Sol de Mayo
Chelsea and I are suckers for natural springs. In the US, we loved the hot springs of Idaho and Colorado, but in Baja Sur the weather pushed us towards the natural fresh water springs of Sol de Mayo and Boca de la Sierra. These two springs are found on the eastern slope of the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range. They are served by the communities of Santiago and Miraflores respectively. There are some hot springs in the area as well, but the near tropical temperatures of Baja Sur had us sweating too much too seek out a hot soak.
Santiago is a small, beautiful community that boasts impressive agriculture for being in the middle of a desert. It is a true oasis, as you'll see from this blog's first photo. A large freshwater lagoon sits right at the center of the community.
Sol de Mayo, an eco-lodge offering casitas and camping, sits at the entrance to the canyon that is home to the springs. The site is popular with day users driving up from the Cabo area, so expect a crowd that thins out later in the day. The walk from the campground to the springs can't be more than a kilometer, but there is a steep section of stairs hewn from the rocky cliffside. Bring a bottle of water and a towel; you'll probably find you don't need much else.
Camping at Sol de Mayo was around $15USD a night, and that included spring access. We enjoyed our first day, then headed back to the rig for some reading and dinner. There were a few other campers at the spring, but not many. The facilities included a pit toilet that didn't smell at all and spring fed water spigots scattered around the parking lot. It is a simple, although relatively shadeless, affair.
The next morning we loaded up a backpack with some snacks and snorkeling gear and headed off on a small walk to some pools above the main pool and waterfall. The pools above the falls were more shallow but less crowded and we enjoyed the walk up the canyon. The whole area is rather accessible and a great spot for adventuring. We could have gone much further up the canyon, but decided to go swimming instead. After a few dips in the upper pools, we headed back to the main pool for a little snorkeling. After spotting a large, broad-headed snake swimming in the shallow reeds, we decided we'd had enough of the idyllic springs for one trip.
Boca de la Sierra
On our way to Miraflores, the gateway town of Boca de la Sierra, we crossed the Tropic of Cancer, officially putting us in the tropics! Finally, we had a way to rationalize the heat. The 23*26'13.4" was marked by a large globe, which was ripe for picture taking.
We had read that the springs at Boca de la Sierra were less developed, and therefore free. They were also unmarked, and we drove around the sleepy town looking for water while we roasted in the front cab of Little Foot. Sylvester, a fantastically generous local, flagged us down and explained that we could camp on his family's camping property by the springs. After many unsuccessful attempt to explain, and then draw the location of his camp, he offered to ride with us a few kilometers up a dirt road to the spot, and then walk back. We were floored, both by his property's location and by his generosity. We stayed on his land two nights, and he came to check in on us both days. Mexico is full of great people, and Sylvester is certainly one of them.
A last note on Sylvester: he's a successful but modest farmer. He has a family, he has a farm house, and he has fields that produce tomatoes and other crops. When we met him he was dressed in unassuming clothes fit for working on a farm, and when I met his wife the next day she was driving a 15 or 20 year-old SUV with peeling paint and signs of wear; a good vehicle but by no means showy. They are Mexico's middle class I assume, and Sylvester is rightfully proud of the fact that his crops are of export quality - most of his produce is bound for the US. While the success of any farmer is greatly decided by variables outside his control, be it rain or crop markets abroad, Sylvester is looking into the future with a furrowed brow. With imported Mexican goods facing increased tariffs in the US, Sylvester's crop prices may not be able to stay sustainable. It is important to remember that national choices can greatly impact others, and that all Americans are global citizens, whether we want to be or not.
The springs offered excellent swimming, fewer water moccasins, and almost no one else to spoil the spot's tranquility. One evening a group of young people arrived in a truck playing loud music. They walked down to our camp site, introduced themselves, offered us a beverage, offered us help and a tour of Cabo if we were ever in the area, wished us luck and blessings, then walked back to their truck, turned off their music, swam, and left peacefully. We love Mexico and we love Mexicans.