The ache in us

Fernweh (German) (n.) An ache to travel distant places; the craving for travel.

The best thing about traveling is that it allows you to experience the moment. You enter another time frame composed only from that which lies ahead of you. The world becomes different and to a certain extent, unreal. For me, travelling is about disappearing for a while; to let go of that next meeting, email or social media post. It is for this reason that Ana and I travel as much as possible. It has become our lifestyle, we are starting to think of ourselves as a sort of modern nomads and we love that idea. As photographers, working while traveling is extremely powerful and inspiring. To open up to new experiences has a great influence on our creative process as it allows us to connect deeper with our inner selves by being in the moment and avoiding everyday worries and distractions.
Baja California Sur, being the least populated state in Mexico, turned out to be the perfect place to unleash our creativity. Because of its location, one can find the most varied and amazing coastal landscapes and climates. These create an insane contrast when put next to the dry deserts and red mountains covered in rocks and cacti. Plus, there’s amazing food everywhere you stop and very little phone signal.
We just wanted to get lost for a while. We flew to La Paz and rented a small but apparently reliable car and took to the Carretera Transpeninsular,  a single, two lane that follows the length of the Baja California Peninsula.
We just wanted to get lost for a while.
Isla Magdalena was one of the first places we visited. This 80 km long sand barrier protects the Mainland from the fierce Pacific Ocean on the West Coast of the peninsula. We came to this place on a quest for sand dunes we wanted to photograph for a personal project. We arrived at the Adolfo Lopez Mateos Port after a 3 hour drive from La Paz, and met Rafael, one of the many boat operators that take tourists whale watching. Rafael crossed us over to the island and into the sea of dunes. Here we spent hours away from the mainland’s tourists, wandering under the sun and photographing the dunes.
Eventually, without realizing how much time had passed, we found out that Rafael had abandoned us. We returned to the agreed meeting point to find out that our trusted boatman was nowhere to be found. We jumped into the sea to wash off the heat and hollered at the passing boats full of baffled tourists to come to our rescue. We eventually caught another boat that took us back to the port and we continued driving north.
The most memorable drive on this trip was the way from the coastal town of Loreto to the amazing San Ignacio Lagoon (Laguna de San Ignacio). This is a little known but incredible whale watching destination in the middle of nowhere. We first drove on a small road next to the sea with an epic view of Bahía Concepción (where the most popular camping beaches are located). The last hour of that trip was spent driving through a dirt road crossing a huge salt flat approaching the lagoon. And here is where the reliable part of our “not ideal” rental car comes in. We hit the bottom of the car so many times, and so hard, that we couldn’t believe it was still going. It felt as if it was going to completely fall apart while driving through a never-ending trail of bumps, holes and sand traps. I can honestly say we are lucky to have made it. We still had to drive back on that same road eventually, but for now we were there and this place was incredible. We set up our tent next to the lagoon at sunset on the Kuyima campsite, to the sound of over 300 gray whales and their calves coming out to the surface to breathe. Then the moon and the stars came out and it almost seemed too gorgeous to be real. We were mesmerized by the beauty of the space realizing that perfection was possible, yet only found in nature. We stayed up for a while, taking in as much as we could until finally dozing off.
The San Ignacio Lagoon is one of the world’s most important and better-protected nurseries for gray whales. Every year, hundreds of them come to give birth and teach the young whales to dive and feed. After an amazing night and a boat ride to get a closer look at the whales, we packed our things and drove back into the crazy dirt road heading to Guerrero Negro, the last city before the peninsula turns into Baja California Norte.
Guerrero Negro is the most popular place for whale watching in Baja. However, our visit to this town was for different reasons: we wanted to find more dunes, at Dunas de la Soledad, and to visit ESSA, the world’s largest salt mine responsible for the production of 15% of the world’s salt. Roberto, a former worker at the mine, was our guide. Due to security reasons, the mine is only accessible with a special permit given to qualified tour operators, or in our case, to a friendly and well connected retiree that is passionate and nostalgic enough to invite strangers over and drive them around while telling them the stories about his time spent there. Guerrero Negro was the last stop on our road trip before heading back down. Now we were on a quest to reach the southern tip of the state all the way down to San Jose del Cabo.

On the way down we got to camp out on some of the most perfect and untouched beaches and hang out with retired RVers. A memorable stop on the way south was Playa Coyote, a popular camping beach on the Concepción Bay that we spotted on our drive up. This is place is why every year hundreds of Canadian and American RVrs, mostly retirees, drive down to Mexico escaping the winter, to spend months camping and traveling around what many of them refer to as “Paradise on earth”. We camped on the beach, at a temporary commune that exists only for 2 or 3 months a year. Here, campers feed off fresh fish and banana ice cream, spend their time kayaking, biking, swimming with whale sharks and getting involved in philanthropic activities. Talking to them, and listening to their view of the world, was truly amazing. These people are a living proof that travelling changes you and re-shapes you entirely. They come from a life of experience, and have concluded that travelling is the best way to spend their days.

We eventually made it all the way south and spent some time in Todos Santos and San Jose del Cabo relaxing after claiming victory for a tough 10 day drive across the state. We spent most of this time reflecting on what this trip and the people we met had taught us. Driving into unknown, deserted and ever changing landscapes, felt at times like venturing deep into my mind. After some hours, driving becomes meditative; you are aware of what surrounds you but are at the same time deeply immersed in yourself. To experience nature and freedom in such a way, to stop caring even if it is in small doses, really changes your perspective on how we should be living. It changes your rhythm. Moving around freely gives you a deeper sense of independence and helps you focus on the little things. Daily problems turn to dust and living becomes important.  This is why we travel – no matter if it’s only a short trip. Disconnect. Be with yourself and the people around you. Be in the moment.

Story by Daniel Almazán Klinckwort. Images by Daniel Almazán Klinckwort and Ana Laframboise  @dklinckwort @analaframboise