Saturday, 22 November 2008

10/11/2008 - 21/11/2008 - San Diego - Baja, Mexico

13/11/2008 – 14/11/2208 San Diego. Our last full day in San Diego is spent going to Sea World – we buy a pass that allows entry for this trip and also for most of next year (for the same price as a one day pass). We didn’t understand why until we entered into the grounds – the place didn’t have many people inside for what one would expect at a Sea World. The main reason we have come to this Sea World is to see Shamu (the Killer Whales) – and let me say it was definitely worth the stop. To see these huge magnificent animals flying through the air was just awesome. With the crowds being so low we decided to shout ourselves lunch with Shamu. We had a great buffet lunch whilst learning and watching close up the trainers playing etc with the Killer Whales. After lunch we entered the Stadium to watch the fantastic show.

Another great moment of the day, for me (and one I will never forget) is that you can actually pat and feed the dolphins – to pat the dolphins was free (okay I might of knocked a few kids out of the way to get in) – but if you wanted to feed them you paid $6 for three fish – what a bargain… Another memory is how huge the Walrus was – I mean I knew they were big – but they are like the size of a huge Elephant only longer.

14/11/2008 – 20/11/2008 Baja Mexico: Tecate – Guerra Negro. Well we started our trip from San Diego somewhat intrepidly as we had caused ourselves some problems, we ended up buying too much insurance for the trip south – but with that sorted out we still hit the roads. In a nut shell American and Canadian insurance does not cover you whilst in Mexico. The Mexican government insists you have Mexican insurance – 3rd party liability is the minimum. You don’t have to have any insurance and I am sure the locals don’t, however the law in Mexico is Napoleonic law which is “YOU ARE GUILTY UNTIL YOU CAN PROVE YOUR INNOCENCE…” A car accident is a felony and you will go to jail if you are in the wrong and can’t pay. In fact you will be put in jail until they sort out who is in the wrong. (If you do have to go to jail overnight, you can rent a cop for $50 to stand outside your motel room for the night and he will take you back to the police station in the morning.) Having read all this we still decided to go.

Off to Tecate. We had been across the boarder to Tijuana many years back said that we would never cross there again. Tecate is a small boarder town crossing. We dumped all our perishable just before the border and proceeded to cross. We came up to the lights to what for a red or green and stared down at a young boy with a machine gun. The light turned to green and off we went. That was it we were in Mexico – no customs, no checking of our vehicle or documentation - nada. We were going to get our visa’s in Tecate however we couldn’t find a place to park stubbie so we went through. We had read that you could obtain your Visa at Ensenada. (3 Hours drive.) Off we drove down highway Mex 3 which is a two lane highway (one going each way) and the lanes are 9ft 6ins wide. Stubbie is 8ft 6ins wide without the big mirrors and they add another 2 feet. So we bent the left mirror in a bit and set off. All the prior reading, research we did started to make sense. ALTO (Stop) signs just popping up anywhere with no white line as to where to stop and in some cases a truck parked in front of the stop sign so only the locals know that it is there. The Stop signs are often place on the highways – letting the side Streets have priority. Then they have a TOPES (speed bump) or Velocity Reducers. What you get is about 15 severe speed bumps in a row followed by one large speed bump. These Topes are also on the highways to let you know if there is a dangerous corner (sometimes) or a place where a pedestrian might want to cross the road. They are designed to rip your suspension clean off your truck. The highway has a top speed of 80k/hr with most of it designated at either 60k/hr or 40k/hr. Needless to say if you meet an oncoming truck you need to basically stop. In some cases both us and the oncoming traffic have stopped so that we can figure out who will do the passing. The locals just ignore all speed signs however the Policia will stop foreigners as they can get some money in their pockets as they are not well paid.

Down the road we travelled. We found the immigration office and to our surprise they don’t speak English. My Mexican was limited to ordering chicken with a Corona and Lisa was white wine and pork. Lucky we had a trusty phrase book. After much gesturing and talking louder they managed to understand what we wanted. Some how we paid some extra money and they gave us 180 day visas – we had read that for Australians you would probably only be given 3 months. We think that they have mistaken us for Americians. We still need a vehicle permit before we hit the mainland. I’m sure that will be another experience.

We made it to Ensenada to a compounded campground for our first two nights. We hooked up with some great people, Steven and Susan who regularly come from California for vacations. We will never say again that the Americans don’t drink much. First of all Steven was an Irish / American and after several drinks in the afternoon and well into the evening, Steven and Susan offered to take us into town the next day. What an opportunity to good to miss – so of course we were in. Well at 11:00am the next day Susan comes over to tell us we will be heading into town at 12:00 noon but at 11:30am we were going to do shots of Tequila (Neither Dave or I like Tequila at the best of times - but hey - when in Rome). So after our Tequila shots we venture into town. First stop is Hussong’s (the oldest bar in Baja Mexico) and of course Steven orders four Margaritas. Okay – that’s enough alcohol without much food, if I don’t move soon – I’m not going to be able to. So we hit the Streets and do a bit of wandering and shopping. We decided that this would be a good place to buy some Penicillin and Amoxicillin – over here you don’t need a prescription for a lot of drugs. So after we end up down the end of the Street – we stop for … yep some more drinks. We finally stop in a Restaurant for our first taste of real Mexican food (and of course more drinks). Here I made the mistake of ordering a Mango Margarita – and boy was it sweet, I’ll stick to the more traditional Margaritas in future. I order the Enchiladas and Dave orders the Taco’s – my Enchiladas were okay – but Dave’s Taco’s were the best I’ve ever had. It appears that their Taco Shells are more like our Filo Pastries (only heavier) and they fry them in butter (not so healthy – but geez they tasted good). So after lunch we decide to head back to the camp grounds for a little party nap (I think I passed out). But after a couple of hours rest – we are back into it. We head up to the Restaurant / Bar area in the campground – and yes it’s time for more drinks and some light snacks – what a great day. We hope to keep in touch with Steve and Susan and hopefully meet up again either back in Australia or at one their homes either in California or Hawaii. So off to our next stop – San Quintin.

We arrive in San Quintin at our RV Park – which is in yet another great location, a little bit more difficult to get to, as poor Stubbie needs to go along a dirt washboard road. We are greeted by Felix the owner and muddle our way through booking two nights in his campground. The campground is on the beach – just behind some sand dunes. One of the first things we notice is the the vehicles on the beach. The vehicles that are on the beach aren’t all 4WD’s some are just normal sedans. The sand on the beach is light grey. As yet the water hasn’t been warm enough for either Dave or I to go swimming – but we are expecting it to get warmer as we go head further south. It is just great to be able to sit in front of Stubbie and watch the seals and dolphins at play. We spend two relaxing days here – detoxifying.

We have arrived at a place called Daggett’s Camp located at Bahia De Los Angeles which is situated on the Sea of Cortez where the desert meets the deep blue sea. It is just a spectacular arrangement of islands on a deep clear blue carpet. It is just absolutely beautiful. At a $100 peso a night (around AUD$10) you get a view that is out of this world, however there is no electricity, water, sewerage etc… Our first day here we catch up with a German couple (Helga and Helmuth) and a Swiss couple (Jonas and Sylvia). We invite them over for a drink and to say hello – well after our beer and wine are depleted it was time to say good night. They have both bought their campers over on the ferries from their homeland. One thing we are learning from people we speak to from Europe is that Stubbie will be too big to take to Europe. Actually now that we are here – probably a bit big for Mexico – given the width and conditions of the roads. The best thing about this campsite, apart from the view is the fishermen who come to your campsite just on dark to sell the lobsters they have just caught. Their lobsters are bigger than our biggest pot…. So we had to buy the smallest Lobster for less than $20 and really squeeze him in – minus a few of his claws and legs. We are surviving….
These lobsters are the biggest lobsters that I have ever seen – and boy they sure taste good.

So after a couple of nights at Daggetts we go over to our European friends to say goodbye and we find out that we are all heading to the same campground in San Ignacio. So we arrive at what we think is going to be a great site to get some water, empty our tanks have electricity and most importantly to have access to WIFI – our access to home. We do hate not having any access to the outside world – but I’m sure with all the lobster, corona and beaches we will get used to it. Well we arrive at the site “Rice and Beans RV resort” and we see our friends from Germany, who let us know that that the WIFI is not working and after looking around that was the only benefit to this campsite, the sites are not far from the highway and they are down in a ditch. After Helga (in German Spanish) and me (in English) try to ask the owner to let our friends from Switzerland know that we are moving on (to a B&B which he tells us may have WIFI) we get in our campers and head on. Well about 50 metres down the road we run into the Swiss couple who have already checked out the place and have found the best campsite to stay in – no WIFI, water, electricity or dumps – but definitely looks the best. Of course we now have a problem we have hardly any water in our tanks – we have plenty of bottled water for drinking. So we ask the owner of the new campsite if he knows where we can get some water and after Jonas having to help with the language barrier – in hops in Stubbie and directs us to his house where he passes Dave the hose over the fence. His name is Manuel (like from Faulty Towers) we ask how much for the water and he says it is free – we ask how much he pays for it and he says $100 peso a month (a little over AUS$10) – so we give Manuel $100 peso and he his very happy. Our Spanish is getting better we now know that the road sign “No Tire Basura” – does not mean no tyre service – it means No littering.

21/11/2008 - Mulege. Back on the road again to drive to Mulege - were we can get WIFI access. I left Dave alone for 5 minutes and he went and bought 3 loaves of bread. I thought he was doing really well - until I tried one of the breads and it was full of green chillies - the Big Fella thought he'd ordered one with cheese - back to the Spanish for Dummies CD for him.

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