This was meant to be a motorcycle trip but at 62k miles a leaking engine finally gasped for professional help. So the Steal-er-ship is fleecing my wallet for a new rear main seal and drive shaft work. Grrrr… the trip continued! Just with the knowledge that my cross back to the U.S. would be longer than usual.
Small confession: I am a Mexican and I have a Mexican family. (not really)
Not like a secret family on the side or in the basement… really ….but I have been adopted by a friend’s family and am frequently accused of being more Mexican than many of my Mexican friends. I make pozole and tamales from scratch, have burrito withdraws after traveling away from San Diego…ok maybe it is mostly to do with food. It cannot be all about food though! (…sooooo much of it is about the food…) The people are also extremely humble, kind, and welcoming which makes travel in Mexico very easy.
This trip was for my friend Juan’s wife’s birthday/ retirement party. There was great company, food, and drink provided by our host.
A gentleman and his wife worked tirelessly to make tortillas and a variety of carne on site well into the night. As a well known and world renowned connoisseur of tacos; I would say these are the top three of all I have tasted. Unfortunately for you dear reader… I was busy shoveling tacos in my face hole and not a single picture taken! After making my third or fourth plate of tacos a gentleman I had been talking to earlier handed me a napkin.
The party continued late into the night. I did not last that long though due to the heavy blanket of sleepiness washing over me like a medically induced coma. A taco coma brought on by the victory over that evil mountain of tacos. Around midnight I was ready to find a bed.
Staying at the Hotel Corona Casino… a dump by normal standards but a reasonable accommodation ($70 for gringos) in Mexico. No hot water though I think it was intended to have hot water. No wifi. I had a serious worry about the latrine working. Window did not close all the way. Dated. Also, right on the beach so they have probably seen no reason to update the place, to entice visitors, since the 1980’s. The room had a partial beach view …. and full junk yard view. There was no reason to take the time to find the casino in the hotel (surely it was just as nice as the rest of the place) but did take some time to walk down the beach. It was a mass of no rules Mexican family fun. Pop-ups, umbrellas from Starbucks and a hodgepodge of improvised shade swarmed with people. Soccer balls whizzed around with children chasing. Roaming bands of mariachis on the beach. A man standing ankle deep in water cooking the most delicious churros on a contraption one circuit short of a bomb. Corn swimming in butter, cheese, and hot sauce served radioactively hot. Spider-man parasailing. All together the makings of a fun day!
There was also plenty of time to wander around the street market… they pop up every weekend somewhere and sell everything from tools and truck rims (that might just have been yours once before) to food and clothing. It was great fun to wander and there are a lot of street food options.
I have a particular habit of laughing out loud at dangerous things. Questionable electrical (US) code violations being one of my favorites but also unintentional art installations.
The day after the party we gathered the whole family (remember I am an adopted Mexican now :)) into three vehicles to have brunch at Rancho las Ilusiones. I had been there before but would not miss another chance. As best as I can understand, the place is a functioning Rancho during the week and they open the kitchen to the public on the weekend. It does get busy… There are beautiful gardens and water features installed on short nature trails around the hacienda. Much of the meat is grown onsite. Conejos, borrego, pollo, etc… are served up in the form of machaca, barabacoa, and menudo. Then dished out to the public for extremely fair prices. If you wander around a bit you might even see a horse with a really bad toupe.
Here’s a tip – check the wait times online before you head to the border. San Ysidro, Otay, and Tecate are all options. This trip I opted for Tecate since I had never crossed there. Just wanted to see it. A $6 toll road and a quick jaunt through the desert canyons was worth it. The wait was about the same; not so worth it. So if you are interested in saving time just cross at San Ysidro or Otay.
Warning! Cute Baby Spiders Ahead!
Next and all trips across will require the motorcycle to avoid the traffic wait… alternatively 3am crossings are an option. It was a hot 2.5 hrs getting back across…but at least I spent the time watching the baby spiders hatch. The large spider I have kept the past 2 years as a pet behind my passenger mirror (I have power washed at least 5 times but no success… she is a permanent fixture). I guess ‘Jimbo’ was a ‘Janebo’.