Our Journey to La Bufadora
22 November 2013
November 21, 2013
Our friends, Kevin and Debbie (sv/Peppermint Patty), whom we met while we were at Marina Coral, asked if we would like to join them for a trip to La Bufadora via bus. Jay had been there before and wasn't amazingly impressed but since we had time on our hands and our friends knew the way, we thought it might be fun. We were to meet Sunday morning by the "Three Heads," a central plaza located near our marina, Baja Naval. Don was out of town so it would just be the four of us. Only Kevin ended up falling ill. Debbie wrote us an email Saturday evening to let us know and suggested we go anyway.
Her instructions read like this:
Take the orange bus labeled Maneadero or Zorillo. I was told they stop for 5 minutes when they get to a road that goes down to La Bufadora. The next bus is on the right by a Calimax store. I have "Blue"and "Nativios" written on the map. I assume the bus is blue. Have a fun day.
Okay. Sounds simple enough. We took Debbie's directions and headed out.
"So, where do we pick up the bus?" Jay asked.
"Um, not sure. I didn't ask."
"Well, since they suggested we meet at the Three Heads, we probably pick it up there."
"We could ask at the Tourist Information booth." I offer.
"I've never seen anyone there."
"Don and I spoke to someone there the other day."
Jay is not convinced. We go to the Tourist Information Booth. No one is there.
"Let's just go to the bus station. Surely someone there can help us with directions." I say. Jay agrees, albeit hesitantly.
We walk the twelve blocks and as we get closer, I realize this is a bus station like our Greyhound Bus Station, not a city bus station. Jay mumbles something like he knew we should have waited for the bus at the Three Heads. We go inside and he asks, "Habla ingles?"
The woman behind the counter shakes her head and says, "No."
"Uh..." Jay begins, "El bus to La Bufadora?" Half in English and half in Spanish.
The woman just looks at him and shakes her head. Then she puts up her finger for him to wait and goes to get a gentleman who can speak English.
Meanwhile, there is an older man with a younger woman (his daughter?) standing to my right. I notice he notices us as soon as we say the words, La Bufadora. He says something in Spanish to his daughter, looks at me. He continues to speak Spanish as if I might understand. But I don't. I am distracted by Jay who is now speaking with the man behind the counter.
When Jay asks him what bus/buses we take to La Bufadora he smiles, or should I say, smirks, because he looks at us as though he is saying to himself, "Ah, these stupid Americans. Good luck with that. But if you want to go by bus...I will tell you."
What he really says is, "You have to take two buses. (He says this emphatically as if this should deter us.) Go two blocks to ninth street and pick up the yellow and white bus to Maneadero. There you will get off at the Califax Store. (By the way, there is not just one in town, they are everywhere.) Then wait for the blue bus to take you to La Bufadora."
Based on his look, not his words, I am a little concerned that we might get lost, but still willing to give it a go when the older gentleman to my right interrupts our conversation with the man behind the counter. The man behind the counter says, "This man will give you a ride if you like."
Much to my surprise, Jay immediately says, "Okay." Then he excuses himself and finds the restroom before we leave on our journey.
The gentleman's daughter looks at me and says, "Adios!" Off she goes to catch her bus, I suppose. I am left alone with the gentleman.
"Como se llama?" I ask. He tells me. I try to say it. He tells me again. I try to say it again. He pulls out his wallet and takes out his license. Now he shows me his name and says it again, slowly. I still am not able to say it nor do I remember it. I decide to call him Manny as it began with the letters Man.
Jay comes out of the bathroom and asks me what we are doing. I am not sure why he is asking this. He said yes a minute ago. I remind him.
"Manny is giving us a ride." I tell him excited by this twist of fate.
"Um, okay." He says as we follow Manny out of the bus station, across the street and to his truck.
His pickup truck is old and has a large propane canister tied to the roof of the cab. Not sure what that is about. Manny opens the door and quickly clears off the front seats, throwing everything onto the back floor. I slip into the middle seat across worn and torn seat covers. Jay slides in next to me. Manny's door doesn't shut and Jay looks a bit worried.
"It's only his seat belt. It got caught." I say. Jay relaxes. A bit.
What in the world are we doing, we both wonder silently to ourselves. Jay goes a bit further saying he is sure Manny is taking us somewhere and going to remove our kidneys to sell them.
But seriously, I was never worried. This man had kindness written all over his face. Manny spoke less English than we spoke Spanish but he talked the entire way. He was our tour guide, showing us the house of the "President de Ensenada" (He equated it with Obama, but is there a president of Ensenada? Maybe he meant mayor). He showed us where Estero Beach was located should we want to go there another day. I think he said something about flowers. And always, he made sure that we were paying attention to where we were headed and how the roads curved, so we would know our way back.
If we understood him correctly, he lives in Maneadero and was going there way anyway. He took us across from the Califax store where there was a small city bus station. He showed us the bus we were to take and wished us good luck. We tried to offer him some money but he truly was just doing us a favor and shyly declined. I left it on his dash anyway. I hope he wasn't offended.
We stood outside the station for several minutes in front of a bus that said, "Bufadora," but nothing happens. Finally, being the impatient American, I go inside the little room where three guys are sitting around gabbing and I ask, "La Bufadora?''
"Si!" They all three say at once and get up, speaking Spanish rapidly and get things moving. One of them comes outside. I go to the bus that has its engine on, the door open and says "Bufadora." That seems obvious, right? No. Not that one, he says, and points to the muddy one over in the corner where the bus driver is spraying it with water to make it presentable for a ride.
We get in and pay our 30 pesos total for the both of us. The sign says 22 (kilometers, I am guessing) to La Bufadora. We sit back and enjoy the ride.
It wasn't too long before we understood why the bus was so dirty. The main road was being worked on, so, for what seemed like a very long time, we traveled alongside the road on a very bumpy, dirt path. The dense city streets turned into a sparsely populated brown countryside sprinkled with shacks and taco stands. Every now and then there would be a nice house painted in bright colors, but most had peeling paint, if any, open holes for windows, and looked deserted. Were they? Or do families actually live in these run-down buildings? I am afraid they might.
Eventually we headed up the mountain and out along the Punta Banda peninsula. The homes there were much nicer as the quality goes up everywhere when there is a view. It was high atop the mountain that we saw the infamous tuna pens. And am I glad, too. We had heard we must watch out for these sea hazards and now I see why. These circular pens are huge and they are situated just off the coast and are spread out over miles. They have no lights. Not something I want to run into with our boat. At least now we have an idea what they look like and where they are. At least here, in Ensenada. I quickly try to photograph them through the window while we continue along the road. After several switchbacks going very fast in a bus that is driving along a cliff, we arrive at La Bufadora.
La Bufadora is simply a blow hole. A beautiful, big blow hole, but just a blow hole, nonetheless. Translated, La Bufadora means buffalo breath and I can see why as I lean over the canyon to catch a glimpse of the water rising up along the rocks. The tide was high and ebbing so we were hoping for a good show, but the small amount of buffalo breath was a little bit disappointing. It was a beautiful view though with stormy clouds gathering over the mountains.
As with most tourist places, the street leading up to the blow hole was wall to wall trinket/souvenir shops on both sides of road. This means we were inundated with Mexican merchant cries. Some try charm, "Beautiful lady! What ever you need, I have. Come in and look, beautiful lady." and others try the comical approach, "Come! Buy something you don't need so I can go home!" This is when I wish I had made that tee shirt with "No, gracious" printed on the front and back.
We found a lovely place to eat, sitting on a cliff and looking over the sea. It was quiet. We were the only ones there. Jay had Machaca and eggs and I had enchiladas. We both decided on wine instead of margaritas.
On the way out of the restaurant, we found our way into another one, attracted to it by the guy at the door who had a boa constrictor around his neck. Inside we find a Macao (parrot of some sort) and a baby flying monkey who wasn't doing much flying as he was trapped inside a cage. We stayed only long enough for me to take photos until I noticed a guy giving me a dirty look and saw a sign that said NO PHOTOS. Stupid American!
Thanks to Manny, we easily found our way back to Ensenada. We ran into a bit of traffic due to a basura strike. (So that's why the garbage was overflowing into the street.) Tens of trash trucks lined the road alongside the house of "President de Ensenada." Hundreds of men, walking the sidewalks with picket signs yelling something in Spanish. People driving by and honking in sympathy with the strikers. Evidently they weren't getting paid. Or paid enough.
When we could see that we were getting close to our marina, we jumped off the bus and walked proudly back to the boat. We did it! We navigated our way through a foreign country using public transportation with little local knowledge and with very little Spanish speaking skills. It was a great challenge and a fun day and it is true, what they say, "It's not about the destination, but the journey."
P.S. The next morning, leaving our marina and walking past the Three Heads, I noticed an orange and white bus labeled, Maneadero, and another that passed with the name, Zorillo. I hate it when Jay is right.