No Wrong Turns: Buying or Renting a Surfboard in the Baja

Tom is a huge surfer and I have always wanted to learn. So when we set off on this adventure surfing was a definite part of the plan. I have tried a couple times on other vacations but since we have been living in Calgary (which is smack in the middle of the Canadian prairies) I have never had enough time to really learn how…until now.

Baja California Sur is a huge surfing destination. Many of the ex-pat locals are surfers who found a killer surf break, bought a bit of land (when it was cheap) and never left. From Todos Santos all the way down the coast past San Jose Del Cabo you can find anything from mini waves to learn on to massive breaks for the advanced. But you need a board, and maybe a few lessons, before you can ride the waves.

We knew we needed boards and, unfortunately did not listen to a good piece of advice we received about where to purchase a board. The best place to get a board is in the States. Most of the boards in Mexico are imported from the US making them more expensive to buy. We were rushing to get into Mexico and looking back it would have been smarter to shop around for boards in the US.

Ah well, live and learn. On a surfboard mission we ran into Andy, a surfer from way back who manages the San Pedrito Surf Hotel, his recommendation was to try Costa Azul Surf Shop in San Jose Del Cabo. We headed there and managed to buy pretty decent used boards. Tom ended up with a Lost board, and the one I now own (but cannot stand up on) is an Olea, a locally made brand by Alejandro Olea, Costa Azul’s owner.

Costa Azul offers rentals at a pretty decent rate, rates start around $20 US per day, wet suit not included (I suggest getting one, the water is pretty chilly!). They also rent skim boards, body boards and snorkeling equipment for those not into surfing. Lessons for $55 US include a board, rashguard and hour-long lesson with an instructor. Two other locations, Todos Santos and Los Cerritos, offer rentals and lessons for those looking to catch a wave.

“No Wrong Turns” chronicles Kelsey and her husband’s road trip — in real time — from Canada to the southern tip of South America in their trusty red VW Golf named Marlin.

No Wrong Turns: Live Rent Free in Mexico

Baja California draws thousands of vacationers each year who fork out wads of cash to stay in cookie-cutter hotels. I prefer to stay in more low-key places for two reasons: number one, I usually don’t have the cash to live the lux life and number two, I’d rather experience more of the culture than see another typical hotel lobby. But, if the opportunity came up to stay in a nicer place and experience the culture all for a decent price I’d be up for it . And it might just be possible, in fact, it just might be free… which happens to be right in my price range.

How’d you like to visit Mexico and stay for free in your own place?
Seriously….for free.

If you have a couple of weeks on hand, the money to pay for a flight or the desire to drive yourself down you could have yourself an inexpensive and amazingly beautiful vacation. How you ask? Become a housesitter.

Since we arrived in Mexico, many of the folks we’ve met have managed to stay here for months on end just by taking care of homes and picking up odd jobs here and there.

Many homeowners in Mexico are Americans and Canadians who spend half the year chilling out in Mexico and the other half at home. Understandably, a major concern for them is leaving their homes empty for months at a time. They are looking for trustworthy and reliable people to take care of their homes, keep their plants alive, babysit pets and discourage theft. When all is said and done, it’s a pretty easy job, and somebody’s got to do it.

Ads for housesitters in the Baja run in many of the local publications like the Gringo Gazette (I know…the name really is awesome) and the El Calendario de Todos Santos. Being a green thumb, pet-lover, or fixer-upper type can help to secure a position and a solid reference will do wonders. Housesitting is a great way to check out Mexico and the most you have to worry about are utilities and food.

How great is that? You could live rent-free for months in Mexico (sweet!), possibly in a really swanky pad (even sweeter) How could it get any better? connects housesitters with homeowners all over Mexico. Housesitters-to-be can register for $20US (only until March 31st and then it will go to $30) to place an ad about their availability and qualifications. Access to the database of homeowners looking for help is granted once registered.

I don’t know about you guys but I am signing up right now!

Has anyone house-sat in Mexico before? I’d love to hear how it went.

“No Wrong Turns” chronicles Kelsey and her husband’s road trip — in real time — from Canada to the southern tip of South America in their trusty red VW Golf named Marlin.

Tallest Cactus in the World

This might not be the coolest time of year to visit the tallest cactus in the world, but you can’t miss it if you head to the Sonora Desert in Baja California, Mexico where, according the Guiness World Records 2007 edition, the tallest of the tall cardon (Pachycereus pringlet) measured 63 feet in April of 1995. The books also states that this height is about as tall as four giraffes.

The other massive plant is the saguaro cactus. According to the U.S. post office stamp this cactus is the tallest in the United States. One place to see saguaros in abundance is at the Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona. Even though it’s VERY hot here in the summer, as in scorching, there are guided programs by park rangers almost every weekend. This Friday you can go on the Twighlight Hike, a two hour walk that starts one hour before sunset or the Night Walk.

For a look at all sorts of desert cactus, the Cactus Garden at the Arizona -Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson has an extensive collection. This place looks stunning. It’s a zoo, a botanical gardens, gallery and natural history museum designed promote a love of nature– particularly the desert.