Guerrero Negro

So, I arrive in Guerrero Negro on Sunday, February 2nd.  For those of you keeping track, that is (or was) Superbowl Sunday.  The game hadn’t started yet so I was keen to find a decent hotel and clean up before finding some poor bartender and badgering him to change the channel; luckily things worked out.  Initially I tried to book a room at the Malarrimo Motel, but they were full up; so I went across the street to Hotel Los Caracoles, which I believe means Hotel of the Snail People. Either way, score, because they accepted credit cards.

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Anytime I can save some pesos and not have to go hit an ATM I jump at the chance.  Mostly because my Chase Sapphire card is the bees knees when it comes for travel rewards, things like hotels, restaurants, etcs.

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The digs. $37.58USD

Before unpacking it was time to do a bit of maintenance.  Most don’t tell you about this boring part of the adventure but it’s key to keep your gear in tip top shape, and it’s much easier to sort out problems in larger cities like Guerrero Negro than it is in the middle of the Baja desert.  The bike was fine, but in my haste I broke off a key in one of the pannier locks.  I freaked out for a minute but managed but managed to fish it out with some needle nose pliers on my Leatherman.

Master lock but not master key.
Master lock but not master key.

Sadly, my Geigerrig bag melded with the exhaust tank at some point during the ride to Guerrero Negro (I thought I smelled burning plastic but figured my wreck had merely caused a small stroke). Still worked though!

Mmm chunky melted plastic.
Mmm chunky melted plastic.

I digress.

Cleaning up, I headed over to the Malarrimo to catch the game.

Victory beverage! Go Redskins!
Victory beverage! Go Redskins!

There, I practiced my Spanish with Ricardo, because someone needs to help this poor gringo translate “how surreal is it to watch NFL in Spanish” or “what a beatdown!”

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They have excellent ceviche by the way.

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So fresh.

Those poor Broncos never had a chance against that Seahawk defense. Anyway, a few beers later, I went back to the hotel and fell asleep.  I had a big day planned the next morning; whale watching!

The tour was set up by the hotel, and it seems most do this sort of thing in Guerrero Negro; price was around $650 pesos ($48USD at the time of this post) for those of you who are curious.

A van showed up, myself and three Mexicans hopped in and off we headed out to the bay to check out some whales.

To get there you have to drive through a massive saltworks operation, which was dutifully explained by the guide.

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It’s generated by the tears of the locals. Or the ocean, I’m not sure most of it was explained to me in Spanish.

Fifteen minutes of this and we eventually arrive at the docks, and board a panga. While the van guide was able to speak some English, I was on my own on the water, but no big deal as we were just watching the whales.

Turns out there were about 1500 whales in the bay, mostly mothers and their calves but also some adult whales.  And man, they were everywhere. You could look in any direction and see at least two or three at any time. Mostly they just surfaced to breathe, but at times they would slap their tales and sometimes even fully breach the water. You can read more about whale surface behavior here.

Sadly, it turns out that the grey whale is a bit of jerk when posing for photographs. Of the 200 photos I took, most look like this:

Yep, it's big and black, probably a whale.
Yep, it’s big and black, probably a whale.

I didn manage to capture this little guy right by our panga though! Too far to touch him though, but others have pet whales. Not, as pets, mind you, but physically pet them. I suppose you could have an actual pet whale, you’d need a big aquarium though.

Aww look at the little guy, H.R. Giger would be proud.
Aww look at the little guy, H.R. Giger would be proud.

And some, decent video of a mother and her calf grabbing some fresh air.

After four hours though, you get it: they’re whales, and baby whales. We headed back and stopped by a sea lion colony for a few moments as well.  A word of caution: sea lions reek. Go stand at a fish market in the blazing sun for a few hours and multiply this stench by 1037.4, and you’ll get the general idea of what my olfactory senses went through.

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Back on land, we docked, boarded the van and headed back to the hotel. I ate some excellent shrimp.

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Did some shopping.

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And kept in contact with some friends back at home before calling it a night.

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The following day was going to be a lot of highway riding.