Ensenada, a coastal city roughly 78 miles south of San Diego, lies within Bahia De Todos Santos on the Baja California peninsula. According to Wikipedia Ensenada is often referred to as La Cenicienta del Pacífico (the Cinderella of the Pacific). We have spent 6 days, including Christmas, hauled out in the Baja Naval boat yard and 2 in the marina waiting for the weather. During our stay we were provided with free wifi, clean facilities and showers (sometimes warm). What more could a couple of weary travelers asks for?
On the day we arrived we completed our immigration paperwork and cleared customs in less than two hours. The relatively simple and efficient process is far more laid back than that of the crowded airport terminals we are all so accustomed too. In Ensenada at least, you can go have lunch before an easy 4-block walk to the CIS (Centro Integral de Servícios) building. To further streamline the process here they have put immigration, customs and the port captain all in the same building along with the bank. The one oddity in this mostly straightforward system is the red-light/green-light system at customs. We fortunately got the green light from the randomized street lamp so they opted not to do an inspection despite our bringing in both a live animal and prescription drugs.
Whilst in Ensenada, the idea of a “relaxing vacation” started to fade from my mind as Jerrad continued to work on the boat. I thought this would never end and I would be stuck in the boat yard forever. Pleasantly however, we did manage to find some time to walk around town and explore a little bit. Right next to the boatyard is Ventana al Mar – Plaza Cívica de la Patria (National Civic Plaza). In this area, one will find a nice park, art and jewelry vendors, cultural performances, sculptured heads of three important figures in Mexico’s history and a giant Mexican flag, which measures 164×92 feet (50×28 m) and weighs approximately 265 lbs (120 kg)!!! A popular spot amongst cruise ship passengers is Av. López Mateos, also referred to as First Street, which is the primary tourist drag. It is lined with brightly colored restaurants and shops which both accept dollars and employ English speakers. Starbucks and McDonalds were also nearby for those who already miss being in the States.
During our time in Ensenada we found various street vendors specializing in seafood, beef or pork tacos. One can generally find the best food by wandering a few blocks and seeing which street vendors are crowded with the locals (plastic chairs and no posted menu can also be excellent clues): this has been our guide to good and authentic food during our travels. The tacos were so delicious that we were tempted to just eat lunch and dinner at these street vendors every day. We soon decided this was not a wise idea since we had fresh produce on the boat, the cost does add up and we unfortunately have a limited budget.
For Christmas Eve we went to go see Life of Pi (Una Aventura Extraordinaria) at the theater that is just around the corner from the boat yard. This movie portrays the story of a young Indian man who lost his family after a cargo ship in which they were traveling on sunk, leaving him on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger. Even though it was an excellent movie and was beautifully done, it did not sit well with me that night, considering that this was my first long-distance sailing trip! Jerrad once again has managed to convince me that I most likely would not end up like Pi, if only because we didn’t have a tiger on board…
Christmas arrived in Ensenada. The day was beautiful with warm weather, blue skies and sunshine throughout the day. We decided to walk along the beach and tried to reach La Bufadora (the famous Blowhole). Our guide was a cartoon map on one of the tourist brochures entitled Walk Ensenada; a very silly decision on our part to be sure. La Bufadora looked to be within easy walking distance on that map, however it turned out to be 37 km (22 miles) away! Needless to say, we did not make it. We managed to walk close to 4 miles before realizing that the map we held had no bearing on reality and decided to head back to our beloved Vento Dea.
With the bottom freshly painted and the boat back in the water, our time here soon has come to an end. Our last couple of days were spent tied up in the marina so we could finish last minute errands and to clean the boat. Wind and weather dictated the next leg of the journey to Turtle Bay, some 280 nautical miles (about 518 km or 322 miles) away. So after eight days in Ensenada we parted ways.
View more photos here