Did Somebody Say Whale Watching? (Guerrero Negro and San Ignacio)
Updated: Jan 28
The evening we arrived in Guerrero Negro, we decided to splurge for a nice dinner at Malarrimo. We had delicious Filet Mignon dinners with drinks and Flan for dessert and the entire cost was about $50.00usd for all three of us including tip. The dinner was excellent, so much in fact, we ate there more than once.
We set up a tour to go on a whale watching excursion which was a bit pricey, but well worth it. We got up at the crack of dawn the next morning and got on a tour bus that took us out to the lagoon. The tour guide had told us that the previous day, the Marine Biologists were out counting the Gray Whales and counted over 680 whales and their calves. They were convinced it was going to be a fantastic day to be out on the water.
After about a 30-minute drive, we came across this huge mountain of what appeared to be snow. In the middle of the desert. Turns out, Guerrero Negro also is a salt mine. The sea salt they get there is 99.9% pure sodium. It’s so pure it actually can’t be used as table salt. It is a major producer for companies who need to use the pure sodium and they also take some to a local salt factory to produce table sea salt. They only distribute locally.
After we headed out onto the water, we came across two large barges filled with mountains of salt. It was quite something to see. After being on the water for about 20 minutes, we began to see water shooting up from the ocean. It was the whales blowing water from their blow holes! We started to slowly make our way over to where we saw the spray coming from and before we knew it, there were no less than 4 Grey Whales surrounding our boat. They were rubbing against our boat and breaching their heads up alongside the boat allowing us to pet them. They were so playful! They kept circling our boat, coming up and letting us pet them, they even teased us a bit by staying up out of the water, but just far enough for us not to be able to reach them. The tour guides think that the hum of the boat engine attracts the whales because they know they’ll get to play with humans.
We spent 4 hours out on our whale watching excursion. I would definitely pay for it again! After spending all the time out on the ocean, we were tired and hungry. We got back to the RV park and ate once again at Malarrimo. We decided after touring the town for the rest of the day, that we’d head out to San Ignacio the following day. Beside the whale watching tours, I really didn’t find anything of much interest in Guerrero Negro. It’s far from any beach and to get to the beach you have to drive through a land fill. It’s a 20-minute drive and there is literally nothing out there to see. The town consists of 3 major roads and a handful of side streets.
The following morning, we packed up our stuff and someone had told us about this taco truck just up the street who serves the best fish tacos. We made a point to check it out. We were not disappointed and for $1.50 usd per taco, you couldn’t go wrong. The menu is small and simple with offerings of only 3 kinds of tacos and 2 types of tortillas. You put all the fixings on yourself. There had been a man who said he specifically makes a stop at that taco truck every year just for those tacos, and after having them, I can definitely see why.
We headed toward San Ignacio. We arrived just after 3 pm and went straight to the small town square. We had lunch at this little restaurant with a miniature pit bull parked in front. The dog was so friendly, he threw his ball at me and waited to see if I would throw it for him. He escorted us into the restaurant and sat by my side the entire meal. When we finished eating, he walked us out of the restaurant as if he were saying good-bye.
We walked around the small town square and around Mission San Ignacio Kadakaaman. We decided to get a camping spot just down the street so we could come back the next day and go inside the mission. The camping spot was interesting. Very quiet, the grounds were kept and mostly clean, but it was a little 3rdworld. The toilets did not flush. To flush them, you had to bring in a bucket of water with you. Oh, by the way, in the entirety of Baja, the sanitation stations are not equipped to handle toilet paper, so you cannot flush your toilet paper in the toilet. Waste baskets are provided and you are expected to throw your toilet paper in the waste basket. Also worth a mention is to bring your own toilet paper. There have been many times that we’ve gone to a bathroom and found out there is no toilet paper. We’ve been fortunate enough to have the savviness to check the bathrooms when we first arrive to know what to expect.
When we arrived at the Mission the next morning, we ran into the bell ringer who told us the entire story of the mission in a very condensed version in Spanish, seemingly as fast as he could speak. He was responsible for the ringing of the bells of the cathedral every 5 minutes, so he was speaking very fast. I didn’t catch all of what he was saying, but I got most of it. In my head, the translation of Spanish to English went a little something like this:
Fernando came over here and wanted to build a place of worship for all to come. He was an evangelizer and scientific explorer. He designed this building and had an architect draw up the plans. After building the sanctuary and before the wings were completed, he had a vineyard on one side and grew grapes and a walking garden on the other. It took him 9 years to complete the roof of the sanctuary. Sadly, before the rest of the building could be constructed, there was a war that broke out and Fernando was killed. The grounds were set on fire and everything burned. Then, other people, Dominicans came in and reconstructed the mission from the plans Fernando had drawn up with the architect. They completed the building and it took 70 years. That was in the late 1700’s and the building still stands today and church services are still held.
Now, I don’t know how much of this is true, I haven’t done any research on it, and I don’t know that the Spanish he was speaking actually translated correctly in my head because he was speaking so fast. So really, I only got bits and pieces of what he said and kind of pieced it together.
After this kind man said his piece, he went outside, rang the bells for about a minute and ran inside. As we were walking the grounds we began to hear what sounded like a sermon happening, and peaked our heads into the sanctuary. Up in the pulpit, the priest, and podium was the bell ringer and another woman. They were preaching to a nearly non-existent congregation. It was just us three and two other people sitting in the pews.
After the short service, we went and got breakfast at the only open restaurant in town, packed up camp and headed toward Santa Rosalía.