hated to leave La Paz but the hotel bill, even with the discount rate,
was mounting and the kids had stories they wanted to tell their dad and
their friends back in Los Angeles.  So we packed our frozen fish
in a cooler and headed north again, a prospect made more pleasant by
the thought of re-visiting the towns we'd stopped at on the way down.

There was much excitement about the first night's stop in Loreto,
because of that great pool, but the La Pinta inn there was booked —
which turned out to be a happy circumstance in the end because it drove
us to the Hotel Oasis, which was wondrous:

A great bar where the
kids were welcome to hang out, playing darts and pool, a great seaside
restaurant, hammocks strung up between the palm trees and on the
porches.  Nora took advantage of one of them to finish the magical
book Half Magic:

On subsequent days, San Ignacio and Catavina proved to be every bit as
charming as we remembered them.  There was even a horse grazing outside our rooms this time at the La Pinta in San Ignacio:

But we made a fatal miscalculation at
the end of the journey.  We decided to drive north of Ensenada and
stay at Rosarito, and then take the toll roads across to Tecate, to
save some time.

It was fun to drive by the Fox studio outside Rosarito, where Titanic
was filmed, but the town itself was a nightmare of traffic and hustlers
and tourists.  We stayed at a bland motel, whose only advantage
was that it was across the street from a famous old restaurant
specializing in carnitas, slow-roasted pork, which we hadn't run into
often in Baja California (it's not a specialty of the region.)  The carnitas was good, and so was a
shrine near the restrooms to Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe:

Driving the next day proved to be a nightmare.  The toll road
north was fine and fast, but there were no signs for the turn-off to
the toll road to Tecate and we got lost in the shabby maze of a Tijuana
suburb.  Between the hideous condos on the coast and the wretched
poverty of Tijuana, we felt as though we'd entered another
country.  It made me think of the old saying — “Poor
Mexico!  So far from God, so near to the United States of
America!”  Things in this part of Mexico are probably just going
to get worse in the years ahead, and I don't think the condo-sized
Jesus, below, is going to help much.

We eventually made it to Tecate, where we waited for over an hour in a
long line of cars to cross the border.  The crossing itself was a
breeze.  The U. S. guard, who spoke English with a Spanish accent,
asked us a few questions then waved us through — and suddenly it was
all over.  We were back in the States.

All that was left was to miss Mexico — something I haven't stopped doing since.

For previous Baja California trip reports, go

[Photos © 2007 Lloyd Fonvielle & Harry Rossi]