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Introducing Guaymas, San Carlos and the Vermillion Sea

Updated on February 27, 2012

San Carlos Now...Sorry.

The Magic Gateway to Real Mexico

.My introduction to Mexico, way back in 1969, was not in steamy Acapulco, up-market Puerto Vallarta, not even laid- back Mazatlan.

After arriving in the ‘States earlier in the year from Oz, I had been working for a car dealership named Richmond British Autos, in Berkeley, just across the water from San Francisco and was tired of conning decent people into buying crap British cars, like the Austin America.

So I took my last commission check, bought a used Chevy something or other, a small speedboat, loaded up a tent and my gorgeous Aussie girlfriend and headed south to I knew not where, but to the land of my dreams: Mexico.

The journey itself, with punctures, police, and proceeding over the last 20 miles of desert at walking pace, towing a trailer on its rims, is worth an article alone.

But we were then impatient, still lots of sap and in love, and even now: old, broken down and alone, I want to get to the Sea of Cortez, (Vermillion Sea) and begin to tell of a yarn, of what became an Odyssey, in a land that was to occupy half my adult life.

We were immediately drawn to Guaymas, an old port which, if it had had better days, were long forgotten. It stood dozing on the mainland side of the Vermillion Sea, a few rust streaked trawlers in the soup of the inner harbor, one main street leading uphill between gaunt granite hills, fingers pointing to the never ending glare of the noon-day furnace.

There was a small market, some seedy motels and a couple of restaurants.

The pride of Guaymas to us was the Bay at Bacochibampo, in between Guaymas and San Carlos.

Songs have rightly been written about this incredible sheet of azure water, disciplined by its two islands and the headlands to the north and south.

Back then, a wonderful, Caribbean-style hotel/motel dominated ’Boca, the Miramar. Old cobbled walkways, tired yet serene rooms with balconies towards the Sea, and an inexpensive eatery. It was heaven after rush-around California

But we were here on a budget which, inexpensive as the Miramar was, meant finding a place to camp.

Poring over a grubby and oil-stained map, we thought the road to San Carlos might hold some possibilities, near a huge estuary which backed into the hills north of Guaymas.

And so it proved as the Estuary had a pristine beach back on the Sea and we were the only people camped on it in November, 1969.

Neighboring San Carlos was still in its development infancy back then (no more) there was one good hotel and two trailer parks - and a wondrous marina like a Norwegian fjord, winding in from the Sea of Cortez and providing mirror-like, safe anchorage.

My memories of that two- months on the beach in this fascinating part of Mexico have never left me. I can remember saying to H----, who has remained the love of my life through all which followed, that we would never be this happy again. I can’t speak for her, who I have not seen since those early years, but it was true for me.

We had not a few more adventures during this trip. I sunk the speedboat and sold the trailer, then claimed for the insurance. (bad? Occasionally!) We had our guns confiscated by the police and paid $100 to get them back!(my first experience with the mordida, or bribe). We were presented with a mountain lion by two vaqueros who admired the luscious H----. Two rotund cops made their way daily along the beach to peer into my boat looking for marijuana, (evidently they had confused us potting beer cans with the .22 as signals for druggies). Another camper’s son got spiked by a Bark Scorpion and nearly died. My German Shepherd, Speigle, (nearly forgot him) brought us back a dead pelican Daily!

We beach combed for shells (I lugged those smelly things around for years, lady!). Swam, visited the islands, fished and made love about every couple of hours…those were the days, and it was fun without booze!.

I have not been back to Guaymas or its neighbor-in-sun, San Carlos since 1981. It was changing then and condos were being built on our marvelous beach. What does the Bible say about things being taken at the flood…??

I’m due back in Guaymas should this old frame hold up…maybe I’ll find H----there, in her black bikini, gathering shells by that far away estuary…

(If not, I’ll tarry a little in the Rio Rita, the local bordello…bad? True dat, dawg!).



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    • diogenes profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Nell. I did return until the 80's. Yes, i would go back as I love Baja and mainland Mexico near the Sea of Cortez.

      Nice to see ya...


    • Little Nell profile image

      Little Nell 

      6 years ago from Somerset, UK

      A part of the world I have never even heard of, thank you for sharing this - am off to find an atlas. Are you sure you really want to go back? It will never be as magic as you remember

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi JJ...Thanks for your visit and positive comment


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Will: I had a 30.30 as well! Don't forget this was 45 years ago and gun laws were much more liberal in Mexico and the US then


    • jjexon profile image


      6 years ago

      Very interesting and useful hub

      thanks for sharing diogenes,

    • WillStarr profile image


      6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I'm surprised you got away with shooting a .22 at all!

      An Arizona resident got two years in a Mexican jail because he forgot and left a couple of .22 cartridges in his glove box...not a gun...just the cartridges!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Sunshine: Sorry your experiences weren't quite up to par, Sunnie.

      The States and Mexico were all new to me and like magic lands...they remain that way.


    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      6 years ago

      Ahhh Bob this was really touching..I do hope she is back there waiting for you or someone who will capture you heart once more. I remember camping on the beach on the gulf of Mexico in the late seventies..I got stung by a jelly fish, and the Blazer got bogged down while I was driving..Luckily we got it out before the tide came in. I understand those memories..Great hub!


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