It had been almost 10 years since we had made the trek down Mexico Highway 1, which connects Tijuana at the north to Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip. We had concluded after that 2,000 mile plus round trip that if we ever were to travel that way again, we would not go further than Mulege -- a bit past the half-way point. By the time we'd arrived at Cabo San Lucas, we almost felt as if we'd driven back to the United States. We'd not had that feeling at all in Mulege, which last time seemed to be the epitome of a sleepy Mexican village.
We were keenly aware of the hesitation that many RVers have about travels to Mexico. We've all heard stories about uncertain customs requirements, what "permits" are needed, what documentation must be provided, and the like. Most recently, some of our readers have commented about the new "guns and drugs" inspections, set up as military roadblocks at various places along highways in Mexico. Are there adequate places to get fuel? Water? And how about RV accommodations? We know that many RVers are not comfortable in RVing in Mexico, save possibly for the option of joining in an organized caravan. These of course can command a hefty premium, and the opportunity to stray from a predetermined schedule is compromised.
From our perspective, the information available about many of the questions we would like to have answered was not readily available. So we decided to combine our RVing adventure to Baja with a contribution to the information which RVers would find of value. We do not consider this to be the only, or necessarily the most comprehensive source of information about RVing in Baja California. But we do think that many of our readers will enjoy our recounting precisely what we found on our trip. This log is based in part on references to kilometer post markings heading south from Tijuana, in the northernmost part of Baja California Norte (north Baja), to Mulege, our intended destination in Baja California Sur (south Baja). We've separately compiles a concise listing of "Baja Tips" which we hope will further benefit RVers who are contemplating making a similar journey into Baja. We believe the "Tips" should be relevant to RVing anywhere in Mexico.
DAY ONE -- Chula Vista to Estero Beach (Ensenada)
Just prior to crossing the border we concluded we'd feel a bit more comfortable if we had some pesos with us. Seeing a sign advising we were about to pass the last U.S. exit, we turned off into a busy commercial section. We quickly surmised that with heavy traffic and lack of large parking spaces, we would have been wiser to have driven a few miles down here the night before in the truck. However, we finally found a small mall area, and selected among quite a number of small, rather unimpressive "Cambio" shops, each proclaiming a slightly different "buy" and "sell" rate. We settled on one of the larger, more attractive shops which proclaimed that it charged neither a commission nor a service fee, and exchanged $100 for the peso equivalent.
We were soon back in the border traffic, noticing a sign requested trucks and RVs to use the far right lane. When our turn came, the Mexican border official requested we pull forward and to the right. Obviously we had been selected for a somewhat closer look. Soon another officer asked to look inside our fifth wheel -- which was of course "slid in" at that moment. I pulled out the steps, unlocked the door, and invited him in. He immediately spotted the empty dog kennel near the door, and anxiously inquired whether there was a dog inside. Almost simultaneously, and before I could respond, he said everything was fine, and wished us a pleasant trip. The whole border crossing, including our random selection for "inspection", took less than 15 minutes.
Immediately after entering Mexico, we saw a number of signs pointing out the route to Ensenada via the "Scenic Route". We expected to see signs, either in Spanish or English, which would point to a "toll" road. But we continued to follow the signs to the Scenic Route, and of course that turns out to be also the toll route. The first few kilometers lead around the sprawling city of Tijuana, and includes one short but fairly steep grade -- we'd estimate around 8%. But soon enough it turns into the "cuota" (toll) road. There are a total of three toll stations between Tijuana and Ensenada. The auto toll at each is approximately $1.50, with the RV price being exactly double the auto amount. We tendered both U.S. and Mexican currency, and they were equally happy with either.
The toll road passes by a number of coastal towns, most of which appear to be vacation destinations (or homes) for Americans. The road itself is mostly a well paved four lane divided highway. It alternates between sea level and elevations up to approximately 1,000 feet as it traverses the sometimes steep coastline cliffs. The views are spectacular -- it really is the "scenic route". At approximately KM (kilometer post) 69, we were once again at sea level -- this time right in front of a most inviting sandy beach. There was a turnout, and room for what appeared to be hundreds of cars and RVs -- though the parking area was almost deserted. It appeared the parking area was a new addition to the toll route. Just three kilometers further (KM 72), on the ocean side of the toll road, we spotted what appeared to be a very attractive new RV park, called "Baja Seasons". We'd not found any reference to it in the directories we had checked. Had the day not been so young, we would have been tempted to give it a try. Perhaps we we'll do so on the return trip, because only a few kilometers to the south we spotted yet another new feature -- an immaculately groomed golf course.
We soon found ourselves on the northern outskirts of Ensenada, and in no time we were on crowded city streets, with an abundance of stop signs and traffic lights. Navigating through Ensenada is not too much different than driving through any other crowded metropolitan area. It's just that the cars are older, and both cars and trucks alike are in bad need of emissions control! By now we had recalled our earlier "Mexican driving mentality". It's merely a matter of driving a bit more slowly, anticipating any possible braking situation well in advance, checking the road ahead for people, animals, and potholes, and basically not being in a hurry. So far, the main roads have been in quite good shape.
Tonight we've returned to a familiar stopover, the Ester Beach RV resort, located some 10 kilometers south of Ensenada. We were here almost 10 years ago, when the resort was just being completed. It's about a mile off Mexico Highway 1, and well signed. At the entrance to the spacious grounds is a large and attractive security entrance. We had no reservations, but as we anticipated spaces were plentiful. Tonight we are camped right on the beach, with full hookups.
DAY TWO Ensenada to Catavina
South of Ensenada Mexico Highway 1 starts a new kilometer post count towards San Quint in. We were surprised when we passed through Maneadero and found no customs stop. We wondered a bit about continuing further south without what we understood to be some sort of requirement to show that we are U.S. citizens, and have documentation showing our ownership of the vehicle we were driving. But this day, at least, there was no official stop. We did happen upon one roadblock, but it was related to a check for "narcoticos", and they simply waved us through.
What we did find as we neared Maneadero was our first introduction to "topes", apparently the Spanish word meaning speed bumps. While they are not allowed other than in towns and villages, they are fairly menacing, and would not be pleasant to encounter at anything over a one or two miles per hour. Most, and I emphasize most , are marked with a warning either a short distance in front of them, or at least at the spot along the roadway where they have been constructed. We found a couple which had no warning and no marking, but the local traffic all seemed to know where they were and slowed appropriately.
Once we cleared the urban area surrounding Maneadero, we found ourselves climbing some winding, occasionally fairly steep, hills. At KM 37 the rough road gave way to a roadway of much more recent vintage, which was to take us over the next two "summits". The first set of hills peaked at around 1100 feet at KM 45, and then descended rapidly down into the Santo Tomas Valley -- home base for an excellent bottle of 1991 cabernet sauvignon we'd enjoyed the previous night at the Ester Beach resort's restaurant.
From the Santo Tomas valley we once again ascended into the coastal range, this time reaching an altitude of approximately 1600 feet at KM 63. The smoothly paved road unhappily left us again as we continued to wind through the coastal hills, eventually descending again down towards the sprawling San Quint in valley. We were impressed to note that large portions of this valley have been reclaimed through irrigation since we passed this way 10 years ago. There were crops of all types, and even a few more neatly manicured vineyards. South of San Quint in, the highway offers a number of panoramic vistas of the Pacific ocean. We noted a number of dirt roads leading down to the beach, some indicating facilities for RVs.
Just south of San Quint in the kilometer posts started up from zero again, likely, we guessed counting "up" towards a destination for this series at Guerrero Negro. Approximately 30 kilometers south of San Quint in the road veers sharply inland, and back into the coastal mountains we went. Cresting a small summit at KM 50, we wound steeply down a grade which appeared to reach 8-9% in some parts, and into the town of El Rosario. We passed what we erroneously thought was a Pemex station with diesel. Unfortunately, we had been counting on getting diesel at our intended destination, Catavina, some 75 miles further south.
The trip from El Rosario to Catavina is approximately 75 miles. The first third is fairly steep and winding, and some sections of the road seem like they may be part of the original pouring. The lower two thirds remains relatively high (around 2,000 feet), but is in better condition, and allows for reasonable speeds. The trip from El Rosario to Catavina also is accompanied by dramatic change in vegetation. Here we began to see saguaro, organ pipe, and senita cacti, elephant trees, and a variety of other smaller cactus plants. Approaching Catavina, the landscape is littered with enormous boulders, some literally as big as a house.
Catavina, our intended day's destination, showed little evidence of change since we had been there 10 years ago. The La Pinta hotel still offered up a pleasant dining option for the evening. And the relatively run-down RV park (rated appropriately 1, 1.5, and 3) was in approximately the same state of disrepair it had been in 1987. The "office" was either closed or mostly demolished (or both), and we heard no tell-tale sign of the sound of a generator which would indicate electricity was then available. The worst casualty, however, was the local Pemex station, which in past years had been a large facility offering various grades of gas plus diesel. It was closed. And it its place was a single gas pump. No diesel!
With no source of diesel for some 145 miles further along, and with insufficient fuel left to go that far, we had no option but to get creative in finding some rather unorthodox means for solving the problem. I'll not recount this part of the adventure here, but it is fully documented in Stephanie's Postcard from this date, entitled "The Great Diesel Dilemma..."
DAY THREE -- Catavina to Mulege
Sunrise came a bit earlier than expected in Catavina, and since there were no utilities to unhook, we were off and running at first light. Just south of town we came across a military blockade, apparently checking for drugs and arms again. The well-armed young officer made a routine check of the inside of the rig, and we were soon rolling again. We were still in hilly desert terrain, with much of the 65 mile distance south to the junction for Bahia de Los Angeles being near 3,000 feet. We appeared to go over a summit at approximately KM 194. While the roadway here was in reasonably good condition, it was quite a bit rougher than much of what we had encountered so far. As always, the roadway was relatively narrow by American standards, with virtually no shoulder. Indeed, at times it would have been most unfortunate to have been even a few inches off the pavement.
Just past the turnoff for Bahia de Los Angeles, it was time for another cursory military inspection. Again, the young officer was quite polite, and the stop lasted only a couple of minutes. South of the Bahia de Los Angeles junction, the highway gradually descends towards sea level, and then a quite level and straight run for the coastal town of Guerrero Negro. As we approached Guerrero Negro, we left Baja California del Norte, and crossed into Baja California del Sur. This transition was attended once more by -- you guessed it -- another military inspection. We suspect we were attracting a disproportionate amount of attention by being at this time of the year one of only a few RVs headed south. It was often several minutes between vehicles of any type on Mexico Highway 1.
The town of Guerrero Negro is a few Kilometers off the highway, and this time we chose to continue on towards Mulege. The roadway here was still straight, mostly level, and in quite good condition. About 45 miles along this stretch of highway we came upon the village of Vizcaino, the center of which was a large Pemex station which had a separate area for truck diesel. By now we had decided not to pass too many of these opportunities, so we filled our tank and continued on. The kilometer post markings which had counted up towards Guerrero Negro were now counting down, apparently indicating the distance remaining to Santa Rosalia on the Pacific Coast.
But before we would arrive there, we were to pass through the beautiful small oasis of San Ignacio, a village of perhaps only a few hundred inhabitants. This town is about 3 kilometers south of the main highway, and though the entrance roadway to it is a bit narrow, we had no problems driving into the town square, around it, and back out. With the time change we'd just encountered, we decided we were quickly passing the lunch hour. We easily found parking near the La Pinta hotel, and had a quick bite to eat at one of the small family owned restaurants. This particular one had a grand total of three tables, two of which could accommodate up to 8 persons, and a third which could accommodate 4. One of the larger tables was totally occupied by a visiting Mexican family -- lots of kids, and all very well mannered. The family pet, a well fed dachshund, was along as well. Apparently it's not atypical to be joined for a repast here by your canine colleagues.
We calculated we had a bit over 80 miles left to Mulege. But our intermediate destination would be Santa Rosalia, on Baja's east coastline. We remembered this particular stretch quite well from our trip 10 years ago, because the last stretch nearest Santa Rosalia drops dramatically and steeply from approximately 1,000 feet to near sea level in a very few kilometers. The first two thirds of this road leading southeast from San Ignacio are quite good, though like most of the roads we'd been on there are a few well marked "curvas peligrosas" (dangerous curves); and also a few "vados" (dips for water and flash flood runoffs).
But that section between KM 18 and KM 14 are both spectacular and challenging. The road signs give no hint of exactly how steep this stretch is, though I would estimate it to be at least 14% in some parts. And it is neither straight nor wide on this section. It's really not a difficult road, however, at low speeds. And we certainly maintained LOW speeds. We downshifted our 5 speed into second, and used our exhaust brake to do most of the work, though we still needed to add a bit of braking to keep the RPMs under control. I'd rather go up a hill this steep than down it. But of course we'd have a chance to do that on the return trip!
Once at sea level it's only a few miles to Santa Rosalia, a former mining community, and now the ferry terminal for the crossing to Guaymas, on Mexico's mainland. The town center is a bit back from the waterfront, where the main highway passes, and from our recollection of the last trip, is a bit difficult to traverse with a large RV. A few miles south of Santa Rosalia we passed what appeared to be the most attractive RV park we'd seen since leaving Ensenada -- the Las Palmas. In fact it was so attractive that we were tempted to stop there for the night. But we were only some 38 miles north of Mulege, and it was just past mid-afternoon.
The last stretch of road continued to be relatively straight, with only a small grade climbing up out of Santa Rosalia, and another small descend into the canyon which protects the wonderful Mexican village of Mulege. We had arrived! This had been a relatively long day -- some 331 miles. Just past the turnoff for Mulege there are two RV parks, with which we were familiar. They are both quite nice, but our favorite is the Orchard RV park, which offers extremely large and fully serviced sites. Palm trees are everywhere, as are a variety of flowers. The RV park fronts on the Mulege River, a quiet body of water which connects up to the ocean only a half mile distant. In addition to RVs, many visitors (mostly American) have small houses, or combination house/RV structures, many with thatched roofs, tile floors, and mostly outdoor and loft living areas. Picturesque is a perfect word to describe the many flavors these creative structures come in...
Our second night in Mulege found us in town, at a small hotel called "Las Casitas". We found ourselves at a small table, next to what was an unusually welcome fire burning this particular evening in the fireplace. The cold from the north had found its way this far south, and residents used to balmy evenings were uniformly escaping into indoor dining areas. Ours, as it turned out, happened to be next to a weekly meeting of the Mulege Rotary Club -- a committed group of local business persons (both of American and Mexican descent) who were discussing the status of various plans to bring more dental and medical assistance to the community. When we introduced ourselves as associated with RVers Online, they were extremely hospitable in explaining the many programs they are currently supporting to bring various needed services to the local population. We came away with a very positive impression of what the Rotary group in Mulege has accomplished -- especially for those in and around Mulege who could most benefit from the support they are providing. We were also pleased to note the very positive reaction the American members of the Rotary Club have concerning Baja California in general, and the Mulege area in particular. They were very proud of their community, and of the fact that the streets here are so safe that several of them had cars parked outside with keys in the ignition. We hadn't come across that scene since we left our own home in the San Juan Islands, now more than 2,000 miles to the north.
DAYS 4 & 5 -- Scouting Out the Mulege Area
The next couple of days offered us ample free time to refresh our recollections of Mulege and its surroundings. The town itself claims a population of some 3,000, of which more than a few are transplanted Americans who spend part or all of their time here. The town seemed no larger than we had recalled it 10 years earlier. And surely the streets through it were no wider. We've often considered whether a dually would serve our towing needs best; but in this town it would be difficult to negotiate some of the narrow one-way lanes. Many of the modest local residences are on a steep hillside overlooking the town. Colorful flowers are in abundance. Part of the charm of Mulege is that there is little "new" here. And while evidence of tourism is ever present, it does not detract from the authenticity of this sleepy village, which maintains the unspoiled character of a tropical Mexican town hundreds of miles off the heavier beaten tracks.
There are any number of interesting restaurants here, with prices sufficiently attractive that its difficult to justify "eating in". Besides, the seafood here is excellent. Several small to medium sized grocery stores provide a good stock of items, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables. There are a few tourist oriented shops, offering tee shirts and typical Mexican items. But even these are small, understated, and somehow absorbed the the landscape of this town which refuses to concede its cultural heritage. Just south of town is the all-important full service Pemex station, WITH diesel.
We made forays both north and south of town. To the north, we revisited the area of Punta Chivato, which we recalled for its charming beachfront hotel and nearby fabulous "shell beach". The challenge, simply put, is getting there. Some 12 miles north of Mulege there is a sign pointing out a dusty narrow road which leads 20 kilometers to the hotel and surrounding area. The winds had been blowing for the past day here, and where the roadway was not first class washboard, it passed through sandy stretches which had accumulated even more blowing sand on its surface. In two wheel drive we could feel ourselves beginning to loose speed and intended direction, so we quickly engaged four wheel drive through these sections to avoid sinking into the soft roadbed. A small road machine was busily trying to keep up with the sand drifts accumulating on the roadways, but the effort was a bit like attempting to stop an advancing tide. We were glad we were not towing, though when we got to the other end we found a number of RVs of various types and sizes which had made the trip, and appeared set up for long stays. There was of course no electricity or water way out here, so all were outfitted with generators or solar, plus a wide assortment of containers for fuel and water.
The hotel seemed little changed from what we recalled from 10 years ago. We enjoyed a Mexican cerveza under a palapa-covered deck overlooking the water, and found ourselves mesmerized by the antics of the local sea birds, which would dive from substantial heights and plummet at high speed into and under the surface of the water. A spectacular way for fishing! Unlike our past visit, however, there is more here now that simply a hotel and some scattered palapas for RVs. There are now a few dozen new homes, many very substantial, which are claiming this formerly pristine landscape. It's still a beautiful area, and of course the shell beach a mile or south of the hotel is probably one of the greatest of its kind anywhere in the world. Here one can still gather a collection of prizes in a matter of minutes.
The following day we ventured south of town to explore the many (mostly) dry camping opportunities along a number of the sheltered beaches along the Bahia de Conception, which Highway 1 passes en route to it's kilometer countdown to the next major town, Loreto. The first such beach is Playa Santispak, at KM 114. Here RVs are parked at the water's edge along a very protected inlet for perhaps 3/8 of a mile. The shimmering waters change from a bright turquoise to a deep blue as shallow water gives way to deeper water a bit offshore. Many RVers have brought some type of water craft which they use for fishing, or for exploring otherwise inaccessible beach areas. Most seem to be set up for a fairly lengthy stay, and because there is neither water nor electric facilities, they collectively display an ingenious array of helper tools, from solar panels, to generators, to large vessels for fuel or water. Many are lucky enough to have found a palapa to provide shelter and shade; and many have set up tarps or other materials to fashion shelters of various sizes and shapes. Although there was ample space back from the water, the RVs seemed to have fairly well claimed every inch of the waterfront this morning.
A number of smaller, often less populated beaches are accessible via a short (and sometimes fairly rough) dirt or rocky road over the next 15 miles. The last in this series is a strikingly beautiful small beach called Playa El Requeson. While there are only a limited number of sites for RVs to park here, we found the scenery particularly attractive. Most of the RVs are parked on a narrow peninsula which separates two waterfront areas. This same peninsula narrows to virtually nothing when the tide is out; but at higher tides one can walk "across" the water to a densely vegetated Island. The beaches are all of beautiful white, fine grained sand. And the pelicans seem to enjoy floating just off shore hoping some returning fishermen might share some of the day's catch.
By now the short time we'd allocated for this expedition to Baja was about up, and that same afternoon we'd have to start on the return journey. But Stephanie had a number of postcards she was looking forward to post, and of course we wanted to prepare this travelogue for our RVers Online who might be thinking of an excursion "down Baja way" later this season. While we had this time not the last few hundred miles to Cabo San Lucas, we've been there before -- and our preference is very much for the Mulege area. We recall the roadways below Mulege being relatively easier than that which we'd traversed in getting to Mulege; and judging from the reports we had from a number of RVers who were now northbound from Cabo San Lucas, the rest of the roadways are in reasonably good condition, and in general easier on mind and body than the more mountainous north portions.
NOTES -- From the Trip Back
Our first night on the trip back took us only as far as the village of San Ignacio, which we had all too briefly visited on the trip down. It's an easy couple of hours north of Mulege. But our first glimpse had convinced us this was a wonderfully authentic small village in Baja Sur which would justify some more careful exploration. There are several RV parks on the mile and a half drive off the main highway into town. The one which caught our attention is directly across from the town's "La Pinta" hotel, about a quarter mile before reaching the village small town square. Stephanie liked the location, because she correctly surmised that the proximity to another hotel restaurant with excellent food at extremely modest prices would bode well for the evening meal.
The village center is dominated by an imposing stone church, which dates
from the 1700s. Adjacent to the church is a museum, open to the public,
which depicts the various types of cave paintings done by inhabitants of
the nearby mountains some 4,000 years ago. In recent years the government
has apparently acted to protect and preserve these discoveries of the ancient
civilization which inhabited the area. And according to the pleasant young
man who was in charge of the museum that afternoon, all are accessible
only by mule or burro. Local guides were available to take adventurous
visitors into the back country (which requires a permit) for a dollar equivalent
of about $7 per day -- including the mull or burro. We hiked the back streets
of San Ignacio, and enjoyed seeing this colorful village "up close".
As always, the people were all friendly and smiling, and seemed always
to greet us politely wherever we wandered.
The following day we reached Catavina just in time for a late lunch. We were pleased to find that Benjamin (remember, the Diesel Postcard!) was on duty, in charge of waiting on customers both in the bar and adjacent restaurant. Happily, there were no patrons in the bar, and only one other occupied table in the restaurant. We had a pleasant light lunch, and as we paid our bill Benjamin spotted our RV out in front of the hotel. "Is that your casa [house]?" he asked. We could tell he would really like to see inside, and so of course we invited him to come out with us and see inside our "casa". For a reason I did not immediately appreciate, he asked very politely whether we could wait perhaps five minutes, so that he could "clean off the tables". We waited a few minutes outside, chatting with some visitors from Yellowknife, Yukon Territory, who were waiting for 3:00 when the single Pemex gas pump would reopen.
Soon Benjamin reappeared, but this time dressed much more neatly -- coat and all. He had obviously gone to his quarters to "dress for the occasion". We invited him in, and he thoroughly enjoyed his tour of our fifth wheel. We provided him with our "RVers Online" card; and explained that we were in the process of writing up our trip to Mulege. We told him we would of course enjoy mentioning Benjamin to our readers -- we thought anyone of our online group would enjoy knowing of a pleasant young Mexican gentleman who can really "get things done" while stopping over in Catavina. He certainly had helped us only a few evenings before.
What followed next is one of our most pleasant memories we will have of Baja. Benjamin, having been invited to our house, asked whether we could spare a few minutes to come to his house, to meet his family. We of course said yes, and soon we were being led to what must be the least desirable quarters at the La Pinta hotel -- where the staff is housed. En route, Benjamin spotted his mother, a very dignified looking woman with a wonderful smile. We exchanged pleasantries, happily with my more formal version of Spanish not deserting me at the moment. Then came the major event. Up two flights of stairs, and along an outdoor corridor decorated extensively with the days wash, we came upon Benjamin's house. Inside his beautiful young wife held their first born child, a happy and healthy baby carefully in his mother's care. Their home was, to understate substantially, modest. Yet the act of inviting us in to meet his mother, and then his wife and baby, impressed us immensely. He was simply doing as he had so obviously been brought up to do -- and we thought this small experience spoke volumes about the character of the persons who inhabit this distant land called Baja. We hope that any of our readers who travel the Baja will have occasion to stop and say hello to Benjamin -- and if possible, his mother, wife and daughter. We think this is what the Baja is all about. We know he will appreciate meeting anyone who is a part of our RVers Online group!
For our last full day in Baja we set an overly ambitious target of returning to the San Quint in valley, where we had reason to believe we could find a suitable RV park for the evening. As it turned out, we would have been better off to stop again at Catavina, as the road leading north of there is hilly, narrow, and winding. As a consequence we found ourselves driving into the outskirts of this area just as darkness was setting in. We quickly recognized this would present a new challenge, in that scouting out an RV park in Baja can be difficult enough in the light of day.
We concluded we'd best check out the very first RV park we could find, while there was at least a bit of dusk left. Before we reached San Quint in we spotted a sign pointing to what was "1/2 mile" dirt road to the El Pabellion RV park. The park was at approximately KM 15.5, south of San Quint in. The sign on the highway extolled hookups, hot showers, "English spoken"and fishing. When we arrived there, we were greeted by Guadalupe, the friendly park manager (who speaks no English). He collected our $5 fee, and advised that occasionally there had been electricity, but alas the generator no longer worked. In fact, we saw little evidence of hookups of any kind. But what we did see was a fantastic beach, with pangas (colorful wooden boats) pulled up on the beach for the night. We could hardly wait to see what this place looked liked the next morning. Guadalupe told us that he had seen the sign about "English spoken", and asked the owner what he meant by that. The owner responded that he meant that at least 90% of the RVers who stop here speak English!
Our sixth and last day led us back through the Santo Tomas valley, Ensenada, and to the border at Tijuana. Unlike entering Mexico at Tijuana, and finding our way onto the "Scenic Route" (toll road) to Ensenada, traveling north on the Scenic Route into Tijuana is not as well signed. In fact, we learned we needed to be extra alert for the "San Diego" signs, since the road back through Tijuana is quite circuitous. It's best to take this stretch as slowly as is safely possible as you approach the various turns which lead back to the border crossing. On the Mexican side of the border there are approximately 20 lines of vehicles waiting to get through the U.S. Customs checkpoint. Expect a wait of at least a half hour here. But it's not boring. Street vendors know they have a captive audience here, and they offer what has to be the greatest collection of white elephants ever assembled on the face of the earth. But soon we were "home".
We know we didn't allocate nearly enough time for this trip. But commitments north of the border made it impossible to stay longer. We had not returned to Baja for 10 years, and it has changed very little. It is still a very special place, and we will surely not wait another 10 years to return.
(NOTE: THIS SPECIAL REPORT WILL BE MOVED TO "ARTICLES" SHORTLY. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT BAJA TRAVELS, MUCH OF WHICH SHOULD BE RELEVANT TO MEXICO RV TRAVELS ELSEWHERE, SEE OUR "BAJA TIPS".
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