16 - 30 September 2016 Baja, Mexico

Friday 16th September - Day 9

An exciting day as we started our nearly thousand mile journey down the Baja peninsula to Los Barriles.

We departed Chula Vista to make the 38 mile journey to the border town of Tecate. Travelling on Highway 94 east we went through some lovely countryside with lingering morning mist around the mountains. At Tecate we went to the Mexican border office to get our tourist cards. The same border officer was on duty as the last time we crossed the border in January. He was still selling his bottles of hot chilli sauce. We walked back through the US border control office and handed in our permit to stay in the US card so that they have a record of us leaving the country. The border control officer here wanted to know if we were related to Benny Hill. We got back in the RV’s and entered the Mexican Customs control. After a look at our vehicle registration documents we were soon on our way.

It is Mexican Independence Day and some of the roads in town were closed for processions. There was traffic and lots of people on horseback, quite a lively scene. We eventually made it through town and headed south on Mex 3.

By early afternoon we were in the Guadalupe Valley, the wine growing area. Our campsite for the night was Rancho Sordomudo. The camp is owned by a home and school for Mexican deaf children. The home is run by volunteers and all camping fees go to the school.

Next door was L.A Cetto winery, the largest in Mexico where we went for wine tasting. Being a Mexican holiday the vineyard was very busy.

Saturday 17th September – Day 10

We woke to a misty morning with low cloud over the vineyards.

We set off south to the large town of Ensenada where we threaded our way through the town past numerous traffic lights. Passing the harbor, with a large cruise ship in port, the road ran along a sandy beach. Soon we were on Mex 1 making our way through the suburbs and out of town. The first town we came to was Maneadero, from there we started to climb and had good views of fertile Santa Thomas Valley. We climbed out of the valley and came to our first military check point near the town of San Vincente. We were asked where we were travelling from and to and after a quick look inside the RV we were sent on our way. Peter and Suzy took a little longer as the whole crew of guards had a look inside the RV, just curious.

Further south we went through two lots of very bumpy and very dusty road works.

As we headed for San Quintin the area had large scale agricultural units. We were now running along near to the Pacific coast and caught occasional glimpses of sea.

Fifteen miles south of San Quintin we turned off the road along a sand track to El Pabellon RV Park our campsite for the night. The charge was about 8 dollars or 11 dollars with electricity. We parked next to the beach behind the sand dunes.

There were no other RV’s on the site, just some tent campers. The dogs can be off the leash here and they were loving the freedom. We took a walk on the wide sandy beach with the Pacific rollers coming in.

The day finished with a beautiful sunset.

Sunday 18th September – Day 11

It was a misty morning as we continued along the coastal plain before heading inland into a canyon and then climbing up to Rosario Mesa. Here we went through a military inspection before descending down a steep gradient into the town of El Rosario.

By now Mex 1 had become a narrow two lane highway, 19.5 feet wide, mostly with no shoulder lane and a drop off into the desert. We were reminded of our experience coming back to the US in March. We nearly came off road when our trailer wheel went off the edge and tried to pull the RV with it. Trying to correct this and pull the trailer back on the road caused the RV to sway and it wavered back and forth across the road for some time until Tony got it under control. It was very nearly a terrible disaster. Mindful of this we kept our speed down and stopped or slowed right down when 18 wheeler trucks were approaching. Most of them don’t slow down and only move further aside at the last moment.

Moving into central Baja we motored through uninhabited mountain and desert countryside with some breath taking scenery but definitely no cell phone signal.

On entering the Valle de Los Cirios the landscape changed to large boulder fields with rare cactus plants that are not found anywhere else but here. This is a protected area that feels very un-spoilt with a most unusual landscape, nature’s own cactus garden centre. It reminds me of a set from one of the early Startrek programmes of an alien but strangely beautiful planet.

Our destination was the small town of Catavina and Rancho Santa Ynez. Just past the town we turned off Mex 1 onto a sand track and travelled for just under a mile. The Rancho has a large parking area for RV’s with some shade trees dotted about.

Matilda, our host, cooked a simple meal for us which we eat on a small patio outside the ranch house. I had tacos and beans. We were the only campers and had the place to ourselves.

The rest of the afternoon we sat outside under the shade of the branches of a large old gnarled tree which Sandy decided to climb up to check if there were any critters in the branches.

After a while we heard the thunder of horses hooves. Next thing four cowboys, or caballeros, on horseback came galloping out of the desert brush chasing a steer. They eventually roped it but it was not co-operating and decided to lie down. It was exciting to see some real working cowboys in action.