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Discovering Baja California

by Jeremy Miers

While watching a travel channel one event less Saturday night, I happen to come upon a show which at that moment was detailing the history of Baja California. Because of a mixture of boredom and curiosity, I watched the entire travel show and by the time the end credits were rolling I was quite surprised to find that I had actually enjoyed it. Maybe it was because the host was a very talented talker (not to mention a very curvaceous woman) or it can also be because the history of Baja was an interesting topic by itself, but the show gave me the idea that Baja California might prove to be a great place to spend my next weekend instead. Surely visiting Baja’s historical landmarks will be more exciting than lounging in front of the television with a big bag of chips and a six-pack the entire weekend.

The following Friday afternoon, I was boarding the blue line of the San Diego Trolley System where I got down at the San Ysidro Transit Center. There, I found several taxis, buses and tourist shuttles waiting for passengers whom they will then take them to the international border crossing point. I took a taxi and got off at the San Ysidro international border crossing point where I showed my passport and ID then was quickly allowed to enter Baja California. I hailed another cab and directed the cab driver to bring me to an affordable inn or motel somewhere near Tijuana’s tourist district. The trolley ride cost just $2.50, the first taxi ride from downtown San Diego, California to the border crossing point was $6, and the ride from the border to the inn was $7.50. That meant I was able to leave San Diego, California in the United States and enter Baja California, Mexico without spending more than $20. If everything else in Baja was that affordable, I might just come here every weekend or whenever I have nothing better to do.

At the Baja inn I was staying, this thread of affordability continued to amaze me. It cost a mere $40 for an overnight stay, and since I was staying until Sunday morning, I will pay $80 by the time I check out plus the few addition expenses such as room service bills and other services I may ask of them during my stay. The room was very impressive for something that cost just forty bucks. It was a one-bedroom suite that is fully air-conditioned. It has a clean bathroom with a shower, bathtub, sink and toilet, a private terrace, a small living room, and a kitchenette. I inquired at the front desk regarding the availability of a Baja historical tour and they were able to recommend one which I asked them to book for me. Luckily, the tour was able to accommodate me at such late notice since I found out that most people book their tours about a week or more in advance.

The tour brought me into sight of some of the historical landmarks that I saw on television just a week ago. There were plenty of old Spanish missions, churches and chapels to beheld. I must admit that although them seem picturesque because of their rustic charms and old world architecture, something that men would not normally appreciate, the events that took place in them years ago were very interesting. During the years of civil war for instance, missions have been used as headquarters for the Spanish military and government. Thus, you might see several missions with bullet holes and bombed walls or those with ditches and shelters dug up beside them. Some chapels and missions have also functioned long ago as sanctuaries and shelters especially during the wars. The sexy travel show host, even if she was every engaging because of her humor and personality, was not able to convey the sense of pride that the Mexican tour guides easily imparted to us.

We were also brought to some desert caves where we saw primitive cave paintings. Primitive is a word I would much rather not use because the painting were very impressive in their size and artistic quality. There were paintings of jaguars, horses, spears, trees, and funny enough, there were also some humongous paintings of penises. Why native Baja California inhabitants chose to paint penises I have no idea but it was a very informative and immensely entertaining tour. That weekend, although spent among new people in a foreign country in an attempt to discover for myself the history and essence of a place I have never been to before, was the start of a new hobby and personal interest. I have been to Baja California twice after that weekend and plan on visiting the peninsula more and more over the years to come.

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