Here’s How We Reduced Our Waste
Drinking Water– To avoid one of my top nemeses, the disposable water bottle, we chose to refill! We brought along a 5 gallon water bottle and filled it up with potable water down in baja. We also filled up a couple of individual bottles at the same place for free! It cost us less than $1. We could have done this in the US too, but due to timing we did it there. We also brought two camel backs full of drinking water from home. It was the perfect amount for the three of us for 4.5 days. Single-use bottles aren’t the only choice when traveling, you can find these “purificadoras” in any Mexican town.
Water for Cleaning– We used the melted ice water for cleaning, and reused it over and over again. If we had a dirty bowl I filled it with water and let it soak, when it was time to clean it I poured that water into another dirty cup or bowl, and repeated that process a few more times. When it was time to pour the water out I did it over plants, just to give them a bit of extra moisture in this dry climate.We were in a very dry desert, conservation is key!
Ice– Instead of buying bagged ice, I made my own. I reused a plastic bag and filled it with ice cubes from our fridge’s ice machine, filled bottles with water and froze, and also brought along frozen beans and hibiscus tea to keep the cooler cold. The ice lasted us about 30 hours. We could have bought more ice in town but we didn’t have the need. We had eaten all the perishable foods and had drunk the beer by then.
Food– We brought an assortment of dried foods, vegetables, fruit, and snacks. Most of what we brought we already had at home, that way we use up the veggies we already have before buying more. We did buy dehydrated soups specifically for the trip, as well as a birthday cake . Everything in this picture is packaged in either reusable containers or compostables, no single-use plastics!
Waste– Fortunately the camp had a compost pile! Although they had recycling stations I chose to bring back the recyclables to the US. Bahia de los Angeles is an isolated, difficult to get to place. Bringing back our bottles and paper was no issue for us and it lessens the burden of the camp owners to transport the recyclables. We did produce a bit of non-recyclable waste, which we brought back as well. #leavenotrace
Reusables: We used reusable plates, cups, and utensils to reduce waste at camp and on the road as well. I used my reusable stainless steel container for the leftover tortillas from breakfast in San Quintin and a reusable cup and spoon came in handy for zero waste ice cream on the way back.
For our latest adventure we headed south of the border to a small fishing village on the Sea of Cortez. We packed our second-hand gear, plenty of food, Apollo and all his accessories, and hit the road Thursday afternoon. After one of the most beautiful scenic drives we arrived in Ensenada at around 6:00 pm. Our stop in Ensenada was brief but productive. We filled up a growler at Wendlandt, Fernando ate some fish tacos, Apollo got out for a potty break, and we were back on the road by 6:30. Although it was already dark and the well kept toll roads were behind us, we had plans to keep driving until the town of Vicente Guerrero to spend the night. My aunt, uncle, and cousins used to live there, and although they’ve now moved, they still have a house we could stay at.
The three-hour nighttime drive from Ensenada to Vicente Guerrero was gut wrenching! There was dense fog, potholes everywhere, and sections of the road in repair without a middle divider. I definitely feared for our lives, but I do tend to over-worry. Fortunately we made it safe into town! The next morning we got up early, packed our sleeping bags and pillows back into the car, collected some delicious fruit from the guava tree, tricked Apollo into getting back in the car, and got back on the road.
We stopped for gas and breakfast just a few miles down the road in the agricultural town of San Quintin. We had both brought clothes we no longer needed with the intent of giving it away to someone in need. An older woman working as a restroom attendant at the Pemex (gas) Station was happy to receive a bag! It was around 8:30 am and we were both craving a homemade style Mexican breakfast, which according to the gas attendant we could find just across the street. We tied Apollo to a pole, and entered a warm, run down mom and pop place. Fernando asked the woman to make us something with veggies, which resulted in a big plate of Huevos a la Mexicana, a side of veggies and avocado, and homemade corn tortillas. While we were waiting for our food Fernando noticed I was constantly glancing at the kitchen and twitching my thumbs. After I admitted it was because I was afraid the woman would bring out our salsa with a disposable spoon just like she did for the other table, Fernando went and explained our “no plastic” lifestyle so that we could both feel comfortable. “No hay problema” she said, offered Fernando a mug for coffee instead of the styrofoam cups available, and brought out our salsa plastic-free! With our bellies and gas tank full we hit the road again. We made just a few more stops on the second leg of our trip. Plastic-free tortillas and wifi in El Rosario, got out of the car to admire the natural desert beauty near Catavina, and before we knew it we were looking at the the deep blue colors of the sea contrast with the desert landscape as we drove into beautiful Bahia.
I had done a bit of research on the accommodations and chose Campo Archelon for their sustainable practices and beachside palapas. On arrival, we were greeted by the owner Betty and her older german shepard, Mentira. The camp was mostly full with camper vans, but we got to choose between two palapas, we chose one named Orca. The palapas were spacious, had protective walls made from rock and cement, and a wood and palm leaf roof. It came with a table, cot, and a small bookshelf, it was quite cozy! After setting up our kitchen and hanging up the hammock we went to have a look around the camp.
The waste station at the camp was a zero waster’s dream! They had compost and separate bins for glass, aluminium, paper, plastic, and landfill waste. We did our part to sort and a little bit more, on a couple of occasions throughout the weekend I couldn’t help myself from sorting other people’s waste. The restrooms were clean, had signs reminding you we’re in the desert and conservation is key, and even had a salt water toilet and faucet.
The rest of the day was similar to the rest of the weekend…very relaxing. We met our American next door neighbors and their rescued dobermans, hung out with our other next door neighbor, a young Canadian doing a solo road trip, watched Apollo play with his new friends, which included dogs and a dried up starfish, napped, drank beer, made dinner, and read.
The next morning we woke up a bit sore from our cramped sleeping situation but were rewarded with a magnificent, colorful sunrise. Fernando and I slept in the same 1-person cot, which was cozy and romantic at times, but made my limbs fall asleep at other times. This was the morning of February 11, a day I’m very grateful for because it’s Fernando’s birthday! I let him sleep in while I meditated, then went for a walk on the beach. Once he was up I made him his favorite breakfast of huevos rancheros while he meditated. To make the huevos rancheros I used the paper-wrapped tortillas bought in El Rosario, Happy Eggs bought in San Diego, bulk sunflower oil, and veggies brought from home for the salsa, on the side were bulk homemade beans we brought frozen (but at this time had thawed). Breakfast was followed by the most delicious chocolate cake and my present to him, concert tickets.
The day was gorgeous! Temperatures in the eighties, clear blue skies, and no strong winds. Upon recommendation from Betty and other campers we got in the car and headed to La Gringa on the north side of the bay. We walked alongside the sea star filled water, climbed over rocks, and jumped into the water (only for about 2 minutes because it was so dang cold). On the way back to camp we parked the car and walked among the huge cactus while admiring the beautiful seaside desert landscape.
I can’t recall exactly what we did the rest of the day but it involved exploring the town, reading, napping, and watching the moon rise from the mountains into the sky. That night Fernando had set up this really cool second-hand tepee/tent he recently bought. He wanted to spend the night there, so Apollo and I made him company on the beach. Night two was another sleepless night. Apollo kept creeping up on my pillow until I was smashed between the two of them, the sand floor was not as comfortable as I thought, and although the sound of the waves crashing can be soothing, it kept waking me up. At around 3 am I said goodbye to the tepee tent and went to sleep on the cot, all by myself.
After an oatmeal breakfast and some lounging around we headed into town to check out the local museum. The museum is A-W-E-S-O-M-E, we were both thoroughly impressed with the small-town, volunteer run, donations only museum! Every corner is filled with artifacts, wildlife samples, and educational content. We learned about the native inhabitants, local wildlife, the mining industry, and the way of life back in the day for the rancheros.
By the time we got back to camp it was raining. We thought about coming back early, but it was already past noon and we didn’t want to drive in the storm. Instead we stayed in the palapa, read, napped,and made lunch. While the weather cleared up for a bit we went on a walk to the nearby lighthouse, except we didn’t make it to the lighthouse because it started raining, again! We got drenched on the way back, but at least we had a few laughs. Although we were confined to the palapa, I didn’t mind the rain. Water is life and I’m always grateful for it, especially in those very dry climates. With not much else to do we were ready for bed by 8:30 pm. We were in our sleeping bags, each of us in our own cot, when the roof started to leak right onto the cot. Fernando was like, “oh it’s okay, it’s only on our feet”, but I did not want to get my feet, sleeping, or cot wet. I was feeling energetic, the palapa next to us was free and leak proof, so I moved everything over! Even with the strong winds and mosquitos, night three was the best sleep of all three nights.
By now it was Monday morning and it was time to get on the road for the 400 mile trip back to San Diego. Before leaving we were invited to coffee at Mike and Meredith’s camper. Mike and Meredith are a semi-retired couple from Petaluma, California who are on a 3 month baja roadtrip. We exchanged travel stories while sipping on our coffees in their clean and cozy camper. Before we knew it an hour had gone by and it was time to hit the road. Mike and Meredith were lovely, I hope we get to meet again!
The travel back was a breeze compared to trip there. Except for some serious pothole action about an hour out (which got me kicked off the driver seat) the road was clear, fast, and the scenery beautiful. We stopped again at El Rosario for breakfast, wifi, and gas and then again in Ensenada for ceviche tostadas for Fernando and a pee break for Apollo. We wanted another growler fill at Wendlant, but it was unfortunately closed. After 11 hours of travel, including a short border wait, we were back home!
This trip was very special. We had time to relax, we enjoyed seeing Apolo have the time of his life, were disconnected from the internet for a couple of days, and spent quality time together. Bahia de los Angeles is a beautiful place to visit. If you do, we very much recommend staying at Campo Archelon as well as making your trip as waste-free and sustainable as possible.