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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.