Well, we've hashed out a basic plan for our trip this year. I've done the road warrior charge across the border so many times that I'm looking for something new this time. Usually, we cross at San Ysidro (Tijuana crossing) early in the morning and make a mad dash through Ensenada traffic, we don't stop until we hit San Quintin which is about five hours south of the border. The idea is to get the sketchiness of TJ into our rearview mirror as quickly as possible. If anything bad is going to happen, odds are it will happen driving through the border zone of TJ/Ensenada so that's why we form up into a caravan, top off our fuel tanks in San Diego and just book it through until we can take a breath of relief further south.
Our fears are reasonable. It was a group of my friends who, after crossing the border at four in the morning, were boxed in by a two large SUVs, forced from their vehicles at gunpoint and completely robbed of everything they had. This is not one of those, "I know a guy, who knows a guy, who heard about some guys getting held up on the Playas road." This information I obtained straight from the source; talking it over with my friend who shivered as he told me about it two weeks later. He chillingly told me about being forced to walk into the darkness away from the highway by a guy hopped up on drugs, sporting a black mask and the largest handgun he's ever seen in his life. Kneeling in the dirt with his back to the gunman, my buddy thought it was over when the dark figure told him not to look back. He almost jumped out of his skin when a shot cracked in the night, luckily it was a shot fired into the air and when he finally looked back the guy was gone. The story was actually published in a surf mag a few years ago-the guys still won't go into Baja.
But we will. So it will be, next Thursday night, when we cross over at Otay Mesa (the smaller of the two south San Diego crossings) late in the night (and bad things happen at night along the border) and jam up into the mountains beyond Tecate. Yes, the late night crossing has me nervous, especially since I'll be a particularly plush target with fancy, shiny 4x4, boards on top and cool looking dirtbike hanging off the bumper. But it's the plan we devised and life ain't nothing if not a grand adventure. We're taking a different route, bypassing the big cities and heading up along the Sea of Cortez. I'm looking forward to seeing some new Baja sights- even better, I'm looking forward to getting the hell out of TJ that first night. I'll keep you posted.