The U.S. Department of State has been issuing traveler alerts since 2008, with wording that becomes stronger with each renewal for crossing into Mexico. So I’m sure you could understand my hesitation to travel, while pregnant, into this unfamiliar territory. Our plan was to head south from Laguna Hills, cross into Tijuana, a necessary evil, and reach our home exchange in Rosarito. Our initial anxiety ran high as we entered the highly talked about and feared Tijuana; although the streets were littered with sketchy people selling bizarre products including both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical drugs, we never felt threatened. Even most of the prevalent graffiti was basically inoffensive. Crime was not an issue as we made our way to Rosarito or during our three day stay. Not only did I feel comfortable enough to leave our car parked in the street while we enjoyed shopping and exploring, we actually drove the unpaid highways and ventured as far south as La Bufadora. More than 26 million tourists cross this busy border each year to wine, wager, and soak up the sun as well as local culture. Sure, some tourists and locals are going to experience crime, but it is no more than you’d find in LA or any other major city. Go! Enjoy! And experience for yourself how beautiful Baja, Mexico truly is.
To get to Rosarito from Tijuana, we drove south along the toll road for 25km. We chose to avoid the free road for fear of traffic driving at excessive speeds and unfamiliar conditions, but it turned out to be equally safe if you want to avoid the $4.40 in tolls; although, $4.40 is worth the damage that can be done to your vehicle if you are not careful.
Along the street behind the beach in Rosarito is a row of restaurants, cafés and bars, and markets. Party-goers flock to Papas and Beer and nearby Iggy’s, where beach volleyball and knocking back as much Corona as possible are the order of the day, but we settled for food vendors along the beach since drinking wasn’t a possibility and the only thing that I’ve been kicking back was my slightly swollen feet.
Shopping along Rosarito’s main street can be intimidating as aggressive shopkeepers try to sell you their products. As we strolled though the Mercado for arts and crafts, leathers, pottery, and rugs and blankets, we quickly learned to firmly say “No, gracias” and keep walking. However, I love the art of haggling and searching for the perfect deal so when something caught my attention, I worked my charm and sometimes my developing belly to see eye to eye on a price. Sometimes that meant walking away and finding it somewhere else and sometimes that meant leaving without what I thought I so desperately wanted, but that was the price to pay for a good bargain. My final merchandise count consisted of a blanket, a pair of blue earrings, and two dresses for a total of $35.
The beach was as spectacular as Newport, California but it had fewer people and more parking. With the extremely high tides and strong currents along the entire Pacific coast, we chose not to chance body boarding or surfing, but really didn’t feel at much of a loss because we have similar beaches in southern California. The beach itself houses plenty of activities for tourists and locals including water sports, paragliding, horseback riding, and sand sports such as volleyball. For $10, we rode horses along the sand and through the water at easy paces, although the option to run the horse was available, and took in the sights of Rosarito. It was well worth the cheap $10 price, and it was one of the best parts of my trip.
When we settled in for the evening, it was at a private, 24/7 gated community with 180 degree ocean views. The main living quarters are 3600 sq ft. with another 2000 sq ft of patio space on two levels. It was like a dream to relax on the patio with our new Mexican blanket covering our legs while listening to the waves crash below us. As a special surprise, there were four dolphins playing in the waves just off the coastline. I felt like I was in a movie.
Day one of our Mexican vacation was perfect! The border crossing was simple and consumed very little time, the beaches were full of activities and adventures for all ages and pregnancy levels, the shopping was well within reason, and the surroundings were superb. We’ll continue travelling to Mexico during and after the pregnancy. Please don’t allow the sensationalized headlines and biased reporting to frighten you! Baja California, Mexico is a wonderful, affordable, and safe vacation locale.
I love Mexico! And your post took me right back there! Thanks, Lesley.
First, I appreciate your liking of my “HARD ROCK ” blog.
First, I appreciate your liking of my “HARD ROCK ” blog.
Since I am a U.S expatriat living in Baja California I very much enjoyed your blog on Baja California. I share your view on the hyperbole surrounding the danger there. Yes, there are places in Mexico where you are wise not to go, but like you said there are many cities in the U.S you might wish to avoid. I look forward to reading your next blogs.
I have always wanted to explore Mexico, I’m not sure why. Hopefully I’ll get there one day 🙂
My favorite resort in Mexico is Iberostar Paraíso Lindo. You can see images of it at https://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/iberostar-paraiso-lindo-best-family-resort-for-the-price/
It was unbelievable. maybe you could see it someday.
I enjoyed reading your blog and see a truely impartial description of a weekend trip to Baja. I stopped defending Mexico, I got tired, there is so much media about the danger that people do not believe you that is safe. I do believe that you will be safe as long as you don’t break the law and keep to the tourist areas.
I grew up camping down in Ensenada…the whole neighborhood would go down for the weekend…and I remember the beautiful beaches, friendly local kids, and hours we’d spend in the water. (We were always little prunes.) Thanks for speaking highly of the place. Baja really is incredible.
Looks like you had a great time. Last time I was in Mexico was in 1960; Monterey. Beautiful city, friendly people, good cerveza and lots of haggling for treasures. Looks like Monterey is now off limits. I loved seeing all the hibiscus on your patio. Thanks for the trip.