San Felipe, Baja, Mexico

My first visit to San Felipe happened in Dec.1978. My husband and I decided that we wanted to do something different over the holiday season. We looked on the map and thought that it would be a good idea to go down to Cabo San Lucas via Mexico Highway number 3, where we would switch to Mexico Highway number 5 and take the "coast" all the way down. NOT!

Once we crossed the international boarder at San Diego, drove through T.J. and on to Ensenada, we found Highway number 3. At that time, Hwy. 3 was very spartan to say the least. It was full of pot holes which were axle breakers. We were driving my little TR7 and were able to navigate the roadway easily. We were very grateful that we were not driving one of the big honker motor homes.

There were a few small cities along the way but the houses were mostly made of discarded pieces of wood, cardboard, and tin and the towns consisted of maybe ten to twelve houses. Interestingly enough each "town" had a central park or gathering place which reflected much care and nurturing having pretty shade trees and colorful benches for sitting and chatting.

The weather was good but cold up in the mountains on the trip down from Ensenada to San Felipe Highway #5. When we got down to Highway 5, we went South toward Cabo. NOT!

The number 5 is a two lane road reasonably well paved but still had it's share of pots. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into at this point. The distance from El Chinero where Highway3 and 5 meet, to San Felipe is about 40 miles. In those days the drive from the turnoff was not populated at all and the only redeeming feature was the breath taking vista of the Sea of Cortez.

We decided that we would stay in San Felipe for the night and in the morning head on South. When we got into the downtown area of San Felipe, we found three hotels. All of the hotels were booked because of the holiday season.

We had no idea what to do at this point. One of the hotel managers suggested that we might find a "crude" room at a little place about two streets off the main street. When we got there, it was clear that this hotel catered to hourly trade and the sheets were probably not changed between tenants. I of course being a "city girl" refused to even consider staying there.

"I would rather sleep in the car!" was my response to my husband's question "What do you think?' Remember, we are talking about a TR7 2 seater.

We were both tired and hungry and it was Christmas Eve. So we found a restaurant and decided to have a decent meal and think about what to do next. There was a couple sitting at the next table and the four of us were the only patrons in Ruben's eatery. The other couple were Americans also, so we asked them were they were staying and explained that we were without a place to spend the night. West and Gloria were their names and they said that they had a home there and were permanent residents of San Felipe. They also offered to put us up for the night in an extra trailer they had on their property at a campo on the Northern outskirts of town. The name of the campo was Campo Live and Let Live which is now known as Campo Ocotillos.

West and Gloria also had a trailer in town and told us we could have our choice of which trailer we wanted to use. We decided to use the trailer in town. Well, we ended up staying there for our entire vacation. West and Gloria refused our offer of money and said they were just happy to be able to offer help. That was twenty one years ago and I am still here.

San Felipe has become my home. I think there is no safer place on the planet for a woman (senior) to live alone. My husband had since left and still lives in the United States. I however, had found a home and friends here that are irreplaceable. Both Mexican Nationals and Americans. I think San Felipe reminds me of the "good old days" when one could walk down the street at night and not worry about being mugged or assaulted in any way. It's a place where children can be out playing any place in town and not be vulnerable to danger from other children or adults. It's a place where, when you get stuck in the sand in your car, getting you out becomes a matter of celebration by the rescuers. It's a place where men, women, and children can hitchhike to town and not be in any danger. While there are rascals here, they seem to have a respect for those of us who are in need or vulnerable. I remember as a child growing up in a neighborhood where everyone took care of everyone else. We seem to have that same mental and spiritual attitude here. There are no bad days and it is always beautiful here. It is truly one of the Creator's works of art.

Judy Carrol