The roadside Ranchero's decor showcases intricate hand-crafted saddles, as well as a hodge-podge of attic-items including the stuffed head of a koala-deer (a stuffed koala bear head with antlers). We stopped at the family-owned Ranchero for breakfast on our way from La Paz to Lopez. This three-hour drive crosses the Baja Peninsula and our stop was perfectly timed to help break-up the drive, fill our stomachs and get to know our travel group a little bit better. The Conway family was joined by two new travel-mates: The father and son duo, John and Matt, were on this Mexico tour to celebrate Matt's senior graduation. We quickly bonded over sunburns while passing around the small, but satisfying, menu. I took one look it and said "You had me at huevos rancheros."
Our boat was waiting for us in Lopez. And so were our guides, Nolberto & Charo, our trusted captain, Luis, and Chris Pesenti the Director of Red Sustainable Travel and our host for the week. Our campsite was a short 30-minute boat ride away. Enroute we passed rolling sand dunes and lush mangroves. I asked Chris if our campsite has a name.
"Yes," he answered, "many." It depends entirely on which local fisherman you happen to ask.
We settled into our camp, made up of a small neighborhood of tents along the sandy shore. Aaron and I unloaded our gear and took a moment to take in the view of the bay from our private beach-side bedroom. The kids immediately kicked off their shoes and were in the water gathering scallop and calm shells by the handful. We regrouped in the community tent so Chris could officially introduce us to our home for the week. He reminded us to stay on designated trails to lesson our impact, gave us the 101 on using the bathroom and shower, and encouraged us to poke our head into the kitchen where chef, Hubert, was preparing lunch. Lunch - fresh salad, mashed potatoes, chicken, vegetable soup and hand-made tortillas - was fantastic.
Chris also provided a little more insight into the turtle monitoring we would assist in during our stay. This unique conservation trip is specially designed to support research on black sea turtles as part of the Grupo Tortuguero program. The information gathered during this trip provides data on health, migration patterns and habitat use of sea turtles in Magdalena Bay, ultimately providing policymakers with the tools they need to make decisions about species' conservation. My seven-year-old, Samuel, took one look at Chris and said, "You had me at turtles."
Chris said his good-byes and left us to our island hideaway. The afternoon passed by quickly with a nature walk along the beach. The Conways had a handstand contest along the shore. Happy hour started promptly at 4:00 and by the time dinner rolled around we had fallen into the relaxed rhythm that the campsite insists. As the sun started to set, we followed Charo to the top of a bluff and said a ceremonious farewell to the day and welcomed the new adventures awaiting us tomorrow.
To read additional entries from our family Mexico adventure, click here.