A. Cancun. Tulum. Riviera Maya. Mexico City.
B. Rosarito. Tijuana. Ensenada.
Which group of Mexican cities and towns do you recognize? A or B? Probably A. My answer would be the same. But last week that changed. Now Baja California is an eternal part of my travel dictionary. How so?
I had a few days of vacation days from 2016 which I had to use up soon. I reached out to one of my friends who is in between jobs and we brainstormed places we could go for about a week. We were both keen on traveling to a new country. Australia? Nope, not enough days. Japan? Too cold. Mexico? Yes! Two days in LA and four days in Mexico. Done and done. I also managed to fly out right before the snowstorm hit the tri-state NY/NJ area on March 14th. For a change, timing was good. Swap snow for sunshine.
Rather than fly into Mexico, we decided on an epic road trip from Los Angeles to Rosarito, Mexico. Rosarito is a coastal city situated about 30 minutes from the US-Mexico border. The drive down to Mexico was mostly low drama. Crossing the United States-Mexican border was fairly easily as traffic was bad on Thursday late afternoon. Once we reached the other side of the border, the drive did become a little nerve wrecking but nothing that an offline google map, good navigation and basic math (kilometers to miles). Our main goal was to not take a wrong turn, to not get lost. Success!
We stayed at the Las Rocas Resort & Spa in Rosarito. It was fairly easy to find as its just off the road and sits in front of a big Jesus statue – Sagrado Corazón. “Just keep driving until you see the statue”. Landmark. The resort sits right in front of the Pacific Ocean with some of the most pristine crystal clear water I’ve ever soon. To get down to the water, a little downhill is needed. It was a fun way to get the blood flowing. The weather on the Peninsula isn’t exactly summer-like but was more of a late Spring sub 70F day. Good for lounging around the beach and spending time by the hot outdoor pool. We also got to visit a local beach (Playa La Mision, Baja California) about 20 minutes away, south of Rosarito on a Sunday afternoon. The beach was full of mostly locals and families enjoying a day off from work and also offered fun activities like horse back riding and kite surfing. It was sweet to see families enjoying a popular beach tree – a raw coconut filled with fruit, Tostitos, some red (spicy?) sauce, maybe some shrimp (from what I could glean) I stayed clear of the adventurous beach food options and had basic raw coconut water instead.
I definitely consider Mexico, Baja California Peninsula off the beaten path when it comes to Mexico travel. I didn’t even realize it was a place to visit until last month. You can blame for lack of geographical knowledge. The region had a sense of being familiar, given its close proximity to the border. But I also felt like I was in another country and felt like a less “touristy tourist” given the authentic Mexican vibes the place gave out. The beaches and resorts weren’t packed with tourists, there was no big brand name hotels around. But there was a 7-11 convenience store or few. Also a Subway sandwich shop spotted on the drive from Rosarito to Ensenada. Side note, the drive down to Ensenada was roughly a one hour drive on the scenic highway (Autopista, Mexican Federal Highway 1). Hands down, one of the most picturesque drives I’ve ever taken. There are a few stop points along the route for are great for enjoying the landscape and picture taking.
Overall, the trip was relaxing. I’m not one for beach holidays but I can definitely spend a few days at the beach with book and spa time. I guess it is nice to relax on vacation sometimes *hehe*. I was also happy to practice some elementary Spanish (thanks Idlewild Books, Duolingo and Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Verb Tenses, Premium 3rd Edition (Practice Makes Perfect Series)) I think I made a few people smile and laugh with my broken and somewhat comprehensible Spanish – “yo soy this, yo soy that”. In the end, life and travel is all about making those around you happy. #joy #happiness