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Punta Abreojos, Baja Mexico - A Travel Guide. And an Adventure...
by Tatiana Howard
Abreojos means "Open Eyes" in Spanish.
600 miles south of San Diego, California.
A small Mexico fishing village.
The most uncrowed waves I ever surfed and windsurfed.
 
Entry Rules: I brought my passport just in case but never had to use it. My driver license was fine and a must.
 
Money: US dollars are accepted everywhere. Your change will be given back in Pesos, so make sure you double check what they give you back.
 
Getting there: The most common way is to drive from San Diego sown south. There are a few landing strips near the area if you wanted to fly in. Once you cross the border it becomes a little confusing but as long as you stay to the right you will be on your way. The Mexico Hwy 1 gets you all the way down to Guerrero Negro. Once you pass that town Punta Abreojos will have a sign to follow and becomes a dirt washboard road. Even on the dirt roads you want to just keep taking the right roads so you get near the shore and not the town. On the way back it’s the opposite, stay left. Simple as that! If your truck breaks down half way home don’t panic. Just get to San Agustin and you will find Nati. I am sure you will be in good hands with her!
 
When to go: I went in August and had waves everyday and the side shore winds picked up every afternoon. Even though there wasn’t a huge swell that hit we still had waves to catch. I heard from other surfers there that the water warms up in September/ October and still has nice swells coming in. I wore a wetsuit (short arm, long leg) and was just perfect.
Things to be aware of: Sting Rays! Poke your board down into the sand and shuffle stomp your feet to get them out of your way. Once you can jump on your board, DO! Don’t wake out in the water for long.
 
The drive: The roads are very narrow and you share it with semi trucks around corners, hills, and straight ways. Every time you pass you’re at 10 and 2 and in total focus. Wild life can also be running across the road so pay attention!
 
Conditions: Surf- The waves are ridiculously good with no crowds. If you have 4X4 you can explore up and down the coast and will be able to keep finding perfect breaks. The best time to surf is in the morning with glassy conditions. There will always be a place to surf no matter the swell. There are a ton of different types of breaks, reef, point, shore with sandy or reef bottoms. Windsurfing- The wind is like clockwork. Every afternoon the winds will be blowing form 20- 25 knots. It keeps picking up throughout the day so you will be sure to get some windsurfing in no matter what size you rigged. Many spots that were good for surfing in the morning get side shore winds in the afternoon. You can get some awesome wave riding with the mellowest crowd or no crowd at all.
 
Accommodations: Camping! There is Chelos in the town where you can rent a place but camping is half the fun!
 
What to Bring: all you boards and equipment for the water, kayak for catch your dinner, sunscreen, lip balm, tons of drinking water, and cash.
Thanks: Nati, Rosario (mechanic) Pepe, Jose, Eddy and all the others in San Agustin who helped me when I was in trouble. Steve for showing me all the breaks and being my surf coach. Jerry for keeping out tummies full. Chris Macres and Jim for Nothing! Rob Kaplan for checking up on me while I was driving back home. My family always for their support. Naish, Dakine, Kaenon, Matiko
 
I headed down to Punta Abreojos with 4 other surfers and myself being the only one to surf and windsurf. We did the whole drive down in one day starting at 3:30 AM arriving at 8:30 PM. The following days the waves were so fun that I stayed out till I couldn’t surf any more. Then in the afternoons I would head out for a windsurf session. After all day in the water dinner always tasted so good especially with the freshly caught fish.
 
After a week of fun and adventures it was time to head back to reality. This is where the story begins. I can't believe the nearly disastrous adventure that happened to me. I am so thankful to the wonderful local people who took me in while I was in trouble. It all started when we headed back on the long drive home with half our crew. Two wanted to stay for a few more days and the boys had to head home. The waves had died down a lot, so I thought I should probably head back and organize my trip to Brazil. BAD IDEA!
 
We had walkie-talkies between the two cars that worked for up to two miles. This was our only communication. I was in one truck and the boys were in the other. We started off fine and would meet up at every gas station or checkpoint. That's fine until you get to a straightaway with nothing in sight for hours. The boys were ahead of me with the faster car, and went so far in front of me that the walkie-talkies were useless. I was driving along fine until the clutch started to sound and act funny. I kept going until finally the truck was going nuts and wouldn't go when I pressed the gas. I was stuck! On my own! In the middle of nowhere-land! IN BAJA!!
 
I freaked out and jumped out of the car, trying to wave anyone down who could help me. One semi trucked passed and the driver threw up his hand helplessly as he passed. The next person who came by was a nice old local man who pushed my truck with his for a bit and left me off near a little cafe and house. He tried to calm me down and said that the guys would come back for me when I don't show up at the next gas station, two hours away.
 
Meanwhile, it turns out that the boys (Chris Macres and Jim) never stopped. They kept going with their beers and joint, not caring or noticing that they had left a little blonde surfer chick in the middle of the desert of Mexico. They were wasted, spent all their money on alcohol and couldn't afford to stop at the town where we had planned to rest for the night and take off the following day. I don't know what they were thinking and couldn't believe they would go on their way without checking in with me.
So there I was, sitting in front of a tiny cafe with a broken truck, full of adrenaline, tears, and frustration. It was near San Agustin, a tiny little place in the middle of nowhere. Finally, some ranch worker boys came over to check on the problem, which we figured was the clutch. I am so thankful I learned some Spanish, because they didn't know any English at all! I asked them if there was a mechanic nearby. No. How about a telephone? No. No nothing for 2 hours in either direction! The mechanic was far away and would be very difficult to get to or to find. By this time I had tears streaming down my face. I didn't care anymore what they thought. I just let it out.
 
While I sat there and cried, the local boys started getting into the engine. More and more of them emerged from the little town and gathered around to see if they could do something. One guy, Rosario, had a truck similar to mine (an '81 4x4 Toyota) and knew a little about the engine. He worked on it for hours and finally removed the broken clutch. The pad on it was totally gone. I needed a new one and he said he might be able to find me one. I gave him some money and off he went. I wasn't confident that he would ever come back, but to my surprise; he showed up with a clutch a couple of hours later and was ready to keep working. By this time it was pitch dark, but Rosario kept at it for many more hours to complete the job. His buddies returned after work and found something in the engine to work on.
 
Meanwhile, the lady in the cafe came out, put her arm around me, and invited me in. She told me that everything was OK but it was very lucky that I broke down where I did. She said that it is very dangerous out there in the desert, but I would be safe with her and her family. She made me Mexican frijoles and gave me a bucket of water to rinse off with. She and her husband slept outside, and she reassured me that it would be safe to sleep in my truck next to them. They had a fence around the property, so I felt better and better the more I spoke with her (speaking in Spanish the whole time, believe it or not!).
 
After 8 hours, the guys (Pepe, Jose, Eddy and the main mechanic, Rosario) finished the truck. "Ya esta!" "That's it, it's ready to go!" said Rosario, as he closed the hood. We went for a little test drive and it was like nothing had ever happened. The truck was like new, I couldn't believe it! It was fixed and I would be on my way tomorrow.
 
The lady of the house kept telling me how lucky I was that these guys had fixed it. If they hadn't, I would have had to stay there for a couple of days until her husband went to town to get gas, water and milk. Then I would have gone with him to try and get in touch with my dad. She told me that mechanics are very hard to find, parts for trucks are hard to come by, and if I had left my truck alone it would have been dismantled by thieves. I paid Rosario and the guys as much money as I could, but saved enough to buy some gas on the way home since I was almost on E.
Buenos Noches! After all this craziness, I was ready for bed and fell fast asleep in the back of the truck, tucked in between my boards and sails. At the break of dawn the rooster crowed his head off and woke us all up early. We had our morning cafe and she cooked up some delicious eggs, beans and tortillas for breakfast. After a million thanks and promises to stay in touch with my new guardian angels, I headed off for the rest of the trip back home. I still had to pass TJ and the border, which I was a little nervous about doing alone. My gas was also getting closer and closer to E, but I thought this would be a simple problem to fix compared to the clutch incident.
 
I finally got to a town with phone connection, where I could finally call my dad and tell him everything. I was on the phone with friends and family for the next few hours until I made it back to San Diego. Every time there was a checkpoint or gas station, the people there would ask me why I was alone in Mexico. They all couldn't believe my situation and wished me luck.
 
Now that I am safe, I look back on this as an awesome experience. I met some of the most amazing people ever and can't wait to gather up a ton of construction material, clothes and food to take down there. They invited me back and want me to stay for much longer and to teach me how to make tortillas and frijoles from scratchh. If you ever go to Mexico, make sure you stop by San Agustin, the next little cafe stop south of El Rosario. Buy some frijoles and cafe, and say hi to Rosario, Nati and the rest of my guardian angels.
 
In return for their kindness my goal is to help them out by bringing down materials they may be able to use in the remodeling. I want to be able to fix up their home and restaurant becoming the half way point where all the surfers and windsurfers stop to rest and even stay the night. If there is anyone with donations for them I will get it delivered to the family. Contact me through my website www.tatianahoward.com and we can organize it for there.

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text & photos: Tatiana Howard  windgirls 2007