We stopped at a few wineries along the route to Ensenada that couldn’t have been more different. LA Cello is a big Italian-owned facility with Napa-inspired facilities and a large tasting room. Close by was our favorite, the small organic Dona Lupe. It is housed among farmlands in a red stucco house. Inside they sell homemade cheeses, marmalade and sauces.
After sampling only a couple, Bode picked out the quince-pineapple marmalade and declared it the winner. They gave us some crackers and a knife and sent us to the back deck. With the kid occupied with jelly, we shared a tasting of 4 red wines. We were the only people there, so sometimes they forgot to come out and give us the next pour. That was ok, it was a beautiful place to linger and we were in no hurry.
We’ll just say that the wines have a different quality than what we were accustomed to in Northern California. Still, the entire experience was awesome. Wandering muddy Mexican back-roads looking for vineyards and getting the bus absolutely filthy? We may never go wine-tasting on paved roads again.
When we got to Ensenada, we hit the beach. The Pacific breeze kept things cool, but it was a good place to get out and run around.
Then we went into town. It was a a bit touristy for our taste, but it is a good place to warm up on our Spanish. Here we found the blaring nightclubs, drunk Americans, and touts trying to convince us to buy trinkets, wrestling masks, and other Mexican-themed junk as we passed each storefront. We passed on all opportunities for “a special offer just for you.” Saying “no, gracias” becomes tiring.
Later, we found the area we dubbed Gringo-Land where there were nothing but U.S.-based big box stores and fast-food restaurants. Most of the cars in the parking lot were from the States. We took care of some business, like getting new cell phones ($11 for a new SIM card and away we go – bye bye US cell phone companies,) and Bode spent some time at the fast-food restaurant play structure (free Wi-fi!) Here, instead of trying to learn Spanish, he was trying to teach the other kids English – poorly. I kept hearing him telling the other kids “hello means hi.”
We met a new friend via Couchsurfing – Alfred. He welcomed us and fed us homemade tostadas and guacamole. He kept saying it was just a little something – no trouble at all – but the meal kept growing and growing. We ate until we almost burst.
He also gave us some great information about Baja. He’s traveled quite a bit and has been considering a job offer in Dubai. He has family around Houston, so we talked about familiar places too.
Alfred projected photos and maps of Baja on the wall to show us where we should go. Bode thought this was pretty cool. He wanted to use ‘Street View’, his favorite Google maps application, but Baja doesn’t have street views yet. So, he showed Alfred our hometown, and where we used to get ice cream.
The next day we headed to La Bufadora – the Blowhole. It’s the tourist thing to de here and we just couldn’t pass it up. While the attraction was semi-impressive, the tourist area was a little sad. Not many tourist and lots of vendors. The best part of our visit was El Campo #5. For $6, we camped by ourselves on top of world. Beautiful view and sunset to die for.