A New Adventure, Day 1: San Diego to Creel

We woke up at the crack of dawn without getting much sleep because we were so excited to finally put our backpacks back on and do some adventuring!

I feel like I’m finally doing what I am meant to do again!  It’s been a long year and half of helping other people travel (my job is Assistant Manager at a hostel), feeling a little bit more bored by the routine of it every day.  I’m happiest when I have a light pack on my back and a plane ticket in my hand!

img_0819

There is now a pedestrian bridge (Cross Border Express) from the San Diego side of the border into the Tijuana International Airport.  The cost is $15 per person, but it’s super convenient as opposed to crossing on foot and having to take a Mexican taxi to the airport. I slip in and out of sleep on the flight from Tijuana to Chihuahua, catching glimpses of the turquoise-blue passage over the Sea of Cortez, then dry, craggy, cardboard-brown mountains jutting violently out of the flat, barren desert.

img_0822

Chihuahua at first glance seems like the Wild West of Mexico.  Lots of men wearing owboy hats and giant belt buckles, very few gringos.  We had  to use an ATM to withdraw pesos because there was not even a “casa de cambio” in the airport.

Chihuahua is close to Juarez and the landscape reminded me of the scary, violent scenes from “Sicario” as we rode into town on a taxi.  I think it’s much safer, although not very touristy.  Our friend from here warned us to stay in the main tourist town of the Copper Canyon (Cañon del Cobre), Creel, and not spend any nights in the small villages, as that’s where we could get kidnapped.  Creepy.

Our taxi quickly dropped us off at the office of Autotransportes Turisticos de Noroeste.  The ticket saleslady said something about our trip being slow but our Spanish was not up to par enough to understand why at that moment.  On the bus, the city ended quickly and we rolled through open desert with mountains in the near distance.  About an hour outside the city at the first toll plaza we saw the protest.  People and trucks were blocking the highway in both directions.  Apparently the price of fuel had been raised 20% overnight and everyone was mad.  We had to wait about an hour before they let our bus through.  The bus was slow and we had to wait at another roadblock; the mountains got bigger and trees started replacing the cacti as we got higher.  It looked a lot like northern Arizona.

After roughly seven hours (should have only taken 4.5) we rolled into Creel, a cold and sleepy town after dark.  Hotel Temescal was welcoming and warm, with super-cute Chihuahua pups to play with!  Some authentic food at Restaurante Veronica was exactly what we needed.  Zach got “El Norteño”, a cast-iron skilled of beef, cheese, and veggies, a traditional local dish.

creel-15
Hueso, the cutest little Chihuahua in Chihuahua!

We dropped into bed early, happy to have made it through our first big travel day and ready for more adventures!

Please follow and like us:
Advertisements

Teotihuacan: An Ancient City

TeotihuancanAs interested as I try to be, I’m just not a big “ruins” person.  Most archeological sites I’ve visited have held my attention for about, say, an hour.  I feel kind of bad, as most guidebooks devote pages and pages to how important some of these fallen monuments are to human history.  Some travelers seem capable of wandering through mazes of half-built stone walls gazing at faded etchings for days.  Not me.
I think it’s because I’m not really a detail person.  When I experience beauty in the world, I experience it through grand landscapes, like a mountain view and a clear blue sky, rather than minutia, such as one small flower.  It’s just the way I perceive the world, I guess.  (And yes, Machu Picchu was awesome, but I think I enjoyed the scenery on the whole Inca Trail just as much as I enjoyed exploring the ancient city.)
That being said, when we planned our trip to Mexico City we figured we’d visit the pre-Colombian site Teotihuacan.  It was too close to the city and too famous not to go.  Thankfully, Zach is on the same page with me as far as ruins, and we planned to only spend a couple hours there.
The bus ride from Mexico City to Teotihuacan was about an hour.  We both fell asleep on the bus, tired from the previous day’s exploration.  After 48km through suburbs and desert hills, we arrived.  After entering through the gate, what we saw was really cool.  Teotihuacan was established around 100 BC and covered an area of 32 square miles.  The site is huge!  You could easily walk around all day if you wanted to see everything.

TeotihuacanWe focused on the main attraction, the Pyramid of the Sun.  Sunny it was, haha, and we sweated as we hauled ourselves up the 200 super steep steps to the top of the highest point in the park.  (Make sure you bring water!)  The view from the top was pretty epic and much more fitting with my landscape mentality.  You could see all the way over to the Temple of the Moon and out to the edges of the old city.  Pretty cool!  Climbing was hard with the elevation and heat and I was actually kind of worried watching some of the less-fit gringos trying to pull themselves up.  I wonder how many accidents happen???

Temple of the Sun Teotihuacan
TeotihuacanAfter going back down, we made our way through another small area, looking at a fresco of a puma and walking through some residential chambers.  We made our way out and found some lunch at a nearby restaurant.  Pretty easy and painless!

Teotihuacan Teotihuacan

Mmmmm enchiladas! Teotihuacan
Mmmmm enchiladas!

If you ever find yourself in Mexico City and have a half day to spare I definitely recommend it.  It’s a great contrast to the bustling urban metropolis and lets you see another side of the country, even if you’re not a “ruins person.”

Please follow and like us:

Mexico City Adventure: Centro Historico

We literally ran out of work around 11pm the night of our flight, rushing to cross the border.  It was finally time for our long weekend Mexico City adventure!!! Delta Airport Parking is a convenient place to park on the US side if you’re going to the Tijuana International Airport.  It’s only seven dollars a day and they will drive you to/from the border 24 hours a day.  A $12 taxi ride took us to the aeropuerto.  Then we had to get $25 tourist visas to go past the border zone.  They don’t check if you have them on the way there, but do on the way back.  The visas last for six months so hopefully we can use them again.  Airport security was different.  “WE DON’T HAVE TO TAKE OFF OUR SHOES!?!?!”  ¡Viva México!!!

Since our flight left at 12am and lasted about three hours, it was still dark when we made our way towards the Metro.  Conveniently located right by the airport and taking you all over the city, the Metro is a cheap and efficient way to get around.  We grabbed some churros and easily navigated the subway to the Roma, a hip neighborhood where Jaime, our CouchSurfing host lived.  The architecture was cool, eclectic and Spanish with crooked walls from many, many earthquakes.   Our host was a great tour guide as we searched for early morning food.  We ate lamb tacos and tamales with mole.  We talked about food.  Life was good.

Getting some energy after eating, we let our guide go off to work and walked several miles to the Centro Historico, home to beautiful government buildings, museums, and many cool bars and restaurants.  Walking was really nice; its our favorite way to enjoy a new city.

Art at the central palace.
Murals inside the Palacio Nacional
Downtown DF - Mexico City Adventure
Templo Mayor

As I said, there are a lot of awesome places to eat and drink in the Centro Historico.  On our Mexico City adventure one awesome place we found was an old cantina, La Faena, which served dual functions as both a bar and a bullfighting museum.  Notice the very complicated matador-themed crown molding.  The best thing about cantinas is that with every drink you order you get some free food.  The more you drink, the better the food!  We started off with some bar nuts here, and after a few rounds were given amazing bean tacos!

Cantina/Bullfighting Museum - Mexico City Adventure
Cantina/Bullfighting Museum

I ate grasshoppers.

Mexico City Adventure
Obviously there are some mixed feelings on the eating of bugs issue.

Pulque.  It’s a lightly alcoholic drink made from the sap of the agave plant and flavored with various fruits.  Super thick and milky and not for us.  The bar was awesome though.

mexico city adventure
Las Risas, one of many places to grab a glass of pulque around downtown Mexico City.

Eventually, all the food and walking, plus the effects of being up all night caught up to us and we took the long walk home to crash for a nap at Jaime’s house.  The rest of the night involved some more relaxed wanderings around the neighborhood.

Coming up next in our Mexico City adventure: our trip to the pyramids!

Please follow and like us:

Baja, Mexico Financial Summary

Baja Road Trip Financial Summary

Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 12.11.43 PM

Exchange Rate: $1=approximately 12 Mexican pesos

Total Money Spent: $1387

Total Days: 9

Per Person Per Day: $77

Wow!  Obviously, that’s quite a lot compared to our previous travel budgets!  However, this was our honeymoon, so we spent a lot more willingly then we did when we were penniless backpackers without jobs!

Transportation is almost all gas, since we were driving.  Gas costs about $3.80 per gallon in Baja right now.  The roads are so curvy and hilly that you don’t get very good gas mileage though.

We also had only one free place to stay on this trip.  If we had had more time to plan, I would’ve tried harder to book hostel reviews or find Couchsurfing hosts, but we just didn’t have the time, what with planning a wedding and all!  Our Cabo hotel we found on Living Social, and it was a great deal.  Other places we managed to find campsites or hotel rooms for $15-30.

You can definitely do Baja cheaper, if you take buses and camp and don’t go out as much.  We had a great honeymoon and feel pretty content with the bang we got for our buck.

Please follow and like us:

Baja Mexico Road Trip Advice

When you cross the border into Mexico, all of the stresses and worries of hectic United States living evaporate, leaving you instantly refreshed and rejuvenated.  Do you stay feeling so awesome after hitting your first pothole, the first American tourist that flies past you over 100mph, the first time soldiers with machine guns are digging through your car?  Here is a quick recap of problems, suggestions, annoyances, and misconceptions and general Baja Mexico Road Trip Advice.

-If you drive into Mexico your car insurance is no longer valid.  You can buy Mexican insurance at the border and there are several different options.  Since we have an old dumpy car, we got the cheapest available plan, $6 per day which would at least keep us out of prison in the event of a fender bender.  No one ever asked if we had this or not and I think a lot of travelers skip it. I wouldn’t take my chances.

-To travel south of Ensenada, tourists are supposed to get a card from immigration for $25 each.  We got them but this was also probably unnecessary, as no one once looked at our passports.  One soldier at a checkpoint did ask for my passport once but I told him “No tengo (I don’t have it)” and handed him my California driver’s license without a problem.

-Everyone told us to keep a $20 bill in a visible spot in the car.  Apparently $20 is “the fine” if the Federales (Mexican federal police, notoriously corrupt) stop you.  We were also advised to never give them your passport because to get it back you’ll have to pay much more than $20.  We never had any encounters with the Federales.

-Watch out for potholes!  We hit some bad ones but were lucky enough to not blow any tires.   Some of the worst we spotted had to be more than a foot deep.  No recovery after hitting that.  Also, there are a lot of unmarked speed bumps.  If you were driving the speed limit these wouldn’t be a problem.  However, you won’t be driving the speed limit.

-Don’t run out of gas!  Most Baja maps show you which towns have gas stations.  There are some very long stretches without and you’ll need a full tank!  Plan wisely, or you’ll end up stranded!

-No one drives the speed limit.  If the sign said “40 km per hour” I tried not to exceed 40 miles per hour.

-People hassle you to buy tours and souvenirs, especially in Tijuana and Cabo San Lucas.  Just say “No gracias,” firmly and continue like they aren’t there.   If you make eye contact you will never be left alone.

-Drugs will be offered to you all the time (especially if you have dreadlocks or other hippie-ish characteristics).  Rarely do tourists ever have a problem in México unless they are looking for that stuff.  It’s a great way to get robbed, kidnapped, or jailed.  The booze is cheap and legal!  Stick with that.

-There are about eight military checkpoints (different from the Federales) along the way.  Headed south we were searched at two of the checkpoints.  Northward we were searched at all but one stop.  We always hid our money but at times we forgot to put away the bribe $20 bill.  The soldiers never took it or anything else and were always pretty polite.  Just don’t bring anything into the country that you don’t want found.

Waiting in line at one of many military checkpoints. Baja Mexico road trip advice
Waiting in line at one of many military checkpoints.

-When you’re eating and drinking you should tip around 15%.  Nothing is expensive so don’t get cheap on people.

-The tap water is safe to consume in some places.  Ask the locals!

Mexico is a lot of fun, and actually really easy to travel in.  Don’t let the scary news reports keep you away from a good time.  We hope this Baja Mexico road trip advice article helps all our fellow travelers out there!

Please follow and like us:

The Long Way Back – A Road Trip in Baja California

Pristine beaches near Mulegé on the drive back north
Pristine beaches near Mulegé on the drive back north

Randomly browsing the Internet while sitting in our Cabo hotel, Zach happened upon a news report concerning Hurricane Erick!  We were on a road trip in Baja California and although Baja rarely gets hit by hurricanes, apparently Erick was headed right towards us.  Forecasters were predicting it would hit the whole peninsula and even cause storms in San Diego!  This turned out to be false, as weather reports often do, but nevertheless, we felt the pressure was on to “get while the gettin’s good!”  We definitely did not want to get stuck on a washed-out road in the crazy desert during a hurricane/flash flood!

Sadly, due to our desire to stay in front of the hurricane, we only got to see one more town on our trip.  Mulegé, a quiet small town on the Sea of Cortez, didn’t have a lot going on.  It was a nice change from the bigger cities though.  The nearby coastline boasts some of the most gorgeous beaches we’ve ever seen and we wished we had more time to hang out and do some kayaking.  Whenever we go back to Baja, we’ll definitely head straight here!

road trip in baja californai

The second day’s drive was pretty tedious.  We did get hit with some rain on windy mountain roads, but nothing too bad.  Because we were heading north and because of the recent election in Baja Norte, the military was patrolling in force, and we got stopped and searched at each of the five checkpoints we passed.  Nevertheless, we managed to survive a record-breaking 18 hour day in the car and pulled up at our casa just before midnight.  We’re sad that the trip is over, but it won’t be our last excursion into México!

Click here for the beginning of the story.

Click here for the previous chapter of the story.

Click here for some advice on road trips in Baja California Mexico.

Click here for a financial summary of our Mexico road trip.

Like this story about our road trip in Baja California? Check out our archives and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and our subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

Please follow and like us:

We Got Cabo-ed!

cabo road trip
Medano Beach, Cabo San Lucas

The ultimate destination on our grand Mexican road trip was of course, the very end of the Baja Penninsula, Cabo San Lucas!  Famous as a raucous spring break destination, Cabo brings to mind images of unruly American teenagers pouring tequila down each others throats on the beach.  Not exactly our scene.  However, we had to see it.

Drinking margaritas at Sammy Hagar's world famous "Cabo Wabo" bar. cabo road trio
Drinking margaritas at Sammy Hagar’s world famous “Cabo Wabo” bar.

Thanks to Living Social we scored a great deal on a really nice suite in a beachfront hotel outside of town, Marbella Suites en La Playa.  It was the nicest place we’ve ever paid for and being there for four nights made the trip really feel like a honeymoon!  Normally we’re very “get up and go” travelers, but after all the stress and activity of wedding planning, we found ourselves craving a typical, relaxed vacation for the first time ever.  So, relax we did!  Our stay involved a lot of pool time, reading, watching movies, and hanging out with another couple we befriended.  It was exactly what we needed!

Pool at our hotel on cabo road trip
Pool at Marbella
Cabo
Romantic dinner on the beach

We did get out for some surfing a couple times (waves too big for us!), explored downtown Cabo (it really is the Las Vegas of Mexico), and found the best taco shop in the history of the world!  Asi y Asado had the greatest selection of taco bases (vegetarian, every kind of fish, beef, chicken, etc.) and the biggest toppings bar we’d ever seen!  We’d each order two tacos and then pile them high with condiments, still unable to try everything!  SO GOOD.

Colorful mural at our favorite taco place. cabo road trip
Colorful mural at our favorite taco place
Help! My taco is too stuffed! cabo road trip
Help! My taco is too stuffed!

Stunning beaches, an abundance of activities, and outrageous parties make Cabo a great destination if you want it all.  I don’t think we need to go back anytime soon, but we definitely had a blast on our Cabo road trip!

cabo road trip
Sunset over the end of the penninsula

This was the farthest we could go on our Cabo Road Trip down the peninsula of Baja Mexico.

Click here for part 3:

Click here for part 5:

Check out our archives for other stories you’ve never heard and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and our subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Please follow and like us: