Puerto San Carlos and Bahia Magdalena
March 7-16, 2008



Introduction: The Drive/The Town

Adventure 1: Whale Watching and the Fetid Beaches

Adventure 2: Mangrove Fun and Isla Magdalena

Adventure 3: Dune Camping and  a Friendly

Adventure 4: Snorkeling in the Mangroves

Adventure 5: Fishing in the Bay

Loreto/Mag Bay Tours

whales rolling
Trio of whales rolling near the surface (two tails) 

Please click on photos for enlargements

Adventure 5: Fishing in the Bay

Thursday morning we went out for one last whale watch.  Carlos is a fantastic captain, knowledgeable about whales, courteous to them, cheerful, and pleasant.  His English is good but he humored my attempts to converse in Spanish.  geoducksHalf way to the mouth of the bay we came across a fleet of pangas--diving for big clams, he said.  When he saw that we were interested, he took us over to a boat in which two fishermen were tending to the catch of a diver 30 feet down on the bottom.  Over the side of the boat came enormous geoducks by the dozen and I got to hold one for the first time (it squirted all over me).  Geoducks are huge, lewd looking clams highly valued by Japanese consumers (see photo to left).  Carlos also enjoys them and the fishermen gave him a small one for dinner.whale head

From there we made our way to the mouth of the bay.  The wind was already kicking up and the whales were less friendly and mellow than usual.  We watched a few trios rolling around for some time, and saw a lot of fluking too, but nothing spectacular.  I did get a few good photos, and I was perfectly content.  On the way back we had to run along the shore of Isla Magdalena to avoid the wind and Carlos was on the lookout for delfines (dolpins) for me. We passed the defunct processing plant again, then slowed down to check out two huge circular pens anchored offshore.  Carlos said they were for raising young tuna caught in the open ocean to a more lucrative size before harvesting, something I had no idea took place in Mexico (see photo below).  We then passed a buoy with a couple of sea lions on it and I did see a dolphin come up once briefly.  It was an interesting trip with all the fishing information, and we chatted with Carlos quite a bit.  In the off-season he fishes in the bay himself.  Back at the dock he gave us his card and offered his services as whale watching captain for Mag Bay Tours should we ever return.

Unfortunately, this was our last day in San Carlos.  We’d already packed up and after finding no tempting food in town, decided to start driving.  We filled our gas tank and in about 45 minutes my mother spotted a restaurant on the outskirts of Ciudad Constitucion.  It was deserted, but open, so we sat ourselves down with a beer to peruse the menu.  There were lots of options!  Still mostly carnivorous, so I opted for marinara pasta.  Oops—my mistake.  It arrived piled with shrimp….I guess the “mar” in marinara should have been a warning!  So I sucked it up and ate the shrimp, which was fine.  We stopped by the nearby mini super to pick up some coca cola diete and ice cream bars for the rest of the drive.

We had only one interesting incident on the way back.  I kept seeing large signs for a right turn to Loreto and soon followed them into a 90 degree turn and a new road.  My mother, however, was convinced that we needed to go on to Villa Insurgentes first and I was sufficiently uncertain as to turn around and get back on the original road.  All the countryside looks pretty much alike there, so it was hard to tell whether we'd traveled that way before and our map was pretty unspecific.  After about 20 minutes we drove down through a wash which neither of us remembered so we began to get nervous.  I pulled off at a truly miniscule, dark like mini super at a cluster of farm buildings in the middle of absolutely nowhere and stepped inside.  For the first time since Spanish 101 some eight years ago I actually asked for directions (more or less) in Spanish.  The attendent was a middle aged Mexican whom I suspect didn't speak a word of English.  He asked where we'd come and I managed to reply that we'd come from San Carlos (I'm sure my tenses were off).  In any desertmountainsevent, after some back and forth he told us to go back eight kilometers the way we'd come and take a left.   We headed back and discovered that the turn I'd made was right in Villa Insurgentes, we just hadn't realized we were in town.  So we were both right.

From there we drove back through the desert and the mountains to Loreto.  I had no map of the town but I knew that our hotel was supposed to be somewhere downtown.  I was hoping if I just drove around I'd spot it!  I admit, I was a little tense about the whole thing (we also had only verbal confirmation of our reservation) but sure enough as we drove down mainstreet toward the ocean Hotel Plaza Loreto appeared and we parked nearby..  That night we wandered around the historical downtown area a little, bought snack food and a very odd bottle of cabernet sauvignon, and watched some TV before bed.  At this point I finally began to relax!

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