Mexico, Part 3: Waiting for Christmas and Christmas

Waiting for Christmas

After spending a few days in the Valle de Guadalupe and Rancho San Carlos, we started playing the waiting game, passing the time in Ensenada until my father arrived. He had asked us months ago, when we were on the Oregon coast, where we would be for Christmas, and we had NO IDEA. It's pretty tough to schedule an overland trip, much less an overland trip in a 30+ year old Swiss Army surplus van. We glanced at the map, figured if we hadn't made it to Mexico by Christmas we'd be enormous failures, and therefore chose what we thought would be a home-run destination, a local wine region just over the border. 

What this meant in reality is that we had loads of time to kill in Ensenada. Luckily, our newly made Mexican friends, Mauricio and Abby, let us camp at their house for over a week, and we got some projects started and finished. We searched for some steel hardware to better secure our doors while we're away from Little Foot, and stumbled upon a small factory building Baja 1000 trophy and race trucks. We found a fantastic Spanish teacher and took some language lessons, and watched American football at a foreigner/expat bar. We even scoured the beach for mussels and made free dinner at Mauricio's seaside abode. By slowing down we got to explore even more of Ensenada and become closer with our new friends. It was great.

The Baja buggies at this factory took me by surprise! We were looking for small pieces of angle steel to make into locks and pulled into the lot of what looked like a scrap metal recycling center. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the workshop and saw this scene!

The Baja buggies at this factory took me by surprise! We were looking for small pieces of angle steel to make into locks and pulled into the lot of what looked like a scrap metal recycling center. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the workshop and saw this scene!

The finished lock project.

The finished lock project.

Scouring the beach with Pablo and Anna for mussels.

Scouring the beach with Pablo and Anna for mussels.

Preparing the mussels! (Hey Leatherman… we think this could be an ad photo for you!) (Is that how sponsorship works? You just write a caption and it happens?)

Preparing the mussels! (Hey Leatherman… we think this could be an ad photo for you!) (Is that how sponsorship works? You just write a caption and it happens?)

The best part: eating the mussels! A free protein from the sea for dinner. Very nice. 

The best part: eating the mussels! A free protein from the sea for dinner. Very nice. 

Overlooking northern Ensenada from a fantastic and mostly hidden cafateria at a local university.

Overlooking northern Ensenada from a fantastic and mostly hidden cafateria at a local university.

From right to left: Mauricio's 1961 Land Rover 2A, Little Foot the Pinzgauer, and the Cucaracha of Viajeros4x4x4 fame.

From right to left: Mauricio's 1961 Land Rover 2A, Little Foot the Pinzgauer, and the Cucaracha of Viajeros4x4x4 fame.

Loulou got used to her oceanside view at Mauricio's.

Loulou got used to her oceanside view at Mauricio's.

Chelsea took me on a date to watch the New England Patriots at a local expat bar.

Chelsea took me on a date to watch the New England Patriots at a local expat bar.

Spanish lessons might have been made more difficult, but far more entertaining by these two charismatic kittens.

Spanish lessons might have been made more difficult, but far more entertaining by these two charismatic kittens.

Helping Mauricio work his way through some designs for his Land Rover overland project.

Helping Mauricio work his way through some designs for his Land Rover overland project.

Christmas

Chuck, my dad, finally arrived in Mexico and the Christmas Festivities got underway. He chose to stay at boutique hotel named Hotel Boutique in the wine region of the Valle de Guadelupe. It rained for the first few days of the stay, but the sun cleared after that, drying out the vineyards and providing great weather for wandering around the agricultural region.

In addition to visiting the wineries of the Valle de Guadelupe, we toured parts of Ensenada, including the docks, the Mercado Negro, and Hussong's bar and restaurant.

The Mercado Negro, which translates to the Black Market, is a sizable warehouse full of fish vendors. Decades ago, captains returning from a day or week of fishing would hide some of their catch from the ship's owners and sell this portion to the people of Ensenada. Hiding the fish allowed the captains to make some side cash, while letting the people of Ensenada access the sea food without paying a middleman.

Hussong's is one of two restaurants that contend the title of "Home of the Margarita". The place is in the tourist district, and is itself a little touristy, but you know what you're getting when you find it. The margaritas were alright, and if there is a famous home for an iconic beverage near you as you're traveling, you've just got to go. It was worth it.

Wine Tasting.

Wine Tasting.

Ensenada's dock region.

Ensenada's dock region.

The Mercado Negro. The catch was SO fresh you couldn't smell fish, no joke.

The Mercado Negro. The catch was SO fresh you couldn't smell fish, no joke.

Hussong's!

Hussong's!

Loulou making friends with a wolf dog that wanted to eat her.

Loulou making friends with a wolf dog that wanted to eat her.

More wine tasting while we opened Christmas presents!

More wine tasting while we opened Christmas presents!

Mexico, Part 2: Valle de Guadalupe

We had to take last week off from posting a real update due to lack of sufficient wifi, so forgive us for the delay and let's pick up where we left off!

After crossing the border we knew we had to cool our heels for a few weeks and wait for a Christmas visit from my father. He was planning on meeting us in the Valle De Guadalupe, an up-and-coming wine region just south of the border. We headed there at the recommendation of our friends Mauricio and Abby. They knew of a good vineyard, the Bibayoff estate, that would let us camp for cheap money. We drove the few miles from Ensenada to the valley, set up camp, and hung out for a few days of nothingness.

In the photos below you'll see highlights such as: beautiful vineyard views, a great camp spot, a few hikes and walks around the area, some great hammock shots, the first use of our road shower, me impersonating a wine bottle, Loulou being perturbed, and some dogs laying in the dirt. Enjoy!

Little Foot and Loulou all set up.

Little Foot and Loulou all set up.

A View of the Vineyard.

A View of the Vineyard.

Many vineyards in the valley are young, but BIbAyoff's grapes have been growing for 40 years.

Many vineyards in the valley are young, but BIbAyoff's grapes have been growing for 40 years.

Chelsea Posing, showing off the Napa of Mexico.

Chelsea Posing, showing off the Napa of Mexico.

We spent multiple days doing exactly this.

We spent multiple days doing exactly this.

Very excited about Pancakes.

Very excited about Pancakes.

Walking A few miles to town for tacos, Gotta have those Tacos, yo.

Walking A few miles to town for tacos, Gotta have those Tacos, yo.

I'm impersonating a Bottle, Poorly.

I'm impersonating a Bottle, Poorly.

PAblo, Anna, Me, Chels, Abby, Mauricio... Little Foot. Our Friends came to Check on us.

PAblo, Anna, Me, Chels, Abby, Mauricio... Little Foot. Our Friends came to Check on us.

Loulou not loving my "Lion King" Impression.

Loulou not loving my "Lion King" Impression.

We went for a short hike and had some fun with JUGgling a two-person Panorama.

We went for a short hike and had some fun with JUGgling a two-person Panorama.

The First Use of Our Homemade Road Shower.

The First Use of Our Homemade Road Shower.

Chels looking fresh after her outdoor shower. The Stand of Pine Trees we parked by was inhabited by at tleast 3 screech owls. it was real cool!

Chels looking fresh after her outdoor shower. The Stand of Pine Trees we parked by was inhabited by at tleast 3 screech owls. it was real cool!

two-person Hammock Hanging.

two-person Hammock Hanging.

The Vineyards Dogs were our constant Companions, always running to greet us when we opened the kitchen.

The Vineyards Dogs were our constant Companions, always running to greet us when we opened the kitchen.