jenn November 7th, 2014
This post is part of our trip to baja.
If you’ve spent any time researching travelling in Baja, Mexico, you’ve surely run across these “rules”. According to the Internet, if you want to stay alive in Baja, Mexico, this is what you have to do or not do:
1. Don’t drive after dark.
2. Travel in groups.
3. Don’t cross at Tijuana.
4. No weapons (not even a bullet), drugs or anything illegal.
5. Cross the border at in the morning and drive as far south as you can.
6. Do not exit your vehicle before you get at least 400 miles south of the border.
7. Drive on the toll road. The bandits are on the libre.
8. If you are written a ticket, don’t pay the officer (it’s a bribe) for it. Go to the station instead.
9. Don’t drive after dark!
You’ll notice that one and nine are the same. This is because it is a very important rule!
Meet part of our group near the border at 8am (Rule 5). Then, go to the border to meet the rest. Once there, we’d get our tourist card “visas”. Then, we’d drive as far south as we could in the remaining sunlight and find a lovely little place to stay (while following rule 6). We would get off the road before dark (Rule 1 and 9). The next day, we would enjoy a beach sunrise and spend the day driving as far south as we could. Rinse and repeat until we hit Mulege. Fish tacos and cerveza.
What really happened
Our group didn’t get together until about 10am. We all sat outside of a Starbucks programming our walkie-talkies and catching up. It’d had been years since we had seen each there. It was so good to see everyone and talk about the adventure ahead. It was going to be a great trip. We love you Bestest Bri and other guy.
We met up with the second part of our group at about noon at in a parking lot on the US side of the border at Tijuana. The boys walked across the border to get pesos and visit the immigration office. When they returned, they said that the office was closed (or didn’t exist I can’t remember which) so no tourist card at the border. Our friends assured us that it wasn’t a big deal and that we’d pick them up in Ensenada. No worries. OK.
We all got into our vehicles and went across the border, being careful to stay together. The Mexican border patrol had their own way of doing things. They had each one of us pull into separate parking areas in anticipation of a full vehicle search. They searched everyone differently (that’s a story in itself). By the time our van was done, three of our five car caravan had already been sent on their way. Then it was our turn.
With no where to wait for each other near the border, we were thrust onto a fast moving network of roads that had obviously been designed by someone enjoying a plate of spaghetti. Everyone was heading south on their own. Thankfully, we had all turned our radios (walkie talkies) on.
We were able to get Brightest Bri on the radio. Hurrah! We were not alone. We were also able to locate some of the folks that we had joined at the border. But, where was our other friend?!?! He wasn’t with the rest of our group nor was he answering our calls on the radio. I was soooooo worried about him. He said that never drives anywhere, and it was his first time in MX. He was no where to be seen or heard. OMG OMG I knew we weren’t supposed to cross at Tijuana (Rule 3)! We, and Brian the Wise, scanned the sides of MX 1 for our friend’s white Ford van. An easy find for sure.
After freaking out for about 10km, we spotted our friend just as we were entering the first toll booth on the Carretera Escenica. He had pulled over at what he thought was the immigration office where we were to get our “visas” at. We told Festiva Bri we had seen the other guy. And after a bit of driving/radio magic we were together again. Now, the “other guy” had his radio on. All was good. Then, we saw Jesus. He was standing over a bunch of expensive houses on the beach. I have no idea what he was thinking about.