Three Burritos North.
I launched out of G.N. early. Just about the time I shook the cobwebs out I found this little guy on a suicide run across the road. With the big trucks on the road in the morning he was surely going to expire right there in the road. I swung the bike back, scooped him up, placed him in my lap while I pulled up to the next turn out, then pointed him towards the hills.
By the time I pulled into Mama Espinosa’s it was nearly lunch time. I saved my appetite so I would be extremely hungry and excited about these Lobster burritos. This time I had pesos and would be able to pay without running over to the gas station to request money from the gas attendant.
Walking into the dining room I went to the exact same seat and sat down like I knew what I was doing. The server greeted me. I told her I’m back for those delicious burritos so she did not even bother bringing me a menu. Black coffee with my burritos delivered within 15 minutes. Three of the delicious, juicy, flavorful lobster burritos sat in front of me. Without any concern about making a scene; I gobbled the burritos, beans, rice, and salad. Noticeably slowing down on the third burrito, even though these are small burritos, about the width of a big thumb, three of them are plenty!
My goal for the day was to make it to Ensenada which is a fairly good distance but given the entire day to accomplish the trip; this was a fair goal. The rest of the day is mostly uneventful but enjoyable riding. A couple of small construction projects with good dirt roads; easy detours. I roll into Ensenada, find a cheap hotel, and start looking for seafood. Ensenada is known to have vineyards outside of town and some of the best seafood.
Seafood CAN make you fat.
I’m informed that a restaurant right next door is actually quite famous in town and has a hardy seafood soup. I make my way to the restaurant to inform them that someone has been bragging about their soup so I would like to try it. They get a kick out of this and tell me that the soup is an entire meal. Undaunted, I ask them if I can have a cup of soup rather than a bowl. They agree then I see a the dish on the menu that is intended for two people but has nearly every type of seafood on the menu on one plate. Think ‘Mexican Captain Buck Sampler Platter’ but much nicer and for two people. They work hard to convince me there is no way I can finish this meal but I let them know that I just want to try everything so if they would make me a one-person platter I would happily accept accept. The staff is confounded by my request and we decide that they can only make the two person dish; so I order the two-person dish with the understanding that I probably will not be able to finish it.
The soup comes to the table and is full of abalone, clams, octopus, and fish. The liquid is clear but thick and hearty; very flavorful. Fantastic soup! No one was wrong when they said this soup would be enough. If I had eaten a full bowl I would have been totally satisfied. Then, this massive platter of seafood comes to the table.
A mound of shrimp, fish that is fried, fish that is grilled, scallop shells filled with scallops gratin, and much more. Each item on ‘The Mexican Captain Buck Platter’ has enough for two large, and hungry, people. So I taste each item to determine which items I might be forced to leave behind if my stomach is not able to compress this food into a nugget with the atomic weight of our sun. As I eat they continue to bring me beers which I never refused. At some point I realize that I am uncomfortably full but with the delicious food. I had committed to eating particular items… at least finishing certain things. After mostly completing the mission of eating only the best items. My head fell backwards in shame, defeat, pain, and euphoria. ‘So good, just so much of it…’ I paid what a person might expect to pay for a meal in the United States; maybe thirty or forty dollars. Had I received this meal in San Diego the price would have likely been at least $90.
I dragged my newly stuffed and rotunda belly across the parking lot to the hotel and went to bed. As I started drifting off to bed a mariachi band in the bar next door struck up and began their awful racket. I could definitely hear it through the walls of the hotel but it was not quite enough to keep me awake. I reminded myself that we were in Ensenada and closer to the US border so this is pretty much how Mexico will be for the rest of my trip home. No more quiet dusty towns with respectful family businesses on this trip. The border people are here to make a buck off of the US tourist, college kids, and folks who want to ‘experience Mexico’, by spending 4 hours in town, after exiting their cruise liner.
A few hours later I am woken in the middle of the night with an uncomfortable twisting feeling in my gut, well maybe not so much my gut; much much lower. I make my way to the bathroom whereby I unleash the ‘Holy Wrath of Evil Incarnate’ in the form of buckets of water being jettisoned into the toilet. Well, it was bound to happen eventually. I give very little thought to what has caused my distress knowing that I’ve eaten about everything that I could get my hands on in the last couple of days . Ice in the lemon-aide in Santa Rosalia; All the seafood in the ocean in one meal…
This intense event occurs a few more times that night and becomes uncomfortable enough that I begin to wonder if it is going to be a permanent state. Also, how would I ride while laying down a mud-slick? I’m happy when there is some respite. Mostly due to having nothing left in the tank. A few more hours of sleep before the sky turns gray and the sun pops up. I chug water hoping to hydrate which results in one more clean water colon flushing round before packing up the bike to head for the border crossing.
My intent was to cross in Tecate and given the human exhaust problems coupled with a mighty case of ‘sting ring’ … I opted to skip breakfast. Onto the road I went, sitting side saddle a little bit gingerly on top of my large grey bike, into Ensenada morning traffic. As I start to exit town there is a dump truck in front of me that has coolant gushing in a solid stream beneath the truck. I pull up next to the culprit and motion the dump truck operator. I was careful not to run the bike tires through it as I know it would mean instant loss of traction and an appointment on the concrete. A bounce on the concrete might have the additional result of a full load in my pants. I pulled around the truck driver and motion to him something is broken underneath. I give him the breaking motion and then something pouring out from underneath motion he gives me a thumbs-up like he already knew. I think this might be worse than what he knew because at this rate he will not make it wherever he is going. Oh well, I felt like I had done my diligence and he was not in front of me anymore.
Around the cliff-side highway onto the toll road. The toll road is actually very good quality and safe at higher speeds. I make great time and missed my exit for Tecate. Oh well, I guess I’ll come back out through Rosarito and Tijuana and then. Then I see another opportunity to go to Tecate so I ended up exiting. Another small donation of pesos less than a dollar.
I came into the city center of Tecate knowing that I had too many pesos in my pocket. I decided on an American breakfast. As I came to the border crossing I also decided I wanted to try direct approach rather than going out to the East and waiting in the line along the border wall. My GPS was directing me to take this direct approach so I followed it until I saw the McDonalds. Ha! I had not seen a McDonald’s in Mexico yet. Suddenly, and with the sensitive tummy, I had a hankering for an Egg McMuffin and some coffee. I went through the drive-thru where the guy who handed me my food seemed a little surprised: 1) that I wanted my coffee black 2) that I had coffee and a sandwich yet was planning to drive off on a motorcycle.
I pulled around the corner carefully and stood over the bike as I sipped my coffee placing it on the gas tank while I ate my sandwich. The security guard came over and asked me why I didn’t go inside to eat then I told him I did not want to take off all my gear and I like being outside. He smiled and laughed nodded in agreement and walked away. As I finished my sandwich he came back over and grabbed my trash. As I finish my coffee he grabbed my trash again. Even the security guards we’re pitching in to keep this parking lot clean! A far stretch from much of the rest of the side of the highway.
Belly full, coffee coursing through my veins, I turned the bike back towards my direct approach at the border crossing; only about 2 or 3 blocks away. About two hundred yards of the crossing a Mexican border security guy directed me down a side-street telling me no you can’t go straight into the Crossing. Sigh! Okay I started to turn up the narrow side street he had indicated and a truck came barreling out of the alley nearly hitting me. I looked at him and he kind of gave me a shrug. I looked a little bit more carefully then continue down the narrow alleys after that. As I got around the corner and out of eye shot from the soldier I noticed there were gaps in the fence and barriers that would allow me to squeeze the bike through rather than going all the way to the end of the line. I turned the bike through one of the ‘walking access points’ and cut to the front of the line with him about three cars back from the US guards. The line had taken only about five minutes.
I turned off the bike and looked at the US Customs and Border Protection Officer. He said where are you coming from I told him Cabo and it was a 40th birthday trip. He said, ‘mid life crisis huh?’ He looked like he was maybe in his 50s….I laughed and told him, ‘I hope so!’ He wished me good luck welcoming me home. The road from Tecate back to San Diego takes you through some beautiful riparian hill country with oak trees, valleys, and wildlife.
It’s an amazing transition made only in a couple of hundred feet as you enter the US. In the US we have decided to manage our resources differently. The natural flora and fauna cover the hillside on the US side. Whereas much of this resource has been stripped from the mountains just to the south. The road conditions improved, only slightly, as there are still funding issues in the United States. particularly in San Diego, causing a lot of effort to maintain roads. A final US border Protection immigration checkpoint, a few miles of aggressive freeway riding, and I am home.
I decide to mark my return with a picture of the bike in front of the brewery next to the house. I make a scene as I walked across the road dressed like a storm-trooper to snap a photo. Finally, back into the garage… I look at the bike and realize the magnitude of the trip, and what I’d accomplished. It is detailed in every speck of dirt, and bug splat covering the bike. I grab what gear I can gather in one trip then head upstairs for another coffee. Even as I write this I have not cleaned the bike for fear of ending the trip. That will be the last stage in this trip and honestly I never want it to end. The people I’ve met along the way who hosted me introduced me to the sites and history of Mexico in a way that I will never forget. The further from comfort, the deeper into Baja, that I rode the more comfortable I became.
What I am left with are memories that will last the rest of my days. Baja has the last remnants of the real old west. Baja is harsh and unforgiving. Baja is beautiful. Baja is everything you expect and more!
If you choose to explore please remember to be a good ambassador and leave every place better than you found it.