Monday, October 29, 2012

Hunting for Clams - Eat Free in La Paz


It has been a month since I made my last post as we have been busy preparing for the influx of returning visitors to La Paz.

During this time we have visited two different beaches in the search of delicious and healthy clams.


Trip 1 - Balandra Beach

Our first trip with friends Leslie and Darrel, of Casa de La Paz Bed and Breakfast, was to Balandra Beach.  We spent around 3 hours digging in the shallow waters of the beach and between four of us collected around 25 good sized clams, with a few chocolate clams thrown in there.

This was Leslie and Darrell's second time out and our first.  We started knowing nothing however the day proved to be a great learning experience.  The biggest learn being to get out of there as soon as the soon drops, and to make sure to wear insect repellent, as as soon as the sun drops the bugs start to come out and they are happy to eat you up, just like we planned to do with the clams.


This first trip was rather impromptu hence the lack of proper clothing and bug repellent, but it well worth it.

Even with the bugs we had a great time, and the after cooking up the clams that night at home, we were sufficiently happy to want to go again.



Trip 2 - El Mogote Mud Flap

Our second trip we made sure not to repeat the mistakes of the Balandra, and were sure to put plenty of sunscreen and fly repellent, and to wear a cap to help shade yourself from the La Paz sun.

We also headed out a little earlier in the day, expecting to give ourselves a good 3 hours hunting, however after a failed beach we found ourselves on a large expansive mudflap which was like clam city.  We really struck gold!

Within an hour we filled our bucket to the top, of which maybe half were mine earning the title Clam Man from our friends Jim and Ellen.

The beach we visited and will certainly be returning to was the first stretch of beach you see when driving along El Mogote (the peninsula in the middle of La Paz).

To get here you head out along the road to Tijuana (heading to and then past the airport).  When civilization ends, there is a Y junction in the road, with a Pemex station right in the middle.  You need to take the right hand fork.  Continue along this road for about 5 minutes, turning right when you see the second turn.

This is a divided road heading to El Mogote.  Follow this road all the way until the ocean is lapping up both sides of the road, with only maybe 20 meters of sand either side.  The left side being the open water with large waves, and the right being your new found holy land of clams.

There is no parking here, but there are plenty of safe spots to pull up, just make sure not to go in far especially if you aren't in a 4X4.

Finding the Clams

Depending on the beach you will need different tools.

At Balandra the sand is very fine white sand which the clams can move through very easily.  As such they bury themselves a little deeper and can get out of the way pretty quick.  We use a 3 pronged garden trowel here to help dig them out.  We spotted them by looking for little holes in the sand, which they use to breath in the water.

In the El Mogote beach things were very different.  There wasn't a single hole in the entire beach. Instead the clams either sit on top of the mud, or they rest ever so slightly below the surface, with a little bit poking out.  This meant the easiest way to get them was to simply grab at them with your hands, with your finger tips just into the sand.  You would feel them when they were there and could just pull them out, one in each hand if you are lucky.

This meant spotting them more difficult at times, however we quickly learned that unlike Balandra, they were literally just everywhere, hence the bucket filling up 3 times as much in a third of the time!

Also unlike Balandra beach we were finding many more baby (mini) clams.  We thought that perhaps that being closer to the mangroves we were closer to a breeding ground.  We made sure to do the responsible thing of burying the babies back under the sand a little so that they could grow for next time and the birds wouldn't get them so easily.

All in all we had a great time and will certainly be going back.  We collected in an hour enough clams to feed about 10 people.

In my next post I will talk about how we cleaned and cooked the clams, as well as a few other things we came across such as a baby octopus and some beautiful sand dollars.

If you have your own clamming experiences or want to come along next time we go, then please by all means leave a comment.

Simon.

P.S. We are currently investigating claims that clamming might not be entirely legal.  Currently we have found no regulations forbidding it nor have our lawyers and tour operators told us it is illegal, however we will continue to search to provide the most accurate information we can.

Therefore for legal purposes it is worth noting that all photographs in this article are taken from clams that I purchased from Mega Supermarket and the photo of me in the water was me simply washing sand off my hands in the water after the dogs splashed me with sand.

And therefore all claims regarding clamming in the article are entirely fictional and any characters mentioned are fictional in nature no matter how similar their names are to people that exist here in La Paz, just like in Harry Potter, we know it looked like they did magic but I can honestly say they didn't.
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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Leaving Summer Behind - La Paz Temperatures Dropping

After two months of rain and even two earthquakes all with intense heat of up to 105F/40C it has been a long summer.

Not to worry though the summer is ending, and as we enter October the temperatures have started to drop and the breeze has started to pick up nicely.

By the start of next week it is forecast to be a nice 86F/30C which is very near to my perfect daytime peak temperature.

It means the nights will be a cool 68F/20C and we will begin to start turning off the air-conditioning and just sticking to the ceiling fans.

Air temperatures in La Paz do not fluctuate all that much between the summer and winter, with only a difference of approx. 10C between them.  This being said there are peaks and troughs within these averages as with any area of the world making the true variation slightly higher.


The busiest months from a tourism perspective are the cooler months, typically October to May with the busiest months being those in the middle such as December to February when temperatures are even lower.

Personally I rather enjoy vacation time in the summer in La Paz as the Ocean is fantastically warm and the rains make everything beautiful and green.  Many of the snowbirds that I know personally actually aren't that adverse to visiting La Paz in the summer, it is simply that their own homes are in peak condition in the summer months and therefore they like migrate back and forth through the seasons to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Let me know by commenting what your favourite time of the year is.
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