Baja Mexico: The Journey of Almost No Return – Chapter 6: Escape From Ensenada

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Ensenada, BC > Cataviña, BC

Sunday, August 28th:

Good fucking riddance, Ensenada! (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Good riddance to you, Ensenada!
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Libre en el Pasado!!

I don’t know what it feels like to get released from prison; but assuming it feels even better than driving away from Ensenada after a half day spent trying to navigate the infuriatingly corrupt and inept Mexican immigration system, it must feel fucking awesome. It must be positively orgasmic.

Catch Us if You Can!

As we speed away southward down Federal Highway 1, Ensenada cannot recede in the rear-view fast enough for our taste. This is the exact kind of moment when you pack a bowl and settle in for the ride you’ve been gearing up for for days now. But of course, assuming nobody has found it and taken it for themself, all of our shit is packed in a cigarette box and sitting in a tree in Chula Vista, California- 100 yards north of the international border.

Up ahead in the distance looms Cerro el Portezuelo Mountain (4,345 ft). (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Up ahead in the distance looms Cerro el Portezuelo Mountain (4,345 ft).
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

For the next 100 miles or so we’re just trying to put as much distance as we can between ourselves and Ensenada, lest the insatiable tendrils of bureaucracy reach out once again and waylay us before we’re out of range once and for all. After awhile we cautiously allow ourselves to start flirting with the idea that we might actually be free and clear of quasi-civilization for the time being; and our eyes resume scanning the countryside for points of interest.

Fish Tacos!!

Somewhere around Camalú we get our first lesson in how fucked we are linguistically, when we stop at a roadside restaurant to get something to eat. The place is little more than a straw-roofed yellow shanty adorned in Tecate, Coca-Cola and Red Bull advertisements; but that’s good enough for us.

Fish Tacos!! (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Chalk ponders a rooster.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

It is here in Camalú that we run into our first language barrier, discovering quickly that actually no, not everyone in Mexico speaks English.

Whatever, though- my rusty old Spanish should at least be adequate to allow me to order a couple of fucking tacos and a Mexican Coke, right?

Right. As suspected, my extremely limited (and never-field-tested) Spanish proves up to the task; though in the moment I recognize the implicit warning about what this portends for the rest of our journey: best keep the Spanish-English dictionary within easy reach from here on out.

Not a moment later, the unpiloted car ran up on a seaside boulder field and sent Deek reeling through the air like the Greatest American Hero. The price we pay for adventure.
(photo by C. Chalk)

Madmen Across the Sand

A little while later we decide that it’s time to make our trip’s first foray into the ocean. We roll up to the edge of a wide empty beach near El Rosario , park the car, and go screaming across the sand like we’re being chased by a chupacabra. We stumble into the waves and fall forward, joyously greeting our first taste of subtropical ocean water. It’s so nice to get in the Pacific Ocean and not even have to think about the temperature of the water. In San Francisco you need a wetsuit to go in the ocean for more than two minutes, even in high summer. We splash about like children for awhile, then get back on the road. We have a long stretch of inland desert to traverse, and the day is wearing onward. Just south of the beach the highway swings eastward and inland, away from the ocean, beginning a long stretch of desert untempered by the sea air.

Don't be fooled by its appearance: the Ocean down here is better. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Don’t be fooled by its appearance: the ocean down here is better. It just is.
There, I said it.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

The Cataviña Shuffle

The sun sets over cactus-covered mountains as we go screaming southward down the spine of the peninsula, miles from any body of water. Darkness falls, slowly enveloping all, until at last one would not be able to tell of a certainty whether one was driving in a desert, on a prairie, or on a lonely causeway across a vast ocean. Eventually we grow hungry and tired, and stop in the micro-village of Cataviña to attempt to redress these conditions.


Previous: Chapter 5: Military Madness

Next: Chapter 7: Foaming at the Mouth




Find a City, Find a Different City to Live In

Seek ye the ancient Minotaur at your own peril. (image by
Seek ye the ancient Minotaur at your own peril.
(image by

You know how I’m always complaining about the slow decline of San Francisco as a world-class cultural Mecca?  Well here’s a perfect example of how the douches continue to chip away at those things that make this town interesting and special:

Story here:

The vigil will not be televised. (image by
The vigil will not be televised.
(image by