A visit across the border to Mexico, a short 30 minute drive for us, sounds compelling and interesting, however, we haven't been there for many years. With the current US Department of State travel warnings, due to drug related homicides and kidnappings, and two to five hour waits at the border, many Americans are no longer visiting Mexico.
We are on the mailing list for Day Trippers, a reputable local tour company, that offers a variety of excursions. We read about the Puerto Nuevo lobster village & lunch trip, and decided this would be a good opportunity to take a chance on a little excursion across the border. We figured we would be safe on a tour bus, but I don't think we gave much thought to the possibility of a long wait at the border.
There were several pickup points and we chose Chula Vista. It is a short drive for us and the street parking was easy. They picked us up promptly at 9:30 a.m. with an almost full bus of about 50 fellow passengers. The trip across the border was easy and took about 20 minutes. The new Mexican immigration facilities are impressive—shiny floors and all.
After entering Mexico, we drove along Playas Tijuana (Tijuana's beaches). From there we follow the scenic coastal highway south for 18 miles to Rosarito Beach. We noticed a number of high rises and residences along the way—some half-finished and abandoned due to the economy. We observed many smaller, unkept homes, as well. Graffiti and trash along the roadways was not uncommon.
|BAR AT ROSARITO BEACH HOTEL|
Our first stop was the famous historical Rosarito Beach Hotel. It is adorned with great Mexican tiles and a sign over the entry that reads,“Through this door pass the most beautiful women in the world.” This was certainly true when Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner and Rita Hayworth frequented the place in the 1950s.
After a brief visit to the hotel, we perused the nearby street markets. If time had permitted (you are always on the clock with a tour group), I would have taken a leisurely walk on the old wooden pier in front of the hotel and enjoyed a beverage at the quaint lounge overlooking the sea. The small town is old and interesting but, like most of Mexico not very prosperous.
We continued driving south another 15 miles to Puerto Neuvo. Once a sleepy little fishing village, it is now home to over 30 restaurants, all serving the famous lobster, and many offering great ocean views.
We had lunch at Villa Ortegas overlooking the ocean and rocky coastline. The meal was prearranged by the tour company and included one lobster (boiled or fried), beans (mushy and soft), Spanish rice, rolls, flour tortillas, taco chips and dip. The flan for dessert was great. All in all the meal was plentiful, but the lobster, in my humble opinion, was not very tasty The meal was accompanied by a great margarita.
|ENTERTAINMENT AT ORTEGAS|
The drive back to the border was a little over an hour. The guide had to cancel our scheduled stop at the Tijuana Bakery, which I was looking forward to, because someone in our group fell. We needed to get back across the border as soon as possible for her medical care. She refused emergency care in Puerto Neuvo.
We waited three and one-half hours to get through immigration on our return. This was enough to keep us from returning anytime soon.
We went away wishing that a trip to Mexico was safer and simpler, because this Baja drive would make a perfect weekend getaway. What are your favorite places in Baja?
|VERY SMALL CHURCH|
|FLOWERS FOR SALE|
|INSIDE SMALL CHURCH|
|ENTRANCE TO PUERTO NEUVO|
|STREET SCENE PUERTO NEUVO|