Met Phil at his place just before 8am, September 26. We had originally decided to drive the X5 down, but when we added golf clubs, we decided to take his Suburban. Phil was already packed and ready to go.
We took Riggs to Maricopa Road, then the short cut AZ237 over to Gila Bend. Phil fired up the Suburban once on I-8 and we were in Yuma in no time. Loved seeing the dunes, and then the interesting boulders in the steep mountains before San Diego.
We took I805 south to the border, bypassing the traffic in San Diego, and stopped in San Ysidro for a pit stop at Burger King. We then proceeded south and easily into Mexico. There is a big sweeping right turn just past the border, and then a tighter 270 degree left hand turn that follows the Rio Tijuana first northwest, then parallel to the border and eventually it turns into Mexico 1-D, the road south to Rosarito and Ensenada. We almost took the wrong exit off the turn, but caught sight of another car loaded with bicycles and correctly followed it.
Nice drive south along the Pacific and fairly quickly into Rosarito. We decided to take the toll cuota road into Ensenada, which was torn up in places but probably worth the $7.50 or so total. We laughed at the young kid federalis with machine guns at the toll booths, who waved us through quickly. We decided that we’d been racially profiled.
In Ensenada, we drove past the finish line park just under the huge Mexican flag, then started trying to find our motel, while winding our way down Blvd Lazaro Cardenas. After a number of wrong turns and gyrations due to one-way streets, we finally parked at the Ensenada Inn Motel on Sangines, and checked in.
Rooms were clean and spacious, bed mattresses thin but OK. As a bonus, the room had a kitchenette setup. We had some difficulties getting the refrigerator-freezer running (switch hidden underneath the stove cabinet), but otherwise we were very pleased with the room. I had brought a bunch of fresh fruit (grapes, tangelos, apples), some milk for cereal, water, and fixings for ham sandwiches, so the refrigerator was great to have.
Phil suggested a walk down to the finish area, to scope out the bike ride to/from there, the shuttle-to-Rosarito situation, and the general area. A great idea. We hoofed it back down Blvd Lazaro Cardenas, into the Parque de La Bandera (the ride finish area). The weather was really nice, mid-70s with some lingering ocean fog – we loved it. We crossed a courtyard in front of three gigantic gold-colored heads, aptly named Las Tres Cabezas, with the busts of Benito Juarez, Miguel Hidalgo, and Venustianno Carranza.
We walked a little bit further and spied a lighted row of stalls with a sign, “Mercado Mariscos.” The strong fishy smell opened our nostrils, but the sights there were excellent, with vendors offering a myriad of colorful and odd fishes, shrimps, creatures, and crustaceans laid out on ice-filled tables. I was immediately impressed with the meticulous display of jumbo shrimp, arranged beautifully in multi-layered semi-circles. I asked if it was OK to take a photograph, and the vendor nodded. I’m just about to squeeze the shutter, and one of his friends quietly says, “it’s one dollar.” I pause, look at him, laugh and put my camera away, saying, “OK, OK, no thanks.” He laughs and says, “Just kidding – it’s a joke.” We all get a good laugh while I finally do take a few pictures.
Phil and I then found a bar on the waterfront next to Gordo’s Sportfishing with an elevated patio. It appeared we were the only gringos there. We sat out on the patio and started in on a few cold Coronas. The friendly waitress brought chips and salsa, and offered some ceviche as well.
We sat for an hour or so overlooking the marina, and two local guys eventually came out to the patio. They appeared to be fisherman, and, in my poor Spanish, I believed they were discussing which boat they would buy, pointing to various ones in the harbor. They also seemed muy borracho, both sucking on ballenas and slurring their speech. The waitress came out to talk with them occasionally and she smiled and rolled her eyes at us while doing so. She was a pretty lady whose dental work appeared sort of metallic, you know, like that character “Jaws” in that 007 movie.
She again offered to bring us some ceviche, this time mentioning that it was free, so we accepted a small portion to try. It was tuna “cooked” in lime juice with cilantro and other flavorings. Not very appealing, but not too bad.
We finally made our way down the stairs and headed back towards the motel. We stopped at a street food vendor located right next to the parque and order a few tacos al pastor. We also picked up a six-pack of Tecate on the way back to the room and tossed it into the refrigerator for later.
A group is now moving into the room below us and they are plenty loud in the parking lot. They’re apparently doing the ride tomorrow, too. Hopefully they will quiet down soon.
We chowed a few more cookies, grapes and tangelos and broke out the Cribbage board for a couple of games. It’ll be a healthy day of riding tomorrow so we packed it in pretty early.