Tuesday, January 2, 2007

2nd January 2007 - Guerrero Negro to San Diego

We woke up and had a quick breakfast of yogurt and granola bars. There was a coffee maker in the room so I made some coffee (not so good) and we hit the road headed north. Our plan was to visit Catavina, lunch at Mama Espinosa's, and spend the night in San Quintin. Kelly fell asleep around 10, probably an indication that the New Year's Eve party two nights previous had affected her since the previous night in GN was gloriously quiet.


Just before noon we hit Catavina and pulled down a dirt road north of town to get a closer look at the crazy plants and rocks. Kelly had a great time climbing on rocks while Peter and I finally got a close look at the "upside down carrot" trees-the cirio, and the cardon which look like seguaro cacti but are HUGE. There were actually close to a dozen different types of cacti within a few feet of our car-hopefully we can get back and camp here some time.


We got to El Rosario around 12:30 and eagerly headed to Mama Espinosa's. This time it was fish tacos for me and Peter and quesadillas for Kelly. Peter and I have agreed that we have never had a fish taco that we really liked before but these were great. We also tried once again for "Mexican coffee" and once again were served "regular" coffee with a pitcher of milk. All of the coffee we have been served has been good but not the special brewed-and-poured-with-steamed-milk "Mexican coffee" that we had read about. Sigh. While at lunch Peter suggested maybe we should just make a run for the border. The idea struck me as pretty appealing-we could be back in the USA that night and at Peet's SD again the next morning. We agreed to see how it went since we knew we had a few more military check points to go and the first part of the trip had been very slow. On the positive side, once we hit the outskirts of Ensenada we knew that driving at night wasn't going to be an issue like it was elsewhere in Baja due to the development (lights and the toll highway to Tijuana).

This was actually the emptiest we let the fuel go-getting bolder by the knowledge of where Pemex stations were located for our drive North. We filled up at the station adjacent to Mama Espinosa's and drove on. We stopped only to switch drivers in San Vicente and when we hit the turnoff for the Bahia San Quintin it was still early so we made the decision to press on. We reached the outskirts of Ensenada just as it was getting dark and drove through a see of shadowy dirt as we made our way into town. While leaving Ensenada the previous week, we had spotted a McDonald's so we decided to have a break, go to the bathroom, and give Kelly a break before making the final push to the border and whatever it was that we faced there (the "busiest border crossing in the world"). There was a huge new shopping mall with a brand new McD's, Walmart, Home Dept, etc. We got the Mexican version of a Happy Meal for Kelly (can't remember the name) and ice cream cones for me and Peter. Kelly finished her nuggets and headed for the climbing structure and made friends with a little Mexican girl there. It was with a little sadness that we got back into the car to exit Mexico. This time through Ensenada we drove past the port area so saw where the big cruise ships land-quite a bit fancier than the part of town we had seen on our first stop there. The toll road to Tijuana was just like driving an American highway-wide with lights, reflectors, etc. so we had not trouble with that night driving. Coming through Tijuana we felt a little nervous but it became obvious when we were getting close to the border-suddenly the cars stopped, nearly all had American (California) plates, and there were people walking on the freeway between cars trying to sell caftans (?) and snacks. After about half an hour we made it to the booth of our lane. The immigration official asked us a few questions and even he was impressed with how far we had come "Guerrero Negro, that's a long way away"-and he hears answers to that question all day. It was a little strange for me because he Mexican and even had an accent so I kept staring at his uniform to confirm to myself that he was an American immigration official. Once again there was NO sign of any Mexican government presence at all-we were told we needed to surrender our tourist cards when exiting the country but to whom?

We drove on to our previous hotel in San Diego and even though it was empty now it was more expensive than the previous week but in any case it was a welcome sight. We got a room two doors from our previous room and were able to transfer Kelly from the car to her bed without much disturbance (she reported the next day that she didn't remember it at all). I made a cup of noodles in the microwave and Peter ate a couple of granola bars as we sat in the near darkness and tried to readjust to our by now strange surroundings (i.e. the US).

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