurant owners. If someone drives into your campo (neighborhood), your landlord or neighbor will see the trail of dust coming from a mile away.
Without all the people and technology, you can get more in touch with the land and nature. There’s no shortage of beautiful natural scenery to inspire your creative side. You might even find yourself in front of a canvas with some paint or collecting artifacts to add to your yard art.
the tide rules in san felipe baja
It’s hard to escape nature in San Felipe Baja. The tide and the weather are powerful forces that influence daily life there. When the tide rises enough to cover the rocks, fishermen launch their boats, kids go swimming and gringos hit golf balls into the sea. When the tide goes out, it’s time to collect the golf balls, mussels, clams and octopus from the exposed rocky shore. Our landlord makes an amazing ceviche from the seafood he collects in the morning low tide.
High tide is the perfect time to visit the natural hot springs of Puertecitos, just 70km south of San Felipe Baja. As the tide begins to recede, the healing waters of the hot springs are exposed at the perfect temperature. You don’t even have to take the roads to get there. Hop on a buggy or jeep and and take the beach.
an off-roading paradise
Regardless of the tides, you can always fire up your favorite off road vehicle and explore the beach and desert. You can ride up and down the beach for miles and miles, only occasionally passing and waving to another person. Or you can head inland and explore the desert trails that host the famous Baja 250. When the race is on, you can get as close as you dare to the trophy trucks as they fly by you across the desert.
the santa ana winds are your friend if you kitesurf
When the winter Santa Ana winds start blowing dust everywhere, most people stay inside and play games or try in vain to clean the dust from their house. However, that’s when a few of us pump up our kites and let the wind drag us around the Sea of Cortez on our surfboards.
Baja is one of the few undeveloped places in the world where the desert meets the sea. Everyone knows how great it feels to stand on the beach and look out to the sea. However it’s a whole different experience to glide across the water and look out at the desert, mountains and beach.
Baja seems like one of the last frontiers not yet spoiled by human development and regulations. If you ask our landlord what the rules of the campo are he will tell you there are no rules. Sure, some overzealous old timer may try to put up his own 5mph sign along a dirt road, but there’s no one to enforce it.
Forget about having a schedule. In San Felipe Baja, things happen when they happen. If you ask someone a question that begins with when, the answer is mañana (tomorrow). The desert is littered with half built structures that we call mañanas.
We wouldn’t mind if those half built structures never get finished, let alone mañana. The beauty of San Felipe Baja is its pristine undeveloped nature. The lack of crowds is what makes it special – that and those amazing desert sunsets. I don’t know why, but the sky there produces incredible sunsets every night.
After sunset, you might find yourself around a campfire with friends and family, but don’t get too comfortable. People go to sleep soon after it gets dark, called “Baja midnight” (which ranges from 7-9pm). Lights are used sparingly at night so as not to drain solar powered batteries. This makes for some amazing night time skies filled with more stars than you have ever seen.
The best thing about Baja midnight is that we will wake up when the sun rises and do it all over again mañana. Every morning as we sip our coffee and stare out at the sun rising over the sea, we are reminded why we love San Felipe Baja.