Beautiful Baja and a whole New Year
2023…sounds almost futuristic to my brain this morning, back in the 1980’s we might have thought we’d have flying cars by now! Ha! But we have those hand held computer devices called cell phones, not sure some days if they are a blessing, or a curse. Sure enough, Mexicans drive and text as much as American and Canadians do! PUT it DOWN! Ha!
The incoming rain seemed to keep the New Years fireworks at bay, or maybe I just fell soundly asleep, it’s good to get all these holidays out of the way, until Easter, we’re good! We had a wonderful washing tub bonfire and tamales with tomatillo salsa with our neighbour John, what a wonderful way to end the year!
Our trip down from Santee was uneventful, always a good thing, I had forgotten how windy highway 94 was to Tecate. Groot looked up at me at one point and burped on one of the really winding sections, I thought about getting the roll of paper towels out from behind the seat but he was just exclaiming his stomach upset, thankfully no more;) Thems tough cats! Why Highway 94 to Tecate and not the Tijuana border you might ask..well, it’s the xray machine. Not that we are smuggling contraband South of the border but as a RV/Trailer you have to go through where the buses go, far right lanes, them disembark after being ushered onto a platform where a large rolling X-ray machine scans for weapons I imagine, ammunition, canons…ha! It means taking the cats out of the truck and into a small area with a shield against the X-ray…53 lbs. of cats. It’s was one thing with the three Burmese brothers that in their totality all together didn’t even hit 18 lbs on the scale. Easy to lift and transport, not our current three, last time I thought the carrier might explode under their weight, and we had to go through twice, my box of triple AAA batteries came up looking like bullets I think. I had to go on, show her, the customs/x-ray operator lady what they were, take them off, and then they put us through the machine again…so, yeah, Tecate.
The border crossing at Tecate is two lanes. The Americans take your picture as you’re leaving, the military waved us over as we approached. A impeccably clad young man in uniform breathed a sigh of relief and smiled widely as we started to speak Spanish to him, his English wasn’t so good he said. He revised our passports, checked the VINS on the truck and trailer. He had me open the door of the trailer and said to accompany him in (maybe so they would not be accused of removing or placing anything there?) he asked if we had any cigars or cigarettes, or alcohol. I told what we had, a bottle of Sake for a gift, he looked in the fridge and asked why it was taped shut. I laughed, to keep everything from falling out, as he opened it he laughed as well, as things fell out, he apologized, I said not to worry “Imagínate el desparrame por todo el suelo después de varias horas de viaje!” (Imagine what it could look like after various hours of traveling!) He laughed as I taped it back up. He looked in the outside compartments, then made sure I locked them and wished us a very good day:) We headed South towards Ensenada. It always feels like I’m going home here. I assured him we were not smuggling Canadians down to Mexico in the front, no matter how hard our friends begged us to, after he asked if he could look up front where the slides are closed. “Not without opening all the slides and stopping traffic!” I told him, “Just a bathroom and bed!” He smiled and chuckled.
The hills were dry, typical this time of year and the new road from a few years ago still in very good shape and we remarked on the new wineries and restaurants as we passed them in Valle de la Guadalupe. Then down the hill to Ensenada and South. The baches, or potholes were much better on the one, a few swerves here and there to avoid the manholes, always an issue and we finally pulled into Estero. The guard at the front knew we were coming and our friend Danny met us and waved us on, go to your spot he laughed, and we did. Mike lined it up perfectly first time and we were set!
People often ask if we are at an RV park in Baja, the answer is yes, and no but sort of. These homes along this small red brick paved road started out as trailers as early as the 50’s, some gradually had homes built around them, others are still a trailer, inside a home, yes, a home built around a trailer, an old 1960’s solid as can be trailer, but the trend is towards bigger spaces. These lots, where the trailers have been removed, or the old covered trailers/small houses taken down, all have water (not potable but no longer salty, it is city water now and thankful we are!) power (110 only) and sewer hookups so we have everything we need and we’re graciously allowed back this Winter by the Estero Beach Hotel and Alexa that runs this area of “permanentes”. There are a few other trailers scattered about the hotel grounds here but they tend to be permanent, we are the only obvious trailer on this little lane, you get to the beach and estuary behind me. So glad we got the chance to spend a month here! It’s busy now with New Years but we’ll be back to quiet next week! It is the low season for themYou can see our trailer nose sticking out at the very end!
…and yes, we went pretty much straight to the hotel restaurant after plugging in, Mike’s hollow leg was calling for food! The new chef/manager in charge has done quite an amazing job, the presentation was spectacular, the food was delicious, not only gringo fare (Ok, there are hamburguesas and club sandwiches for the gruñone gabachos, gruñone being grumpy, gabacho is a slang word with its etymological roots in the Castilian slur for a French national, so old grumpy white guys;) Ha!) Several of the staff recognized us, “What no apples?”they asked. Several years ago we had brought bags and bags of them from the ranch. Best apples they had ever eaten they exclaimed! Me as well! They laughed, ni modo, welcome back!
Most of our time here is spent deciding on what to eat, or most likely what kind of taco does Mike want for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He vowed not to cook for a month but our wonderful neighbour one door down John, bought a lovely Mexican turkey and we agreed to make it an after Christmas feast complete with mashed potatoes, wild rice stuffing, cranberry sauce and the best part…gravy, and cake. Sadly, we dug in so quickly I didn’t think to take any photos of the deliciousness in front of us, a sign it was very tasty, but I do try to get those taco shots!
Tacos El Poblano. This gentleman had been here for well over the fifteen years that we have been coming to Baja. He puts his tacos together with the amazing grace and expertise of a dancer, adding the charcoal grilled meat right off the fire then chopping it on his well worn oak block, adding chopped onions, cilantro, a splash of red salsa as well as guacamole and a drained spoonful of beans simmering on the grill…that is con todo! The tortillas, corn, are rolled and placed on the griddle to cook in front of you. Heaven. I am going to ask if I can video him assembling one because it is so wonderful to watch! Here it is! He said yes!
Tacos y Mariscos Lupita! https://www.facebook.com/tacosymariscoslupita/ This is our go to fish taco stand on the Carretera a la Bufadora, Maneadero and they have expanded with more seating and the ladies now come to take your order, better distancing that way they said. The fish and shrimp tacos are sublime, they now offer pulpo and marlin (grilled octopus and shredded smoked marlin) as well. Their caldos, especially the camarón (shrimp) soups are so very good and their tostadas are exquisite! All with a smile, so nice to see the same lovely ladies here!
El Rey de Tacos…my favourite taco stand. There is something about the thin little pieces of grilled charred pork, marinated in adobo with a pineapple on top, juices dripping down to flavour the meat that makes my heart sing. It has the best tacos adobada as well asada (beef) cabeza (head meat), tripa (intestine) and buche (pork stomach)…I noticed sesos isn’t offered anymore (brains) zombie tacos;) They are on José Mariá Morelos y Pavón just after the dip on the right:) The tacos are small, three bites, you can eat a few, and not hard on the pocket book at 15 pesos each, 75¢ lunch for two is usually under $5. Also run by a lovely lady who always is ready to smile. But don’t stiff her, I saw her go after a guy who walked out last night without paying, she’s fierce!
The joy of the hotel restaurant is being able to walk home, along the estuary after enjoying a wonderful meal, and watching the sunset, or at lunch, the sea lions on the sand bar and the pelicans flying by, or diving for their own meal. But that is a whole other blog! I have been told it’s lunch time and Mike is scratching his head as to what kind of taco he wants today…I am going to explode before we leave, I’m sure of it! Ha! Saludos amigos, stay tuned for some of the wildlife and other adventures coming very soon!