This is incredible. I’m finally on the road today.
After a couple weeks in San Diego and with the bike serviced, better packed and feeling good, I set out on the road. Leaving San Diego after spending time here getting my motorcycle its 12,000 mile service, new tires and further adjustments to the shock and suspension. A trial run yesterday felt great and the bike seems better balanced, smooth and very confident. Over the last week I’d been in touch with Sacha a fellow GS rider who is on his <a href=”http://www.vidaaventura.com/” target=”bloglink”>own journey</a> and heading to Argentina. We hooked up on the Horizons Unlimited website for adventure motorcycle travelers. He left Los Angeles in May and after riding to Prudhoe Bay and spending time in Alaska he had a mishap with his bike which sidelined him for a month or so. We connected in San Diego and after spending half the day running around, we crossed the US-Mexican border at Tecate.
Border crossing are always interesting and fun. Here in Mexico the drill is fairly simple, but time consuming and can be costly. For anyone taking a motor vehicle to the mainland a temporary import permit is required. This costs about $30 and must be paid on a credit card, which also serves as a guarantee in the event the vehicle doesn’t leave the country, the Mexican government will levee its duty on the credit card. Secondly, a tourist permit is required. Here we filled out paperwork on one side of the street, had to walk to the other to pay the fee and then return to our origin to have the permit stamped “official”. I counted 6 or 7 rubber stamps for the tourist visa and the motor vehicle permit had equally as many.
I last rode through the Guadalupe Valley which lies south of Tecate and Northeast of Ensenada in November 2003. A burgeoning wine region is taking shape and the rode, Mexico 3 is now called Ruta de Vino – or the Wine Road. Crossing the border at nearly 2pm we had burned enough time so wine tasting and touring was out of the question. Sacha and I burned through the Route 3 and landed in the mess of Ensenada.
Loud music pumps out of disco’s, shoe stores and titty bars. Classic drunk dungeons of Papa’s & Beer and Hussongs Cantina each have a separate store fronts simply for branded clothing and merchandise. Mariachi bands, some sporting nice shiny shoes and neatly pressed colorful uniforms, others look like the just came off the panhandle circuit of North American cities, roam the streets pitching La Bamba, La Cuckaracha and other gringo favorites. Heat rises from the pavement as we slowly meander the streets.
Finding parking just for a quick taco or two turns challenging. Colored curbs of green, white and yellow confuse us and soon I’m feeling that we should be out of this city and be making our way to San Felipe. But with the sun rapidly descending into the Pacific Ocean we agree that crossing the Baja Peninsula to the east coast is not in the cards. Yet with our bikes loaded with gear, some secured and some items like duffels and tank panniers are unsecured and a bit vulnerable. Looking for a room with secure parking and a view of the bikes that is within our meager budget proves to be our next challenge.
We settle on the Hacienda Hotel just on the outskirts of madness central. With only one king-sized bed, a mirror on the ceiling, mirrors on two walls and a mock fireplace of marble tile, and the Hacienda Hotel logo screen printed on the pillow cases and sheets we wonder what goes on here. We flip for the bed but after a night crusing through town we both crashed on differnt sides of the bed; each hanging precariously to our own perspective edges. This particular room appealed to us simply for the off-street parking, a premium and rare in downtown Ensenada, Good god. The first night I met this guy and we slept in the same bed. This is hilarious. What do the neighbor’s think?
But we’re secure and happy to be on the road again. In Mexico.