Juncalito

We finally got around to going camping with our new equipment. We had spent some time sorting things out, waiting for the right conditions, occasionally paddling with guests or just idly floating. But this Thursday we toted a bunch of gear down to the beach, packed our kayaks as never before, and set of for Juncalito, something like six miles to the south.

We had considered using the beach north of our home as our testing ground. We knew that it had palapas and primitive sanitation, and if things went seriously wrong it would have been within something like walking distance. We had also thought about the beaches next to our two favorite restaurants, but Alex wanted cooking to be a serious part of our adventure. More than one person suggested Juncalito, and said that we would probably have the beach to ourselves this time of year. Apparently it is a big gathering place during Semana Santa, but lonelier after the first of May when the heat becomes serious, as indeed it did.

We had tried looking at the little village from the road, but hadn’t gotten past the assortment of houses. From the sea, approaching from the north, the expanse of beach is more obvious. There are four palapas (and five trash cans); we took the spot furthest east, near the point. This is a beach that people drive on, and early in the evening we had a chance to help some people whose truck was stuck in the sand on their way over to the next little cove, where there was a boat moored in the shallows that lead out to the nearby isleta (Mestiza on the map).

By the time we arrived, about three in the afternoon, the water in the shallow bay was already body-temperature and the sand so hot that you couldn’t run on it — or even act casual if it got inside your sandals. We are thinking that for the next few months the limiting factor on kayak travel may be shade, not distance, food or water. I have a vision of a tarp that we could erect using four paddles — or we may try to get a tent with a fly that could be used by itself. I carried two and a half gallons of water by the way, ahead of my feet in the Fathom’s cockpit, and augmented as it was by water bottles, canned drinks and moisture-bearing food it might have lasted us through a second day at the same camp.

Juncalitanos are known to be a fun-loving group and there was music late into the evening, and then some sort of event that had police and soldiers nosing about. I hope that we weren’t trying too hard not to look suspicious. After sunset the sky became clear, and then dark, and then full of stars, and ultimately the Milky Way was visible. You can see the Loreto lighthouse from the middle of the beach, and the sweep of the airport beacon. The moon was at its third quarter and did not rise until I was asleep.

We fried eggs in the morning, proving our ability to transport delicate and somewhat perishable food and to fit enough of it into our new cookware. The camping that we had organized for ourselves in the past had been during backpacking trips, where both weight and size seemed critical. We again have an MSR white-gas stove like the one that I started out with and later gave away — except that this one is a lot quieter. Our cookset is bigger than my old stainless set, and we foresee carrying more pieces at a time. There was plenty of empty space in the boats despite our bringing just about everything we could imagine for one or more days, and they didn’t seem to notice the extra weight much either, except when being moved about on the beach fully loaded.

With another easy day facing us, we arose at our leisure, chatted with some local paddlers out for their morning stroll, and launched at a time calculated to make sure that the Vista al Mar would be open before we could possibly arrive. We first paddled toward town to see if we could spot our new friends, and then, at Alex’s suggestion, out to and around the little island. We saw a lot of fish, and then, just at the end of the shallowest bit (Alex backed up once), a pair of neophyte paddlers with questions about equipment. We had plenty of time to linger over lunch and make it back to Nopol√≥ before Chaly left for the day, as he was waiting for a late-afternoon customer to return.

The water was glassy for most of our trip, the biggest swells being from the wake of a cabin cruiser that passed well outside of us. We saw a lot of fellow sea life, including a sea lion or two, several rays, and big groups of yard-long fish hunting near the surface, their arcing fins cutting the water like sharks in the cartoons. Our new friend from Juncalito was out fishing in his kayak the last time we saw him, and he was looking for roosterfish, so maybe that’s what these are.

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