After all the stories we heard about Mexican Borders, we had anticipated some waiting and negotiations at the border. Instead of the busy Tijuana crossing , we took the small crossing at Tecate , a little inland from San Diego and through the mountains.
When we suddenly arrived at the Border , the Customs officer waved us to stop . He looked into the back of the camper and told us to pass , didn’t want to see our prepared passports and papers . Suddenly we are in Tecate , a buzzing town and no available parking spaces. And we had a list of items left to accomplish to be legal in Mexico.
So we left our truck in a residential neighborhood and walked back into the border offices . We seemed to be the only tourists crossing , no lines and the customs officer ready to instruct us how to fill out the forms for the Tourist visa . I didn’t understand why he kept showing me his Honey and Taco sauce from under his desk and emphasizing the quality . He leaned forward and indicated he would sell it to us for 2 $ each , but pssst … quiet please his supervisor can’t know. All i could express was a nervous laugh (not so sure if the purchase was a required bribe to get the visa ) , but luckily the papers had been ready to send us to the Bancejero around the corner to make payments.
When we came back to him for the final stamps and immigration papers ,the supervising ladies where standing close enough that he did not mention the Honey and hot sauce any longer and stamped our visa and passports with a 180 day permit . Then we had to get the vehicle import permit and pay a deposit , to assure we are not trying to sell our vehicle in Mexico. That time , i even got presented with a evaluation form for the customs officer who helped me with the transactions … that is definitely progress .
From Tecate the Highway #3 leads through the wine country and Guadeloupe valley towards Ensenada . There are some fancy wineries now , and we stopped for a tasting. While impressed by the quality of the wine and the Napa type prices, we only bought one bottle .
As we arrived at a campground south of Ensenada, the ground keeper was delighted to finnaly have a first guest for the day. We enjoyed a long walk at the beach and planned our destinations for the next few days down the Baja peninsula.