[Mexico] Baja Calif. Sur: Seafood, Tacos & Whales

After a wonderful week seeing whales in Bahia Magdalena it’s good to be back in sunny and warm Loreto! Much colder, high humidity, cloudy and windy in Mag Bay.

Some more photos from last week:

Habanero-pineapple salsa again. Green salsa is roasted chile, probably poblano.

Prawns 2 ways: (semi) raw and cooked.

This prep is called “aguachile”. Basically a spicy version of ceviche but more raw.

Always good with granny’s freshly made corn tortillas (in basket)

Finally got some good tail shots on this day. Huge tail when you see it in person.

Whale in stealth mode. Water is so clear you can see them from a distance. Here one is gliding silently close to the surface.

When a whale blows under water, like a atomic bomb mushroom cloud. Yesterday the camera and I got soaked when a whale blew hard under water directly under me. Camera has been going bonkers since. I hope it recovers otherwise I have to find a replacement.

They surprise you and you swoon

I have sent this photo to the tour companies I went with. They have witnessed mating sessions countless times and saw the male sexual organ but never got photos of it. They have asked me to let them use the photo on their sites for educational purposes. Mating sessions are quite long with a lot of splashing and thrashing about with 2 males vying for the female’s affection. The “unlucky” male helps hold the female in position so that the pair can have a successful mating. It’s quite a spectacular scene to witness. We have seen it several times but yesterday was the first time we saw all 3 tails straight up above water during the mating process.

What a darling. The barnacles are like jewels.

I miss them already. Hopefully next year again.

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Thank you for sharing all of your incredible photos :heart:

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Thick corn cakes, “sopes”, with shredded meat. I forgot to specify the topping and they came with meat. We didn’t want meat but good that we are flexible.

Quesadillas with vegs.


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The palapa on the outside. Tortilla maker is in the photo. When she doesn’t have to make tortillas she sweeps the floor.

Open kitchen. That’s the wood-fired pit in which the granny cooks her tortillas (on a big metal sheet that sits on a grill grate).

A whale was approaching a boat nearby. Its tail was under my boat.

I reached out and touched its back.

You see this all day: 3 whales swim together. 2 males follow a female until she’s ready to mate with 1.

All the guides and boat drivers tell you the same thing: when the whales approach boats they tend to choose those that have elderly people, autistic children, and genuine people who have positive energy. Whales (and orcas) have high emotional intelligence. On one tour we had a very elderly woman in a wheelchair and our boat was approached by a friendly whale who hung around for a long time it was amazing. The Mexican family on the boat said the elderly woman really wanted to see whales and 3 generations of the family went with her here. On 2 tours only the partner and I got to touch the whales but not other people in our boats. Maybe it was a coincidence on those 2 occasions when we had (old) millennials who were only there for the photos. They didn’t show much interest in learning or interacting with the whales.

I didn’t have the camera ready on when this whale came at me directly and within touching distance. I turned on the camera after touching it but it was too late. When a whale chooses to interact with a certain person it faces this way, with the “chin” in your face, or just within that person’s reach in any position. When it wants everyone on one side of the boat to touch it it moves slowly from front to back (or back to front) with the body in a (semi) horizontal position parallel to the boat. Whales are fair and patient, that’s why they go around the boat and move along the side so everyone gets a chance.

The same scene but from another perspective made by my partner. The millennials on the boat were so disappointed they didn’t get a chance. Not a good idea to book only one tour but most people do that due to costs and time. Every tour after this day the whale watching and interactions got more and more incredible.

Thanks, rwcfoodie/Karen!

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What a life you seem to have!

How I do it…

We had 2 employees at the hotel-restaurant with us on the boat on this day. It was their first time and they were super excited. One of the two is the tortilla maker.

The whale moved from back to front this time. You see here the boat driver got to pet it first.

My turn

Super excited tortilla maker pointed at a whale approaching a boat nearby.

A very elderly woman and her 2 daughters who also stayed at our hotel marvelled at the super friendly whale. The elderly woman used a frame to walk and really wanted to see the whales and her daughters brought her here. We all left at the same time in different boats and the whales came to us, too. It’s always good to have elderly passengers in the boat, or follow one with them. Just like what the people in this business say about what attracts the whales.

Dinner was not much. I wasn’t too hungry but the underweight partner had to eat something savoury.


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The partner had to be in the breakfast room first to secure our favourite table made this photo. Scrambled eggs with chorizo, beans with cheese. Mine is a bowl of fresh fruits. I didn’t touch the hard, sweetened oat flakes and flavoured liquid yogurt. A kitchen staff noticed I left the 2 small bowls full and next 2 mornings I got a huge bowl of only fresh fruits.

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Took this photo with the partner’s phone. Big bowl of fresh fruits for me

Prawns

Poblano pepper stuffed with vegs. Btw, the camera got soaked when the whale blew a mushroom cloud of bubbles from under me and the camera went bonkers for a while. This photo was taken during that stage when it had trouble with focusing.

Almost everything comes with tortillas. We are not tired of them yet. In the hotel room we eat them with avocado or mango paste/membrillo all the time. Or dip them in different kinds of salsa when eating out (I mean besides filling them with food).

This one approached our boat making its presence known by coming on very strong. You can see the eye above water.

The last 3 tours we had multiple friendly whales coming to us seeking interaction. Got to touch them many many times.


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Sometimes they approach the boat swimming on their back. They also like rolling around and floating on their backs when interacting with you, like this one. Grey whales don’t have barnacles on one side of their faces. That’s because they only eat on one side, scraping one side of the face on the bottom scooping up food.

Btw, finally today I found a shop (a tip from the owners of my lodging) selling chipotle meco. The meco kind is hard to find even in Mexico. I got half kilo of Meco and half kilo morita. I already got more from another place previously. My rucksack is now half full of dried chillies!

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I had my first six

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First six Modelos on the Pacific on a fishing trip off Mazatlán in 1978. We didn’t catch squat but had a great time on the smooth ocean, and I still like Modelo.

We would get Cerveza Superior, good brew, in Houston in the late 70’s but hey have left the US market. I wonder if Presunto has run across any.

I made my fishing dream come true today! Went on a private fishing excursion and caught 3 big yellowtail. Trying to reel in a 10+ kilo struggling yellowtail is like trying to pull a car out of water. More about that in due course, though.

Last day in Magdalena Bay. Took these 2 photos before everyone in the village woke up. Directly outside my hotel and zoom in of the first house. Houses are mostly like these, and then there are self-made shacks. They built the hotel here because it’s close to the boat launch. The boats leave at 7:30 in the morning and return at 2pm.


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This Mexican wine we brought with us from Guerrero Negro is quite good. We also drank a bottle (920ml) of Pacifico every day. Interestingly, it has the word whale/ballena on it. Maybe the label is made for this area only. There’s no better option for beer. Only one shop has Pacifico, the rest stocks Tecate and Miller Lite etc.

None is “hot”.


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This friendly whale approached 3 boats in our spot. It went from one boat to another so everyone got to touch and made photos and be happy. Yellow square is where the eye is located. This is only the head of the whale. Me for scale.

My hand for scale

Several whales came to us during the tour.


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On its side

Best to avoid touching the barnacles. A girl on one of my tours cut her finger on them.

Last breakfast before returning to Loreto. Fresh corn tortillas with scrambled eggs and avocado salsa, and a spicy salsa.

Lunch in Loreto. Scallop tacos.


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Raw scallops in chilli and lime juice.

People who rave about ceviche obviously have never tried “aguachile”. This restaurant has 2 versions, red and green sauces (green is more common). I’ve tried both now and concluded the green version is the best, but red is good too.

After a couple of days we stopped drinking at the bar. Instead we took the beer back to our lodging. No music, no people, just us and the birds in the garden. Brewer is an Irish expat.

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Gorgeous. And nice catch.

Cheers! Drinking a new hoppy IPA from the beer bar as we speak. I got a growler (about 2 litres?) of their new IPA “cryohop”. Should be enough beer for tonight, me thinks.

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So are you having the locals cook the the yellow tail for you . Or just turn it into a fantastic ceviche.

It’s common in Loreto to bring the fish you catch to a restaurant and let them cook a dish or 4 to your liking. We just had dinner together with the owners of my lodging. We brought half of 1 fish to the restaurant and specified how we wanted it prepared. Fish got cleaned by the family of the guy we went fishing with, paid a US$10 fee. The owners put 2 huge pieces in their freezer for us. Tomorrow we bring one to our favourite restaurant and have it cooked there. We made an arrangement with the cook today.

We let the fish guy keep 1 yellowtail, a smaller fish, and all the mackerel we caught as bait. The owners of my lodging got a yellowtail, too. It’s huge, they gave some to the cleaner and a friend.

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So awesome.

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Recreational fishing is one of the attractions in Loreto. Posters for fishing are everywhere. I saw 2 other tourist fishing boats today. I think they already know how to fish, whereas we have no previous fishing experience. I have always wanted to do it and finally did it.

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I’m a avid fly fisherman living in northern California. Fish on . I do catch and release
Nice harvest on the yellow tails . Delicious.

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Breakfast:

Stuffed with cheese, mushrooms, poblano pepper, and some corn kernels.

There’s fried tortilla pieces and there’s a small tortilla under the egg.

Red sauce is very spicy. Whoa. I ate all the green sauce, a bit less spicy but has a better flavour. Probably poblano and some jalapeño.

Lunch at 2 different places because only 1 restaurant in town has fresh local chocolata clams.

Prawn and fish tacos


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At my favourite restaurant in Loreto. We have been going there every day. Today when we paid the employee asked if she could take a photo of us. We were surprised but politely declined. They have never had tourists coming here every single day during their holidays. They wanted to put our photo on their FB :sweat_smile: :thinking: I said I could send them photos I made of their food and they gave me their business card.

We always order the fresh clams. Many people don’t know that the clams are not available every day. Frozen, yes, always, but I’m not interested in them at all.

After 3 days in a row they ask if I want to order 1 or 2 plates of clams as soon as I walk in. They know we like the food and the restaurant and keep returning.

It’s a 15min walk to the edge of town to get here. Clams are steamed to perfection, seafood tacos are the best I’ve had. Not to mention aguachile. My favourite restaurant, despite the loud music (but this is Mexico. Can’t do without loud music).

Some non whale photos for a change. Loreto is peaceful. Lots of palm trees and streets are cleaner than our streets at home! And I live in one of the richest* countries in the world, a so-called “developed”/“first world” country that’s full of fake eco-warriors! (*On the backs of generous taxpayers!)


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Mar y sierra, Loreto has both.


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Whale wall murals are common in towns or villages that have a whale season.


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Incredible, incredible photos and narrative. I feel so lucky that you have shared this trip with us!

Some years ago we got to visit the Galápagos Islands. We’ve been followed by a pod of dolphins when we walked on a remote section of beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. And on a fishing boat here in New England a whale came out to greet us (she would swim over when she heard the sound of the particular boat’s engine).

Yet nothing I have seen yet compares to this adventure of yours.

Plus, you have sampled a dazzling array of tacos.

What a wonder of the world.

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Presunto: the salsa verde, green salsa was probably a tomatillo based salsa.

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Thanks, Foodhunter. I just came back from breakfast and ate all the green salsa that came with the food. It must be a standard condiment.

Tomato, then you must absolutely make the trip. After 11 whale tours in 2 different places in the course of 2 weeks I understand why people return year after year after year.

Check out BBC’s latest nature documentary series called “Seven worlds, one planet”. Just mind-boggling how they got all those incredible footages. I think one of the episodes where they were in Magdalena Bay telling the story of grey whales and how they first approached fishermen back in 1972. And that’s how the whale watching business started.

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Breakfast at a local restaurant in the neighbourhood, serving “cocina economica” kind of food. Cheap, simple and there’s nothing wrong with it.


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Many times I only want the vegs but it’s rarely possible. The beans are almost in liquid form. At home I would leave my beans whole.

We like queso fresco. Here you get a taste of it. At home I make it a whole meal. I also notice they use a different word for scrambled eggs here. In Spain the term is “huevos revueltos”.

They are open from 8am, we were there at 8am. During peak meal times the place is full.

In the afternoon we hired a taxi for an excursion to San Javier mission, about 34km from Loreto. A beautiful drive to inland Loreto. It’s too hot to go hiking.


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A local sets up a table in the garden of the mission selling homemade wine and fruit pastes. I tried some wine, tasted like strong port. Bought his mango membrillo to eat with tortillas. I asked how he would eat the paste and he said with cheese and tortillas.

After the mission we went to a beach restaurant before heading back to Loreto. 7km outside the town.

They ran out of clams. They call themselves a clam shack. But they made this earlier in the day. I forgot the name of it but it’s not ceviche.


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Steamed fish with poblano pepper


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Then directly back to my favourite restaurant for the clams.

There are 2 tortilla makers on my street. This package is half kilo (1+ lbs) for 10 pesos. Just off the press and were still hot. We like to eat them with avocado and membrillo. An easy snack without cooking or washing up to do. Corn tortillas are standard (like in the photo) but they also make flour kind. Some people don’t like corn tortillas because apparently in Mexico they are all made using US GM corn.

There must be enough food here because it’s a success story for these chicken-like vultures.

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