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Ensenada to San Felipe



We went to sleep lulled by the sound of the ocean and awoke to a beautiful morning. We took our time and walked, Doug did some work, we had a nice brekkie looking out at the ocean, then, and we tried to start up Tigger and no go! Doug checked and neither of our engine batteries were dead, no blown fuses but nada.

We asked the girls camped nearby for a jump just in case but as Doug thought, that wasn’t the problem. Our Mexican insurance came with roadside assistance so we resorted to that solution. This did not work as expected. Although they gave us a report number and said a tow truck would arrive in approximately forty minutes, after one and a half hours, no one came. Doug called back and we were told we’d called the wrong number. Nothing in the paperwork differentiates between any of the numbers shown; who knew?

Anyway, while he was speaking to the right people, the owner of the campground came back with a portable power generator and the truck started first try and his monitor showed the battery had a full charge as Doug had detected. Then when we turned it off to be sure, it did nothing. He played with it, and it appears a slightly loose connection to the battery may have been the problem. So we got it running again and left to drive into Ensenada to a mechanic to get it looked at. When we got to town we found a Chevy dealer, and shut it off and tested it; it started up again and again without us even going in so we did not take it in.

Next adventure: getting cell and internet service. This was quite an endeavor. From our reading it seemed a company called TelCel was the one to use and it was recommended to go to a main centre not a small location to ensure that everything work.

Two and a half hours later, we left the store, exhausted but with a sim card for our unlocked Android phone, an unlocked 3G USB dongle modem and an unlocked Wi-Fi hot spot. Luckily for us, there was a manager who spoke English to help us understand the plans and features and prices and when we left it was all working but we are not crystal clear on how it worked and how to renew.

DSC00280 toys to connect us to the world

By this time it was late afternoon and we did not feel like hunting for a place to park/camp for the night so Doug found us a hotel in town. It was clean, fairly new and had a locked parking area for Tigger. There was a hot shower, a flat screen TV, intermittent Wi-Fi (but good when it worked) and although no AC there was a fan.

So we set up our laptops and the Wi-Fi spot (at first neither of us could get on hotel Wi-Fi) and the hotspot worked for about 3 minutes. So Fran used the cell to call TelCel and they advised it showed that we’d used ALL 3GB of data already and it would take 24 hours to put more on! That was ridiculous and the customer service person agreed and said to go back to TelCel and/or wait 24 hours to reactivate it. The USB dongle did work however and eventually so did the hotel Wi-Fi and it worked the rest of the night but not the next morning.

We decided to get out of the hotel room and went for a walk and stopped at bar with an outdoor rooftop patio and enjoyed some beer, tequila shots and conversation with the waiter. Fran asked him about getting prescription drugs here in Mexico without a prescription. He wrote down the drug name, and went to check prices at three pharmacies. He got the best deal of 100 pills of her BP medicine for a great price. She’s going to try them for a week and see if they are actually keeping her BP down before we can say for sure, it’s the real thing.

While Fran was getting dinner ready that night she scalded her right wrist and forearm with boiling water. Painful! After a couple of hours of cooling it down with water and rolling a cold beer over it, Doug went to a pharmacy looking for some Demerol so she could sleep (he’d been given that a couple of years when he’d been scalded when a waiter dropped a pot of tea in his lap). They did not have Demerol but they suggested Percocet and he bought 5. Fran took one and almost immediately the pain diminished. A few hours after she went to bed it started up again and she took another. Next morning she was quite woozy and nauseous; took till late afternoon to dissipate. Finally she felt better but that burn is healing slowly with blisters and exposed skin but it is no longer painful.

We checked out the couple of things to see in Ensenada, the harbour area (where the cruise ships come in), the lookout above the city and the main street. It was very warm here but not humid or stifling at all.

After two nights in the hotel we headed south a bit and found a camp ground at Corona Beach and stayed there right on the beach for two nights.

We really enjoyed this spot; right on the beach, amazing sunsets, and so much of a stretch of beach with clean sand to walk along. Again there was only one other group of campers at the place and this site came with power and water. The place has several cottages which seem to be for snowbirds but hardly any of them were around. They were quite cute and all different with many facing the ocean; another possible place to retire at and only two and half hours of San Diego.   Ensenada has all the amenities of a city: department stores, theatres, grocery stores and the like. Corona Beach is about 8km (5miles) from downtown but it feels like you are quite away from the hustle and bustle.

DSC00306 our campsite - Corona Beach

We left there on Sunday morning and headed southwest towards La Bufadora – a blowhole. As it was a Sunday, we decided to go early as it’s a pretty popular spot and we heard parking for larger vehicles can be an issue.

We are so glad we went early; it was practically empty and the gauntlet of booths and shops you have to walk to from the main parking area was not open yet. So we actually drove straight through it all and found a couple of parking lots at the end of the “strip” and the last one did not have a cost sign so we pulled in, parked and looked for the blowhole. It took a few minutes as there is not much signage. There was one family there and we watched the water come up a few times. Quite impressive but a really small viewing area so when it’s crowded it must be ridiculous.

We headed east inland to cross to the other side of Baja on the Sea of Cortez. This drive was pretty easy. It is a paved road all the way, no shoulder but clearly two lanes. You climb up a ways through mountains (and many of those same mounds of rocks we saw in southern California) and you meet up with the highway that comes south from Mexicali. There were a couple of military checkpoints to go through; they ask you where you are from and where you are going and that’s about it. We figure they are checking for drug dealers and/or guns.

We got to San Felipe in the late afternoon and with our app found a camp ground on the beach just outside town. All the spots have palapas (these are raised patios above a concrete slab at about a two story height so you can set up your tent there or just sit up there under a roof for shade and enjoy the ocean with a lovely breeze. This place with power, water, sewer and Wi-Fi for the same price we paid in Ensenada.

San Felipe is a small town with lots of time shares, condos, RV parks and the like where many snowbirds come from both the US and Canada. Many arrive after American Thanksgiving so it’s pretty quiet here right now. We love that. The only other campers at this place are two couples from, get this: the Vancouver area in two motor homes that are here for a month. They said the rent for a month is $375US.  Hope you’re having a great time Carlo, Deb, Bill & Karen!

It’s about a fifteen minute walk into town. There is only one bank and we were glad we had ATM cards because there is a line up at the counter that seems to go out the door every day.   There are many curio shops, bars and restaurants and about three grocery stores of varying sizes. The town has a nice beach with a malecon (boardwalk) and there are lots of dogs everywhere. Because of all the snowbirds, there is a fair bit of English here.

DSC00324 San Felipe Beach

So we spent our three days here working in the morning on our laptops after some exercise of some sort. After brekkie it was a walk into town to pick up groceries, banking and the like. It was less than a mile into town and some mornings it was hotter than others. The humidity continued the entire four days we were here in varying degrees. The afternoons were spent in and out of the water chatting with our neighbours. There are no big waves here but the tide naturally rises and falls. Our 39₵ pool noodles (we got these in Phoenix) came in handy here. There are a resident couple of sea lions of which we saw at least one a day popping his head out. The sand on the beach is quite nice and there is usually a breeze. On our third day, a Mexican family of five joined us on the palapa beside us and invited us to dinner that night. He spoke pretty good English and Doug loved practicing his Spanish with him. We enjoyed warm tortillas with meat and homemade guacamole and a little dancing afterwards.

Before packing up on Thursday, we did some yoga on the palapa at sunrise, Doug worked a bit, we filled the water tank and dumped the black & grey and after a final walk on the beach, hit the road to venture further south along the Sea of Cortez.

Water at the campsite is called “potable” but it probably isn’t for us. We do have a purifier but we added a touch of bleach (which the filters will filter out) just to be safe.

We enjoyed San Felipe other than the humidity.