My two favorite hangouts happen to be south of the international border, which is located 20 miles from my home. About once a week I make a 200-mile round trip on my motorcycle to and from El Sauzal and Ensenada, using a variety of paved and dirt roads along the way.
One of my favorite places is Maria Navarro’s Hostel Sauzal, located approximately 60 miles south of either Tijuana or Tecate. Fifteen bucks gets you a clean comfortable bed, a tasty breakfast with great coffee, and a beautiful ocean view. Because the hostel is a destination for travelers from all over the world, I have the opportunity to meet all kinds of interesting people. Surfers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, backpackers and adventure seekers find Maria’s hostel to be the perfect introduction to Mexico.
My other favorite hangout is just six miles south of the hostel on Highway 1. The restaurant Mariscos Bahia de Ensenada has been a favorite of mine since the 1980’s. With the famous Ensenada fish market only blocks away, they always have the freshest seafood meals I’ve found.
What does all this have to do with “Mexiphobia” you ask? Well, it’s just that if I had been afflicted with it for the past 40 years I couldn’t have done some of the things I enjoy the most. Pauline and I would have never traveled the Baja roads and visited all of the places and people we enjoy between the border and La Paz, a thousand miles south of Tijuana.
I am astounded when I hear that some folks who are courageous enough to ride motorcycles are at the same time scared to death of crossing the border into Mexico. Since Al Dietor and I began riding dirt bikes in Baja in 1974, I’ve never felt endangered by the people who live there. The only dangers I’ve ever encountered were the fault of my own sometimes-risky activities.
One such episode occurred in 1975 when Al, my late son Landren, and I rode from San Felipe to Gonzaga Bay. In those days the road was in terrible shape, and since we were riding in the middle of August, the temperature was above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. It really was not the best place and time of year to do a motorcycle ride. In fact, we ended up saving a couple of other guys who found themselves in a worse situation when their Ford pickup broke down along that desolate stretch of road. But that’s another story!
Now that the US and Mexico have worked hard over the last several years to improve their border crossing infrastructure, waiting times have been dramatically reduced at the Tijuana and San Ysidro port of entry. Visiting Baja is now much simpler and more fun.
Pauline (87 years old) and I (80 years old) are planning a 2000 plus mile trip down to Cabo San Lucas and back, doing both on and off-road riding on our Top Gun 644 street legal dirt bike (a highly modified DR-650). Thankfully, Mexiphobia has not afflicted folks like Rod Morris, Todd Vosper, Pat Rose, Cuco Villarias, KLR Kurt, Jay Bass, and Mike Henshaw – or Pauline and I would not have the support we need to make the trip.
In case you are interested in making a short overnight trip into northern Baja, perhaps you can catch Elden on one of his weekly trips south. He rides from San Diego County across the border and 60 miles south to El Sauzal, a small town just north of the port city of Ensenada. Depending on the route he takes, you’ll pass through Tijuana, Rosarito, Tecate, La Mision, and the now internationally famous vineyards of the Guadalupe Valley.
The ride is great fun, the Hostel is unique, homey and a nice introduction to Mexican hospitality. As a bonus, Elden has some great stories. He enjoys sharing his knowledge of multisurface motorcycle technological advances. He’s been riding motorcycles for 59 years now and more than a million miles and is responsible for many of those technological advances. Elden is also one of the 2 surviving founding masters of modern combat pistol shooting.
For the trip all you need are:
- A street legal multi-surface motorcycle, equipped with a spark arrested (reasonably quiet) exhaust system.
- A valid US passport.
– Be willing to suspend any lingering Mexiphobia.
Interested? Send an email to Pat firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Leave your name and phone number and Elden will give you a call.