In the KOA campground in San Diego we got to know Tiffany and Jamie who were heading the same way as us and decided to cross the border and drive a bit south together. Monday morning we (even Espen) got up at 6 o’clock in the morning, packed up and headed for the Tecate border crossing. Tijuana is the largest and busiest border crossing in the whole world and we wanted to avoid it. We had been recommended to cross at Tecate because it is the smallest crossing in the area, but maybe it almost got a bit too small. When our car was shipped to USA it was temporarily imported and we had to get these papers stamped to prove that we were taking the car out of USA. After a few phone calls they were able to find someone that could do this for us. He met us on the street and stamped the papers.
Next move to cross the border was to get the tourist card (FMT) for Mexico. The easiest was to park our cars on the US side of the border, because of more parking spaces, and walk over to the Migracion office. Just took a few minutes to fill out the forms and hand them over to the official at work who did not seem too happy and interested about his job. As Norwegians citizens we will normally get 90 days tourist visas, but here we got 180 days. Guess he normally gives tourist cards to Americans and did not even look at our passports. With our Mexican tourist cards we had to walk back again through American immigration to get to our car. Back in the car it was just to drive on green, nothing to declare, and we got a green light that indicated that they did not want to search our car. Phew... After driving 8 meters across the border we were in Tecate city. Now we wanted to get the Temporary Import Papers (TIP) for our car, but we could not see the office. It turned out that the only places we could get the TIP was in Tijuana, Mexicali or La Paz. Then we will wait to get our TIP until we get to La Paz in Baja California South.
Crossing the border is like walking into another world, it is so different form the organized North America. It is strange that Mexico, just across the border, is so different from USA, but it reminded me so much of Punta Arenas on the southern tip of Chile which is so much further away. From the border we drove to Ensenada where we found an ATM and did some shopping before we continued south. First day we made it to Santo Tomas where it was only our two cars in the campground. Second day in Mexico we continued to drive south on Mex 1. We drove past villages, vineyards, fields, huge greenhouses, the pacific ocean, that we could not really see because of fog, and we were stopped at our third army check point. All the three army check points we have been stopped at so far has been really friendly and they just ask us where we are going, smile and say goodbye. Second night we camped at Rancho Santa Ynez in Catavina, that is surrounded by granite boulders, dessert plants, boojum trees and enormous cacti. A really interesting landscape.
Photo by Tiffany
Since we finally have made it “south” it was about time to find the beach, and our first opportunity was Bahia Los Angeles on the Sea of Cortez.
Now we have a great campsite 30 meters from the sea!
By coincidence (??) the Baja 1000 race goes through Bahia Los Angeles today, and we will head into town to watch as the motorbikes and other crazy vehicles will drive through town this afternoon…