Days 21-23: Baja, Mexico!
We eased into Mexico in the best way possible: by staying with friends at their home south of Ensenada. Gary was a coworker of Chris’ back when we lived and worked in Southern California. He and his wife Carol now spend much of their time south of the border – and now we know why! They were steps from the beach and an animal rescue organization was practically in their back yard, which basically kept the kids entertained for the duration of our stay.
The kids spent their time playing in the waves or meeting all the farm animals, including a litter of 8 week old puppies. Emma, our animal lover, was in heaven and Ben set about best plotting how to bring one of the pups with us on the trip.
We’ve heard lots of warnings about the border crossing procedures – the ones in Central America are supposed to be particularly bad; so we were relieved that the Mexico border only took us two hours. For those planning a similar trip, the fine folks over at Life Remotely have a free ebook that details the exact procedures for each crossing. We crossed from Chula Vista into Tijuana at the busiest land crossing in the entire world.
Mexico is in the process of constructing a brand new customs building and the entire process was (relatively) straightforward. If you consider two sets of vehicle x-rays and visiting two different booths three times each straightforward. 🙂 BUT, we made it through alive and Emma only had two melt-downs so we’re considering it a success. So just know that the Life Remotely book is a bit out of date in terms of the Customs building description but we found plenty of officials to guide us through. We obtained both tourists visas and a temporary vehicle permit. (which, by the way, required a whopping $400 USD deposit. Ouch). There was an ATM in the customs building, should your credit card not work for paying fees.
And then we were free and we promptly hightailed it out of Tijuana on the lovely toll roads. At first we found the military checkpoints to be extremely intimidating (Ben: “DAD, LOOK AT THEIR HUGE GUNS!!”) but we’ve passed through many of them at this point with the cursory: “Where are you coming from, where are you headed, and why are you here” set of questions. They’ve been quite professional and usually pat Emma on the head as a friendly ‘adios’ as we pass on through. She sits behind Chris on the driver’s side and we always roll down all the windows and remove hats/sunglasses as we approach the guards. The guys are usually greeted with an enthusiastic “BUENOS DIAS!!” from the clowns in the back seat.
Another tip for those of you going on a similar adventure: the iOverlander app has been incredibly helpful as we make our way down the peninsula. We followed the creators (Song of the Road) back when they were on their trip so it’s been fun to see their hard work pay off in a product that is extremely useful.
Gary with Baby Mole’.
La Bufadora aka The Blowhole.
Emma wanted to do everything with ‘the teeny tiny puppy’. We had to drag her away. We have no photos of Ben and Chris; they were out in the waves practicing Ben’s newfound love of body boarding.
Thank you Gary, Carol, Bindi, and Mole’!
Here are the rest of our Baja Posts:
Baja – Ensenada: beaches, puppies, and an animal sanctuary
Photos from Above – drone photography (haven’t lost it yet!)
Bahia de los Angeles – swimming with whale sharks
Cabo Pulmo – Mexico’s only Pacific aquatic national park
Southern Baja – Sun and sand. And sunburns