Crossing the border

Trip Start Jan 12, 2007
Trip End Nov 19, 2007

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Tuesday, February 13, 2007

We finally crossed the US-Mexico border on February 1. In fact, we crossed it twice because the first time we didn't even have to slow down and so we figured we had missed something. We hadn't: after turning around, re-entering the US and crossing the border again, the procedure was same - no need to stop if you don't want to.

Before crossing into Mexico, we spent 3 (somewhat rainy) days in Pasadena, driving the LA freeways (never fun in a 4-speed van that wobbles) and seeing the sights. We then camped one night almost across from the gates to Disneyland, before spending 3 nights camping in the San Diego area.

Once in Mexico, we spent the first night near Ensenada (allowing us to shop some more at Wal-Mart), and the second night farther south near San Quintan. We then spent 4 blissful nights camping on the beach in Bahia de Los Angeles, on the east coast of the Baja, about half way down.

At Bahia de Los Angeles (pop. 500 or so), we were lulled into inaction watching the pelicans, dolphins, etc., by the hot days, by the cold beer and by Adrienne´s cooking (she has mastered cheese quesadillas on the coleman stove! - she is going to make someone a good wife one day). Although the temperature was hot during the days, toques were still required at night.

We then moved on to the big city, Guerrero Negro, a town of 8,000 on the border between Baja Norte and Baja Sur. The town is close to a large lagoon where the grey whales breed each winter. We camped on the beach beside the lagoon for one night, listening to the whales blow water out their blowholes.

After spending 2 nights farther south near Mulege (another small town), we are now in Loreto, the first bigger, somewhat tourist-orientated city on our trip. It's a nice change from the dust and sand. We have on our "city" clothes tonight.

Highlights of the last 2 or so weeks:

- seeing the sights in LA: Melrose Avenue, Sunset Strip, the Santa Monica Pier area and the Getty Center;

- arriving in Mexico!

- obtaining a 6 month tourist visa: the customs offical in Tijuana told us that we could only have a 90 day visa. He was a jerk and he wouldn't budge. He then told us to go a few offices down, pay the fee, and then return so that he could complete the paperwork. We instead left his office, got in the van and drove to Ensenada, hoping we hadn't been entered into the "system". We hadn't, and we were able to sweet-talk (Adrienne more than me) the guy in Ensenda into giving us the 6 months;

- the white robes and satin sheets are gone, but we are adjusting nicely to our sleeping bags and cotton pillow cases;

- enjoying a massive platter of cracked crab, for less than $13, at the restaurant|biker bar attached to our campsite near San Quintan (in this case, we overlooked the fact that; (1) the lights were so dim that we couldn't read the menus, yet (2) the gringo men (there were only men) all wore sunglasses, and (3) identified themselves with names such as "The Earring Man" or the "The Water Man"). Clearly, escaped convicts on the run like cracked crab too;

- the amazing desert topography - really a "melange" of boulders and cacti - in the northern part of the Baja, especially near Catavina;

- seeing Mexican cowboys in the small desert towns we passed through...who knew?

- (for Adrienne) Anihilating me, the self-proclaimed Yahtzee professional, at my own game, with a whopping score of 521 (she rolled Yahtzee 3 times);

-going with the owner of our campsite in Bahia de Los Angeles to the local elementary school to watch while his brother gave a talk to the kids about the environment;

- being approached by the grey whales, in some cases so close that we could lean out the boat and scratch their heads- we had the best seats on the boat;

-cheap campsites in Mexico - usually $10 US or less - hot shower included. We have had too admit that we are too old to enjoy ourselves without having a shower at least every second day;

-finally speaking enough Spanish (we are trying to do a 20 minute lesson most nights) that we can tell people our names and ask where the bathroom is. We think we are opening the door for a new, improved era of Canadian-Mexican relations.


- to Adrienne's great surprise, Disneyland didn't "move" her the same as it had when she was 8. She is trying to come terms with the fact that it's just not the same the second time around;

-a constant trail of dead and decaying animals (dogs, cows, etc.) alongside the Baja highway;

-sharing our palapa in Bahia de Los Angeles with a nest of red-back spiders;

- getting stuck in the sand at what we thought was a RV Park for the retired crowd - 45 minutes, a few old boards, a lot of dust, and some damage to our relationship, we finally made it out;

- Adrienne almost stepping on a rattle snake (yes, we heard the rattle) at our campsite in Mulege (let's be honest, it wasn't a campsite - it was Manuel's backyard);

-the RV crowd - predominantly from BC - are everywhere. At the last place we camped we were beside a trailer that had a sunken living room and indoor fireplace! We feel so small. We are happy if our little generator|battery produces enough power each night to allow for a couple of hours of reading.
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