Altar Dunes Day 4: 11/07/2000

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At Estacion del Torres, and on to El Gulfo

The next morning, the wind had picked up substantially.  What stated as a small breeze had developed into a full dust storm.  This made packing a chore.  The night was cold, but generally calm.  As dawn approached, so did the wind adding an edge to our urgency to get to El Gulfo.

We left Torres heading to the northwest along the railroad tracks.  As you can see below,  the area is billiard table flat.  The dirt track was no better that the tundra, so going was slow.  The initial plan was to go to the Army camp in the desert and then turn toward El Gulfo.  But the tundra was taking its toll on our good will.  We came upon a road that, according to the GPS, headed straight into El Gulfo so we took it.  As we proceeded, the wind became stronger.

We descended a large set of bluffs, the same ones that are shown on the satellite photos.  With the exception of only one narrow area, the descent was unremarkable.  What was remarkable, however, was the large amount of garbage we saw.  Most was blowing in the wind.  The photo below, taken early in the canyon, does not do justice to the the scope of the garbage.

As we got closer to El Gulfo, the trash, like the wind, got more intense.  As we discovered, the road we had chosen goes through the El Gulfo dump.  There were discarded objects of every kind, including shrimp heads (less than fresh), fish guts, household refuse, etc.  And to top it off the wind had risen to the level where the sand stings your face, taking the contents of the dump deep into the village of El Gulfo and its payload of dirty sand far into your lungs.  Not what I had expected to see.

As we went down to the waters edge, the wind picked up speed making the beach conditions most incomfortable.  We stayed only long enough to take the photos below.  Note that the color and the sky merge due to the large amount of dust and marine aerosols in the air.  Note further the large number of "pangas" (motor boats of a speficic style created to support the fishing industry in rural Mexico) that are beached and Matt cringing at the pain of stinging sand in the face.

Kathleen follows in close behind to get a good view of the water. Note that the guys near the water are hunkered down against the wind.

Below Kelly (far right) looks like has had his fill of dust and wind for the day.  It was quite cold and the wind was strong enough that it kept all the fisherman beached for the whole day.

Notice that the whole crew was back in their cabs for this shot except me and I had goggles on.

An we were getting our fill of sand in our faces, we asked one of the fishermen who was beached to suggest a resturant.  Seems that the choice was real easy since there was only one reasonable sit down food service that was out of the wind.  The resturant was clean, spacious had flush toilets that worked, hot water for washing the hands.  And in one of the nicest gestures, had satellite TV that we watched during lunch.  This resturant, being the best in town, was host to over 30 jeeps from the Tierra del Sol Fourwheelers club last New Years.

After a delightful lunch at "El Delfin" that consisted of shrimp in garlic sauce, fish tacos and shrimp cocktails, we headed to the OXXO Supermart and the pescaria to get shrimps and clams. The shrimps were huge and about $8 a kilo and the clams were $1 a dozen so we got 2 kilos and 8 dozen clams.  Then we headed to the Pemex for fuel.  Sadly, both Kai and Dan were able to get full tanks.  I, being the last in line, only got 40 liters.  Seems that the demand was higher than supply and the delivery truck was late.  So, I got the last of the fuel.  The good news was that I still had 60 liters in cans in the back and Kai and Dan, between them, had 200 more.

From the Pemex, we headed to the beach and then along the water to the east.  The photo below shows the view back to El Gulfo from several miles away.  Note the mog tracks.

To the east of El Gulfo, the bluffs come right to the water's edge.  This continues for over 10 miles before the bluffs subside into more dunes.


After the bluffs sank back into the dunes, we took a left to the north onto a small dry lake bed which seemed to be a tidal flat.  We were reasonably certain that the tide would stay far enough away to insure our departure the following morning.  That evening, we cooked and ate all the seafood we had bought earlier day.  All the clams.  All the 2 kilos of shrimp.  For 6 people.  It was gluttony on the beach.  The clams were prepared using sea water.  We boiled them for only 5 minutes, until they open.  Then, we ate them with garlic butter, salt and pepper.  Excellent.

The shrimp were grilled in extra virgin olive oil and garlic.  These were big shrimp.  3 seemed to be a full serving for normal adults.  All of us, however, had 6 to 9 each.  One glutton, whose name shall remain anonymous, had many more.

It was cold and windy.  Kathleen and I set up the bed in the truck for the first night of the trip.  Gladly, were generally shielded from the wind.

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