Full post: http://www.wideanglewandering.com/20...-ensenada.html
Forbidden Cargo by WideAngleWandering, on Flickr
The past few weeks were a blur of walking around town, eating in cafes and restaurants (a reprieve from my usual camp stove fare) conversations with strangers, oddballs and new friends and finally my escape from Ensenada.
On Thursday, I was sitting in the last table at a bar, listening to the Santana-ish cover band, drinking a beer and wondering what it would be like to spend the rest of my life in Ensenada waiting for auto parts to come in the mail. While I sat and pondered, the waiter came by and asked if I'd mind having some people sit at my table.
Mind? Hell no I wouldn't mind. Please, for the love of your favorite deity or natural process, put some people here. What's the worst that could happen? I have to listen to more advice about giving bribes and finding the best whores in Mexico?
The waiter came back with a group of people, some software developers from a Mexican IT company and a guy from Canada. They were here on business but I kept them distracted from IT talk as well as I could. A few minutes into the conversation and my story, the guy from Canada looked at me and said:
"Hey, are you the guy that George sent those axles to?"
This is how I met Ritchie, a 60-series Landcruiser owner from Canada who happens to be living and working in California and uses the same mechanic that I do in back in the states. George told Ritchie to keep an eye out for a guy in Ensenada with a broke down hi-line 60 and I just happened to be occupying the last table at the bar that he and his coworkers chose. Serendipity.
The following Saturday I joined them for a trip to see the Bufadora (a natural water spout / blow-hole), Ensenada's most famous tourist attraction. I will spare you any photographs. The Bufadora is a carnival of all that is terrible about Mexican culture and tourism, all packed into a small street at the end of Punta Banda. The blowhole does it's job and is a reasonably interesting natural phenomenon but the aisles of cheap Chinese caricatures of Mexican handicrafts, the pushy Viagra salesmen, the awful restaurants and the caged animals subjected to loud club music in those restaurants really turned me off. You can pet a baby tiger, however, and that's kind of cool. I am told the people running the tiger booth are the real deal, genuinely raising money for animal protection, but who knows.
I had fun, but only because I was hanging out with some good people. After we visited the blowhole, we stopped at several beaches along the way. Most of them wanted a ridiculous amount of money to access their beach, so we didn't actually hit the water until the public beach just outside of Ensenada. It wasn't all that bad for a public beach - minimal trash and no touts - but the water is chilly up here and the waves have some energy.
On Sunday I joined Ritchie, Gabby and several others from the software company for a little Labor Day party. Being so close to the border, every three-day weekend in the states brings the bars and clubs in Ensenada to life. The night started off easily enough but ended, several bars later, with me going on drunkard auto-pilot back to my hotel, via one or more taco stands. The smartest thing I did that night was discarding the uneaten bag of tacos on the floor when I collapsed into bed.
On Tuesday, once recovered from Monday's cruda, I walked out on the malecon to photograph the ships again. This time I was ordered off by the security guards for taking photographs that were "too serious." For your enjoyment, I've included the forbidden photo on the cover of this post.
The following Thursday, as I was packing up and preparing to leave town, seeming to have learned a hard lesson about finding auto parts in Mexico, I decided to make one last stab at finding my axles. This time, with the help of the hotel receptionist, I learned that they had been at a local post office for over a week, waiting for me to come and pay the exorbitant import duties.
Once that was sorted, I made arrangements with Monchie Fernandez, champion Baja racer and mechanic, to have them installed. I settled back into the hotel for one more night.
Today I drove back out to Punta Banda, gave the axles to Monchie, and lounged around Campo La Jolla until the job was done. Monchie made quick work of it and by early afternoon, I was free to head up the hill to buy a drink for Baja Doc, who put me in contact with Monchie and was generally very helpful in negotiating the local scene. At Baja Doc's place, I enjoyed the hospitality and conversation with Doc and his Japanese neighbor. I didn't even have to buy him a drink as his box of Pacifico was nearly full.
I really enjoy meeting people who've abandoned or avoided the rat race and this part of Baja is full of folks like that.
After a couple of hours of cold beer, tasty almonds and enjoying the view from Snob Hill, I headed back down to La Jolla to find a camp site for the night, determined not to go back to Ensenada.