• I just finished my first length of schooling, and decided to take a vacation to Baja-California, Mexico. A bunch of us jumped in a truck loaded with clean water, snacks and some bubbly wine for when we arrived. We stopped off in Orange to break up the 13 hour drive. The next morning, we took off at the break of day and reached the border well before noon.

     

    We were greeted by the lovely smells of Tijuana and were promptly accosted by the border patrol (yes, going IN to Mexico). They didn’t like the looks of our cargo: namely, the fine oak that we had for evening beach bonfires and the box of bubbly. When approached by the Federali, I feigned being unable to speak Spanish, which seemed to work because he became frustrated and sent us on to his superior. The superior didn’t give a flying monkey’s ass and sent us on our merry way.  We stopped off at the first legitimate drinking hole for margaritas and beer. A Cazadores margarita only ran us $5US. After our brief interlude, we happened upon Ensenada, which now has a Costco, Office Depot, Home Depot and even a Starbucks.  It was sad. We made use of the Costco for our large purchases and went across the street to exchange our currency: 12.5 pesos to the dollar made us feel like we were living large.

     

    We hit the road again, passed many a Tecate store and tamale stand, then turned right at Punta Banda. We unloaded at the house, which was right on the beach, claimed our rooms, put beers in the freezer and walked out onto the sand. It. Was. Beautiful.  Over the course of the next few days, we soaked up a bit of sun, read our books, sent minors into the air on barely legal flying machines, road ATV’s on the beach and up into the hills, got busted by the Federalis (for riding ATV’s on the beach, which is evidently illegal), wandered through a broken down hotel, playing hide & seek with the bats (and having a scorpion run-in as we made our exit), kayaked in the bay and lit off fireworks that varied from M-80s to M-5000s (another visit from the Federali – they were getting to know us by now).

     

    flying

     

    ATVs

     

    silhouette

     

    fun in the hotel(Hotel fun with lights and the bats)

     

    We went to La Boufadora, which means ‘The Blowhole’ and traipsed down the touristy street of shops and hot churros. We had Octopus while overlooking the water, took pictures of the blowhole, watched a woman try to drag an unwilling Leopard across the bar (no – really) then headed back to the Punta.  We stopped off at our favorite Tamale Lady and bought a very large bag of tamales and several jars of really spicy, very awesome peppers.

     

    octopus

     

    During one of the days, we journeyed to the Mexican version of Napa Valley: Valle de Guadalupe. They had been making wine commercially since the late 1700’s. We went to the Museo de Vino and familiarized ourselves with the history of the wine making region.  It was all lovely until we tasted the wine. They only gave us one wine to try and it was a Petite Sirah. Or, at least, they claimed it was Petite Sirah. I think more likely it was sour, dirty grape juice.  This probably explains why Mexico is not famous for its wine.  We had a lot of fun and it was a great excursion.  I only wish the wine was better.  Sadly, it was not the highlight of the trip.

     

    winery

     

    aromatics

     

    We went back to Ensenada and made up for it with exemplary fish tacos and cervezas. We bounced around Mexico for a week and trekked back to face the music of everyday life, such as writing this wine blog.  I have two points of advice for you, should you wish to duplicate this trip: 1) Do not believe guys that tell you they have found your kayak and lead you into marshland, that gets your truck stuck with threat of rising water and mud up to your knees, and 2) Be sure to visit Hussong’s on a Saturday evening and enjoy some crazy-good Mariachi music and cheap tequila. Oh, and the local cheap tequila is totally worth getting. It was about one third the price and twice as good.

     

    campo azul

     

    Campo Azul

    “Owns a subtle opening aroma with nuances of cake frosting, new honey, and chewing gum. Entry is intensely herbal, medium-sweet, and aniseed-like; mid palate is decidedly sweet, coca-like, chocolatey, and comely overall. Aftertaste showcases the cocoa/dark chocolate aspect.”

     

    Wine Enthusiast

    92 Points

    “This assertive, zesty Tequila is no wallflower. It has a robust, smoky aroma backed by vanilla notes, and a sweet flavor with a strong, smoky finish. This one wouldn’t hide in a drink, and would stand up to ice.”

     

     

     

     

    P.S. If you find Carlos or Paolo, tell them we found the Kayak anyway.  Boom.