Friday, September 22, 2006

Rosarito -- The Narrative

So we got on the road last Friday by 9:30 a.m. Not bad since I was aiming for 8:30. Then, around Westwood, I successfully staved off an emergency visit to McDonald’s by having thoughtfully brought along Jenny’s Toffee Mini-bites (better get your blood-sugar levels checked, Ann!) (See post from several months ago regarding trip to Rincon-San Diego.)

Traffic was remarkably light, and in record time, we pulled into a market at Del Mar Heights to stock up before crossing the border. By “stock up” I mean all the weekend essentials, like: 4 bottles of wine, a jug of pre-mixed Mudslides, giant bag of tortilla chips, jar of salsa, two kinds of cheese, two kinds of crackers, some salami, and…oh, yeah…water.

Across the parking lot from the market, we spied a McDonald’s Gourmet Bistro (who knew?). To investigate further (okay, to be honest, in order to use their bathroom), we walked over (okay, to be honest, we drove) to check it out. Boy, hope this is the wave of McDonald’s future! It’s more like a McCheesecake Factory…or maybe a McFriday’s. You enter, and on the left you have your basic Mickey D’s, but on your right…mmmmm….tasty looking panninis and pastas! And an espresso machine! (Not to mention tastefully-decorated bathrooms on a par with upscale restaurants.)

Anyway, we got back on the road, then stopped just before the border to buy Mexican insurance. By the way, here’s my theory on that: Mexican insurance is more like a pre-paid bribe. Your own insurance covers you in an accident down there; but the Mexican insurance keeps you from going to jail. Like I say, just a thought.

We sailed over the border without incident, made all the correct yields/verges/turns to get around Tijuana, then leisurely drove forty minutes south, ending up at Calafia in time for cocktails and appetizers. Now, I don’t know what they do in Mexico, but the margaritas are exceptional. Maybe it’s the lime juice. Maybe it’s the brand of tequila. Maybe it’s just the friggin’ atmosphere, but man, were they good. The appetizers? Well, not so much. Rosarito isn’t the place to go for great food, unfortunately, but…well, how can you go wrong eating stuff like chips, salsa, quesadillas, nachos, ceviche…..? Sigh…I couldn’t have been happier.

Finally, it was time to make our way to the condo. Luckily, I knew how to get there; otherwise, we could have wound up circling Rosarito for hours. After oohing and aaahing over the view, we threw on bathing suits and hit the Jacuzzi armed with plastic glasses filled with wine. There we met some of our neighbors, enjoyed the sunset, and—frankly—got a little likkered up. Not enough to forget about going out to dinner, though! About eight, we dragged ourselves upstairs, changed, then snagged a taxi and went into town to El Nido where we ate traditional Mexican food. Oh, and we may have had a margarita. Or two.

On Saturday (my birthday!) Ann was gonna wake me up with bacon and eggs…except…well, we hadn’t exactly brought any. Instead, we drove to the Rosarito Beach Hotel and ate like civilized people in their dining room. Then…well, see…the plan was just to eat breakfast and go back to the condo for sunning by the pool. But…well, see…they have all these jewelry vendors. About FOUR hours later, we took a break from shopping and had a drink (okay, two drinks) at Pappas and Beer, where a TWENTY-THREE year old Navy guy kinda PICKED UP ON US. Was that sweet, or what?? I mean, here it’s my 53rd birthday, and this nice, young, guy asks if he can join us! And, it’s not like he was alone or anything. Oh, no. He was sitting with two other guys. So what if he was a little tipsy? He was a nice, Midwestern, boy who was respectful, but not too much so (y’know what I mean? Cuz too much respect would have been insulting).

Anyway…blah, blah, blah…more drinking, more shopping…Oh, we stopped in a pharmacia to buy illicit drugs (kidding) and when I used my credit card, the owner noticed it was my birthday, so she gave me a lovely soap as a present. How sweet was that? Sigh. Only in Mexico.

I think we took a nap when we got back home. Then we drove down to Puerto Nuevo for my birthday dinner. Translated, Puerto Nuevo turns out to be Newport Beach, but most people refer to it as Lobster Village. You turn off the road into a village square consisting of nothing but restaurants—all specializing in lobster. (Now, I’ve heard the rumor that the waters off PN lost their lobster population due to overfishing YEARS ago, but I’ve never substantiated it. Besides, who cares where the stuff comes from?) So, I picked a restaurant at random—poor choice, as it turns out. I mean, as y’all know, I’m a Mariachi fan, but not when they stay at one table for the entire evening! Not when the table is next to ours!! God, it was like a storm that never moved. We had to shout over the music the whole time. (Not that, at this point, our conversation was particularly scintillating or intellectual.) We ordered the $10.95 lobster (including rice and beans) and…well…okay, so it’s not The Palms…it WAS lobster.

Afterward, we (cough) did a little more shopping. It had gotten pretty late and was also pretty dark, so we can all excuse Ann for going boom in the middle of the street, right? A security guy rushed over, helped her up, and started speaking Spanish so fast, our heads spun. Couldn’t make heads or tails of what he was saying. The only part we understood was when he’d pause for an instant, say “Boom” really loud, then totally crack up. He thought the whole thing was hysterical…and so did we. (I know…ya probably had to be there.)

Okay, it was my birthday, so the night wasn’t over. We drove back up the coast, past the condo, and on into town to the Karoake Bar at the Rosarito Beach Hotel. Hey, they had some pretty good singers performing. Locals and tourists alike. Fun place.

An hour later, I couldn’t find our parking slip, which was kinda interesting, cuz they wouldn’t let us out of the lot. I searched and searched (how could I have lost it in such a short time?). Finally, the security guy asked to see my car registration and driver’s license. Hm. Fascinating. So, it was all about making sure I wasn’t stealing someone’s car. Cool.

Since we’d missed our appointment with tanning by the pool on Saturday, Sunday was to be The Day. Only…the fog rolled in, so we headed down to Las Rocas for breakfast/lunch instead. Then…oh, what the hell…we drove further down the coast (past Puerto Nuevo) to La Fonda. La Fonda is one of the first spots I ever visited along this stretch of Baja, and it holds a precious spot in my heart. A few years ago, I got worried when they moved it (long story—interesting, but confusing and long) and I got even more worried when it sold to a new owner, but rest assured, all is well at La Fonda again. They’ve even added two new patio levels below the original. AND (how cute is this) a Mexican blanket was draped over each chair at each table…in case it got chilly. (Loved that.)

Wish I’d had my camera with me (well, I did, but the battery had run down) to take pictures there. The beach is miles below, and it’s one of the widest ones I’ve ever seen. Long and wide enough for ultra-light planes to take off and land (which they did—yeah, we thought about finding out how much it was to go up, but not for very long). A couple margaritas came our way again, and then we even struck up a nice conversation with a couple from San Diego who bought us all a round of Tequila shots (not my favorite, but I didn’t wanna be impolite, y’know).

Then we drove back home (early! I Swear! It was early! Still daylight even!) and hit the Jacuzzi again. That night, we munched on all that stuff we brought down, watched TV, and…well, dozed off. Guess our ages finally caught up with us.

In the morning, we walked up the block to a taco stand on the corner and had something amazing called queseron. Sort of a Mexican wrap with spicy shrimp. Mmmm. Instead of tipping the security guys back at the condo, Ann brought them tacos and water—she’s sooo thoughtful!

Nothing left to do but load up the car, and soon we were on our way back to the U.S.

Well, almost.

Ann had discovered a broken earring, so we stopped in town to track down the vendor for a quick-fix. Uh-uh. The quick-fix turned into another hour-and-a-half. More buying. A couple beers. We even got matching ankle bracelets. And neither one of us even LIKES ankle bracelets.

At last, we headed up the coast toward Tijuana, hoping for a relatively brief stay at the border. Yeah, right. We got in line at 1:15 and passed through about an hour later. Which was really, really handy since ANN WASN’T FINISHED SHOPPING YET. Yep. There she was, window rolled down, hanging half-in-half-out, yelling in patented Ann-style: “Excuse me! Uh, EXCUSE ME!” One lace tablecloth and giant pink-and-white piggy bank later, we finally left the vendors behind and made our escape into the U.S.

So that’s it. That’s our four-day trip to Rosarito for my birthday. Can’t wait to do it again.


Liz Falkner said...

Great photos! Glad you had fun shopping and drinking (a little) here and there. I love Ann's style!!!

Nancy French said...

Love the site! Way to go!