Baja haha XXII Land and sea Training
Land and sea training for (for me) the upcoming Baja HaHa XXII, cruising rally from San Diego to Cabo started this week, on a road trip to Ensenada, Mexico with Captain John as my host. This voyage of discovery was reluctantly blessed by non other than Queen Patricia of the Western Flyer; aka supercargo (real word) and sometimes ruler of all she surveys.
Let’s just say it’s all Captain Johns idea that I accompany him to Ensenada and we’ll leave it at that. Just a quick turn around trip I promise; and be back by Friday, I say. I knew I could pull this one-off but, at the time did not know the how; only the why (to conduct personal observations of land and sea training, of course).
Let me see that iPhone? Busted by a mere text message to John announcing my utmost desire to endure the drive from LA to Ensenada. To give you an idea of the close proximity of Los Angeles to the Mexican border; our road trip began this Tuesday evening, around the LA evening rush hour traffic.
Unbeknownst to me, Captain John had never driven a POV (personally owned vehicle) across the border, so it was a good thing I came along, to sort of show him the ropes. Sometime ago Captain John dropped his boat off at Baja Naval in Ensenada for a bottom job and some other mechanical and cosmetic repairs. If you don’t yet know Captain John then you won’t necessarily get this next line; “I thought it quite odd when he mentioned to me that the Mexicans were in more of a hurry for him to return to his boat; and that it wasn’t him applying pressure for them to get her done!”
Picture above: No, not Mexico but just down the road from us at the beach; vehicle used for a movie shoot, earlier that morning before the voyage of discovery began.
Where to possibly start? The drive, or our first stop for dinner: Kimchee or Imchee or Gimchi is a traditional fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables and a variety of seasonings. Captain John seems to know all the great places to eat. Tonight it was a stop for dinner on the way down, bypassing all or nearly all traffic to a Koreatown on or about vicinity of the freeway and before San Diego. Our Korean BBQ food items were extremely flavorful as I continued seeing more and more side dishes brought to the table, possibly more than Baskin Robbins has flavors. Later on that night my body rebelled, and for good reason. Have you ever tried sleeping on a boat slightly askew? I woke up with my body at a slight list, or lean. When I finally stepped on level ground it took a while to get used to tierra firma.
No not Kimchee but, juevos Divorciado, fresh squeezed orange juice, homemade bread and marmalade.
We arrived after an uneventful border crossing to the Baja Naval boat yard where the boat was suspended high up in the air. Three tolls of 31 pesos to the town of Ensenada. Our only way up to the boat, including Bodie the pitbull was by using an old wooden climbing ladder. Immediately the Captain began noticing a slight rather foul fish smell. I quickly smelled myself and checked the bottom of my shoes, just in case it was me. Can you believe it, (really not surprised) the Mexican marina failed to apply that shore power cord that powers up the batteries, that keeps the refrigerator and freezer alive. This infinitely small error in their ways caused a full melt down of the galley refrigerator that contained, among other things, herring, mackerel, and almost a doughy frozen fish chum and other possibly for human consumption food items.
Did I fail to yet mention that my good friend Captain John is possibly one of the most avid fisherman, this side of the Mississippi?
Three trips down that 15 foot ladder I carried a trash pail full of stinky smelly fish parts to the marinas nearby 50 gallon garbage containers. If I didn’t see it with my own eyes I wouldn’t believe it. Pitbull Bodie followed me up and down that (extremely not US or CAL OSHA or any other safety standards) wooden ladder. Our chocolate lab Lucy or most dogs would receive praises for ther ability to just get on and off the boat while at the dock, with a proper boarding ladder; Pitbull Bodie gets chastised for not going to the bathroom first before climbing back aboard.
Captain John did you yet thank me for let’s see, among other things, guiding you into and through Ensenada, but, most importantly stopping the boat, while we had say, six lines in the water, jumping skip jacks all around the boat, and oh, performing emergency hook removal services on your butt? Perhaps he was in shock, but, no doubt about it this is one tough hombre! Took the hook removal without so much as a shot of tequila.
Picture this, we are the only ones in the boat yard except for a couple sleeping on their 70 or so foot boat directly ahead of us, it is well after midnight and the guard happily lets us into this boat yard. His only request was that we move Captain Johns truck before the workers arrive around seven a.m.; that be less than four hours from the time of our arrival.
Somehow that first night I wish I would’ve woke up with no prior memory of the previous night; somewhat also similar to that Hangover movie. With a full on rumble in my belly from some early extra helpings of Korean Kimchee or Imchee or Gimchi, I must’ve climbed up and down that ladder more than a fire crew in training. My first casualty of the Baja haha land training program consisted of a pair of boxer shorts, quietly discarded, nearby the now discarded fish chum, so as to mask its o d o r s. …. or perhaps it was the Mexican beer consumed while sitting outside Pappas and beer earlier that night? Day one Baja haha XXII land training was deemed a success!
Day two it was one of the most beautiful breakfasts of all time, after a stop at Starbucks and what seemed like hours of conversation with Carlos’ one and two. Two great locals with a wealth of information about anything Ensenada.
The boat launching: Most marinas use a travel lift to transport your boat from the water to the boatyard and back. Somehow today, this important event resulted in a major problem. The travel lift either died or was inanvertently stopped by the operator, causing the boat to stay suspended just a mere foot or two above the water; for what seemed like hours before the motor could be restarted. Captain John was itching to go fishing, he therefore threatened (merrily and joking with the 5-8 workers now all about the travel lift) to pull the pin on the strap supporting the boat and other McGyver type fixes.
By that time the wind kicked up briefly. No problema, Captain John has bow and stern thrusters and is one of the greatest boat drivers and docker that I know. That evening with eggs ranchero still in my full belly we also feasted on one of the best seafood dishes in town. The octopus plate, marlin and shrimp tacos, vegetables, fish broth and a few other side dishes. It was all so good we opted for a return trip on day three. The Mexican beer and what they call michillinda (clamato juice and beer) really does heal all ill.
For a great locals mostly experience in a middle class to upper scale place visit Mariscos de Bahia de Ensenada on your next visit. Day three I woke up to what appeared to be a moving boat. When I looked out of the v-berth hatch we were moving. Captain John shenhied me (honest) to the Todos Santos fishing banks ground and beyond. We would still be out there if those Ensenada restaurants weren’t that good. All day until sundown was spent fishing. The pictures from sunrise to sundown are plenty. 1,000 or more words could not yet begin to describe this amazing experience that in reality will help make me a better Mexican waters boater.
The sea life in the Bay of Todos Santos is but a mere taste of what we expect to see in the
Sea of Cortez. I can now add about ten whales, a dozen yellow tail tuna the size of Bodie passing directly under our boat, jumping skip jack and all other forms of bird life that day. Sad to say the only catch was one rather large barracuda and of course Captain John.
My final day was a road trip out to http://www.ranchossancarlosensenada.com a trip to a hot springs. Not just any hot springs but one of two in the near Ensenada area. Warning, with a capital W. The road to this hot springs is not for the faint of heart. Just when you think you’ve gone far enough, you are no where near, unless of course you’ve climbed that for burros only hill, done several water crossings, past that small Mexican pepper field and nearly bottomed out on a steep roadbed.
I made it back with about 15 minutes to spare to board the ABC bus line (greyhound bus) for 185 pesos (exchange rate of US to Mexico 15.9 pesos) this bus leaves every hour to the border, from 1000 to 1000 p.m. every day. Then I walked across the border and in a large cul-de-sac area is another waiting greyhound. Quick. Where do I buy the ticket? Over there someone says! I run over, hand over my VISA (all I had left was Mexican pesos) and $23.00 US and I’m on the bus for home – LA!
This is your walk from the greyhound bus that drops you off in Tijuana to the US border crossing. Simple, just follow the arrows.
I could and may yet go on and on and on but, I’ll stop this story here and now except for maybe mentioning Captain John’s driving. His Ford 350, diesel turbo truck is not a Baja 1000 vehicle – but, he thinks and drives it like it is.
Ensenada is far safer than walking in most California beach cities, especially after the sun goes down. Everyone we met was very respectful. Music in Mexico only has two volumes, loud and louder.
Captain John fed me well. On our fishing trip my breakfast consisted of plain black coffee, later followed up by a pork rinds, and a healthy lunch consisting of kale salad and Perrier water. Somehow I was never hungry the entire trip. I could not wait for dinner at the Mariscos de Bahia de Ensenada (our now usual, marlin tacos and pulpo (octopus plate).
My Mexican Costco trip is also a new experience. You can also buy tacos in addition to your pizza and hot dogs. All prices shown are in pesos in the store and we found a head cashier named America. Says so on her Costco badge. Captain John thought Mexico was taken and I suggested her parents had great aspirations for his family.
My favorite little Ensenada Seafood restaurant, packed on a Wednesday night with locals. Starbucks are great down here – all of them! Most are much nicer than back home in many ways. Up scale students seem to be using them at all times of the day or night – even around midnight.
When was the last time you shopped at Costco at say 10 p.m. and the Starbucks was still full? Or, the last time you saw someone taking a pit bull into a telephone store or ? Mexican dogs all seem to have jobs and seem to be trusted to behave and First Mate Bodie (she) is one well-behaved dog.
Got my Mexican fishing license for $50.00 US and in less than five minutes and a complete set of charts for almost free. Life is good and somehow it seems maybe just a little better tasting in Ensenada. End of the first phase of my continued land and sea training.
Thank you Captain John!
Ensenada off in the distance.