Into Mexico

We were waiting for a replacement for something to do with the solar panels we now rely on so we hung out around Yuma @ Fortuna Lake until Thursday.  We took the opportunity to do laundry, get some free wi-fi so the younger kids could view some Brain Pop videos that we use to cover much of their Sciences and Social Studies.  A highlight of our day was to connect over Skype video with our friend & “teacher” April!!

We gobbled down the last of the oranges before going through the California border inspection, gaining an hour (PST), & finished listening to the final CD of Story of the World (vol 2: The Middle Ages) heading for the natural hot springs near Holtville, CA.

Hot Showers @ the springs

Hot Showers @ the springs

Natural hot springs

Natural hot springs

We all took a dip (except Danaka who doesn’t particularly like much in the area of heat) and met a revolving supply of soaking elders fascinated by our travel plans.  So much so that when they were finished soaking they stood around to hear what Everette and I had to say.  It was kind of funny, actually, as if these predominantly Snowbirds were living vicariously through our adventure.  Many of them undoubtedly have their own stories of adventure in their younger years, but they sat like a captivated audience.

Today we meet up with friends we met back in the early ’90’s when we attended the same church in Parksville and both home schooled.  We have much to catch up on, and I’m sure we’ll have lots of opportunities on the Baja over the next few months.  They are Pro’s at crossing the border so we decided to follow them thru: do as they do since they know the ropes. They’ve been spending their winters near Mulege on the Baja since the late ’90’s.  I’m sure they’ve learned a thing or two.

Al & Meralyn (and their friend, Nancy) help us get all the paperwork done regarding our tourist visas.  They cost $25USD each, payable at the Banco in the middle of the whole process.  In other words, you start the paper work at Immigration office, you get some papers you take around the corner to the bank to pay, then return with bank receipts to continue on with paperwork at the Immigration office.  We breath a sign of relief when we walk out with our passports stamped and a tourist visa card that allows us to stay up to 180 days in Mexico.  Ahhh.  That big hurdle is jumped.  Al admits that he is always nervous until he gets the passport stamped.

We follow the Walls out of Tecate.  We all head south to Ensanada but they will go further on without us.

But we don’t even make it to Ensanada this day!  We spot ‘Hot Springs’ marked on our Mexico map and decide to find them.  We make a few stops to seek help before we discover Jonathan Sandoval (who did some schooling in Utah) a security guard at one of the plentiful vineyards in this Valle de Guadalupe.  He draws us a map of how to find the hot springs and off we go before the sun sets.

Jonathan Sandoval

Jonathan Sandoval

We drive thru several vineyards (LA Cetto, La Casa Dona Lupe)

Vineyards

Vineyards

and suddenly end up on a narrow road which if in Canada one would not believe it is leading to a ranch of any sort.   We think we must have missed a turn somewhere but we keep going, over very rough terrain suited for 4×4 (of which our 15-passenger van definitely is not!  We approach a house in the middle of nowhere

Rancho Garcia

Rancho Garcia

which Jonathan sent us to find.  Federico Garcia meets us, correctly comments that we mustn’t have a television, thus explaining the 7 ninos!  Through our poor Spanish and Fedrico’s poor English (tisk, tisk on us since we are in his country) we pay to get through his crude security gate and wade our van through streams and more rough terrain to come to the end of the ‘road’ where we camp for the night in a valley that doesn’t see enough sunshine during the day & gets cold wind in the evening (& all through the night).

Where Spanish & English converge

Where Spanish & English converge

In the morning Mitchell leads an entourage through the hills to scout out the hot springs.  He reports back that about 20 minutes up the trail he found a warm pool Jonathan thought they were a 5 minute walk, Fedrico said 20 mins.  We must be extremely slow walkers (or missed some closer ones?) since Everette and I later discover hot springs 35 minutes from the end of the road.  We skinny dip in the small shallow pool amazed at the little creatures that share the pool with us (a skinny 1/4″ long bright red worm swims along my leg, etc).  Little specks look like fools gold circling us (iron sulphide: marcasite).  Bubbles surface throughout the pool, cool and hot waters swirl together.  Hard to believe we put our butts so close to the vents of the earth’s crust.  It can be a bit unnerving if you think too long about it!  Amazing.

The valley we traverse has walls of birds nests, likely swallows and/or doves as we certainly identify cooing.  Our voices echo and scare the birds into flight.  We see lone cows and an occasional horse.

Everette takes most of the children up to the hot springs in late afternoon after the other family groups have come and gone.  With the road we had traveled being so rough we are amazed at how many people have come to walk to the hot springs on Sabado (Saturday) but most of them in 4×4’s.

Impromptu foot spa

Impromptu foot spa

roaming horse

roaming horse

We head out early in the morning as its too cold to sit around waiting for porridge.  We pack up in the cold while I open a BIG can of sliced peaches to try and appease some hungry tummies.  We head into Ensenada, park and discover Starbucks and a Domingo (Sunday) Market.  Dresses, cowboy hats, maracas, lots of jewellery and ponchos.  We discover where to buy fish tacos of which Ensenada supposedly has The Best.  We try shrimp tacos, too, and everybody enjoys them all.

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Taco restaurant

Taco restaurant

We share 1 Pina Colada and eat the pineapple from the inside of it.  Yum.

pina colada

pina colada

Everette gets a Mexican phone card (that’s all they have, and nothing for wi-fi until Wed), a few groceries and off we go to find La Bufadora, a ‘blowhole’….really a notch in the rock that sprays waves upwards.  When conditions are right it sends a jet of water up to 30m in the sky, drenching onlookers.

Enroute we stop at a roadside market for produce but end up buying a fresh coconut unlike anything we’ve had.

The wife is listening to Barry Manilow when we enter the market, trying to improve her English.  She calls her husband over to help us communicate about what kind of coconut we want.

Our family loves a young coconut….heavy with lots of water and a thin layer of moist custardy flesh.  Husband and wife open it for us, we slurp up the water then they chop open the top and add flavourings……some powdered mix that is sweet with spice, a splash of hot sauce and fresh lime juice.  Talk about Yum!!!  We devour it, thankful we don’t have to share with sleeping Laars (nasty mom!)

Luis

Luis

Juanita & Demarcia (something like that!)

Juanita & Demarcia (something like that!)

Fresh coconut like none other

Fresh coconut like none other

The family shares with us pignoli nuts fresh from a pine tree at a neighbours property.  They just started selling them by bulk recently unsure that anybody would pay such a high fee, but in Canada they are even more expensive and certainly not so fresh.  We end up buying a few dollars worth.  They have fortunately been selling well for this family.

Luis sends us up the road to La Bufadora to checkout a couple of campsites he recommends with an offer to stay for free at his own property that he shares with his mother in a separate residence.

We head out to the blowhole making a few stops at potential campsites.  They want $29.50US and $30US ($10 after we say we are amigo’s of Luis who fixed their hot water last month) but it would put us at the top of the mountain on the open Pacific.  We’ll head back to Luis’ later.

Market

Market

We reach La Bufadora which turns into a street market we end up driving thru, ignoring all the fellas begging us to park in their parking spot for $2, and calls for “amiga, pharmacia?” and “specials for you, today”.

We left the blowhole still dry and venture down the market, in and out of stalls taking in all the colours of blankets, ponchos and dresses, the leather works and interesting foods like fresh potato chips, fish tacos and clams.  We buy fresh strips of donuts and pure organic vainilla (spelled correctly!) for using later.

The front pot has boiling oil heated by propane flame for cooking the dough.  You can the back pot has dough in it.  The fellow is filling the dough pipe (like cookie pipe) that he uses to pipe in 1 long string of dough into the hot oil.

The front pot has boiling oil heated by propane flame for cooking the dough.  You can the back pot has dough in it.  The fellow is filling the dough pipe (like cookie pipe) that he uses to pipe in 1 long string of dough into the hot oil.

IMG_0124

These Mexican doughnuts are called churros.

These Mexican doughnuts are called churros.

Piping hot

Piping hot

Sprinkled with sugar & cinnamon

Sprinkled with sugar & cinnamon

I buy a poncho of 100% lan (wool) that I’ve been looking for, made in Tijuana.  Today’s deal $20 instead of $35.  We’ve been cold a lot, even here in Mexico.  (In the ’80’s I was in ie. mountainous, interior Mexico and we had snow!)

We arrive back at Luis’ place as it falls dark, reminded that soon it will be the shortest day of the year.  It is just approaching 5pm.  We park down by the beach on a flattened spot where his rental house will go next month.  There is water for washing and power (we don’t need) at a pole.

We look across the bay at Ensenada, lights flickering on the coast.

Luis speaks English well learning it via living this close to the USA border all his life.  His 2 children are learning English at school.  He is interested in sharing his property & his knowledge of the area with us.  No holding back.  These are beautiful people.

Our experience in traveling has always been people with big hearts…..often those with less ‘stuff’ have bigger hearts.  Seems like an oxymoron, but thats the way of life.

VIEW FROM OUR KITCHEN

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2 thoughts on “Into Mexico

  1. Pingback: Hitting Vendors on Our Way Out | Acrobatic Thoughts

  2. Pingback: Country & Teens with a Camera | Acrobatic Thoughts

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