Ensenada to San Carlos
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The Road Chose Me Volume 2: Three years and 54,000 miles around Africa
South of Ensenada, Baja becomes much less populated and we pass through many smaller towns that look like farming communities. Translating road signs becomes a fun game and we break out the dictionary every time we pass new sign. Most say things like ‘dangerous curves’ or ‘reduce your velocity’, and I decide this is a great way to learn Spanish.
We feel a lot safer here in the smaller towns and start to venture out and explore. We stop in San Qunitìn to see how alien daily tasks are going to be:
Exchanging dollars for pesos is relatively easy at the bank, I just nod and smile when the teller speaks much, much too fast for me. I can’t get my debit card to work in the ATM, something I’ll have to figure out another day.
Duke is keen for some ‘street meat’ so we stop at a taco stand and have egg & chicken burritos. We both eat a mountain of food for around $3 USD each. Duke’s superior Spanish begins to show, so I start picking his brain for everything I can.
Buying gas turns out to be a simple matter and the attendant teaches me the word for full when I say ‘mucho’, which gets the point across. Regular gas here is 7.4 pesos per liter, not as cheap as I had hoped, but still not bad. Maybe it will be cheaper on the mainland, away from tourists.
We walk up and down the street a little and have a look in a couple of supermarkets. All the big brand names are represented, as is every kind of food I normally eat and a ton I have no idea about. Prices seem cheaper than the US, but not amazingly so. Soft serve ice cream from a street vendor is extremely tempting for 75 cents, but I remember a stern warning I was given about it.
Everything goes smoothly, but I have an uneasy feeling in my stomach. It’s been a long time since I was this far out of my element and it’s going to take some getting used to. I need to learn Spanish – fast.
We drive down side roads to the beach in a few places, and quickly learn about dirt roads in Mexico. Potholes and huge ruts are common, and I can hardly hold 2nd gear. In the small town of El Rosario we are told we have to checkout the surfing hangout of San Carlos, not far away on the coast. We end up taking the long, roundabout way where the road gets crazier and crazier until I’m in low range 4×4 and pushing the Jeep pretty hard to climb hills. I feel bad pushing it this hard, but she seems to handle it just fine. (fingers crossed)
We round a corner and find ourselves at San Carlos, a world famous point break popular with wind surfers, kite surfers and the regular kind. We meet Kevin, the owner, and are given the grand tour and introduced around. We are hugely surprised by the scale of the great setup, with solar power, showers & tons of boards for hire & sale. A crew of professional mountain bike riders is kicking around filming, so we tag along and hang out for the day, laughing and enjoying paradise together. A couple of the guys have been coming down to Mexico for 20 years and I pick their brains on everything I can think of, always eager for more information about the road ahead.
The sunset over the Pacific Ocean seems to take forever, through every shade of red, orange & yellow.