Staying at our resort cost almost nothing, because we paid in pesos and the peso is in the crapper right now. This is on account of Trump. People who hold pesos are hedging their bets, just in case he wins and carries through on his plans to crash the North American economy, which Mexico, both geographically and financially, sits at the bottom of. So we actually benefited from the Trump candidacy, which we should feel guilty about but, as natural cheap Americans, instead reveled in.
I had braced myself for backlash about Trump from the Mexicans I ran across, at least the ones not in the hospitality industry. Somebody was bound to complain about el hombre naranja to the gringos from the nation that birthed him, and fairly so, I felt, but no one did.
We headed out of La Ventana towards Los Barriles, on the way passing a seven-foot tall statue of Wile E. Coyote in someone’s yard right before the intersection with Mexico Route 1, in a town called San Antonio (if it weren’t for Catholic saints and military heroes, Mexico would have a serious dearth of place names).
We were too startled by it to take a picture, and backing up or turning around on Mexican roads should only be attempted when absolutely necessary. So take my word for it. We were left merely to marvel at the inscrutability of Mexican tastes, and their charming lack of zoning laws.
“Why do you think they have a statue of Wile E. Coyote there?” my girl asked.
“This could be his home town,” I suggested. People are proud of homeboys that make good, even if making good consists of one spectacular failure after another.
A short detour brought us to Triunfo, where we had breakfast at the Caffe el Triunfo, which had been highly recommended by our hosts in La Ventana. They bake their own bread there, and it is good bread. Triunfo used to be a booming mining town of thousands, but when the ore ran out, it shrunk to its current population of about three hundred. An American tourist lady amused us by asking our waitress repeatedly in English, “Where did you get all this furniture? Is it from here?”
It was pretty spectacular, handmade old furniture, but on the question of its origin, posed in English, our waitress couldn’t answer or probably even care about, so I told the woman about the former size of the town and added “Probably when some of the people left, they left their furniture behind.” She looked doubtful, but she quit bothering the waitress.
We pulled into Los Barriles and checked into its eponymous hotel, where one of the occupants informed us we had made a lousy choice of destination. He was a self-described private investigator. Private investigators drink from the same deep well of cynicism about the human race as cops do; just as no one ever calls the cops because they are having too good of a time, nobody hires a private eye to find out if someone else is really nice.
He told us he had been coming to Los Barriles for the last 20 years, as the place turned from paradise to hellhole. He also informed us he had recently relocated in the United States, to Bend, Oregon, “because there’s nothing but white people there.”
Strangely, though, he did not blame the decline of Barriles on non-white people; rather, he railed against the invasion of winter visitors, which he identified as “Canadians on four wheelers.” These are mostly white people, I expect, but they were his hated adversaries nonetheless. He uttered the phrase in bitter tones, as if he was saying “Agents of Isis” or “Kardashian sisters.”
Fortunately, someone else checked into the hotel right after us, and he lost interest in discrediting our vacation choices and went over to ruin theirs.
After a night in Barriles, we went south to San Jose del Cabo, where I was told the fish were biting better. They weren’t, but we stayed in a hotel which had the most complicated and specific set of swimming pool rules I had ever seen. I share them with you in today’s pic.
We drove back to La Paz through Todos Santos, stopping to buy a T-shirt for me at the poetically named Shut Up Frank’s, an expat bar with a deserved reputation for making a serious cheeseburger.
Back in La Paz we ran into a couple of Mexican salesmen who took a liking to me. They kept the hotel bar from closing as they bought me drink after drink, resulting the next morning in my only real hangover of the vacation. It was inevitable. It is easier to stop world terrorism than to stop a Mexican who wants to drink with you from buying you a drink.
As always, Baja was safe, friendly and cheap. If you are determined to be afraid of Mexico and Mexicans, don’t go there. But if you screw up your courage to go, just remember to obey their rules and you’ll be fine.
In particular, don’t blow your nose in the hotel pool.
For Part I, click here