Baja California

Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
Trip End Feb 18, 2007

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Tuesday, May 23, 2006

We jump on the southbound tram in San Diego, and pass through the city's suburbs.
We could clearly see the Mexican town of Tijuana in front of us, with a huge Mexican flag flying in the distance. This seemed weird. Here we are travelling on an American tram system, through the suburbs of a typical Amercian city, although from the tram window, we are staring at a very different city and culture, spread over a hill, in the distance.

We get of the tram at the last stop, which also happens to be the border.
There is a pedestrian bridge which takes you up and over the wall which separates the two countries. From the pedestrian bridge we could see both San Diego and Tijuana, both very different places, separated by two huge walls and a 10 metre no-mans-land. It's fascinating, as normally you have to spend hours on a plane to travel between two very different cultures, and here we're going to cross that divide by foot, and in minutes.
The border is really relaxed in the US-Mexico direction, but really strict the other way. In fact, you just walk through some turnstyles and thatīs it, youīre in Mexico, no checks, nothing!
We even had to go and search for Mexican passport control to get our entry stamp, so that we don't get into trouble on the way out. After enquiring about the entry stamp from about 6 different border officials and getting a different answer each time, we eventually found the right place, though they seemed inconvenienced at the fact we interrupted them watching something on the television :)

Us: "Can we get an entry stamp please",
Border official "What do you need one for?"
Us "Um, cos we're entering your country, it's not that an unusual request is it?"
Border official "How long are you here for?"
Us "probably 4-6 weeks?"
Border official "ah, you're not Americans on a day trip"
Us "Um no, do Americans normally come over for the day, dressed like backpackers, carrying huge rucksacks, and speaking Spanish with a Catalan accent?"
Border official "well, if you want a stamp, you'll have to find a bank and pay 20 dollars, when you've done that and have this piece of paper stamped, then you can come back and we'll give you the stamp".
Us "Canīt we just pay it here and now, like we've been able to do, in every other country which we've passed through so far?"
Border official "no, if you want a stamp, you need to find a bank and pay first"

Patience, patience, patience please. We eventually find a bank, make the payment, head back to the passport office, get our stamp, and we are finally, legally in Mexico! Yippy!

We walk down away from the border and into downtown Tijuana, through streets lined with every Mexican product imaginable. Ignoring the continuous shouts in English from the shopkeepers trying to get us to buy something from their stores.

We walk down the high street, the bars and restaurants are full of Americans making the most of the cheap food and cheap booze. All the bars seem to be competing with each other, as to who can blast out the loudest Latin music.
We make our way to our hotel. We can finally afford a bit more luxury, a hotel with inside bathroom, air-conditioning and Cable TV. Wow!

That night we head out for our first Latin-American experience. A typical Mexican meal of tacos, enchiladas and tamales, washed down with some great beer, and followed by some Latin dancing at one of the many bars on the main drag.

Here we are reminded of the need in Latin America to ask a lot of questions before purchasing anything!

Us: "How much is the Piņa Colada?",
Waiter: "3 dollars",
Us: "How many pesos is that? we're not American so we'd like to pay in pesos."
Waiter: "Well at these tables you need to pay in dollars."
Us: "So at what tables can we pay in pesos?"
Waiter: "Over there, but our exchange rate is 9 pesos to a dollar, instead of the usual 11, so itīs better to get some dollars."
Us: "Look just bring us the god damn piņa coladas and we'll find some dollars"

We start to drink our piņa coladas, but Patty thinks there's no alcohol in the drinks.

Us: "Waiter, is there any alcohol in these piņa coladas?"
Waiter: "Um, no, I told you that we can't serve alcohol until 10pm, as there's a junior disco taking place downstairs"
Us: getting irate, "no you didn't, if you'd told us that then we'd have gone to another bar"
Us: "We want our money back, we're not paying 6 dollars for two cups of milky pineapple juice"
After we kick up a fuss, the waiter disappears, and eventually comes back with two cups of rum, which he tips into our drinks.

It's our first day here and I think we've already realised that we're gonna need a lot of patience, to get us through our Latin America trip!

Tijuana itself is an interesting place, where two very different cultures come together. In many ways itīs just as Mexican as any town much further away from the border. If only people would stop speaking to us in English and stop expecting us to pay them in US dollars.

We leave behind the cultural clash world of Tijuana and head further south into the real Baja California. Stopping off in Enseņada, and Guerrero Negro along the way. We stare at the vast desert scenery, which is covered with the huge cacti which Baja California is famous for. They really are a truly amazing sight.

After a very long bus journey, we finally arrive in our destination, Santa Rosalia. Santa Rosalia is an unusual small desert town, built out of wood by a French company who operated a copper mine nearby. The architecture is French influenced and the town even has a patisserie selling great baguettes.

We continue on, stopping at the pleasant town of Loreto, before finally arriving in La Paz. A nice but as yet, not touristy town in the south of Baja California.

Itīs Marcīs birthday on the Sunday, so we decide to head to the popular resort town of Cabo St Lucas, where we are sure to find some lively bars to celebrate in style.
We did celebrate in great style, and Patricia organised a Mariachi band to sing happy birthday to Marc, along with a shot of shaken Tequila.

There are three main things that we've really enjoyed about Baja California:
1: the huge and impressive cacti in the vast deserts.
2: the tasty fish tacos, served with a great array of sauces and vegetables.
3: the dry desert heat and crystal blue sky.

Next, we need to find a boat, to take us over to the main land!
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travel_buddy on

enjoying your blog
Great blog, funny and full of information!

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