Monday, March 3, 2008

Blustery at the beach

Odyssey at Playa Bonita

We are at the Playa Bonita RV Park and Suites (map). We are just a couple hundred feet from the beach, with a nice view of the Sea of Cortez out our windows. The rate here is US$25 per night, plus $3 tax, full hookups. Most of the power outlets are 15 amps, but we managed to snag a 30.

There are only four rigs here, with eight empty spaces. The "suites" also appear completely empty. This appears to be the norm all over town, with only a handful of exceptions, including the two places right next door (Kiki's and Reuben's) and Campo San Felipe downtown. That in spite of an impressive list of places that are no longer here, including El Dorado, Baja Mar, and the Marina that I mentioned last post, plus Posada Del Mar just down the street, and La Jolla in town, along with myriad campos up and down the coast.

Incidentally, I corrected the last post, wherein I had reported that we looked at Playa Laura on Saturday -- in fact, we glanced at Playa Laura and concluded it was way too cramped to even try. The place we actually stopped in to look at, and which became our "backup plan" was Campo San Felipe just a few doors down.

We awoke yesterday morning in a windstorm. I would estimate winds at a constant 20mph with gusts to 30-35mph. Even stepping outside to walk the dog was a challenge, as we both got sandblasted. The wind kept us more or less trapped indoors, and we stayed on our perch at the defunct port until mid-day, as we still had a great view. In the afternoon, we headed back into town, the wind still blowing, to look for closer digs.

We swung by Victor's, south of town, which was completely empty (maybe closed?). It certainly looked like it would accommodate us without trouble, but was completely unappealing, so we continued north, along the malecón and past the lighthouse to this cluster of parks. Several web sites as well as a couple of our readers recommended Ruben's and/or Kiki's, and we did stop at both to look. Reuben's had no spaces left for us; Kiki's had exactly one, which would have been a tight squeeze. Worse, though was the fact that the covered deck structures adjacent to each space would have completely precluded us from getting on-line there. We chose this spot instead -- just two doors down, and much quieter, two-thirds empty as it is. Certainly easier to jockey the bus around as well.

The wind never let up, so even though we were well parked on a lovely stretch of beach, we pretty much stayed inside the rest of the day. Things calmed down a bit (by which I mean, perhaps half) in the evening, and we decided to brave the elements to go out to dinner. We headed straight for what appeared to be the nicest joint in town, an Italian-fare restaurant attached to a hotel known as La Hacienda de la Langosta Roja (The Inn of the Red Lobster -- no relation). The food was tasty and the wine drinkable (something of an achievement in Mexico), but at stateside prices -- eighty bucks for two entrees, a salad, appetizer, and three glasses of wine. Unsurprising, considering the place is owned by the same mega-developer who owns El Dorado Ranch.

We've paid for two nights here, so tonight we will try something a bit more traditional. And the wind has decreased considerably from yesterday (although still not calm, by any means), so we hope to ride down to the malecón this afternoon just to stroll around. We'll decide whether to add a night or two depending on what we find in town -- otherwise, we will either head down to Puertecitos or up to El Dorado tomorrow.

Frankly, I am not expecting to find much. The town is dying, in what is rather a sad shattered-dreams story. Once upon a time, San Felipe was a sleepy fishing village. We never saw that condition, but wish it were still so, which would give the place much more charm and appeal to us. A concerted effort by FONATUR, investors, and American interests started to transform the place into something of a resort-cum-retirement destination, which after a slow start began to show some promise. The problem, I think, was that a modicum of success by what amounted to the one and only developer in town caught the attention of a plethora of Johnny-come-latelys who saw dollar signs on every parcel.

Within a few years, every parcel with beach access, to include a good number of the old campos, was snapped up by speculators. Tons of glitzy promotional marketing materials were produced, and perhaps a handful of actual buyers materialized to purchase vacation or retirement homes here. The shear number of lots for sale, however, has completely overwhelmed the actual demand. Moreover, without critical mass of residents and vacationers, the services that many people expect or need in order to actually move here have also not materialized. There are few doctors, dentists, ambulances, stores, repair shops, etc. etc., necessitating a 2+ hour trip to Mexicali for anything beyond the most basic needs.

The dozens of billboards one passes on the road here, or web sites one might view when contemplating the journey, would have you believe that the hotel district looks like downtown Cabo San Lucas, and the housing developments look like Sanibel Island. Reality is quite different. The end result is that San Felipe is neither fish nor fowl -- it's not the sleepy fishing village that would constitute "quaint" and "peaceful" and where you might get dinner with a couple of cervezas for a few bucks, but neither is it a destination resort brimming with bars, restaurants, shops, and luxury hotels with enough to satisfy the typical Norteamericano tourist and justify the lofty prices.

We will definitely go to El Dorado to have a look around. But we're wondering whether Puertecitos, more than an hour to the south, might be a bit more of the "real" Mexico.

1 comment:

  1. Sean I have been following your blog for the last few months question have you figured out your oil consumption problem.
    I live in Northwest Florida and remember seeing your bus at the Wal-Mart outside of Milton


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