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    For firsttimers only


    That is the first comment you will hear from the “expert” who has eaten a taco or two in his hometown.

    And then there are those well meaning neighbors and friends who urgently want to convince you of all the dangers you will meet on a trip to Mexico. From a very reliable source they know of all the hair-raising things that can happen there. However, if you investigate more closely, it is usually a good friend who knows a co-worker whose wife has a girl friend and she heard form another friend that ......

    If you want to visit Baja California you will experience a little paradise

    First of all you should know that your own country would count itself lucky if they had such a low crime rate. Sure, like everywhere in the world there are good and bad people but here you can count on meeting more of the good variety. As long as the police report section of the local newspaper consists largely of fender benders or a stolen chicken, life is good.

    Visitors to the Baja are pleasantly surprised by the warm hospitality with which the Mexicans welcome them. As a woman you can stroll through the streets at night all by yourself without fear of being molested.

    It has nothing to do with “macho” if a man enters the restaurant first. This is a tradition left over from the times when the gentleman first checked the locality for safety and appropriateness for his lady.

    In the tourist restaurants they are already used to the “new masculine manners”, however off the beaten track a lady should still keep in mind to let her escort go first.

    Apropos Restaurant: It is important to know that tips in the tourist areas run between 10 % and 15 %. If you visit a restaurant where local people go, you give a tip of 5 % up to a maximum of 10 %, no more!!!

    Also, when shopping in one of those big grocery stores, the boy who takes you groceries to your car receives the equivalent of 20 cents as tip. That is really sufficient. Please don’t make the usual mistake to say that these are only worthless coins and the cute little guy is so nice and friendly. You only spoil the children to the point where they have no concept of the value of money. Many of the children take home more money in the few hours they ‘work’ after school, than their father can earn as wage the whole week. This may create problems in the family. Furthermore, they will have a hard time once they get to old for the job as “boy”.

    The Mexicans are by no means envious; on the contrary, they will honestly admire what you have. They do not have the urge to own everything you do and are completely unselfish and happy for you. Something they just don’t like is people who brag about their worldly goods or money.

    Sadly there are those visitors who live north of the border and feel they have to impose their own life style and “culture” on the Mexicans. Please distance yourself from that kind of people. These are only a few suggestions.
    Now we want to talk about another important subject, money.


    Not only do you get the worst exchange rate possible, you don’t even need Pesos on your arrival. Take your US Dollars and only change money whenever you need Pesos. Normally, the best exchange rate you will get in the stores, NOT at the banks. In some stores you don’t even have to buy something in order to exchange your money. You can also just open up a debit account at your own bank at home and take a plastic card with your PIN number. With this card you can draw up to 300.00 US Dollars daily. That way you get the best exchange rate possible.


    You will have big problems to pay with traveler checks and the exchange rate is very low. This makes sense when you know that there are North American vacationers who pay by traveler check and immediately afterwards report them as stolen. The Banks and stores then have big problems to prove that those checks were legally received. This procedure can sometimes take up to 1 year before they finally receive their due payment. Besides, the traveler check is really outdated in this day and age.

    Therefore: Plastic and PIN number!

    If you have time on your hands between flights and want to buy in a duty free shop, think carefully. Here are only some of the items you can buy cheaper in any store in Mexico:
    Cigarettes: Depending on brand name they cost about US $ 2.50 to US $ 9.00 for a whole carton.
    Alcohol: Rum, Brandy, Vodka, Tequila are about US $ 2.00 to US $ 10.00 per liter (quart).
    Cosmetics and perfume of brand names known all over the world are between 50 % and 70 % cheaper than in Canada, USA or Europe.
    Then there are shoes, shoes, and shoes. Here are many shoe stores with first class shoes at prices from US $ 2.00 to US $ 50.00. For instance some Florsheim, you buy them in the USA for about US $ 360.00; here you pay for the same model about US $ 40.00.

    Clothing is according to Europe fashion but much cheaper. Fabrics you can buy at prices that back home you can only dream about. Do you need new curtains? Calculate about US $ 2.00 to US $ 3.00 per meter. It is worthwhile to buy the material in Mexico.

    Now, about food and drink:
    First of all the water: There are the most awful stories. Contrary to the mainland, where there are indeed problems in some areas, in all of Baja California is only absolutely pure drinking water. Furthermore there are many companies whose trucks deliver purified water in 5 gallon bottles for the very worried.
    If you want to be absolutely sure, you take this purified water, boil it twice, add purifying tablets, boil it again, add 6 drops of bleach, boil it one more time, then throw it out and drink beer. ( OK, just kidding .)
    By the way, the Mexican beer is excellent and is similar to the German brew.

    Regarding fruit and vegetables you have to know that nearly all is organically grown. Chemicals are too expensive and are rarely used. So, of course everything tastes differently. Also the meat has to be mentioned. Because Baja cattle and chicken are not treated with hormones or other chemicals it is simply delicious. For instance the true gourmet will appreciate the T-bone steak barbecued on a mesquite Grill. So, again: No chemicals, no milk from cows with injected hormones. If by chance you keep the milk after the expiration date, it won’t spoil and become bitter like in the USA or Canada, but like in the good old times you will have perfectly healthy and drinkable sour milk. Even the eggs are mostly from free roaming hens and taste very good. Only if you want to loose weight are you in the wrong place. There are many excellent restaurants with a cuisine that will attack your waistline. Again there are many rumors that the food is very spicy and for non-Mexicans indigestible. NONSENSE ! ! !

    With only a few exceptions, the food is normally spiced. You yourself make it as hot as you like. The street vendors sell very tasty and absolutely hygienic food. Besides, the person who handles the food is not allowed to handle the money. If he does, he loses his license. So, you see, you can really enjoy the street food too.

    However, even the healthiest person sometimes needs medical attention. Here you can receive the best medical care at a true bargain price. In case you cannot afford even this low cost, you will be treated free of charge! ! Only if you live in Mexico, you will have to buy Mexican health insurance at a yearly rate of about US $ 220.00 for 2 persons.

    Before you open your mouth at your dentist at home you should know that the Mexican dentists also are first rate and charge a lot less than you are used to in your country. The instruments they use are the latest in dental technology. One of the dentists in La Paz already works with laser and drilling has become painless. So you can have that troublesome tooth fixed without pain and your pocketbook will not suffer.

    Of course that doesn’t mean that you have to go to the dentist or that you have to get sick or even start smoking at these low prices. By the way, you can also buy very good Mexican cigars. Enjoy a genuine Havana with a superb Baja wine, let the sun smile on you and you will experience an unforgettable vacation.

    The Baja truly is one of the last corners of paradise on earth, worth discovering.

    What is it that brings us back to Mexico?