Day 1: Cruising South To Ensenada
Our travels into Baja California begin with a visit to immigration officials and end with a stunning view of the city at night.
Read more about our travels on the peninsula.
ENSENADA, MX – With all the talk about illegal immigration, we wanted to make sure we did not contribute to the cause. So, first stop was the immigration office at the San Ysidro garita (port of entry) for visas.
After a relatively quick and painless filling out of forms, off we were to our first interview, between Rosarito and Ensenada. The weather could not have been better: sunny, clear and warm.
After crossing, we learn about the latest state department travel warnings to Mexico: stay away from Nuevo León, Coahuila and Tamaulipas. Nowhere near our route.
As for Baja, “exercise caution in the northern state of Baja California, particularly at night.” I can say the same for any major city in the world.
Our first stop was to talk to a real estate agent – an American who has lived in Baja California for six years. Some investors, especially Americans, have been scared away from Mexico due to the ongoing drug war, in which Tijuana and Rosarito played a starring role at one point. He said the market is getting better and it is getting safer. And some official numbers and government officials say the same thing.
But on the way down, we noticed many half-built, seemingly abandoned construction projects. Many were condominium towers, standing like old sentries over the Pacific Ocean. What will happen to them?
Next we were off to Ensenada, where a large cruise ship greeted us. The second interview involved a local conservation group that is working to preserve portions of Baja California from development.
Even though there was a large ship in town, there weren’t a lot of tourists exploring Ensenada’s scenic waterfront or shopping at its many stores selling tourist specialties like duty free items and Mexican crafts. Growing up in the Caribbean, I always knew when there was a ship in port: it was as if a town of foreigners settled on the island for the day.
For lunch, I used the connectivity of social media for a great recommendation: @pedrorodman on Twitter suggested the Mahi-Mahi. Gracias, excellent choice. Although the restaurant's namesake was not on the menu, the seafood was fresh and there was a nice mix of both visitors and locals. And video journalist Katie Euphrat got a great shot of the large Mexican flag along the waterfront in between sampling the salad and eating her entree.
We ended the day with our third interview – lead Reporter Jill Replogle is a workaholic – at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (Autonomous University of Baja California) to learn more about the region’s wineries. In talking with a professor, I learned she makes her own wine.
The biologist buys the grapes from a vineyard, rents the fermentation equipment and then ages them in barrels at her home. She makes about 1,500 bottles a year & one of her batches recently won an award in Spain.
Curiously, she doesn’t make any money and doesn't think she will any time soon. It's her passion. Must be true love.
We ended the day following up on a tip from a waiter at the restaurant: drive up a nearby street to a spot overlooking Ensenada and the bay. Gracias! The waterfront was bustling, the cruise ship was bathed in lights and a full moon was playing hide-and-seek behind the clouds in the distance.
We were facing south, which is the direction of our next destination: the Escalera Naútica marina (bonus points if you remember that project) in Santa Rosaliita.
I invite you to travel there with us.