Entering Mexico With Bridget

Bridget and I walked across the border without detection, suddenly we were just in Mexico having only casually walked through a gate. No one shouted at us, asked for a passport, looked at us for more than a passing glance, if that, we’d just walked on in.

A couple on their way to San Diego had dropped us off at this border crossing there in Tecate, they’d picked us up in Yuma where our last ride had gotten us in our final hitchhiking stint out of the US.

Normally this easy entry into the country would warrant nothing more than a smirk, a shake of the head and a murmur, “Mexico”, as we continued on. With Bridget’s visa situation, this was different. She’d gotten access into the US with verbiage along the lines of “Ninety days, multiple re-entry for up to two years”. She’d already spent eighty days in the US and her flight wasn’t for about another forty or more, so the idea was to dip into Baja Mexico for until she had less than ten days left until her flight. We’d later find out we’d gotten this all wrong, but for now, this was our thinking.

With that being the case, as we saw it, she’d need to get stamped out of the US and into Mexico for proof of her exit later. This lead to strange situation of poking around this border, looking for some sort of authority to take notice that we had crossed. Asking around and finally we found an office in a back room where a Mexican guy was watching a movie, it seemed we were interrupting him.

We explained that she needed a stamp and that we were traveling down into Baja, in return he said we needed tourists visas if we were going that far south, and only by getting a tourist visa would we get a stamp. It was a hefty cost, we tried to haggle, no dice. We managed to talk our way into the idea that Bridget was going south on her own and I was simply staying the night in town, so only she would need the visa, we’d have to eat the cost.

He didn’t trust it, but went ahead and took some paperwork we filled out anyway and stamped her passport, then told us to go a building over to the bank and pay the fee. The bank was closed, we came back inside and told him and he looked at the clock realizing that we’d in fact missed it. He didn’t seem happy, but he told us that we’d now have to go to any bank at the first chance we got before we headed to far south and they would take care of it. He knew we wouldn’t, and we never did, the stamp was stamped.

We headed back onto the Mexican street and began weaving through the small city, eventually winding up a hill and to the freeway overlooking the area. Mexico, we were in.

We stuck out our thumbs and soon a young couple, dentist students, pulled over and shuffled some luggage around to make room for us in the backseat, we were on our way. So began my stumbling around in Spanish, luckily they spoke some English too. We cruised along as the sun set making the dive through the mountains that much more beautiful.

By dark we arrived in the big city of Ensenada on the Pacific coast, south of Tijuana and the last decent sized city for a good ways. The dental students asked if we’d join them and their friends for Thai food, but we still hadn’t yet gotten any Mexican currency, it sounded like it was a pricey place anyhow and we knew we’d be working with a minimal amount of pesos once we got them.

We thanked them and headed into the busy streets, it quickly became clear something was going on, a carnival as it turned out. We went to the convenience store were we got our pesos and immediately converted some of those pesos into beer. “Is it ok to drink these on the street?”, I asked.

“It’s carnival!”, was essentially the reply, so off we went, marching down the main drag to where the most action was going on. We got the first tacos we came across, then into the carnival we went. Some fruit, people watching, cops swarming the beach below with flashlights seeking somebody, smiles everywhere and the smells of all sorts of foods. We strolled through the length of it, bookending it all with more tacos.

We kept on walking, away from the lights and the music, now in search of a place to call home for the night. At last we found a dark and big beach, even better, massive dunes and a fair amount of shrubbery throughout. We surveyed several spots and at last settled on a little cove that we did up with some more loose brush to be extra hidden, laid out our sleeping bags and got our first rest in Mexico.

In the morning we packed up and climbed the dune to get a look at the beach in the daylight, running down to the ocean to stick a toe in. Despite the vast amount of glass shards throughout the sand, it was a beautiful scene.

We headed south down the beach, ready to hit the road and keep it moving. We got to the muddy road from the beach to the main road, in the middle was a car. As we got closer we could see they were stuck, attempting to push their way out. We grabbed a board or two of debris on our way to help them out and tossed it to them using my best Spanish to see if they needed some more help, but they said they were fine. A big girl of two hundred plus pounds sat in the back, apparently not wanting to step out into the mud, but it no way helping the situation by further weighing down the car. Oh well.

A three legged dog ran by us and at last we hit something like a main road. We walked through the little town we’d now hit, stopping in a market for tortillas, beans and salsa. This would become our meal of choice in Baja. We scarfed some down and saved the rest and got to walking. We walked a lot.

At one point we met Phillip, he spoke a bit of English and was also trying to hitch a ride and told us some things. He was carrying a bucket, looking for work several towns down. We walked and walked, eventually parting with Phillip, then walked some more, pausing every now and then to regain some energy as we thumbed the passing cars. No one was stopping, we kept coming upon little villages, separated by short patches of desert.

Finally, once we seemed to have broken away from the stretch of all commercial civilization, Jessie stopped for us. He was a guy in his 60’s or so, sipping beer from a straw, which we gladly accepted when offered. He was going to a little village on a cliff off the freeway a fair ways south that he described to us, coming from San Diego where he’d just been to the doctor.

As we got closer he said we could sleep on his lawn if we’d like, we agreed. We made the right turn and headed towards the coast, some miles later we arrived in the little village. Half of the place was run purely on solar panels and generators, water trucked in. Some Americans and Canadians and moved in as well, some living in trailers on their plot, others had built fairly elaborate houses for the area, but mostly it was wide open.

We drove along the cliff side to Jessie’s house, “This cliff has just been eroding away, but they won’t do anything about it, they’ll wait until a car just topples off and more homes start to fall into the sea.”, His house included, he knew eventually most of them would erode away and off the cliff.

He was indeed right on the side of it all, his yard overlooked the ocean, a paradise. Inside we met his girlfriend, Yolanda. She insisted we sleep inside on the couch rather than the lawn, fine with us. A few beers, a dinner they cooked up, much needed showers and some relaxation, it was a very good night we were certainly grateful for.

The next day they suggested we stay another day if we wanted to relax and that whenever we wanted we could get a ride back to the main highway. A day in this place seemed like a great idea.

After an easy morning, we headed a couple houses over to meet Yolanda’s father and his girlfriend along with some others. We walked along the lava beach and looked at mussels, then took a drive up the coast seeing some of the scattered homes along the way. Back at Jessie’s house we sipped margaritas in the sun on the cliff side, this was a hell of a place to find ourselves in. I was in love with Bridget, life and the thought of a future of moments like this one.

We drove up to another beach and fooled around on the rocks, then back to Luciano’s house (Yolanda’s father) where a whole lot of us enjoyed drinks and dinner swapping stories after taking in the sunset from the deck outside.

The next morning we stopped at Luciano’s again to say our goodbyes, ready to get back on the road again. Him and his girlfriend Carrie loaded us up with a bag of some food, there were thanks all around, then Jessie drove us out to the main road for one last goodbye. We’d been in Baja just two or three days and already things were working out perfect, the rest was coming and would also not disappoint.