© 1998-2012 EarthRoamer

Crossing the Border

The border crossing is quick and completely non-eventful. The stunning contrast between San Diego, and the squalor along the Mexican side of the border is depressing, but the scenery quickly improves. The drive along the toll road leading to Ensenada is quite scenic, although beautiful houses share the coast with run down shacks. I arrive in Ensenada, and get down to business. I need to get my tourist card stamped, convert dollars to pesos and get a phone card. After fumbling around a bit, I find the tourist office. They merely have me fill in the number of days I want to stay and send me to the bank to pay my fee, so far so good. This bank has no ATM, so I find another bank that does. I open my wallet only to discover that the ATM card I had used only yesterday is nowhere to be found. My ATM card was to be my source of cash for this trip.

Somewhat panicked, I head back to my truck but I'm having trouble finding it. I know I parked it on this street but now its not here. Maybe I parked illegally and it was towed? After stumbling around, I find my truck right where I left it. It was just down the street further than I could see, hidden behind a tree. I search the truck, and no ATM card. I mentally retrace my steps, and realize I last used my ATM card yesterday at Wells Fargo Bank. Should I head back north and resolve this problem in California, or continue south with the cash I have on hand? I have plenty of food, but I don't even know the price of diesel fuel in Mexico. I count my money and I have a little over US $600 in cash and travelers checks. It's about a 1,000 miles to Cabo San Lucas where I should be able to have a new ATM card mailed to me. At a conservative 10 miles per gallon, I will need about 100 gallons of fuel to make it to Cabo. I don't know the price of diesel in Mexico, but assuming it is expensive and cost US $3 per gallon, 100 gallons of fuel will only cost US $300. That gives me $300 for food, camp fees and emergencies.

The margin for error is small, but I decide to continue south with the money I have. I go back to the bank, convert all of my dollars to pesos and head out of town. As I'm leaving town, a local guy looks at my truck, smiles and gives me a big thumbs up. I can't help but forget about my lost ATM card and smile back.

The drive after Ensenada is surprisingly green and lush. I stop for a late lunch in the camper, and decide to find a camp for the night. My camping guidebook mentions a beautiful camp by the beach, but says the access road isn't suitable for RVs - sounds like a good bet. The road is rough driving in, and without a GPS, I'm not sure I would have found my way through the tomato field maze to the campsite. My first day in Mexico and I'm already in four-wheel drive. The owner of the campground speaks little English, and I speak even less Spanish, but the connection is made when he carefully walks around my truck, stops to examine the front suspension, and energetically announces "ˇBaja Especial!"

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