Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Estados Unidos Méxicanos

I don’t know who gave that name to that region….
The name was derived from a word which meant “War God”. True to its derivation, the War God played havoc there.

A rich civilization, Spanish invasion, followed by a 400 years of Colonization rule, fighting the Spanish for freedom, independence, before enjoying the independence, war with America resulting in huge losses, followed by a little peace, suddenly an unexpected attack from France. When everything looks settled, civil wars raging for decades. Finally some sort of democratic government forming but again revolution against the government. A single party rules for 71 years. Finally change of government, now an upcoming economy…

I was truly looking forward to experience what this combination would look like and I wasn’t surprised to find the results.

Still if you didn’t get what I’m talking about…I’m talking about “Mexico” and my recent visit to Mexico.

July 16, 2005

My Mexico trip started with a journey from Los Angeles towards Mexico border via San Diego. Mexico is the southern neighbour of USA and California state shares a part of boundary with it.

A stop at San Diego Old town where I visited the historical park. This park has the reputation of hoisting the first American flag in the region during US-Mexican war of 1850.This US-Mexican war resulted in US acquiring Texas, California & Arizona from Mexico.

A quick lunch in Mexican restaurant where we had Burritos.Mexican influence was all ready getting visible in the food, culture & dress in that part of US, a sign to us that we were approaching the border. After a drive of 70 miles, we were struck in a huge traffic jam. Realized that we have reached San Yedra, the Mexican border. Passport and Visa verification was done by the Mexican authorities. After nearly an hour, we were finally in Mexico!

Just crossed the immigration point and we were in a totally different world from America. Suddenly felt like I was in India. A lots of footpath shops where t-shirts & goods were being sold. I was in Tijuana, a Mexican city.


Tijuana, famous in US and other parts as a place for pleasure. A city which has the reputation of being the most visited border city in the world. A city meant for total fun without strings attached.

Got down in Tijuana to be welcomed by kids trying to sell handicrafts and ornaments, vendors trying to lure us into their shops. Just like in our country. The streets were looking good with tons of tourists strolling. The streets were full of handicrafts, restaurants and unbelievably high number of medicine shops! High number of medicine shops is to capitalize on the US visitors. In US, getting medicines without prescription is really tough and these medicine shops here sell anything & everything without prescription. Few medicine shops carried huge signboards shouting ‘Way to Viagra”!!!

One more interesting thing in Tijuana was the Donkeys! It has almost become a custom to sit on these decorated Donkeys, wearing Mexican hats and photographed. Sometimes Zebras replace Donkeys. Streets were also dotted with some nice art pieces.

As our destination was not Tijuana we have to move on from that place. So another 2 hours of journey in a lane where on one side we were in Mexico and another lane was US separated by high walls. Gradually the walls disappeared giving way to mountains and after a while to Pacific Ocean. As we moved into Mexico, English started becoming rare. All signboards, instructions and advertisements became Spanish.

La Bufadora

We reached La Bufadora. Located at the end of Punta Banda Peninsula, this place is known for natural wonder called “blowhole”. Visitors had assembled around a sea cliff area and we made way to the spot. We witnessed an amazing natural blowhole spouting seawater 70 feet into the air. The sea water banged the rocks, entered the cave like structure and finally got thrown out through an opening with a huge roar and creating a geyser which sometimes went to 70 ft in air. Every time the geyser went up, there was a huge cheering from the crowd.

Back from the blowhole into the streets of La Bufadora. A jam packed street with footpath shops. Shops for t-shirts & dresses, marine delicacies, craftworks. I tasted samples of “Churros”, a sweet snack. Back to bus and after another 16 miles of journey we were in Ensenada.


Known as the "Cinderella of the Pacific", Ensenada had become one of the favorite tourist destinations in Mexico. A small town with harbor, very popular among cultural visitors, vacationing families and party animals.

Checked into Villa Marina hotel. Through balcony in my 10th floor hotel room, I had a bird’s eye view of Ensenada. It was looking compact and neat. After getting freshened up, we freaked out to explore Ensenada. The harbor side was very calm and there were tons of love-making couples on the sea side and loads of visitors around the harbor. Roamed for a while along the sea side in the dawn hours.

Walked into ‘Three Heads Park’. This is a tribute to three Mexican heroes, Miguel Hidalgo, Benito Jurez and Venusthano Carranza who were prominent personalities in Mexican history. Miguel Hidalgo was a catholic priest and was the first to mobilize the Mexicans against the Spanish occupation. Benito Jurez, an ex-president of Mexico during civil war and who is called Mexico’s Lincoln. Venusthano Carranza, another ex-president of Mexico and who was assassinated.

Entered the main street of Ensenada. Evening was slowly growing and the shops were twinkling with colorful bulbs. The footpath was interrupted by restaurants which were made of glass walls on all sides. These restaurants looked very pretty with nice seating and lighting.

There were groups of local bands in Mexican hats and playing some catchy songs. These bands usually comprise 4-5 artists, roam around in the streets and play in front of visitors and live on the tips they get.

Also on streets were small ornaments shops. Though they were looking nice, the price was too much. We entered few shops to check Mexican goods. Strolling the streets itself was such a nice thing to do. A very festive air all around…

Entered into Pizza hut to have dinner and had to use all my dumb charades skill to explain to the Spanish speaking Pizza hut people about what we want. One interesting thing is along with Peso, the Mexican currency they also accept US Dollars. While the couple with me retired to hotel to take rest, I decided to explore more…

The best thing about Ensenada has to be the night life there. The main street was alive with numerous discos, bars and what-nots! The sound of Spanish music and guitars was roaring all around the place. Gallons of liquid were being gulped. Scene in disco was exotic with some groovy dance steps and babes moving sensually. Mango-Mango was one of those discos in a prominent location and the crowd kept flocking it.

Checked few more ‘happening’ places. Looked like in Ensenada only agenda is ‘fun’ (Well, the definition of ‘fun’ was varying and there were people finding ‘fun’ in plethora of activities!).Returned to hotel room at 2 in the morning!

Just a note about Mexican babes. In a word they are ‘Hot”!! (After all Salma Haik is also from Mexico!!!)

July 17, 2005

Woke up at 6:30 as our journey on Sunday was about to begin at 7. Left Ensenada and our journey continued along the pacific coast.
Hotel Calafia
Stopped at Hotel Calafia, this was once a Catholic Missionary church and now a huge tourist attraction. Located on scenic Baja coastline, the building is about 300 years old. But it was “Titanic” which made the hotel famous!

There were tables arranged at strategic locations from where the sea view was extremely wonderful. There was a replica of a Spanish ship ‘Corona Aurea’ on the sea side just beside the breakfast tables.

Inside of the hotel building was looking very familiar. It should be… because this was where movie Titanic was shot! The grand dining hall in the movie was straight out of this hotel. The scene which showed the Cabin corridors of Titanic ship was also here.

Our journey continued. Meanwhile into the bus, few local guitarists also alighted and played Spanish songs for a while. It was around 11:30 when we reached Tijuana and Mexican border.

Entering from US side into Mexico seemed to be easy, but other way was very laborious. Everyone in the bus was asked to get down and go to Immigration counter. The luggages where thoroughly checked. Fruits and Vegetables from Mexico were also not allowed. Everyone in our bus finished the immigration formalities in a very short time, but three of us who were on L1 had to go through unnecessary extra formalities at the counter. The officer took his own sweet time to complete the formalities. People in bus thought that it was not feasible to wait for us and left us there with phone number & place to meet. After an hour & half of total time pass in the immigration we entered into US and first aim was to catch the tour bus.

San Yedra

That place was San Yedra and there were trains running from there to San Diego where we were to meet our bus. Couple who were with me were totally panicked after missing the bus. Some how I convinced them that it is fun to take such adventure rides and narrated my previous adventure ride in Vegas! Took the ‘trolley’ which took us to San Diego before few more stints of adventure finding the right train, stop & time.

Met the bus at San Diego Harbor from where our journey continued back…

I was thinking about where Mexico is heading towards?
Though there seems to be still some unrest & clashes, winds of change are definitely blowing. Looks like Mexico has realized that wars & internal clashes don’t help it in anyway. Mexico has opened its doors for free trade and it is trying to becoming more stable democratically & economically. The people have voted out the party which ruled them for 71 years.

Finally this should sum up everything about current Mexico…
Vicente Fox is the current president of Mexico and he was the chief executive for Coke in Mexico before becoming president and he is considered the latest good friend of Bush!!

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