1300 miles. 4 vehicles. 6 people. 2 dogs.
Ride along with us as we take an overland adventure trip through Baja, Mexico.
Today’s the day. A month of planning, gearing up, packing, anticipating, scheduling, and intense thought and research is about to finally pay off. And today is my birthday to boot! Last night we loaded up the Jeep with all of our supplies and gear and went to bed feeling like children on Christmas eve. This morning we are up early and eager to begin our adventure into unknown territory.
We head to San Diego and stop at a Costco near the border for commission free exchange of dollars to pesos. We decided yesterday to split our cash into half pesos, half American dollars. We also decided to stash different caches of money throughout our gear. Some in our wallet, in our pocket, in our belts with secret compartments, in the rollbars of the jeep, etc. (Remember this note, as it comes into play later in the story).
It is here that we meet up with Medi and Kristen and their two dogs Jasmine and Layla so that we can all cross the border together. These two couples also happen to be the two Jeeps in the group – one white and one black. Light and Dark. Good and Evil. Yin and Yang. Liberal and Conservative.
Having never met before today, no one is sure what to expect, but we and these fellow Jeepers hit it off instantly. After setting up radio communications, securing our tourist visas, and a brief search of the vehicles by the federales, we are on our way.
We will be meeting up with the other vehicles later tonight at perhaps the best restaurant in Rosarito Beach – the El Nido. In the meantime however, we head over to Medi’s sister Bo’s house for a handmade taco lunch. She has a house on the water on the northern end of Rosarito Beach that is nothing short of incredible. Impeccably decorated and designed, this house would rival any house on the strand in Newport Beach (at about 1/10th of the cost). A truly beautiful and marvelous home.
With some time to kill, Medi heads to a local auto shop to get some brake work done, while Vinnie and the girls head to Papa’s and Beer for some sun and cervezas, and to chat and get to know each other better.
We swing by Mexican Wal-Mart for some last minute supplies and a donut from a nearby bakery shop. Warm and incredibly delicious. Reagan and I also pick up a small tent just in case the back of the Jeep proves to be uncomfortable in the coming days of camping. Cost? 190 pesos (less than $20). We head back to Bo’s house to feed the dogs and take in a most spectacular sunset. This photograph is not color filtered – it really is this purple.
We head toward El Nido to meet up with Phin and Sid. But first we stop off to say hello to Bo who is having dinner at the Roasrito Beach Hotel. Dressed in our shorts and travel clothes, imagine our surprise when we walk into a formal, invitation only, being filmed for television wine and food event. Yeah – a little awkward…
Arriving at El Nido, the restaurant is amazingly designed. Old, hardened, and very long cactus shells create multiple lighting and structural features in the ceilings and the walls. A live tree grows in the center of the dining area. Open flame ovens are scattered throughout for cooking meat and making fresh tortillas (which are truly amazing). Medi knows the owner Lupe, and we proceed to check out the parts of the restaurant that are still being developed. An amazing underground wine cellar room, a new dining room, and a back bar area with water features and fish. The ambiance is just incredible. Highly recommend. And the T-bone steak that Phin shares with everyone? Melts in your mouth. One of the best I’ve ever tasted.
After finishing our beers and our margaritas, our bellies full (and after being forced to move off the street so that a military truck with a mounted 50 cal can get to the beach area – yikes), we head back to Bo’s house to sleep for a pre-sunrise departure and the true beginning of our adventure together.
-to be continued-