Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Great Move South: Part 2

I have driven in Mexico before, quite a bit actually, but never loaded to the gills with everything I own near and dear to me along with hubby and daughters. We chose our route for two reasons in particular. Driving down the Baja is fairly safe due to the high tourist traffic and the fact that it doesn't connect to any destination for drug trafficking like the interior routes do. And lastly, my husband has never gotten the opportunity to travel around and explore his own country and I wanted to take him to Cabo San Lucas for a mini vacation while we were traveling.

It was pretty easy to find our way out of Tijuana, just follow the signs for the next coastal tourist town, Rosarito and then Ensensada. My biggest fear was how we were going to circumvent the collapsed highway without losing too much time. It is always a test of character when something happens, and it always will, no matter how much careful planning you do. The rule in Mexico is that you stick to the toll roads or cuotas and never drive at night. We were lucky to only hit one toll booth the whole length of Baja California and Baja California Sur. I hadn't realized previously that it is divided up into two different states. The distance from Tijuana to Caba San Lucas is approximately 1631 km/1013 miles and takes approximately 20.5 hours to drive according to Mexico's version of MapQuest. I use this website for EVERYTHING related to travel in Mexico because I know the distance between toll booths and have much it's going to cost me in addition to gas and food and lodging which can add up over several days. The first day driving in Mexico was very uneventful. We didn't get on the road until just before 3pm, we think. We could not figure out what the current time was for the entire trip. Our cell phones never updated no matter how many times we turned them off and on. Our GPS would give us the time of our approximate arrival but we couldn't tell what time it was basing that off of.

We stopped for street tacos not long after we got on the road. Our first street food and it was pretty good. The first thing you have to learn about street food is that it's not sanitary 99 times out of a 100. There are no hand washing stations or clean rags. It is open air which means anything in the air can get into your food and it will just get mixed right in. They'll take your money and give you change with the same hand that reaches in to grab your food. So you have to choose early on; delicious and unsanitary street food or expensive packaged food with little flavor. I like to live on the edge so street food it is!

Our first day on the road in Mexico and we broke the cardinal rule of not driving after dark in Mexico. Your nerves start to get a little on edge because you're never sure what's around the next corner, a huge pothole or armed men. There are lots of military checkpoints on the highway where you are stopped, they asked you what you're doing, where you're headed, why, why, why. Jose casually says we're on vacation?! while the van is obviously loaded with everyone we own. Sometimes they ask us to open the doors and peek in at the girls and two yapping dogs that don't like having their privacy invaded.

We checked into the Baja Cactus Hotel about 10:30pm at night and pulled our van into their closed parking lot. We got a gorgeous double room upstairs for only 500 pesos along with a refundable 200 pesos dog deposit as long as they didn't get on the beds. This place was hands down gorgeous and completely in the middle of nowhere. The dogs immediately peed on the stone tile floor...
We were up bright and early the next day in an attempt to make up for lost time. I had already made reservations for two nights in Cabo at the Cabo Inn Hotel and if we didn't make it tonight, we forfeit a night's cost. Driving down the Baja is long, drawn out, and not a lot between Point A and Point B. You had to make sure you gassed up the vehicle when you had the opportunity. More military retens. We finally reached our original first night goal of Guerrero Negro and stopped to fill up the gas tank and find some food. After driving up and down the strip and not finding a lot of places open at the early hour of 1pm, we opted to try out the 40 peso breakfast options. A dismal failure, we paid 60 pesos for a bowl of cornflakes, close to $5. Back on the road with high hopes of finding better food and the highly sought after seafood for Jose.

We finally found seafood in the coastal town of Loreto and Jose was happy with his plate of shrimp. There really wasn't anything else on the menu to order so the girls ate the rice and puree de papa (mashed potatoes) off our plates. I stepped outside to call the hotel in Cabo and cancel our reservation because there is no way we were going to make it all the way before midnight, if that. We decided to try and make La Paz before stopping for the night. Two and half hours down the road, we pulled over and grabbed some hot churros for dessert in Ciudad Constitución. It's nighttime and everything is quiet so we break the cardinal rule again and decide to keep pushing on towards La Paz. It's almost 1am by the time we pull into town and we find a hotel on the road heading south so we can get on the road bright and early in the morning. Jose went inside to book the room and ask about our dogs. The clerk says that dogs aren't allowed but it's okay as long as they stay quiet. We park, unload all of our suitcases and dogs and head for the room. Some gentleman stops us, tells us that dogs are absolutely not allowed under any circumstances, and we're out in the streets again, money refunded.

I'm getting tired and cranky and frustrated. Knowing that we've already paid for the room in Cabo, we decide to risk it and push on to Cabo San Lucas which is about another hour west to the other side of the Baja. The GPS leads us all over town until I find the hotel, right in the middle of the busy tourist zone with loud music blaring and drunk white girls literally stumbling and falling in the streets. The hotel has no parking except for the crowded streets. I knock on the door and wait for the agent to answer the door so that I can inform him we'd like to cancel both nights. We'll still be out one night's cost but we can't afford to park everything we own on the streets and hope it's there in the morning. We spent the next two hours driving around the streets of Cabo trying to find a hotel or even hourly motel that would take four people and two dogs. Some of them won't even let you leave your dogs in the car in the parking lot! As soon as you mention dogs, the deal slams shut. Mexico is famous for motels that rent by the hour...and even those wouldn't take us. I even called one hotel that was listed on the internet and a sleepy lady answered and proceeded to berate me for calling at two o'clock in the morning! Everything coming up on my Google search were the super expensive hotels by the beach and in my desperation, we finally headed in that direction in hopes that we could sleep in one of their parking lots until morning. Finally we found the Fairfield Inn by Marriott and they had a room available and would allow us to keep our dogs in the car in the secure parking lot. We could see the van from our window and it was only $100/night in comparison with the others that charged two and three times as much. We unloaded our suitcases and fell into a deep stupor around 3:30am.

The Great Move South: Part 3


  1. Lol Krystal, see that's why we opted out of the scenic drive down /vacation.. lol I have to say the flight with 2 kids , 2 adults, dog and crate, and 15 suitcases was stressfull enough! Can't imagine hotel searching en la madrugada!

  2. La Paz is hands down one of my very favoritest places in the world. the food, omg the tacos. I need to get back there



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