My wife and I just returned from a drive to the East Cape. She had never
driven south of Ensenada [we are from San Diego], and I had never been
past Loreto. My last trip was with a buddy back in 1987. I consulted
your web page prior to going and the information provided was very
Our trip started 5/13/99. Gas was plentiful and the 'rip offs' I was
worried about never materialized. There are several reasons that we did
not suffer any gas station rip-offs. First, the Mexican people, with
few exceptions, are honest. Secondly, many of the Pemex stations are
now self-serve. Third, I was pretty watchful for situations where a
rip-off might occur. Even at the notorious Santa Rosalia Pemex, the
attendant was careful to zero out the meter before pumping. On the
subject of gasoline, Magna Sin was everywhere, and there were even a few
places with Premium. Also, a lot of the Pemex stations have been
upgraded and are pretty nice, with nice bathrooms.
The checkpoints were not a problem either. We were waved through three
and "searched" at three [southbound 28th Parallel; northbound La Paz and
28th Parallel]. The "searches" were brief, consisting of the soldiers
gently looking through the car and opening one or two pieces of luggage.
The stops were really no problem at all.
About the soldiers manning the checkpoints: They were all very nice
kids, the oldest being possibly 21 years old. I asked one very heavily
armed young soldado his age and he turned out to be 17. They are very
stern in appearance and they all wear new olive drab uniforms. However,
I chatted with them in my pidgin Spanish and they were very nice, polite
and friendly kids. My wife brought her little Pomeranian and when the
soldados saw the pampered, manicured little dog strutting around and
acting fierce, their stern looks would disappear and they would grin and
chatter like teenagers.
Immediately south [about 1 minute's ride] from the checkpoint at the
28th Parallel is an agricultural inspection station. They will charge
10 pesos or $1 for spraying the underside of your vehicle.
On the road conditions, several places now have topes [speed bumps] but
they are clearly marked for the most part. Northbound Viscaino did not
have its topes marked and they are some big, gnarly topes. Hit one at
more than five miles an hour and you will crack your head on the roof
and probably damage your vehicle. The other big topes were in Mulege,
but were clearly marked. You need to come to a full stop before climbing
over these bad boys.
There were several areas with resurfacing going on: around 140
km south of Maneadero; around 208 km south of Santa Inez; in the
hills south of Loreto; and about 60 miles south of Ciudad
Constitution. Also, going in and out of La Paz is complicated
by some serious construction work without any detours marked.
We just looked at our map and wandered a little bit before
getting into town, and got directions from a female cop on the
way out of town.
There are also a number of areas where new pavement has just been put
down. The roads there are wonderfully smooth, but there are no lines or
stripes down yet.
The truck drivers were really amazing. Their ability to roll those big
rigs through and around the sharp twists and turns through the hills was
something to behold. They were also very polite. We would approach
from the rear and wait for an opportunity to pass. The drivers would
frequently turn on their left turn signal to let us know that they saw
us and that it was safe to pass. That signal was very helpful and
reassuring since we frequently couldn't see whether it was safe to pass.
The truck drivers never let us down and it made the trip far less
harrowing. On the other hand, it was a bit nerve-wracking to have those
monsters roaring at you from the other direction.
We stayed at La Pinta in Santa Inez the first night, Hotel Perla in La
Paz the second night, and made our destination [Hotel Punta Pescadero
near Los Barriles] easily on the third day. After several glorious days
there, we started home on Wednesday, May 19th. We stayed at La Pinta in
Loreto on the 19th, Molino Viejo [Old Mill Motel] in San Quintin on the
20th, and got home in San Diego by about 1pm on the 21st. The La Pinta
Hotels were in the $60-$70 range and just fine. The Hotel Perla was
overpriced at $80, but the location made up for it. The Old Mill Motel
was the least expensive with rooms from $34 to $60. It is an eccentric
place, but does have its charms.