Baja California Peninsula is divided in two provinces: Baja California (Norte) and Baja California Sur. My visit was to Tijuana, the commercial capital of Baja California Norte.
7th Dec 2016
I was early up for my last hours in San Diego. I planned to leave my comfort zone this day by taking my first steps into Mexico, exactly to Tijuana – the border town. As I had read on the Internet, border towns to Mexico always have more crimes than other places. Especially drugs come this way into the USA (as stated of the USA embassy). Believing in my guardian angel, my age and all my senses I thought I won’t have any problems at all – and I had not! I also had talked to two other female travellers at the hostel in San Diego before leaving. Both were between 20 and 30 years old. One of them was from South Korea and the other one from Kenya. They told me, independent of each other, that they felt safe in Tijuana.
After breakfast at the same table with my roommates (mother and daughter from Quebec City, Canada) I packed and walked with all my luggage to the trolley (tram) station. I was going by the green line to the stop Imperial / 12th Street and changed there to the blue line for Ysidro at the American / Mexican border. At the border it was easy to find where to go to the border control. There were only around 5 persons in front of me. When it was my turn, first a female “social assistant” took care about me and asked me, where I will stay in Tijuana after I told her, that I would like to stay for three days. I told her the name of the hotel. Suddenly she was called for, though I had to wait for the officer in charge. I told him the same facts again and he asked me, if I will go downtown, which I agreed. He filled in a “Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM)” (Multiple Migratory Form) for me and handed it out to me. I was allowed to stay for 3 (three) of 180 days in Mexico!
I decided to walk to the hotel, because the girls from South Korea as well as Kenya told me earlier, that I did not need to pay for transport in Tijuana. They explained, that all is so close behind the border (The Mexicans say “la linia” for the border), that there is no need for it. Though I started on my way, but I was not sure, I was right. After a short while I checked my position with help of my GPS and found, that I – as usual – was walking in the wrong direction. I turned around and followed the instructions. I was coming throughout the slum and had to walk up for, down again and up for another steep street again at least for two hours. By the way still in the city center I was looking for an ATM. I did not know, what they are called in Mexico, though first I went in a store with a kind of bank, announcing “fast cash”, but there was no ATM. Later I found an HSBC bank with an ATM – actually the same shortening is used. Finally I found the hotel. It was actually a motel, even it was called “Villas de Santiago Inn Hotel”.
At the motel I located the check in, but I was wrong. There was a security guard, who friendly told me, where to go. Well, there was a secure system with the cashier in a box behind secure glass. She opened a kind of drawer and spook to me. I had to give her my booking no, my name and cash. She did not understand my name, though I put my passport in the drawer and she closed that for looking at the passport. With the passport back I have got the receipt and a key and “being told” (she pointed in the direction), where my room is. It was on the first floor with only one other room on the side of it and it was a parking space directly under the big window. The room itself had a mirror under the ceiling and advertising for condoms on the bedside table. I had booked by http://www.booking.com for not getting a room in a hotel, where rooms a rent by hours, this offered luxury rooms for four hours… They also had a list for meals, but the motel did neither serve breakfast nor meals. The meals will be ordered by another place.
After I left my luggage in the room, I walked downtown again. It took time even without my luggage and I became really hungry. Though I had a dinner (pasta with mushrooms and vegetables as well as mushroom sauce). I would have preferred Mexican food, but I did not find such food on my way. Anyway, I had to choose exactly what I want to eat and it was warmed up in front of my eyes – on a pan with oil. This system I already had seen in Germany. I asked for a bottle of water, but he had not. He offered me a big glass of water from the “aqua-fontaine”. It was hard to find my way back, even I’d asked the bus driver to call, when we were at the right bus stop, but he forgot. That time I had a senior ticket for the bus: 5 MZN, a regular one is for 10 MZN. The bus driver told me, how to go to my destination, but I did not really understand, what he tried to explain. When I saw a bus-taxi (called collectivos or combis, I learned later – the fee for this was 10 MZN as well) I asked, if it will go to Calle Santa Maria del Mar and the driver told me, to get into the car. Short time later, he told me, that I had reached my destination, but I had not. Anyway it was not very far away from the motel, med help of my GPS and by asking a shop owner a little further away I finally found it. I also recognised that the motel is close to the Via Internationale. One of the problems in Tijuana is, that the same street has different names, belonging to, which part of the street it is. The street “La Segunda” has also the name “Calle Benito Juarez 2da”, but it is more difficult than that, because on the street sign it is only written “Benito Juarez”. This was actually the hardest part of the visit. Another serious problem are the pavements. There can be holes and there can be openings, which should have lids, but there is none. About the last-named, I did not know, that there should be lids, before I surprisingly saw two with lids.
By the way, you should know the following: The public buses are old school buses. They are painted in different colours. In the direction I had to go, the bus was “blanco y azul” (white and blue). They are in different shapes. The first one I used was worst, with seats, whereof at least one was not fastened anymore. Some of the buses should need new brakes! I knew the noise, when the brakes have to be re-done! Some of the buses have a strange mechanical and manual way to open and close the front door, one had a strange way for the transmission – to change gears. The door mechanisms was round like a laying down wheel with a handle for making it easier for the driver to use it. The gears were changed by a very long handle, which came directly out of the floor, behind the stairs to the door. The handle was approximately 1m long. The bus-taxi are “mini buses”, which are going a route, but defined as taxis. Once a clown entered a public bus. He talked to us passengers, but also the driver, who answered. The clown then asked for donations. Other times people, who sell sweets etc, enter the bus and try to sell their stuff.
In front of a church there were beggars. A man came close and asked directly and I told him, that I do not speak Spanish. He pointed at himself, telling me he is an “hombre” (man) and some more words, I do not remember. I walked my way meanwhile he tried to explain. Downtown I also walked a mall, but it was so different till what I was used to. The stalls are side on side like stables and there are 4 and more rows. Furthermore are there many shops in the same area, which sales the same kind of things, e.g. parts and repairs for smart phones and iPhones or (finger)nails. I am sure, that is good for the customers, but I think it is not so good for the shop owners. Many of the buildings are in bad shape, others are really nice.
8th Dec 2016
From the motel I was going to “Soler”, the area the taxi-bus had left me the evening before. There were shops and restaurants. I ate brunch at the “Menuderia Guadalajara”. A very young waiter was coming to my table and he did not speak English, but he came back with an older one, who could help me. Later the young one was back to help me and we really made it, while I tried to speak Spanish. I was happy about him, because he did not gave up and he was keen to help. Though he got a tip av me.
After the brunch I took a taxi-bus downtown. I was interested in to see more of the town and I had learned that it takes too long time to walk all the distance. I was looking for a Mexican poncho, because I thought it is a very comfy and warm cloth and I could need it on my way back to Stockholm, Sweden. At a shop they told me, to come in and take a look – and because I had not seen ponchos of a good quality before, I did. They showed me their selection and I decided to buy one after I had haggled the price. Anyway the poncho was still for 800 MZN (ca. 350 SEK, 35 EUR 38 USD), incl. taxes. By the way the owner and seller told me, that he is a retired police officer and gave me some advises, what I should think about, e.g. not to buy gold in Mexico – it would not be real. If I buy silver I should always look for the 925 Sterling silver stamp. That way he did try to get my full trust. He also showed me some clothes of bad quality, which is not possible to wash in a washing machine. I felt the quality of the poncho, liked the colour and the design and bought it. Later on, a Mexican woman, who also sold ponchos, told me that “someone made a lot of money” by selling that poncho to me. She sold ponchos for 350 MZN, but the quality was not the same, though I did not regret the 800 MZN.
I was looking for another meal for the day and did not see, that I was entering a pescaderia (fish restaurant). The menu was only in Spanish and there was a meal with “mula”. I though it may be mule. Anyway I did ask, what it is and got explained, that it was seafood and that the restaurant only serve seafood. I told them, that I unfortunately am allergic against it, excused and walked away. I entered a taco bar instead and ordered Quesadillas with lettuce, tomato, cheese and ham as well as a bottle of water. The first bottle I have got was not really closed, though I told them, I will have an other bottle. I did not see it, but when I tried to open the bottle it was working out very well and I did not feel any resistance – and I usually have problems to open bottles. The new one I got I could not open by myself. The waitress saw it and helped me at the table. Maybe I should explain here, that an open lid can mean, that the bottle was refilled with tap water and in countries like Mexico it is not safe to drink tap water. I learned about it on Malta and I was happy about it now. I also was proud, that I could express my concern in Spanish.
Even this evening I was going back by the “azul y blanco” route bus. I did not find the taxi-bus, but I was more lucky this time, because I could tell the driver, where I want to leave, when we finally got close. I also bought a snack on my way home. The name was Quesitas. I did not remember that queso means cheese and thought I bought a peanut snack. Back at the motel I opened the bag and started to eat the snacks, but I only did eat one or two of them, because they were so fatty, that I did get a gag reflex. Though I had to be without that additional meal. Next time in Mexico I will not buy this snack! The room had only one electrical contact I could use, though I charged first my mp3-player and then my tablet. I did not have an opportunity to charge the batteries of my camera.
The weather that day had been around +20°C, but the evening and night was chilly like in California. Something more I do remember were all the VW “bugs” I have seen in Tijuana and also a VW pick up, which is very unusual in Canada and the USA. Before I went to bed a young man was knocking at my door. When I asked “sorry”, because he was speaking Spanish, he muttered something and did leave.
9th Dec 2016
I was up between 8am and 9am. It was still chilly and the night had been quite noisy. I was happy about my new poncho, which I used as a blanket. The shower was working quite well and I had the breakfast at the same place like the day before, because I liked the service, the food and the prices. Afterwards I took a bus to the Playa Tijuana, that means in the other direction as the day before.
I did not know, where to leave, but I have seen a sign for the playa, though I left at the following stop. Actually the road down to the playa was not really a road. It was just a track down the sand and the beach did look like, if it was not cared about. There were yellow sand and black sand. The yellow sand close to the sea and the black sand close to the village side of the shore. I could not see any tourists like me, but some people, who were looking for something on the beach – if it was gemstones or mussels, I could not see. Anyway I walked around for a while from the place where I entered to the end of the shore and back and forward until I came to stairs, going up to the street. Halfway up I took a rest and enjoyed the view one more time.
Afterwards I walked the streets looking for the architecture of the different buildings. When I saw a supermarket, I was going there and bought a baguette as well as a half of a small papaya – it was anyway huge. Both were not expensive at the supermarket.
I often have problems to find the right direction, though I was waiting for the bus on the wrong bus stop. I just could neither see any timetable nor text about, in which direction the bus was going from that stop and it felt right for me. First at the last stop the driver told me, that there was no more and I told him, I was on my way back to the center of Tijuana. I did not pay one more time for the ride, I just stayed in the bus and the driver did not care about it.
Back at “Soler” I was looking around, because the bus did not arrive at the same place it had left. Therefore I was not sure where to go, but I used my GPS and found a new, short and safe way to the motel. Back there I ate of the bread and the papaya. It was too huge to eat it all at the same time. – I spent the rest of the evening on the Internet.
10th Dec 2016
This day I was up a little earlier, because I had to go back to San Diego. I also was thinking about, that the three days I asked for maybe was counted different in Mexico as I did. I hoped, it will not be any problem at the border.
I had breakfast at the same restaurant as the days before, but took first a look at “Carl’s” – a fast food chain, because I was not willing to spend a lot of time at a restaurant. Unfortunately they did not have coffee yet and it already smelled old fat. That was not an alternative restaurant for me!
From “Soler” I took a taxi to the border to the USA. I first asked the driver how much he will charge and he told me “diez” = 10. I was expecting he used the local currency and was thinking “why did I not always take a taxi, when it is for the same price like the buses”. It was a quite long ride and I was wondering how I could get that ride for 10 pesos only. We made conversation as good as it was possible, because he was as bad in English as I was in Spanish. At my destination I gave him the 50-peso-note, I had left and he told me, that he want “more, more”. I answered, that he asked for 10 pesos only, but he replied “10 USD” and told me, that he want 3 USD in addition to the money he already got of me. I did not have more than the 50-peso-note left, but had also 22 USD. Though I showed him my USD and he took angry the two 1-dollar-notes. Next time I know I have to ask for the currency, especially in border towns.
The queue at the border – back to the USA, was long already, but it was fast decreasing. They had first a Mexican and a USA officer checking that we were in the right lane and also checking our passports and the permit. When I arrived at the real border control, the officer asked me, what I will do in the USA – if I will make some sightseeing. I told him about my travel and that my flight will be on 14th Dec from Los Angeles. Though he was looking for the stamp in my passport and let me then in again.
For photographs from Tijuana please click the link: photos
For reading about my last few days in the USA please click the link for California
12th Jan 2018
From my local bus I was changing to the bus for the airport. The bus was already waiting. The driver was very friendly and started chatting with me. He also told me, that he is from Guatemala. He came to Sweden for over 30 years ago and likes his job, because he can communicate with people. He did not hurry me, even I hade to put on my shoes before leaving the bus.
The flight was 4 1/2 hours late at start. We could see the plane already when we were ready for boarding after all those extra controls, which are necessary before boarding to the USA. This time I was one of the few, which were picked out by the system for an extra control. It was about explosives. I had to take off my shoes, too.
We were more people waiting at the gate as there were seats in the waiting area – many youngsters were sitting on the floor. I was lucky to have a seat, but missed it, when I was going to the bathroom. I found two more seats, but the girl on the side of it told me, the seats are occupied even there only was a bag on one of it. Though I was walking in front of it all the time. When the other girl was back, she took down the bag and was sitting there as well as she told me, that I could use the other seat. By the way, meanwhile I was walking around and looking for a seat, nobody of the few youngsters, who had a seat, offered me his. There were parents with toddlers waiting as well, but I only heard one screaming and that for a very short time.
Two times there was an announcement, about the reason why we were not starting in time. It was about the cleaning respectively the catering, which was late. The waiting time was changed more often and postponed all the time. Finally onboard, I have got a chock as soon as I was sitting down. Fact is, that we were on a really jumbo jet with the rows 3-4-3 and the seats were so narrow, that I just fitted in. I hade to take my smartphone out of my pocket, because I was afraid, it would be crashed otherwise. I was sitting down as little as possible, the most I was standing on the site of my seat, but I was even walking around. Finally I walked backwards in the plane and found a lot of empty seats. On most of them people were laying down and sleeping, using the entire row. Anyway there were some seats vacant and I asked a stewardess, if I was allowed to move. She was following me, though I could show her and I have got the outer seat of three, were the middle seat was vacant to. By this, I could lift the handle to the middle seat and had more space. This way I even was able to get some sleep.
Before landing in Los Angeles, USA, a breakfast was served. Though I had to go back to my seat. I had taken the opportunity and ordered meals free of lactose. The evening meal was OK, but I could not eat the breakfast, because I could not define what was between the slices of dark bread. Finally you have to know, that not all stewardesses were speaking Swedish or English. Their mother tongue was Spanish, I guessed. Among all the stewardesses there was one steward (a very young man, maybe directly after school). He was a happy one. Unfortunately the stewardesses were often not listening to me, when I tried to ask something. It seemed, that the crew was not a Norwegian crew, even here was outsourcing a fact. I could not understand the captain, when he made his few and short announcements and almost our row could not see the security instructions. The voice of the stewardess was furthermore not loud enough to here her explanations. All gets to an end, what we passengers were happy about. The embarking was done in two steps. We first used a gangway and afterwards we were brought by buses to the entrance of the airport service area.
There was no problem to enter the USA. All was very new, lots of lines with automatic recognising stands and service, if we could not find out, how to do. I actually asked for assistance, because I only had a transfer visa waiver and it was not possible to choose that. All passengers had to make it the same way. Transfer or not was decided later. The assistant did help me the whole way through this automat and with her help also my fingerprints were recognised.
The next we had to meet an officer. Mine was 50+ and looking friendly. He asked me the usual questions and I told him, that I will as soon as possible go by bus to Mexico. I left without a problem and two stamps in my passport. One for the date of arrival and the other one for the latest day of departure, which was three month away. Though even I only had asked for a transfer, I was allowed to stay. I was going further to pick up my luggage, which arrived after a while and was among the 30th first.
The custom did not bother me and soon I left the airport building looking for the shuttle company I had booked with. This was a disaster, too. When I well had found their stop, there was no car and no assistant, but a sign to call. I tried, but with my European phone card, it was not possible. I asked an employee of the airport, taking a rest close to this point, but she was not willing to help me, because she was not working for the shuttle company as she told me. When I told her, that I can pay for the call, she told me, that there is a phone box “down there” I took a walk in that direction and also found it after a while. It was possible to pay with card, though I tried to call. I was asked of a voice to put in some data of the card by using the number buttons after I had swept my card. It was accepted and I tried to dial. I did exactly as it had been on that sign, but the synthetic voice told me, I had to start with the area code, which I had done. I tried it one more time, but without luck.
Though I walked back and tried one more time to get in touch with the shuttle company and wrote an email, hoping it will be delivered. Meanwhile another company did try to get me as their customer, but I had paid for the shuttle online, when I booked it. After a while someone of the shuttle company came by a cab, asking me, if I had a pre-booked ride and I showed him my online ticket. He told me, that a car will arrive in 20 to 25 minutes and take me to my destination (the Greyhound station downtown LA). I was waiting, shuttles arrived, but not for me and the company did sent me messages about the number of the car, for a number of another car and finally, that I had to take a yellow cab. The other company was back and asked me one more time to drive me. He told me, I could claim a refund of the company I had booked online. I told the driver, that I had got a message from the other company and won’t go with him, because I was not sure about the refund and that it may be paid by a check (which would have so high costs, that it would not be any idea to have got it – made my experiences about it in Canada).
When there were “yellow cabs” arriving, another (young) customer to the shuttle company told me, that the first one was his. I thought, he was impolite, but because of the other cab already was there, I did not care. I showed the text message to the driver of the cab and he called his supervisor for confirmation, which he got. It was a long way from the airport to the bus station (that was also the reason why I had booked the shuttle). Finally there, I hoped to catch the bus at 2.25am, but when I saw the queue and how slow the assistants worked, I had not really any hope left. Anyway I got my ticket last-minute and was on board that bus. – The bus station was open 24/7 365 days a year and also the restaurant inside. There was a bathroom as well. An overnight stay would have been possible. By entering the bus without no time left, I had to use the bathroom at the bus and I have had no possibility to get a meal or even a bottle of water. I could sleep on the bus and I survived.
By the way my ticket was changed for 20 USD to the new departure. The bus stopped twice at the border. At the first place people were leaving, which did not have an onward ticket to Tijuana. I was allowed to stay, but we all had to leave the bus and show the new driver, which luggage was ours. I think it is for, because he is not allowed to bring luggage over the border, which none owns.
13th Jan 2018: VIVA MEXICO
We were going further and to another point at the border control. We had to scan our luggage and I had to ask, where I could get my stamp. I was sent back to the entrance and the whole process went smoothly even I had to pay the tourist tax of 533 MXN, which is around 25 EUR. The bus was waiting for me and the bus driver sent an English-speaking passenger for my help, but at this point, all was already done, but the second time throughout the scanning of my luggage, which was done very quickly again. The bus was first going to the airport and then to the central bus station, where we passengers all left. By the way, we had a very welcoming sun rise in Tijuana. I took a picture at the central station. Unfortunately there were buildings, though I only could get part of it on tape.
Sunrise in Tijuana
Entering the bus station the first I saw was a restaurant, but I was looking for a bathroom, which I also found on the other side of the hall. One had to pay an entrance fee and go through a narrow carousel. It was hard to make it, but there were helpful people, who explained to me, how it is possible together with my luggage. They also helped to purr the carousel. Finally the boxes were tiny as well, but I got me and my backpack inside. Then I discovered, that there was no paper. Luckily I always have tissues with me. It was time to enter the restaurant. I ordered a desayuno (breakfast) with egg and ham in Spanish. The owner soon found out, that it is easier for me with English and he was very helpful. It seemed to me, that it was a family run place, with the son as cook. Actually I was surprised about the kitchen. Everyone has full insight. There were two gas stoves (the smaller one on the side the other way around as the main stove). On the smaller stove stood two pots (one with beans and one with rice) on warming only. Behind the stoves were aluminium plates. They were clean. The kitchen also had a good ventilation overhead the stoves. With the meal were other things offered, which one could take itself like bell pepper. I did not take anything of the extras for breakfast. By the way the dish was served with tortillas and even salt and pepper and the salt was really necessary, even for me! The price for the meal was 70 MXN and for a big coffee, I also bought, 18 MXN (~4,50 EUR all together).
After the meal I was trying to contact my CS host. There were phones, which also were possible to use with credit cards, but I was remembering the one in LA and thought, I will not be able to understand the voice in Spanish. I tried to find somewhere to by a SIM-card for Mexico, but did not see, that the pharmacy (the only shop here) did sell those. Anyway the pharmacy was closed. Though I went back to the restaurant and asked the owner, where I could buy a SIM-card and explained, that I have a friend I have to get in touch with to meet. The owner asked me for the phone number, dialed it, but there was no answer, though he tried it again and left the phone over to me. There was a talking machine on the other side and a beep. I left a message, tried to pay the owner for the phone call, but he won’t anything for it and I was going to the waiting area. Soon I was checking the sign on the door of the Pharmacy. It was a statement about selling recharge for different phone operators. When the shop opened I asked, if they also sell SIM-cards and they did. The pharmacist first checked, that my phone was not locked to my Swedish operator. It was not, though the guy, who had sold the contract with the phone to me, was right. The purchase was successful and surprisingly it was not only for calls and sms, but also 4G. Finally I’ve got in touch with my host and after explaining him, where I was, he picked me up. He had to work, even it was Saturday, apologised for it and we agreed, that I will be down town until he had finished his work.
MI CASA ES SU CASA – My Home is Your Home
Archi (Arquimedes) is a happy, hard-working guy with wife and 13-year-old daughter. Both parents are teachers in biology, but Archi does only work part-time as a teacher. He has another occupation, too. He is a ventilation mechanical. The most of his income he makes by his second job, because as a teacher he does not get paid regularly and since around half a year, he does not get paid at all, because the government has no money, he explained. It is a little better for his wife, but the salary is very low, he answered my question. He has built a house with his own hands, which is not really finished yet, but good to live in anyway. His wife is hard-working with the garden and the daughter also helps a lot. I was not allowed to help them and they offered me full board. The family also has two big dogs, living outdoors. They are watching the house.
I walked Tijuana recognising nothing had changed since I have been here last time, but no shop owner did get me inside. It was really warm during the day (21°C) and I did take off my jacket as well as one of the sweaters I wore. On my way back to the pharmacy, where Archi had been working in the morning, I was touched of someone while waiting for green light. It was friendly and I turned around, though the one pointed at Archi, who was calling me. He was now working in another pharmacy. He asked me, if I was tired and I was a little. Therefore he was to the doctor next door and managed, that I could sit in his waiting area. After a while Archi came with another couch surfer, Jonathan, to introduce him to me. We were chatting until Archi had finished his work.
Jonathan would like to buy a new cell phone and asked Archi for help. Archi has a lot of friends, though he is able to get the phones cheaper. We were to three shops until Jonathan found, what he was looking for and we finally were going home by car to Archi. His wife already had the lunch ready. It was around three or four o’clock. I was not awaiting another meal that day, but we later had dinner as well. The lunch was a chicken ragout, served with rice and salad as well as tortillas. Archi’s wife did show me how to eat it – all in the tortilla.
After lunch we chatted a lot, were going to a wash saloon (similar to the one in St. Barbara) also washing the bed-clothes for me. We made a little sightseeing on the way to the washing saloon and also meanwhile the machines were working. Though we went to the beach and I could experience a Saturday night at the beach, but we did not stay for a long while. We also walked to the “Tijuana sign”, where we took pictures and I could see and touch “la linja”. The fence is very high here. There also is a “nobody’s strip and another fence behind.
After picking up the clothes, we were going back home, where we met Jonathan again, because he had forgotten his little backpack. For dinner we got a soup with squash in bites, beans and special bananas (platanos) fried in slices. This kind of bananas stay in there shape even while frying, are not really as sweet as the well-known ones, but delicious. We also were offered a dulce (a kind of soup of fruits), but I was full, because as usual we have had tortillas, too.
Archi was with Jonathan after the meal and his wife and me together. She does not speak English, though I can improve me Spanish. When she was talking about family and friends and showing me photos on her phone, my eyelids were falling down. I tried not to show it, but she told me, that I look tired and should go to bed, which I did.
14th Jan 2018
I was already awake at 4am. Because of the lack of Internet (I just had not asked for it yet), I wrote down in a notebook, what happened since I left my home in Ekerö. When I finally hade written down all my memories, it was time for breakfast. We (the family as well as Jonathan and me) was served a Mexican breakfast, which means: Cut tortillas grilled on the pan until it has a light brown colour with a salsa of tomatoes and cheese. We also had fruit-water, that means “pressed pineapple” with water.
Afterwards I was invited to follow Rosi and her daughter Li for the shopping. We first drove to a really low price supermarket, where Rosi bought essentials including vegetables and fruit. One of those looked like cactus (without the spines) and actually it was a kind of cactus. The Spanish name is Nopales. At the cash, people were packing the items for the customers, as I had seen before in North America. These people have no job and are happy about every peso they get. We then drove to WalMart, which is not cheap in Mexico, Rosi explained. Furthermore we went closer downtown. Li needed new picks for her running shoes (picks like the soccer shoes have). We did not find any. The only shop, which could have it, was closed, because it was Sunday. Though we went home.
At home Rosi cooked a vegetarian lasagne and I Swedish meatballs. We had strawberry water with the meal this day. By the way, no tap water is used for the meals, but for the dishes. While I prepared for my upcoming trip, Rosi was upstairs. When she came down she fell on the secon
d lowest stair and hurt her foot. Anyway we were going to town again. This time to a mall, still looking for the picks for Li’s shoes. Rosi had pain and walked with the help of her daughter. Anyway we continued throughout the whole area, which is really pretty even containing a playground. Driving further, a guy did sell lollies at traffic lights. Rosi bought one each, but not for herself. She explained, that this lollies are special, called paleta. They taste tamarind and that is a combination of sweet and bitter. Now Rosi drove to a hospital for her hurting foot.
At the first hospital, which emergency entrance was tiny, it did not take long time, before it was Rosi’s turn. Unfortunately she had to go to another hospital for x-ray. Here she had to wait for around two hours. Archi met with us at the hospital. The result of the x-ray was, that the foot is broken. When Rosi had got her gypsum, we were driving home. This means, that Archi drove home with the car he came with and I drove the truck, we had been shopping with.
I already had been asked, to stay for longer, but so far I had declined. By the new circumstances, I thought I can help Rosi as a thank you for the great hospitality. Though I agreed for two more weeks and informed my upcoming hosts and the hostel about my changed plans. Jonathan cooked the dinner this evening, a kind of omelette. Archi cooked chocolate milk. After the meal Archi told me, that he is building the house all by himself and asked me if permissions are necessary to build houses in Sweden. I told him, that permissions are needed in Sweden as well as in Germany. First you need one for the place you will build and for the kind of the house (e.g. how many floors you are allowed to have). During the building process you need people with licenses for the electricity and water. He told me, that they are no similar laws in Mexico and if there would be, he could not afford a house.
Going to bed I had to cope with some bugs and a little spider. I think, I have to get used to it.
15th Jan 2018
I awoke early again, but was up around 8am. Rosi had already driven to the hospital. Archi drove Li to school and picked me afterwards up for going to the flea market. This market opens around 7am and closes around 4pm and is run twice a week (Mondays and Wednesdays), Archi told me. There were not only clothes and other different things offered, but also food and drinks. Archi bought a cup each of oatmeal gruel. I have not had breakfast yet and was happy about it.
During this visit on the flea market Archi explained to me about driving and drivers in Mexico. He told me, that there are drivers, who has not registered their car. Often they have bought their car in the USA and the Mexican police can not recognise the owner. Mexican drivers also often leave, when they have caused an accident and do not care about the other part. I told him, that I by this circumstances should not drive in Mexico and he agreed.
Back at my host’s home, we had breakfast before Archi was going to work. I stayed at theirs place and updated my blog. Unfortunately, the Internet or maybe my tablet is very slow. During this time I chatted med Jessica, who I met in Portugal, by WhatsApp. I did not get a lot done and tried to save my memories by a S-note. Unfortunately there went something wrong and I lost all the text.
At 2 o’clock in the afternoon I felt very hungry and warmed up a tiny leftover of the lasagne as well as I cooked two eggs. Rosi arrived around an hour later and we cooked a meal together. If I remember right, it was boiled rice warmed up on a pan, two eggs on it, bread, vegetables and fruit water (we have different everyday – with melon, strawberries etc.).
This day Rosi’s nephew and girlfriend visited us after we have had lunch and a chat with help of Google translate. They live in Mexicali. Rosi offered of her homemade fruit water. After a while, we were all together going by car to pick up Li at her school. You should see the discipline, when the pupils picks up at school, which a lot of parents do. For the other pupils there is a school bus. It is a one way street around the school. The janitor looks for the parents in their cars and announces the names of the pupils, though they are ready, when the car arrives at the entrance of the school.
We went towards downtown again to a hospital. The nephew and his girlfriend leaved us. It was only a short visit at the hospital. The nephew and company were still in the area, though Rosi picked them up again. They were leaving us at the shop, where Li bought picks for her running shoes. After Li’s shopping we went home. Rosi had been driving all the way. By the way Rosi had taken a food box with her for Li, but did forget the fork. Fortunately the nephews girlfriend had a spoon.
When Archi came home from his job as a teacher, we had a meal with chocolate milk, biscuits and a dessert. It became cold after the sunset. Archi had an emergency (a problem with a ventilation in a pharmacy) and took me with him, though I could see one other of the six suburbs of Tijuana. Tijuana is much bigger as one can see at the first glance. It is built onto the hills, only the centre is flat. The Playas de Tijuana is one of the suburbs.
16th Jan 2018
I awoke around 5am, but had been awake twice the night for the bathroom. In the morning I wrote down, what happened during the last two days. I was freezing and have seen, that the window was open 2 cm, but I was not able to close it.
This day I had breakfast with Archi. Rosie came down later and made the dishes. We prepared the lunch together (cooked chicken, vegetables, rice and watermelon water). Rosi is always keen about to prepare nutritious meals. Afterwards we picked up Li and bought olive oil in a supermarket, before we were going home and had lunch. The lunch is always late (usually at 2pm) and the dinner, of course, even later (usually at 8pm).
Rosi told me to take siesta, because she did and she has seen, that I am tired at this time of the day. I tried to write my blog instead, but my device was so slow, though I tried to sleep. I did it almost for an hour and Rosi called for me. I made the dishes and afterwards we had a chat. Before I was going back in the kitchen, I had taken a pill for my stomach. I did not eat much for dinner. I did not feel well, but that I am used to, too. That is not about the Mexican food or water, because we only use bottled water for drinking and cooking.
After dinner Archi asked me about my packlist. He told me, he always takes too much clothes with him and his backpack is always too heavy even he only hikes for four days. In addition to that if I could meet a mayor in the clothes I have with me. I told him, that it is very unexpected if I could meet a mayor, that I would know that almost one day in advance and that I in that case would buy other closes as well as I would sell them afterwards again or give them to charity, what is not unusual for me, because I have already given a lot to the charity by moving so often during my last ten years. He told me, that he will meet the mayor of Baja California the upcoming day and has to drive very early in the morning. He will have a wish list with him for Tijuana or almost Playas de Tijuana. I think, if I have had other clothes with me, he would have asked me to accompany him.
He was going to bed at 9pm and I the only one left in the kitchen, though I was going to bed as well, but I tried to update my blog. Unfortunately it was not much done.
17th Jan 2018
The first thing I did in the morning was to send an email to my son Daniel for his birthday. Around 8 o’clock I was in the kitchen and had breakfast with Rosi. She fried nopales and two eggs. We also had papaya. Afterwards Rosi helped me to wash my clothes by her washing machine, which is in the room I sleep. The cable needed an extension and was put in the contact in the bathroom. The water comes from outside, which is the reason, that it is not possible to close the window all the way. By the way, the water of the washing machine is recycled and used for the garden. Anyway I felt guilty with the little amount of laundry in such a big machine. I had expected, that she would wash their closes with the same washing, because of the zero temperature and therefore the opportunity to wash all together.
Meanwhile the washing machine did her work, we were cleaning the house. I did e.g. clean the bathroom, which her daughter and I use. Even the garden was cleaned and the flowers got water. I was happy I could help Rosi, because she is the kind of person, who tries to make all by herself even with the broken foot.
Archi came home for a short while and had a chat with me, before he was going to school for working as a teacher.
This day I was allowed to follow with Rosi to an authority for sickness related papers. More interesting was of course, when we continued to her school and spent time their. She is not only a teacher, but also the principal of the school, she now told me. In the morning, she is teaching and in the afternoon she is the principal. Most of the pupils wear school uniforms. The pupils, who does not have parents, who cannot afford these, wear usual clothes. All pupils look very clean and, because their age also sweet. The girls’ hair is beautiful dressed. When we arrived, lots of girls came to hug Rosi. There is an opportunity at school to buy a light meal for 1 resp. 2 pesos. By the way, there are two different schools in the building. One in the morning and the other one in the afternoon. Each pupil has its own desk (half of the day) with a special form, though they reach the whole desk.
For lunch we had Amarildo-water, fresh wheat tortillas, bought, when we picked up Li at school. We had also beans, rice and vegetables. Archi came home, too, and he had a long chat with me about health, religion and the costs of living in Sweden. He asked me exactly for my income and how much rent I pay. Though he told me, that I could rent a 2 or 3-rooms flat for 3500 MXN (~ 1750 SEK or 175 EUR) and should move to Tijuana. Rosi was already upstairs and took a rest, though I made the dishes. Afterwards he asked me about, how blogs are working and how to get one. After I had explained to him as well as explained twitter, he was going upstairs, telling me, that he has to work with his blog. I was a little surprised about his reaction, but was going to the room, where I sleep and tried again, to work with my blog.
18th Jan 2018
I awoke 4am again, what did feel natural, because I was to bed at 9pm. Around 6am I tried to update my blog, but I did not get much done, because my tablet was not working good. It did not help either, that I cleaned the cache. Furthermore I was freezing as usual. The nights are hard to stand without heating. I awoke often during the nights and have to go to the bathroom. I have got a cold as well. Though I checked on the Internet if all of the Baja California and the Baja California Sur will have those cold nights during the upcoming weeks. Unfortunately it is the same climate all over, as well as it is in Los Mochis (Copper canyon), but Cancun. Maybe I started my travel at the wrong place. On the other hand it is a useful experience.
At 8am I was in the kitchen for breakfast and Rosi was coming down soon afterwards. This day she was going with me to the “Cultural Centre of Tijuana”. I insisted to pay and eventually I was allowed. Nonetheless Rosi tried to be my spokesperson, but stopped, when she understood, that I will ask for the tickets by myself.
As usual, when I am not walking a museum by myself, I could not read all the information. Anyway it was an interesting exhibition, designed in a good way with lots of examples resp. models. There was even an exhibition about rugs, a Galleria and a garden.
The building itself is great, especially by the attachment of the planetarium. Unfortunately I could not take a photograph of it.
We were back for lunch and had some time left, before Rosi had to pick up Li. Though she showed me photos of events at her school and also of her family. She has four sisters and one brother. When we picked up Li at her school, we went one more time to a hospital. Actually it is hard for me to see, if it was one we had been before or not, but I recognised the area, though we have been at that one before. Anyway, we had been an hour to early at Li’s school. When Rosi got aware of it, she made a sightseeing trip with me – first down to the sea and after that to a viewpoint on a hill. From that point we could see the islands close by.
After visiting the hospital, we were going back home for dinner. This time I did not get any beans. Since I told my hosts, that I have problems with heartburn, I get diet. Before the meal I have to eat a tiny beat of Aloe Vera. They also have a healthy tea, which I have to drink almost three times a day. The name of the tea has a complicated name: Cuachalalate. I do not get spicy meals either. Actually in this household only salt and pepper are used for the taste.
After dinner Archi was talking with me about my further trip and informed me, what to think about as well as where it would be easy to get a hitch. He told me too, that it is possible to hitchhike with trucks on the ferry between La Paz and Topolobambo, from where I will continue to Los Mochis. The price for the ferry is really high, I thought, but had made a mistake in the exchange rate. It is 1,100 MXN in one direction (a little more than 50 EUR). Furthermore he showed me a gps for hikers, which track you all the time and by which one can call for help, even the smartphone is not working, because of bad or no wi-fi, 4G and similar. Unfortunately I cannot buy that in Tijuana. It is only available in the USA and on eBay (some sellers ship to Mexico, some not).
19th Jan 2018
I awoke very often during the night, actually every second hour. I have got a cold. At 6am I tried to update my blog, but Internet was not working.
The breakfast this morning was a kind of Spanish omelette and some leftovers. I asked Rosi about the Mexican omelette and it sounded similar, what I am used to. En omelette with different fillings like mushrooms, prawns or vegetables.
This day I was following Rosi to another authority. If I understood it right, it is about sick leave payment. At this authority she got explained, that her papers are not correct. She needs another confirmation of the hospital. At a nearby pharmacy she bought some bandages and I have got the opportunity to buy tissues. Unfortunately they had not much to choose, only Kleenex and not in 10 or more 10-packs as a package. Afterwards we were going to Rosi’s school again, where she was working as a principal meanwhile I was allowed to use the Internet, though I finally could continue with my blog.
We were a little late at Li’s school to pick her up and during the ride between the both schools, Rosi remembered, that she has not prepared anything for lunch. Therefore she stopped on the way home at a supermarket and sent Li to buy a fried chicken. We also were to the hospital again for the missing confirmation and bought fresh wheat tortillas for lunch. Our lunch was the tortillas with chicken and rice as well as the nopales, I wrote about some days earlier.
My cold is really bad. Fortunately I have the medicine needed with me. Rosi asked me several times to go to a doctor. There would be no need to pay for it, but I told her, I do not need a doctor. It is only a cold and I have a vaccination against influenza, though I think it will not become more than this cold. She pampers me with homemade tea with cinnamon, honey and natural C-vitamin. This afternoon it started raining, even not heavy.
My Spanish succeeds a little, unfortunately I cannot remember all the words we use – also by translating by Google, but I hope, I will remember more soon. Rosi told me I am good, because I try to speak in whole sentences. – I was to bed already at 6pm and fell asleep soon.
20th Jan 2018
First time I awoke was at 1am, but then every second hour again. It was very windy and the boards, standing behind the house, crashed against the wall. From around 4am I was on the Internet (contacting hosts for my further trip, checking the ferry etc.) and from around 6:30am I updated my blog. I finished that at 7:50am – actually a little late for the daily routines, but Rosi was not in the kitchen, when I was entering. After my “¡Hola! Buenos Dias” she came down.
Rosi prepared a soup for us and her daughter as well as we had bread and the special tea Rosi cooks with cinnamon. At the end of our breakfast time I asked her for going to the city centre. She answered, she has to go to her school and we can go to the city centre, too. Suddenly she disappeared. I only have seen, that the car was not there anymore. Therefore I asked her daughter, where I can buy warm underwear in Tijuana. She told me, that I have to go to the USA to buy it. I answered her, that I will go by bus to the city centre and take a look anyway. I made my shopping list: Tissues, toothpaste, warm underwear and dressed for outside (took my rain jacket on against the wind).
I walked down to the Avenue, where a bus stop is. A man was already waiting there. I did not see the bus coming, though I took a picture of the hills.
By that I nearly missed the bus, but the driver stopped again, when I waved my hand. Downtown I was entering a few shops and also looking for a sweater, but they did not have a fitting room. I did not buy it, because I was neither sure, that it will fit nor that it feels comfortable on my skin. I also was to a supermarket, bought tissues and a banana (after I had been looking at donuts and other cakes), but forgot to buy the toothpaste. A bottle of water I had bought earlier.
I ate the banana and was walking towards the American border. I did not have any problems to find it. I remembered it well and it also is signed, but for around the last 100 meters, when you already can see it. I sent a WhatsApp message, that I will go to San Diego and come back in the afternoon. It was no problem to cross the border, even the USA officer asked me, what I am carrying with me. I had to tell him twice: Tissues, because my backpack was full of them. I did not tell him, that I also have a bottle of water in there, because it is not allowed to bring food into California. It seemed to me, that outside the building an officer just wanted to come to me, but when he saw, that I put my passport in a fitting plastic bag, he was no longer interested in me.
On the US-side, there is a big mall with outlet shops, though I started there to look for the underwear, but there was no shop. Even North Face did not have any. I was recommended one shop, but I did never find it. I think, it closed down, because there were some empty shops. I also looked for sweaters, but I did not like the look, the quality or the price. Though I was going by trolley (tram) to San Diego – I did exchange a 200 MXN note to 10,89 USD. I needed the cash for the trolley only, which was 2,50 USD one way.
I was going all the way to the American plaza, but there was no shopping centre, though I asked a taxi driver, where to find one. He described me the way halfway, but I was lucky, that the young man I asked then was very helpful. Soon I found the shopping centre, which is well-known for me from my former visit in San Diego. Unfortunately I did not find anything I was looking for here either. I was getting tired and went back to Mexico, blaming myself, that I did not check on the Internet, where to go, before I left Mexico.
Even this time it was easy to cross the border. I did not get any questions. On the way back to the city centre I chose the wrong way and came to the street with lots of files into the USA. First I could cross by a pedestrians bridge, but after that I had to go alongside a lot of souvenir stalls. Finally I had the street with more files in front of me. There were hinder between the files. I did not find out, how to cross and sent Archi a message, that I am lost as well my place. I did not get any answer, though I was looking around and trying to cross. A Mexican man saw that and helped me over and was then going back to the site, he was coming from. Finally I found the way to the millennium arch.
Now I sent Archi a new message, where I am and that I will go back to them by bus, but he insisted to pick me up, because it was already dark. I was waiting at the arc and could see a little bit of Tijuana nightlife. It seems to start already by the sunset. Close to me where some up-dressed Mexican guys waiting for something. There jeans were looking all the same, with embroidery in the full length. Later I learned, that these guys are Mariachis and they are waiting for, that they will be engaged for playing their music.
When Archi had picked me up, he told me, that the Arch was not a good place to be after dark. Furthermore he said, that buses are no longer going frequently after 7 o’clock, but it was only around 6pm. This evening the dinner was potato soup, bread etc.
That night I had a weird dream, which I fully remembered, when I awoke. I was in an old church ruins and have seen two men, who told us, we should leave, because they found a not yet exploded bomb. I did that and short time after I saw a family of four (with small kids – a girl and a boy) coming running. They made it, too, but only seconds after a man in a suit was thrown right up and high up into the air. None of the both men at the bomb was wearing a suit. I felt so sorry about these three men. Full awake, I was wondering, what this dream meant. I did not find an answer.
21st Jan 2018
I was around 9am in the kitchen, which was not late for a Sunday. Soon we had breakfast. Afterwards I had a quick shower, because it still was cold in the house. When I was back in the kitchen, Rosi and Li were to the laundry and Archi on the roof, but he finished soon and was taking me for a walk. By this I had to climb stairs, which I had seen before and had been thinking about ‘people, who climb these stairs are very brave.
Arrived on the top of the stairs we came to the flea market, we have been before, but by car. He was looking for some tools, because the tools he has had, someone had stolen out of his car. He did not find anything, neither did I. On the flea market only small sizes are offered. I asked Archi where all the bigger Mexican women will find second-hand clothes. He did not have an answer.
During lunch I told my host, that I have found a shop in San Diego by Internet, which sells the clothes I would like to buy. After a discussion about, if it will be open on Sunday, what I did not start, I told them, that I will go there the upcoming day. Archi thought I may find such clothes on other markets in Tijuana, though he was, after lunch, going with me to another flea market, but that was just closing down and, furthermore, to a Swap Market. I thought, someone need to have things to swap, but it is just another area, where they sell cheap clothing, not even used. This market was huge and we walked all of it. Archi looked at things for himself, I was looking for woollen underwear, but they only had viscose and polyester. I cannot understand, how Mexicans keep warm during the winter nights. By the way we even took a look at “Sears”, because it was close to the Swap market. Nothing – nada – nichts!
When we had to pay for the parking, he found, that he did not have any change, though he asked me for it. I was happy, I could help him, even it was only 5 MZN (~25 Cent in Euro). Back “home” we had siesta and I tried to upload some photos to my blog, but Internet was not working. When I later came to the kitchen, Archi was trying to get it working again, but he realised, that it was a problem at the company. Rosi told me, that they only have the Internet contract for Li, though she can make her homework.
The dinner this evening were a soup, beans, rice and an omelette with vegetables. During the meal Archi told us, that a friend of him had been robbed this day. When the friend stopped his car for red light, the bandits did hold a gun against his head and took it. Luckily this things does not happen often in Tijuana. After dinner we went to bed.
22nd Jan 2018
Even this day I was up around 8am, nobody was at home. I knew, that Rosi had to go to a hospital at 6am, but had expected her back at this time. I had a small breakfast and was by bus to the city centre, looking for, where I could top up my phone card. Beside one closed, with the name of my operator, was a 7Eleven. It smelled great of coffee. I took a coffee to go and a packed cinnamon bun. Unfortunately I did not ask for a top up, but was looking for an open telcel shop. I found sellers for telcel simcards and asked, got the direction, but that store was not open either. Though I was going to the USA without topping up my phone card. By the way, once, when I tried to cross the street with lights and there were only four minutes left for crossing, I fell, because I have not been aware how dangerous the ramps for disabled people and buggies are. Twice I was asked of pedestrians, if all is OK – I was already on my feet again. Actually I did hurt my elbow, though I have some bruises and also on one of my legs, but it is just a little sore, when I lay on it.
This day I walked another way to the border and came to another checkpoint. There was no “Ready lane” and we had to wait for more than an hour. Finally at the counter I told the officer that I will shop such items in San Diego I cannot buy in Tijuana. He told me, that I had crossed the border some days ago and I told him “for this”. All was OK. My bag was only checked by the usual x-ray.
In San Diego I came out of the checkpoint very close to the trolley. Usually I have to walk for a while, crossing a bridge. I paid 2,50 USD as usual and was using the blue line to “Imperial station”. Here I changed to the green line, but had to ask, where I can find it. By the green line I was going to “Grantville station”. I remembered that, but could not find the name of the shop by the Internet the day before. At the Grantville station, I asked a woman, how to come to the shopping centre. She told me, there is only Home Depot and McDonald’s further away. She also told me, that I have to take a bus, the distance is too long for a walk. So I did. Luckily I only had to pay for people 60+. It was 1,10 USD, but I did not see that and put 1,25 USD in the cash box at the bus. It was such a system, where you do not get change.
The Home Depot was just one bus stop away, but they did not have clothes, they only have building supplies. Though I walked towards McDonald’s all the way looking for a shop selling outdoor equipment and clothes. There were only industry buildings. When I arrived at McDonald’s I ordered a chicken nuggets meal and used the Internet. It was working great and I found the name of the shop “Adventure 16” and the directions. I had to go back to the Grantville station, which I did by bus. The bus stop was directly outside. While waiting an elderly woman arrived and begged for change for the bus. A young man gave it to her. Than she checked the litter box and found left overs from McDonald’s, which she ate. In the bus, she got a couch attack, but had nothing to clean her hands with, but her clothes. Though I gave her of my tissues. She was thankful.
While on the bus, I checked, if I could see the shop, we were closer to the station and actually I saw it. By the directions, I would not easy have found it, where it is. Entering the entrance of the building, I recognised, that the shop only was on the second floor. Coming up, a shop assistant welcomed me and I told her “finally I found you” and continued directly that I was looking for “Icebreaker” underwear. She brought me to the right place in the shop and also showed me an Icebreaker sweater for sale. It was in a bright purple colour. I was happy about it and took it as well as I found a couple more sweaters for sale. I also bought t-shirts (all Patagonia), because I have thought, I could buy some in Mexico for a cheaper price, but in Tijuana I only found clothes for tourists or small sizes. In addition to that, Mexicans seems to like brands.
The cashier was a nice guy 50+ and the shop assistant helped him by taking the security tags off. I had told the cashier, that I will not have the boxes around the underpants and the full price sweater. He told this the assistant, when she packed, while I was occupied to pay for my bargain. When she will give me the paper bag, which would not fit in my little backpack I told her, that I will not have the paper bag, but directly put it in my backpack. She took all the items out of the paper bag and helped me to stove it.
Happily I was going back to the border by the trolley. This time with a ticket for seniors (60+ people) and other discounted persons. It was a 50% discount on this ticket. In San Diego I did not find it on the ticket machine, because the sun was shining on it. During the long ride with the trolley I checked, if I had got with me all items. I could not really see it, because I had the same or similar colours for other clothes, too.
To enter Mexico again was no problem at all, but the problem starts as soon as I am outside the checkpoint. I tried to find the right direction this time, but gave up and took a taxi. He offered me the ride to the centrum for 40 bucks. Well there, he told me: dollar. I did not have more than 3 dollars left – I actually had found eleven USD in my purse from my trip throughout the USA two years ago, with which I had paid my meal at McDonald’s. I told him, that I only have pesos and asked him, how much it is in pesos. He told me “double up” (the official is around 18 pesos for a dollar!). I did asked him, if he had change for 500 pesos and that I also have 70 pesos. He told me, he has no change, checked his wallet and told me, he takes the 70 pesos, because he has no change. Lucky me. Thinking about, that a tourist would have paid 40 USD (~750 pesos) I am wondering about, what the right fare really is.
I was to the telcel store on the side of 7Eleven for finally buying a top up and was told, that they do not sell it, but in the 7Eleven store. So I did and continued than to the bus stop for buses for Playas de Tijuana. I have got the last seat, which was in the front. Though it was easy to tell the driver, where I wished to leave. At that point is a yellow bridge for pedestrians to cross the busy road. While I left the bus, the driver told me to be careful. I am, of course, always. Especially in the dark. The bridge is really high, though trucks can pass under easily. There are no elevators. With my fear of high it was not easy to use the bridge, but it was no other way. I went up the hill as well and found easily the home of my host. When Archi came home, he told me, that I have to be very careful, when walking this distance and to look around all the time during this time of the day. I told him, that I did. Actually I felt not save, when I was walking there, but no other people were outside.
After dinner Archi asked me to show the leggings I had bought, but there were no leggings in my backpack and not that sweater of the box either. He told me to call directly, though I could be sure, I will get them the upcoming day. I tried to call, but got an automatic answer in Spanish. I think it was about, that I cannot call to the USA with my prepaid card. Archi called with his and left the phone over to me. On the other side came only an OK. Furthermore did Archi tell me, that I should ask for the security camera, if I would be denied my items. – It took a while this evening, before I fell asleep.
23rd Jan 2018
I was up as usual, but the kitchen was empty and I did not get an answer from upstairs. Soon I found the notice on the kitchen table, that Rosi had to go to school to help with competitions. She apologised, because we had agreed to have company to San Diego and the shop I found on the Internet. I had milk with cereals for breakfast and roasted two slices of bread, the way Rosi does it. She has a special plate for the stove, where she warms up tortillas and roasts other bread.
I took the bus at the yellow bridge. This time the first one was one of the taxi buses. There was lot of space. From the bus stop in the centre I walked to the checkpoint I have used so many times before. Unfortunately there were many people in the ready lane and it seemed, that the general line was faster. After a long waiting time it finally was my turn. The officer I met had a strong dialect, therefore I had to ask him after every sentence, to say it again. I told him, that I did not get all my items, when I had been shopping the day before. He told me, that I had forgotten items, but I explained one more time, that the shop assistant did not give them to me and I was welcome again to the USA.
Arriving outside the checkpoint I took a look around to find out, if there also was an entrance back to Mexico. There was. I decided to try that way on my way home. I might find my way in Tijuana. I walked over the bridge to the trolley, bought a senior ticket and was on my way back to the shop “Adventure 16”. Now it was easy for me to find the green line as well as the shop.
There were other shop assistants and another cashier working this day. I explained my errand, but the cashier had problems to understand the whole thing with the boxes, even I explained very clearly. It seems to be unusual to leave the package. Anyway he checked the stock and the numbers of the items and found the two, which were mine. I was happy, that there was no need to ask them for the security camera. I packed the leggings and the sweater and left the boxes. There is no reason why I should take boxes, I do not need, to Mexico. May the USA recycle them! I had told the employees in the shop, that I had to come from Tijuana. I hoped, they would offer me a pair of socks or something, but there was first no reaction. I was also looking for a gps for hiking, but they did not have those. If they have had, I would have asked for almost 10% off. Before I left I told them, that the border control is wondering, why I cross the border so often, but had also to explain, that I am visiting Tijuana and travelling. Then I got a half-hearted apologise.
I got really tired of the long trolley ride and became first happy again, when I had entered Mexico again, which even this time was no problem. Before crossing the border I have had a meal at McDonald’s – there is not much to choose close to the trolley station. When starting my walk back over the bridge for the checkpoint I was coming from, a man from Bakersfield (he told me) asked me if he will come to the outlet, when he uses the bridge. I first did not understand, which outlet he was talking about, but after a short while. Though we had company over there and a nice chat. He also told me, that his dentist is in Tijuana and he saves 1,000 USD by that for his dental work.
It was between three and four o’clock, when I was back in Tijuana and still daylight. I found my way back to the city centre easily, but stopped at the “Museo de Cera” (wax museum). I had to pay 25 pesos and asked (in Spanish) if there is a discount for seniors, but there was not. I exchanged the amount in my mind (~ 12,50 SEK, ~ 1,25 EUR). It was anyway very cheap. The museum is not very big and the most interesting part were the figures of the Mexican history – presidents and more.
I continued downtown to buy postcards with views. I found a shop, but the postcards had low quality. Anyway I would have bought of them, but for the price. It was 2 cards for 4 USD and when I asked for the price in pesos, I have been told 37 pesos, still a good exchange rate. Anyway I was not willing to pay that price for postcards I do not like.
I had informed Archi by WhatsApp, that I was back in Tijuana as well as I went to the museum and when I left the museum. I also told him, that I was looking for postcards with views. Archi was downtown and sent me a message, that I could go “home” with him. I sent him my position, but it took a while until I found him. Unfortunately he was looking for me on the wrong side of the street (my fault 😭) and I could not see the car, because of all the buses stopping on my side. He got a fine by the police, because he was not allowed to stop where he did and also, because he has no plate on that car, he was driving. Though he was not happy about me that evening.
Home again, we had dinner, but I still no postcards. We were to bed as usual between 8pm and 9pm. These early hours also belong to the cold nights. Maybe I should tell you here, that my host family as well as I are dressed in double layers and jacket in the house. For the sleep I dress in Merino wool leggings, Merino wool sweater with long sleeves, another sweater with long sleeves and a fleece jacket as well as socks and during the coldest nights even hat and gloves.
24th Jan 2018
This was a day with no many activities. After a little late breakfast and cleaning the floors, which I luckily was allowed to help with, we were going to two different banks. Actually I do not know the reason for it and I think, that is Rosi’s privacy. Afterwards we went back home again. Rosi prepared the lunch. Archi came home for lunch and both went to Li’s school. I think it was about the upcoming choice of school. Meanwhile I was at their home, updating my blog.
The rest of the day went as usual, that means, that Rosi and I had a conversation with help of Google translate. Later on she showed me photos from their travels. I found out, that I am taking much more photos, when I am travelling.
25th Jan 2018
I was in the kitchen half an hour later as usual. Rosi was still upstairs and tired, but came down, when I greeted “Buenos dias”. She does not sleep well, of course, with her foot in the bandage. I had cereals, papaya and left over strawberries for breakfast.
Soon afterwards we left in the Mini Cooper, going through the entire town and leaving it for service. An employee of the car company did drive us with another car to the city, where I finally could buy some postcards. Anyway I did not find any post office or other place, where I could buy stamps. Rosi cannot walk a lot with her broken feet, though we walked directly to the taxi buses. She was asking if the bus was going to Cardenas. This way I learned which bus I should look for. With that bus there is no need to leave at the “yellow bridge” and walk all the hill up.
While Rosi prepared the lunch, I checked my economy. It took a while until I have got it right. There is no problem as long as I get receipts, but from the taxi buses, the top up of my phone and other places, I did not get some. I was happy, when I found out, that I have not lost any money.
I wrote the postcards before we were going by the little truck to another hospital. Rosi had an appointment, but the doctor was not there. Though Rosi went to the principal’s office, complaining about her sick allowance and was told, that there is no problem as long as she has a new appointment, which she then got at the usual counter. By the way people with crutches have everywhere precedence, even when crossing the streets anywhere. In addition to that, I should name here, that at all hospitals, we have been, were campaign posters for breast-feeding.
On the way home we first went to a gas station (200 MZN was close to 12 l) and picked up Li directly afterwards, but driving to a DG ice cream drive through shop. Li and me had an ice cream and Rosi a milk shake, which she drank on the way home. Li and Rosi had dinner, but I was not hungry again. Afterwards I showed Rosi my upcoming itinerary and told her, that I will leave 31st January. She did not say anything about the date, but did not look happy. I do not know by which reason – if I was staying too long or too short time. She did tell me, that she knows people in Chihuahua and tried to make them my former hosts.
When Archi came home from work we had dinner together. Rosi was already to bed at 8pm, because she was freezing. When Archi told me a little later, that he will take in the dog for the night, I was going to my room. I tried to update my blog with photos, because my tablet run out of charge – I can only upload the photos from my phone by not changing the SD-cards all the time, I became too tired and soon I fell asleep.
26th Jan 2018
I started the day with my blog, cleaned one of my shoes from the dog’s poo, I had got under it the evening before and was in the kitchen around 9am. It was OK. Rosi came down from upstairs and had company with me, while I ate breakfast. Soon after we were to town. First we were to another bank, than we picked up Li, who had a very short day this day, because the teachers than had a conference. Today it was the first time I have seen Li in the school uniform with a skirt.
Together we first went to a post office, where I finally could buy stamps. Rosi had to use the gps to find it. I had explained to the assistant, that I want four stamps for Europe, showing him the postcards. He took a look on them and confirmed one to the USA (that was the one for Malta) and three to Europe. When I had paid for the stamps, he put them on the postcards. He held on, when he had put a stamp for Europe on the card to Malta, but this way he saw his mistake, because I had as usual written (EU) behind Malta. He took another stamp with the value for Europe on the last card as well. I did not have to pay the difference. We continued to the hospital, where Rosi had been the day before. Li stopped at a fruit stand and bought a snack for herself, I bought coconut slices. It was a very big portion for 50 MXN. With the fruit we were not allowed to enter the hospital. I was enjoying the sun and Li was in the shadow meanwhile Rosi was at the hospital.
It took quite a long time for Rosi at the hospital. She had not prepared any lunch in the morning, therefore we entered a restaurant and hat the dish of the day (dagens rätt). It was a soup as a starter, fried chicken, spaghetti and salad. Rosi and me had a Jamaica juice, which was a lemonade. It came with ice, though I asked Rosi if that is not a risk for the health, but she told me, that it is not. Furthermore we had a piece of soft bread before the meal and tortilla as a “side dish” I insisted to pay and was allowed after two “no”. I am happy, I can give a little back, they offer me so much. By the way all these was for only 205 MXN (~ 9 EUR).
We did not go home afterwards, but made the weekly shopping. This time at Walmart again, where Rosi could take such a cart with motor I already wrote about, when I travelled USA.
Finally at home we did some cleaning, before we took our laundry to the wash saloon (laundromat). I only paid the fee for the use of the washing machine (a little one for up to 9 kg for 45 MXN) and the dryer (18 MXN in American quarters). The detergent, softener and even a sheet of that famous paper, which makes the clothes non statisc, was Rosi’s.
The whole laundry did not take longer than an hour and we were soon back home again. When we carried the clean clothes into the house, it was Li’s turn to get dog poo under one of her shoes. She told her mother and me, that she does not like the dogs at all and asked me, if I do. I actually told her, that I do not either. The one is a boxer or something like that, which really is annoying. I think that also is the one, which shits everywhere. The other one is a Schäfer or a Schäferblend. She is very old. The boxer is on a leach all the time and has to secure the house. Archi told me already before, that most Mexicans have dogs to secure their houses.
We were to bed already around 8pm. This time because we have to be ready for breakfast the upcoming morning at 7am. We will go by car to Mexicali, where Rosi’s parents and siblings live. This evening I actually was not so tired and updated my blog.
27th Jan 2018
I was up in time and in the kitchen 6:45am. Rosi had no hurry. We had breakfast and when nothing more happened I asked her, if we won’t go to Mexicali. She told me, that Archi did not like, if we will go there this day. Though it is not only sunshine in this family either. It would have been too perfect. She did not give me a result of the request at the family in Chihuahua, but I had seen, that she read a message on her phone, which did not made her happy. Though I tried to call the hostels and the “El Chepe” as well as I tried to find hosts in Chihuahua and Hermosillo. The host I wrote to in Chihuahua welcomed me right away, the host in Hermosillo sent me a maybe and that it would be good to ask someone else, because he is not sure, he will be at home that weekend. I looked at and read a lot of profiles of hosts, but did not ask someone else, because I still had not got the answer from another host in Hermosillo, who I asked the day before.
Rosi was to bed with a headache. It was warm outside and should become up to 24°C. I was wondering to take a walk or taxibus to the city centre, but first I bought detergent for the dishes, Rosi had run out of. There is a little shop next corner to the house of this family. I only had a 200 peso-note to pay with, but the cashier was very happy anyway. Outside the shop were some stalls, selling different items like fruit, clothes and food. I just checked, what they had to offer and went back to the house, leaving the detergent. I furthermore put a note on the kitchen table explaining, that I am out for a walk or will go to the city centre. I also wrote, that I had got a CS-host for Chihuahua. Rosi came down into the kitchen and told me, that we will go to the cinema in the afternoon. Though I asked her to contact me, when they are in the city center.
While waiting at the bus stop close to the yellow bridge, a bus was coming, which I entered, paid the fare of 13 MXN and took a seat. I left that bus at the cathedral and started walking around.
This day I finally bought churros. Here they are served with a mix of sugar and cinnamon. It makes them easier to eat as the churros with chocolate. I also bought cream for my face in a shop called DAX. I walked further and was looking for a nice place with benches. I finally found it in front of the wax museum. Opposite the wax museum are shops and restaurants. I enjoyed the sun and the view of the ongoing traffic, chose the simple restaurant with fewer customers. Actually I was the first one for a long while, but more were coming when I sat there. I ordered two tacos with “carne Asada” (unfortunately I did not take a picture of them). First I was served fried, cut tortillas and a salsa. That gave me the possibility to try just one little drop of it on a bit of fried tortilla. It was hot or, in Spanish: picante. After a while the tacos were served. These tacos were small, soft tortillas. The filling was fried meat in small pieces with onion and “small green leaves”. Those are very usual here, even Rosi use them, but unfortunately I do not remember the name of them. I avoided to take of the salsa. The tacos had a good taste anyway.
I was continuing to the arche, where Mariachis with this interesting trousers gathered again.
I little further is a scene, where a group of three dancers did have a show and collected tips. They were really great, though they also got a tip of me. I stayed for another of their dances and walked then further.
At an HSBC ATM I took out 2000 MXN (~ 100 EUR) for my further trip. It should be enough to La Paz, even I planned to stay twice at a hostel and cash is requested. By the way it is very easy to get CS-hosts here in Mexico even in my age. I am surprised and very happy about it.
All the time in the city I had checked my phone, that I did not miss the call from Rosi, but there was no call and no message. Therefore I did take a taxibus for Cardenas home and left on the top of the hill, from where it is not far to Rosi’s and Archi’s home. Well there I asked Rosi, if they will go to the cinema, but even this was changed.
After the dinner I asked Archi if Rosi had told him, that I will go further the upcoming Wednesday, 31st of January. He did not really answer that question, but asked me, if I have a map with my route and I fetched it. He was looking at it and explained, that the very East between Chihuahua and Monterey is not save and that I have to take the daytime bus there. I thanked him for the information and told him, that I will. Around 9pm he told me, he will go to bed.
28th Febr 2018
I awoke around 6am again, was to the bathroom and took my medicine. I also started to update my blog. Around 9am I was to the kitchen, because it is Sunday. Only Li was having breakfast. Rosi and Archi were working upstairs with fitting in a door. I have been told, that I have to take the breakfast myself, if I will have one.
After breakfast I tried to reach the hostels, but the same voice dit tell me something in Spanish, which I do not understand, though I have to ask Archi for help as soon he has some time for me.
When I got an answer to my sms of the Cuatro Casas Hostel, which was negative, because they are maintaining the house, I changed my plans and tried to get a host in Ensenada for two nights as well as a bed in the Cactus Motel closer to Rosario for one night. I also booked a room by booking.com in Mulegé, because it seems, that the hostel I tried to reach there is closed for the season or not existing anymore.
I enjoyed the sun for a while before it was time for lunch. Archi asked me, if I do not use sunscreen. I answered, that I do not need that for such a short while in the sun. We had “Mole” for lunch, a typical Mexican dish, which is only served on special occasions.
A while after the meal, Archi and Rosi were still working with the door, Archi told me, he had got an emergency call and I should follow him. We were driving to the other side of Tijuana, where beside a pharmacy and in the same building, usual a doctor has his office. Now it was closed, because someone had crashed the window and stolen the TV. Archi had a big wooden slice with him, which he put behind the broken window, though the place should be secure again. In the pharmacy was still a woman working, but through the night window. Archi told me, that in this area pharmacies got robbed often. The thieves are looking for drugs.
Home again we had dinner. It was the left overs from the lunch, but it was not enough for all of us, therefore Rosi had a tuna salad. Archi had asked me one more time for my map, but told me than, that he was too tired for looking at it. I went to the room. It was still cold, but by the sun during the day (we have had 24°C) it was still warmer than the days before. I was on the Internet checking other CS-hosts for Ensenada and also a hostel, but I am still waiting for the answer of the request I sent in the morning.
29th Jan 2018
I awoke around 7am and started with my daily routine. I considered, that the night has not been so very cold as the nights before. I also updated my blog. Around 8am I was ready for the upcoming day. It was already warm outside. I greeted Rosi, when I entered the kitchen. She was still upstairs and told me, that I can take breakfast by myself. There was a pan with a dish on the stove, but I preferred cereals with milk. By the way “Nestlé” is here very selling. I also ate a banana and had a cup of Chuacalalate tea. Afterwards I swept the floor in the kitchen and my room. I also made my bed very careful this day. The temperature now climbed to 24°C, but it was a little windy. Even the wind was warm.
Around half an hour later I was sitting in the sun. It was already really warm, though I took of my sweater and only had a t-shirt and, of course, my pants and shoes. I was outside for ca. half an hour, when Rosi came downstairs and told me, that we will go to a small market and then to school. She did neither tell me, how long we will be there nor, that it is to her school, we vill go. On our way, Rosi had du buy fuel and I recognised again, that there is full service at all of the stations. Nobody needs to leave the car, while tanking.
The market, we were going to, was a street market close to the playas. There were a lot of food stalls, but also flea market. The most interesting thing was, when Rosi bought a fresh (raw) chicken. The seller did not only clip it in parts with special scissors, but also take the skin of it – with the help of a dish towel. He did it fast as well. In addition to that, he cut the body in very thin filets, which he banked on as well. When Rosi had paid, she left it at the stall for cooling. We went further to a stall with fruits and vegetables. Here we had to take a big plastic bowl to put in all we would like to buy. It was a lot and became heavy, though I was allowed to carry the bowl and after payment the plastic bags. By the way, in Mexico you get the plastic bags everywhere still for free, even in the supermarkets. Plastic of any kind seems to be the choice her. Even the plates in the restaurant, we have been a couple of days ago, were of plastic. The same type as Rosi uses at home, that means, these were reusable. The bags on the other hand are of very thin material and break e.g. of the leaves of a pineapple, which I could see this day. When Rosi had done her shopping on this market, she invited me for a taco. The taco stall had around ten different fillings. I was shown all of them and the owner called them by name. There was also “Mole”, but I did chose another, not spicy filling. Actually it was a little spicy, but had a good taste. It was a little saucy. Therefore it was good, that it was served with two small tortillas around. All what fell out, I could pick up with the second tortilla in parts. It also is the way the Mexicans do. Rosi paid for my taco, too. I was not allowed to do it. He also offered me a second one, but I denied politely.
While we left the groceries at home, I took a glass of water, because Rosi did not even asked at the market if I would have something to drink. I did not stop at a stall with juices either, I won’t her to pay more for me. Soon we continued to her school. Unfortunately she did not tell me, that she will stay there for hours, though I did neither have my tablet with me nor the password. I used twitter on my phone and hope, I did not use too much gb of what I bought. I would like to use 4G until this top up runs out by the time limit. It might have been 2pm, when Rosi first came with a Jamaica juice (lemonade) and soon also a Burrito. This one seemed to be filled with only beans. After a while the female cook came with a dish on a little (plastic)plate for one-time-use to me. It consisted of rice and a vegetable mix. She asked me, if I want salsa and I asked her, if it is hot spicy, but she told me: “no, no chilly”. Fortunately I only got a small portion, because it was quite hot anyway. When we were leaving, the cook told Rosi, that I had asked, if the salsa is spicy. I think, Rosi explained, why I do not eat spicy meals. By the way, did I already tell you, that Rosi does not use kitchen towels? She put the washed dishes half-dry in her little cupboard. Sometimes they are still so wet, when she takes them out again for a meal, that we dry them with tissues.
You may be interested in, what Rosi did at school. As a principal she was talking with the teachers and also a couple of pupils, one by one. It was about the work at school respectively about the homework, the pupils had not made. She gave, especially one, the possibility to make it, while she was there. The pupil was really proud, when he could recite the text by heart. Another thing I make name here. On the billboard in Rosi’s office are professional school pictures (pupils and classes), like it is usual in Sweden. It surprised me a little, because of the financial situation of the parents.
When we went outside, ready to go, Rosi had another teacher to talk with. One of the younger teachers saw me, came to me, did shake hands with me and said hallo (yes, actually in German), before he continued. Under my waiting time outside I could see the janitor, some pupils and a teacher cleaning the yard including the green flower beds.
We bought wheat tortillas on the way to Li’s school, picked up Li and went home for a meal. Actually I did not eat more. After the meal Archi invited me to follow to his school. He had to give a lesson in physic, but first we walked a little further and bought three eggs, the salt he already had taken from home. While walking he ask me about the school system at home. Though I told him about our Swedish school system, but he wanted to know the German, though I also told him about that, but told him, that is what I know, it may have changed during the last years. He told me, that it is known, that Finland has the best school system. I answered, that I do not know anything about it, but as long as it is a static system or theory behind, there will be pupils, who won’t fit in.
We had to wait outside, because time was not ready and the door to the laboratory (the special room for physics and chemistry) was closed, we were talking about the school. It was build 42 years ago, he told me and, if we understood each other right (his English is not perfect and he does not understand all words like refurbishment and maintenance), the school was never refurbished. I told him, that I like the tables and benches around and he answered, that they all were made by pupils, who needed “hands on things” from time to time. Unfortunately nowadays there was even no money for such projects. When the lesson should start, the laboratory was not open and he sent a pupil to fetch the key. Actually there was no key available, though we went back to the classroom and started with theory. After Archi had introduced me and told the pupils, that I will travel most of Mexico, he asked them about the lesson before and checked the books of some of them. He also did explain about the point, when water starts cooking – on the whiteboard.
Now we could enter the laboratory. Archi as well as all the pupils were now wearing white smocks. I was taking place on a chair, a bit away of the desks. Archi first explained, what the pupils has to do. They were now divided in two groups. The one put an egg in half a liter of water without salt, the other had to add some spoons of salt to the same amount of water and put the egg in there, though the pupils could see, that the salt made the egg floating. The next experiment was to recycle the salt with the help of a Bunsen burner. Even the inventory in the room was old, there were a handle to switch the gas of and on. This handle was far away from the desks. Anyway had the door to be open, because there was no ventilation. I remember the subject very well from my time as a pupil. He made another experiment with the pupils about the salt concentration of the water. Unfortunately I could not see that. Some of the pupils did look around and seemed not to be interested in the subject.
After the experiments we went back to the classroom, where Archi checked the presence of the pupils. Almost a third of the class was missing, one pupil, which was there now had not been in the laboratory. Archi showed me a row of a pupil, who never had been at his classes and asked me, what we would do in Sweden. I told him, that we would talk with the parents and if it would not change, he would not get a grade in this subject. Afterwards he asked the pupils about the experiments – not many had an answer, followed by telling them, what they have to write in their books. Archi has a laid back style in teaching. He also used his phone during the lesson. I have not seen pupils taking out their phones, but some were talking with another one and not listening to the teacher. It seemed he did not care about it.
The lessons were starting at 6pm. It were two in a row, it felt. I asked Archi if such long days are usual in Mexico while we went home. These pupils were in the same age as his daughter, which never have had lessons, when it is dark, as I have seen. He told me, that it is usual at high school (grade 7 to 9). On the way was a street seller, who had Champurrado and more. Archi bought me just such a Champurrado, because it is typical Mexican. When I was explained, what it was, I remembered, that I had read about it. It actually is a sweet corn-chocolate drink and delicious as well as a good snack. Back home I was offered the evening meal, but I was already full.
Rosi and I had talked about earthquakes before we were to bed. She told me and also showed me videos about Mexicali some years ago. This evening we were to bed around 9pm.
30th Jan 2018
The last full day at Archi’s and Rosi’s home started with a lonely breakfast. There were a lot to choose and I took cereals with milk as well as I had pancakes. When Rosi came down, she offered me more to eat, but I was already full. After brushing my teeth and taking photos of my receipts and tickets, I was to the shop next corner, buying some kex’ and a bottle of water for the upcoming day as well as salt, Rosi had run out off, because Archi had taken it to school.
When I was back, Rosi cleaned the kitchen. Furthermore she was washing the dogs and cut the Schäfer’s fur.
Afterwards I helped Rosi in the kitchen. I had to cook soya bites. I asked her about the coriander and told her, that we do not use it so often as she does. As I heard of Jonathan before (see above), it is a very common ingredients in the Mexican kitchen. When the lunch was prepared, we were going by car to the Playas again. At the first stop, she told me, I can stay in the car. The second stop was at the DG ice-cream shop. She bought two small ice creams and we had a table (outside) and enjoyed the warm weather and the ice cream. A little one costs more than the 800g salt, I had bought in the morning. We waited the time in for picking up Li. Together we went home and had lunch. We had nearly finished, when Archi came home for lunch. He told me, that a German girl will go by car from Tijuana the next day and I could follow her. He even called her, though I could speak with her. Unfortunately she was already on her way to Ensenada, when I talked to her.
Rosi was going to take a rest after lunch and I checked my itinerary and the map one more time. I also checked my accounts. The Euro is really strong now. Though my shopping in San Diego was a lot cheaper as it had been in Sweden. The MXN is weaker than before, though my money should be more than enough for my travel, especially when I even for the rest of the trip can surf on couches. When I did not have other things to do, I read the tourist tips on the map and was wondering, if I will be able to see all of them, because the historical and cultural places named, seemed all to be very interesting. I did read until Archi was coming home and we had a light dinner. Afterwards Archi asked me about the upcoming day, mentioning, that I will leave. I told him, that I would be thankful, if he could bring me somewhere, where I could hitchhike from and he promised. Therefore I asked him, when I have to be ready next morning. He told me, between 7am and 7:30 am for breakfast. – We were going to bed as early as usual, but I did pack my backpack as much as it was possible.
31st Jan 2018
I was awake early (around 5am) and could not fall asleep again, but was waiting until Li has been in the bathroom. Directly afterwards I was going to the bathroom, took my medicine, dressed and put the last items in my backpack. I had to dress in my fleecejacket, because I was nearly not able to close my backpack. I had to fasten my walking sticks on the outside of it. It is my winter jacket, which makes the difference.
7:10am I was in the kitchen and got breakfast, After brushing my teeth, Archi drove me close to a toll station of the highway, after both he and Rosi had hugged me and prayed for me. He parked his car in a little street and was walking with me, though he did not need to pay and I was not stopped of the police, he told me. First he was waiting with me and also hold his thumb out. I told him, drivers may think, that we both will have a hitch. By the way I had offered him money for the gas, but he denied. He told me, that friends do not pay each other for fuel. At least Archi hugged me one more time and left, telling me, he has to go to work.
For all photos of Tijuana 2018 click here.
Now I was standing there by myself, holding my thumb out. Maybe I was waiting for five minutes, some cars had not stopped, when a driver of a little Fiat stopped and ask me: “Grandma, where will you head?” It was a man in my age, maybe Mexican (he was, he told me), bald, some beard and had an excellent English. He looked kind, though I told him, to Ensenada. That was also his goal. In addition to that, he told me, that he is a nice guy. ☺ I saw a little problem: Space for my backpack, but that was no problem for him. He got my backpack in the car. While we were on the way to Ensenada, he introduced himself, asked where I come from, told me, that he have had a surgery of his brain and that he now was thinking of himself. He had cared for his three children, but they are all grown up and he had been working in the USA for many years etc. He stopped halfway to buy a coffee. I bought one for me, too and offered him, to pay for his as well. He only accepted, that I paid for mine.
Around an hour later we arrived in Ensenada and he parked in front of a Starbuck Coffee shop. He told me, that it is a save place to wait for my friend. I used the bathroom and walked afterwards to the harbour. I also sent my Ensenada-host a CS-message, that I already arrived and when we can meet. I knew, that he was working, but did not know anything about her working hours. I did not have any phone number or address either, but where she is working. The harbour of Ensenada is not big, even big enough for cruise ships and it is depending on tides. There is an open space in front of the harbour with a very high flagpole and a very big Mexican flag. There is also an open-air scene. Not far away are horses with carriages waiting for tourists. I did not get any answer of my host and I did not find a place, where I was able to put my big backpack meanwhile I was visiting the city. For that reason I was going to see a bit more of Ensenada by one of that carriages. I had got a price of 500 MXN for one hour, usually you have to pay more.
With my big backpack on one bench and me on the other, the trip started. The coach was quite young and he explained, what I saw. There are actually not many attractions in Ensenada, though it was a lot of advertising for hotels and horse riding. Unfortunately the trip did only take 45 minutes. I told the coach, that the trip has not been an hour, but he did answer me that the trip was over.
I sent my host another CS-message, but did not get an answer either. Though I was walking around with my backpacks and lots of shop owners told me to come in and see, what I did not. I have got hungry and was looking for a restaurant. The most are serving fish and seafood. Even here I was invited. When I told the waiter at such a place, that I am allergic, he told me, they also serve other dishes – and they did. I had a guacamole with (tortilla)chips. Afterwards did I walk back to the place with the big Mexican flag. Now I did sent my host more CS-messages, but did not get any reply. Soon water games with music started, which I enjoyed. Children of different ages did run around under it. These water games continued for a long time.
At sunset I decided to try to get in contact with my host and walked close to the place, where she is working. I asked a security guard for letting me in to the offices, but was denied, only people with tickets for the cruise ship were allowed to force the fence. I was waiting close to that area and hoped, my host will come out soon, but even a lot of employees left, my host was not coming. Around 5:30pm I asked another security guard. He told me, I should call her, though I explained, that I do not have her phone number. He answered, he can not help me without phone number and name. I opened my CS-app and showed them her name. The man tried to call her and told me, that she is the lawyer. He also thought I was a client, even I told him, that she is a friend of mine.
All’s well that ends well. I was accompanied by a security guard to the office of my host. She welcomed me and apologised, she had not checked the CS-site this day. Her 6-year-old son was with her in the office. He sat under the table, watching videos. When my host had finished her work, we were going home to her very small, but cute house.
She has a small, but nice kitchen (like we have in Sweden) and livingroom, a bedroom, a children’s room and a small bathroom. She offered a light dinner and prepared then the boy’s room for me with clean bed-clothes and taking the mattress from the high bed unto the floor. It was just space for the mattress, though I could not have shoes in the room. My big backpack was left in their livingroom. After the meal her son had to make homework. He knew already some English and used it as well. He is attending a bilingual school. Even in this family we were to bed early, which I understood fully, because they had to go up early in the mornings.
1st Febr 2018
I was allowed to sleep as long as I wanted. M. left the keys to me. I apologise, that I do not name her first name, but with respect to her professional position I chose to name only the first letter of her first name. I slept until 8am and had already eaten breakfast, when I got a message of her, telling me, that I could take the breakfast I want and asking me to call her, before I leave the house for the instructions for the doors. Though I did and it was really necessary with these instructions.
I went to the bus and, because M. had told me, that I could take the bus on whatever side, I took the first one, which arrived. At the bus I have got to know, that it was the wrong direction for me. I was allowed to leave the bus at the next stop without payment. I walked back and asked a teenage girl about the bus. She did not speak English, but I could understand enough of, what she told me. Though I came downtown Ensenada. This was the real city center, where nobody bothered me by asking to come in etc. I was looking in one shop for clothes, what they had to offer, when I was asked something in Spanish. I heard something about laptop, but I think it was about my little backpack. I asked the shop assistant, if he speaks English, but he did not. Both shop assistant were going up on ladders, I saw before I left. They seemed to be afraid of, that I will steel something.
I continued to the seaside and the “Museo historico de Ensenada”. Well there I saw, that I only could be there for an hour, because M. had invited me for lunch and I had to be at her workplace 20 minutes to 2pm. She had told me, too, that she will tell the security guard, that she is waiting for me. I had some time over and was sitting in the sun at the harbourside. By the way this day I was allowed to go to the office unaccompanied.
Well at the office, M presented me for her boss and a few colleagues. I had to wait a little until M. and I could leave together. She told me, that she had ordered and prepaid food, but that her friends, which we will meet, were at another restaurant. Finally there, after we had picked up her son, we were meeting two of her girlfriends, her cousin and respective children.
I was welcomed in English by all the adults, but thereafter all were speaking Spanish. I could study an important part of Mexican life. The mothers did mostly chat with each other, but did take care of the children if necessary. So far nothing special. Anyway, the lunchtime was not, was I was used to. M, I, her cousin and one of her friends had ordered salad, M had also ordered a pizza for her son. The other friend had ordered spaghetti Carbonara, but when it was served, she told, it was for the children. So far it was still nothing special. There were four or five children, but only two got of it. These children did not eat much, though the mothers did eat the rest. The friend, who ordered the spaghetti only had an ice cream. By the way I paid for my lunch.
M. left her son with her relatives and he was happy. There was no long goodbye, it seemed, he was used to it. She now had a hurry and first drove to the restaurant, she had prepaid a meal and picked that up. She told me, she won’t get rid of the money for anything, which, I think, everyone can understand. During the drive, she also told me, that she will be late that evening, because she has two appointments and let me have the keys. I asked for her address to find “home” and a nice place to be in the evening. She recommended “Hussons”, the oldest restaurant in town, but a cantina, where one is going to drink. She continued to her job and dropped me off just in front of the security line. We had agreed that before, because I want to go to the museum nearby. Later she sent me a message with her address by WhatsApp and wrote, that I have to call her for the code, when I am at her house.
The museum was done in half an hour, the interesting things were the wall paintings. At the end I needed a bathroom. There was no official, but the clerk did offer me his private one right of. The entrance fee for the museum had been 30 MXN. I continued to another museum, but that was also closing at 5pm. Though I went back to the flag pole (the flag was not there this day), sat down on a bench and called the German girl, I had been in touch with before. I asked her, if she will drive southwards the upcoming day, but she told me, she has such a nice host, she will stay for longer. Though I asked her to meet, but she did not decide at that moment, if and where.
It was getting dark and I was walking downtown to catch a bus back to M’s home. I found the bus stop after a while, but there are different directions of the busses with the same colours. I had M’s address on Google map, showed it the driver and asked him, if the bus was going there. The first did not. The second I asked told me, he will. That guy was really nice and even told me, when I had to leave, but I also had followed the route of the bus on Google maps and knew, that it was the right stop for me. In addition to that, I recognised the shops at the bus stop. I walked the three streets down and soon I was at M’s house. In front of her door, I called her, got the code and was “at home”. We agreed before, that I should fry the Tamales, she had in her fridge. So I did. Unfortunately I did neither really understand how much I should fry it nor how to eat it, though I did take the outer layer off and only ate the potato mash, the carrots and the meat, which was inside. I also had a tea.
I had to wait for her, because of the complicated system to lock and unlock the different doors and ports. I updated my blog for a while, but got too tired to continue. I also was getting frozen. Therefore I sat on the couch with the cover around me. It was past 10pm, when she was back. I never saw, that she took her son into the house after I had opened the door to the yard for her. By the way they also have a little cute dog. He was outside all the time, when she was not at home. She told me, that he chewed so many things, when he was allowed to stay inside and when she is not at home, that he has to stay outside. When she took him in in the evening he was very happy and tried to play with everyone.
M. is very different to Rosi, but I think it is usual, that people with the same nationality are different. M. was very kind and helpful as well, but she was not so caring like Rosi and Archi. Maybe their professions show a little, how people are. In the moment it seems like this.
2nd Febr 2018
Next morning we were early up, because M. had an errand in Tijuana and to go by car almost at 7am. She was earlier up as me, but did not have time for breakfast. It took long time for her to get her hair done after her shower. Even her son took a shower and she had to remind him to stop, because he did enjoy to shower for a really long time. M. made sandwiches with scrambled eggs with chorizo to take with them.
For all photos of Enseada click here.
Because M. was going to Tijuana I asked her to take me with her to the toll station, which she did. Archi had told me, that it is easiest to get a hitch from there. Unfortunately the two files closest to me were for trucks and buses. The drivers of the cars could not really see me, but there was a parking space, where I got my first driver after a while. She told me, she never did take hitchhikers and she was only going to the other side of Ensenada. I told her, that I would be thankful if she took me to the other side, because I thought, there will be a place, where it will be easier to get a hitch. We were talking about the one and another thing during the trip. She e.g. told me, she actually is Canadian and was many years ago coming with her husband as missionaries to Mexico. Her husband died some years ago, but she is continuing the work they started and also goes to jail from time to time for helping the prisoners. When she finally had to choose another direction, she prayed for me and also gave me a gift of 500 MXN.
It was close to a gas station as well as to traffic lights and a parking space. I thought, it was a good place. Unfortunately there also was a bus stop. I had to wait for three hours (it was around 11:30am) until a woman came to me, asking me in English, if “Sur” means South (I had a sign, which I already had prepared at home). I told her, yes it is and she told me, they will go as far South as they can, today. She took me to the car at the gas station, where her son got fuel for the car. There was space for my big backpack in their trunk. The other bag I took inside the car. On the seat behind the driver was space for me. Unfortunately he was quite long, though there was not much space for my feet, but we took short rests from time to time, e.g. for a bathroom and for tacos. (I had two tacos for 36 MXN, but the cook had no change for my 200 MXN-note, though he was OK with my 31 MXN in coins.) This mother and her son were from Sacramento, but this day coming from Tijuana. They had a lot of food and many bottles of water as well as pillows on the other seat back. I was offered raisins, which I took and spicy nachos, which I did not take. She tried one of my Mariekeks, but denied another one.
The son was driving really fast. It felt like he was driving 80mi/h instead for driving 80km/h. Some times he did overtake, when I thought it was dangerous. At the Baja Cactus Motel I thanked them for the ride and was going for my reserved room. The reservation from the evening before was really done, even the spelling of my name must have been different as I told. When I had to pay 550 MXN, I told the receptionist, that on TripAdvisor was a lower amount (400 MXN) named. Suddenly even this receptionist was not so good in English anymore. There was no breakfast included. In addition to that, my window was only 30 cm from the staircase, which did take the sun and daylight, but the room was very nice and clean, so were also the rest of it, e.g. the shower.
I unpacked a little and was then going to the grocery nearby as well going out for taking some photographs, because that had not been possible while in the car. Outside I met an owner (50+) of a vineyard and winery, he told me. He was from another state of Mexico. When I was back I met a younger man outside, who told me about the restaurant in the other direction as I had been, but it was too late and I also had my evening meal and breakfast (coffee and water was provided in the room) for 70 MXN, which I never would get for this price at a restaurant.
I spent the evening at the room, updating my blog until I got tired. Archi (my host from Tijuana) called me and asked me, how I was doing.
For all photos of the Baja Cactus Motel and surrounding click here.
3rd Febr 2018
I enjoyed the morning at the Motel, I have had a really good sleep and ate my breakfast (two different types of cakes and drinking yogurt as well as a cup of coffee) and checked out at 10am. I was just crossing the street and on the other side of the gas station. Cars could stop there easily. After ca 10 minutes a truck stopped, but the driver was not going to Guerrero Negro, my goal for this day. I was interested in to go the whole way with one driver, because of the desert we hade to drive through all the time.
After 20 minutes since I was going on the road, a car with a couple, I though, coming from the gas station, stopped. They were going to Guerrero Negro. I was happy I got a ride with them and it was really a couple, but the one I thought was a boy, was a girl, too. They were great company even the music was a little loud, there in the bag. We stopped for a bathroom after around two hours drive and another time for lunch at Loncheria Mary.
They driver was paying for the lunch, even for mine! There are people living in the desert, shops, restaurants, garages etc. By the way, the desert is beautiful even I would not like to live there. The hills have different formations. There are different kinds of cactus, some has flowers and bushes, even trees and there were also some really green spaces.
For more photos of Highway 1 throughout Baja California click here.
Around 9 km before Guerrero Negro we entered Baja California Sur. Please follow me even to Baja California Sur