Moo-leh-hey and the Beautiful Bay

One of the benefits of traveling the “Gringo Trail,” i.e. staying in hotels and following the recommended itinerary in guidebooks like the Moon Guide or Lonely Planet is that you end up interacting with like-minded travelers.  This can be a blessing and a curse.  It can tend to insulate one from the local culture, but at the same time, the exchange of information among fellow travelers is invaluable.

The beautiful views outside my Baja bus window seat engage me continually.

The beautiful views outside my Baja bus window seat engage me continually.

Looking a little like the "Badlands of Baja."

Looking a little like the “Badlands of Baja.”

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Finally, we reach the Sea of Cortez!   I have long awaited this moment!

Finally, we reach the Sea of Cortez! I have long awaited this moment!

Some of these encounters are more valuable than others.  I know it sounds corny, but sometimes you lock eyes with another person, and they “light up.”   Some call this “serendipity.”  Others call them “Guardian Angels.”   I call it “the Firefly Effect.”  😉   Whenever I cross paths with a person that seems to light up, I get a sense that if I will stop and listen, they will have something to tell me.  Such was the nature of the nice man on the bus who told me about  Mulegé (pronounced “Moo-leh-hey.”)  “Don’t miss it.  It’s got a really great vibe…”

The "main square" of Mulege

The “main square” of Mulege

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Mulegé is a tiny little town located where the Rio  Mulegé meets the Gulf of California, at the northern end of the Bahia Concepcion.  With fewer than 4,000 people, it is one of those towns that shouldn’t have any infrastructure or comforts and conveniences for the traveler, but it does.   Mulegé defies the odds.

The lovely little "Las Casitas" hotel and restaurant

The lovely little “Las Casitas” hotel and restaurant

"Menu del dia," like the blue plate special.   Garlic Chicken Soup and Chicken Tostadas for 65 pesos, about $4.

“Menu del dia,” like the blue plate special. Garlic Chicken Soup and Chicken Tostadas for 65 pesos, about $4.

The lush courtyard just outside my room

The lush courtyard just outside my room

Moving further south, the weather in Baja is warming up, and I have finally crossed over the Baja Peninsula to the Sea of Cortez.  It feels really good to be in shorts and sandals again after the cool ocean breezes off the Pacific.   There is a brisk breeze, but the air holds that soft, tropical warmth. The tall swaying palms and lush green valley have earned it the term, “oasis.”   Although  Mulegé has a very “tropical” look due to the abundance of water along the river, it does not have the same level of humidity one might expect of a town being near the ocean due to the arid desert that surrounds it.    The weather in a word?  Perfect!

Overlook of the Rio Mulegé river valley

Overlook of the Rio Mulegé river valley

In strolling by the Curio shop, I see a tee-shirt for  Mulegé emblazoned with (…drum roll…) a lighthouse!   Anyone who has followed this blog knows how I love a lighthouse!   I start asking questions of the shop proprietor.  “There is a lighthouse here?”  “Yes, but it is far.  Five miles. But it is a nice walk that should only take you 15 minutes.”  Okay, five miles in fifteen minutes, we have obviously lost something in translation here.  But I take off down the road to see for myself.   What I discover is a beautiful, paved, palm-lined path that follows the  Mulegé River all the way to the mouth of the ocean.   Locals are out in their black yoga pants, power-walking the trail.  I am amazed to find such a nice wide hike and bike path in a town of this size!

Beautiful walking path alongside the river leads to...

Beautiful walking path alongside the river leads to…

...a lighthouse!

…a lighthouse!

At the mouth of the river where it meets the Sea of Cortez is a very lively estuary.

At the mouth of the river where it meets the Sea of Cortez is a very lively estuary.

Alot of lighthouse pictures, I will admit, but what do you expect from a "Lighthouse Nut??"

A lot of lighthouse pictures, I will admit, but what do you expect from a “Lighthouse Nut??”

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At the end of the walking path, I find the lighthouse, not a conventional one, but scenic nonetheless.  I walk up the hill as far as  I can before it is fenced.  Then return back down for a margarita at the beautiful El Patron beach bar.   Two women are at the adjacent table, and they invite me to join.  Carol and Jayna spend their summers in Montana and winters in Baja.  Carol has written a book, “The Boomer’s Guide to Lightweight Backpacking;  New Gear for Old People.”  We have much to discuss, it seems.  Yet another “Firefly Effect” moment.  😉 So I decide to stay and have dinner at El Patron and enjoy the stroll back to town with these two, picking their brains for backpacking tips all the way.

At the end of the walking path where the river meets the ocean is "El Patron" restaurant and beach bar.

At the end of the walking path where the river meets the ocean is “El Patron” restaurant and beach bar.

"Seaside margarita? Why yes, I don't mind if I do!"

“Seaside margarita? Why yes, I don’t mind if I do!”

Fishing is number one industry in Mulege.

Fishing is number one industry in Mulege.

IMG_8087This late afternoon stroll to the lighthouse has become my daily pilgrimage.  Another great meander in  Mulegé Is the climb up to the Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé.  Founded in 1705, it is one of the oldest missions in Baja.  But the best part is the short climb to the overlook, which offers a great view of the river valley below.

The Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé

The Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé

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Even Jesus had a bad hair day occasionally, it would appear...

Even Jesus had a bad hair day occasionally, it would appear…

Sacrarium of stone

Sacrarium of stone

I found the lighting inside the Mision to be evocative and contemplative.  I sat here for a long time.

I found the lighting inside the Mision to be evocative and contemplative. I sat here for a long time.

Mulegé offers so many traveler conveniences, but none so sweet as the little bakery, Magos Coffe and Sweets, just a block from my hotel.  It has become a part of my daily routine to wake up with the sun, slip into my jeans and make an early run in the cool morning down the quiet street to grab a perfect Latte and a muffin “para llevar,” (to go,) then come back to my room and curl up beneath my mosquito net.

This man at Magos Bakery speaks fluent English and is very helpful!

This man at Magos Bakery speaks fluent English and is very helpful!

My protective little web.

My protective little web.

I haven’t seen a single mosquito yet, but I am still taking advantage of the soft, shadowy “cocoon effect.”   What a great way to start the day in Moo-leh-hey! Next up:  “The Beautiful Bay.”

Meanwhile here’s tonight’s lodging:

Room #4 of the lovely little Las Casitas Hotel.  A bit of a splurge at 500 pesos, or $28 USD.

Room #4 of the lovely little Las Casitas Hotel. A bit of a splurge at 500 pesos, or $28 USD.

The $28 bathroom view...

The $28 bathroom view…

19 thoughts on “Moo-leh-hey and the Beautiful Bay

  1. I sense this journey to Baja was really what you needed to rejuvenate your soul. I feel you are back in sync, what a little treasure your discovered in Mulege. Great description of those “ah ha moments” or firefly effect as you call it. I believe there’s no such thing as coincidence.

  2. Well you know THIS post warmed my heart! I was dying to hear more about that lighthouse and town ever since you sent me the pic. Very cool! Sounds like totally our kinda place.
    Nina

  3. So glad you’re back into the blog groove again! I’m really happy to be on this trip with you … thanks for sharing.

  4. No such thing as coincidence. I do like meeting other travelers for the advice and company. This place is gorgeous! What is it about Mexican hotel bathrooms? They usually are large with beautiful tile work. Like the stones on these walls.
    I think you really needed this RV break because you’re in full swing. Everybody needs a vacation.

  5. We also travel about most of the year. I am always blessed when you “talk story” with your gorgeous illustrative photos. You draw me in. Thanks.

  6. What a delightful little town — quaint and colorful, and with yummy food and drink! Definitely looks like a place that feeds the soul. It’s now on our list. :-)

  7. NEVER too many lighthouse pictures. I hope you bought the T-shirt. How synchronistic the man on the bus, the women on the beach bar. Wise of you to recognize. I love that you have daily rituals and pilgrimages. This trip seems food for the soul.

  8. I meant to ask … are you winging this trip? No bus reservations, no hotel reservations, no fixed itinerary ?

    • Hi, Caroline — yes, with the exception of emailing one hotel and the tour companies, I have just “shown up,” and it has worked well. At first, I would walk down to the bus station the day before my next leg and buy a ticket, just to be sure I had a window seat. But after seeing how empty the buses were, I stopped doing that unless I happened to be in the neighborhood. I would say 50% of the bus rides were with no reservations, and all hotels but one. Baja has been a remarkably easy travel destination! Thanks for the question!

  9. It looks fantastic, and for a stay at home traveller it great to have an insight in parts of Mexico that are off the “tourist trail” The Bouganvilla ? in the square was beautiful.

  10. Great golden hour shots, you are getting to see some wonderful areas. So it sounds like it wasn’t quite 5 miles, maybe 5kms? You never ask someone in the Australian outback how far somewhere is as they will say “just up the road” which might be two days driving!

  11. Years ago, in another life, we and five other couples took our RVs into Baja. Destination: Mulege. We spent a week with the rigs parked in a nose-to-tail manner at El Burro, a small cove and beach south of town. The trip down and stay on that beach, diving for sand dollars and canoeing to outer rock islands, are memories to last a lifetime.

    Thanks for bringing those memories back.

  12. I love reading and seeing all your adventures in Baja, and so happy we were a part of your journey. I’ve never been to those areas but you make me want to go! Keep writing! Where r u now?

  13. What a truly wonderful place, a hidden secret treasure. Have you ever read, “The Girl From the Sea of Cortez”? I don’t keep a lot of hardbacks any more, but that one is tucked away in my library. Gotta get there someday.

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