By Renee Huang
July 29, 2009
I never gave much thought to the Loony Toons roadrunner character until I took a driving tour to Bajas pretty East Cape region several years ago. There, ahead of our rental Jeep along a dusty coastal desert road north of San Jose del Cabo, a little black bird with long tail plumage and a comical crest of feathers on his crown caught sight of us and froze in terror. Before I could reach for my camera, he ducked behind a row of prickly, low lying scrub leaving nothing more but a faint trail of dust. It was as if the funny little roadrunner cartoon had leapt off the screen and into life in front of our very eyes.
We set off earlier that morning from San Jose del Cabo along Highway 1 leading toward the airport with the top down and the warm air ruffling our hair, armed with a tourist map and some vague directions given to us at the rental car place, but eager and ready to explore the outdoor, rugged terrain and wide open beaches for which East Cape is known.We drove across dried river beds surrounded by desert escarpment and crossed the Tropic of Cancer, where skinny trees with bone white branches reminded me of skeleton fingers. Los Barriles and Buena Vista communities are the self-professed deep sea fishing Meccas of Los Cabos, and have developed a name among wind surfers and kite boarders, drawing legions of die hard extreme sport enthusiasts during the winter.
We headed immediately for the beach at one of several RV and trailer camps, and dipped our toes in the crystalline waters, which had several panga fishing boats bobbing like corks off the shore and fleets of pelicans diving for morsels in the waves. The expansiveness of the beach, after the clutter along the tourist corridor and downtown San Lucas, was refreshing and appealing.
Besides fishing and board sports, Los Barriles has grown into a friendly little town with art galleries, coffee shops, fishing tackle and tour outfitters, surf shops and real estate offices cropping up on every street corner.
We continued along an unnamed dirt road we were told loops back toward San Jose and after 20 minutes, found ourselves entering La Ribera, a small settlement known for several organic produce farms on the outskirts that provide many of Los Cabos' fine dining establishments with their all-natural harvests.
As we continued back toward Cabo along the bumpy coastal road, we passed empty plots of land on remote beaches staked with realtors' signs, an omen of new planned developments and the eminent real estate boom that hovers around the corner. Every few minutes a beautiful house loomed on the horizon with an awe-inspiring vista overlooking a white sand beach, and undoubtedly, a spectacular sunrise at dawn.
We wanted to stop for a quick snorkel at Cabo Pulmo but looming storm clouds chased us back to San Jose and the shelter of our hotel. It turns out the little skittish roadrunner was going to be the wildest encounter we were going to have in Baja's outback, at least that day.