Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Photo Log: Baja California Highway 5 Update - February 2019

Here's a quick update of the road conditions of Baja California Highway 5 from Laguna Chapala north to Puertecitos. The storms of Fall 2019 have done some major damage to the area but the locals always figure a way around obstacles.

Remember, this is driving north from Laguna Chapala (at the Highway 1 intersection) to Coco's Corner then to Bahia San Luis Gonzaga and then one to Puertecitos (south of San Felipe).

Some sections have rough washboard and rock slides. Others have highway and road ways missing, some marked some not, that you need to go around. And then there are a number of bridges out.

Please use extreme caution when driving this section. It's doable but slow.

Photos taken on February 3rd, 2019.


Here is the stickered sign at the turn off of "Highway 5"


The first couple hundred yards off of Highway 1 is paved, but that's fool's gold as the road is rough with washboard and rock slides to follow.

Car-sized boulders have fallen off the cliffsides.


Coco's Corner sign and construction equipment.

Long washboard section just before you turn north to Coco's Corner.

Coco's Corner - Stop in, say hi to Coco, sign his book and buy a cerveza.

The road is so rough in some spots that the locals have already made their own side roads in the soft sand.

The bridges south of Gonzaga Bay are intact.

This is not a copy of the photo above, it's another section north of Coco's with rock slides.

Finally! Pavement just south of Bahia San Luis Gonzaga.

Army checkpoint just north of Gonzaga Bay and Papa Fernandez'.

Soon after you will begin to see cones marking small areas of missing road. This is nothing compared to what's coming your way.

Water is amazing and destructive as you can see in the arroyo that completely destroyed the embankments of this bridge. Unfortunately this type of contruction will never route the water properly.

With large sections of roadway and bridges out, the locals have made their own roads as in the past. Even detours large trucks can access.

A closer shot of the damage that large rain storms can do.

Completely missing sections of highway looking south.
Cross section of highway completely gone.
Cones warn of a portion of a missing bridge. In some sections there are no cones, just tires or debris piles. Be cautious.



The largest span we came across is falling apart. Do not drive on it, follow the locals around these damaged bridges.


Another shot looking south of the same bridge from the detour.


Cones, tires and debris all mark damaged highway. Beware, it's difficult to see at night.


Thank you to Baja Bound Insurance Services for making this trip possible.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Top 7 Beaches in Los Cabos

Written by Jenni Reichert

Los Cabos is famous for its golf courses, fantastic nightlife and gourmet restaurants. But perhaps its most well-known for its phenomenal beaches. Cabo offers a plethora of beaches to choose from to suit everyone from avid water-babies to people looking for a quiet spot to read their favorite book.

Here’s a look at some of the best beaches you can visit during your next vacation to Los Cabos.

Playa Las Viudas - Photo courtesy of https://gonetripn.com/todos-santos/


Las Viudas Beach

Perhaps less commonly known to travelers visiting Cabo San Lucas than others such as Medano Beach in the heart of Cabo, this beautifully rugged beach is a fun place to spend time climbing rocks and admiring the Sea of Cortez. Because of its stunning rock formations, Las Viudas beach is also a favorite for local photographers.

Located just under 10 kilometers away from down-town Cabo San Lucas, Las Viudas is a beautiful beach waiting to be explored. Additionally, Las Viudas is the perfect spot to catch a magical sunset, making it a firm favorite to capture a couple’s special celebration or a family photoshoot.

Santa Maria Bay - Photo courtesy of https://www.shermanstravel.com


Santa Maria Bay

Follow the highway 7 kilometers beyond Las Viudas and you’ll find another spectacular spot. Santa Maria Bay is well-known for its idyllic snorkeling. Although it doesn’t have any facilities, many people adore heading there for a full day of sun and relaxation. The crystal blue waters of Santa Maria wash up on a perfect sandy beach which looks like a little alcove when you first arrive.

If you’re planning a trip to Santa Maria, try to go early in the day so you can get some alone time - this beach gets busy as the day progresses.



Chileno Bay - Photo courtesy of https://beachtraveldestinations.com/best-beaches-in-cabo/


Chileno Bay

This is my personal favorite beach to spend a day at in Los Cabos. Chileno Bay is located half-way between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo on the famous Cabo Corridor. This is a parents dream of a beach as there are a few little rock pools for kids to safely explore.

The waves are normally gentle so young children can paddle along the shore. There’s a wooden gangway that you can walk from the car park to the beach. This makes life so much easier is you are bringing a cooler and beach chairs along with you for the day. Get there early enough and uou can find several permanent palapas on the beachfront to provide you and your family with shade.

There are restrooms at Chileno Bay, which makes life so much easier when you’re bringing children with you for the day! Chileno is famous for its snorkeling and sunsets; if you don’t have any snorkeling equipment, you can easily rent equipment from some friendly vendors upon arrival at the beach.

Chileno Bay is a truly magical spot that you must explore while vacationing in Cabo.


Beach bars, boat and other water sport rentals line Medano Beach


Medano Beach

Want some people-watching beach fun? Take a day and spend it on the famous Medano Beach. Medano beach is located the heart of Cabo San Lucas. With awesome spots like The Office and Billygans, you can while away an entire day enjoying water activities, buying some Mexican souvenirs and downing some Pacificos.

My favorite thing to do on Medano Beach (besides people watch) is park up at Sur Beach House. This is an incredible day beach club that offers lounge chairs, full bar and restaurant service. For a small fee that’s applied to your food & beverage bill, you can have all day access to extreme comfort and attentive waiter service.


Palmilla Beach | San Jose del Cabo

Only a 12-minute car journey from San Jose del Cabo heading South, you’ll find Palmilla Beach: a well-known favorite spot in San Jose del Cabo.
Because of its easy-access car park and zero distance to walk from car to beach, locals prefer Palmilla Beach. With that being said, this location can get pretty busy. Don’t let that deter you, as it’s a great spot to take the kids boogie boarding and enjoy some family time as you watch sunset.

Cerritos Beach | Pescador

Fancy a road trip during your Cabo vacation? If so, pack your rental car with your beach gear and head south towards Todos Santos. Just before you reach the beautiful town of Todos Santos, take a left and go to Cerritos Beach.

Cerritos is an impressive surfers paradise, where many have gone for surfing school or a family vacation. Long walks along the beach are enjoyed by the whole family.

Cerritos has restaurant and bar service available all day. Massage therapists await you after a long day of surfing!



Playa La Playita | Puerto Los Cabos

For those of you who don’t enjoy waves of any kind, head north of San Jose del Cabo to a quiet spot just beyond the Puerto Los Cabos marina. Affectionately named ‘Playa La Playita’ because of its small size, this tranquil hideaway is the perfect place to while away a few hours in the sun.

The El Ganzo Hotel overlooks the beach area which sits just beyond the Container Restaurant.

If you’re willing to pay a few hundred pesos which will be applied to your food and beverage bill, you can grab a sun lounger for the whole day and relax in front of this delightfully peaceful spot.

As you can see, there’s something for everyone in Los Cabos. There are so many unique and diverse beach spots to be explored throughout the area. Rent a car, hail a taxi, use public transportation or use recently arrived Uber service to help you get to these paradise-style beaches!

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Jenni Reichert is the owner of Baja Baby Gear, #1 Baby Gear Rentals In Mexico
You can reach her at jen@bajababygear.com or through her website at http://www.mexonline.com/bajababygear.htm

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Cross Border Xpress (CBX) skybridge to the Tijuana Airport

Cross Border Express CBX


Are you flying out of Tijuana? But live in California or the U.S.? Well there is a simple solution to crossing the border without all of the hassle of the long border lines and waiting. It's the Cross Border Xpress or simply CBX. Located in Otay Mesa (San Diego), and directly across the border from the Tijuana Airport (TIJ), CBX is the easiest, fastest way to access flights leaving/arriving from Tijuana.

Here's some details:

-CBX is an enclosed pedestrian skybridge that spans the US/Mexico border.
-You must purchase a ticket either online or at the CBX counters to use it.
-Only ticketed passengers flying out of or into Tijuana may use CBX.
-Current costs range from $16 one way to $30 round trip (as of Jan 2019).

-You must have your passport (or other accepted ID), boarding pass & CBX ticket to use CBX.
-There is a mobile app ticket you can present instead of paper (see their website for details).
-CBX is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

-Crossing using CBX is the same as crossing any US/Mexico border, all laws apply.
-US Customs will be present and check your passport/luggage on your return.

-The CBX building is in the US, but has employees on both sides to assist you.
-AeroMexico, Calafia, Interjet & Volaris have ticket counters at CBX for assistance.
-CBX has a 24 hour paid parking lot available.
-Other transportation options include Uber/Lyft, Taxis or the CBX shuttle.

-CBX has a Starbuck's, a food truck and vending machines. There is also free WiFi.

The CBX website link is at the bottom of the article.


Please follow this "photo walk-through" of what to expect using CBX from a recent trip.


Cross Border Xpress on San Diego Tijuana border
This is the outside of the CBX building for drop off. To the left is overnight parking.

CBX provides free luggage carriers which you exchange for another one on Tijuana side.


The three flags of California, Mexico and the United States


Check in counters just like an airport. You can buy your pass here, check in for your flight or simply ask a question. You will need to carry your bags across (they don't check bags here)

On the left side of the counters (above) is the entrance to the bridge. You will need to fill out a declarations form (there are tables and pens available). Here an employee will check your ticket, passport, airline ticket and form.

Once you enter and pass through a duty free shop, you will head onto the bridge to cross to Mexico.
There's only one way to go and it's enclosed. Very simple.

You won't even know you crossed the US Mexico Border unless you see this small plaque

US Mexico border. You are in Mexico once you cross the plaque.

Keep walking and follow the signs. Someone will meet you around the corner to take your luggage carrier (if you have one) and offer you a Tijuana Airport carrier. You will then take an escalator, stairs or elevator down to the airport.

This is the unsecure area of the Tijuana airport. Keep walking to the airport counters at the end. If you need help, there are airline ticket counters with personnel that can point you in the right direction.

Usually someone will be at the start of the line to assist you (just show them your ticket). In this case this is the Volaris counter. If no one is there, get in line like any other airport. You can flag someone down.

This is where the boarding area is (some flights leave from upstairs and some downstairs). Most signs are in Spanish and English. You can purchase store items here like any airport in the world.

Returning to the US using Cross Border Xpress (CBX)

When you depart the aircraft follow the signs to the luggage area. You will pass through Mexican customs and may be asked for your passport and tourist visa. Once inside the luggage area, you will need to pick up your bags. You will see both signs and employees from CBX (the employees usually wear purple). They are there to assist you.

Remember you you must have your passport (or other accepted ID), boarding pass & CBX ticket to use CBX.

They will show you where to go to access the pedestrian skybridge back into the CBX building and the US. Do not exit the airport through the regular passenger access as you will not be allow back into to the CBX access (and would need to cross into the US via the regular border at Otay Mesa). If you are confused, stop and ask someone for the CBX access.

Follow the CBX bridge back over the border (remember you can't get lost as there is only one way to go). Take the escalator, stairs or elevator down into the US Customs area. They will ask you to declare your entry into the US, look at your passport and check your luggage. Once this simple process is done, you will walk back into the CBX building and pick up your ride.

Please check their website for current details, to purchase a ticket, or see current photos.

https://www.crossborderxpress.com





Sunday, December 30, 2018

24 Hours in Baja California's Capital: Mexicali




Mexicali? Baja's capital? Wrong it's Tijuana or is it maybe Ensenada, but not Mexicali. And where is Mexicali anyway? The desert right? Along the border?

Those are questions I have heard many times. People have heard of Mexicali, but not much else. They have always thought of it as some small border town on the international boundary in the hot, lifeless desert. Or a place to drive through quickly on the way to San Felipe and the Sea of Cortez.

Well small it's not, border town in the desert it is. But I was to find out it is MUCH more....... in 24 hours!


Estadio B Air where the Mexicali Aguilas play


Luckily I was invited to attend a playoff game for the local professional baseball team, the Aguilas de Mexicali (Mexicali Eagles). I had always wanted to attend a game, but never found the time. Glad I finally did. The Aguilas play in the Liga Mexicana del Pacífico (Mexican Pacific League) from October to January. Similar to an MLB AAA team there was some serious talent on the current roster.

The Visit

I arrived in the small town of Calexico, CA (the town across the border from Mexicali) around 2pm on a Wednesday. I had decided to walk across the border, both to experience crossing as a pedestrian both ways and to not get stuck in a border wait via car on the way back. I had looked online and found favorable reviews for the AAA Border Parking lot. This basic dirt lot had security and at only $5 a day was well worth the 3 block walk to the border.

Once on the Mexican side of the "wall" (FYI, there are already border walls along much of the California/Baja California border), I hailed a taxi from the nearby taxi stand. After negotiating a price (always do this before getting in the taxi), I was on the way to the business class Real Inn Hotel in central Mexicali.




I choose the Real Inn after deciding I wanted to be near both the ballpark, where the Aguilas play (10 minutes by cab), the Plaza de Calafia bullring (5 minute walk), and near the old downtown and the border (10 minutes too). The hotel was perfect for me; comfortable rooms, pool and gym, pretty good breakfast and friendly, helpful staff.

Playoffs

With the game beginning at 7:30pm, I left for the ballpark around 6pm. I wanted to meet my contacts, get to know the grounds and settle in for a championship series game. The Aguilas were in a heated battle with the Cañeros de Los Mochis and the series was tied 2-2.

The baseball stadium was like any other in the States, but they had cheerleaders, all kinds of foods and drinks plus lots of music on the sound system. It was quite and experience (highly recommended) as well as a great game. The hometown Aguilas ended up winning. 

After the game we walked over to the recommended Bar El Sume a couple blocks from the stadium. I was told not only did it have a cool vibe but I'd find a great selection of Mexicali and Baja California's emerging craft beer selections. It didn't disappoint.

El Sume was a welcome after game stop for tasty craft beer.

The Bullring

Early the next morning, I had a wonderful breakfast at the hotel. Next stop was the Plaza Calafia de Toros bullring less than a five minute walk away. I've always been infatuated with history and the tradition of bullfighting. Less interested in the bull being killed, more interested in a tradition waning in the public's eye.



Lucky for me, I ran into the bullring's friendly caretaker and after he heard how interested I was in the history of the bullfighting he graciously allowed me to enter the locked gates. I was allowed to roam freely and at the end, he showed me a couple spots I hadn't seen myself and explained some history to me.


Old Mexicali and the Cathedral

I'm a sucker for "old Mexico" and knew that where you find the cathedral and/or the zocalo (main plaza), you usually find the old part of town. In this case it was right next to the border crossing where I would cross on my return.



This area is under a nice renovation in an effort to bring back the 40's & 50's era of architecture in Mexicali. Not only is the colorful church something to see, but there are authentic, old buildings being brought back to life, local food vendors, and areas for families to come and hang out.

Overall, it was a whirlwind and I discovered there is even more to see in Mexicali. I'll have to return another time to experience the other highlights of this capital city of the state of Baja California.

Recommendations

Stay: The Real Inn was perfect for my quick visit. Convenient, comfortable and well-priced.

Eat/Drink: El Sume near the ballpark is a craft-beer lover's dream. Maybe 30 or 40 Baja craft beers to choose from and apps if you are hungry.

Do: A Mexicali Aguilas game. Real baseball with a collegiate atmosphere. Great food and drink options too.

See: Visit Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe near the border. Bullfighting and/or architect aficionados should check out the Plaza de Calafia bullring near the Real Inn.

*All photos & information by Ted Donovan








Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Higginbotham Twins Prone Paddle Boarding from Alaska to Cabo

December 3rd, 2018 from Shari Bondy


We had the great pleasure here in Bahia Asuncion of hosting Ryan & Casey Higginbotham from Pismo Beach CA on their historical paddle south from Alaska to Cabo. They are prone paddlers meaning they lie on their stomachs or paddle kneeling. Now THAT is bada$$!!!



The 27 year old identical twins showed up at our door with a couple dry bags each and recounted some fantastic stories of their epic trip down. Their biggest fear are sharks! The boards are 17' long and have a rudder and skeg and were specially made for this trip that no one has ever done before. They usually make about 15-20 miles a day and the heaviest item is the 12 lb water desal unit which is also the most valuable item for them along with a sat phone for emergencies. These boys are very prepared and capable with good heads on their shoulders.

It was so interesting seeing how little gear they have and how they placed it on their boards when they pulled out.





just had to seize this photo op demonstrating how fit these dudes are!













I think they are Abreojos now and will be making their way down the coast and plan to spend Xmas in the Todos Santos area to do some surfing so if you see them give em a shout out from me and invite them for some food....those boys can EAT!:lol:

Check them out on Instagram under Higginbotham Brothers @byhandproject
They will be doing a talk at Surfline too after they finish up their trip.


About Shari

Shari Bondy and her husband Juan Arce live in Bahia Asuncion where they run a bed and breakfast along with a whale watching tour company. You can visit their websites at:

http://www.bahiaasuncion.com

http://www.whalemagictours.com/