Hi all! As I write this, we are just getting back from Mexico and getting everything packed for our trip to sequoia. By the time it publishes, we will be back from Sequoia as well, so be sure to check out our Instagram for pictures of both trips!
We pulled out of our apartment complex around 5 am, trying to get an early enough start to miss San Diego traffic. We were both a bit nervous, as it was my first time going to Mexico, and Michole’s first time not going exclusively to the university in Tijuana for work.
We had done our best to make sure that we had checked all of our pre trip boxes: Mexican car insurance, passports and paperwork (which is a bit of a pain for us because all of Michole’s documents are now Michole Greenwood, except for her passport, which is still under her maiden name), we even pre downloaded the forms for our “tourist cards,” which apparently you need to get back across the border if you are spending three or more days in Baja.
All of our stress turned out to be for nothing though, as we cruised through the border without so much as being asked to show an ID, although there was apparently somewhere to stop and get our tourist cards stamped, but it was not very conspicuous and we ended up missing it… Oops.
Across the border, we made our way through Tijuana into Rosarito with several hours before our noon check in, and stopped at a spot for breakfast that garnered rave reviews. Little did we know, they only served two items: Menudo and cheese quesadillas. Having no idea what Menudo was, we ordered a large bowl and a quesadilla to share. If you know what menudo is, you are probably laughing right now, and if not, it’s tripe.
Now in the south, tripe is served several ways, and is known as “chitlins.” It’s one of the few traditional “soul foods” that I could never get down with, and I recognized the smell as soon as it was brought to the table. I tried one bite and it took nearly everything I had to get it down. Michole ate significantly more, before finding out what it was. When the waiter told her that it was “beef,” I think you could actually watch her face turn green. She later googled it to confirm that it was indeed tripe. Two weeks later and I can still make her change colors just by mentioning it!
With Michole trying to hold down her breakfast, we left Rosarito proper heading south to “Robert’s K38 Surf Motel,” (named such because it sits at the 38 Kilometer marker). Unfortunately, we arrived about two hours before check in and it looked as though no one was there. So there we were, in Mexico for the first time, standing under an overpass, with no idea what to do next.
Fortunately, I had noticed a restaurant with “pancakes” in the name back in Rosarito, so back we headed, had some amazing pancakes with a delicious mango puree salsa, and waited out the next two hours.
Feeling much more at home with bellies full of pancakes, we made our way back to Robert’s, and were greeted by a lady who spoke no English. Fortunately, Michole’s years of Spanish got us through, and served to highlight my lack of Spanish. The lady turned out to be Russell’s girlfriend Dora, and Russell turned out to be Robert’s son. Russell and Robert each do two-week stints working the hotel, and two weeks of traveling. A hell of a gig if you can get it!
Staying at Robert’s was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. While we never met Robert himself, Russell and Dora were great hosts. They are a pair of epic adventurers in their own right, travelling the Baja peninsula in a four-wheel drive, camping far from civilization, surfing, diving and fishing. They essentially live the very life that we are striving for!
If you are looking for 5 star, hotel style accommodation, then you would definitely be better served by staying a few yards up the road at Las Rocas. But if you want a place with a ton of soul, owners with stories for days, and an eclectic group of adventurous people to meet, and all of this for rock bottom prices, then you couldn’t possibly do better than Robert’s K38 Surf Motel. And did we mention that it literally sits right on the beach, and has a great point break both to its left and right? As if we wouldn’t have been sold on Robert’s to start with, Russell hooked us up with a monstrous fish burrito, filled with mahi mahi that he had just got spear fishing!
We spent a great deal of the trip just hanging around Robert’s watching the surf and relaxing. The surf was largely not good enough to tempt me out into the frigid waters, (having only brought a spring suit because…. it’s Mexico right?) We did go down to La Fonda, for Michole to hang out on the beautiful beach and me to catch a few waves.
Hanging out and surfing at K58 with the famous La Fonda Hotel in the background
On the way to La Fonda, we stopped and had fresh lobster at Puerto Nuevo’s famous lobster village. And let me just say, that the taste of northern Baja was unbelievable. From huevos rancheros for breakfast, to the famous taco surf for lunch, you could spend much more for much worse virtually anywhere, so check back soon for a full breakdown of the restaurants we visited!
The best carne asada tacos you have ever eaten for $1.10 a piece
Overall, we had a wonderful time in Baja, and it truly makes us wonder where the sensationalism comes from regarding its dangers. We met plenty of Americans and Europeans, from a group of NCIS to traveling families and full on dirt bag surfers all with tons of travel experience in Baja, who had nothing but good things to say about their experiences there. We certainly never found ourselves in a situation where we felt unsafe, or even unwelcome. Sure, I’m certain there are places where you could get into big trouble in Baja, but the same can be said for L.A., and I certainly don’t fear for my life when I stop by L.A. for some Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.
So if you want our opinion, Baja is a blast and definitely worth your time to check it out. Not to mention, we stayed at Robert’s for less than we could camp on the beach for at our local Doheny State Beach, and you can literally eat until you’re sick for five dollars! Our only regret is that we weren’t there for very long, and didn’t get to explore more, but with it so nearby, and so affordable, I think that will be an easy problem to solve!