A short line of small adventuremobiles peppers a corner of some unnamed beach just north of Los Barilles.
It’s a familiar round of small homes-on-wheels as Dan of the Mali Mish family wrangles our own traveling bunch in via txt message.
A truck with a pop-up camper, another with a tent pitched in the bed, an old Dodge van, all parked along the beach just north of the small seaside town. It’s free camping, and libations are already in full swing by the time our old VW Bus arrives, so we pull in alongside and join the party.
Only to get stuck immediately in the soft beach sand, our first time in two months of countless beaches we’ve made home here in Baja.
Luckily, a slew of half-bagged and happy campers have little trouble pushing a little four-cylinder van out of the deep.
We make ourselves at home for the next two weeks, the first spent on the beach. Locals wander by and as we meet them one after another, Mexicans and ex-pats alike, they comment on “how cute our kids are” this or “how nice our beach spot looks” that. It’s all just small talk but leaves us loving this little town along the Sea of Cortez, despite the number of gringos here, maybe even partially because of it.
I find a place at a local bar with WiFi to work my days away. The bartender and I become familiar, if not friends. The Lady and the boys take to the beach, all three growing bronzer by the day and having even more luck than I at meeting friendly and familiar faces.
Browsing a tourist shop full of trinkets, she eyes up a colorful blanket. The man running the shop offers it to her for 500 pesos.
“I’ll think about it,” she replies, but like most shopkeepers in Baja, he’s persistent.
“You don’t like the price?” is his reply, “How about 350?”
She still declines. Even at 500, it’s not terribly expensive, less than $30 USD depending on the exchange rate of the day. We’re not used to haggling though, and so she scoots the children out the door and along down the street.
Mexicans and ex-pats ride ATVs in the streets, on the beaches. They rival actual cars as the preferred mode of transportation.
A fruit stand sells beautiful, brightly colored fruit. Next door is a small organic grocer, selling the first organic milk we’ve seen in Baja. A larger grocery store around the corner and up a dirt road serves as a miniature version of Walmart.
The sun sets behind purple mountains and the calm ocean waters are flecked with some golden colored mineral. At a small beachfront bar, the owner of which is happy to tell anyone willing to listen that she’s Pink’s mother-in-law, older RVing couples offer us pot key lime squares and chat about how they arrived here as permanent residents of Los Barriles.
We abandon our lovely beach spot to move into an RV park in town for showers and the ease of a plug. One day, Renée comes back with a bag oozing rainbows of color.
“You got the blanket,” I deduce.
“For 200 pesos, from a different guy just up the street.”
I like the way she haggles, by not haggling at all.