Y entonces la frontera. We picked Tecate to be our border crossing of choice because it is smaller and less traveled. Our fledgling Spanish skills got us tourist visas and vehicle permits, a quick visit to a copy shop, a roundabout reentry to America and then the green light into Mexico. As soon as you cross the border everything changes. The roads are different, the drivers are different, the stores are different, the language, the economy, all of it, and it’s wonderful. We got lost leaving town, asked directions a few times, and the people literally went out of their way driving in front of us to guide us through the asphalt maze and onto the Ruta de Vino. Our first destination was Ensenada for gasolina, and then to a place called “La Bufadora”
We stayed at a beautiful place on top of costal cliffs with no electricity, little water, and the wiggliest dog we have ever met - “El Tigre,” who stole our books and shoes, and with two kids, 4 and 5 who played futbol with us and occupied our hammock for an hour. Only about half of the houses here have wired electricity - it's mostly solar and gas generators, and 100 gallon water tanks on pedestals. With cities so far away and incomplete infrastructure, the inhabitants are resourceful.
After a day of rest we drove across the peninsula through the mountains to the Eastern coastal town of San Felipe, full of Baja 1000 lovers and ex-pats. As the day grew dim we haggled for a $6 campsite on the ocean at a Campo with electricity and salt water showers. We made friends with the caretakers who we watched kill two rattlesnakes (cascabels) that night and let us harvest the tails. They even gave us salt to preserve them and we gave them a grapefruit. Gifts require gifts, of course.
But oh, the sunrise. All you have to do is open the door to your tent and the sun rises over the Bay of California and an hour of rainbow-sherbet skies and then a few moments of hot, red, sun until the tide is out, the heat descends, and the locals are on the sand bars picking up shells and clams and other treasures from the sea.
One rather lovely (though not really cheap - about $20 to camp and use the springs) stop was in Puertocitos, a small town with very unique costal hot springs. The pools are only good twice a day at half tide for about an hour when the hot thermal water flows out of the rocks and the ocean water rushes in and the waves lap over the rocks and swirl about mixing sulphur and salt with crabs and coast-roaches, and it is so incredibly delightful. In an hour’s time as the tide goes out the pools are too hot to be in and if you miss that one hour of perfect mixology you have nothing, but if you catch it at sunset or sunrise it is magical and cleansing. Salty, sulphury, hot and cold, hot, hot, hot.
Without a doubt, the Baja is beautiful. Rather than taking highway 1 the entire way, we opted to cross the peninsula in the North which would require (we thought) a 125 mile dirt ride - now only about 25 miles with the advent of a new "superhighway" (two lanes and some already sinking bridges). The East coast was sometimes desolate, sometimes full of ex-pats, and absolutely beautiful. Sonoran Desert Coastlines, wild life, and interesting people who have come, one way or another, to live in this lovely and remote part of the world.
...Up next is Coco's Corner - an iconic place known well to travelers and motorcycle adventurers
S & S