The track the next day took us right along the coast and we were distracted by more diving pelicans, fishing amongst dolphins this time. The rocky route soon turned inland on seldom-used tracks amongst lovely wildflowers and cacti.
After a while, we emerged onto the MEX1 highway for a short stretch before heading off on a very gradual climb through beautiful terrain to the Misión San Francisco de la Borja.
The mission turned out to be a veritable oasis with its own hot spring and basic facilities for camping. The next morning we were shown around the mission by the caretaker/owner, whose family had looked after and restored the site over several generations. It was fantastic to see the effort and craftsmanship that they had clearly put into this unique site.
With our tour over, we prepared to leave, only to be reminded that the Norra Race was passing by – a competitive rally for gringos and their dirt-mobiles. Screaming engines and clouds of dust in the distance persuaded us to postpone our departure for a little while and we waited around until most of them had gone through. It was quite a still day, so the dust that the vehicles had kicked up hung in the air and coated the cacti for several metres either side of the road. It was also noticeable how quiet the area was, devoid of the bird song that we had heard the day before. We wondered how long it would take for the ecosystem to return to normal.
The only things that hadn’t fled the cars were the flies, and we were plagued by them as we continued the climb, before speeding down the descent and towards the eastern side of the peninsula. Eventually, we hit the highway once more and had a fast ride to the Gulf of California, emerging to a spectacular view over the sea and islands. As we descended the final kilometres into Bahía de los Ángeles, we had a light sprinkling of rain, which was something of a welcome peculiarity.