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Surviving a Drive on the East Cape

By Dawn Pier

My previous post described some of the challenges of driving the dirt roads on the East Cape. This post provides some tips that will get you from Point A to Point B without any major hassles.

What to do when driving in the East Cape

Bring a tire pressure gauge from home.

A flat tire isn't the only thing you might encounter when driving on the East Cape...

Check to make sure your rental car has a spare tire, jack and lug wrench. Then make sure the spare actually has air in it.

Lower the pressure in your front tires to 20 pounds, rear to 18.

Drive slowly and with care. Not only are there plenty of obstacles to avoid, now that the pressure is lower, you can pop a tire right off the rim if you take corners too quickly.

Arrive at your destination before sunset.

Be aware that a left turn signal in Mexico is interpreted as a signal to cars following behind to PASS. When making a left turn, to avoid getting broadsided, slow down, extend your left arm out the window palm facing backwards to signal to the driver behind you not to pass.

Be aware that stop signs are often ignored by locals. Stop lights seem to garner slightly more respect.

Obtain and bring clear directions to your destination. There are few road signs and many of the roads are in such poor condition that it is easy to quickly feel lost.

Pack extra drinking water and a sunhat, especially in summer.

Top off with gas. There are no gas stations on the Coast Road.

Give yourself extra time to stop and enjoy the incredible scenery!

What not to do when driving in the East Cape

Driving at night: There are more fatalities on Mexican roadways at night than any other time of day. Remember that roads are unmarked and unlit. It is not uncommon to meet cars without tail and /or headlights. Livestock (think black cows) that roam freely throughout the Cape can suddenly run in front of your vehicle. My 1993 Nissan pickup truck was ultimately retired because of a run-in with a young bull – I was lucky I didn’t get retired along with it.

Driving on Sundays: There are more roadway fatalities in Mexico on Sundays than any other day of the week. While MADD advertisements in developed nations have reduced drunk driving considerably, it’s still a big problem here. Monday mornings are a little sketchy too. Avoid driving in the wee hours of the morning.

What do you do to make driving the roads of Baja safer or more enjoyable? We’d love to hear your suggestions. Or how about sharing your personal Baja road warrior story?

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