Thursday, November 8, 2007

One Track Mind: Unwritten Rules of Baja Travel or How to Get Invited Back Down


This is going to piss some people off. On the other hand, some old hands will undoubtedly be shaking their heads in agreement and maybe even passing the cactus juice one extra time in my honor. Since I'm short timing for a Baja run I figured I'd share some of my observations regarding successful Baja travel. Here goes:

The Unwritten Rules of Baja Travel

1. Person who supplies the vehicle and drives never pays toll for the pay road.
2. Driver's responsible for filling vehicle with gas and buying insurance before everyone meets up for departure.
3. This isn't the city bus- all travellers meet at Driver's house for load up.
4. Passengers should offer gas and insurance money- driver should never have to ask.
5. Never claim "shotgun". Always concede the seat to anyone older then you, more experienced then you, meaner then you.
6. Organize all of your stuff into one container (size dependent on trip length) your gear shouldn't be strewn all over the vehicle.
7. Don't be a food troll- if it's offered then go for it, if not- make something of your own.
8. If you're making some food- make enough to share, if you can't- be discrete.
9. If you're a kitesurfer, Driver never self launches.
10. If you're a passenger, don't tell the driver how to drive or where to go- unless asked.
11. Drivers, no sketch passes- I've never had a passenger who was mad because I drove too slow (well, there was one).
12. Passengers cover all parking fees.
13. Lunch is on the passengers.
14. A surf trip is to and from a discussed spot, don't drop a sudden side trip to your Uncle Barney's house in the TJ suburbs on the crew.
15. Don't decide to buy a large clay pot, surfing monkey or Elvis statue that in any way takes up space in the vehicle.
16. Driver picks music (if you don't like Bluegrass hillbilly music, don't ride with me).
17. If you're new to the crew, don't talk too much. Listen more then you talk.
18. Don't eat the last sandwich (sorry Kiwi).
19. A chair that was brought into Baja is the sovereign nation of its owner. It doesn't matter if it's left unattended for hours, in a Baja camp, it is still the rightful property of its owner- and is reserved exclusively for his ass.
20. Bring contraband into Mexico...with me? Are you sure your in the right blog? Jah won't mind if you don't commune with him for one surf trip- get stoned at home.
21. When it's time to load up- start grabbing stuff and moving it- even if it's not yours, move fast and snappy- don't linger.
22. Coming back, at the border- don't start cracking jokes or flirting with the border patrol agent- after jockeying in the line for two hours the last thing I want to do is go to secondary because you were being cute.
23. Drivers- before you volunteer your vehicle it's up to you to make damn sure its reliable- not reliable, forget it!
24. Never invite yourself on a Baja trip- if guys are discussing a trip and you want to go, try this approach, "What time are you guys leaving? Is it okay if I follow you down?".
25. Bring your own beer or pitch in for the beer run- if you don't, DO NOT even asked for a beer and if offered one refuse-at least the first time.
26. Be the guy who always just grabs the pots and pans and goes down to wash them- without waiting or asking. This will get you back in the truck for sure.
27. Back in the States, at the drop off point, it's always a nice gesture to offer to help clean up the vehicle or move the drivers gear.
28. If you're the passenger in a truck with a camper on it, do not assume you'll be sleeping in the truck unless it's been discussed previously- be self sufficient.
29. If there's more then two guys in one vehicle, do not bring more then two boards.
30. Bring extra wax.
31. Practice Beer Managment: Take one out put one in- simple.
32. And for goodness sake, close the cooler!

These rules are, of course, flexible depending on how well you know the guys you're traveling with. In retrospect, they seem to be a variation of the all important Golden Rule: Be the guy you'd like to travel with- if you follow that rule, I don't see how you can go wrong.

Got any of your own travel rules? I'd love to hear them and they don't have to be for Baja travel, for example- what are the sacred rules of the boat trip?

6 comments:

Michael Ashley said...

Just reading these rules brings back memories of Baja! Here are a couple more that I learned this summer:

1. Don't ever pass on the right by jumping off the highway onto the dirt shoulder, thinking you can get back before you hit the bridge, even if the tractor is only going 3MPH.

2. Slow down when you're driving through towns, especially when there is a huge speed bump ahead that could destroy your truck.

3. And be grateful for everything because you could just as easily be sitting in a windowless cubicle just wishing you could get out.

Going to Baja teaches you a lot about friends, and going to Baja with good friends teaches you a lot about life. Have a great trip!

John Ashley said...

Exactly.

michaelf said...

One Spare Tire is never enough

Those oversize rims may look cool in the USA but just try to get a spare tire for an oversize 500 miles south of the boarder and you will wish you had picked your wheels for function over vanity

Bring an air compressor and deflate the tires on the off road

Hold your breath till you reach Rosarito Beach

Trust the guys in the green truck dont the guys in the black trucks

srfnff said...

John
A few comments on this excellent list….

1. 1. Guy who supplies the vehicle and drives never pays toll for the pay road. Comment: Guy (or gal, we should be PC eh bro’?) who supplies the vehicle should not have to pay for fuel at all. Fuel reflects only a partial cost per mile to drive which the driver pays by default because it’s his/her vehicle.
2. 5. Never claim "shotgun". Always concede the seat to anyone older than you, more experienced than you, meaner than you. Comment: I claim this rule as my own, i.e. the Srfnff Rule. You will NEVER travel with anyone older than me. Wiser, yes! Smarter, yes! Better surfer, yes! Cooler guy, yes! Better looking, maybe (heh, heh)! But older, never!
3. 15. Don't decide to buy a large clay pot, surfing monkey or Elvis statue that in any way takes up space in the vehicle. Comment: What!? No large clay surfing statues of Elvis’ monkey? I hope this rule doesn’t throw me off the trip…
4. 16. Driver picks music (if you don't like Bluegrass hillbilly music, don't ride with me). You’re too young to like hillbilly music dog…
5. 20. Bring contraband into Mexico...with me? Are you sure your in the right blog? Jah won't mind if you don't commune with him for one surf trip- get stoned at home. Comment: I LOVE this one! It’s definitely worth the risk of being throw into a Mexican jail with no rights as a non-Mexican citizen for short duration pleasure smoking. What are you thinking?
6. 32. Don't be a Nate. 33. Don't be a Chad. Comment: Who’s Nate and who’s Chad. They must have really done something to piss you off…like violate all of the above rules in one trip?

I’d like to add a rule or two:

1. Always meet beforehand with your fellow travelers to communicate the rules and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them.
2. Rules should never be so inflexible that they can’t be changed or amended after thoughtful discussion and agreement..
3. As best you can, meet and develop a travel plan, i.e. rough itinerary, route, assignment of responsibilities, any food or drink sharing agreements, cost sharing and payment agreements. Experienced travelers need to brief the less experienced on what is essential to bring and what to expect.
4. We travel as a group of connected people with a common self interest…to have fun surfing, paddling, sailing, etc. We look out for each other, and cover each others backs. If you want to be the Lone Ranger, go by yourself.
5. NO ONE craps or pisses within 100 feet at a minimum, of the encampment. This rule is in effect 24 hours/day.
6. Unless she really is on the trip, your mother is not on the trip. Therefore, grow up, be an adult, shoulder more than your fair share of the load at all times, be considerate and helpful. Have a positive and cheerful attitude even if you get the trots. (If you do, especially remember rule #4 above.)
7. This one just restates what John said in closing about the Golden Rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated. If you can’t do that then try this one: Don’t do anything to anyone else, that you wouldn’t want them to do to you.

Like I said in another post….where do I sign up (or did I just violate rule #24?)

Yuppiesurfer said...

The real rules of baja are so...
1.) don't ever drive, why do think we have planes?
2.) Los Cabos is a lot like TJ only warmer (so do the math)
3.) Staying in a resort is roughing it(there is no starbucks)
4.) Any one can call shootgun in a rental car. (or driver if you paid for extra insurance)
5.) There are chicks every where so why bring sand to the beach.
6.) Local knowledge is for suckers I bought a map of all the surf spots and I have a surfline account to tell me when the surf is coming.

Have fun on that long dangerous road with masked gunmen, large trucks and drunk drivers. I'll be in first class sipping on Crystal with Jay Z Beocthies.. YuppieSurfer

John Ashley said...

Yuppiesurfer is in- I'm travelling with that guy. Big Pimpin'