Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Discovering Bahia de Los Angeles, Baja California

It's Wednesday evening, and I'm writing from Guerrero Negro, on the Pacific Coast, about halfway down Baja California.  I have a lot to tell since I've last written, because I've been without internet since Sunday morning, so I'll catch you up tonight on the trip that started on Sunday to Bahia de Los Angeles.  We awoke to church bells on Sunday morning at 6:45 AM, and ventured out for breakfast around 9:30, eating one more time at our little restaurant near the hotel in San Quintin.  Here's a picture of Eduardo's machaca, served with some fresh Mexican cheese.

We bid farewell to our hosts at the Hotel Uruapan, and headed out around 10:45 am.  The drive to Bahia de Los Angeles is 349 kilometers (217 miles), and we stopped in El Rosario, about 37 miles out of town, to gas up for the drive.  The next gas opportunity before the Bahia, by the way, is a guy standing by the side of the road in Catavina (about halfway there) with a big container of gas!  Just after exiting El Rosario there is a military check-point, and then the real drive begins.  The road to Bahia de Los Angeles is a two lane, well paved road that took us on a spectacular drive through the desert, heading from west to east across Baja.  With Andrea Bocelli blasting from the speakers of the car, I was overwhelmed with pure joy at the beauty of the desert landscape.  Towering cacti rose majestically from open plains, then from between large boulders, then from open plains again, with mountains in the distance in every direction.
After driving down Highway 1, we took the exit towards Bahia de Los Angeles, continuing about 45 miles east towards the Sea of Cortez.  When the sea finally comes into view after about 5 hours in the desert, the blue of the water is breathtaking!
As you can see, I am pretty happy here!  We made it!
At this look-out point, by the way, many of the rocks on the ground were different types of quartz, some white, some rose, and I picked up a beautiful lavender piece.  We were told by the locals that many gems can be found in the surrounding mountains, and gold mining was done there in the past as well.  Since we arrived in town around 4:15 pm, we were pretty hungry, and quickly discovered tacos de pescado were the town specialty, as the fish are freshly caught and delicious.
We found a hotel for $35.00 a night, super clean and a very nice room but no internet.  Although we could get on the internet at several cafes, the service was difficult at best, and there was no cell phone service.  We rested at the hotel for a while, then took an hour and half walk around midnight down to the beach and back from our hotel, lit by an almost full moon.  The bay was calm and peaceful.  Downright magical!

Monday morning we headed into town for breakfast, then happened upon the mining museum.  Although it was closed, we enjoyed the front yard and it's relics from the gold mining period in the area.  Here's Eduardo with a huge copper pot that was used in the mining process.
You know I always enjoy the signs that we find when traveling.  Here's a cute one outside one of the hotels near the beach.
And an abandoned building I liked:
Late in the afternoon we decided to visit the dock where the fishing boats launch, and it turned out to be one very busy "runway"!  This is a tiny town, and we saw a LOT of fisherman.  Fishing is definitely their main commerce here.  While sitting on the dock, I saw a ray in the water!  Like being at Sea World, except in real life. 
We thoroughly enjoyed watching the coming and going of the various boats that evening, and of course Eduardo always loves chatting with and learning from the locals.  Here's a picture of one of the many boats docking that evening:
and their catch:
and finally, the moonrise over the bay, where we enjoyed a bottle of Mexican wine from our soccer chairs on the dock.  The end to a most beautiful Monday.

In my next post, I'll catch you up on our Tuesday departure from Bahia de Los Angeles, and the trip to Guerrero Negro.  Thanks for following, and Buenas noches!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cooling our heels in San Quintin

Today was a day devoted to rest, last minute details on the car, and eating!  We paid our mechanic here one last visit to check spark plugs and change the oil.  Yesterday I mentioned how much I enjoyed his "low tech" approach.  Here's a picture of his tool table:

and here's Eduardo helping him get the car ready for tomorrow's departure:

After we finished with the car, we headed over to one of the roadside stands here that sell amazing seafood.  The specialty of this area is Almejas (clams), and they cook up a wicked soup that is just delicious.  This is the only area in Baja where you can enjoy Almejas.

The cerviche is also fabulous:

Later this evening, we ate dinner at "Hot Dogs California", a very popular spot here, especially on a Saturday night.  Although I am not a big fan of hot dogs, I make an exception here, because the hot dogs are delicious, served with beans, chili, onions, ketchup and mustard.  And don't forget a Mexican Coca-Cola!

Here's the boys posing for me!

Tomorrow morning we are planning an early departure for the Bahia de Los Angeles, which crosses Baja to the Sea of Cortez, a five or six hour drive.  Very excited for tomorrow's adventure!  Thanks for following, and hope you are all doing well.....

Buenas noches,

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Road to San Quintin

Today was a great day!  First of all, I am beginning to learn about the fine art of trading and selling in Mexico.  Two small used TV's that we brought with us equaled two nights in a hotel and the labor cost to change our brake pads!  Que chido!  I'm definitely not in Los Angeles anymore. 

We headed out of Ensenada in early afternoon and starting making our way south down Highway 1, 167 Kilometers (104 miles) to San Quintin.  One of my joys on this trip is seeing the way Mexico is beginning to decorate for Christmas.  Here's a storefront I captured from the car on the drive out of town.

The road to San Quintin is a two-lane, well paved road that is quite curvy and winds through wine country and agricultural land, reminiscent of the central coast of California.  It alternates between mountains and valleys, and I was taken by the beauty of the cactus fields that glimmered in the afternoon sun.....

and the beauty of the mountains....

I am constantly entertained by the signs I find when I travel.  This one is good advice, I thought:

And this one touched my heart:

We arrived in San Quintin , checked into the Hotel Urupan (our favorite here), and had enough time before dark to have new brake pads put on the car.  Here's a picture of me helping by holding the light while our mechanic changed the pads.  I loved this experience, because it was such a simple, primitive set-up, yet totally effective.  It is in this simplicity, and in the genuine warmth and beauty of the people here, that I am beginning to breathe and relax.

Buenas noches,

It's Friday morning, and we spent Thanksgiving Day in Ensenada.  The first thing I got to do was talk with Tommy, where it was already evening in France.  Then we started off the day having breakfast at the Ensenada Cafe, with a vegetable and cheese omelet, french toast, and coffee.  The antique style cafe seemed to be a place where local musicians stored their instruments, and I counted 8 basses leaned against the walls, as well as my favorite, the accordion.

After breakfast, we spent the afternoon cleaning and organizing the car for the trip south.  While Eduardo organized, I got the chance to talk with Natalie and enjoy watching her eat her pumpkin pie!  I have to admit I sure missed Thanksgiving Dinner with my kids this year, but thanks to Face Time, we still felt close together.

Eduardo and I ate dinner at El Corralito's, which serves my favorite Enchilda Suizas in Ensenada.  Not your typical Thanksgiving fare, but delicious!!  We stopped at Soriano's, the local supermarket, on the way home, where it's beginning to look and smell like Christmas here.  By the way, that price is in pesos, not dollars!

I enjoyed the little Mexican ornaments we saw in the windows on the way back to the hotel.

All in all, a beautiful Thanksgiving day in Ensenada!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from Ensenada

After quitting my full time Title Insurance job so I can work in the arts, giving up our apartment, packing our things in storage, selling or giving away what wouldn't fit, and finishing all outstanding work on Eduardo's part, we have crossed the border for a two month trek across Mexico.  The seed of this idea was planted over a year ago, and I am so happy and proud to say it is now reality!

Yesterday afternoon was spent still in the US in San Ysidro, taking care of the details for the car, like new tires, Mexican auto insurance, and procuring parts required for a tune up, to be done here in Ensenada.  We finally crossed the border around 6:00 PM into Tijuana. 

Have any of you ever DRIVEN in Tijuana?  I find it the most confusing city ever!  We had hoped to register the car at the border, but we were told we had to go to Otay, near the Tijuana airport, to do the paperwork, about 12 miles away.  Trying to follow the road signs is impossible, and the traffic hair-raising.  In stopped traffic, the guy in the car in front of us, who had Mexican plates on his car got out and came back to ask us if we were IN MEXICO!  Even the Mexicans can't figure out the area near the border!!  That made me laugh so hard.

In our quest to find Otay, asking everyone and their mother along the way, a nice man led us over half-way there in his car!  Our first Angel.  When we finally found the government offices, a group of three trailers at the end of an obscure street near the airport, we moved back and forth between the three of them signing this, copying that, then paying for this, signing for that, you get the idea.  Again I laughed so hard!  But in the end, success!  6 month permission for us and the car.

After all of that it's about 8:30 PM, and we needed to find Hwy 1 to Ensenada.  That's where our second Angel came in.  A nice man leaving the government office led us on a road that cut all the way across Tijuana to connect with Hwy 1.  Thanks and gratitude to our Angels last night!!

And that brings us to this morning, from our "Hotel Las Vegas" in Ensenada, at $25.00 a night, where I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!  I don't know if we will find any Turkey here in Ensenada, but we shall see as the day unfolds.  Enjoy your day with good friends, family, and delicious food, and please remember all there is to be grateful for in this wonderful life.   And to my family, I love and miss you today!  Eat some cranberrries for me....

Love, Linda