Nobody mentions that when you go to a restaurant in Mexico, you can't expect to have an "American" experience. We went to the infamous Hussong's Cantina, where we were propositioned to have the mariachi's sing to us (costs per musician, per song), a picture taken with the band ($5), our shoes shined, our likeness sketched, and finally the rose seller came up to us.
The margaritas, while they were very good, came in a small glass, mostly tequila and a splash of sour. Very strong!!! Not the American version which is weakened with a bunch of sugary sweet & sour mix!
When you go into the bathroom, remember the "no-fishing" rule. Do NOT flush your toilet paper, it goes in the wastebasket! (ew). If you forget and drop it in the toilet, you have to go 'fish' it out. Otherwise you will clog the plumbing.
And finally, beware that mothers and their little babies will corner you every 3 feet to buy bracelets, windchimes, chiclet gum, or they will want to braid your hair. You will also be handed ads for every pharmacy in town.
The place is an experience, but you need to get off the main tourist drag to see the real Mexico. Otherwise it's just like going to Vegas, in Spanish.
a touch of mexico
i enjoyed baja mexico more than i had presumed. mybe i am a freak. i liked looking at shanty towns and falling apart homes, cars about to quit. the people were happywith what little they had. and the broken down look of mexico(you gotta get off the main drag in ensenada to see it) has its artistic charm. i liked seeing the meztistos and indian peoples dressed in a less american style. woven indian cloths, leather, big hats. the town has the bigest flag i have ever seen, in a little park area downtown. there are a few blocks catering to us american yuppies with mcdonalds, surf shops, things the average mexican citizen cant afford. lots of strett peddlars and children begging for money. kinda cute, when a 3 year old!!! asks if you want to buy a necklace ! strange....this would never happen in USA.
Ensenada (meaning 'inlet') is a lot bigger than Rosarito and isn't quite as touristy. Cruise ships some in quite a bit which makes it interesting, but generally you are exposed to regular life of people. Ensenada is a big fishing port for baja. So if you like to fish, you're in heaven, there are a lot of boats around and the whole area just north of town is a fairly decent surfing mecca, just ask the surf shop just north of town. There is a tourist information hut just as you enter town on the right, most hotels will give you a map or you can ask directions, about 1 in 4 speak good english. This hut is very useful because they can help you find what you want to do. Talking to locals and eating food.
Ride the Rosarito-Ensenada 50...
Ride the Rosarito-Ensenada 50 mile fun ride. The photo is 3 Pedalphiles at a scenic overlook while we were driving down. I am on the left, Joe from Jordan is in the middle and Scott from Moscow is on the right. Finishing and still being able to walk!
Mexicans absolutely love to help others learn Spanish. Even the most mutilated and mispronounced words or phrases will be greeted with enthusiasm, patience, and appreciation.
If you are interested in a more in depth immersion program here in Ensenada, you may want to check out Baja California Language College (http://www.bajacal.com) or The Center of Languages (http://www.mexonline.com/cllas.htm).
Also, the link below provides some basic travel words and phrases that may come in handy.