Monday, March 3, 2014

Baja Ramblings...

The Transpeninsular Highway
I am ever so thrilled to be traveling the Baja peninsula. The landscape is very different than I imagined. The peninsula is mostly desert, with an abundance of cacti, bordered by endless miles of blue water, the ocean to the west and the sea to the east. There is basically only one way down and one way up, the Mexican 1 Transpeninsular Highway. Another surprise to me was how well it is paved and how much work is constantly being done on the highway. Granted the roads are extremely narrow, with little to no shoulder, but most are freshly paved.  We have had a few detours, here and there, where we traveled a mile on a dirt road because of the repaving, but the amount of money they spend on infrastructure was quite a shock to me.  Unfortunately, Bill says, it still is the worst driving he has ever had to endure and it’s really taking its toll on him. He compares driving here to his worst day ever driving in the states – but here it’s constant. The narrowness of the roads coupled with the big trucks whizzing by and even passing you, is really what bothers him the most. Yesterday was the first day we drove any distance on a Sunday, and even though it was through the mountains, it was noticeably easier on him, because of the lack of truckers. We’re going to try to plan so that the majority of our driving is on a Sunday, if at all possible.

The other interesting thing about traveling through Baja is that the road is constantly shifting from east to west and back again. There are a couple of side trips you can take off of the main highway and lots of dirt roads, if you have a vehicle that can handle that, but for the most part we are staying on the main highway.  Baja is separated into two states, Baja California to the north and Baja California Sur to the south; the border is just north of Guerrero Negro.

Contrary to what we have been led to believe over the last few years, we have not seen any roaming bandits or false checkpoints. Every now and then we will come across a military checkpoint that is very official, and most of the time we have been waved right through. We’re sometimes asked where we are heading, where we came from, and how long we intend to be there. A couple of times the "federales" (police) will come on board and take a quick look around – seriously, that’s all they do. Once we had a young guy that opened our pantry door, but that was the extent of it. Not once have we been asked for our passport or visa, and everyone we have met has very been helpful.  That’s not to say that there is no theft here, because there is, and we had been told that in most places you shouldn't leave your stuff out at night or when you’re gone. Such was the case in Guerrero Negro when we got our chairs stolen during the night. Outside of MulegĂ© we met a couple who was traveling with some of the other Escapees, and they had a lot of stuff stolen in Guerrero Negro also, but at a different rv park. They contacted the police and miraculously they found everything, and got it back! While we were parked at the beach we heard stories of motorhomes being broken into and their computers and technology equipment stolen. They didn't bother with the chairs and kayaks outside, they just wanted the electronics. They broke into one motorhome through the screen of their open window and on another motorhome, who’s windows were locked, they pried open (and broke) the door to get inside. When we were leaving for the day Bill was going to close all of the windows and I said – leave them open, I’d rather replace a screen than a door! We ended up putting the extra cow-bells we had on all of our chairs too. This really isn't that much different from certain areas in the states.

We've been pretty lucky with the internet and cell service. We had none while we were camped at the beach and we’re in Los Barriles now and the campground WiFi is only available close to the office. Our Telcel internet on my phone and the aircard are not great here either. Bill’s T-mobile retina iPad is working like a champ, and in fact the only way I'm able to publish this blog is through using his iPad as a hotspot. Our arsenal now is my iPhone with a Mexican sim card in it for data and local phone calls; Bill has a cheapie Mexican cell phone with no data on it, our Telcel aircard and Bill’s T-mobile iPad. We have forwarded our calls from our American cell phones to our Google voice numbers, and that has worked out great for getting voice-mails, but actually using Google voice or Skype for calls hasn't exactly worked like I thought it would, because of the slowness of the internet. I called my daughter and my mother, one couldn't hear me at all, and the other said there was a loud buzzing sound.  I purchased a couple of international calling cards that you use at various Ladatel phone booths that are everywhere and I can call my family with those. This lowers the cost of those calls to fifty cents a minute.  It wouldn't work too well for calling my clients, though, as I usually need to be in front of my computer while talking to them. So far emails have been the main source of my communication with my clients, but this really isn't any different than when I am in the U.S.

I have a great Spanish translator app “iTranslate” that works great and when Bill goes out on his own he takes the iPhone and leaves me his phone in case he needs to do some quick translating. We both really want to take some language classes when we get to Todos Santos.

It’s hard to believe we will have been in Mexico a month on Wednesday, as the time has flown by. Bill is really looking forward to us stopping for a month and not moving when we get to Todos Santos. I hope our camping arrangements work out for that. Originally we were going to be stationary for two months, but we've chosen to stay longer than we had intended to, at a couple of places, one of the great things about our lifestyle.

I keep imaging a life of summers in Tahoe and winters in Baja, but Bill’s not so sure about driving Bebe down here again. He said maybe if we stopped around MulegĂ© and didn't go further south he could handle it. Or maybe we’ll get a place down here and get a small rv for the travels back and forth. Or maybe this will happen at some point in the future, who knows….but I do know that I absolutely love it here and would seriously consider making it our home. There have only been two other places that fall into that category for both of us, with Baja moving in to second place after Tahoe, for me.


  1. I was wondering how the driving was for you two. For a few different reasons, we didn't bring our big rig down to Baja so we are renting homes for the months we are here. After driving all over Baja I'm now kinda glad we left the rig behind due to it's size. For me, I think Baja would be lots of fun to travel in a smaller rig. We are in Los Barriles now in a house just north of the second arroyo. We head back to the states in less than 2 weeks, but sure have enjoyed our stay in Baja. If you have time it would be fun to meet, have a few cervezas and compare notes.

  2. It would be fun! We are at Martin Verdugas in the back by the laundry. Big navy class A. Or we could come meet you. But we only have tonight and tomorrow because I think we're leaving for Todos Santos on Wednesday.

  3. I didn't know you'd found a spot to stay in Todos Santos. Yay, I'll get to see you soon.

    1. Hi Pat - yes, you will probably see me at the end of the week, can't wait!!