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So, with our usual excitement we got up at 4:00 am to catch our 7:00 am flight to LA and then on to Loreto, Mexico to begin our new adventure at the Danzante Resort located about 20 miles South of the historic town of Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Through a masterpiece of poor planning we managed to arrange the start of this trip to coincide with the day the clocks move ahead, so we in fact arose at 3:00 am body time.... sigh!!!

We had been made aware of this resort, and this part of Mexico by Marsha's sister Paula and her husband Shaw, who had been there in November while looking for a property to buy in Loreto, which they succeeded in doing. Like all wonderful discoveries, you never know where they are going to come from, and we are very grateful to Paula and Shaw for pointing us in this direction. They had an idea we would love Danzante, and they were right.

For any readers who are familiar with our style of journal writing, this one will be different. We usually write in somewhat detailed narrative style, accompanied by many pictures. This would not work for the Danzante experience, so I am going to restrain myself somewhat and let the pictures do most of the talking. (I can hear the sighs of relief from here.)

Arrival

After a trouble free flight to LAX and then to Loreto, we went through the chaos of arriving in a one room airport arrival and customs hall with about 150 other people and fairly quickly breezed through the process. Outside was a nine passenger taxi with its driver waving a "Danzante" sign. We signed on and after waiting for another family from our flight going to Danzante, we embarked on the twenty minute drive to the resort. The first fifteen minutes were relatively straight forward on a two lane (one each way) main highway which runs the length of Baja California. Suddenly the driver veered off onto a donkey path, which in no sense qualified as a road, and proceeded to weave his way for about five miles over VERY rough terrain, with some of it being in what seemed to be paths created by the last rare rainfall. We had an idea from Paula that this was what we could expect, but as pampered gringos we were not quite prepared. After a few minutes of this we passed through a small fishing village comprised of a dozen or so cinder block houses, and a couple of stores, just beyond which we got our first view of Danzante Resort.

The Resort

The picture below is of Lauren and Mike Farley the designers, builders, owners and operators of Danzante Resort. They are absolutely wonderful folks who are totally dedicated to their guests, and just as importantly to the preservation of all that is unique and wonderful about Baja California. Their lives read like a great adventure story including many years as renowned underwater photographers, divers, writers (they have published several books), winery owners, and general adventurousness.

The resort is built on a bluff, overlooking the beach. There are only nine rooms, plus a dining/lounge building and some utility buildings at the bottom of the bluff in the rear. There are many steps to climb and descend (exactly 100 from the dining area to the base of the bluff on the way to and from the beach).

Each of the rooms, while not luxurious, is very well equipped and each has a covered patio looking Eastish over the Sea of Cortez and its blue green water. The Islands of Danzante and Carmen are in the middle distance as well as one island which Kathy, a very vivacious and fun guest from St. Louis named Bird Poop Island. It's an apt description, and is what we all called it from then on.

The whole resort, which bills itself as an eco-resort, is powered by solar power. Because of that a certain amount of conservation is required as far as power is concerned. No hair dryers or curlers are allowed. Most of the ladies seemed to find this liberating rather than a bother. The resort supplies battery free flashlights for guests to use when moving about the grounds at night. There was plenty of power for reading at night, and during the day we could charge things like laptops, cell phones and other electronic gadgets. Actually, if you stood on your patio in exactly the right place you could get cell phone service because Loreto was visible on the horizon, although I don't know why anyone would do that.

The resort has no TV, no phone service, no internet, no newspapers. Lauren offered no key to our room, and in fact the little knobby inside the door for turning on the lock is taped over. I don't think we closed our door once during our visit. There is no air conditioning, and in our experience none was needed. It might be another matter in July and August, but in April, it was perfect.

This is a remote adventure location of the best kind and can be energetic (through participating in the many activities available) or totally relaxed (they tell us that at Danzante hammocking is a competitive sport). The choice is yours. Lauren said that dressing for dinner means putting on a clean tee shirt.

Danzante was built about five years ago by Lauren and Mike, almost literally with their own hands, plus those of many local craftsmen. The resort employs all of its staff from the little fishing village nearby and Lauren and Michael are very caring about looking after their staff.

Water is obtained from two sources: a well of their own which Lauren says is potable, but they also bring in filtered water daily which they supply in large quantities in each room. In addition all of the ice cubes used in drinks, and all the water used in cooking is filtered.

The food is prepared in the large kitchen by the kitchen staff who are all wives of the fisherman from the nearby village. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served at a reasonably predictable time (this is Mexico after all) and was universally outstanding. All of the ingredients are fresh and the menu very varied. All of the food is traditional Mexican fare (not the kind served in American and Canadian restaurants, but the real thing.) Each meal had a special, but other choices were available as well. During the day pastries, beer and soft drinks were available for the taking.

The Resort from Below                                                              The patio, plunge pool and dining room building

 

The view from our balcony - Danzante Island in the center                                                   

 

There are many little touches like this around             No, its not a picture... its a window out of the men's room
                                                                                         in the dining building

             

Happy Hour (bottomless margueritas), Dinner Hour, Entertainment, and Reflection

Activities

                                 

There is a wide variety of activities available, all extremely well organized by the owners Lauren and Mike.

They include:
    Kayaking - there are about a dozen kayaks available on the beach of several types... sit in traditional ones, sit on ones both
    both single and double. There are an endless number of bays and beaches within easy kayak distance where you can go and
    spend time beachcombing, sleeping, or snorkeling. You can go on your own, or with others, but in all cases you are
    essentially alone in the world.

    Horseback riding - the resort owns five horses, and they are not swaybacked old nags. There are two different rides you can
    can go on, and we did both. On the first ride the horses were quite spirited, vying with each other to be in the lead, and being
    quite determined to get to where they wanted to be. This resulted in an enjoyable amount of trotting and galloping which was
    fun. At one point one rider tried too hard to redirect his horse and almost got bucked off for his trouble. The second ride on
    the same horses was much more sedate.....

    Scuba Diving - One family of six arrived just after we did for the sole purpose of getting their open ocean dives in so that
    they could complete their certification. Carlos, the only local on staff who could speak English is the dive master and we are
    told that he is excellent. We planned to dive, but somehow it didn't happen.

    Snorkeling - Danzante provides all of the gear you need for snorkeling. There is no shortage of rocky shoreline at which to
    snorkel, but the fish are somewhat sparse. It is interesting and fun, but not dazzling as it is in the South Pacific or Great
    Barrier Reef.  Every bay we went into was very shallow at the shoreline so getting in and out of the water to swim or snorkel
    was easy.

    Robinson Crusoe - For a fee you can experience real solitude and privacy with this adventure. Wind conditions being ok,
    you are taken in a Panga along with a packed lunch and drinks, a kayak, beach chairs and beach umbrella to one of the
    secluded beaches several miles down the coast and dropped off. They come back for you promptly at a pre-arranged time.
    What happens between those times is up to you.... no ask, no tell.....

    Canyon Hikes - there are two canyons, both a considerable drive from the resort which are used for fairly easy hikes. We
    went on one and it was a spectacular afternoon.

Horseback Riding

Canyon Hike

                                                                                          Geckos were the only wildlife we saw in the canyon!!!

This canyon had quite a bit of spring water running
which would appear for a bit, then disappear again,
only to come to the surface a few meters away. The
last time it rained in this area was two years ago, and
the time before that was eight years earlier.

Robinson Crusoe day, about five miles South of Danzante

I had one of those "believe it or not" experiences at this very remote bay. Near the end of our stay we were beachcombing looking for interesting shells, etc when I saw a piece of paper lying on the rocks. I picked it up, and this is what I saw:

So.... what was a business card doing on this totally secluded beach in Baja? Then I looked closer and couldn't believe my eyes!!! This card was from a business in Vancouver, which is where I live!!!  What are the chances of that????  I created all sorts of fanciful scenarios in my mind about this card (especially as I knew it was at least several years old as we have to include our area codes when we call in Vancouver).

After I got home I called Trudy and the reality was not quite as romantic as my fanciful thoughts had dreamed up, but it was weird enough. It turns out that Trudy and an intrepid band of kayakers were on a trek from Loreto to La Paz (about 200 miles) at the same time that we were there. They got caught in a very windy day on the second day of their expedition, and after having one kayak roll on them they pulled into a bay to wait out the wind. Trudy had given some of her cards to other members of the group and I guess one of them lost it in the turmoil of going ashore (or rolling over). As I said, it was not as exciting as I had imagined, but pretty damned strange anyway.... This kind of stuff is spooky.

My first venture with underwater photography - not too bad for a beginner

Various Kayaking Expeditions

Many beaches are littered with the remnants of fish caught by
local fishermen and brought to the beach to clean.

Seabirds - we encountered quite a number of seabirds everywhere we went:
    Gulls, Brown Pelicans, Frigate Birds, Boobies, Turkey Buzzards (Yuch!!) and many we couldn't identify

Chip, the tame young Roadrunner. So named because that's
what he comes to get for lunch every day.

A Sea Expedition: On our last day Lauren suggested a bunch of us go on an expedition in the two pangas to
find some sea life. Off we went looking for sea lions (we saw one), dolphins and whales, etc. After about 45
minutes, finding no more than the one sea lion, we went swiftly to a secluded beach on Carmen Island.

In the second Google Earth picture at the top Carmen Island is the one with the white point at the bottom, and
we went to the beach facing the other island, which is Danzante Island. Danzante, by the way, means folk dancing
(as opposed to formal dancing) which is apparently what the natives on the island were doing when the Spanish
first arrived.

A very wary hermit crab up close and personal             Another interesting looking crab

 

The Pets of Danzante

These two cats are brothers. One or another of them       Amigo - It's a dog's life, isn't it?
spent the night at the bottom of our bed several times.

Various Images of Danzante and area during our trip

The Easter week invasion

On the Sunday before Easter weekend suddenly tents started to spring up on the beach below the hotel, accompanied with ATV's boats with motors and people. At first it was a dribble, but soon the campers began to become real numbers. Lauren explained to us that the Mexican local population have a long custom of spending as much of this week around Easter as possible camping on local beaches. Some of the accommodation created was inspired, and some was what we would expect.

There were gazillions of kids doing what kids do when near water and having a great time. In the evening we thought it would get very noisy, but it did not happen while we were there.

According to Lauren by Thursday night (two days after we left) the beach would be packed with thousands of people and the noise level accordingly higher. We missed that, thank goodness. Lauren and Mike do not subject their guests to that experience, and close up the place till the weekend is over. They take off on their sailboat to a remote island and wait for calm to be restored.

The flora around Danzante

The town of Loreto

Loreto is an historic town which was created around the first Christian mission built on the Baja. The mission is still there in the centre of town. As the population of Loreto and of Baja grew (Baja had a population of 9,000 folks in 1853) Loreto became capital of the State of Baja California Sur (South), until it was destroyed by a hurricane. At that point the capital was moved South to La Paz.

Loreto is, by Mexican standards a prosperous town of about 10,000 residents, who seem to enjoy a standard of living higher than that of the fishermen and farmers who subsist in neighboring areas. There are many retired Canadians and Americans living in small enclaves around Loreto.

To the delight of some, and the despair of most, this area is slated to be the next big thing as far as tourism is concerned. A few miles South of Loreto is a giant resort being built called Loreto Bay which is slated to have 6,000 residents (read rich Americans and Canadians) when it is finished. My opinion: it is an abomination and should be bulldozed as soon as possible. This is not because it is poorly built or designed but because it will ruin all that is good about this place. Of course the argument that it will improve the standard of living of many locals is probably true, but at what cost?

Preaching aside, here are some images of Loreto

The charming Spanish style hotel located right in the heart of Loreto's downtown

 

The Mission Bell Tower

One of the main streets, Calle Davis leading to Paula and       A typical local home (with satellite dish) near the lot.
Shaw's lot

Paula calls this her sandbox, for good reason.....

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