The following are some observations from an aborted trip which started on 18 July
2001 and ended the next morning.
We had planned to explore the mid-peninsula area roughly around Calmalli,
Mision Santa Gertrudis, Sierra San Francisco, Santa Marta, Bahia San Juan
Bautista, and the coast southward over a five-day period in a 95 Toyota
4-Runner. Unfortunately, a bad throttle position sensor forced us to turn
around four miles north of Cataviña.
Gasoline - No problem getting three full cans (18 gallons)
on my roof rack across the border. However, I have read that it
is illegal to carry full cans into Mexico. Therefore, I do not
recommending trying this. No Rojo was available south of
Maneadero. If you want Rojo in your extra cans and you plan to
turn off the highway north of Guerrero Negro, as we had planned
on doing, fill your cans in Maneadero.
Beer - We paid around $4.50 for a six pack of Pacifico cans
twice, once in San Vicente and once in El Rosario. A six pack
of Negra Modelo bottles was around $6.50 in both places. This
is a far cry from the $4.00 a case plus $1.00 a case deposit we
used to pay in the mid-80's for Pacifico and Corona.
Checkpoints - Going south, we encountered checkpoints
south of Maneadero (permanent and joint PJF/Army checkpoint) and at
San Agustin (Army checkpoint). We were waved through south of Maneadero and
searched for five minutes at San Agustin. Going north, we encountered two
open checkpoints. The San Agustin checkpoint had just closed down as we
were coming through (around sunset), so we weren't stopped here. We were
searched for three minutes at the Maneadero checkpoint by PJF agents. And
we were searched for about 15 minutes at the Rosarito toll booth by a young
army soldier. In both cases heading north, I took the advice of a previous
writer who recommended that travelers display a family picture in plain view
of the inspectors. So I hung a (recent) 5 x 7 wedding picture containing my
wife in a wedding dress and myself in a dress Navy uniform. The results
were mixed. In the case of the Maneadero checkpoint, as soon as one of the
PJF agents saw the picture and asked me a few questions about my rank and
what I did, he called several agents over. The stern faces were quickly
replaced by smiles. The agents never finished the inspection, and we were
on our way about one minute later. Just the opposite happened at the
Rosarito toll booth. As soon as the soldier saw the picture and asked what
I did, he snorted with contempt and arrogance and drastically slowed down
his search speed while increasing the thoroughness of his search.
Crossing the border northbound - For years, I have taken
the eastern approach through the Rio Zone when coming north at San Ysidro.
It now appears that it is faster, at least in the middle of the night around
1 am, to take the toll road all the way to Playas de Tijuana and approach
from the west. On that side, cars were only waiting around five minutes to
cross. Having taken the Rio approach, we waited 30 minutes to cross while
dealing with several attempts at cutting in front of us. In one instance, a
Sentra got about an inch from my truck, and my passenger had to reach out
and fold the Sentra's driver side side-view mirror in to avoid scraping. A
verbal exchange ensued with the Sentra driver repeating several times, "No
toucha my car."
In summary, we are anxious to go back. The second half of 2001 will
probably be the last chance we get to take a serious Baja trip for the next
four years as we will soon be off to lovely Newport, Rhode Island.