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Day 9: Reflecting On Our Neighbors To The South

Photo by Jose Luis Jiménez

The Pacific Ocean coastline south of Ensenada.

Baja California Travel Blog

Read more about our travels on the peninsula.

ENSENADA, MX – Our last day in Mexico was spent on a quest to film a piece of land south of Ensenada where American developers want to build a golf course, condos and mansions. That was two years ago.

The main road to the property is closed, so we drive a little further and find a campground that has a rocky finger sticking out into the Pacific Ocean. That should be good enough to film the property.

The man at the campground office explains we are among numerous people who want to drive on the property to take in the view. And for inconveniencing him, he asks Reporter Jill Replogle for 30 pesos por favor; Mexican entrepreneurship at its best.

We follow a steep, rocky trail out to the edge of the finger, with steep cliffs on each side. Video Journalist Katie Euphrat set up her tri-pod and starts shooting the stunning coastline. It is marked by small coves, foamy blue water and dotted with yellow flowers. Jill and Katie agree with me: it’s one of the most beautiful pieces of property we have ever seen.

After some more work, we return to the United States at sunset, extremely tired, but glad to be home. I ask my fellow travelers to wake up their brains to answer one more question: what stood out the most on the trip? Both have traveled extensively around the world and I was curious to learn their thoughts about the peninsula.

Photo by Jose Luis Jiménez

Jill Replogle (left) and Katie Euphrat filming from the edge of a cliff south of Ensenada.

For Katie, it was the cirio trees in Baja California Sur. There is a large, national park to protect the slim, leafy trees, which can grow up to 30 feet tall. Sometimes they can bend into different shapes, like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Katie was also impressed at the friendliness of the Mexicans. She had no problem filming them for an interview. She had more problems getting Americans to say something on-camera.

For Jill, it was Internet connectivity. Almost everywhere we went, there was a way to connect to the World Wide Web. Most restaurants offered wi-fi and almost every little village had an Internet café. Even locals at the tiny fishing village at Santa Rosalííta were bragging they would soon be getting an Internet connection. Getting online is quickly becoming a basic utility, like water.

Jill was also struck by the amount of American influence throughout the peninsula. She was expecting it – one of her stories focuses on development catered to U.S. citizens. But she was surprised at the extent of it. Even the smallest, out of the way town, hundreds of miles south of the border had a sign in English.

Photo by Jose Luis Jiménez

Jill Replogle reporting from Scorpion Bay in San Juanico, MX.

For me? It was that three people spent nine days traveling 2,087 miles in an SUV and there was not one fight, argument or nasty disagreement. When you have that many people in close proximity to each other for such a long time, someone inevitably loses it. At least, in my family they do.

Jill and I were also impressed with the passion and dedication of the vintners in the Valle de Guadalupe, which we blogged about. I take it one step further: many people in Mexico take great pride in their work.

The attendant in El Rosario who pumps gas at the station and cleaned every window on the dusty SUV; the waiter in Ensenada who was proud of the English classes he was taking and insisted on using his burgeoning language skills; the fishermen in Santa Rosalííta showing off their fresh catch.

This dedication to the craft extends to my travel colleagues. Katie jumped out of the back of the SUV with her camera and tri-pod countless times, stood up through the sunroof and kneeled on the edge of a cliff, all to get the perfect shot.

Jill precisely plotted every detail of our trip. Plus, her extensive interviews prompted people to share great details about their lives on camera; an important element in great storytelling.

Photo by Jose Luis Jiménez

Braving snakes and other critters to shoot the cirio trees in the Valle de los Cirios.

I’ve said that journalists are a special lot, stricken by a chemical imbalance that prompts them to work long hours, in less than optimal conditions, for low pay. Why? Because they believe strongly in the craft and in sharing stories that will lead to a better understanding of the world.

I was reminded of this by Katie and Jill. I’m proud to call them colleagues and invite you to look for the upcoming stories they will be producing from our travels.

And I thank you all for following along. Like we say in public media, we can't do this without your support.

The goal of this blog was to give an honest, unvarnished window into Mexico. I know it’s not paradise; there are still many issues there, ranging from crime and corruption (which we did not experience) to incredible income inequality (some of which we did see). This is just a summary of our experiences.

I leave you with a road trip video Katie mostly put together while riding in the back seat of the SUV. Oh, and she gets motion sickness. Hasta la proxima

Baja California Travel Blog: 1,000+ Miles In Mexico

A taste of the vistas we saw on our drive south on the Baja California Peninsula.