And so the first phase of our trip ends and a new one begins. We leave North America and enter Central America. Time for a cultural change and better food (controversial comment, my American friends, let the debate begin!).
We spent a great few days in Long Beach LA with Marco, a fellow cyclist who we had met on the road in Oregon. When he offered us to stay with him over a month ago I’m sure he thought we’d never take him up on it. However, we did and he, and his family, were incredibly hospitable and super fun to hang out with. Not only did his family endure two grubby British cyclists randomly met at a campsite but two much grimier (of course) Canadian cyclists, Marco had also invited along his travels, arrived at the same time. The family were somewhat outnumbered by us hairy and dirty cyclists but rose to the challenge and I feel that we were suitably tamed by the ever vigilant Thing 1 and Thing 2.
Big thanks to the Dos Santos family. A home away from home.
We had a stopover in San Diego to pick up some tyres we’d ordered and for Badge to have his back wheel re-laced. He’s had two spokes pop so it was time to get it looked at. We’ve had some great service from the bike shops we’ve been to in the past few weeks:
North American Rohloff specialists http://www.cyclemonkey.com in Albany
Excellent help with our Reecharge http://www.ternbicycles.com in LA
Tyres and wheel at Zumwalts http://www.zcbikes.com in San Diego
Tyre and general helpfulness at Pedal Pushing Bike Shop in San Diego
With bikes sorted and a great break in LA it was time to leave the States behind for new adventures. We had enjoyed our time in America and I finally felt we had got to grips with ordering doughnuts and not just going pot luck. We had learnt to say line and not queue, to talk about soccer not football, and to be very careful when picking a laffy taffy as you may be disappointed by a cinnamon one. Crikey, we were almost locals! I would like to say a special thank you to the Californian sunshine for my very special tan lines….
As ever, on this trip, it was time to pedal on.
We were nervous as we headed towards the border as we had heard several scary stories about Tijuana. As cyclists we were directed through the border crossing for the pedestrians. Much quicker than the car border, however, the turnstile proved a bit tricky. It was surprisingly lacking in any sort of stamping in or out. We did not even get our passports out of our bags. Before we knew it we were out the other side. To visit the northern part of Baja you do not need a tourist permit but if you are going further south you do. Also, we wanted evidence of entry into Mexico so we didn’t get put on a USA overstayers list. So then we searched for the immigration office. Naturally, it was 3pm on a Friday and it’s opening hours are 9am – 1pm Mon – Fri. Hmmmmmm. We did not want to stay in Tijuana so we decided to head on to Rosarito where we had read you could get a permit. Cycling through Tijuana was interesting and the highway even more so. Being watched by dogs in the back of pick up trucks has now been replaced by being watched by at least three people piled in there. Victoriously, with all limbs intact, we arrived in Rosarito and celebrated our braveness by sampling many of the delicious fish tacos that are a speciality here.
We decided to take a couple of days off to regroup and to read the English Spanish dictionary, before the immigration office opened on Monday. By the end of the weekend we were full of fish tacos and fluent…… in ordering them. We arrived at the office first thing on Monday morning to be met by a very officious immigration lady who barked at us in Spanish that we could not get our permit there. She only dealt with permits for residency – there are a lot of American online poker players who reside in Rosarito. So, we got a taxi to Tijuana airport and managed to get our paperwork sorted out there. Hurrah, we are now legally allowed to continue onwards. A small taste of border crossings to come…..