After a good night's rest in La Misíon, I rode to Ensenada.
I didn't get my "tourist card" at the border, and read conflicting info about getting one in Ensenada. The internet is full of stories about people being fined in Ensenada, being sent back to the Tijuana border, etc. I started to worry.
As I rode into town, there were big signs pointing the way to Customs and Immigration near the port area. I parked the bike, and 15 minutes later my paperwork was done! The immigration official couldn't be more helpful. It's easy to worry about nothing.
Flag at half-staff
The town center in Ensenada is easy to spot (just look for the huge flag). As I walked around town, the flag was lowered to half-staff: 1000 miles to the east, terror had struck. Armed narcos attacked a casino in Monterrey and massacred 52 people.
I checked into Motel America. It was cheap and the courtyard-style parking hid the bike from the main road. Plus it was across the street from a police station.
Basic accommodations at Motel America
Later I checked out Hussong's cantina, home of the margarita. Lots of locals do frequent here, though it is a tourist trap (with a second location in Las Vegas). I expected a bunch of drunk rowdy guys, but most of the patrons were groups of women just having a good time.
Lasso show at Hussong's
It was here in October 1941 that the first margarita was poured. Legend has it, Hussong's bartender invented the drink for Margarita Henkel, daughter of the German ambassador to Mexico at the time.
Martin pouring a Margarita
There's taqueria next door to Hussong's (called Mexico Lindo) which has some really yummy tacos. I think I ate every other meal there.
I didn't stay in Ensenada for long. The plan was to ride east to San Felipe and then head south along the coast via the dirt roads there.
Up the hill from Ensenada
Coming out of the city are some small mountain ranges. Not to mention, junk yards!
There are many "questionable" cars in Baja. Some have Californian plates with expired tags from years ago. Some have stickers denoting that they are in the process of being legalized ("nationalized") into Mexico. Many others have no license plates at all. The cops don't seem to care either way.
Where the cars come to die
On the road to San Felipe, two riders on big BMW 1200GS bikes were heading the opposite way, towards Ensenada. We waved, and I stopped further down the road to take some pictures. Meanwhile the two riders did a u-turn and joined me.
Fernando and Osvaldo are from Querétaro, a city in central Mexico. They told me that they rode to San Felipe that morning, but was told that the dirt road conditions further south were very poor. So they decided to ride back to Ensenada and take the (mostly paved) western route instead.
They were going to ride to the Observatory and invited me to come along, but I wanted to press on to San Felipe. Fernando gave me his business card and told me about some great riding around his city. I had never heard of Querétaro but made a mental note to check it out on Google.
Osvaldo and Fernando gearing up to go
Closer to San Felipe, slowly the flat desert replaced the barren mountains. The sun was strong and it was a harsh ride. I began to worry about overheating the engine (after the coolant incident) but the bike's temperature remained normal, and thankfully San Felipe was only about 3 hours away.
Cutting through Baja
Arriving in San Felipe, the town was deserted. The mid-afternoon sun was oppressive; everyone stayed indoors.
All quiet in San Felipe
I looked for Hacienda de Jesus but by mistake ended up at a different motel nearby. It was cheap, clean and most importantly, had AC!!
Done for the day
I saw palm trees and was happy to stay.