Internet Newsletter

From The 90 Day Yacht Club Guide to Ensenada

April 2004

Volume 2, Number 4



A true traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arrival®










           The week of Saint Patrick’s Day yielded the early arrival of what could be the annual northerly migration of the exotic fish so fancied by the Ensenada fishing clan. This also annually signs the arrival of the migration south of the fleet of boats that find Ensenada harbors as home port during the traditional summer and fall months of hot fishing action. The boats Bad Dog and Wide Open based at Coral Marina reported sheet flat and glassy seas with unreal activity consisting of various varieties of sea life including albacore, yellow fin, and blue fin tuna!!! Whales and thresher sharks were seen jumping in and around huge schools of hungry tuna milling around on the surface. This converted the sea into a giant puddle of sea life that virtually jumped onto the hooks as the fisherman’s live bait was cast at the schools of fish seeking a free lunch. Steve and Gail on Bad Dog and Tom on the Wide Open were rewarded for a long cold, barren, and tough winter of rock fishing with full limits of tuna and a few thresher sharks to compliment the catch. Bring on the spirit of spring and may the luck of the Irish win out again!!! Erin Go Bragh!




  “Punta de la Pintura de Muerte”

           Back in the 1940’s the stretch of road headed south to Cabo San Lucas from Ensenada was challenging due to the fact that there was little or no maintenance in these remote areas of Baja California. There simply was no well kept road along the way in those frontier days. In many places the furrows in the dirt road worn by the tires were so deep that you needed a vehicle with a very high road clearance to avoid high siding the frame of the vehicle in the middle. Roads would change from hard pack dirt to washboard rock to cavernous potholes without any warning. The experienced Baja True Traveler learned quickly that the color of the dirt on the road was the only clue as to what was coming up around the next bend. Livestock seemingly appeared out of nowhere and many accidents were caused by a cow or steer crossing the road. Night passages were not advised as the whole of the Baja frontier lacked light due to the absence of electricity. In addition, many stretches of road had only one lane and if you met someone coming from the other direction and there was no available turn out, one of the vehicles would have to back up until a place to pass was found.

            Perhaps the most dangerous feature of the entire passage south was the series of switch back hairpin turns in the mountains that were carved out of the rock with barely enough room to avoid the breathtaking drop to the valley thousands of feet below. Negotiating these turns was literally a matter of life and death illustrated by the wreckage on the bottom of the adjacent valley floor. The most famous and dangerous of these was in the Bay of Conception area on the road south of Santa Rosalia. This section of road was marked by a skull and crossbones painted on the rock and was aptly named “The Point of the Picture of Death”. Even the mailman, who had driven this road many, many times got careless one day and had gone over the grade. Here the road was especially deceptive and treacherous and those traversing this stretch of road for the first time were advised to stop and analyze the situation before proceeding. The series of curves included a beautiful buena vista of the Sea of Cortez , and if you failed to negotiate the area properly taking in the view, you would drop off the road into the bay far below.

            The area consisted of one lane with two slight curves with a stretch of dirt road in between that was extremely narrow, carved out of the rock face with only enough room for your left-hand wheels to skim the cliff top which dropped straight to the sea below as your right-hand wheels grazed the granite rock overhanging on the right. If you got it wrong, you would find yourself trapped and unable to pull forward or back jammed against the cliff on one side and unable to maneuver on the other side due to the sheer cliff edge. If this unfortunate circumstance happened, the steering wheel would become useless and trying to manipulate the vehicle with the wheel could prove to be disastrous. The only safe remedy was to move the car with jacks to reorient your angle of direction. Trying to back down this expanse of narrow road to alleviate the situation was also discouraged, as that is far more difficult than going forward. In order to get it right, you had to correctly size up your approach before preceding much like a golfer surveys a putt on the green.

            This was only one of many mountain curves and hairpins that characterized the road from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas. In those days you had no assurances that any of the roads would be passable south of Ensenada. The many junctions you encountered were devoid of road signs and you could very quickly find yourself lost in the middle of nowhere. Streams had to be forged without knowing their depth and vast distances of road negotiated without prior knowledge of their condition. Many of these roads crossed miles of desert where any form of auto accident could lead to disaster. It was advised that you travel with another car and you carry all the spare parts you could muster. Being stranded in the desert could lead to certain death as there are very few water oasis areas between either of the coasts of the Baja.

            Today we have the Half-way House at KM-52 on the old road, established in 1922, as a reminder of just how treacherous the trip to Ensenada could be, necessitating a stop mid-way in the journey from Tijuana. By the 1940’s a slick paved two lane road carried you quickly to Ensenada from Tijuana and Ensenada began to emerge as a more attractive tourist destination from north of the border. Any further exploration south was due to be an adventure you would never forget in the wild expanses of the unexplored areas of mid 20th century Baja California.




You can’t tell--but you can sell-- a book by its cover.





           As mentioned in my books, Mexican TV can be very entertaining in ways we are not accustom to in the states. One commercial has stuck in my mind as truly classic over the years I have been visiting manana-land. The 30 second ad begins with a long shot down into a small perhaps 5’x5’cubicle in which a little figure is sitting on a toilet. The figure is perhaps 10 feet down at the end of this little cell and all you can discern is a seated person, with bare legs extended and pants around the bent knees. Its tactfully dark and barely recognizable, which catches your attention at “am I really seeing what I think I’m seeing” and makes you want to see it again at a latter time to validate “what you think you saw.” That’s good advertising. Next shot has a little school boy with face contorted and showing some measure of discomfort talking to a Catholic Nun. She hands him a little box smiley and assuredly. Back to the toilet shot ever so briefly, and then the close out sequence of the little boy smiley and obviously relieved giving the Nun a big hug, followed by a frame of a picture of a box of little tiny pills called Lomotil.

            We have now been in Ensenada for 5 years and are happy to report that the dreaded diarrhea bug has never befallen us. We enjoy all of the foods sold in the markets, using the common sense precautions, washing vegetables thoroughly and keeping foods refrigerated and sealed in zip lock bags. We eat at restaurants with total trust, sometimes avoiding coffee and iced drinks to protect ourselves from unnecessary exposure to questionable water.

            Water has always been a source of problems when in Mexico. We have all heard the cliché warning, “ Mexico is a great place to visit but don't drink the water". Truth is, the locals buy all their water as they too know the tap water is contaminated and unhealthy. Many trucks are seen delivering 5 gallon bottles of water but if you have your own 5 gallon container, purified water stores and machines are everywhere selling water in bulk form at a better bargain. Water can also be found for sale at all the liquor stores and markets in smaller quantities.

            If you are at a restaurant and desire a glass of water or a coffee, the tradition is to ask if the water is purified. We speak a little Spanish, enough to get by. Simply asking "Tienen ustedes agua purificada?" will illicit a simple yes or no response. The major tourist eateries do not want to risk bad publicity within tourism circles by making their patrons sick and generally have purified water.  We are never shy to ask at all restaurants regardless of how fancy they are. Ice is chancy, as its origin may be tap water. Hopefully the liquor mixed in with that margarita will kill whatever bug is in the ice. Drinking iced refreshments at small out of the way bars has been the source of many a tourist's long night spent visiting the bathroom repeatedly. The most effective remedy can be found at any farmacia. It is a little box of tiny white pills called Lomotil. Like magic, this medication works wonders and is an over the counter product.



Before you can sell a person anything, you have to make him or her want it more than the money it costs.





            Do you need a vinyl sign to signify the new name and homeport of your new yacht? Or perhaps you need a business sign for your car or a design to completely cover your SUV. Have you seen the city buses that are completely covered with design and logo, these are the guys that do that application. We have been using and directing customers to Sign Diego for over 10 years now. This is simply the best sign shop in the San Diego area. Bring them your design ideas and they will help you implement them, regardless of their stage of development. They are located at 2744 Midway Drive a couple of blocks west of the main San Diego Post Office. Ask for our friends Al Campbell or Javier Lacarra. Tel. - (619) 225-8230 Fax- (619) 225-8285 e-mail-


Below is a sign made by Sign Diego informing all in Spanish that boarding the yacht is prohibited without the Captain’s approval.


Click on this photo and the following photos in this newsletter and use your web browser back button to return to this page

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            Asadero La Chispa (#28 on our book's site maps) : Located at Ave. Lopez Mateos and Soto Street #2062. Very popular with the locals is this cute little clean shop, with a simple approach to service. Carne asada tacos, burritos, and quesadillas are posted on the wall menu. You order at the register, pay, and wait for one of the best beef feasts we've found, sprinkled with homemade beans, enclosed in homemade tortillas. Condiments are on the high cafeteria style tiled bar surrounding the family of cooks, servers and the hot grill. When disembarking passengers from the car, watch out for the high curbing in front of the restaurant. Parking also available on the dirt lot behind the building.

Open 12:30 pm to 11 pm, closed Tuesday.


Chispa1.jpg (218458 bytes)Chispa2.jpg (245753 bytes)




A book should not be just something to read, it should also be something to possess.






            Those participating last year in the First Annual Baja Authors Book Signing event at the Pyramid Resort were tickled at the results.  Every author involved went away with extra pesos jingling in their jeans. All those involved had a blast, even the buyers, even though the rains attempted to put a damper on the event without success. In spite of the rain people mingled, bought books, talked to the authors and just had a wonderful time.

It is with much pleasure that Keri McCarty announced recently the second edition of this now annual event on May 1, 2004. Arrangements have been made for the Domecq Winery to provide liquid refreshments and she is trying to get the Tecate brewery or Corona to become involved.

            The party will begin at noon on May 1st and conclude at 6pm. The best route is to go the La Mision off ramp and make a U-turn back north on the old road for about one mile.  Entrance is on your left at Plaza del Mar at the KM-64 road sign on the toll road and KM-58 on the old road.

            Everyone involved in this affair is dedicated to promoting the histories and mysteries of this very special Peninsula.  We are all motivated to improve understanding of the unique and wonderful culture that beckons each visitor with a warm smile and a bienvenida amigo’s.

True Traveler Publishing

P.O. Box 60023

San Diego, CA 92166



(619) 857-0368




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