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In Ensenada Mexico

posted Nov 16, 2009, 4:58 PM by Paul Gareau   [ updated Nov 16, 2009, 5:42 PM ]
Hola! Well, it's the end of my second day in Mexico, and the banditos still haven't got me; I'm off to a good start. Crossing the border was a breeze. There was a line of cars, and they each had to stop until a light turned green, then drive through. There was no one there checking passports or anything. After waiting my turn and riding through, I thought it was a little too easy, and I was right. Today when I arrived at Ensenada, I stopped at the visitor information center, and got the usual pile of maps and anything else they were willing to provide. While I was eating my lunch ($3.50 for three tacos and a coke!! I'm going to like it here, I can tell already.) I was reading one of the handouts, and read that I need a tourist card, and I have to pay a Non-Immigrant fee of $20. Oops. Since today is a Mexican holiday, the immigration office was closed, so I have to hang around until tomorrow when they reopen. Come to think of it, maybe they were closed yesterday since it was a Sunday, which is why no one was at the border. Anyway, Ensenada is a nice city and is right on the ocean, so I don't mind hanging out here, but I only covered half the distance I had planned for the day. No biggie I guess... Also, the paperwork I need is only required south of Ensenada, and only after 72 hours of being in the country, so my next campground isn't going to be a Mexican prison. ;) 

Ensenada has a really big flag.

From the moment I crossed the border, it was clear I was in a new country. There are only a few little towns around the US side of the border, but Tecate (on the Mexico side) was a decent size city and that took me by surprise. Some of the first things I noticed were colorful buildings, open front restaurants, lots of people, dogs wandering around, military trucks packed with armed soldiers and narrow roads with lots of traffic. I took 3 or 4 pages of notes, so if I ever get around to getting my journal updated, there will be a lot more information! 

Besides seeing trucks full of armed troops driving around, I saw my first military checkpoint while I was riding through a small town that's not on any map. There were ropes across the street to serve as speed bumps, some troops behind sandbags, and others walking around with large automatic weapons. A little different than the US and Canada... I was told this is a pretty new thing, and it's to cut down on the drug traffic coming through the country. I also heard that most of the violence in Mexico that people have heard about is drug-related, and very rarely involve tourists. All in all, I feel pretty comfortable here.

I've been able to get by OK with my basic Spanish so far, and I was wrong to think more people would understand English here. So far I've been able to ask the questions I need to ask, and I get the gist of what people say or ask me. I have a pocket phrasebook that I've been referencing every time I come across a word I think would be good to know so I think I'll be able to get up to speed pretty quick now that I'm here.

Adios amigos!