It was only after we were afloat that we began to fully experience the Vagabundos lifestyle. Our trio of boats braved the seas for the three-mile crossing from Puerto Escondido to Honeymoon Cove on the northwestern corner of Isla Danzante.
We immediately rafted up in the lee of the island, and then the group pooled its provisions for a midday meal as Janet Lammons announced, “Vagabundos never starve.”
While the wind was still blowing that afternoon, McGinnis decided to leave the comfort of the raft-up to go fishing. We pounded our way a couple of miles east toward the south end of Isla Carmen and trolled deep-diving plugs along its rugged shoreline.
While we tried to troll in 30 to 40 feet of water, depths vary wildly close to the rocky islands in the gulf. Within casting distance of the jagged shores, depths can plummet to 100 feet, and then a pinnacle suddenly can zoom to within a few feet of the surface.
“When fishing an unfamiliar shore, keep one eye on the fish finder,” McGinnis said, pointing to the screen as the bottom began to shoot upward. “That’s my cue to steer out to deeper water.”
As the sun sank over the mountains of Baja, we finally caught and released a small black skipjack — a member of the tuna family. “We’ll try for some more tomorrow,” McGinnis said as we reeled in the lines and headed back to the raft-up.
With calm seas the next morning, all three boats went fishing. A few miles down the coast, we found three Mexican men fishing from their panga, a narrow outboard-powered skiff. We inquired about buying a handful of sardines for bait. That’s when we discovered a currency in Baja more valuable than dollars or pesos.
Despite a language barrier, we quickly understood that oranges (naranjas) and lemons (limons) were much preferred. Unfortunately, we had no citrus, and the fishermen reluctantly accepted our pesos. They also pointed us a few miles down the coast and spoke a magic word, dorado.
We thanked them profusely and started to troll in the direction they pointed us. They weren’t kidding. Within 15 minutes, McGinnis’ boat hooked and landed a dorado (aka mahimahi), and he put it on ice. It was destined for dinner that night.
With that, the most treasured resource of Baja became clear. It is not fish, nor scenic beauty. It is the Mexican people. Contrary to the news reports, these people welcomed us in and treated us with kindness and generosity. We never felt safer.