Monday, June 22, 2020

Bajo en Baja: San Quintin, Baja California, Mexico

(Please read our Covid 19 Statement first - Ed)  It's morning in San Quintin. Actually, Vicente Guerrero, the city right next to San Quintin. That where the Mission Inn, our hotel, is.  There are two here. This one with two accessible rooms with its English spelling and another one on a nearby beach, Mision Inn (notice the Spanish spelling) that is not accessible.

We've come simply for the proposition "what if we kept driving past Ensenada? What would we find?"
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San Quintin is the next town of any size south of Ensenada. It's around three hours driving time further down from that large, port city.

Baja travel guides note that this is the last chance for a few hundred miles to access major services for drivers on Mexico's Transpeninsular Highway like gas, car service, ATM, supermarkets, and decent lodging.

While the town is sizeable, it's not large. The highway is the only paved road in town.  It's a dusty, muddy, and basic place. I have to wonder why they even have car washes here like the somewhat inapprotriately named business we see across the street from the PEMEX gas station above.

The town is nice. There's no drunken tourists clogging the streets or drug cartels shooting it out in the background. It's main business is farming...this is the tomato capital of the world with thousands and thousands of red fruit ripening to send north to supermarkets on the other side of the border.

Just because there are few, if any, tourists around doesn't mean there is nothing to see.  Strapping Tim in tight, we head west down an unpaved dirt and gravel road. Signs say we have three miles to go.  After a very bumpy few minutes, another says two miles to go.  Tim's complaining mightily about the beating he and his chair are taking when we see another sign..."Yeah!! You made it!"

Finally, we pull up to the bay where a gentleman waving a flag directs us into a small parking lot. We find nowhere to park with a wheelchair van so we go back out, explain it to him, and he puts us in a spot right next to the boat ramp where there's also a wheelchair ramp to access the facilities.

We're at Bahia de San Quintin and the Molino Viejo (old mill) restaurant and bar. At the top of the bay, you'll find this large restaurant, larger bar, an ocean front plaza to relax it, boat ramp, parking, small history museum, fish cleaning sink, a couple of spartan motels, and another restaurant and bar next door.

The plan is just to spend the afternoon exploring, eating, drinking, talking to people, and unwinding.

A small flea market is set up between the restaurant and neighboring Old Mill Hotel. Letty goes browsing there while Tim and I set up at a waterfront table and enjoy a bag of chips and some Mexican Coke.

Dozens of pelicans fly around, dive bombing unfortunate anchovies, and pose for pictures on the pilings. I walk over to a rock-protected depression at the narrow neck of the bay where kids are pulling in fish and clams.

This used to be a large wheat mill. An English company was granted a concession to grow and mill wheat in the area.  Remains of the millworks litter the area. Ships were loaded with flour and sent out to the world.

Now, it's a sleepy but beautiful little fishing village where fisherman line up at the boat ramp to head out to the abundant waters. At 3:00, the boats come back in where loads of large fish are taken to be cleaned at the sink.

We visit with the manager of the Old Mill Hotel and she shows us one of the four accessible rooms here.  It's a large room with a large bathroom. A queen size bed shares the space with a twin bed giving plenty of room for 3 people. I imagine there'd be plenty of room for a roll-in bed if needed also. The shower is big and barrier-free. It is a very accessible room.

Beyond that, however, it's not much. No TV (but that would be a feature, not a bug for some people) and no air conditioning. Here in the fall and winter, that's not a big deal but those hot Baja summers would present a challenge even if it is on the ocean.

Outside is a nice sized patio with a large fireplace and grill. At around $40 per room per night, this would be an ideal place for a family reunion or get-together. I'm already planning one in my mind...

We go back to the Molino Viejo and have a few drinks...Tim and Letty with their Pina Coladas while I try the Cadillac margarita.  After, we visit the small museum next door.

Dioramas depict the areas history while a few artifacts, such as a mammoth tooth and some native tools, illustrate a more ancient history.

Over across the driveway, we find the remains of a boat on the beach, another little plaza, and some informational signs about the bay. Tim and I go to the water at the edge of the boat ramp to get our toes and wheels wet.

We end the day having dinner back at the restaurant, filling up on steak, burgers, and fish before bumping our way back to town and the Mission Inn. It's delicious food and very budget friendly. Where else will you get a great ribeye steak dinner with all the trimmings for less than $15 these days?

Tomorrow, we have more plans for San Quintin but those will be interrupted for a more important mission. Stay tuned for that.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

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