Waking to bright sun shining and colorful birds singing is a wonderful thing. A run through the countryside included cactus farms rimmed by bright purplish-red wildflowers and a mad dash away from a couple dogs. Not unusual down here seeing as how there are dogs EVERYWHERE, and only a few seem to have a home. In this case, it was two – one big and one small. The small one “chased” us for a good half-mile. It clearly had something to prove. We were never in any real danger, but that little bastard wouldn’t get off my heals. Definitely improved our run time though!
The ride to Ensenada was nice and short and packed mostly by small, dilapidated towns lining the road. It’s hard to see how anyone makes a living in these areas, but there are people everywhere.
We checked into our hotel and cabbed it to downtown Ensenada. Pretty cool town made up of the usual contrasts of Mexico. The hills are spotted with beautiful, shining, glassy houses overlooking the masses and run down buildings of downtown. Clearly a gringo expat gathering on the hills.
Walking around downtown we stumbled into Taqueria la Comadre. Holy shit. I could have sat there and eaten tacos all day, and, well, we sorta did. The process starts with balls of tortilla dough smashed into a tortilla maker and then tossed onto the flattop. These thick, steaming fresh tortillas are then filled with carnitas, pork fat (yea, that one was a bit gnarly), chicken mole, or a couple other spicy meats and vegetables. It’s all topped off with incredibly fresh salsas, handmade guacamole, and other goodies. I managed to put down 4 humongous tacos, and could have done a few more. Tonieh inhaled such a large quantity of tacos she had a hard time walking without help. We managed to make it to a Starbucks where she got to rest and take a moment. This entire experience with jumbo bottles of water set us back and entire $12. This was just the beginning of the magical 24-hours of tacos…
The rest of the stroll through town was along the malecon for some cool public art and then back into the city for a serious mishmash of junky bars, Viagra stores fronting as pharmacies, and nasty tourist crap stores everywhere. You get the feeling that this area used to be humming but has fallen on pretty hard times. Granted, it’s the slow season, and it was pretty cool, but still, “vibrant” was not the word I’d use for most of the storefronts. On top of this, at one point we found ourselves in a part of town we probably shouldn’t have been in – prostitutes yelling at each other from second floor windows next to Paris de Noche – a three-level “gentleman’s” club displaying 2-story bronzed busts of naked women. Sweet.
Favorite tourist tshirt: “Great story honey. Now go make me a sandwich.”
Quote of the day: (In front of Paris de Noche with prostitutes screaming at each other.) “Eric, I don’t think we’re supposed to be here.”
The public art was really cool, and it’s clear that Ensenada really focuses on its great malecon. Even in the chillier weather, there were people and families walking everywhere. If the US could get its act together and stop freaking people out about going to Mexico, towns like Ensenada could be really special. The culinary options are seemingly limitless, and like all Latin towns, it’s really made to walk and just spend time with family and friends.
And after this, the contrasts continued when we managed to find a really cool wine-tasting room where we enjoyed a 4-flight Mexican wine tasting. This place would fit in in the Third Ward or in Lincoln Park. Unreal. Mexico is awesome.
And of course, musicians walking the street looking for their next gig, which could be int he next bar they find or on a street corner or right there on the malecon. Awesome.
Back to the hotel to sleep off the taco coma. Can’t wait for more tomorrow.
Updated route (we didn’t have to go far – at “N” now):