Thought we would share a little of our trip with you and the
folks as we have received so much help from this site.
We crossed the border at TJ and pulled into the "To declare" area,
parked the truck, and with some help found the migracion office.
They stamped our cards with no problem. (Good thing too,
because the Ensenada office was closed when we arrived there).
We got our tourist cards at our local AAA office. This was on a
Sunday which we found was the best day to travel the northern
section. Much less traffic then returning on a Thursday. We
encountered heavy traffic from San Quintin all the way to
Ensenada coming home.
The following are where we encountered Inspection Stations.
- Maneadero - searched both ways
- Catavina - searched both ways
- Punta Prieta - searched both ways (They seemed nervous)
- Guerrero Negro - searched on the way down, not back
- San Ignacio - north only briefly searched
- North of La Paz - searched both ways
It should be noted that only at La Paz and Punta Prieta were the
searches "thorough." Also, we drove an open bed truck with two
large lock boxes. Toys, coolers, gas cans, etc., were left out
and covered by a tarp with bungees. I suspect we were searched
more because our contents were not visible.
The road was in reasonable shape with the exception of the following;
- El Rosario to Catavina - lots of small potholes
- From halfway out of C. Constitucion to 30 miles from La Paz - NASTY section
of 20 miles or so.(They were SLOWLY filling them)
- They are building rain culverts through the mountains in and around San
Bartalo to Los Barriles. LOTS of stops.
Gas was available everywhere. El Rosario has a little rip off
scam going on. We do not speak Spanish, and they saw us coming.
They tell you to prepay at the window. My wife sat in the truck
watching the meter carefully while I went and gave them a 500 peso
bill (I needed 20 gallons). Went back and the attendant filled up
the tank which stopped at 378 pesos. My mistake was I was nervous
and this was our first stop. I was concentrating on too many
things at once. When I got my change, it was the first time I
had to do the math. I got frustrated and did not realize they
had shorted me 50 pesos ($5) until we left. My advice to other
non-Spanish speaking travellers is - There are plenty of
stations. Don't worry about getting your tank TOPPED OFF.
Decide on what you think you will need and give them ONLY that
amount saying "solamente doscientos ($200 pesos)" etc..
found with a little practice we could estimate fairly close to what we needed
and didn't give them a chance to confuse us. Maybe we had to stop once or
twice extra on the trip but we never got ripped off again. (Can't say if their
accurate - but then EVERYONE IS GETTING IT THEN).
The Green Angels were evident only 3 times on the whole trip to
Punta Colorado. I would not recommend putting a lot of faith in
their help - but who knows. This of course was our first trip,
but I did do one thing right. BROUGHT LOTS OF REPAIR STUFF.
Needed a belt for my truck, duct tape to help out a gringo, my
air compressor and a hammer to help an elderly couple with their
tire problems. (She had taken her eyes off the road for a
"second," gone off the road and completly shreded two tires --
THE REPORTS ARE RIGHT - if you can't concentrate don't drive
We definitely underestimated how far we could go in one day. The
AAA book advised estimating at 40 MPH. Reality was that we
could easily do 350-400 miles in one day. Our goal was Baja
Sur, and if that is most peoples goal, plan on one stop between
the border and Loreto. Face it, there's not much to see south
of San Quintin until San Iganacio.
Speaking of San Quintin, reports are correct about the crime. Seems this
is the poorest around, which leads to theft. We stayed at the La Pinta who
have now posted a security guard in the parking lot (some nights if he
shows), as the locals walk the beach and "raid" at all hours of the night.
The desk clerk was quite serious about where and how we parked our truck so
he could see it from the desk. No problems were encountered. We personally
were disappointed with the Old Mill. Meals were expensive and not that good.
We didn't find the great deals of the old days. Even the local mercados
offered little savings. We were able to still find GOOD food at reasonable
prices and if you're willing to return your empty beer bottles, the
DEPOSITOS are the way to go for your cervesas.
For those like us who have many dreams of the Baja, doing the trip will open
your eyes to its many splendors and disappointments. We will certainly