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Old 02-12-2013, 03:53 PM   #54
HardWorkingDog
Harvey Mushman
 
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Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Walnut Crick, Cal.
Oddometer: 1,702
Here's my version of post ride tips on Baja.

1. Tourist Visa: If you're going through the border at Mexicali, get your tourist visa online ahead of time. It is VERY difficult to find the Inmigracion Oficina in Mexicali. We never did find it, and wound up never getting the visas . I do not recommend that, although we got lucky and were never asked for it. I just read a recent ride report where a couple riders had the same experience, but finally stopped a policeman who gave them a lights and siren escort for miles to get them to Inmigracion. Not sure why they're keeping it a secret...

2. Maps: If you're planning on using a gps, go ahead and pay for good gps maps. I used the OpenStreetMap gps maps, and they were simply not good enough. Next time I'm using the Cartografia E32 gps maps. The most useful paper map I found was the Auto Club of So. Cal. Baja map. The Nat Geo maps, while pretty to look at, were basically useless. The Baja Almanac is good, but not as easy to use as you're riding.

3. Water: We camped in many places without potable water, and each carried 2 three liter bladders. It was very easy to find good filtered water at either Pemex stations, dedicated filtered water stores in the larger towns, filtered water spigots at Super Mini's in smaller towns, or even bottled water.

4. Fuel: Pemex stations were generally closer than I'd expected. My bike had a 200 mile range, and only twice did we have to buy gas from other than a non-Pemex store. That said, virtually any village or settlement will have gas for sale, you just have to ask around. "Donde hay una gasolinera?" Some Pemex attendants think it's good sport to try to shortchange you though, somehow they assume old gringos like me can't add and subtract .

5. Security: We brought a cable/padlock and disc lock, and used them a few times when we were staying in motels. When camping the bikes were within arms reach, and in general we were either in a secure campground or so far from anyone no one else was aware of us. Occasionally we brought the bikes into our room, but generally they were in a courtyard area right in front of our room. I would always ask if it was OK, and always was told it was fine. The Mexican people were always friendly, helpful and curious about us and our trip.

6. Finally, Baja is unforgiving. Or, in a more positive manner, it is the land of personal responsibility. If you make a mistake, you will pay the price--there are no do-overs. If your tires wear out, there's no dealer down the block to take care of it--you better have a backup plan. Roads have junctions with no traffic controls, so you make sure every intersection is clear before you enter. It is a land of great freedom, and a land of great responsibility. And I can't wait to go back.
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