Start with three other people*.
Pack light. Bring one club outfit
, with shoes
you can really move and dance in. One pair of walking shoes
, one pair of pants
and two shirts 1 2
and a bathing suit
. (I'll let you determine how much underwear is necessary.) A light wrap
, depending on the season, but probably not necessary.
Take $60-70 and put it your wallet. The rest put somewhere else. That way if you get stopped by the policia you can offer 'all' your money. (This is extremely rare unless you are sloppy drunk and/or obnoxious, but occasionally an officer will decide to beef his meager salary with a 'fine'. By all means, pay the money. DO NOT use the word 'bribe'. Everything else in Mexico is so cheap that you won't miss the money much, it's quick and painless, and believe me, you DO NOT want to end up in a Mexican prison. Think of it as a toll.)
Start at 4:30PM on Friday. Buy three days of car insurance from the drive-thru stand. Smile politely upwards at the exact border crossing, as you are being photographed. (They don't stop people going in unless they look suspicious. Mexico doesn't care much.)
If you are driving, realize that lane lines are regarded as mere suggestions, and merging is a contest of wills.
Take the toll road down to Ensenada
. (The free road is paved only in the loosest sense of the word.)
You will now experience on your right a panoramic sunset along a beautiful winding coastline. Take pictures, they come out well.
About three hours later you will arrive in Ensenada
. Go to the Hotel Pacifico, pay $15 dollars for a room with two queen sized beds, $3 for towels, and $5 for the parking space right in front of the office so they can watch it. (probably not necessary, but hey, it's a cheap service. Once when we didn't do this, we returned to find a man leaning on the hood trying to impress a girl by telling her it was his. We winked at him, walked around the block once more to give him time to get her away from the car and came back after they had left. Why rat him out?) Ask for room 20. My brother Jesse stuck an 'emerald city' sticker on the wall of that room in like '96, it's still there. The rooms aren't fancy, in fact they are quite spartan, but the beds are clean and comfortable and you won't be spending much time here. Change into club regalia, taking no more than your ID and forty dollars. Pull up a stool and eat tacos made right before your eyes at the blue booth two blocks down from Hotel Pacifico. Eat at least six, wash them down with coke. Fine restaurants have nothing on these little bits of fried heaven. Practice your spanish on the cook, he will listen patiently.
Then head one block up to Hussongs
. Quick stop, to have a shot of tequila, and dance to a mariachi band. Then over to Papas & Beer
to dance the night away. Order a Midori Sour. Trust me. Then dance. ALL NIGHT.
When you are exhausted (or 2:30AM, whichever comes first) go have more tacos. Yes, the stand is still open. Then back to your hotel room to crash out.
Next morning get up around ten and go eat breakfast at the restaurant next door. Order the eggs, beans and rice. Drink Manza-something, an apple soda.
Then go shopping down the main drag, which is three blocks down. Haggle, but don't name a price and meet in the middle. Decide what's it worth to you and keep saying that amount. The consistency tells them that you aren't a pushover.
Grab a late lunch at about 1PM, consisting of more tacos (yes, again, you will understand after you've eaten there), and some strawberry ice cream from the corner store by the hotel.
Reclaim your car, and drive south of town to Estero Beach Resort
. Check in
, unload your stuff and suit up for the pool
. The pool overlooks the ocean, swim for a bit, then thow some clothes on and rent some horses (very cheap) and ride on the beach. Then claim the hot tub next to the swim-up bar. Don't leave this spot until after the sunset. Then dinner and dancing to live music at LAS TERRAZAS
. Head up the the room for the sort of laughs that can only be shared with old, good friends.
Wake up early and go for a swim in the ocean, or sleep in lazily. Your choice. Check out and head to the tip of the half-moon bay, to La Bufadora
. La Bufadora is a dustly little fishing harbor with a unique underwater cave right at the shoreline. As the tide comes in, the water is pushed into the cave and forces a geyser of water up sometimes 300 feet in the air. There is also an open air market, with all the sights, smells and hagggling your little heart could desire. Buy some piping hot churros from a street vendor and coke in glass bottles (return the bottles when you are done). Buy a silver bracelet, small guitar, or small painted animal carvings. Then time for lunch. They have a little restaurant overlooking the harbor with rooftop seating. You can order a fish taco, where the fish was swimming an hour ago. Pair that with an ice cold Pacifico beer, all for about $3. Eat slowly. Tip your chin up while you eat, you get a better view of the coast and sky, it’s better for your tan, and it keeps the sauce from running down your chin. Pay a wandering mariachi singer a dollar a song to sing while you eat. When you are done, tip him five more dollars, for karma. Realize that if you had a million dollars you wouldn't feel richer than you do at this moment.
Around three o'clock, pack up your knicknacks, resist the urge to take one of the friendly little children home with you, and head up the coast. You get to watch another sunset in all it's IMAX glory. Stop in Rosarito for one last taco. Then while you are in line for the border crossing (there is a significant wait this time, America DOES care who you are), you will be entertained by vendors, who walk amoung the lines of cars with locally woven blankets and baskets, churros (if you get bored, buy a pack of churros and walk up and down and try to sell them yourself), glass ornaments, piggy banks made from local clay, hats, ponchos, bas relief murals, roses, anything you can think of. Even children will use their adorable smiles to sell you more mexican candy and gum then you know what to do with, although they don't come out in the street much, but boy the minute your feet hit the sidewallk, "Pretty lady, you want Chicklets?" Yes, street vending is a family business around here. You'd think it would be dangerous for the kids, but the mexican culture prizes children so much, that every single adult looks out for every single child. It's a town of babysitters. Children are to them what money is to us. A rich man is a man with a big family.
Once you are across the border, head home in that blissful silence you feel after a opera or a massage.
*I cannot stress enough the distintion between 'friends' and 'friends you would travel with'. Now is the time to be picky.