It took over four months, but we finally did it. We crossed the border into Mexico. Yipee!
There was some last minute shopping we had to do on our way from Orange County to the Tijuana crossing. I needed to buy a new end for my swing arm, the two nuts and the stopper used to adjust the right side of my rear tire and chain tension disappeared a few days earlier – a consequence of the constant vibration the KLR suffers from. We also needed a few last things from REI.
We crossed the border in the early afternoon. If we hadn’t known we needed to get a tourist card, we wouldn’t have even had to stop. We did stop, and queued at a tiny office to fill out a form and then pay $25 or so each for theÂ privilegeÂ of being allowed to visit Mexico for 180 days. They could not give us our Temporary Vehicle Import Permits (TVIP) there (we would have had to drive to a different border crossing), and as we were afraid of losing light, we decided to wait until we got to La Paz to worry about getting the permits.
Our first stop in Mexico was with a Couchsurfing host in Ensenada. Once over the border, it was immediately apparent that we were in Mexico, the roads narrowed, the houses were perched precariously on the hillsides, and as we made our way to the toll road, we were rewarded with glimpses of palm covered umbrellas on sandy beaches. Things are generally less clean and modern, but filled with the kind of character you struggle to find in the rest of North America.
The ride to Ensenada along the coast was very nice, and we eventually rode up a very steep hillside and navigated the street-sign-less roads to find ourselves at the home of Fabricio and Carlos.
These two great guys live in a house high on the hillside with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the whole city. The city was alive with excitement the night we arrived, because Tijuana had won the Mexican soccer championships. The main road was filled with honking cars and trucks, and packed with people celebrating. Fabricio and Carlos introduced us to the ubiquitous Taquerias. They taught us how to order from theseÂ taco stalls where you stand at the bar, eat what you want, and then pay for what you’ve eaten. The counter is filled with condiments, salsas, limes and radishes, which you are encouraged to use to customise your food. At about a dollar a taco, this is a delicious and economical way to eat.
The next day Fabricio took us to visit a sailboat owned by his boss.
Later we went horseback riding at the local ranch the guys work at. The horses were more boisterous than we were used to, but we had a lovely ride through the vines to end up overlooking the ocean.
Ensenada, Fabricio and Carlos in particular, was a perfect introduction to Mexico. As feared, our grasp of the Spanish language is tenuous at best, however the feeling that we are now REALLY on an adventure has been with me since the moment we drove into the country.