As you can see from the picture below, the 123 miles we have cycled so far has hardly made a dent; but every journey starts with one step, or in our case the first press on a pedal!
Until today, the route has followed the main highway south through the sprawling suburbs of Tijuana, Rosarito and Ensenada, mainly run down areas where nothing seems to be finished with a lot of litter lying around. This has been interspersed with attempts at developing the more spectacular Pacific coastal locations, with some success, for tourism. Due to the population density in this north west corner of the peninsula, the roads have been very busy including a great many big trucks. Not great for cycling, especially sections where there is little or no shoulder. On the advice of some locals and other cyclists’ blogs we took the tolled dual carriageway between Rosarito and Ensenada as it had less traffic, a wider shoulder and flatter profile than the road we should have taken. Technically off limits to cyclists, we did see others and the police, who were attending a broken down lorry, paid no heed. So no harm done.
Ensenada, the third largest city on the Baja, home to circa 300,000 people, had a splendid setting in a natural harbour, which brings in many cruise ships. There is also a thriving fishing industry. A walk through the market revealed some monsters of the deep, fish of all shapes, colours, beauty and ugliness and numerous varieties of crustaceans.
The Mexicans love music, it blares out from shops, bars and even speakers along the main promenades. Men cross the road and walk along the streets playing guitars and other instruments. Wandering bands meander in and out of restaurants willing to play to anyone who will listen, (and send a few pesetas their way). We embraced the cultural experience with a Margarita at Hussong’s Cantina, Ensenada, established in 1892 (and not much changed). The bar was featured in Rick Stein’s recent travel/food documentary for the BBC, as it claims to have invented the now world famous, Tequila based, cocktail.
Heading ever south, the road has finally become a bit less heavily trafficked, hillier and more scenic as we head away from the coast. The hills are dry and covered in scrub, with oases of green in the valley floors where various horticultural crops are grown with the aid of irrigation. The area is also home to 90% of Mexico’s wine production. Bus loads of workers were busy pruning the vines as we passed by.
And to end on a high, today has been quite chilly, with a few spots of rain and the thought of having to camp was not at all inviting. Luckily there was an unexpected motel directly opposite the campsite ….