Mexican Baja and the Abandoned Mountain
Matt's point of view in black // Clo's point of view in pink
I was walking around the block in Tijuana, after parking in the only available spot I could find; a sketchy alley way close to where the hotel was supposed to be located. It reminded me of where Clo and I had meandered during our travels around South East Asia, but I never thought I would park our "house" in a place like this. Anyway, nothing to do about it now. I walked into a restaurant, grocery store and hair salon asking for directions to the hotel we were going to be staying at this evening. Clo was arriving later at night and I got there early, planning for a potentially lengthy border crossing (it took 3 minutes) and wanting to see how the room was (really nice) before she got there.
Meanwhile I was flying to Tijuana from Paris France, the longest trip of my life. The excitement and anticipation was making me count every minute of it... and on a 12 hours flight, that's whole bunch of minutes!!! But after all it was a pretty good flight, I got a little lithium problem with my camera batteries at the check in. I had to upgrade my tickets to be able to board with that much batteries and weight as a carry on. Anyways, just to say that the premium economy of Air France is pretty. The lay over in Mexico City was a bit of a mess but also wonderful because I saved myself 2 cigarettes. They were good. Knowing that I will be on a no-smoking diet as soon I am with Matt again and starting this trip (which I 100% consent to. Saves money and doesn't stink in the car. and many other reasons.) But so those 2 little smokes tasted really good.
After going back and forth along the same street, playing some weird game of "hot or cold" in my broken Spanish, a very kind hair dresser actually walked me to the entrance of the hotel. I didn't see it earlier because the building was undergoing construction and the hotel sign was covered by construction debris; it was really just a small passageway into the center of the building. Thanking her profusely (I hope), I walked in and was very pleasantly surprised. The owner and his staff were very nice, the room was very large and clean, and best of all the wifi was speedy. However, wifi would come after I moved Wilbur to the secured parking (one of the reasons why we choose this place). It was a rather tight fit with Wilbur's considerable girth and length, but no real problem and soon enough I was in the room watching Youtube videos and waiting to head to the airport to get my wife.
Finally landing in Tijuana!! The weather is not too warm, the people are nice and: my Husband is here!!!
We spent one night in Tijuana and left the next morning with a detailed and precise destination in mind; south! But not too far, since we weren't intending on spending much time on the Baja Peninsula. We wanted to get on the east side of the Sea of Cortez soon-ish, but for the first few days we wanted a quiet place to relax, re-pack Wilbur (obviously I could not pack it correctly myself) and let Clo recover from her jet and work lag.
I had spent the last two-plus weeks driving south from Walla Walla. I was mostly by myself, though the last 5 days I spent with family in southern California. It had been really special to see a lot of family that in some cases I hadn't seen for nearly ten years, but I was also quite happy to finally see Clo (we had been apart for more than five weeks) in person and really start this part of the adventure together. We had initally planned to start nearly a year earlier, but as the saying goes, all good things come to those who wait. Right? Or not. Either way, I was very excited to start!
This trip is finally starting, we have been talking about it so much. We are there. Youhou! I don't think I realize just yet. I have been working my ass off the past couple of week at the very intense Cannes Film Festival in France. Seeing so much of friends and family all at once kind of makes you dizzy, you so much want to enjoy every second of it that you never really allow yourself to take a rest. You need to go until the overdose of them (the loved ones) cause you know the next year is going to be pretty much empty of them (the loved ones)... I like writing the Loved Ones, sounds so romantic. And the alcohol, the alcohol is tiring, so much drinking with those French people!! So anyways that's how I landed in Tijuana, a tiny little bit exhausted in a many different ways haha!! But so happy to be reunited with Matt and to start this!!
After a couple hours of relaxed driving (stopping for pictures, urination, all that good stuff) we arrived in the Ensenada area. We initially planned on going south another 15-20 miles to some RV parks where we could hang out and relax. Our main goal for these few days was a shower, bathrooms and wifi. On the drive down, Clo had noticed a couple of very cheap hostels in the southern outskirts of Ensenada and so we decided to stop by and see if they were any good. Lucky for us, the first one we stopped at had a single room in our price range, secure parking (barely; he fit under the gate by less than a centimeter) for Wilbur and seemed really cute and nice. Perfect.
If you don't know about it: IOverlander app is the best. It's with this App that we got our best spots to sleep until now. Campsite or guesthouse or wild camping, they have it all. Pretty awesome. That's how we heard about that place to hang out the first few days.
The next few days Clo mostly slept, we packed up (a few times, with a bit of "discussion" to keep it interesting) Wilbur and decided our general itinerary for the next week. Instead of heading east right away, we decided to go a bit further south to an interesting "abandoned hotel" (but with camping spots that included wifi and showers) and then inland to the Parque Nacional Sierra de San Pedro Martir. One of the traveling companions (she made me promise not to say who) had an intense desire to go hiking in the mountains. To say I was shocked would be an understatement, but I guess it is true that all good things come to those who wait!
About that. I did want to go hike! I know: shocking right! haha. But again, the rhythm I have been having in France the past few month was everything but healthy, I felt like I needed some exercise and fresh air!! And I know Matt loves that kind of stuff (hiking and camping) and what can I say, I am in love with that man and making him happy makes me happy.
After enjoying a couple of days overlooking the ocean at the rather awesomely named La Cueva del Pirata hotel, we started the drive into the national park. All we knew about the park is the entrance fee was a few dollars a day and included camping, there weren't going to be that many people, and it was high (3000m/9000ft high). Oh, and no running water, toilets or electricity. Those last three are no problems for us though, thanks to big water tanks and near endless power via our solar setup. Good ol' Wilbur. We depend on him for a lot.
And speaking of Wilbur, we had our first (second, if you could the tiny collision with a concrete wall a few days earlier... the wall lost) real unexpected issues with our dependable steed. As we were climbing the last 12m/20k of highway (the mountain is 60m/100k off the main road), we stopped for some pictures and noticed Wilbur was emitting some strange noises from under the hood. A bit concerned, I opened the hood and took a look. I'm no super experienced mechanic (far from it), but even my limited knowledge (and ears and eyes) led me to deduce the hissing was coming from one of the rubber hoses. The fluid inside was boiling and the sound was the pressure escaping at one of the connections. For some reason the 2000m/6000ft climb and temperatures exceeding 100f/37c was a bit different than normal operating conditions for Wilbur.
We waited a while and enjoyed the view before continuing up the last few km/miles to the top of the mountain and entrance to the park. What an amazing place! We spent a total of three nights here, and besides the mosquitoes in the morning and evening, I had an incredible time. It was very hot in the day time and quite cold at night, we saw condors, hiked to some awesome viewpoints, visited the second largest telescope in Mexico, I went for a run (not easy) and got really dusty (very easy). I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was also very excited for our stop at the same "abandoned hotel" after our time at the park, where the shower was magical and the wifi didn't work (I guess we can't have everything).
What a first week!! I am very happy we tried different way of sleepy: in Wilbur (so comfortable and warm), in the tent (so spacious) and in guesthouse (so practical to have a bathroom a few meters away!! :p ). We tried our little stove to make tea in the morning , we tried the slow cooker to have delicious pepperoni rice, the fridge is huge and so cold, the solar panels charge so fast. Everything is falling into place nicely. Can't wait to start the way east and south.
Now we head east!