I think both Todd and me would tell you that we had zero expectations of Baja. For me, honestly, I was too busy working to even bother to google or investigate anything about Baja – where we were going or what we were doing. Todd never has expectations when he travels, he is all about jumping in! Now that we are back, we’re reflecting on how great it was, everything we miss about it and how we completely fell in love with Baja!
The people are so nice and kind and, we are pretty sure happy, that we are there, bringing tourism back to the peninsula. Mexican’s are so family oriented and is evident throughout Baja by the way they interacted, the sense of community we saw, the Sunday’s spent at the beach or on the Malecon, operating businesses where they open at 10, close at 2 for lunch (the big meal of the day with the whole family) and then back to work from 4:30-7. The people are constantly socializing with their neighbor or fellow co-worker (which is good and bad for business, but not in their eyes!)
Its crazy how the Mexicans will sell anything! Its almost indescribably all the “weird” stuff we saw that was for sale. And I guess, I only say weird, because I would never think to sell that, I would throw it out. Like the tub of a washing machine – we passed a guy’s hose and that’s what he had scattered over his property.
There is also a job for anything. I know I’ve mentioned this before, such as the Costco cart pusher, and the grocery store bagger. These are jobs that they only get paid based on tips. There are also the windshield washers and car washers in the CaliMax parking lot – they wash your vehicle with the smallest amount of water (whatever is in the bucket) and a helluva a lot of hand buffing involved!
The food is very good. It took us a while to figure out the food, both buying it and going out to eat. We can be kind of cheap when eating out, mostly because we are so self sufficient and rarely eat out when we are at home, and so for us, we thought eating out was too expensive. Once we figured out the street taco vendors and that it was relatively cheap, and supporting the local economy, we were all in (well as much as we could, you will see our stats on that below). We bought a lot of produce from the lady selling tomatoes, or guy selling lettuce on the roadside stands, instead of grocery stores and discovered the fresh tortilleria’s in all the towns. It took us a few weeks, but we finally changed the way we bought groceries and ate out, so next time, we know what to eat!
Just like all the other jobs that we thought were different, it took us a few weeks to get Laundry services! Of all the services, I LOVE THIS ONE! And will pay whatever for it. The only downside was the intense smell of fabric softener. The second time we got laundry service, we gave them our own soap and instructed them to not add fabric softener and this turned out awesome!
We couldn’t get over the amount of sand, everywhere! Not just the beach, but almost all the countryside and side “highways” are all made of sand. The dust from sand, the sand that makes it into your car, on your bike, in your bus/RV, is crazy! How is it possible for there to be so much of it, and it all different types (pebbly, white, yellow, black, shelly) too, so crazy. As is the diversity of landscape throughout Baja. There is so much desert, and so many cactuses, and so many desert mountains, and so many empty arroyo’s (river beds), and so many boulders and rocks and then all of a sudden there’s green mountain ranges and agriculture fields and orchards and greenhouses and wineries. For such a skinny area of land, the diversity is so amazing!
Roads – skinny and not skinny and skinny and skinnier and then not. I’ve talked a lot about roads and posted videos about them. The road might be awesome, but in 3 km, its shit and worse than shit. Always have your game face on!
Other RV’ers – such a community of ex-pats in Baja of all ages and in every possible camping situation you can imagine (from vans, to tents, to converted milk trucks, to schools buses, fancy 5thwheel with pushouts to highend class A’s – but only one Bus – Ruby!). Everyone is on the same course, and there is really only one highway to get you there and chances are you will run in to people more than once or twice. Everyone is also on the same page with exploring, living simply (although with Ruby, some people don’t believe we live simply!) and just living life. This is the best lifestyle we’ve ever lived and can’t wait to do it all over again!
Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean – two totally separate beasts but both of them area both so incredible. The crystal clear water (of both), the waves or lack of, the temperature, the sea creatures like fishies, whales, dolphins and rays – we couldn’t get enough of all of it! The sunrises and sunsets on both sides were so incredibly spectacular!
Things we won’t miss:
- Non-stop barking dogs
- Driving on terrible asphalt
- Driving on terrible sand roads
- Lack of road signs
- Speed bumps
- Being asked 100 times if we wanted to buy a whale tour/blanket/jewelry/taco/massage/ceramic dish
- Having to look down the entire time you are walking (to save yourself from breaking an ankle/leg on uneven surfaces)
- Converting currency very quickly in your head
- Vacuuming sand out of the bus
- Shitty wifi
- Tipping everyone (especially for jobs we didn’t want in the first place – windshield wash guy)
Some Random Stats:
- Toad mileage – 5200 km (3231 miles) toad is slang for the tow vehicle
- Ruby mileage – 9202 km (5718 miles)
- Hottest temp in Baja – 30C
- Coldest temp in Baja – 5C
- Longest driving day – 14 hours (Lake Mead to Idaho Falls)
- Shortest drive day – 15 minutes (Loreto to Junkalito)
- Total # of meals we ate out: 10 (right!, I told you we never eat out!)
- Total days on the road: 89
- Total # of days we forgot to drink: 2
- Total # of tequila bottles consumed: 9
- Sick days: 0
- Hangover days: a few
- Breakdowns: 1 (Bus), 3 (Car)
- Military checks: 7 (+2 agriculture checks and a secondary illegal alien checks)
Our favourite things we did on the whole trip: (this is a hard list, we loved it all!)
- We left for the winter!
- Whale watching
- Gorge waterfall hike/skinny dip
- Watching marine life (dolphins) through the bus window
- Salt mine tour
- Beach boondocking: el Requeson, Cerritos and La Ventana
- Hotsprings and waterfall tour