Weeks to go. Time to get final preparations in place. Here are some final Baja trip details and reminders.
Most of any useful thoughts on preparation I know have already included in previous notes. So, here are the last few important ones:
- If you are interested in a medical aid service that will follow you into Mexico, here's one that might be a good deal: Medical Air Services Association MASA waves their inital fee if you are a current AMA member. Sign up throught the AMA Direct Link site.
- While you can get insurance at the border, I suggest buying it in advance to get the best deal and save time. Here are some web sites that offer Mexican insurance: Mexico Destinations. Bajabound.com was my best deal last year.
I'm sure you all are expert motorcycle trip packers. So I'll limit my few tips to just a few that might be unique to Baja.
- No mater what you think about the U.S. Constitution's 2nd Amendment, do not pack a gun or ammunition of any kind or any form. It will be found at a military checkpoint. It is a serious offence and will likely reflect on the whole group.
- Bring a prescription for any medication you are carrying. Very helpful if you loose it or in the case that some inspector believes your pill looks just like cocaine.
- I always travel with a small tent and sleeping bag. While we plan to stay at hotels each night anything can happen and I like to have options.
- I bring a relatively complete tool kit, 12V air pump and critical spares.
- My approach regarding money is to convert U.S. into Pesos at the bank in Tecate. ATM machines are a good approach as banks give good exchange rates. You'll need cash for everything given few places will take your plastic.
- I keep a "spare" wallet with small amounts of cash and a photocopy of my license and registration. The real wallet is hidden away. While it has never happened, if someone ever wanted my wallet more than I do, they'd get my "spare".
- Pack your passport, license, registration and vehicle title. Put them together with your original insurance documents in a ziplock plastic bag. Hide the bag with originals in your luggage then keep the bag with copies within easy reach.
- Water. I take a Nalgene bottle filled with water then refill each day from purchased bottled water.
- Please arrange to meet everyone at the Best Western, 1355 E Main St, El Cajon, CA, 619.440.7378 on the evening of 2/24/2010. We'll spend the night there then head south the next morning.
- I plan to return across the U.S. border sometime late on 3/3.
- Everyone will need a Mexican Tourist Card or FM-T Visa, which we will get at the border in Tecate. They cost about $20 and are good for 180 days. Baja does not require Vehicle Permits as do the other regions of Mexico.
Baja Road Tips
- If you come upon a car that signals left, likely that means it's OK to pass them on the left. Of course there's some chance they plan to actually turn left, but I doubt it.
- If your bike is very sensitive to fuel octane, you might want to buy octane booster and bring it along. Generally it is available at just about any automotive store in Mexico.
- We will be stopped at a number of military checkpoints. Do not be alarmed. The Army is one of the most trusted institutions in Mexico. For most Americans it is a bit jaring the first time you arrive at one. There's just something about multiple high-powered automatic weapons pointed at you by 18 year old kids. Breath deep and relax. They might wave us through or stop each bike and inspect all your luggage. Some useful Spanish here is: “Adonde va?” (where is your destination?). Conversely, “De donde viene?” is (where are you coming from?). Mostly smile and ask if someone speaks English. Usually one person will.
- At hotels, chamber maids expect a propina (tip) but we often overlook this in the states. The propina (tip) makes up a much more significant portion of their wage than is the case in the U.S.
- Angeles Verdes, or Green Angels travel Baja route 1 to offer aid for brokendown vehicles. You might see them. Watch for one in the unlikely event to need help and no one is around.
- Vado and Tope. Watch closely for these signs. Tope is a speed bump. We will encounter many as most smaller towns have a series of topes near the center of town. Traffic lights are expensive so topes do the work. Likewise, bridges are costly to build and maintain. Rivers are dry in Baja almost year so there's unlikely to be any water in one. Thus, when a river crosses a road, the Baja approach is to pave down into the river bottom and back to the road. That's a Vado. You'll be surprised how severly these drop off and return to the road height. Kinda cool on your bike when you see it coming. Air time! Watch for vado signs.
That's it. This is your last chance. If you have any questions that I've not covered, please be sure to e-mail me. I'm happy to get any issues resolved before we push off.
Get ready to have some fun and adventure!! Here we go!