Here Sharky, Sharky
Back at Guillermo's for breakfast, I talk to a local pulling his 26' panga out of the water. Yesterday he slammed 'em (of course) but today he says there are tightly spaced 15-foot rollers out there. Not good for stalking whale sharks. "Beyond the islands…when it blows from the northeast, it's trouble," he warns. He thinks the sharks have gone elsewhere.
Dave finally reaches our contact, who tells us the spotter planes haven't seen any sharks since the wind picked up. Besides, it's too rough to make it out to the camp safely in our little Zodiac - or anything else. Skunked. He suggests waiting for the calmer, afternoon Santa Ana winds. I'd rather be getting cozy with a giant whale shark, but sitting under a palapa with a cerveza doesn't sound like a bad alternative.
The wind works in an inverse relationship to our prospect for swimming with the sharks; the more it blows, the fewer our chances. And it's blowing like crazy. By the next day the word is the whale sharks have gone. It's over, we'll have to wait for next year. It figures. Bad luck.
We pack up the Zodiac and head north. In the hills above the bay, camo-clad checkpoint guards take an interest in our rig. A gathering of baby-faced, semi-automatic-toting soldiers mill around the Ridgeline. Two of them bang metal wrenches on the bed, listening for a hollow knock. They hear it. They seem particularly interested in the hidden 300-pound capacity cargo bin. Can't imagine why. They disassemble the entire bed searching for more hidden compartments. In the meantime, one of them inspects our New York State licenses. "Ah, Nueva York?" he asks. "Si, Si," I answer emphatically. His next question takes me by surprise: "Terrorista?" I shake my head, laugh nervously, and wonder what the hell is going wrong. Then, clear as crystal he says in English, "You may have to turn around and go back." Is this a joke? I catch a glance of the pristine beach below, a thatched roof blowin' in the wind, and that sapphire bay…on second thought, my luck may be turning.
Now, to answer your letter. Yes, you can trailer to Baja. And you can snorkel with these strange fish. We didn't get a chance, but don't let that stop you. Because down here much of the coastline is accessible and unspoiled. Because your cell phone is worthless south of Ensenada. Because, like the ocean, the desert has healing powers. Because Corona tastes better when you're swinging in a hammock staring out at the Sea of Cortez. Because down here, your boat can get you lost. Because you said you want to.