Hola Mexico!

We have spent one week in Mexico and are enjoying every minute. Our entrance was a bit bumpy though. We crossed the border east of Tijuana, at Tecate. Parking on the U.S. side, we walked in to Mexico to get our tourist permits. The Mexican official was quite jovial, helping us with the paperwork, and even lending Bob his red rimmed reading glasses. On the side he sold bottles of salsa (his grandmothers favorite) and honey (from his home town). We bought both.  That completed, we tried to return to the van in the same way we entered but were quickly ordered back by a guard. We had to return through U.S. customs, for which we took a wrong turn and then had to ask for help. It is really a very simple border crossing and we know this because we went around twice. When we finally drove through we were pulled over for an inspection but it was quick, and we were on our way.  Except that we immediately took a wrong turn and found ourselves headed for Mexicali instead of Ensenada.  Oh dear.

We camped in different campgrounds all week. Most had flush toilets and decent showers.  Our first night, just outside of Ensenada, we took a long side road through small towns to the ocean. Our camp bordered a beach that had a hot springs running under it. You could dig yourself a personal hot tub, or cover up with hot sand, then wash off in the cold water of the Pacific.
Hot sand beach, Ensenada, Baja California

The olive grove campsite was very manicured, set along a dirt road among farmyards, although there was a fancy restaurant near by. Beside the van, there was a sandy spot and I thought it would be a nice breezy night if we put up the tent. Well it was breezy. But mixed with strong wafts of barnyard which was quite unpleasant. Then the neighborhood mutts started a howling chorus. Once that died down,  a large dog got in through the fence, approached our tent, took a stance about 10 feet from us and barked for twenty minutes. We yelled at him in English and Spanish but he kept it up. He finally wandered off.  Next someone decided to set off firecrackers, which sparked another howling frenzy from the dogs. This was topped off by a rooster, loudly crowing for morning, well before daylight. No more tent.

Sunday ride with beers

Baja California is a Mexican state, divided into north and south. To get to the south part you travel a long stretch of highway, about 5 hours, with no services. We had the road pretty much to ourselves through dry reddish hills covered with shrubs and many species of cactus.  On route, the Catavina Boulder field has massive sand colored boulders creating a striking contrast with the lime green cactus and the purple blue mountains in the distance. But for the most part it is five hours of cactus.

Catavina Boulder Field

The pavement on the highway is good. Travel is slow though because the speed signs change often, the road is full of curves, and there are no shoulders. Bob has to keep his eye out for semis who tend to ride over the center line.  One crowded us over on a curve and there is nowhere to get over. Cows also graze without fencing.  One decided to walk right on to the highway just as we were coming along at 50 miles an hour.  Bob laid on the horn.  The cow stopped and slowly turned its head to look as we sped by.

San Ignacio is a sleepy little town set in a date palm oasis.

Date palm oasis, San Ignacio, Baja California

We camped by a lagoon among the palms and rode our bikes around town. We had refreshments at the center plaza, a lovely shaded area with benches and tables.  We explored the mission church across the road, which was built by a Jesuit priest in the 1700’s.  Built out of lava rock with four foot thick walls, it has long stone stairs leading up the outside in order to reach the bell rope.

Mission Church , San Ignacio, Baja California
Mission Church , San Ignacio, Baja California

Also nearby was a self guiding museum displaying information about the pinturas rupestres, ancient Indian art found in rock caves in this area.  The style is full bodied which is very different from the Canadian indigenous art that we have encountered on canoe trips in Canada.

Replica of cave paintings, San Ignacio Museum
Our next stop was the turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez. We arrived at Playa Escondida in the Bahia Concepcion about noon. There was a row of palapas along the beach front.  We got the last one.  Score.
Playa Escondida. Bahía Concepción, Sea of Cortes
Playa Escondida. Bahía Concepción, Sea of Cortes

We stayed two nights. The water was warm and clear which made for good snorkeling. Many people stay here for months.  Jose came by in the morning selling firewood? Yes. A barrel of water for showering? Yes. And steaming tamales for breakfast? Yes.

The door on the pit toilet is permanently propped open, providing a view of the steep path winding up a rock face. At the top is a large painted colorful Virgin Mary.  She also lights up at night.  Best toilet view ever.
Toilet with a view
The Plan  We are on our way to La Paz.  We intend to take the ferry to Mazatlan on the mainland.  So far we have read or been told that it leaves on Sundays and Tuesdays, that it leaves on Saturdays and Tuesdays, and that it actually stopped running last month.  We shall see.

6 Replies to “Hola Mexico!”

  1. Hey! Excellent trip and commentary! I’m enjoying travelling vicariously with you throughout your travels! Some day my turn lol!
    We are commemorating Rememberance day, November 11, 2018 and thinking of our dad Cameron Knott and his war buddies Les Agar etc! Many adventures in their lives, your lives, and ours!
    Take care my friends!
    Enjoy a margarita or two in Mexico for us the MacDonalds in cold snowy Calgary!

  2. Loving the views and the ‘colour’ commentary! Boulders in a lime and purple landscape, very cool! I’m also learning geography ( better late than never!) as I follow your route! Firewood, water, tamales on a beach? Score! Adventure on steroids for sure…safe travels!

  3. Loving your blogs! Contrary to your worry, they are interesting and informative. Wish we were traveling with you! Someday, maybe.

    Be safe, Brad and Leona

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