September 2, I crossed the US/Mexico border with my partner, Jason, and our 16-year-old dog, Kiji. After 3.5 months of exploring the Western US and Canada, we are pulling our American Falcon teardrop trailer down the Baja Peninsula en route to the Yucatan. The last few days in California have been spent running errands and preparing to be out of the country until around May of 2018.
It’s been a relief to finally get to Mexico and relax on the beach. The water hear is crystal clear and the sand has gold flecks that make the beach and shallow water sparkle in the sun. The water is warm and inviting and yesterday I took a beach nap (the first of many).
Baja California is the northern of the two states on the peninsula. It’s a blend of Mexican and American cultures. Upon crossing the border, I noticed the little differences. There are people walking between cars at every intersection selling toys, candy, or performing. The traffic rules become more lax and an “anything goes” philosophy rules the roads. And of course, every sign is in Spanish. Tijuana has a reputation for being a seedy place and a party town where teenagers from San Diego go to drink, but we found it to be a very interesting city with lots to do, if not a bit stressful to drive through.
We drove our camper through Tijuana and Rosarito before finding a quiet spot on the ocean near a town called Ensenada. In some ways, this part of Baja is modern and has US-like amenities for expats and American retirees. On the other hand, it’s like traveling back in time 40 years. Few places accept credit cards and we had to drive 16 km from our campground to find an ATM. But the good side of this time warp is that we’ve found a slower paced life. Even with the stress of driving through bustling cities pulling a camper, we can already feel the slower vibration and have settled in at a campground right on the beach.
You have probably heard travel warnings for Americans visiting Mexico. We are taking these seriously and have taken several precautions. There were a few times in the past two weeks that I questioned my sanity in pulling a teardrop with Alaska plates through a country where you want to blend in and not draw attention to yourself. I even considered changing my plans completely and not crossing the border. I allowed myself to explore the fear – the sensation of it, where I feel it in my body, what stories come up when I sit with it. Fear isn’t bad, in fact, it helps keeps us alive and safe. But fear also holds us back. It keeps us in our comfort zones and it’s always ready with an excuse or two why now is not the right time, or how the journey is too far or out of reach. Fear keeps us in our stressful jobs or harmful relationships, even if we know they aren’t helping us be our best selves. It’s important to acknowledge fear and not push it away. When we are comfortable with its presence, we can then explore the source of the discomfort to ask if it’s really a warning in need of heeding, or if it is limiting us from reaching our full potential.
Two days ago, once we crossed the border and were surrounded by the colorful flavors of Mexico, I felt alive. I faced my fear and opened myself to a world of new sights, sounds, tastes and experiences. There still may be bumps in the road, and safety concerns, but I have decided to stay open and be present in every situation. In doing so, I may discover more than a new home.
I will be posting tips for camping in Mexico and recommendations for places to see and avoid. I’m interested in hearing your recommendations, too! Please post in the comments below.