Baja

25 Nov

We crossed into Baja California almost two weeks ago, opting to enter in Tecate, just west of Tijuana. Everyone had told us that Tijuana is confusing and just a big bad city. Tecate, on the other hand, is much quieter and significantly smaller. So much so that we were the only vehicle crossing at that time. Had I not asked where we get our tourist visas, we would have simply entered the country none the wiser. The whole process took less than 10 minutes and $50 and off we were.

The day before, I was scrambling to do last minute everythings: get special food, stock up on truck parts, call our credit card company, unlock our cell phones, update our Garmin, top off the propane, buy car insurance and print the policy. And on and on. By nightfall, I was still on the phone finishing these last details right up until we lost signal 15 miles north of the border. It was such a fitful day, I didn’t really sleep well, thinking there was more we needed to do before we left the states. I hate being rushed, especially for the unknown.

But the morning came and the uneventful border cross left me feeling even more unprepared. Typically, we drive until we find a scenic spot to park for the night. We park for free and try to avoid campgrounds. Since we don’t need to hookup for water or electricity, it’s pointless to pay for a less beautiful spot we could find for free. In Baja, we were advised not to boondock and to park at night in designated campgrounds. We bought this awesome book that is basically the bible on camping in Mexico. I neglected to crack it before we started driving.

So we hit Ensenada, the first major city south of the border with a long list of to dos (food, get SIM cards and pesos, do laundry…) and no planned place to sleep. We settled that night last minute in a beach campsite in La Bufadora, just south of Ensenada, for $10.

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We ran our errands the next day (marveling in clean laundry that someone else did for us) and stayed in La Bufadora but moved to a cliff site spot for $6 a night.

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Baja requires planning.

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Our daily goal is be parked at a site well before sundown. You never know if the roads ahead are under construction (read: impassable) or if you’ll find an actual grocery store in the upcoming teeny tiny town or just a corner store with canned goods. I realize how horrible my Spanish is and it’s frustrating not being able to communicate. Hani barely speaks a word of it so he relies on my Spanglish to get by. And it’s definitely an adjustment paying to camp nightly and for water. We heard that it’s difficult to find propane but well cross that bridge when it comes.

On the up side, it’s gorgeous down here. We’ve been trying to hit as many beach campsites as possible, finding long stretches of ocean, sand and shells. Maybe there’s another camper at a site but usually we have the area all to ourselves. The dogs have loved being off leash and exploring with us.

As soon as you set foot off the beach, you are in the high dry desert packed with insane cactuses of every variety. Towns are very remote and run down, which I wasn’t really expecting. I thought, after everyone saying they vacation in Baja, it would be one big packed beach and towns built up. The Baja 1000 race just happened and I am surprised that more people didn’t stick around. But I guess that’s the draw to Baja, the remote seclusion you get being the only person on a beach.

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One Response to “Baja”

  1. Dinorah M. Caceres November 29, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    Don’t worry, Spanish will flow just in a few weeks. You will be speaking like a native any day now.

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