Way Advanced Planning
Hi Baja 2010 Gang!
So far nine people are in. You're the group either committed to go, should be committed for doing this, or at least expressing a strong likelihood of going. To my knowledge three people going have been motorcycling in Mexico before. This is gonna be funnnn!
Here's a summary of basic details so far:
- Target dates: 2/24 to 3/4/2010
- Start point: Meet the evening of 2/24 at the Best Western, 1355 E Main St, El Cajon, CA - 619.440.7378
Day 0 2/24 - Your home to El Cajon, CA
Day 1 2/25 - Tecate -> Ensenada -> El Rosario
Day 2 2/26 - El Rosario -> San Ignacio
Day 3 2/27 - San Ignacio -- Whale Watching outing! and no-ride day
Day 4 2/28 - San Ignacio -> Mulege
Day 5 3/1 - Mulege -> Bahia de los Angeles
Day 6 3/2 - Bahia de los Angeles -> El Rosario
Day 7 3/3 - El Rosario -> Tecate
Day 8 3/4 - U.S. Border to your home
This is already more planning than I usually do for my own travels! I travel with the belief it's not the schedule or route that matters. I'm here for the experience. The minimum organization needed will be done and nothing more. So, anything could change based on conditions, cool stuff to see, weather or the group's desires.
The above route has particular flexibility around Bahia de los Angeles. If we are running behind getting everyone back we can easily skip it. For those of you that have been to Baja before, feel free to suggest alternatives. I can think of only two "rules" regarding the route, 1. back in the U.S. by morning of 3/4 so we can plan insurance and 2. a whale watching stop.
I consider whale watching in Baja one of the must do events. The Gray Whales (Ballena Gris) winter in Baja's Lagoons. Baby whales are born in Dec/Jan. We can pay licensed locals to take us out into the lagoon in small boats (pangas). Nearly always the whales will come right up to the boat. The adults are about twice the length of the boat. They express as much interest in the boating land lubbers as we do the huge "fish". There's about a 50% chance you'll get to pet the whales as they are along side the boat and put their nose up expecting a touch. An unbelievable experience.
But, if you're not up for it, that's okay. San Ignacio (town where we'd see the whales) has a nice mission to tour and great central square. It will take about 3/4 day to get out to the lagoon, whale watch, eat and get back.
I'll have more preparatory details to suggest as we get closer but there are a few longer lead items you should start thinking about or attend to now. Don't let any of these "lists" scare you off. Need help? Ask.
- Passport. Don't have one? Get it! Required to get you back into the U.S. Have one? Make sure it won't expire before 3/4/2010.
- Bike title. Two points. First make sure you have a valid one with your name. Second, verify if there is a lien against it (i.e., you have a current loan on your bike). If so, get in touch with your lender. You need to have a letter from them authorizing you to take the vehicle out of the country for specific dates. Often this won't be checked but if someone does you could be very stuck (specifically your bike could be very stuck in Mexico). Most lenders have no problem with this. No rush but don't wait to the last minute (or just payoff the bike this year!!).
- Fix it. Kinda should resolve any maintenance on your bike. Plan/budget now for anything you think will need to be fixed/replaced on the bike before leaving. Getting parts is not easy in Baja. You can always find helpful creative resourceful folks that will help you with a broken bike (buy me a beer--cerveza--and ask me how I know) but you
will enjoy the trip more without bike issues. Your fellow travelers will like you better too. In particular, consider new tires before leaving.
- ATM Bank Card. This can be a very helpful means to get additional Pesos (aka cash) when needed. We'll be in two towns that for sure have banks with ATMs. But, check with your bank. You'll need advance authorization (from yourself) to allow international transactions against your ATM card. I've used mine on nearly every trip about half way. You might want to authorize your credit card as well but I'll warn you that almost no one accepts them outside major towns. Cash is king. Dollars welcome but not always at the best exchange rates. We'll hit the bank in Tecate so everyone can get Pesos as needed.
- Cell phone. Actually kinda useless. There is coverage in some towns we'll be in. But if you want to be able to call home on your phone get in touch with your network provider. Make sure you have coverage in Baja and a plan that will allow you to do international calling back to the U.S.
- Insurance ... on your body. Some people like to have an international rescue/evacuation policy. This will provide some kind of transport back to the U.S. in the event you are injured. Generally a medical flight of some kind. I don't travel with this but I know people that do. Each to their own. If you're interested, start shopping to find a deal.
- First Aid Skills. Not specific to Mexico at all but "Be Prepared" has been drilled into my head after many years leading Boy Scouts into the back country. As we get close, one thing I'll ask is who has a First Aid or better certification. If you don't, and are so inclined, the next few months are a great time to get one or renew. Check with your Red Cross, local Boy Scout Troop or Community College for classes. Cheap and a smart thing to do.
- Learn (a little) Spanish. It's much more fun when you can interact a bit. Besides, the locals and your travel partners will be entertained by the incorrect words and poor pronunciation. One source for learning I can suggest is Coffee Break Spanish. You can download their podcasts for free. A fun way to learn a bit over time.
That's all I can think of for now. If someone has either an item I missed or a question, send me a note. Sometime around Jan 2010 I'll send out a "important items to pack" list and some "things to be aware of" for the trip.