Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Dorado Dilemma
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
After Lidia

September Outlook
For many years, because September was considered the heart of storm season, anglers avoided the month for Baja fishing. Now it has become somewhat of an “insider’s secret” by savvy anglers who have discovered how good the fishing can be then … lighter crowds and more fish seem to be a welcome formula for more and more visitors.

However, this time of the year, hurricanes, chubascos – or as the local’s call them, “tormentas” – are part of the fabric of Baja. So it’s important to keep an eye on the weather when planning your spur-of-the-moment trip.

More often than not, by the time they hit land, chubascos are just a nuisance and have already become tropical storms, both messy and inconvenient … but at other times, they can be devastating!

ON AUG. 27, 1989, Hurricane Kiko made landfall on the Gulf of California side of the peninsula, causing heavy damage, but no deaths. However, high winds gusting at more than 109 mph brought down numerous trees and power lines.

Before we go any further, this is not a “how-to” in preparation for one, although there is a link at the end with several handy websites that will provide you with that information. This is just recounting our personal experiences with the Baja chubascos.

Rancho Deluxe, locatedon the beachfront just south of Hotel Buenavista Beach Resort at East Cape, was our home from 1989 to 2005, during which time 25 tropical storms, or chubascos, occurred. Of those, 14 had a direct impact on our home and those of our friends. I have not included the countless others I experienced over my 40-something years of traveling up and down the Baja Peninsula by both sea and road … (from 1969 to the present.)

There are plenty of reliable sources on the Internet providing early warnings of approaching storms now, but it wasn’t always that way. After Mex 1 was completed in 1973, it was not unusual to have surprise encounters with storms or the leftover results.

It was common to come upon raging waters too deep to cross, filling an arroyo or a washed out bridge with a long line of cars, RVs, trucks and busses stopped on each side, or sometimes, barely passable, depending on the clearance of the vehicle. Sometimes, a courageous driver would venture across and the wait would be shortened as one-by-one the line of vehicles slowly followed suit or a detour would be found around the obstruction. Other times the wait could stretch into delays lasting hours … or days.

We learned early. After our first standard van, we switched to a high-clearance one-ton version that allowed us to make it across deeper vados. We learned that if we could draft a semi-truck or bus, they would create a “bow wave” effect, allowing us to make it through.

Our first experience with the impact of a severe hurricane on Rancho Deluxe happened before we moved in. After leasing the house at La Capilla in the East Cape area from the owners (Rancho Buena Vista Hotel) in May, we left a list of items to be repaired or replaced before we took possession in September. By mid-August the work had been completed and we eagerly made plans to move in on our targeted date.

On Aug. 27, 1989, Hurricane Kiko made landfall on the Gulf of California side of the peninsula, causing heavy damage, but no deaths. However, high winds gusting at more than 109 mph brought down numerous trees and power lines.

Rancho Deluxe, a beachfront 4-bedroom house facing north, suffered the brunt of the storm. Plate glass windows were blown out while others were sand blasted so badly they appeared to be frosted like bathroom windows. The four-foot block wall fence had disappeared under a layer of sand. Filled with water, the house was uninhabitable … delaying our move-in by a month.

Later, Jack and Shirley Bowman, owners of “Casa Bowman” next to Palmas Hotel, described how they had ridden out “Kiko” huddling in their bathtub as the winds ripped through their home. Shirley said it sounded like a freight train rumbled overhead and all around, as she heard her glass doors shatter and felt her whole house shake.

Though we never experienced another Kiko over the 18 years, we often had guests when a chubasco would occur. Oddly enough, most greeted the event with enthusiasm — excited to have the opportunity of experiencing the fury without understanding the consequences and inconvenience’s that came with them. Only after, when they dealt with sweeping out water from the tile floors, the loss of electricity, rationing of water, food, and gasoline plus dealing with the no-see-ums and mosquitoes, did they feel the real impact of the lesser chubascos/tropical storms.

Often, Mex 1 would be flooded at the arroyos at both ends of the East Cape area, preventing supplies from being delivered as well as making it difficult for visitors and hotel guests to depart.

After one storm, the only way our son Geoff could get to the airport was by water. A panga took him to La Ribera beyond the Las Cuevas arroyo that was filled with the storm’s runoff, where he met a shuttle that carried him to the airport.

From now until late October is usually considered the most critical time of the entire year for tropical storms. They can be dangerous and can cause long-lasting consequences that shouldn’t be ignored.

There are ample weather sites featuring the tracking of current threatening storms as well as social media and local web sites providing literally instant information of conditions in Baja and Mexico. If you are planning to take advantage of Baja’s best kept insider’s secret, don’t ignore these valuable resources to help make your trip a success.

A good place to start is:

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