Baja California

Bienvenidos a Mexico!  Everything you heard about Mexico was correct, this is a very, very dangerous place.  You probably will not make it out alive, the water is warm, the cervezas are cheap, and the Senoritas are smoking hot.

“Warning, weapons/ammo illegal in Mexico”  This sign was in the US 1 mile from the border, ironic when you consider the majority of guns/ammo are most likely coming from the US.

So I left Paul behind, he wasn’t ready, still had a car to sell, an apartment to get rid of, and whatever other prep work the kid didn’t do.  The van was overloaded with stuff so I needed to get that taken care of and make room for him anyway.  I drove pretty quickly through Baja skipping a lot of it, as Paul was flying into Cabo to meet me later in the week.  I left San Diego and went through Tijuana, where the customs agents on the Mexican side don’t seem to speak much English.  Suppose that was for the best, as it forced me to start speaking Spanish again.  I am much better at speaking than hearing it, and did not have much problem with anyone understanding what I was saying, but I usually am not sure what is being discussed if I am not driving the conversation.  The drive down Baja isn’t too bad, but much of it is 35 mph, otherwise 55, though everyone seems to fly down the Mx 1 doing as they please.  Its never completely obvious what the speed limit is, but after awhile you get a feel for it.  The road is in pretty good shape overall, though there are many sections of construction.  I didn’t count, but I probably went through 10 military checkpoints throughout all of Baja.  Since I was heading south rather than north, the stops consisted of a 1 min conversation (95% spoke only Spanish), and very little if any inspecting of my gear.  I am sure they have seen many gringos headed to Cabo as its currently spring break, so they were just interested on where I was coming from and going, and wanted to know where the senoritas were.

A little sign art found on Route 1

Guerrero Negro is probably about half way down the peninsula (Note: Time zone change here, I missed Paul at the airport in Cabo due to this change), and is one of the places where you can pay to import yourself and your vehicle.  I recommend taking care of this in Tijuana as it is not difficult, I didn’t oops.

For those driving:  When you get to Guerrero Negro checkpoint they will give you the paperwork (and take any fruit you may have), you then drive about 2 miles south until the paved road splits (There are not many paved roads in Baja aside from the 1). Veer right and follow the road into town for about another 2 miles until you see the Bank (Banamex).  Jump in line to pay the fees and then bring your receipts all the way back to customs.  It doesn’t sound efficient, but it is one of the few efficient things I have seen here.  They force you to drive through the whole town rather than skip it, so you are more likely to spend some money…smart!  This seems to be the case for many places in Latin America.  NOTE: Remember when I said Tiajuana customs agents “didn’t speak english, or know about a tourist card when I asked…well its all part of the scam.  I needed to get this done in TJ.  I paid for my tourist card (20$ I think), and a penalty fee for not doing it sooner (120$-ish), and I later discovered they didn’t even import my vehicle.  I assumed incorrectly that was what the high fee was, import and penalty.  I should have known since I didn’t get my sticker, so I had to import the vehicle in La Paz at the ferry terminal for about 40 bucks, no big deal.

Speaking of efficiency…these were about 1 foot apart, and both looked brand new.

On day 2 I spent a few hours around lunch time in Loreto.  Loreto is a an upscale, touristy town by Bajas standards, and was the 1st Spanish settlement of Baja.  Loreto is located right on the Sea of Cortez, and is a National Park which consists of several large mountainous islands which provide some protection for Blue whales this time of year, so yes, there are tours here.  There are places to eat, and there is internet here, I paid about 80 cents for 30 min.  From here I think it was about 4 hours to La Paz, depending on how fast/slow you drive.

Cabo is probably everything I dislike about Pacific Beach, where we live in Cali.  Loud drunk douchbags (you know who you are) running around everywhere.  Luckily it also has the same benefits PB offers, Senoritas!  We are going to spend a few days here getting the last stuff ready, as we don’t really feel the trip starts till we hit Mainland Mexico.

I have hit 3 beaches here so far.  The 1st is Cerritos Beach, located about 45 min north of Cabo, and known as a tourists beach with mostly English speakers, and a great place to catch some surf.  This time of year the waves were good, but not huge, which is important since I suck at surfing.  There are also whales which can be found here due to the protection the beaches crescent shape provides, I was able to watch a whale for about 15 minutes.  There are mixed reports about free camping here, and there were some surfers who appeared to be living out of their Rvs.  There are brand new condos/hotel being built, so no point keeping this place a secret.  The second beach was about 15 min south of Cabo, and also offers some surfing which is good for beginners to experts according to the net.   The 3rd was where I did some semi-isolated camping.  It is just off of a ranch where they offer ATV rides and horse back riding.  While setting up a group on horses came through my camp site, as I parked right next to the trail without knowing it.  This worked out well as I was able to confirm with the jefe it was ok to park/sleep here, as I am not used to just driving down dirt roads and setting up camp.  When the horses are not being used they run around free, and haul ass down the trails, which startled me the 1st few times.  This is not a place to surf, but the palm trees provide some rare shade so I could reorganize the van.

Eventually I found Paul, so we spent some time exploring Cabo.  We will head back north about 1 and 1/2 hrs to La Paz, where we will take the ferry over to mainland Mexico.  I have been told it is best to purchase the tix at the ferry rather than in town.  The ferry goes North to Topolobampo (a 6 hr ride), or south to Mazatlan (16 hrs).  I believe the ferries only leave once a day, and only certain days depending on the destination, so check ahead.

1 last thing, I have read it before, but want to reiterate it.  I pushed it a little to get to a good stopping point and drove at night.  Don’t drive at night, for real. I almost hit a cow on 3 separate occasions.  Cows roam free here and at night use the warmth of the tarmac for heat.   I could have easily clipped a cow walking on the shoulder (if you can call it a shoulder) of the road on 2 separate occasions, as well as a heard of cattle crossing the  road another time. Those all black cows are not easy to see at night!

Hopefully this was not too painful to read.  We may have drank too much, my head hurts a little right now, so it was painful to type.  I don’t think I will miss Cabo.

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