Hola all! We are safe and well inside Mexico. Our border crossing this time went as expected. As we travelled down California we were warned by men at gas stations and women at tourist booths about the perils of crossing the border. We are happy to proclaim that we have not been shot or killed!
We decided to cross at Tijuana border instead of Tecate as originally planned as we found out that the Tecate crossing would not be able to facilitate importing our bikes and we wanted to get all the administrative work out of the way. We headed to the “big border” after leaving our lovely host’s home in San Diego at 8:30am morning. We stopped in San Ysidro to buy some mandatory liability insurance for riding in Mexico and then we made a run for the border. We anxiously joined a fast moving lineup of cars, weaved our way through a spiked gate on the ground that would not allow a car to escape once it was driven over and then, much to our surprise, 5 minutes later we popped out over the other side of the border without even being stopped! We did however have to subject ourselves to accomplishing some work. Since we knew that we going to go further than 30km into Mexico and that we will be eventually making our way over to mainland Mexico from Baja, we had to stop and obtain our tourist visa and bike importation papers before heading on our way. We parked our bikes up on the sidewalk and headed down a hallway full of offices and counters. Other tourists in line helped us figure out which counters we needed to visit and which ones we could skip. First we lined up to get a blank visa form to fill out, then we had to lineup at another counter to pay our fee at the bank for our visa, then we had to go back to the original lineup and show the visa guy that we paid for the tourist visa and then he stamped our passports. He explained that we would then have to drive about a block away to go to the Vehicle Importation place to get the correct paperwork for our motorcycles. As we left the immediate border area we noticed the machine gun carrying, black ski mask wearing, army guys patrolling the area. They were pretty cool and gave us the thumbs up as we rode past.
Getting to the Vehicle Importation place was a bit chaotic as we were immediately mingling with regular traffic and hordes of taxi cabs. Daryll and I lost each other for a few minutes in a traffic circle, he went one way and I went another but we just took it easy, turned on our head set communicators and found each other again without drama. We parked at the Vehicle Import place, went in and paid our money at the bank inside and got the proper documents to allow us to bring our motorcycles to mainland Mexico. Next hard part of the day was then leaving the city and start driving through to Ensenada. We decided to treat ourselves to taking the toll highway as it avoided having to go through the city of Tijuana and it was less busy than the regular highway. It gave us the opportunity to get our bearings and ended up being quite scenic. By this time it was around noon and Daryll suggested that we stop for lunch. I was pretty high strung at that point and asked him if we could just keep riding as I knew a few more kilometers under my tires would sooth me. Plus I knew that the further away from the border we got, the safer we probably were.
On the highway just outside Rosarito we were directed by some more machine gun carrying army guys to stop at a roadside check point – Daryll went to one guy and I went to another. We had already discussed the possibility that we would be subject to these checks so we played it cool and allowed these guys to see whatever they wanted – not that we really had a choice. I’m not really sure what he was searching for but he made me open one of my panniers and he checked inside a couple of my bags. When he was done he helped me pack up my things again and made a joke about my water bottle being a bomb. He was super cool and said “bon voyage” as I prepared to ride a way. Daryll had a similar experience with the 2 guards that were searching his stuff and we rode away in peace.
Around 2pm we ended up at a hotel that was recommended to us by a friend we had met back in San Diego, Sven of “Let’s ATV”, and it was perfect – cheap, with free wifi, and a bit away from the regular tourist area. We treated ourselves to a well deserved nap and hot showers. Later we went for dinner with the locals and had our first cervezas - <sigh of relief here>.
New pics added to the USA album of our time in San Diego and pics uploaded to the Mexico album