by Martina Dobesh
Below me, the Pacific Ocean is blazing with sunshine; light is bouncing off of everything. The wind has whipped up frothy waves, forcing the pelicans to fly its currents. I and a few hearty women friends have come to Playa Saldamando to ‘get away’…although we laugh, because we live in Baja, and really there isn’t anything to get away from.
Playa Saldamando is 15 minutes north of Ensenada, and just an hour and a half from the US/Mexico border. The toll road clings to the side of the mountain, curving around the shimmering bay hundreds of feet below. This area is known as Salsipuedes, or “leave if you can.” It got its name before the toll road was built, when fishermen would risk the nearly vertical descent to go fishing. Going down was scary, but the trek back up gave it its name.
This is the greatest place for a safe family holiday, for guys that like to surf or ocean fish, and for women (like my group) to retreat to, as the location has a perfect safety factor: Although it is right off the highway, it is below the road, and there are security gates that are locked at 10 p.m.
The campground stretches out along the shoreline for several miles. Instead, we have chosen a little comfort for our two-day stay: A 24-foot trailer which has a large enclosed front room, and a covered patio providing shade. It’s August, and the ocean breeze is delightful. We are all experienced campers, but this saves us from having to pack and unpack all the camping equipment. In the travel trailer off the living area, there is a tiny kitchen with propane stove, and most importantly an indoor bathroom.
Most of the time we spend out on the covered patio with the endless expanse of ocean and talk about non-ordinary things, things that we don’t often talk about with others. One woman took a long hike to discover a fresh water spring where fox are known to den. Others of us laugh a lot about how life had brought us here to Baja, and why we have no intentions of leaving. Our desire for tonight is to be far away from ambient light so we can see the rising of the Blue Moon (a reference to the third full moon in a season that has four full moons, instead of the usual three).
We dine on bountiful food, and suddenly the sun is setting and we have enjoyed a totally timeless day.
We light the campfire and wait. One woman is singing and playing her box drum. Her voice and presence is worthy of a stage and a much bigger audience. Now, the top of the luminescent orb is peaking up over the mountain top. Sounds of appreciation issue from us all. Very soon the Blue Moon is hanging suspended, bathing all of us in its glow.
All night long we follow its transit overhead, no obstruction gets in the way. Predawn, the moonlight sends a path all the way to the beach. Just before sunrise, I am up in time to see it glowing pink on the horizon, and then disappear into the sea.
As we are packing up in the morning we are already making plans to return. We feel like we have been on a week’s vacation in another part of the world called the ‘Paradise of Baja California’.
How to get to Playa Saldamando: It is an easy access place, at kilometer 94, approximately 50 minutes south of Tijuana, and just 10 minutes from Ensenada.
What does it cost?: Car and Day use is $13 per day and $15 car camping overnight. Tent Trailer and motor homes rates $17 per night for 4 people. Trailer rentals $35 to $55. (To maintain peace and quiet, there are no motorcycles or ATVs allowed. No firecrackers. Dogs are to be kept on a leash).
How can I stay there: Advanced reservations are suggested for summer weekends. Off season there is no problem with finding a spot. For reservations, from the U.S., call 619-857-9242.
Camping is a great way to enjoy the Pacific Ocean. But so is staying in a hotel or vacation rental! Check it out…
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