Both up by 7am or so. Phil was out the door early to get his cigarette-lighter air pump working on the left rear tire, which took a while but worked well. Both of us were fairly well sunburned from yesterday. We ate breakfast, cleaned up, packed up, checked out, and were soon on Mexico 1D headed south. The motel clerk told us to go about 17 or 18 lights down – I’d never gotten directions quite like that.
We found signs to the Baja Country Club easily and headed east back into a canyon area between steep mountains. It is a gringo-style resort with a nice golf course and vacation houses lining the fairways, with plenty of signs asking us to consider buying one.
The green fee is relatively a little high for me, about $60, but there really is not that much golf course competition down here. The only other two are a high end course called Bajamar between Rosarito and Ensenada, and another called Real del Mar between Tijuana and Rosarito. This course turned out to be very interesting and fairly well kept, a decent value.
We started out on the 10th hole – seems there was a men’s club group just starting on #1. The layout is interesting, with sloped fairways, decent grass, and nice rolling greens. Many holes have significant forced carries, over scrub areas or over water or both, with barrier walls at the green edge. A really interesting layout.
Phil and I started out waiting for a slow single player in front of us, but ended up completely on our own when he picked up the pace. It was really a peaceful leisurely round of golf, in nice cool temps and traces of the ocean fog. The greens on the back nine were the only poor element of the course, many with dead patches here and there, but omost other greens were in great shape.
On one hole I hit a second practice ball off the tee, and we swung the cart over to pick it up. Unseen by me, there was a bee sitting on the ball, and when I snatched it up, it stung me good on the side of the pinkie finger. Its stinger and part of its body were actually hanging out of my skin when I looked at it. Hurt like a mother fucker immediately.
The front nine turned out to be more difficult than the back, with more forced carries and challenging approaches. On the par 5 #2, after mulligan tee shots, I hit my second shot directly behind a mature eucalyptus tree and only 80 yards from the pin. I took out my 56° wedge and told Phil, “I’m either going to love this shot or hate it.” A full swing later, my ball just clears the treetop and hits the green 9” from the hole, then backs up to within 3” of it for a tap-in (double-mulligan) birdie four. My shot of the day for sure.
We finished up our round and headed back north through Ensenada. We picked up a bag of ice for the leftover items in the cooler, then hit the fish market again. I really wanted to bring some back. We staredt surveying the stalls and I got interested at what the vendors say to differing patrons. To the local women, they might say, “Mojarra para ti.” But with Phil and me, it’s always, “Amigo! Swordfish.” Or “I have lobster for you!”
Wow the swordfish did look good – I guess they know their clientele. It is marked with a sign that says $50, and then I see that it is 50 pesos/kg, or about $2.50 a pound. Nice price! – so I buy a kg of the swordfish. I also search around for a fish I’ve seen yesterday labeled opa. I find the stall that has it, a big chunk still with the characteristic spotted skin attached. It is a section around a large diameter backbone, clearly from a big fish. My only introduction to opah was seeing it as the featured ingredient in an Iron Chef episode on TV – there they had whole opah fish the size of trash can lids. It too is 50 pesos/kg so I buy 1 kg. He keeps looking at me saying “Entero? Entero?” I have only $20s in my wallet, and unfortunately neither of the vendors have enough change. Phil comes to the rescue with some smaller bills, and wondered whether I’d set him up. [Well, he set ME up at Anthony’s.]
I finally turned to the shrimp and immediately went to the beautiful displays we saw Friday. The jumbo azul shrimp smell fresh but seem a little opaque to me, maybe on display for too long. Another vendor has medium sized shrimp that are definitely more fresh, and he’s selling them for only about $4.25 a pound, so I picked up about 4-1/2 lbs (2 kg) of these, too. I’m really happy with these purchases. We stashed them on the ice in the cooler, then stop at an OXXO to buy another bag of ice to put on top for the drive home.
We hit Mexico 1-D and headed north, back through the toll booths with their machine-gun toting teenagers. We hit the border backup in Tijuana and noted the time, about 3:15PM. It is a marvel to me to see so many street vendors taking advantage of their captive clients stuck on the road, running between the rows of cars, knocking on windows, trying most any game that might bring some revenue.
It is a long slow crawl up to the border. There is even a huge TV screen on the Mexican side instructing you to tune in to FM88.3 for the soundtrack, which turns out to be non-stop commercials. Nearing the border patrol officers, we note that most cars take at least 60-120 seconds to get through as they’re inspected and pried with questions. Other officers have dogs that sniff vehicles.
When we reached the inspection booth, we were almost disappointed to be waived though after about 10 seconds. Hey – we waited an hour and 20 minutes – where is our 60-120 seconds? We deserve it. Guess we are victims of racial profiling once again.
It was a long drive back to Phoenix, first on I-5, then on I-8. We stopped in Yuma for insurance gas and a Pepsi, and ended up over at In And Out Burger stuffing down cheeseburgers. We were hungrier than we thought.
When we finally reached Phil’s house, it was almost midnight. We unloaded and packed up my SUV, and Phil invited me in for a beer. Just the thing – man did that hit the spot.
- It was a very interesting trip for me.
- The Ensenada Inn Motel served us well – clean, nice kitchenette, friendly staff, off the beaten path and sort of quiet enough.
- The R-E ride was a load of fun. I sensed that it was run a little less expensively (not much ceremony at the start, rest stops not well stocked, cheaper band, no sag support) compared to previous years. But a ton of fun through and through – I will miss it in the future.
- Ensenada itself was a surprise treat for me. I really enjoyed the flavor of the town, the seafood marketplace, and especially milling around at night. It would be a great place to take Linda for a short weekend.
- Baja Country Club is a good course, providing a very interesting round of golf at a fair price – I’d play there again.
- I am going to buy Phil some thorn resistant tires and tubes.