We’re leaving Ensenada, Baja Norte tomorrow a.m.  We are looking forward to finally heading for the Sea of Cortez.

Along the way down the Baja Pacific Coast, we’ve planned to visit places we’ve been and places we’ve not. Isla San Benitos, with its delightful gang of juvenile sea lions is one place in particular that we are looking forward to seeing once more.

Ensenada1

But, I would like to return to Ensenada for a bit.  Today, I took a walk-about through town, got lost, saw things I found interesting, touching, and unique. I watched tourists and locals interact in that theater of where goods of dubious quality are made irresistible just because they are of dubious quality.  I am always drawn to carts bearing those lovely, embroidered peasant blouses.  But, today I was on a mission to tie up loose ends – voicemail on our global phones – and a quick grocery store trip.

As usual, I thought I knew where I was going and found I was not where I expected.  The carts with beads and hats and gaudy “angry birds” kid costumes were replaced by crumbling buildings and sidewalks, by beggars, mentally ill folks wandering about and clinging to fragile overhang supports, a young man wildly dancing in front of an empty storefront, and, well, a prostitute.  Ahead I could see a gigantic “Soriana” (one of the Mexican supermarket chains) billboard and I hurried toward it, glad to leave a scene that is one that no matter where you go …

For those who travel on extended international adventures, it’s still nice to keep some of the familiar conveniences.  We decided to buy global cell phones so we could easily stay in touch with family and friends.  At least, it seemed like having these phones should a non-painful process.  With a global phone, you install a SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card for any country in the world and (theoretically) use it just like at home.  There’s one problem, though.  If you speak little or none of the host country’s language, setting up voicemail (i.e., voicing your greeting, having instructions be understandable for callers, dealing with the customer support) is challenging.  But, just when it seemed we had made an enormous mistake, a young TelCel agent in one of the company’s numerous offices, patiently set things up so that we are good to go.

The Malacon in Ensenada, Mexico

The Malacon in Ensenada, Mexico

We had one more moment that reminded us to be humbled by our inappropriate assumptions.  When you leave a Mexican Port that has previously given you permission to do country-wide travel, you are required to let the Port Captain know you are leaving.  For one breath-taking moment, it appeared that our tourist cards (kind of like visas) had been misplaced by the Capitan de Puerto.  It was getting late and our plans to leave looked like they might have to change.  But, the Capitan, who had left right after taking our cards to hold while we filed other paperwork, returned to his desk.  He muttered something about “Estas muchachas,” (the immigration office is now mostly run by young, well-dressed women who probably are replacing men like our Capitan as they retire from their government jobs).

Well, time to return to the boat and get ready to leave.