Carl's Mexico Notebook
Archive Issue for 6 July 2001
Friday, July 06, 2001
Driving, Fishing, Military Veterans
I have been wanting to live in Mexico, and have been looking at the Lake area. I have wanted to fish the Lakes in that area for a long time. I now have the time to spend fishing and trying to enjoy myself. So I went to the internet to read as much as I could and stumbled on your web-site and all the great info on other travelers experiences. I have book marked your site for more reading. The only worry I have is not knowing anyone. I travel alone all the time. But, I have not crossed the border. I want to drive down, But have been told not to. I am not a drinker, so I have no need to go to the Bars. It seems to me that traveling there is not much different than here. Hwy's and major roads and toll. Sounds like Florida. I am living in Gainsville, I moved here from Fort Lauderdale after 25 years in the plastic industry. Now I live alone and travel when I can. I was wondering what a Retired Veteran might expect, when a Doctor is needed. I have heard that a lot of Veterans have moved to Mexico. I can at least say I do love the music and the language. Thanks again for the great guide to Mexico. via email from Don Blaylock
Carl replies: Don, you're correct that driving in Mexico isn't quite the "big deal" that it used to be, especially on the four-lane tollways and major public highways. Many long-haul stretches that took two or three hard days of driving can now be done safely in one long day. Once you get off the improved highways and toll roads, however, it's back to the good-old-days: lots of slow trucks and wandering burros, tractors, unexpected detours, unmarked teeth-rattling speed bumps, etc. Don't avoid these roads but when you take them, drive carefully, defensively, and get off the road at nightfall.
Fishing... I'm no longer the fishing fanatic I used to be, but if you're an angler, there are many, many places worth visiting in Mexico. If you're coming from Florida, start with the Gulf estuaries, beaches and rivers. Also... look through earlier entries in this Notebook for info on a good book on fishing in Mexico.
Military Veterans: yes, there are a lot of us in Mexico, and American Legion posts have been established in many of the gringo enclaves. You won't have any difficulty connecting with other vets.
Monday, July 02, 2001
Captain Zero & Cosmic Banditos, Big Blue ezinesuggested by Sean Williamson
Hey guys, have you seen the book In Search Of Captain Zero? As a surfer I think it's a really great book. I'm sending you the authors web page, check it out if you want, A Photo Tour From AC Weisbecker
Carl: I'm really kind of amazed that I hadn't heard of Allan Weisbecker's books before, but there you go -- being out-of-touch isn't anything new for me and Lorena, and is just one of the long term side effects of having spent much of our lives in lesser-known corners of Mexico.
First of all, writer and photographer Allan Weisbecker has created a very impressive, graphic-rich web site. The homepage loads slowly on our sputtering 28k connection but the wait is well worth it. Be sure to click through to his Introduction, where Allan tells the amazing story of how his books' cult following -- $300 bucks a copy at auction! -- finally woke up a major publisher and caused one of his out-of-print books to be reprinted.
In addition to his books, the site hosts Big Blue, an online ezine featuring wonderful sea-related photos, anecdotes, and articles, as well as book out-takes and work-in-progress excerpts. Check out the brief but dramatic photo-essay An Occurence In Northern Baja, which didn't quite make the final version of his book, In Search of Captain Zero.
Last, but probably not least, the author offers an email newsletter. It sounds irresistable... in fact, I subscribed, so I'll let you know what I think of it.
You can order Allan Weisbecker's books through the Amazon links below, but keep in mind that the author sells his own books at his website -- and autographed, too. Sounds like a 'deal' to me.
Sunday, July 01, 2001
Recommended Booksby Tom Barthelow, Murray, Utah
Are you folks familiar with Dana and Ginger Lamb who wrote about their trips to Mexico in the books Quest For The Lost City and Enchanted Vagabonds? Thru the internet, I managed to obtain copies of both books. I had read the Quest books about 40 years ago. Seeing them again was a most pleasant experience.
Carl's note: Quest For The Lost City is near the top of my all-time "must read" list. You can also listen to the book on audio cassettes
Enchanted Vagabonds audio cassette
Vintage Baja, A Gringa's Adventures in Lower California
Baja, Preparation, Gear, Campingby Doug Havens
Carl's Note: Lorena's brother has been exploring Baja for many years, and has introduced countless groups of students to the Peninsula's hidden beaches and backroads. When Doug discusses his choice of tents below, keep in mind that he is 6'5" tall.
I have some comments for the man who wrote you some time ago concerning his son's trip to Baja.
My first trip to Baja was during the spring break of my senior year in 1965. The paved road ended and we kept on going to Bahia de Los Angeles. We were ignorant, unprepared, in an old station wagon and no clue where we would wind up. We had a ball and I've been going back ever since.
I take a class of high school biology students down each spring and make an occasional trip on my own or with friends each year. Careful driving and common sense should result in a great trip. The highway is paved and easy to travel if you drive a safe speed, keep alert, and never drive at night.
There are several military checkpoints and they shouldn't cause concern unless you are carrying contraband. The soldiers may ask a few questions, they may inspect the vehicle and contents, or they may wave you through. If you want to get through as fast as possible, be polite, be straight forward, and be prepared to tell them where you are going. If you aren't sure where you will actually stop, be prepared to give a reasonable, logical destination, even if it isn't your final one. Remember they have the right to hold their inspections for two reason. One, they are the law. Two, they have the guns. They are doing a good job keeping the peace and deserve your respect.
Food and gas are readily available but don't expect to find it everywhere. Keep the tank full as you pass through towns and have enough gas to get to and from the beach if you go down a dirt road. Baja is a great place to help a fellow traveler and to get help from others. If you need help from a professional mechanic, he will be competent and fair. If you need help from a fellow traveler, offer something cold to drink and don't be suprised if they act like they do this all the time.
Here are a couple of discussion boards that contain interesting, useful, and sometimes pointless notes about Baja.
There are plenty of safe yet uncrowded places for anything you want to do. Use your brain and have the time of your life.
I would answer specific questions if you have any.