Over the long weekend, a friend and I took a day trip south of the border looking for a surf. We were trying to escape the massive crowds that seem to accompany any swell of merit in Southern California these days. I’ve been a bit apprehensive about traveling in Baja lately, what with all the drug war related violence that’s been occurring in recent months. (there were over 5000 murders in Baja California in 2008) Tensions were definitely high in the border region. Armed federal troops and checkpoints have been ubiquitous in Baja for as long as I can remember. But, this was the first time I’ve seen them in kevlar helmets and body armor, totting heavy machine guns. Add to that the burned out, impoverished, desert landscape of Tijuana, and the whole scene was reminiscent of Iraq footage. We even passed a convoy of Humvees packed with masked soldiers and sporting 50 caliber, belt fed, automatic weapons.
As unnerving as all the militarism was, the ride down Mexico Hwy 1 was a quick reminder of how much I love Baja. Our neighbor to the south is indeed a land of extremes. The religious symbols were bigger,
sun felt hotter, the off shore winds blew harder, and the surf was way heavier.
After a bit of searching and checking spots, we ended up paddling out at K38’s. For one of Northern Baja’s best know surf spots, it was amazingly uncrowned. What little crowd there was in the line up seemed to be made up mostly of locals. A wave of this size and quality back home would easily have 80 to 100 guys on it, but at most, we shared the break with 20 other surfers.
After a morning of solid overhead surf, I was more then ready for a Tecate and some fish tacos. Beer battered, fried fish tacos are quite possibly Baja California’s greatest contribution to modern society. No matter what any San Diego taqueria might have to say about authenticity, there’s no substitute for the real thing; and the propane powered shack overlooking the surf, with it’s homemade tortillas and salsa, did not disappoint.
After lunch, it was back on the 1, headed north to Tijuana and the border. Homeland Security now requires passports to cross from Mexico, but the border wait, which can often top 3 hours on the weekend, was a breeze. 45 minutes after getting in line we were back in the good ole USA, cruzing up the 5 headed home.