In Mexico, when
referring to the U. S. State of California, don't call it California,
call it Alta California, thus showing that you realize there are three
Californias — the U. S. state and the two Mexican states, Baja
California and Baja California Sur. Mexicans are so unaccustomed
to gringos using the term Alta California that they will sometime laugh
when they hear it, but it's a laugh of satisfaction and approval.
I'm sure I don't have to encourage anyone not to refer to Cabo San Lucas as “Cabo”, but by the same token, don't refer to Baja California as Baja. Baja
just means “lower”. It's sort of like saying, “I'm going to
North,” when what you mean is, “I'm going to North Dakota.”
In spite of the above, get hold of a copy Baja in the Moon Handbooks series. It offered the most sensible advice about traveling in Baja California and the most reliable
recommendations about hotels and restaurants. We carried the
2004 edition, which was already outdated in some respects, but there's
a new edition coming out this month (see above.) Also, be sure to
carry the AAA road map of Baja California, the best one available north
of the line.
Take along some chewable Pepto Bismol tablets. These handled all
the (very mild) stomach upsets we suffered in Mexico. Take along
some Benadryl, in case of wasp and bee stings. In the desert
environment of Baja California, bees and wasps will appear out of
nowhere, in the midst of the most barren wasteland, if you expose so
much as cookie crumb, or open a container of anything liquid. If
you keep items made with sugar wrapped and stuff tissue paper into the
tops of open soda or beer containers, they vanish just as quickly.
But accidents can happen. On our fishing expedition, a fellow
passenger in our van popped open a beer when she got back to the beach
after her time on the water. Within about two sips, and without
her realizing it, a bee got into the bottle. She swallowed it and
it stung the inside of her throat on the way down. We were at
least an hour away from any kind of medical facility, and if my sister
hadn't had some liquid Benadryl in her fanny pack, the situation could
have been dangerous. As it was the Benadryl reduced the swelling
in the woman's throat, allowing her to breathe freely, and some Advil
(which my sister was also carrying) helped her manage the excruciating
I have no idea why my sister was carrying Benadryl in her fanny pack —
just as a general precaution, she claimed, though I suspect that
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe put the idea into her head precisely for
the emergency in question.
This brings me to my final tip — always listen to the promptings of La Morenita. She will never steer you wrong.
For previous Baja California trip reports, go here.
[Photos © 2007 Harry Rossi]